Mass marketing or “push” advertising worked extremely well in the earlier days. But times are changing, and so are consumer preferences.
It’s an undeniable fact that consumers online are doing their homework before buying something, especially when they are faced with multiple options.They’re using Google to research products and social media to seek recommendations from friends/family.
This is why inbound marketing is gaining more importance than regular outbound marketing. So as a business, you need to understand how “aware” consumers are and what you need to do to get on their radar with a real inbound marketing strategy.
There’s no doubt that consumers today want to…
- Be given priority and get educated about their own problems.
- Do business with brands that they are familiar with.
- Know your history and how you’ve helped others in the past.
- Get more comfortable with the solution they are buying into.
This new era is about hyper-personalized marketing, which even goes beyond relationship marketing.Which means…
- If you are building a relationship with your target audience, you are increasing the chances of getting more sales.
- If you are educating them beforehand and giving them the information they need to take a decision, you are making it easy for them to do business with you.
- If you are delivering value first, you’re giving them a reason to trust your brand
- If you are pulling consumers towards your brand instead of pushing your products on them, you’re winning their attention.
By focusing on inbound marketing, you are doing all of the above. Which not only helps you get more out of your marketing efforts, but also lets you stand out from the competition.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is about creating real-world value that helps people improve in a chosen area, while making your business look different from the rest. In other words, it’s about attracting the right people and making a positive impact on them. Which in turn makes them want to trust your brand and spread the word about it.
The most obvious first step to inbound marketing is to create helpful content that is relevant enough to attract your target audience. Which includes prospects that you want to turn into customers, and customers who you want to become repeat buyers.
When these people come to your site, they expect more from you. So you promise them more value by engaging them with the right tools, such as email. Once they are engaged, the final step is to continue delivering more value to them by sharing your useful expertise with the intention of delighting them.
When compared to outbound marketing, inbound marketing works on a much larger scale because you’re not trying to push your message out there. You’re not forcing yourself to win your prospect’s attention. Rather, you are creating valuable content that helps your potential customers not only understand their problem, but also find the ideal solution.
Using inbound marketing, your business can consistently…
- Attract prospects
- Create trust
- Build credibility
- Improve sales
- Grow consistently
Let’s now move on to understanding inbound marketing better and the dynamics that go into it.
How Does Inbound Marketing Work?
Having a sound inbound marketing strategy works for all types of businesses, regardless of their size. Because it’s simply a more effective and reliable way to sell while giving your customers the experience they deserve. It’s a win-win type of marketing for both you and your customers, which is the key to getting higher quality results in the long-run.
But before creating an inbound marketing strategy, it’s crucial for you to understand the inbound methodology, which comprises of four stages:
With a proper inbound marketing strategy up your sleeve, your brand can consistently deliver value and make progress at each stage of your customer’s journey. Which not only helps you develop a trusting bond with them, but also gives your business the needed momentum.
Here’s a detailed look into each of these stages…
Stage #1: Attract
Outbound marketing lets you target anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they’re interested or not. Whereas inbound marketing lets you attract people that actually want to do business with you.
With a strong inbound marketing strategy in place, you do not randomly attract anyone, but instead try to understand who your ideal buyer is. And then create suitable personas that represent your customers and their challenges.
By getting clarity on who your potential buyers are, you use inbound marketing tactics (such as blogging, email marketing, etc) to serve them better. You produce targeted content that not only educates your prospects, but also gives them the right answers. Stage #2: Convert
After attracting targeted, interested people to your website, you focus on converting them into leads. You ask for their contact information in exchange of a valuable piece of content like an ebook or case study.
You use two tools to convert visitors into leads:
- Call to Actions
- Landing Pages
Your call to action link or button entices visitors to click through to your offer, such as signing up for a webinar. After clicking on your CTA, the visitor lands on a landing page where they learn more about the offer and sign up for it with their contact information. Which adds them to your list of leads that you can interact with.Stage #3: Close
The next step is to use inbound marketing techniques such as marketing automation and lead nurturing to convert our new leads into prospects.
This is done by further educating your leads and nurturing them as time goes by, pushing them them further down in your marketing funnel. The whole idea is to get your leads closer to converting into a sale.Stage #4: Delight
Inbound marketing goes beyond just closing the sale. It’s also about giving your customers an experience that makes them remember you after they buy from you.
You use proven tools like email marketing and social media marketing, to not only give your existing customers the required support, but also engage with them consistently.
The biggest benefit of delighting your existing customers is the increase in word of mouth. Happy customers are easy to turn into brand ambassadors for your brand that have no qualms spreading the word about your company. This also leads to repeat sales in the long run.
