Inbound Marketing is becoming more and more of a buzz word amongst marketers. At the core, it’s about carrying on a conversation with a user until they become a customer. A nurturing process, if you will, where you guide the customer through their purchase journey. While it does take a lot of work upfront, it is capable of growing a continuous revenue stream that is incredibly valuable to businesses of all sizes.
It’s no longer about continuously forcing marketing messages on potential customers. Blasting people with emails and marketing collateral nowadays just gets you ignored. People are so inundated with marketing material that the average attention span for users is now down to only 8 seconds! You’ll need to create some value in your brand in order to draw new customers in. Ready to learn how? Let’s go.
How It Works
OK, now that you’re primed and ready to learn about Inbound Marketing you may be asking yourself — how exactly does this work? Well, you’re in luck — Hubspot has a fancy graphic that explains this in detail:
As you can see it all begins with complete strangers. As they come across your content, they turn into visitors, leads then customers and hopefully in the end they turn into promoters (brand advocates). Let’s begin with the first step in the journey: converting Strangers to Visitors.
Strangers into Visitors
This is probably one of the most important conversions in the chart above. Your brand has to somehow bring in people who may or may not have heard of your brand and then carry them through their journey until they turn into paying customers. We’ll begin with the basics — you absolutely need a website.
1.) Build a Website
If you don’t have a website — you’ll need to begin there. While you’re at it, let’s also make sure that this is optimized for mobile (this is increasingly important). If you’re already past this one — awesome, we’re on the right track.
2.) Optimize for Search
The next thing you’ll need to do is ensure that you understand the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and what keywords you want to target. This will help to increase your “findability” on the web. Services like Google Trends and Yoast Suggests will be of use here if you’re doing this on your own. Moz.com also has a great article for beginners here.
3.) Create a Social Presence
Make sure you create an account for your business on all social networks that apply. These accounts (or social channels) will be extremely important to your Inbound Marketing efforts. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest are the top four that most brands pursue.
4.) Start Blogging
You’re probably staring at the page blankly right now trying to think of what you could possibly write about. For inspiration just think of things that your customers might ask you or what care about. They’re who we’re after here. We want to draw them into our inner circle and continuously feed them valuable information (much like I’m trying to do now).
If you’re having trouble here, you may want to begin by defining who your customers are, what they buy, when they buy it and where they are likely to find you. These buyer personas (new terms, yay!) will help you get a better grasp on who you’re actually writing for.
The content you generate here will benefit you in a number of different ways. You’ll be generating more SEO value in your website (so people can find you), enriching your connection with your customers and increasing the value in your brand.
5.) Push your content out
Now that you have started marketing your content it’s time to push this information out to the web. You’re already blogging and you have social media accounts, but have you started posting the blog articles to social media? How about submitting your URLs to the search engines?
You should start setting up a content schedule as to where and when you’ll be pushing out your content. Free services like Hootsuite can make the management of this very easy as you can schedule social media postings for times when you’re not available.
As for the URL submission to search engines — you’ll simply need to create a sitemap and set up Webmaster accounts on each search platform. If this sounds like Greek to you (and you don’t speak Greek) you might want to hire someone to help you with this. A sitemap will provide search engines with a formatted listing of all links on your site. It ensures that your site will be crawled and makes it faster to have your content indexed.
Visitors into Leads
Now that you have people coming to your site, you’ll need to engage with them. Engagement is the method of conversion here. It can be done through many different ways:
- Contact Forms
- eBook signups
- Landing Pages
- Support Chats
- Newsletter signups
- Providing valuable information that makes the visitor look smarter
- Social sharing
- or other calls to action like a “Call us now” promo.
The end game here is to have customers engage with your brand in some way. This won’t always come easy and sometimes you might need to provide something of value (for FREE) in order for them to convert into a lead.
Leads into Customers
Now that you know that they appreciate your brand, you’re ready to turn these new leads into customers. All of the Inbound Marketing work that you’ve been doing is about to pay off! You can’t always control this transaction but there are a number of different ways to influence it. eCommerce deals and targeted email campaigns are two good methods here.
For companies with larger budgets, HubSpot does provide an invaluable resource as well. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems aren’t always cheap but they do provide some key insight. It will give you the keen ability to see who is visiting your site and send out automated marketing material that is based on the browsing habit of the lead.
Customers into Brand Advocates
Once the user is now a customer, we want them to continue to buy products. We’ll need to nurture that customers and ensure that they feel as if they are the only customer we have. Surveys, thanking customer referrals and discount codes are some of the more popular ways to nurture your customers. Make sure that at every touch point you’re following up with them.
If they have a complaint and post it to social media — address it. If they called your support line and you have their email — send out a satisfaction survey. They might not take it but they will at least know they have the opportunity to provide feedback.
GO GET STARTED
I’m sure that you’re incredibly excited to begin your Inbound Marketing journey and are ready to start converting all of these strangers into paying customers. That’s what it’s all about. The model of customer care has already shifted in this direction. Are you going to follow suit? Or fall behind?