Everyone has heard with one ear about the great changes Inbound Marketing has brought. However, some companies still get lost in the number of new ideas and tools, not knowing how to combine them efficiently to get more clients from the search engine. Inbound has become a new standard for creating online customer relationships, and brands need to use it to meet people's growing preference for online shopping.

In 2005 we started our adventure with YouTube, and the Internet was just filling up with real entertainment. It was then that marketers noticed that before shopping, people choose the most convincing supplier after evaluating its image on the Internet. A year later HubSpot called for abandoning the massed advertisements in favour of a valuable conversation with customers who look for information about sellers mainly in search engines. The industry started to change its priority from convincing uninterested groups to taking care of active users. This is how Inbound Marketing was created - the most effective form of marketing generating 54%[1] more potential buyers compared to traditional activities.

Clients, the Internet and you

Thanks to the greater availability of information about products, customers have changed their habits and nowadays, before shopping, they check literally everything online - opinions about the company, its products, and, of course, they check without a doubt... Today's consumers increasingly appreciate the opportunities offered by online shopping - more choice in a shorter time and no need to visit many shops.[2] In our country, 47% of Internet users already buy online and this number is increasing year on year[3], and Inbound Marketing benefits from this trend. It can be understood as a process of guiding customers from the level of the search engine (by which we also mean search engines on sales platforms and price comparison engines) until the purchase of products on the target website. Already now Google processes about 1 trillion different user queries per year[4], among which there will be questions about your company. Properly managed Inbound Marketing will help your company connect with these users through interesting marketing content. The idea is quite simple, but still problematic, because Inbound has many elements.

Invite the customer to come back

We still meet brands that only do "something there" on the website, on the blog, in social media, in emails, forgetting that a customer on the web should be directed in one direction - closer to the purchase decision. Inevitably, every company that speaks about itself in marketing, and not about issues important for its recipients, who increasingly count on support in making purchasing decisions, loses.

- Brands need to have Inbound's strategy for winning customers online, where each marketing channel leads to the point of purchase through links in content. The website is our modern store, where we invite users online. There, thanks to analytics, we assess what they like; in this way, we try to strengthen relations with them, offering better and better shopping experiences based on the acquired data,' explains Jerzy Warchałowski from Rocket Media, an Internet marketing agency.

Understand how Inbound works

Inbound's effective actions can only be discussed when we know the relationship between its elements. This understanding seems to be a frequent problem for companies that conduct dispersed operations on many channels without remembering about their sales aspect. The simple formula for Inbound looks like this:

Inbound Marketing = Performance Marketing (mainly SEO and PPC - generating traffic and analytics) + Content Marketing (distributing content in the network)

Effective marketing

What's the point of Inbound for us?

Its task is to interest customers in the company's offer and sell its services through activities that will encourage them to interact. At the beginning, our tailored target group will be convinced to visit the site, increasing our visibility on the web through positioning and online advertising campaigns (Performance Marketing). By regularly publishing content on our blog on topics of interest to them (Content Marketing), we will give them a good reason to visit regularly. One of the most important tasks at this stage may be, for example, obtaining e-mail addresses of potential buyers, e.g. as part of an exchange for access to useful guides. And when they are out of the site, we will encourage them to return to the emails and social media.

An integral part of these tasks is to work with analytical tools to understand customer behaviour, which allows us to develop more effective marketing activities. The data collected about the users helps to evaluate their customer journey as a whole, which is very important for the brand. It may turn out that the customer has checked many places on the website because he or she was just preparing for shopping - there is a good chance that the offer, e.g. with a discount proposal displayed as part of a remarketing campaign, will convince him or her to choose our brand products.

Each of the above mentioned stages is a key part of Inbound's marketing activities, where customer trust is our reward for their positive experiences in contact. We will summarize this process on the example of shopping in a leather shoe store:

1) Customers look for a product on Google or advice about it. In order to direct them to the store, our website has to fight for the first place on the website with the results by, among others, SEO positioning, creating engaging marketing content, as well as conducting PPC advertising activities in the search engine. We also gain traffic through other activities such as Social Media, mailing, lead generation etc.

2 We use customer behaviour analysis tools (inside the company it can be Google Analytics) to increase the effectiveness of our campaigns. When evaluating their online activities (such as clicks, subscribing to a newsletter or opening an email), we measure data that will improve the sales process from acquisition to purchase. It is good practice at this stage to profile our customers on the basis of their online behavior, which allows us to optimize our actions in terms of effectiveness and reduce expenses from our budget.

3) Thanks to a good blog we encourage buyers to come back, regularly answering their questions and problems in articles. For example, customers may want to hear about how to match shoes to their clothing style, how to paste them, or how to protect them from breaking. Such and similar tailored advice will increase their loyalty.

In order to get e-mails from our clients, we offer on the website tutorials, courses or programs and we remind our contacts with useful news - the more we find their tastes, the more of them we will convince to ourselves. We should segment our contacts on the basis of their "willingness" to buy, which will be helped by a purchase route analysis.

5. we check whether our methods work for each group, assessing their effectiveness by analyzing data from available tools. The results collected will be used to discover their behaviour more accurately, under which we improve our entire strategy and the process starts anew.

Only when we see Inbound Marketing as a unified process will we be able to decide what activities best connect us to our customers according to its strategy. Our website should be the heart of sales for us and to do so, it must offer them valuable content. As Larry Page has said many times, talking about online and offline marketing makes no sense - we should always think holistically about our customers no matter what channel they eventually buy through. That's why the success of running Inbound is to have a thoughtful online presence and to strategically gain their trust with helpful marketing content that gradually increases their chance of making a purchase. What counts here is friendliness, usefulness and meticulous work on analytical tools, which over time will allow you to find the best way to turn an unknown user into a loyal customer.