What is Inbound Marketing?

Technology has changed the way that we do business. Traditional “outbound” marketing such as cold calls, direct mail, and paid advertising are proving to be less and less effective. Prospects simply don’t put up with interruption-based marketing any more. Inbound Marketing is the natural response to this monumental shift.
HubSpot calls Inbound Marketing “the best way to turn strangers into customers and promoters of your business.” Through content creation and sharing, you attract your prospective customers and bring them to you, rather than fighting for their attention through traditional marketing methods. Essentially, Inbound Marketing is all about building relationships.

Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

The Buyer’s Journey is the process that all prospective buyers go through while evaluating their problem and deciding upon a solution. It is a three-step process:

  1. Awareness – The buyer is aware they have a problem, but may not be sure exactly what that problem is.
  2. Consideration – The buyer has defined their problem and is now researching possible solutions.
  3. Decision – The buyer has decided on what they need and is now deciding on which solution provider to choose.

Today, your prospects have already completed 70% of the Buyer’s Journey before ever reaching out to your business for sales. Inbound Marketing allows your business to engage with these prospects much earlier in the process, through all three steps of the Buyer’s Journey.

Identifying Your Ideal Customers

Buyer Personas are representations of your ideal customers, gathered through market research, industry knowledge, and interviews with your real customers. Your personas identify your buyers’ various wants, needs, goals and challenges. They are the foundation for any Inbound Marketing program.
Personas help you understand your customers so that you can create content specifically designed to help and educate them. This allows you to effectively engage them throughout the Buyer’s Journey, through every stage of Inbound Marketing. 

The Stages of Inbound Marketing

There are four distinct stages to Inbound Marketing that correlate with each stage of the Buyer’s Journey. You want to attract visitors to your website when they are in the awareness stage, convert them into leads at the consideration stage, and close them into customers at the decision stage. This is how you move your buyers through your sales funnel.

Attract Visitors

You don’t just want to attract visitors to our website, you want to attract the right visitors. At this stage you’ll create content for your Buyer Personas, tailor-made to address their various questions at the Awareness stage of the Buyer’s Journey.
Attract Visitors through the following content:

  • Blogging – Publishing regular blog articles is a great way to attract new visitors to your website. These are not disguised sales pitches – their primary function is to be helpful and educational, able to answer the personas’ questions at this stage.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – This is the process of making sure that your site is properly optimized to rank highly with Google and other search engines. It involves analytical keyword research, onsite page optimization, content optimization, and link-building.
  • Website Pages – Create your site pages to be relevant and helpful to your personas with helpful, easily-navigated content.
  • Social Media – Sharing your fantastic content through social media channels is the best way to get it in front of new people, as well as interact with your ideal buyers.

Convert Visitors to Leads

Once visitors are coming to your website, you need a way to convert them into leads. Usually, you’ll need to collect a name and email address, at least. The best way to do this is through gated content offers – valuable content that you’re giving away at no charge in exchange for the buyer’s contact information.
Convert Visitors to Leads through the following content:

  • Calls-To-Action (CTAs) – These are buttons or links that encourage the visitor to take action. “Download the Free Ebook” and “Get Your Free Guide” are great examples. Every one of your webpages, including every one of your blog posts, should have at least one CTA on it.
  • Landing Pages – After clicking on a CTA, the visitor is sent to a landing page, which offers more information about the offer, as well as the form to submit the required contact information.
  • Forms – The purpose of every landing page is to get the visitor to fill out the form, at which point the visitor becomes a lead. Access to the gated content is granted once the form is submitted.
  • Contacts – All of your leads are now contacts in your database. Keep track of them to further nurture them through your sales funnel.

Close Leads into Customers

Visitors and leads are great, but they don’t do much good if you can’t affect your bottom line. Nurture leads through your sales funnel to help close them into customers.

  • CRM – Keep track of the people, companies, opportunities and deals in your sales pipeline with your Customer Relationship Management system. Ensure that your team has all the right information to close the sale.
  • Email Marketing – Nurture leads with email newsletters and personalized offers, keeping the conversation going and your company top-of-mind.
  • Marketing Automation – This is where your CRM database and email marketing meet and work together in highly-effective ways. Continue creating touchpoints with your prospects through automation, leaving your sales staff available for the important conversation to close the sale.

Delight Customers into Promoters

At this point you’ve closed the sale, and you want to retain the customer for future purchases. Continue engaging them with helpful, relevant content that addresses their questions, needs, and interests.

  • Blogging – Keep your customers coming back to your site after the sale by continuing to create tailor-made content for them.
  • Surveys – Gather customer feedback and continue to optimize your inbound marketing machine. The best way to find out what your customers are looking for is to ask them.
  • Smart Content – Harness today’s technology and allow your website to speak directly to returning customers with highly-personalized content made specifically for them.
  • Social Monitoring – Monitor your social channels for mentions of your brand or industry, and continue to show that your company is an industry leader and helpful resource.

As you see, Inbound Marketing is more than just a buzz word or a fad – it’s a revolutionary methodology that’s here to stay. You may not be doing Inbound yet, but you can be sure that your competition is. Simply stated, there is no better way to reach new customers and grow your business than through an Inbound Marketing Program.
Want to learn more about Inbound? Become proficient in the full Inbound Methodology through HubSpot’s free comprehensive training and Inbound Certification exam.

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