WHAT IS INBOUND MARKETING?
Inbound marketing is a focused approach to earning customers.
Your customers are looking for solutions that satisfy their needs and solve their problems – most (if not all) start their search online. By creating content designed for your ideal customers, inbound marketing helps your customers find you and earns their attention.
In the place of traditional Outbound Marketing tactics, you should be developing new channels aimed at building awareness, developing relationships and generating leads.
Why develop your Inbound Marketing channels?
Inbound marketing has evolved into the most effective marketing method for attracting customers online.
Over 3 billion Google searches are made every day.
“Although it varies greatly with product complexity and market maturity, today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they will engage with a vendor’s sales rep.” Forrester Research, The New Physics Of Lead-To-Revenue Management, by Lori Wizdo, March 28, 2013
Your customers are asking increasingly informed questions before they commit to making a purchase and if you want to win the battle for market share, you need to be answering them. By aligning the content you create with your customer’s interests and ensuring your distribution channels resonate with your desired audience, you will naturally attract inbound traffic.
The Inbound Methodology
In order to obtain visitors and nurture them into leads, customers, and eventually promoters, you’ll need an action plan.
The Inbound action plan (methodology) consists of four action stages: Attract, Convert, Close and Delight.
In each stage you’ll use various tools to accomplish these actions but it is important to note that many of these tools can be essential in multiple action stages.
(the diagram indicates the stages these tools might be introduced)
Attracting the right kind of customer traffic begins with understanding exactly who your ideal customers are inside and out. Customer research should underpin any effective marketing strategy and this holds especially true when creating your content strategy and developing your distribution matrix.
Beyond demographic information you need to find out: What their goals/needs are? What challenges they face? What their buying process looks like? What their concerns and common objections to products and services are? Where do they typically go for information? How can you help?
The more you know about your customers, the better equipped you’ll be to earn their attention.
Some of the most important tools to attract the right users to your site are:
Blogging. A blog is the best way to attract new visitors to your website and expand your online content offering. A blog allows you to create tailored content that specifically answers the questions your potential customers are asking, educating them and introducing them to your brand, products and services.
SEO. Most of your customers will begin their buying process online, searching for answers – you need to make they find you. In order to appear prominently in search engine rankings you will need a focused approach to SEO. Pick keywords, optimize your pages, create content, and build links based on the terms your ideal customers are searching for.
Pages. Your website pages are your digital showcase. You need to ensure that your web pages are optimized to deal with visitor traffic appropriately and deliver helpful content that appeals to your ideal customers.
Social Publishing. Your content needs to fuel interaction on the social networks where your ideal customers spend their time. Social publishing allows you to share remarkable content and valuable information on social networks, engaging your prospects and building brand affinity.
You need to convert your visitors into leads by gathering their contact information (most importantly their email address).
Since it’s always easier to ask for something of value once you’ve given something of value first, you need to ensure you offer visitors a reason to share their contact information.
Your gift of value comes in the form of great content, whether you choose to provide eBooks, whitepapers or tip sheets, your content needs to be helpful, meaningful and relevant.
Some of the most important tools in converting visitors to leads include:
Forms. Convert your visitors into leads by inviting them to complete a form and submit their information. Ensure this step of the conversion process as easy as possible by optimizing your forms and landing pages.
Calls-to-Action. Calls-to-action are buttons or links that prompt your visitors to take action and progress to the next stage of your conversion process. Include enough great Calls-to-action like “Download the eBook” or “Attend a Webinar” to ensure you convert your visitors into leads.
Landing Pages. When your visitors click on a call-to-action, they should be taken to a landing page. Landing pages are where your call-to-action offers are fulfilled, and where your visitors submit their information via one of your forms. When website visitors complete a form on your landing page for the first time, that visitor is converted into a lead.
Contacts. Track the leads you’re converting in a centralized marketing database. Having easily accessible customer data helps you coordinate every interaction you have with your leads across your various communication channels.
Now that you’ve developed a database of qualified leads you’ll want to transform those leads into customers.
You can either transfer these leads over to your sales team to develop into customers or you can continue to use marketing tools that to ensure you’re closing the right leads at the right times.
Closing tools include:
CRM. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems provide you with the information you need to better engage your leads across the breadth of your communication channels. CRM offers a number of advantages that will help you identify, understand, and better assist your customers to ensure you maximize every revenue opportunity.
Closed-loop Reporting. How do you know which of your marketing activities are bringing in your best leads and if your sales team is able to close those best leads into customers? An integrated Sales and Marketing CRM system will allow you to analyze how effective your sales and marketing teams are in coordinating their efforts.
Email. What do you do when your lead isn’t ready to become a customer? A series of emails focused on helpful, relevant content can build trust with a prospect and help them progress to buy.
Marketing Automation. This process involves creating email marketing and lead nurturing content tailored to the needs and buying stage of each lead.
Inbound Marketing is all about providing remarkable content to your users, whether they be visitors, leads, or existing customers.
You can’t forget about customers who have already decided to purchase from you.
You must continue to engage, delight, and upsell your current customer base, creating happy promoters of your business.
Tools used to delight customers include:
Surveys. Ask your users what they want and use their answers to shape your content creation and the user experience your channels provide.
Smart Content. Personalized content will take your relevance to the next level. Present different users with offers that change based on their unique needs and purchase requirements.
Social Monitoring. Keep track of the social conversations that matter to you most. Listen out for your customers’ questions, comments, likes, and dislikes – and reach out to them with relevant content.