11 components of successful inbound marketing [updated for 2021]

Successful inbound marketing-1

Inbound marketing is rapidly on the rise, with businesses across the world adopting an inbound methodology to their marketing campaigns.

When done right, inbound marketing is highly lucrative. Every element of inbound marketing is crucial in it’s own right: Blog posts and content offers for educating your audience, email lists that are lead nurturing over time, and landing pages to convert those high quality leads who are ready to buy your products or services.

Compared with outbound marketing, an inbound marketing strategy focuses on providing helpful content focused around your potential customers pain points. Those who have visited your site have bought into your brand, and trust you enough to make an informed buying decision.

We often get online marketers and businesses alike coming to us to get them started with inbound marketing, which is why we’ve put together this list of the key components of a successful inbound marketing campaign. By doing this, you can begin to put together campaigns that deliver results of high quality leads for your business.

The 11 key components of a successful inbound marketing campaign are:

  1. Buyer personas
  2. Quality content
  3. Video
  4. Paid advertising
  5. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  6. Social media
  7. Landing pages
  8. Marketing automation
  9. Loyal, delighting customers
  10. Marketing buy-in
  11. Reporting

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published 19th February 2020. However, buyer expectations and behaviour constantly evolving, we felt it important to update this post to reflect those trends.

1. Buyer personas

It might seem obvious to some, but buyer personas often get overlooked when businesses are putting together their inbound marketing strategy. 

When this is the case, your marketing is geared to anybody and everybody. Worse still, you’re taking the approach of “I just want more clients like the ones we already have.”

This approach can be troublesome when putting together a marketing plan. As we’ve already established, inbound marketing works best when addressing the needs and pain points of your audience. By doing so, you’re able to truly answer the questions they’re typing into Google, and become a trusted voice for your industry.

But none of that is possible if you've not taken the time to truly understand your audience, and therefore craft a buyer persona. Without them, your marketing is fighting a losing battle. Check out the recommended reading below to find out more about what is a buyer persona, and how to craft one.

2. Quality content

This is where content marketers can rejoice! Bill Gates was the one to say “content is king” and that still rings true today. 

Content is fundamentally engrained in every aspect of what online marketers do. Whether you want to increase your website’s organic footprint, it’s number of back-links, your brand’s social media engagement, it all comes down to content.

Content can take many forms, the most popular of which is blog writing. Armed with your buyer personas and the knowledge of their pain points, blog posts can be a fantastic way of consistently building trust. Often, a blog post will be the first piece of content a lead will find before they eventually get in touch.

We’re no stranger to the results that good quality, and more importantly, consistent content can bring your business. In fact, according to HubSpot, businesses that blog at least 20x per month generate over 5x more traffic than those who blog fewer than 4 times per month!

3. Video

Video is quickly becoming the preferred content format for buyers. In fact, the 2020 Content Preferences Study by Demand Gen showed that for the first time, video topped the list of formats for buyer consumption at 65%. What’s more, webinars remained another popular format for buyers at 54%.

Video marketing is now a must-have, both for marketing and sales teams. Using video throughout the sales funnel can be a powerful tool in lead nurturing. 

A popular video type is personal videos. These are great for sales and customer service teams, as they allow you to directly address your target customers in a one-to-one format, often having a significant impact on conversion rates.

4. Paid advertising

You could argue that paid advertising falls under the category of outbound marketing, but when combined with other elements of inbound marketing, it can be a solid method for rapidly increasing your brand’s online footprint.

Google Ads specifically are useful if you want to increase your website and brand’s visibility amongst search engine results pages. Most people who find you on Google will have never heard of you, and by using Google Ads, you can capture them early and begin converting them into leads.

Paid advertising is also a great way at proving direct return-on-investment. For example, one of our clients resulted in a 480% increase in appointments through the use of highly targeted Google Ads, and we’re able to specifically track their spend against the revenue generated from those ads alone!

5. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Some might argue that SEO is more important than the aforementioned elements of inbound marketing, but we like to think otherwise. Our opinion is that SEO does have it’s place, but only when you have the foundations of good, quality and consistent content nailed first.

