Think about a purchase you’ve made recently: maybe you’ve bought a new car, tried a new local restaurant, or you finally hired a plumber to fix that leaky faucet. How did you make the decision to buy? Chances are, you did your research first, either by asking friends or family for recommendations, or going online to check out reviews, articles, and social media pages.
Most consumers today will research a product or company before they buy. With so much information available online, it’s not hard to see why. In order to stand out, businesses of all shapes and sizes are turning to inbound marketing strategies in order to stand out against their competitors and help their customers find them online.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM INBOUND MARKETING?
Whether you’re a startup or a long-standing corporation, B2B or B2C, a mom-and-pop store or a worldwide organization, any business can benefit from inbound marketing!
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Even if you haven’t heard the term “outbound marketing” used before, chances are you’ve seen examples of it everywhere. Outbound marketing is like casting a wide net, then, out of the group of potential visitors you “catch,” you hope a few of them are actually interested in what you have to offer.
TV commercials selling you a new shampoo or disruptive radio advertisements for an easy way to make money are both examples of outbound marketing. Thousands, if not millions of people will see these advertisements, but only a small percentage will actually find the information relevant to them. These methods are invasive, and they’re the reason we have ad blockers to avoid irrelevant content in our day-to-day lives.
Inbound marketing takes a different approach. Rather than reaching out to a large number of people hoping someone will listen to what you have to say, companies leveraging inbound marketing are making themselves more visible to the people who actually need what they have to offer.
Informative blog posts Ebooks, white papers, and other publications Email marketing Retargeting ads Chat bots
TV commercials Radio ads Telemarketing / cold calls Newspaper and magazine ads Direct mailing lists
The inbound methodology has four stages: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. This is a proven process which turns site visitors into leads, leads into customers, and customers into loyal advocates for your brand.
INBOUND MARKETING METHODOLOGY
If outbound marketing methods are like casting a wide net into the water in hopes of getting a specific type of fish, inbound marketing is using a certain type of bait you know those fish will love.
The attract stage is used to bring the “right people” to your website. This is done by producing and publishing relevant content. This could be in the form of blog posts, landing pages, and social media posts.
As we mentioned before, today’s consumers are much more informed, so the convert stage is meant to give site visitors an opportunity to become informed, educated leads for your business. A user enters the conversion stage when they take an action on the website, this could be a purchase but is more often an exchange of an email for a free, educational resource.
With this information, you can personalize your future interactions with leads by using tailored content based on your buyer personas. Aim to answer their questions and help them make informed decisions about what you have to offer.
Now that you’ve found the right people, answered their questions, and educated them about their options, it’s time to close the deal! Using tools to keep the conversation going and nurture potential customers, your sales team can close deals easily.
This is where lead nurturing comes in. The pages someone has visited and the content they’ve interacted with all indicate a lead’s potential interest. Use this information to adapt your message.
The idea of delighting your existing customers rarely seems to occur to businesses. After all, you already have their business, so what’s the use of spending any more of your time or budget on them?
Think back to your recent purchases. Did the input from your family or friends have any effect on your final buying decision? Your existing customers are your best sources for brand advocacy. They already love your business, and chances are they’ll be willing to tell someone else about you.
CREATING BUYER PERSONA
WHAT ARE THEY?
Building your inbound strategy starts with understanding your customers.
- Who are they?
- What are they looking for?
- What are their concerns?
- What are their goals?
Having a set of buyer personas for your business will help you answer these questions and build better relationships with your customers.
A buyer persona is a fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customer.
You may include demographic information such as your ideal customer’s age group, gender, and income level, as well as more in-depth information like their interests, habits, and concerns. Understanding these key traits can help you gain better insight into your customer or client base so you can produce content tailored to them.
Strong buyer personas are built on a combination of market research and information you gain through customer feedback through methods such as surveys and forms. Depending on your business, you may only have a few buyer personas, or you may have many. Developing your buyer personas can be an ongoing process that expands as your company grows. Our tip is to start small and use only information surrounding your most ideal customers, and then expand from there as needed.
When developing your inbound marketing strategy, your buyer personas can be used to plan content and personalize your interactions with a lead. One buyer persona might prefer to interact with a chat bot, while an email sequence would resonate more with another. Understanding your potential customers through the use of buyer personas helps you to create a more effective experience for each individual lead and guide them through the four stages of inbound marketing.
TOOLS OF INBOUND MARKETING
There are many tools used by inbound marketing agencies to guide your site visitors through the buyer’s journey.
It’s not just about the content, but who you present it to and when. Use your buyer personas to determine the types of content which will be most effective to your leads at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Inbound marketing starts with great content. Blogs, whitepapers, eBooks, pillar pages, and other educational content is used to inform your visitors and answer any questions they have about your business. Use your buyer personas to determine what type of content your audience will be most likely to enjoy, and how best to connect with them.
A successful inbound strategy is all about building connections. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest allow you to share content and put a face to your business. Use these platforms to connect and build relationships with your audience, share your content, and encourage customers to promote your brand for you!
The right email can be a powerful marketing tool. If a visitor interacts with your website or downloads a resource but still isn’t ready to become a customer, an automated email marketing sequence can help to gently nurture a lead and keep your business on their mind. Emails can be used to promote a new resource, provide extra information, or recover an abandoned cart on ecommerce websites.
Gated content can be just about anything: eBooks, whitepapers, articles, and more. The “gate” is a form a user must complete before accessing the information. The form will usually ask for a name and email address, and sometimes other information is requested.
You can use this form to ask questions so your marketing or sales team have a better feel for where someone is in their buyer’s journey. This allows for more targeted lead generation for your business.
Have you ever shopped for some new jeans on a website and then browse other pages on the internet and those same jeans follow you around? Even on Facebook? Those are retargeting ads. They can show up on social media or through Google’s search display network (aka a lot of other sites on the web), and they are targeting recent website visitors.
“Website visitors who are retargeted with display ads [through Google] are 70% more likely to convert on a retailer’s website” Source (https://www.invespcro.com/blog/ad-retargeting-2/)
With retargeting ads, you’re keeping your business at the top of the potential customer’s mind and nurturing them through their buying decision.
Every piece of content you product should have a Call to Action, or CTA. This is an extra “push” to guide your lead to the next stage in the buyer’s journey. This may be directing someone to download an eBook after reading a blog post, or asking a lead to contact your business via phone to take that next step toward becoming a customer.
CTAs are strategically placed to keep site visitors thinking about your business, and to help them take those “next steps” when the time is right.
Lead nurturing is the process of building a relationship with potential customers at each stage of the buyer’s journey and guiding them to the next stage in the funnel. Your marketing and sales teams can work together to develop a lead scoring system to determine the value of a lead.
This powerful tool is used to track business leads and help your marketing and sales teams work together to track each lead’s journey. The data gathered by your CRM will allow you to effectively nurture each lead individually.
Using your CRM, you’ll be able to look up a lead and see what content they’ve interacted with such as landing pages, resources, emails, and web pages, and use that information to evaluate the value of the lead.
Is a lead ready to become a customer, or would they benefit from extra nurturing? A CRM, such as Hubspot, can help you determine the best way to approach each lead and turn them into loyal customers!
Teaming up with an Inbound Marketing Agency
Why Inbound Marketing Works
In a world where consumers are increasingly aware and leary of advertisements, inbound marketing provides a user-lead experience that focuses on education and information over sales tropes and hype. Studies show that millions of people use some form of ad-blocking software, and consumers are opting to consume content on their own terms. Inbound marketing is a method for businesses of all types to adapt to these changes.