Inbound marketing is one of those marketing strategies that sounds complex, but when you get to the root of it, chances are you’re already doing it in some way, shape or form.
I know we love to talk about how much planning marketing takes, but we only say it so much because it’s true. And no where is it truer than for an inbound marketing campaign. Just because you’re probably already doing some kind of inbound marketing doesn’t mean your job is completely done and dusted.
So, without further ado, let’s have a look into the fundamentals of inbound marketing and how you can apply it to each stage of the buying funnel.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is, pretty simply, the method of attracting customers, clients, prospects, or whoever else is paying you for the things your business does. Through inbound marketing, your goal is to build relationships and connections with the people you want to buy your product or service.
But, while traditional marketing may have told you otherwise, it’s not just about getting your target audience to empty their wallet. That method of marketing is far too shallow for 2021 and the age of humanising your strategy with your buyer personas and audience in mind. No, it’s about helping people with their problems and empowering them to reach their goals.
But, of course, you want them to do that with your products and/or services too.
I mean, you gotta put dinner on the table at the end of the day, right?
The thing is that it’s not enough just to attract customers to your business with your marketing efforts. You’ve also got to keep them there ... that's the take home message. That’s why inbound marketing typically covers the following three areas:
- Attracting: Helping your people find your business through creating valuable content, and making you sound like a trusted source that helps with various types of content.
- Engaging: Creating valuable content with insights and solutions that address what customers are struggling with, making you sound so clever that they actively want to engage with your resources and guides.
- Delighting: Always offering help and support, so customers feel empowered by their purchase, find success, and turn back to you for help when they need it.
What is the Flywheel?
The flywheel is a term coined by our friends at HubSpot, and it demonstrates both how you can turn strangers into promoters through the inbound methodology and how this method can easily accelerate your ROI and rate of qualified leads entering your sales funnel.
The idea is that, as you move from Attracting to Engaging and Delighting, you’re building momentum that makes that flywheel turn. And as the flywheel spins, it turns strangers into leads, customers, and at the end, promoters.
Now for the (somewhat) science-y bit.
See, for things to keep spinning, the amount of energy needs to be greater than the resistance pushing against it. It’s simple physics. But, in marketing, you’re always going to meet resistance, particularly at the start of the process. When your flywheel starts out spinning, it’s going to be pretty slow, so it’s easier to slow down with that resistance.
When your flywheel gains traction, well, that’s where the fun begins. Because now, that resistance that threatened to slow or stop everything in the beginning doesn’t affect you any more. Instead of having to constantly fund attraction strategies, you’re now in a position where your promoters bring in new people for you.
With all of that being said, you still need to find your people first. Thankfully, there’s never been more support to help you answer search queries and bump up your search rankings.
Content marketing is awesome as an inbound marketing methodology, particularly in the Attracting phase. By using a combination of social media marketing, SEO, and super helpful content, you can start showing your customers how valuable you and your products are to encourage all-important conversions.
You’ve probably thought about content marketing and how it fits with the Buyer’s Journey and, honestly, inbound marketing isn’t too dissimilar. There are indeed a ton of parallels between Attracting strategies and the Awareness stage, in that both aim to woo customers towards your products by showing how gosh darn useful they are.
With the aim here being making your content easily findable and accessible, strategies like SEO content and social media marketing are great ways to attract your people and begin explaining why you’re the perfect solution for them.
Now that you’ve found your people, it’s time to work on selling to your people. But, more than that, you want to make sure that they’re engaging with what you do and actively making the decision to pursue a long-term relationship with your business.
This is where your inbound marketing methodology will begin to depend a lot more on your specific business and how you go about marketing and selling to potential buyers.
eCommerce businesses, for example, might use Engaging strategies like building specific email campaigns to market certain solutions to certain customer profiles. Or, if you have sales reps that handle calls from interested prospects, Engaging strategies could include things like having a strategy for calling back leads to create more opportunities and spending more time talking about customer issues than the product you’re selling.
With Engaging strategies, it’s vital to remember to sell a solution, not a product. After all, it really doesn’t matter if you have the absolute best vegan leather dog accessories known to humankind if your customers don’t think they have any need for them.
And, if they don’t have any need for them, then attempting to sell them regardless comes across as cheap and somewhat scammy.
In short, inbound leads need to feel like they’re entering a mutually beneficial arrangement. They get a product or service that they need to fix a problem they have, and you get paid. Win-win.
The biggest mistake I see a tonne of businesses making with their inbound marketing plan is failing to follow up with their customers once they’ve made a purchase. Inbound marketing can’t exactly be a three-step process if you’re failing to recognise the third step!
Delighting is more than closing deals - it's all about making sure the customer is happy with what they’ve bought and has a line of communication with you if they need any more guidance or help, it's arguably the stage that provides the biggest impact. Trust me, it makes all the difference between a customer that’s a one-hit-wonder and a customer that becomes your biggest cheerleader.
Emailing surveys and using chatbots are a great way to make sure your customer is happy with their purchase. Plus, social media is a great opportunity to offer extra support, particularly as it’s an easy channel for customers to communicate through. By responding to reviews and publicly answering questions customers ask on your page, you’re not just making sure every customer is happy with their experience and improving customer retention, but you’re also showing potential customers the benefits of working with you - vastly improving customer expectations.
Curious About Inbound Marketing?
At Neighbourhood, we love inbound marketing - not only for conversions and customer acquisition but as an overarching business methodology. Some might say a little too much but hey, that’s what you get when you’re an inbound marketing company that froths what they do. So, if you’re curious to hear more about what we’ve just talked about, just reach out!
Whether you’ve already got a plan in mind or you just need help with inbound marketing automation, we’re the ones to call.