What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is a different approach to outbound marketing. Outbound marketing involves methods which are considered interruptive to customers, such as adverts.

Inbound marketing on the other hand focuses on content and interaction that attracts customers. This means potential customers can find you through channels such as search engines, blogs and social media. Content is created and published to address problems and needs that your ideal customers may have, allowing your brand to attract relevant traffic that you can then work to convert, close, and delight over time - building trust and credibility for your business. If you're already switched on when it comes to inbound - take a look at our lead generation ebook to see how when put into practice inbound techniques can boost the amount of business your website receives. 

What is the Inbound Marketing Methodology?

The Inbound Marketing Methodology is about turning strangers into customers and promoters of your business. This involves four actions or Attract, Convert, Close, Delight.

These four actions are how you transform stranger into visitors, then into leads, then into customers, and finally into promoters. 

What does Inbound Marketing involve?

  • Content Creation - Create targeted content that answers potential customers’ basic questions and needs. Once created share that content as far and wide as possible through a range different channels.

  • Lifecycle Marketing - Promoters don’t just magically appear: they always will begin as strangers, visitors, contacts, and customers.Using specific marketing actions and tools helps transform strangers into promoters as they progress through the lifecycle stages.

  • Personalisation - Create content tailored to the wants and needs of the people who are likely to be viewing it. As you learn more about your leads over time, this will allow you to better personalise your content and the messages within it to their specific needs, sector, location and many other details.

  • Multi-Channel - Inbound marketing is naturally multi-channel as it encourages brands to approach people where they already are, in the channel where they are open to interacting with organisations..

  • Integration - Content creation, publishing and analytics tools all work together perfectly - allowing you to focus on publishing the right content in the right place at the right time. Integrated campaigns are key to your business’ success.

So how can you use these skills to transfer people along the stages of inbound marketing?

How to Attract customers using inbound marketing

Traffic to a website may appear healthy, however to increase the likelihood of traffic converting into leads, you want the traffic to be the right people. or - your ideal customers

Important tools to attract ideal customers to your site include:

  • Blogging - Inbound marketing often starts with blogs. A blog is a highly effective way to attract new visitors to your website. Create educational content that is relevant to them and answers questions or problems they may have using keywords.

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) - When customers starts their buying process online, they nearly always use a search engine to answer questions they have. This makes it important to make sure you are seen when and where they search for keywords related to your brand. Conduct keyword research, optimise your pages for these words, create unique and helpful content and distribute this content far and wide to get your business noticed by your ideal customers as they are active online.
  • Pages - Your website is the digital version of your store or office. Just like a real store, make sure it looks appealing and enjoyable to be in. You want your site to be a beacon of helpful content to tempt the right people to visit your website.

  • Social Publishing - Share the remarkable content you have created and the valuable information you have to provide. Sharing on social media allows you to engage with your ideal customers and to give your brand a human face and personality. Interact on the networks where you know your ideal customers spend most of their time - for instance they might be more likely to use Facebook rather than Twitter.

How to Convert potential customers using inbound marketing

Once you’ve attracted website visitors, you need to convert them into leads through data capture. The most important contact information to try and gain is their email addresses. Contact information, and indeed email, is the most valuable currency there is to the online marketer, but for visitors to offer up that currency willingly, they need to be offered something in return. This exchange comes in the form of content, such as helpful eBooks or tip sheets - information that is interesting and valuable to your ideal customers.

Examples of important tools used to convert visitors into leads are:

  • Forms - Visitors must complete forms to become leads, submitting their information as they do so. Optimising your form can make this step of the conversion as easy as possible, encouraging more visitors to complete this step.

  • Call-to-Action (CTA) - These are buttons or links placed strategically to encourage your visitors to take action such as visit service-specific landing pages or to subscribe to your blogs for example. A lack of CTAs, or ineffective CTAs may hinder your results to generate leads.

  • Landing pages - When a website visitor clicks on a CTA, they should be directed to a landing page. This landing page is where visitors can access additional information based on a CTA they engaged with and provides an opportunity for visitor to submit further information about themselves that you can use to engage with them. This turns them from a visitor into a contact.

  • Contacts -  Keep track of the leads you're converting in a centralised marketing database. Having this data in one place can help make sense out of all interactions you’ve had with your contacts - whether it was via a landing page, email or social media. This can guide your future interactions to more effectively attract, convert, close, and delight your customers.

How to Close leads using inbound marketing

After attracting the right visitors to your site, converting people into leads, it’s important to transform these leads into customers. By using certain marketing tools, you can boost your success at closing the right leads at the right times.

Tools you may want to consider as part of the close stage of inbound marketing are:

  • Computer Relationship Management (CRM) - A CRM helps you keep track of the details about all your contacts so you can more easily get in touch with the potential customers at the right time. CRM systems facilitate sales by making sure you have the right information at hand to better engage with prospects across every channel.

  • Closed-loop Reporting. Integration with your CRM system allows you to analyse just how well your marketing and sales teams are working together to attract and engage customers.

  • Email - What do you do if a visitor clicks on your CTA, fills out a form on a landing page, downloads your whitepaper, but still isn’t ready to become a customer? If a customer goes onto your landing pages, but isn’t ready to buy, a series of emails focused on useful, relevant content can build trust with a them and help them become more ready to buy.

  • Marketing Automation - This process involves creating email marketing and lead nurturing tailored to the needs and lifecycle stage of each lead. If a visitor read a blog on a certain topic from you previously, a series of relevant emails to that blog could be automatically sent, encouraging them to transfer to the next stage of the inbound marketing methodology.

How to Delight customers using inbound

It is important not to forget about someone just because they have bought your product or used your service. Inbound companies continue to engage with these customers, to delight, and try to upsell to their current customer base, turning them into happy promoters of your services and products to others.

Tools used to delight customers include:

  • Surveys - Asking people is the best way to find out what your users want. Using feedback from the surveys helps ensure you’re providing customers with what they’re looking for.

  • Smart CTA - These present different users with offers that change based on the information you already know about them or their lifecycle stage.

  • Smart Text - This provides your existing customers with remarkable content tailored to their interests and challenges. Introduce new products and features that might be of specific interest to them based on what you know about them so far.

  • Social Monitoring - Keep track of the social conversations that are important to you. It is key to look out for your customers’ questions, comments, likes, and dislikes - once this is done, reach out to them with relevant content

So there you have it, your introduction to Inbound Marketing! To learn more about inbound marketing and how r//evolution can help, visit our inbound marketing page. Or you can download our free ebook all about how inbound can boost lead generation and how your business performs online. 

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Tags: Inbound Marketing

Posted by Oliver Cook
on August 18, 2017