Whether you’ve come across the term inbound marketing before or are on a hunt for a robust way to enhance your ecommerce strategy, this one's for you -- why is the inbound methodology the way to go when it comes to upping your conversion rates and getting customers coming back for more? Let’s start with defining what inbound marketing is.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is a methodology by which you aim at attracting customers by creating valuable and relevant content.
The idea behind inbound strategy is to build meaningful long term relationships. In order to do so, you’ll want to focus on customer experiences that build trust. When you think about it, who’s gonna buy from you if they don’t trust you? Probably nobody.
Why do you need to adopt inbound marketing to your business?
Because times are changing! By 2021, mobile is predicted to hold over 50% of sales - and that’s not just on websites . Think of how many of us scroll (and see ads on) Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest every day. And let’s be real, long gone are the days where we couldn’t get rid of unsolicited ads and other contents that aren’t relevant to us (and our buyer’s journey).
Bottom line is: Ecommerce is growing and the possibilities are endless.
Inbound marketing will allow you to grow your database of prospective, current and past customers. It’s all about providing the right content to the right customer at the right time. You should be more of a friend than a pesky marketer trying too hard.
Everything starts and ends with your customers so it makes sense to invest in understanding them better. Surely enough the first step towards implementing inbound marketing for your online store starts with creating your buyer personas.
Create a buyer persona
A buyer persona is a semi fictional representation of your ideal customer based on real data and some select educated speculation about customer demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations and goals.
You want to imagine who is likely to be buying your product and who you are targeting in order to create content that will click. Essentially, putting yourself in your audience’s shoes to provide content that will interest them.
You can think of it as an extended version of “demographics”. You want to know the characteristics of your targeted buyer - age, gender and income but also what they do on a typical day, their job role, their daily challenges, their relationship status, if they have kids, what their role is in the buyer process and so on.
Then you’ll look into specific ecommerce behaviours to evaluate customer value
- How new are buyers? (recency)
- How often do they purchase? (frequency)
- And how much are they going to spend? (monetary -- buying power)
Buyer modalities analyse customer intent related to your product or service. To make things easy, group your buyers on a scale that evaluates purchase speed and emotional VS logical thinking.
Define business goals and objectives
Set out what you want to achieve. Key performance indicators (KPIs) will show you if you’re on track or missing the mark. If you aren’t quite there yet, that’s okay. At least you’ll know where there is room for improvement.
Now that your goals are set, your next step is to outline your marketing efforts to achieve them. This might come to you as a surprise, but thinking about your business as a funnel isn’t quite right. A funnel generally implies that what comes out at the bottom won’t have an impact on what’s coming from the top. But we know that in the business world, the people leaving your company can have a huge impact on the people coming in (your prospects).
If your customers are delighted by you, chances are they’ll probably rave about you. Likewise, if you disappoint them, they are likely to leave bad reviews that your potential customers could come across. It’s safe to say that for an inbound marketing company, we are looking at more of a flywheel than a funnel. As long as there's force, the wheel will keep spinning.
The attract stage is similar to the top of the funnel where your main goal is to create awareness which in turn makes up for the bulk of your leads. You can attract new website visitors by adopting the best SEO practices, repurposing content into blog posts and YouTube videos, seeking for user generated content, being active on socials and experimenting with paid media.
1. Search Engine Optimisation
SEO is here to increase organic visibility. The easier your website is to find, the higher your chances are of converting leads. It comes down to technical and non technical strategies.
Technical - Every product you sell should have its own webpage. You’ll want to rename your URL to include the product name or keyword. Make sure to keep it short as search engines typically will only read the first 50-60 characters.
Meta descriptions are the snippets of supporting copy that users see just below a page title in search results. Again keep it short to avoid your description getting cut off (and looking unpolished). Aim for descriptions under 300 characters here.
Non- technical - When it comes to what you can do on page, think of how to direct engines to what content they should focus on. An easy way to do that is to ensure every H1 tag includes a unique primary word. You’ll also want to bring attention to the Reviews, Benefits and Features section of your webpage by having those as subheading fonts H2, H3 and so on.
On the back end, your images should include “alt text” with target keywords. Doing that will help your images show up in Google’s image search results.
