You are probably familiar with inbound marketing — even if you’ve never heard of it! It’s true, inbound marketing has become so ubiquitous to digital marketing that you’re constantly encountering these strategies whether you’re aware of it or not. Of course, the best inbound marketing shouldn’t feel like marketing at all. The most effective, proven inbound marketing examples create a helpful brand experience for potential clients instead of making them feel they’re being sold to, and that’s the ultimate goal of good inbound marketing.

What makes inbound marketing such an effective way to build customer relationships and move potential customers further down the funnel? With about 27% of people in the U.S. using some kind of ad blocking technology, today’s customers are becoming more and more ad averse and are actively blocking marketing that they deem unhelpful or annoying. Inbound marketing is a perfect way to speak to these audiences on their terms, without getting blocked out.

So, exactly what is inbound marketing and how can you start implementing it in 2021?

To put it simply, inbound marketing is a strategy that relies on bringing customers to you instead of placing advertising in front of them and simply hoping the messaging hits them at the right time. It’s the strategy of connecting to customers through experiences, tips and content that they find useful. This strategy has the two-fold effect of placing you as an expert in that space while increasing brand recognition for your customers.

Inbound marketing is effective because it provides value to consumers who are already actively searching for information about a product or service. Your job is to position yourself as the provider of that valuable information they wanted at just the right time. And focusing on content is the best way to achieve that this year.

While advertising strategies are helpful, they should be a part of a bigger overall marketing strategy that includes an expanded content strategy. Inbound marketing examples that you might have encountered include blogs, whitepapers, how-to articles, email newsletters, video series, and even podcasts. Let’s dive into some you can hit the ground running with this quarter.

Blogging and Inbound Marketing

Of course, it makes sense to start with the cornerstone of all content marketing and the most common of inbound marketing examples – the blog.

Since all inbound marketing centers around providing value to your customers through content, a blog is a great first step for many companies to start building out their inbound arsenal. Yes, blogging used to be one of the top items on the list to help improve website SEO. While this is still true if done correctly, most businesses are finding that blogging has been the number one way to offer helpful content that their fans and customers want and that has become just as beneficial as the SEO boost.

Of course, the content that is put out there needs to be relevant and helpful for the customer or it won’t do your business any good. When it comes to adding a blog to your marketing toolkit, there should be a well thought out strategy in place. Starting your blog with a strategy will ensure that there is appropriate staffing to create the content, publish the content and promote the content so that new customers can find it.

Every piece of content published should have some kind of goal. That goal can be to inform or entertain or educate, but there is always an underlying goal. Each piece of content you publish should then be promoted by the marketing team with the goal of getting readers to take some kind of action. Maybe you want them to get more familiar with your brand, so you’ll include links to helpful how-to articles or informational videos within the copy. Maybe you want them to sign up for the email list, so you’ll include a simple form with details on why your newsletter can’t be missed. No matter what the goal, blog posts are an effective tool.

Blogging itself can be simple, but articles by themselves are not going to help you generate leads. What makes blogging an effective promotional tool for businesses is distributing that content effectively so that people can find it. Once this well-crafted and educational article is live on the website, it’s time to distribute it through social media channels, email, and all other marketing channels.

Crafting Case Studies

Why are case studies effective?

In a world where we’re surrounded by a tech guru or social media maven at every turn, it can be difficult to pull out the diamonds from the coal. So it makes sense why word-of-mouth marketing and reviews are still the gold standard for gaining new business quickly. Your customers are looking for reviews and recommendations before making most purchase decisions. Positioning your business to be able to show proven outcomes is a very effective way to draw in new leads.

According to Martech Advisor, “…for 91% of those aged between 18 and 34 years, online review content is almost as valuable as personal recommendations.”

It’s a no brainer, right? Your customers want to see that your business is the partner they are looking for to solve their problem. To show that, the business provides case studies with proven outcomes. Now, this might sound like a business presentation and you might be thinking that your brand doesn’t fit for this tactic. It’s time to think again.

