Inbound Marketing: The Key to Sustainable Business Growth

A man writing the word inbound marketing onto a notepad.

Small and mid-sized businesses often struggle to achieve consistent and sustainable growth. A typical SME sales pattern is a sudden flurry of sales – e.g. from seasonal demand or during a marketing campaign – followed by extended periods of stagnation or decline. These ‘boom-and-bust’ cycles make it very difficult to manage cash flow effectively, retain staff, and make strategic investments. At worst, a sudden drop in demand can leave a business with too much stock, unpaid suppliers, tax bills they can’t afford, and an inability to pay wages – a potent recipe for business failure.

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Inbound marketing provides a powerful means for SMEs to escape the uncertainty of cyclical growth and create a more sustainable and predictable model of business development. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what inbound marketing means for small businesses, the role it plays in sustainable growth, and how it can benefit you.

Why growth is hard to sustain

One of the biggest challenges that SMEs face with expansion is the need to balance investment in sales and marketing with other business priorities, so that instead of a sustained investment in marketing, many businesses put their money into discrete campaigns at different times of year and may not have the funds to sustain momentum at other times.

When you rely on outbound methods to secure all your sales and leads, this is a definite problem. To sustain momentum with outbound marketing, you really need a dedicated sales and marketing team with an adequate budget and resources.

How inbound marketing facilitates sustainable growth for small businesses

Inbound marketing is the key to sustainability because money spent on inbound marketing is an evergreen investment. In other words, the money you spend on content assets and inbound efforts today will continue to bear fruit for months and years to come, because once something is published online, it stays online. This avoids the issue of sustainability in outbound marketing, in which you lose momentum if you take your foot off the gas even for a moment.

The idea behind inbound marketing is to set up a continual stream of inbound leads that you nurture through content until they become customers. This is an ongoing process, and much of it can be automated. Yes, there are still fluctuations in inbound volume throughout the year and by industry, but it’s a more predictable model. If you know you currently have X leads in the early, awareness stage of the sales funnel, you can fairly confidently predict the number that will complete the decision stage to make a sale, and the timeframe needed to do so.

How you get your leads from awareness to decision is through content assets aimed at the questions and difficulties faced by the customer at each stage of the sales journey, and a website optimised for good visibility on Google.

The main stages of the inbound marketing process can be summarised as follows:

1. Visibility:

The first stage of inbound marketing involves establishing your business’s online presence so that your customers can find you when searching for solutions to their problems. This includes identifying your ideal customers or buyer personas, creating content that appeals to their purchase motivations and needs, and promoting this content through paid advertising, social media, email marketing, and search engine optimisation (SEO). The goal of increased visibility is to increase web traffic to your business website, blog, and social media platforms.

2. Lead generation:

The lead generation or conversion stage of inbound marketing is geared towards converting website visitors into leads, or inbound enquiries, by means of compelling calls to action, engaging articles and web pages, and gated content. Many businesses also use lead magnets, such as exit-intent pop-ups, chat bots, and snap offers and free trials, to incentivise visitors to share their contact details and join your email nurturing list.

3. Lead nurturing and closure:

The nurturing phase involves nurturing your leads through email marketing, retargeting ads, and tailored content to progressively build a value proposition and prepare them to close the deal. Depending on your industry, this phase can take weeks, months, or even years, which is why it’s important to aim for a steady flow of leads at each stage of the journey (awareness, consideration, decision) to obtain sustainable growth. Marketing automation tools are beneficial at this stage, such as HubSpot, to streamline the lead nurturing process, segment your lead database, and personalise communications.

Get started with inbound marketing in 2024 with JDR, an Elite HubSpot Partner Agency

An inbound marketing strategy can help your business develop brand awareness, establish credibility and trust with customers, boost engagement, and ultimately secure more leads and sales online. To find out more about inbound and how it can set you up for a profitable 2024, please contact one of our team today by clicking here.

Click here to claim your free inbound marketing assessment by JDR Group to help your attract more website visitors, generate more leaders, and increase your sales.

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