Successful blogs share valuable information to their prospective customers. That information builds trust (by showing you’re an expert), increases brand loyalty and in turn leads to more purchases. Make sure to include a clear purchasing path that will make it easy for your visitors to know where to click to purchase your product. Include links to product images and call to action buttons that stand out. Give access to free trials and guides so that your users get a taste of what you can offer. This will particularly appeal to your logical buyers.
3. User - generated content
It’s all in the ratings and reviews. Chances are, before putting their money where their mouth is, your prospect will want to hear what other mouths are saying about you. With money not growing on trees (sorry grandma, still having to work hard here), quite a few of us like safe bets. Displaying verified ratings and reviews on your website will entice potential buyers to trust you and will also improve your organic search engine ranking.
4. Social media
Make your content shareable. Include social buttons to your site to do just this (and allow for it to go viral!).
5. Paid media
Paid search advertising is an excellent strategy to attract new buyers. Usually people who click on your ad are ready to purchase (or at least have a high intention to do so).
6. Catalogue optimisation
You should regularly check on your products to see which ones are selling and which aren't. Getting rid of what doesn’t sell removes clutter and makes it easier for your customers to buy (what they are really here for).
If you notice that there are high selling items that don’t experience high traffic, that’s a great opportunity for you to invest in promoting those more -- you’ve got a gold mine there.
Once your products are converting at a high rate, identify ways to increase your website traffic -- think of welcome offers and pop-ups with free content. You want to get an email address asap in order to interact with them in a more personalised and meaningful way.
7. Email marketing
Adopt inbound marketing automation through scheduling emails to drive sales around promotions. Email marketing is still the highest converting channel offering a consistent revenue stream. Always A/B test email templates. A/B testing refers to comparing two versions of a webpage, email, app etc to determine which one performs better. This will allow you to determine what works best and do the same next time.
8. Site search
There's nothing more frustrating than not being able to find the product you’re after! That’s where having a search bar comes in handy.
We all want (and expect!) fast responses. While a real time interaction option can be a little pricey and hard to implement, you can always opt for a chatbot that addresses basic Q&As (that'll avoid you feeling like a broken record playing on repeat) and you should be able to keep Insomniac Ian busy until Caring Catherine comes into the office to answer his calls. Best thing about chatbots (besides not having to be in the office at an ungodly hour) is that you can even build your business’s first chatbot for free with platforms like HubSpot.
You want to have a hand out for whenever your customers want to reach out. Instead of having them wonder "Where do I sign up?", you want to hear "I've already signed up!!". Make sure to include an easy to fill out form and your email address.
11. Up-sell incentives
It's quite common for retailers to offer free shipping for orders over a certain threshold. For a gentle push to spend that little bit extra, include a “countdown” message during the check out process. This up-sell ultimately increases average order value and allows your customers to be reminded of the free shipping opportunity. Who likes to pay for shipping anyway?
You may also want to apply this up-sell concept to other areas of your site by including “purchased together” products.
12. Customer recovery
Abandoned carts happen when a visitor places an item in their cart but doesn’t end up purchasing. You can set up automated emails that will allow you to “follow up” and re engage users. The aim is to tempt them to come back through special offers and discounts.
What gets measured gets improved - track your successes and failures. Look into what is working, what isn’t and the why behind it.
Make their post-purchase experience one worth sharing. Add little touches that make them go wow -- add a card personally thanking them for their purchase or a handful of lollies - a little goes a long way.
Keep the conversation going. Ask your customers to share their experience, leave a review, recommend up-sells to complement their purchase and even offer special “welcome back” discounts.
16. Re-engagement campaign
Acquiring a new customer will cost you more than getting an existing one to purchase again. The key is to reach out to your customer before they disappear into the abyss and are gone forever.
17. Loyalty program
Loyalty programs work because who doesn’t want to be rewarded for consistently spending their hard earned cash on the same brand? It’s a great way to incentivise a customer to purchase from you again. Customers get quite competitive too and adepts often value belonging to the “higher tier” clique.
As customers spend more, they will get rewarded for their brand loyalty through various incentives including vouchers and discount codes.
While it may be impractical to send actual gifts out, again offering discount codes for birthdays and anniversaries is a great to show you remember the important dates (ie that you care).
While this may sound like a lot if you’re only starting out, know that you don’t necessarily have to follow absolutely everything to the T. The key is to be consistent and patient. Just like with that little indoor plant you’re nurturing everyday, your website needs all the TLC and time to flourish.