2 Core Steps to Planning Your Inbound Marketing Strategy
Forming a proper inbound marketing strategy starts with effective planning. It allows you to set the right goals and also track your progress.
Here are the two core steps to planning an inbound marketing strategy that gives results.
Step #1: Set SMART Goals
In order to make your inbound marketing strategy work, you need to consistently measure your success. Which can only happen when you set the right goals. You need a solid benchmark to measure your efforts against, or else you’ll only be aiming in the dark.
Every goal that you set needs to be precise. Which means you cannot set random goals and expect to see results. The best way to go about it your goal setting is to take the SMART approach.
Your goals need to be…
Having a business goal like “growing audience reach” is great, but it’s vague and not smart. You need goals that suit your business and at the same time are crystal clear.
The inbound marketing ideas that worked for some other company may not work for your business. Which is why your SMART goals need to be in sync with your company size. Here are two examples of SMART goals, one for a new business and the other one for a growing company.
New Small-Sized Business
When you’re just in the initial stages, you need to get on the radar of your potential customers because they have no idea about your products or services. Which means your focus should be on attracting your target audience to your website and give them clarity on your offering.
Goal Example: Get more targeted visitors to your website.
SMART Goal Example: Create a series of blog posts and attract 1,000 visitors via social media in the first month.
Growing Medium-Sized Business
A medium-sized business that is already growing and has built an audience needs to have a different goal. At this stage, you already have a consistent stream of visitors to your website. Which you want to convert into prospects/leads that can later on be converted into customers.
Goal Example: Turn more leads into sales.
SMART Goal Example: Get 2% of visitors to download a case study in exchange of their email address and close 5 new customers in the next four weeks.
Step #2: Set Key Metrics
If you’re going to create an inbound marketing strategy, you also need to know if it is giving the kind of results you want. Which is why it’s important to consistently tweak and optimize it.
Now, unless you are measuring the important metrics, you won’t know what’s the next step you should take and if you should redirect your efforts in a new direction.
So optimizing your inbound marketing and measuring the effectiveness of your strategy go hand in hand. Properly tracking your inbound marketing KPIs helps you understand where you’re going wrong so that you can improve your efforts.Given below are some of the key metrics that you should be tracking if you want to increase the chances making your inbound marketing strategy successful.
- Conversion Rates
Your website conversion rate is a key metric to track as it gives you clearly idea on how many of your visitors are turning into leads and leads are converting into customers. Whether you are using a dedicated landing page to convert or a simple blog post, you need to focus on getting more people to take the desired action on your site.
- Website Visitors
Great content is the backbone of a solid inbound marketing strategy. But what’s the use of creating such content if nobody’s going to see it? Getting your prospects or potential customers to consume your content is an important part of inbound marketing.
This is why it’s crucial that you track the number of visitors to your main site or specific areas on it. This KPI gives you a clear idea of whether your inbound marketing tactics are helping you attract your audience.
- Traffic Sources
All traffic isn’t equal, which means knowing where your traffic is coming from is important. Website traffic is of different types, namely direct, organic, social, referral and email.
When you monitor your traffic, you’ll know exactly how people are coming across your content and what kind of results each channel is driving. Which can in turn help you measure the ROI of different channels.
- Warm Leads
Every prospect that downloads a piece of content from your site or subscribes to your newsletter has already shown interest in what you’re offering. Which makes him/her a warm lead.
Leads give you their contact information in exchange for your content, which makes it important for you to track them. You need to know exactly what pages are generating the most leads and how they are responding to your email marketing/social media marketing efforts.
- Paid Customers
Unless and until you’re tracking your paid customers, you’re not tracking your true ROI. Keeping track of customers that you gain as a result of your inbound marketing tells you whether you’re headed in the right direction or not. It’s the ultimate indicator of success or failure of your inbound marketing strategy.
- Conversion Rates
Creating a Strong Inbound Marketing Strategy
Now that you know how to plan your inbound marketing strategy, it’s time to create it. There are three parts to a successful inbound marketing strategy:
- Attracting visitors
- Turning visitors into leads
- Nurturing leads into customers
We’ll be looking into each of these parts in detail below.
#1: Attracting Visitors to Your Website
Your inbound marketing strategy will only work if you are consistently attracting the right people to your website. You want your target audience to naturally get pulled towards your content. And that can only happen when you do the following:
Define Your Buyer Personas
When you craft content, you want it to appeal to your prospects. You want them to benefit from it in some way. But in order to develop content that your audience finds value in, you’ll have to be clear on who they are.
- Who are you marketing to?
- What is their profession?
- What are their primary challenges?
- What are their goals or objectives?
