Inbound marketing is the best way to turn your ideal customer into your biggest fan.
Inbound marketing is a methodology pulling marketers from outbound marketing methods (TV, radio, billboards, cold calls, etc.) towards a better way – a way that provides your ideal customer with helpful material when they’re looking for it. No longer do you have to scream for your prospect’s attention, interrupting their day with undesired advertisements. Search engines have created the opportunity for you to be available to your warm market at a time when they’re most ready to hear what you have to say – when they’re searching for what you’re offering! How many times have you yourself offered up your own email in exchange for a valuable piece of content you found online?
This graphic was designed by HubSpot, the de facto leader and originator of the inbound marketing methodology. In fact, their co-founder and CEO, Brian Halligan, coined the term ‘inbound marketing’ back in 2005. HubSpot is a company that has developed a SaaS application called HubSpot, which is the gold standard in inbound marketing software.
Inbound Marketing Basics
One huge advantage of inbound marketing is the opportunity to create content that speaks directly to your ideal customer. HubSpot calls these ‘buyer personas’, and we’ll stick with that naming convention. You’ll attract your buyer personas by developing helpful blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc. Focus on the type of content that will best appeal to your target market and answer the questions they have.
In tandem with the content development process, you’ll apply keyword research to your development process. This helps assure that you’ll be creating the type of content that your target market is already looking for.
Once you’ve created highly-targeted, quality content, it’s time to share it with the world. Using search engines and social media, you’ll find traffic begin to increase on your website. That is how strangers turn into visitors.
So you’ve successfully brought your buyer personas to your website! But traffic alone never paid the bills. It’s time to convert your visitors to leads. You’ll achieve this by offering additional content that requires they pay you back with information – namely, their email address. This is probably the single most valuable piece of information an internet marketer can receive from somebody, as it allows you to stay in touch with them through an automated sales process in a way that manual phone calls never could. More on that later, though.
There are different types of content to offer. Sometimes it can be as simple as a one-page checklist that simplifies a process you taught about in a blog post. Sometimes it could be a white paper, or even something as expansive as an ebook. As you spend more time investing in your inbound marketing efforts, your library of offers and content will continue to grow.
The actual conversion process will take place through tools like calls-to-action and landing pages to collect their information. This is where some fun automation begins to take place. As soon as they input their email for a particular offer, you’ll already have a system set up that will email them a confirmation email and send them their requested content. Additionally, that contact information will go into your database of customer information, where you can keep record of your interactions with them, and their position in your sales funnel.
You’ve invested a lot of educational information in your lead, and you’re ready to see the fruits of your labor. It’s time to close the deal. The first order of business is making sure you can even keep track of everything. This is where customer relationship management (CRM) software will be a huge boon for you. This lets you keep current with where each of your leads are in your sales funnel, and helps you know when to provide timely gentle nudges towards the close. Another benefit of the CRM is that it will allow you to closely monitor the dynamics between your marketing and sales teams, ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks.
One effective way to help close the deal is to send a consistent stream of helpful, related emails to each lead over time. This will do two things: 1) it’ll keep you fresh in the lead’s mind, and 2) it will continue to establish you as an authority in your field in their mind. A lot of marketing automation comes into play here. Fortunately, you can set it up once, and use it over and over and over for your leads. Additionally, the more information you are able to collect from each lead over time, the more tailored those emails can become for that lead.
The close is not the end of the journey! It’s important to stay in touch with your customers and do everything you can to take care of them. Surveys are a powerful way to really find out what your customers are loving and what could use improvement. You can’t get better market research than asking actual customers about their experience, and people will usually want to share those experiences with you anyway! You have not because you ask not.
It’s also useful to reach out to your customers when you have something new that may be of value to them. As your inbound marketing efforts grow, it’s important to begin developing resources for customers who have already gone through the purchasing lifecycle. Provide resources to help them after the fact, simply because you are indeed championing their success. Not to mention that no matter how amazing inbound marketing is, nothing in the world will ever compare to the power of a personal recommendation from a friend. Word-of-mouth will always be incredibly powerful, and taking care of your customers even after you’ve been paid will definitely show them that you’re a company worth promoting.
Lastly, it’s important to keep your ear to the ground with social media. Conversations are happening everyday about your industry, your services, and perhaps even your brand. There are tools that can aggregate this information for you, which makes it super simple to respond quickly. Don’t be silent. Be present and be an advocate for your company and services in those spaces you may have never otherwise reached had you not been paying attention.