Inbound Marketing is a marketing methodology that revolves around customer needs. Inbound uses techniques that make customers come to you, instead of you coming for them. The ultimate aim for inbound marketing is to create meaningful transactions that can sustain a lasting impact in customers' mind.
Have you experienced an overly-eager salesperson shoving flyers or brochures to your face as you’re minding your own business? How about promoters who practically yelled at you about their merchandises and wares? I was once even ‘assaulted’ by a cosmetics promoter who slathered my arm with her goopy body cream without a warning!
That’s how your customers feel every time they’re online. Banner ads, pop-up ads, unskippable video ads and more are so saturated in their browsing routine that installing ad-blockers is no longer an option - it’s a must. Advertisements are meant to interrupt and grab attention, but too many of them can be off-putting and even drive away customers.
What is the remedy for this uncontrollable advertisement overload? Enter inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is a marketing methodology that attracts customers through valuable and helpful content, tailored to meet their needs. Rather than pushing ads to people, inbound marketing pulls people into your touchpoints by answering their questions, helping them solve a problem, and meeting their goals.
How does inbound marketing works? We use content!
Content is the building block of inbound. We use content to build our inbound strategy so that that it's relevant to customers in a particular stage.
This powerful marketing strategy has become the main engine for many successful digital marketing campaigns around the world. It allows you to understand your customer in every stage before a purchase and guide you to make content relevant for each stage.
Let's begin by looking at the 4 stages of Inbound Marketing:
The INBOUND MARKETING Methodology:
This stage attempts to turn Strangers into Visitors. To do this, we have to bring the right content to the right audience at the right time.
Providing the right content
Informative and helpful content is the engine that pulls your target audience towards your website or social pages. The important metric here is not merely on the number of posts you published. Instead, a content's effectiveness lies in whether it is able to provide solutions that address your target audience’s challenges or pain points. Relevant content creates trust and value, two extremely important forces that drive the inbound strategy. Trust and value increase your chances of turning web and social visitors into potential leads, customers and more.
Targeting the right audience
How well do you know your customers? Can you identify which content is helpful for them at a particular stage? We usually use a Buyer Persona to get a well-defined structure of our customers, how they think, what are their motivations, what are they looking for and many more important data. All these customer data is vital so your content can work. Remember, content has to be relevant to create trust and value. Which is why getting your content to the right audience is imperative.
At the right time
We can predict customer behaviour based on trends and data. In an inbound marketing strategy, serving content at the right time means knowing where your target audience go to look for solutions.
Blogging, for example, helps the target audience to find you. This would be the perfect chance to address their concerns and build a long term relationship with them. In this Attract stage, your blog pulls in the audience and make them visit your website, social or blog page. If the content is relevant for them, you can bring them to the next Inbound stage.
Now that we got the Visitors' attention through attractive and helpful content, we should Convert them into Leads. To nurture a lead, we need more information about them. We can do this through strategic communication mediums such as forms, meetings and messages.
- Forms are usually packaged with a landing page - a specific webpage designed to capture leads. Here, visitors exchange their information for a lead offer or a lead magnet (that helpful content we've been talking about). These lead offers can be ebooks, webinars, tutorials, and more.
- Meetings are a great way of nurturing leads. It puts a human face and allows you to interact directly with Leads. There's now a web plug-in where interested visitors can schedule meetings straight from your webpage for a seamless and hassle-free scheduling.
- Live chat or chatbots are also great tools to Convert Visitors into Leads. These tools can help address a visitors' questions in real-time and accelerate the lead nurturing process.
- CRM (customer relationship management) is a system that helps you to keep track of your website visitors to optimise the Conversion process. Not only that, a CRM platform like Hubspot can host all your visitors, leads, customers and contacts into one centralised system that you can track and optimise.
So far, we have brought in Visitors and convert them into Leads. Now, we need to Close them into Customers.
Often times, the sales team and marketing team work separately. They often use different tools and metrics to communicate with each other. However, for inbound marketing to be successful, it is very important for both teams to be on the same page. With the help of Hubspot’s CRM and close-loop reporting, issues such as whether the sales team are converting the best leads, that are brought in by the marketing team, to customers can be resolved quickly.
Lead nurturing and email marketing
When a lead takes specific actions such as viewing your pricing page on your website, or signs up for a webinar, they have a shift in interest. A proactive and smart way of nurturing would be personalising the messaging to win over the lead.
Sometimes a lead may perform a lot of actions but still isn’t keen to become a customer. Keep the communication with the lead ongoing by performing a sequence of email that is useful and relevant. That way, trust and reliability can be built and assist them until they are ready to become your customer.
Retaining existing customers is more practical than constantly looking for new ones. So in this last stage, Delight, we keep engaging with customers so they keep coming back for more. Happy customers are your best promoters and brand ambassadors. One of the metrics we used to track Delight is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Here, you can identify who are your strongest advocators.
Keep customers delighted through segmented and contextual content that encourage them to spread the word about your company!
There you have it. We ran through the fundamentals of inbound marketing and its stages; Attract, Convert, Close & Delight. Inbound marketing has helped many successful names such as Starbucks, Cisco and Shopify gained loyal customers and create a well-known brand around the world. It is the next best thing in digital marketing. So check if your business is ready for a new way of marketing and start today.