Inbound marketing is one of those concepts that has evolved faster than a uniform definition could grab hold of it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an integral piece in any marketing and sales strategy. And ifHubspot’s 2014 State of InboundReport is any indication, inbound marketing is here to stay. Unfortunately, there’s still some haze around what constitutes inbound, and everyone seems to have their own definition to fit their organization.

Search “inbound marketing” in Quora, and see just how many questions pop up. Without even scrolling down the page, we found:

  • “What is inbound marketing?”
  • “What is the meaning of inbound marketing?”
  • And in case you were worried we wouldn’t be able to find a specific-enough definition, one user made sure to ask, “What exactly is inbound marketing?”

We picked out a few of our favorite answers.

What is Inbound Marketing?

“Inbound techniques are much more subtle and inviting: the idea is to generate content that your prospects will already be searching for and would genuinely find helpful. These methods include blog posts, social media campaigns, industry insights and best practices; content that your potential customers would enjoy even if they aren’t ready to make a purchase.”
Melissa Andrews, VP Marketing at Mediafly

“Inbound Marketing is a methodology, a type of marketing focused more on supporting the buyers’ journey than relying on sales pitches to close.”
Ryan Scott, Inbound Marketing Artist at Lean Labs

“Inbound marketing is a strategy that utilizes many forms of pull marketing – content marketing, blogs, events, SEO, social media and more – to create brand awareness and attract new business. In contrast to outbound marketing, where marketers attempt to find customers, inbound marketing earns the attention of customers and makes the company easy to be found.”
Keyur Lalani, SEO expert at rankjane.com

“Inbound Marketing is when you place yourself where your customers are. So they are finding you instead of you trying to find them. Being active on social media can be Inbound Marketing if done correctly.”
JR Griggs, President of Red Wall Marketing

Customer-Centric

This last definition by JR Griggs is especially useful. Many businesses use social media like a billboard, posting sales pitches and offers that they hope will be seen. However, social media is actually best suited as an inbound channel. Leads are choosing to interact with you: choosing to follow, choosing to like, choosing to comment or respond. It’s very similar to a lead opting in to your email list and choosing to read the content you provide.

A common theme among all of these answers is that customers are more in charge of their buying process than ever before. They want to seek out their own information, rather than being told. Inbound marketing seeks to build a relationship with the customer, and an important part of any good relationship—business or otherwise—is to be present and engaged. There’s a reason why we turned to Quora to crowdsource quotes. Inbound marketing requires a multi-channel approach to meet your customers when and where they want, including social media sites where your customers are talking about your brand, your competitors, and your industry.

Where Marketing Meets Sales

At Socedo, we like to say that inbound is where marketing meets sales. Customers who choose to view your content are already engaged and much more likely to buy, and you can usher them directly into your sales funnel. Inbound marketing techniques, like social media lead generation, qualify leads as they move closer to your product, so by the time they reach your landing page or offer, they are ready to convert.