- Where do they look for information?
- What are their objections?
By developing buyer personas, you’re no longer doing guesswork. You are not creating content just for the heck of it. You have a better direction and purpose, which improves your inbound marketing strategy.
Conduct a Content Audit
Any business that has been leveraging content for marketing, needs to do a timely content audit. The purpose of conducting a content audit is to analyze plus understand how your content is being used and delivered to your target audience.
For instance, if you’ve focused only on blogging over the year, then maybe you may want to try conducting webinars or deliver case studies to see how these other formats work. You can also audit your content for your buyer personas to see if they go with the buying stages.If you’re new to content marketing or have recently launched your business, you may not have an inventory of content in place. In this case, you need to focus more on what you will be producing over a course of time, and determine if it will go well with your audience.
Begin Producing New, Useful Content
When put in the effort to create new content, you want it to strike a chord of your target audience. With outbound marketing, that isn’t the case because you’re not targeting your content to a specific set of audience. But with inbound marketing, you know what content your prospects will find interesting because you’re producing it based on buyer personas.
The purpose of content creation is not just brand building, but also getting traffic back to your site. Not just any traffic, but traffic that will convert into leads/sales. So having a clear idea on who will be consuming your content and what appeals to them will help you attract the right people to your site.
There are many different types of content for you to create. Right from blog posts to eBooks to video content. You can go with one or multiple types of content, depending on your bandwidth.
SEO or search engine optimization has been out there for a long time now, and is counted as THE way to get free, organic traffic to your website. Since the search engine listings are free, all you need to do is invest some of your time to optimize your site.
The reason we’re mentioning SEO is because it’s an inevitable part of any successful inbound marketing strategy. Search engines like Google and Bing are powerful enough to find your content and show them to the right people, given that you’ve done your SEO well. So integrating SEO into your inbound marketing strategy is something that you should take seriously.
#2: Turning Visitors into Leads
Attracting the right kind of visitors to your website is important, but it’s not the only part to focus on. Your inbound marketing strategy should also involve a proper lead capture.
In other words, once someone lands on your site, you want to add them to your lead nurturing pipeline so that you can convert them into a sale later on.
In order to convert a visitor into a lead, you need to have some kind of “exchange of value”. You give something to your visitor and they give you their contact information.
Here are two simple tools that you can implement on your website to turn more visitors into leads.
- Exit Intent Popup
One of the most effective lead capture tools out there is the exit intent popup that can help you boost your conversion rate up to 10% when implemented properly.
The way an exit intent popup works is simple: as soon as you try to leave the site by hitting “exit” button on your browser, it triggers a popup overlay. Which basically tells you to stop so that you can avail a final discount or gain some other benefit such as access to exclusive content.
- Live Chat
There’s something about Live chat that makes it so meaningful in people’s eyes. It makes you look more authentic and approachable. It gives your visitors the confidence that you are real. Which makes it a great tool for engaging your visitors and boosting your conversion rate. If you want to capture more leads and do it without looking shady, Live chat is the way to go. In fact, it has been found to boost conversions by more than 45%. Because if you look at it, it’s the purest form of customer service offered instantly.
Given below are some quick benefits of using Live chat on your site…
- Exit Intent Popup
- It lets you connect to your visitors on a higher level and remove any objections they may have by answering their questions in real-time.
- It gives visitors an opportunity to talk to you about your site’s content and give direct feedback, which gives you the opportunity to convert them.
- It lets you personalize your messaging based on the location of the visitor or if he/she is a repeat visitor.
Regardless of the size of your business, you can and should use Live chat to boost the conversion rate of your site.
#3: Nurturing Leads into Customers
Lead nurturing is a crucial part of the whole inbound marketing strategy, where you engage your acquired leads with relevant/useful information. The type of information you send them depends on what stage of customer journey they are on, and what they need.
Developing relationships with your customers on various stages of the sales funnel becomes more easy and predictable with lead nurturing. The idea is to move each lead further down this funnel, so that you can turn them into a paying customer/client.
When you focus your inbound marketing strategy to get more leads into your sales funnel, you’ll have more clarity on the importance of having a strong lead nurturing process. Since less than 10% of your inbound leads will buy on impulse, you’ll have to nurture the rest of the 90% of leads to get more people to buy from you.
Here are the most common lead nurturing tactics you can use…
- Targeted content
- Multi-channel lead nurturing
- Timely follow-ups
- Personalized emails
- Lead scoring
- Sales and marketing alignment
Remember, generating traffic with great content and then converting it into leads/prospects is of no use unless and until you nurture your leads effectively. It’s the final piece of your inbound marketing strategy that helps everything fall in place.