Inbound marketing has been a disruptive force in the business world for years now. It is clearly not a fad, but here to stay. So, whether you are just hearing about inbound or finally deciding that it is right for your business, you are making the correct decision by creating an Inbound marketing strategy.
But how can you create something which you know little about? Worry not, we’ve got you covered.
The first step to getting started with inbound marketing is education. Even if you employ or plan to employ a marketing director or staff, it will be difficult to oversee and work with your employees if you don’t know Inbound like the back of your hand.
Nothing worth having comes easy. Relationships (of all kinds) take work. Customers take work. Building a team takes work. If it's easy, it's often not worth having and almost never a competitive advantage.—Rand Fishkin
Inbound marketing began gaining traction in 2006, and since then has been the most effective online marketing tool for increasing website traffic and converting that traffic into leads. The methodology rests on the core idea that, with the omnipresence of the internet, businesses no longer need to actively spread their own product or service. Instead, customers have the opportunity and ability to search for solutions to their own objectives or pain points. In the 21st century, the age of e-commerce, the power has shifted from the business to the buyers!
So if businesses shouldn’t exclusively pursue their potential consumers via traditional sales and marketing techniques (like cold calling and email lists), then how should they market themselves? It all comes down to meeting your potential customers on their own terms. The four pillars of the Inbound methodology are Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight.
In the Attract stage, you want to turn strangers of your business into visitors to your site. This is achieved by producing quality content. The keyword is quality! Think of it this way: you don’t just want traffic to your site, you want the right traffic. A 20% conversion rate of 10,000 monthly visitors is clearly better than a 2% conversion rate of 50,000 monthly visitors. The better tailored your website is to the specific needs and challenges of your ideal customer, the better your website will be at lead conversion. Consider this: A HubSpot marketing statistics report showed that 1 in 10 blog posts are compounding, meaning organic search increases their traffic over time. By publishing blogs you are not only providing relevant and useful material to your potential customers, you are also increasing your SEO by using evergreen keywords and content. This pushes you up the search engine rankings so that when people google a product or service that you need, your website will be higher up on the results page.
>> Learn more about how to attract visitors to your website with inbound marketing [video]
Focus on the core problem that your business solves and put out lots of content and enthusiasm, and ideas about how to solve that problem.—Laura Fitton
Now that you are attracting visitors to your site, how do you turn them into leads? In the Convert stage, your mission is to collect contact information of your ideal customers so that you can begin to communicate with them about how they can best meet their goals or solve their dilemma. (Notice here, that we want to solve their problem, not incessantly push our solution.) Provide forms for site traffic to fill out, which is usually rewarded with a downloadable piece of material that you provide in exchange for this information. These Calls-To-Action (CTAs) are a way to genuinely connect with your customer base. Test out different CTAs over time to see how to most effectively communicate with your target audience.
>> Learn more about how to convert website visitors to leads [video]
So you’ve been publishing quality content, providing CTAs, and now you have a substantial list of qualified leads in your database. What now? It’s time to close! Using a Customer Relations Management program (CRM) really helps to optimize your sales process, as it consolidates information about your leads and helps you to reach out to the right people at the right time. A CRM is an incredibly versatile and powerful tool which can even be utilized on mobile devices. It is almost hard to believe, but as of 2016 HubSpot found that “22% of salespeople don’t know what a CRM is.” Purchasing a CRM and educating your sales team is a good first step.
As they get more familiar with the interface, they can more efficiently organize their contacts and leads, and therefore close more deals. You can even go one step further and automate some of these processes. For example, you might put an automation in place that emails a contact a specific downloadable offer if she clicks on two or more offers on your site. Another idea is to automatically send push notifications to your sales team if a contact has viewed the same page 3 times or more in the past 2 days. This will allow a member of your sales team to reach out and personally help identify the challenges of your contact as well as offer other, useful material.
>> Learn more about how to close leads into customers with the inbound marketing methodology [video]
Now that you have filled out your funnel and have a full sales process in place, the last piece of the Inbound puzzle is to delight your customers. The Delight phase is not only about retaining customers; it is also about providing such quality content, product, and post-sale service that your customers become advocates for your company. By providing an experience that isn’t directly tied to a monetary gain or business transaction, you develop an honest and genuine rapport with your buyers. Examples of post-sale touchpoints include surveys and social monitoring. Social monitoring is the ongoing process of engaging with your consumer base on social media channels. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are the most common channels, but don’t be afraid to play around with Google+ or even sites like Pinterest and Instagram if you think you can find some of target buyers there. If you effectively and consistently maintain an online presence on social media, you will be rewarded with brand-loyal evangelists. These are people who will champion you as an industry leader, and that pays large dividends in the long-term as it adds credibility and positive notoriety to your company.
>> Learn more about how to delight and retain customers with inbound marketing [video]
So you’ve learned the 4 pillar of the Inbound Methodology, and are now chomping at the bit to put your own marketing strategy in place. Below is a simple breakdown of the major points of each pillar, that will serve as a handy reference guide for you (or your team) to refer to for ideas on how to interact with customers at each stage of their journey.
Goal: Increase website traffic
- Blogging (relevant, helpful)
- Social Publishing
Goal: Turn strangers into visitors (and into leads)
- Landing Pages
Goal: Turn leads into customers
- Marketing Automation
Goal: Turn customers into evangelists
- Social Monitoring
With these tips in mind, you’ve got everything you need to start planning your inbound marketing strategy and have a monumental Q3.
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