Among its many benefits, inbound marketing is known to generate leads in a cost-effective manner, establish brand authority and increase exposure.
Not sure what inbound marketing is? The best way to learn is to examine how others use inbound marketing.
Here are five examples of big brands that show how it’s done:
1. Sprout Social
Sprout Social is a SAAS company that provides digital marketers with a platform to manage their social media activity. Customers can plan posts, create calendars, gather deep analytics, and manage their social media accounts using one, simple platform.
To attract leads in an organic way, the social media guru provides a wealth of valuable information on their resources page. You can find everything from marketing strategies, social media templates, cheat sheets, checklists and step-by-step guides. Their Learning Portal offers hyper-focused webinars on how to use their software. For window shoppers, this is a great opportunity to peek behind the scenes before committing to purchasing their product.
While much of their content focuses on social media, Sprout Social does a great job broadening their topics to other marketing-related areas that bring in a bigger audience. Sprout Social’s Adapt blog section, for instance, offers advice from industry leaders on “how to help you think differently.”
There are two important reasons why Sprout Social’s content marketing stands out. First, the company churns out usable, high-quality content. It’s not just another blog filled with editorials, how-to articles and opinion pieces. They offer truly helpful information that people can use to enhance their marketing. Second, their content is organized with the end user in mind. On the title of each post, there is a clear label that indicates what subject matter the post covers. A large dropdown menu has easy-to-understand descriptors that point the user in the right direction.
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Patagonia is an apparel brand that sells outdoor clothing — you may have heard of them! Their target audience loves outdoor sports like mountain climbing, surfing, skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking. The brand is known for its legendary marketing strategies. The way Patagonia’s team uses storytelling is indicative of how great their marketing team works.
When it comes to inbound marketing, most companies try to create content that ties into their products. Patagonia takes a completely different approach. The brand focuses purely on the content. Most of their content doesn’t even talk about their products. Instead, they are more interested in creating a conversation and a connection with their audience.
Take their Stories page, for instance, where the company shares visually stunning shorts that tell unique stories from all over the world. It inspires people to plan their next adventure and to visit the brand’s website. Perhaps the most newsworthy part of Patagonia’s marketing is their mission — “to save our home planet.” Their purpose-driven policies have catapulted them as a leader in purpose-driven marketing.
“We always take the long view,” said Corley Kenna, Patagonia’s Director of Global Communications and Public Relations in this Forbes article. “We don’t look at things on a quarterly basis. Long-term thinking allows us to make smarter and more responsible decisions. We’ve found that when we put the planet first and do the right things for the planet, it winds up being good for business. It has proven itself over and over again.”
Patagonia believes that with great content, the conversations toward their products is something that will naturally occur.
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3. Liz’s Healthy Table
Liz’s Healthy Table is a resourceful website run by Liz Weiss, dietician and nutritionist. The website is loaded with blogs, podcast episodes, free downloads and more that center on helpful topics, such as weight loss, feeding families, recipes, and cooking tips.
Unlike the average food and recipe blog, Liz’s Healthy Table offers a wealth of educational resources dedicated to helping families eat better. This includes shopping lists, coloring pages for kids, informative pieces that teach what kind of foods are healthy.
Liz also stands out because she has a unique stance on the topic of food. A large focus goes into food education and offers advice on parents on how to feed their families. She also puts a lot of effort into engagement by delivering new coloring books via email, running a podcast about feeding your family, and letting readers know about alternative healthy recipes for common guilty pleasures.
4. Paper Source
When it comes to anything stationery and crafty, Paper Source has cornered the market. The company sells everything from greeting cards, gift wraps, wedding cards, stationery sets, and various gifts. Their brand is known for colorful, eye-catching graphics with trendy fonts.
Paper Source’s blog covers everything from DIY crafting to party ideas and from wedding inspiration to gifts. They also provide free digital downloads including designs that can be printed for greeting cards, designs for wallpapers and craft projects.
It may seem counterproductive to give away free designs that can be printed from home rather than bought from their online store. But this approach works for Paper Source because it establishes their company as an industry expert. Their content offers value, keeps their customers engaged and boosts their recognition for unique designs.
5. Poynter Institute
If you haven’t figured it out by now, effective inbound marketing is about powerful storytelling. The best storytellers in traditional and digital formats are journalists whose livelihood depends on captivating their audience with timely news.
It’s no surprise that print journalism has taken a hit in the digital age. However, many newspapers are finding creative, out-of-the-box ways to reconfigure their old business model — even requiring their staff reporters to master the art of Search Engine Optimization.
Coming to the aid of modern-day journalism is The Poynter Institute, a non-profit journalism school and research organization aimed at helping “anyone who aspires to inform citizens.” For journalists, the organization offers a plethora of articles, tools and resources on reporting and editing, fact-checking, ethics and trust, tech and tools, and business and work. The organization also provides training and events with tactical information that the entire community can use. Additionally, Poynter’s social media always covers timely, thoughtful topics tailored to their core target audience of journalists and editors of all ages and backgrounds.
A new feature called“On Poynt” connects journalists and news leaders with free real-time Zoom chats with Poynter experts on crisis coverage. Topics include “Inform, Soothe, Terrify? The Ethical Obligation of News During a Pandemic” and “Stay Sharp — and Safe — While Covering Protests.”
These five brands exemplify the long-term effort and value of inbound marketing. More importantly, they aren’t following what everyone else is doing. They understand their target market audience — what they want, where they can find them and how to keep them engaged. They also understand what sets them apart from others in their industry.
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