Most people associate marketing with outbound marketing — think Mad Men’s Don Draper pitching an advertisement or television commercial. That type of traditional marketing, or outbound marketing, definitely has its place in your marketing strategy. It’s called “outbound” because the messages are pushed out to your audience through email blasts, trade shows, commercials, and the like. But it shouldn’t be all of your marketing efforts. You need to include inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing initiatives pull your audience to you through a slightly different style of messaging. Think of them as “digital breadcrumbs” that you’re putting out into the world for your audience to discover as they find their way to you.

Typically, outbound marketing uses language and ideas that are enticing and initiate emotion and passion; inbound marketing uses language that’s educational and informational. Together, they work synergistically to create a content web for your customer to share in your message, create awareness, and spark interest in your brand.

Understanding inbound marketing can be a bit confusing. We’ve pulled together a primer on inbound marketing terminology to help:

1.) Marketing automation uses software to make marketing activities…well, automated. Typically used in email systems to manage and nurture leads, your marketing automation will send communications based on a user’s actions (“triggers”), like clicking on a link or opening an email. Use marketing automation to respond to your target audiences and engage them based on their individual needs — and advance them along their customer journey.

2.) Buyer personas are the profiles of each of your intended audience members. Use buyer personas to understand your audience’s pain points, needs, goals, and desires — and then give them exactly what they’re seeking.

3.) Lead nurturing is developing a series of communications with the intention of qualifying a lead and keeping them engaged through the sales funnel.

4.) Inbound links are links that live on a website other than your own that direct traffic to your site. So if another company mentions you and includes a link — that’s an inbound link for you.

5.) Conversions are when a visitor completes an identified goal — such as filling out a form, signing up for a newsletter, reaching out to business development, or another action you’ve set for lead capture. The conversion is then tracked using some form of an analytics platform.

6.) Blogging can be a cornerstone effort of your inbound marketing. A company blog lives on your own site, and if you optimize your posts, it can be a great way to bring visitors to your company website to showcase your thought leadership. Blogging had humble beginnings as “web logs” — essentially online diaries — but have evolved to be powerhouses of inbound marketing.

7.) Evergreen content is material on topics that will always be of relevance and interest to your audience. These are pieces that your audience — and future audiences — will always be searching for and needing your expertise about. While you should absolutely create content on hot, current topics, evergreen pieces can be cornerstone pieces that will engage your target audience for years to come.

8.) Optimization is strategically creating content that you know your audience is searching for and that the search engines will bump to the top of their search results — giving you more opportunity to be discovered.

9.) Engagement rate varies by platform, but the idea is that for every X amount of times your content is served up to a particular audience, whether it’s on a social media platform or search engine or otherwise, X number of people will engage with it. Engagement can be viewing, clicking, sharing, liking, or any other interaction available on a particular platform. The higher your engagement rate, the more you know you are serving up the content that your audience most wants to see. If you have a low engagement rate, it’s time to reevaluate your content.

10.) Click-through rate is a measurement of what percentage of your audience advances (or “clicks through”) from one part of your website or platform to the next. The higher the rate, the more you know that you’ve not only caught their interest, but you’ve engaged them and kept them interested.

11.) Cost per click (CPC)/Pay per click (PPC) is relevant to your paid efforts; it’s the price it takes to get one click on a digital advertisement, social media ad, or media placement. Ideally, you want to get as many clicks as you can for your dollar — strategy is a big factor in determining the best click rate for you.

Inbound marketing isn’t simple — but if you know what you’re doing, it’s incredibly effective because you know the right audience is finding their way to you and your organization along a sincere, authentic, engaging path. And that means they’re exactly the right customer for you.

We’re very happy to help. If you want to learn more about inbound marketing and how it can work for you, please reach out to us!

About the Author

Rachel Van Arsdall

Digital Marketing Specialist

Willing to try her hand at anything, Rachel’s can-do attitude has helped her quickly adapt to the needs of SCORR’s digital team. She helps clients optimize user experience, convert prospects to customers, and drive revenue via inbound strategies and marketing automation. Partnering with SCORR’s internal teams, Rachel strategizes integrated marketing campaigns and also assists with report development, social media, paid search, and website analyses. Certified in Google AdWords Search and HubSpot inbound marketing, content marketing, email marketing, and marketing software, she continually educates herself and embraces new digital tools to add value to her evolving role.