Inbound marketing has a lot in common with everyday life. These days, most of us are bombarded with messages and updates from numerous apps and social media platforms where it can be difficult to make your voice heard and to remember all the pieces of information that are being sent your way.
However, to keep pace with modern life it’s important to keep up with the news, be aware of current trends, know what’s going on in your areas of interest and stand out from the crowd. Inbound marketing is much the same in that there are certain tasks to complete, structures to follow and information to share that will ensure your strategy is a success.
The key aim of an inbound marketing strategy is to attract, engage and delight customers and potential customers by offering a solution to their problem or an answer to their question. By providing the information they need at the time they need it, customers and prospects will come to trust and rely on you as a valuable source of information, and that trust is invaluable when it comes to actually making a purchasing decision.
There are many steps to the inbound marketing process. Allow me to explain...
1. Direct Marketing
A few years ago it wasn’t uncommon for every website you visited to bombard you with pop-ups and intrusive advertising, the idea being that this was the only way to get your attention.
Thankfully most companies have realised that this is a sure-fire way of alienating their audience, even if what’s being communicating is rich with social media advertisement and positive offers.
Instead, indirect marketing avoids spamming and intrusive content, instead encouraging people to come to you when they have a need. To develop an effective inbound marketing strategy it’s important to meet the needs of your customers and prospects at every stage of their purchasing journey.
Central to the success of this is being front and centre at the awareness stage, because without awareness, you’ve already missed the most crucial stage of your marketing funnel.
The awareness stage describes when customers are just starting out on their buyer’s journey. Generally, this will be the time when someone enters a relevant search term into Google and browses what comes up.
By offering content such as blogs, top tips and ebooks on your specialist area, and ensuring you rank highly with search engines, this is the stage at which you can portray yourself as an authority on your topic, helping visitors to answer the questions they have.
Next up is the consideration stage, where customers know what they want and are evaluating similar products. Here content should be based around building trust and promoting your reputation as a market leader, think case studies and comparison guides. You want to stand out from the pack in all the right ways to make sure you’re the only choice.
With customers ready to buy, now’s the time to bring out the big guns. Think free demos and live webinars to answer their remaining questions – anything that helps them make that final decision. However, the customer journey doesn’t end here, there’s still more to come...
You’ve convinced a customer that you can meet their needs, but there’s still work to do. Once you have a customer, it’s much more efficient to target repeat business than continually finding new people willing to spend on your product or service, so go the extra mile to keep them happy. Offer rewards for loyalty, recommend additional products or services that can complement what they already have, keep offering educational material, etc. Do this well enough and they may even help you with your marketing by recommending you on social media or reviewing your product.
So, how do you navigate the complicated world of meeting and even exceeding customers’ needs every step of the way. The first aspect to consider is who is your customer?
6. Buyer Persona
Buyer personas represent your customers, highlighting everything from their age and gender to their psychographics - their fears, goals, ambitions and emotions. You’ll likely have a number of different buyer personas to describe the different types of people who will be interested in your product. Take time to get to know these personas, give them names and develop them until you truly understand what they like and dislike and what they want from a company.
7. Bounce Rate
Of course, no matter how detailed your personas, you won’t be able to please all of the people all of the time. What is important, however, is that you’re aware of and manage this ‘bounce rate’ – those visitors that enter your site and then leave without viewing more of your content offering.
If you are struggling to increase visitor time on your pages and have a high bounce rate it’s time to do some analysis into the reasons behind this.
8. Generate and Nurture your Lead
Once you’ve attracted people to your site and encouraged them to find out more, it’s time to nurture that lead. Find out their likes and dislikes, the problems they want to solve and the needs they’re looking to fulfil. All of this information can be stored in your content management system, which will help you to analyse it, highlighting the preferred methods of communications, the best time to reach them on social, previous interactions with the company and their outcomes. By investing in a good CMS you can ensure that the customer journey is smooth at all points, there’s no repetition and everyone in the business is able to view all the relevant information on each customer.
9. Landing Page
A great way to garner attention is to create landing pages focused around topics you know are key to your customers. You can find these out by looking at your SEO reports, asking customers or looking at what your competitors are doing. By creating a resource where visitors can easily navigate their way around all the content you have on a particular subject, you can engage customers and encourage them to stay with you for longer, enabling them to make the best decision when it comes to purchasing.
10. Call to Action
However, simply having people peruse your website won’t have much impact when it comes to sales, and it’s here that calls to action (CTAs) are important.
CTAs can cover everything from a form to sign up for a newsletter to gated white papers that require visitors to enter their information in return for a free download. Before creating your CTA, make sure you know the goals you want to achieve and make it a compelling offer – people need to see value in order to give up their personal details.
And don’t forget to make sure any visual elements of your CTA align with your wider brand identity.
Once you’ve created your content and CTAs, there isn’t time to be complacent and think all the hard work is done. By analysing how your content is performing, how many people are reading, downloading, signing up and ultimately buying, you can physically demonstrate the effect your work is having and the return it is creating. Not only that but you can test different campaigns to see their impact and analyse how well pieces of content are performing allowing you to improve those that are having less impact while promoting those that are particularly popular.
Analytics to keep your eye on include website traffic, clickthrough rates, bounce rates, time on site and conversion rate.
By implementing all of these elements, not only will you attract more visitors to your site, you’ll also engage them, answering their queries and guiding to them to make the best purchasing decision. By going the extra mile to delight them with useful insights, offers and great products and services, you can encourage them to be long-term customers and even do your marketing for you by sharing their positive experience of working with you.
Of course, all of this takes time, effort and the knowledge of inbound marketing specialists. For more info on how to generate leads via inbound marketing, download our lead generation eBook '30 Lead Generation Tip, Tricks & Ideas'