It doesn’t matter if your company sells shoes, cell phones, or marketing services, the goal is the same. If your company sells shoes, this is where partnerships with influencers and using user generated content can really help you create a sales page that showcases all your happy customers and their reviews, as well as pictures of how they styled the products. This counts as a case study! This page or pieces of it can then be used across social media, email, and more.

If your company sells marketing services, it’s time to show off the campaigns you’re most proud of! We all have big business wins over the years that are easily forgotten. By creating a page on your site dedicated to case studies, your company can start capturing those moments right after they happen instead of laboring to build out a case study from old reports.

Win Them Over with Webinars

With the rise of Zoom meetings and virtual events, webinars have increasingly become valuable marketing tools that can generate new leads in an hour. With a well-planned webinar, your business can attract new leads, nurture them, and convert them into warm leads all with one campaign. The best news? These can be reused over and over again if they’re evergreen. If your webinar successfully attracts interested leads the first time, it will again!

Especially if your business requires any kind of consumer education, webinars might just become your best marketing friend in the upcoming year. Webinars are especially helpful in establishing your brand as a content matter expert while educating your customers so they feel more confident about the brand and the product or services.

The formula for incorporating this into your marketing plan is pretty simple. Offer a free 30-minute to an hour webinar on a niche topic that you know your customers have questions about or struggle with related to the services or products you offer.

This works extremely well for converting cold leads who are not familiar with your brand because within less than an hour you’re giving them a chance to meet the brand, ask questions, and interact which creates instant brand recognition and affinity. Considering that between 2% and 5% of webinar attendees will buy something from you, that doesn’t sound like something any business would want to pass up!

Starting Podcast and Video Series

Podcasts and video series are also an easy way to get more out of your content marketing. When we say “content marketing” most people still think of the same few things: blogs, articles, and social media. The main thing in common? Reading. Nowadays, people have lots of ways to enjoy content and many prefer to watch a video or listen to a podcast over reading an article. Not being where your customers are is a missed opportunity!

Podcasts have been growing in popularity, with over a million podcasts out right this minute. This is why you’ll see these on most lists of inbound marketing examples to try this year. With more than 500 million hours of videos watched on YouTube each day, we can confidently say that video content and video series aren’t going anywhere soon.

Good Ol’ SEO

Of course, the best tried-and-true strategy for boosting all of your content marketing efforts is SEO. Yes, the dreaded SEO — a term that sends many business owners running for the hills because so much of the work happens behind the scenes and progress is made slowly over time. However, the partnership between content and SEO has existed since the beginning of search engines.

Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is the technical term for what website owners need to do within their content and on the back end of their site so that search engines can find them more easily. Search engines do a great job of crawling websites and looking for clues to what your website is about. However, the easier these clues are to find, the quicker you’ll get indexed correctly and served in related search results. Sounds good, right?

That’s why SEO and content marketing have to go hand in hand. Having a solid SEO strategy for your content will help that content reach the people it needs to reach organically. This means that by adding SEO now your content is getting promotional traffic from any ads, social media traffic, email traffic, AND organic traffic from search.

With an SEO strategy, you’ll be able to review reports on traffic sources and see which ones are performing best. An effective SEO strategy should also include metrics to be monitored so that you can review the success of specific pages, watch for seasonal popularity of certain types of content, and watch the keywords that are most effective for your brand. A great SEO strategy can be effective enough to decrease your need for ad spend because of the increase in organic traffic to the site.

If you worked all last year on creating solid content that is drawing in leads and converting customers, adding SEO to the mix in 2021 could be the secret ingredient you’ve been missing to give that content a boost.

Wrapping Up Inbound Marketing Examples

There are so many inbound marketing examples out there because it’s a very flexible and effective way to market. These tactics can be used for any business and in any industry and have been proven to work in gaining new customers. To take your marketing to the next level this year start from the top of the list and work your way down!

Rebecca Wentworth