When you think of marketing, what’s the first thing you think of? Maybe you go straight to thinking of all the annoying promotional emails piling up in your inbox (even though you did sign up for them…), or the annoying telemarketing phone calls you seem to get and more importantly wonder how they heck they got your number in the first place? Maybe, as a marketer, you think of the hours you spent creating the perfect ad only to look at the results not being quite what you had hoped?
Having things pushed onto you, when you aren’t looking for that information can be pretty annoying. Sometimes you just want to be able to get from A to B in a shopping centre, not necessarily end up being followed by some sales guy half way through the shopping centre.
While the advice I am about to give you sounds similar to you trying to convince your best mate to not contact their ex during the breakup - you have to let customers come to you when they are ready to. You might be ready to sell to them, but they need to come to you on their own terms. In doing so, it allows you to focus on building relationships with customers and giving them the space to come to you when they have a problem that needs solving. This means you aren’t the annoying person contributing to their pile of unread emails, or bothering them by phoning them at 6pm on a Friday night when they definitely do not want to talk to you about life insurance. An inbound marketing strategy allows you to do your job and get results, while not annoying customers with information they don’t need. Think of it as building the foundations for a lifelong friendship with customers. In return? You’ll get lifelong business.
But what exactly is inbound marketing and how can the right inbound strategy work for you?
What Is Inbound Marketing?
In simple terms, inbound marketing is a marketing methodology that attracts customers to your business by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. By doing this, the inbound marketing methodology lets you build lasting relationships with existing and prospective customers, while valuing and empowering them to reach their goals at any stage in their journey with you.
This means, at its core, inbound marketing lets you engage and interact with customers even before they’re ready to buy. In contrast, outbound marketing is about pushing your message out to an audience crossing their heart and hope to die that someone, heck, ANYONE will respond. Don’t know about you, but that reeks of desperation and no one rates it.
How Does Inbound Marketing Work?
The inbound marketing methodology is applied through a series of stages, known as the flywheel, that helps you build relationships through the entire customer journey.
The stages are:
- Attract. Here you attract strangers to your website and your brand with high-quality engaging content that answers their questions or solves their problems.
- Convert. Once attracted to your website these strangers become visitors and with conversion optimized landing pages, forms, and compelling calls-to-action, you’ll convert these visitors into leads.
- Close. With tools like lead scoring, closed-loop reporting, lead nurturing, and lead intelligence, coupled with follow up and sales tactics, you’ll turn these leads into new business.
- Delight. Once leads are turned into customers, the work doesn’t stop. You don’t want to forget about them, and you’ll continue to create and share content that helps them use your product. This makes your customers a tool in your arsenal that ensures referrals.
With these steps, customers find success and they share their success with others that, in turn, attracts new customers to your business. This leaves you with a self-sustaining loop of new and returning customers. For this reason, with well thought out inbound marketing, a company can greatly increase its marketing efforts. It’s basically the beginning of a cycle that only ever returns positive results - you’d actually be madder than the mad hatter himself not to implement inbound marketing right this very moment.
Why Create an Inbound Content Strategy?
Simply knowing how something works, doesn’t mean you’re suddenly an expert who knows how to do it, or how to do it well for that matter. If it were that easy, everyone would create multi-million dollar companies in a day. And understanding how the inbound marketing methodology works is only one part of the equation. Understanding just how the methodology You probably also want to know what it can mean for your business. So why does it work?
You’ll instantly generate higher website traffic. The more relevant content you create, the more opportunities you have to rank for your keywords and the more visitors that will be turned into customers or leads. If you understand the problem your buyer personas are facing, creating content that answers their problems is like finding gold at the bottom of a rainbow! (slightly more realistic though).
It gives you qualified leads. The customers that do flock to your website, will already have an interest in the product or service you are offering. Increasing your chances of having these strangers turn into qualified leads.
It strengthens your reputation. If you create high-quality content, your audience will associate your brand with the same high quality. In other words, with inbound marketing you show your audience why they should buy from you, unlike outbound marketing where you yell at them to buy from you.
It builds on itself. In contrast to traditional advertising where you pay for a print or radio ad as a once off, the content you create stays on your site for as long as you want it and continue to generate results for year to come. Plus, it provides you with the ability to repurpose your content.
