What is inbound marketing and why should you care?

Digital marketing requires a marketer to be not only strategic but personable, creative and cunning. Why? Because each of these traits are essential to helping you consistently fill your sales cycle, while also catering to the needs of your audience members. Therefore, it’s vital for marketing teams to grasp the difference between inbound and outbound marketing. 

Inbound marketing is all about delivering both solutions and opportunities that impact both your audience and your business positively. It is a marketing method to help gain potential customer by utilizing non-paid marketing channels, including:

  • Social media

  • Content (blogs, digital downloads, etc.)

  • Through organic search engine results

While the goal of inbound marketing is to help draw in new potential customers, this method focuses on the needs of the customer. This is accomplished by providing high-quality, relevant content that answers the questions and needs of your target audience, which, in turn, will help draw genuine interest to your brand and what you have to offer. 

The other key term that is associated with inbound marketing is “organic.” In marketing, the term organic refers to unpaid. One example is through organic search engine results. When you type a query into Google, the results that show up upon hitting enter are a mix of both paid and organic results. Typically, the first few spots at the top of the results list as paid places; however, that is not always the case. 

Google search results for “what is inbound marketing”

Source: Google

Organic traffic is what most marketing teams are on the hunt for, especially when it comes to traffic to their website and blog. This organic traffic helps guide marketing teams in creating quality content that their target audience will respond well too because this is the type of content that their consumers are searching for. 

What’s the difference between inbound and outbound marketing?

While addressing the question, “what is inbound marketing,” it is important to briefly touch on the other side of the coin—outbound marketing. 

Outbound marketing is sometimes referred to as “traditional” marketing methods, but it is properly defined as paid marketing methods. These methods focused on inserting a brand and its products or messages into the consumer’s life, whether they were interested in it or not. 

Think of tv or radio ads. 

This is content that is focused on the brand and its needs—not the needs of the consumer. 

Sure, while these methods are helpful when used at the right time and in the right place, the primary focus these days is on creating that consumer-focused content that brings your potential leads directly to you instead of forcing your brand upon consumers when they aren’t necessarily on the lookout for what you have to offer. 

4 Key elements to an inbound marketing strategy

It doesn’t matter if you’re newly designing your inbound marketing strategy or if you are working on revamping your current inbound strategy, there are some key elements that your marketing strategy needs to include. 

Because we want to focus on organic results, we are going to focus on four key components that will help drive your organic traffic. 

1. Search Engine Optimization

Since inbound marketing these days focuses on the digital market, one of the most essential components of any great inbound marketing strategy is search engine optimization (SEO).

Search engine optimization is the strategy of increasing both the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through both organic search results and brand awareness. 

People have thousands of questions that they're looking for answers to, or problems that need to be solved. Instead of heading out to the bookstore or local library, the majority of us open our internet browser and type our question into search engines, such as Google or Bing. 

The first few results that show up typically are marked with the term “Ad” and are known as pay per click ads. These are purchased ads that brands use to help drive more traffic to their websites. Examples of Pay Per Click Ads

Source: Google

There are usually two or three of these paid ads before you start to notice search results that don’t include the “Ad” tag. These are your organic search results, and they appear higher on the search results list for several reasons with the primary reason being proper SEO optimization. 

Key things to keep in mind when working on your SEO optimization include:

  • Use of keywords

  • On-site optimization

  • Link building

2. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is another great component in any inbound marketing strategy. With an estimated 2.96 billion social media users worldwide, its no wonder that more and more brands are turning to various social media platforms for both customer service and creating brand awareness. 

Estimated number of social network users worldwide (in billions)

Source: Statista

What is crucial to remember is that social media marketing is so much more than setting up a Facebook profile and making posts. In order for this strategy to work efficiently, you need to choose platforms based on where your audience spends the majority of their spare time. If your audience is of the older generation, then setting up and utilizing Facebook may be more beneficial than say Instagram, where a younger demographic tends to flock. 

3. Content Marketing

When asking the question “what is inbound marketing,” one of the most important components to consider is content marketing. Content marketing, in a nutshell, is an approach to digital marketing that involves the creation and then distribution of content that is not only relevant to your audience but is both of value and is produced consistently. 

This content can come in several different forms, including:

  • Blog posts

  • Landing pages

  • Video clips

  • E-courses

  • Downloadables & more

This content needs to not only be relevant to your audience members but needs to be highly valuable to them. This means that you need to be researching their needs and what their pain points and questions are. Once you know that information, you can create content that addresses those needs and pain points. 

The more relevant your material is, the more likely these potential leads will return to your site for more information, which will help build your overall authority and your relationship between you and your consumers. 

4. Email Marketing

Finally, if you haven’t already, your marketing team will want to invest in email marketing. Not only is it a necessary component of a solid inbound marketing strategy, but it is also the preferred method of communication between consumers and their favorite brands. 

Email marketing is more about providing your email subscribers with more than just the average promotional flyer. Instead, many consumers choose to subscribe to a brand’s email list because they are looking for information. All that content that you’ve been building as a part of your content marketing strategy needs to be shared somehow, and one of the best ways to do that is through email marketing. 

Not only is email the preferred method of communication between you and your consumers, but it is also the highest performing channel when it comes to overall return on investment. For every $1 spent on email marketing, brands see an average of $38 in ROI.

Provide a mix of original and curated material to help deliver the best to your readers

Source: Really Good Emails

Inbound Marketing Tools Worth Considering

Knowing what makes up a quality inbound marketing strategy is only part of the work. If you don’t have the right tools to back up your strategy, then your strategy can and will fall flat. The tools your team will need will depend entirely on what your strategy focus ends up being. That said, here are a few essential tools worth considering.


Since content creation is the primary emphasis of inbound marketing, knowing what your audience is looking for is crucial. Having a tool such as BuzzSumo to help you analyze what’s already out there by giving you a comprehensive performance report on any topic or domain you enter. 


SEMrush is another excellent tool for helping build your brand’s content strategy, thanks to its outstanding keyword research capabilities. Not only does it provide marketers with background on currently trending keywords worth writing on, but thanks to its many tools, such as the Keyword Magic Tool, it helps generate millions of related keyword ideas, helping your marketing team stay relevant with content worth checking out. 

Zoho Social

Zoho Social is a great tool to help your team flesh out your social media strategy. This tool allows you to plan and schedule your various social media posts in order to help you better optimize not only your content but your time as well. This helps not only get your content out there but also helps increase overall engagement as well. 


Need a simple to use graphic design program for creating images for your content and social media platforms? Canva is an excellent tool for just that. Not only can you create stunning graphics for your social media and online material, but this tool also has options for resizing and creating content for eBooks and more traditional printed materials as well.

Wrap up

Focusing on the question, “what is inbound marketing,” is essential for any marketing team, no matter if you are starting up a new marketing strategy or revamping an old one. Remember, it is absolutely vital to keep in mind these four key components to maximize your inbound marketing strategy:

  • Search engine optimization

  • Content creation/marketing

  • Social media marketing

  • Email marketing

Wondering how Emma can help with your inbound marketing strategy? Then contact us today and get your live demo up and running.

About the Author

Emma Email

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. With our​​ powerful automation and personalization features, you can create and send email campaigns that reach the right customer at just the right time. It's email marketing that works for you.

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