This is often the reason we hear horror stories of businesses spending thousands on SEO, with no proveable results. The reality is that SEO and content go hand-in-hand. When people ask us “Is SEO dead?” we like to say “What are you SEO’ing?” 

If you’ve not got the content in place, you’re effectively trying to cut corners, and your SEO efforts will prove useless if you’ve not committed to consistent content writing for at least 6 months.

Once you’ve got the foundations in place, there are 3 main elements of search engine optimisation that work together to keep your site relevant:

  • On-page SEO - This covers page titles, descriptions, heading tags and images
  • Technical SEO - Everything behind the scenes on your website, such as javascript
  • Link building - This is next-level SEO, to help get more eyes on your brand and build up the domain authority of your site.

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6. Social media

Social media is great for brand building, helping you get your name out there. If you don’t the budget for paid advertising, social media can somewhat fill that void.

However, it’s important to remember that social media is best reserved for building brand awareness only, as the majority of your audience will not be in purchase mode on social media. Instead, they’ll be looking to know more about you and what you have to offer, and then make a purchase decision in their own time.

Think of your chosen social networks as a bridge between your audience and your brand, where you can share helpful content and start leading your audience down the marketing funnel.

7. Landing pages

An inbound marketing strategy is useless without a way of capturing your leads information, especially information of those who are ready to buy.

That’s where landing pages come in to play. They allow you to promote content that is designed to capture and convert leads over time. Content like eBooks, webinars, white paper guides, downloads work really well with landing pages. These are designed to be premium content offers that your audience would want to consume.

When you have those in place, it’s common practice to make this content “gated” and hidden behind a lead capture form on a landing page. Our guide, The Marketing BLUEPRINTTM is a prime example of that, as email addresses are submitted before being able to access the guide.

8. Marketing automation

But landing pages are only half the story when converting leads. Marketing automation is the second half of that puzzle.

There’s a misconception that marketing automation simply encompasses email marketing in the form of a monthly newsletter, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Marketing automation is so much more, and it largely takes the form of follow-up drip campaigns that trigger when someone fills in a lead capture form.

In essence, marketing automation is there to aid your leads down the marketing funnel, and continue to convert them over time. It also takes the stress out of having to manually follow up with leads if they’ve downloaded something or filled in a form, as it’s often the case that manually follow ups come across salesy, which is often a put-off for your prospective audience.

Statistics show that well targeted automated campaigns get a much higher open rate and click-through rate, making it a continued viable marketing tactic!

9. Loyal, delighting customers

A lot of businesses think that once a customer signs up, that’s marketing done. That couldn’t be further from the truth, because you are wise to continue marketing to customers long after they’ve signed up, to keep them as loyal, delighting customers.

This is done by providing a world-class experience, which marketing plays a huge part in. After all, loyal customers can become advocates of your business, referring you to their own network and even signing up to more services long after they first became a client. HubSpot demonstrates this with their flywheel, showing the process a customer takes along their journey, from lead to customer and beyond! 

10. Marketing buy-in

Inbound marketing works best when sales and marketing teams are aligned. But even better, buy-in from the whole team (PR, project managers, directors, everyone) means everyone is on board with how marketing works.

Not only that, it gives everyone a common goal. With everyone bought into inbound marketing, the whole team is on the same page about the way in which inbound marketing works, and the results it can bring. Without marketing buy-in, online marketers can struggle to get their marketing off the ground, leaving the team frustrated by the lack of results.

11. Reporting

Finally, there’s the often neglected element of reporting. Without it, how are you expected to measure the success of your inbound marketing campaigns?

Reporting is crucial to determine what works, and more importantly, doesn’t work when it comes to inbound marketing. More importantly, the right reporting will help you track your return-on-investment. Tools like HubSpot are great for high-level reporting, giving you a holistic view of your marketing efforts.

Are you running a successful inbound marketing campaign?

Inbound marketing takes many forms, and through our success of running inbound marketing campaigns for businesses, we’re confident in the elements that are needed to make inbound marketing successful.

We’d love to hear how your inbound marketing strategy is going, and if you need support in getting it off the ground, get in touch for some direction from us.

Alternatively, why not download The Marketing BLUEPRINTTM to give you a strategic framework for getting your inbound marketing campaigns started.