Customers come to you on their terms. The modern world is associated with independence. We want to believe that it was our own decision to interact with a brand, on our terms. With inbound marketing you don’t interrupt your customers with information they don’t need at that stage. They come to you on their terms when they need a product or service and they have the freedom to take their time learning about your business.
It builds relationships. Inbound marketing goes further than solely aiming to make sales. It lets you build relationships with your customers by providing them with useful information that relates to your product or service.
It moves leads through the sales funnel. By providing relevant information and touchpoints for all stages of the sales funnel, it lets you help customers decide and move forward, ultimately resulting in sales.
It provides information. Unlike traditional approaches that don’t offer much to measure their effectiveness, inbound marketing automation platforms allow you to see measurable information of what works and what doesn’t. From here you can adapt and improve your inbound marketing strategy.
It can be personalised. You can tailor your content and calls to action to each visitor’s location, industry, and other demographic information. This provides a custom experience for each visitor and it’s far more effective than marketing with a one-size-fits-all approach like traditional ads.
It creates your brand. By creating content that relates to all parts of your business. This reinforces who you are as a brand, creates awareness and it makes it easy for customers to identify with what you offer.
Add to these the fact that inbound marketing outperforms traditional outbound marketing every time, and it’s easy to see why we’ll always suggest that you make inbound marketing a priority.
How to Create a Powerful Inbound Marketing Strategy
Now you know the importance of an inbound marketing strategy, it’s time to talk business. How exactly are you supposed to create your own inbound marketing strategy? To create an effective and powerful strategy, we’ll circle back to the different stages of an inbound marketing methodology summed up in the below infographic.
Like training a puppy to do something with the end goal of being rewarded with a treat, you need to do a similar thing for your customers. Your site needs to be attractive to them to get them there in the first place. To do this, you first need to identify your buyer personas to understand who you’re marketing to and what their challenges and goals are. Once you know who your customers are, you’ll be able to understand what will attract them to your site.
With this in mind, you’ll be able to create content or tailor your existing content to attract potential customers to your site. Here, you’ll also be able to use a search engine optimisation strategy to focus on driving organic search that increases exposure and attracts more visitors to your site.
Tools to use in the attract stage include blog articles, social media posts, and video content. This can include how-to guides, information about your solution, and customer testimonials. Irrespective of what content you choose to use, it is important to remember that the most important thing is that it provides value (with a capital V).
Once you’ve attracted visitors to your website, you want to turn these visitors into leads and nurture them through the sales funnel, to become customers.
To do this:
Offer something. In exchange for giving you their information you’ll want to offer something of value to your visitors. It doesn't matter what it is, but it must be valuable enough to let visitors leave their details to get it - a GREAT example, is encouraging users to sign up to the mailing list for $20 off your first order.
- Create a call to action. This attention-grabbing button will ask your visitors to perform an action to receive your offer. From here, they’ll be taken to a landing page where they’ll be able to claim their reward.
- Create a landing page. The next step is to create a landing page with a form where your visitor can see exactly what is required of them to claim their offer. To help the visitor focus on the offer and continue along the conversion path, this page shouldn’t have any navigation back to your main page. Once a visitor clicks the submit button, that visitor will become a lead and will be taken to the thank you page.
- Create a thank you page. This page should provide the offer you promised and have navigation to the other pages on your site that will encourage visitors to stay engaged with your website.
Once you’ve captured the leads, you’ll have to nurture them to become customers. Remember, you already have their information, so tactics to nurture include targeted content, follow ups, personalised emails, and lead scoring. All these aim to help move your leads to the point where they become paying customers. And it’s especially important when you consider that only a small percentage of inbound leads are ready to make an immediate purchase.
Now that your leads have become customers, delighting inbound strategies keep them happy, satisfied, and supported long after they make a purchase. You could, for instance, use chatbots and surveys during specific points of the customer’s journey to assist, support, and to let customers give feedback.
When you succeed in delighting customers, you make them brand advocates and promoters, that spread the word and help you get more leads.
Start Getting Leads
With these strategies, you’ll be attracting your ideal customer left, right and centre. As you have to wait for your customers to come to you when you’re ready, you need to remember patience is a virtue in these circumstances. After understanding your buyer personas needs and pain points, focus on these inbound strategies and you’ll be on your way to design and implement an inbound marketing strategy that makes customers come to you, increases your leads, your conversions, and your sales. if you’re still not convinced, and want to know if inbound marketing can actually help your business? Get in touch!