Do you want to get started with Inbound Marketing but not sure where to begin? Well you’ve come to the right place. Our beginner’s guide to Inbound Marketing will educate you about the basics of Inbound Marketing, explain how it can help your business and describe key inbound strategies and tactics.
What is Inbound Marketing and how will it help your business?
In the past marketing was all about sending your message to as many people as possible and hoping some of them would bite. Mass mailing, cold calling and door to door sales were standard criteria for most marketing and sales campaigns. In recent years, however, we have seen a change in buyer behaviour which has come about largely due to the rise in online shopping, social media and the power of customer reviews. Traditional marketing methods are no longer effective with consumers becoming immune to these outdated techniques. This has led to the rise in Inbound Marketing which is a more passive, yet magnetic and very effective way of reaching your target audience.
Inbound Marketing starts with a complete change in mindset. This new mentality focuses on helping, guiding and educating your target buyers at each stage of their buying journey. It means that your marketing campaign will be targeted for the long-term as well as the short-term. For instance, someone who is carrying out their initial research into a product may not be high priority for a hard seller. But for an Inbound Marketer, they are still a potential customer, even if this means 6 to 12 months down the line. By assisting them with their research and guiding them along their journey, you are providing them with a positive experience. This can only be a good thing. Even if they don’t buy your product, they will be grateful for your help and there is a good chance they will talk positively about your brand.
In today’s digital world, bad reviews can travel very quickly, but so do good reviews. Word of mouth marketing is now crucial to the success of your business, and it must be capitalized on. It’s no surprise that big brands are now assigning a huge portion of their marketing budget to customer service. In the words of Jeff Bezo:
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
It’s not rocket science… Give your customers a fantastic experience throughout their journey and they will reward you for it. In fact, the same rule applies for anyone interacting with your brand, whether they’re a potential customer or not. Make a positive experience part of your brand image and inspire everyone within your business to follow suit.
Inbound Marketing strategies and tactics
OK, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. What are the strategies and tactics that you can implement to attract qualified leads and start increasing sales?
Develop your buyer personas
First things first… Before you start unleashing those amazing lead generation ideas you need to identify who your target customers are and develop your Buyer Personas. This stage is crucial to the success of your Inbound Marketing campaign so it’s essential that you spend the time to get this right.
A Buyer Persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. This will be what guides you when creating your content, so it’s critical you understand what they want and what makes them tick. The best place to start is by looking at your existing customers. Which customers do you like working with, which customers spend the most money, and which customers like to implement new ideas and technologies? The factors which determine a perfect customer will be different for every business. By looking through your customer list you can identify traits which will help you develop your all-important personas.
Other ways of researching your target demographic include:
- Analyse your social media followers:
Facebook Insights will give you details of gender and age groups
Survey your existing customers, past customers, websites users or email contacts. Don’t make it complicated, just a couple of questions to find out their goals and their challenges.
Selecting a few of your customers for a short interview can prove to be really useful. Ask them what problems they experience, solutions they’ve tried and what frustrates them. Their answers can uncover things you wouldn’t otherwise have thought of.
Carrying out the above processes will set you on your way to developing your perfect target personas. By understanding your personas, you can create targeted content that will provide a solution to the challenges they face.
Attract Visitors with High Value Blogs
Once you have your buyer personas and have identified the problems and challenges they face, it’s time to get started on your content strategy. Focus on what your personas are likely to be searching for and write blog posts which offer a solution to the problems they are facing. Keyword research is essential before you start the process of writing your blog posts. You may know what challenges your persona is facing, but you also need to know what key phrases they will be searching for. There are various free and paid tools that can assist you with this. Free tools include Google Keyword Planner and, in fact, Google itself. By entering the keywords into Google, you can see ‘suggested search terms’ which gives you an indication of what people are searching for.
Google also has a very useful section within its results titled – People also ask. This shows questions that people are searching for which relate to your key phrase. And, even better, if you click on a question, a selection of new related questions appears below. This feature enables you drill down into your prospective key phrase and find out what real people are searching for.
Once you have identified the title and subject of your blog, it’s time to start writing. But remember, there will already be lots of blogs covering your topic, so you need to make your blog stand out. Spend time putting together some fantastic content and try to approach the topic from a slightly different angle to what’s already online. Add your own unique take on the subject and give your audience what they need to solve their challenges.
Another important factor when publishing your content is to make sure your SEO is up to scratch. If no-one can find your blog post, then it’s no good to your target audience or to your business! Ensure that your meta-tags, headings and content are fully optimized for your target key phrase. But don’t stop there… You also need to promote your content by sharing with your social media fan base and your email marketing contacts.
Generate Leads with Content Offers
One of the most effective ways of generating leads is to create fantastic content offers for your target personas. A content offer can be any form of content which provides real value to your audience. E-books, checklists, guides, whitepapers, software demos, questionnaires, surveys, or free trials, are all examples of popular content offers. The idea is to offer something to your audience with enough value that they will be happy to give you their contact details, in a quid pro quo exchange. Your potential customer gets something useful which could help solve their current problem, and your business gets a potential lead.
The process of promoting a content offer involves 3 key elements:
- CTA (Call to action)
- Landing Page
- Content Offer
The CTA (or call to action) is the text link, button or hotspot, which will inform the user of the content offer and encourage them to take the required action to access this. The CTA needs to be clearly visible, with a clear message, and located in a relevant place on your website (e.g. blog or topic page). CTAs come in all shapes and sizes and you will need to use A/B and multivariate testing to find out which works best in each case. Examples of CTAs include a simple text link, buttons, clickable images, pop-ups and slide-ins.
The landing page is where your user will be directed to when they click on the CTA and is key to converting the user into a potential lead. The page needs to be simple, eye-catching and provide a clear message with the benefits of the content offer. Generally speaking people are more willing to give you their email than their telephone number or address, so keep your data collection form as simple as possible. The rule of thumb is, the more valuable a piece of gated content is, the more information you can expect to get out of a visitor. Just don’t get carried away!
A/B Testing can come in handy here. Try out different messages, layouts and colour schemes, to see which version drives the most leads.
Ultimately it is the content offer itself which matters the most. No matter how much time you spend on your CTAs and Landing Pages, if your content offer isn’t up to scratch, your audience won’t download it. Spend time understanding your audience and learning about the problems and challenges they face. Only by fully understanding their needs can you create the ultimate content offer, which they will be unable to resist.
Use a CRM to Manage Your Leads
Using a CRM to manage your inbound leads is essential in order to have an effective lead nurturing process. It can help to prioritize and qualify leads, prevent leads from slipping through the cracks, and unify your sales and marketing processes.
From a Marketing perspective a CRM can help monitor the performance of your campaigns, enabling you to analyse and qualify your leads. You can also segment your contacts according to which stage they are at in the buyer journey, ensuring that the right message is sent out at the right time.
From a Sales perspective the CRM will help monitor where each lead is at in the sales funnel, allowing you assign the appropriate action. Leads can also be rated, scored and prioritised, according to their likelihood of closing on a deal.
A CRM is an essential tool within your Inbound Marketing strategy. It will help align your marketing and sales processes, improve lead nurturing and increase new customer acquisition.
Use Marketing Automation to Close Deals
Marketing automation is the process of automating certain marketing tasks in order to move your prospects further down the sales funnel. Automating tasks can save yourself and your team much-needed time and resources, enabling your lead nurturing processes to work on auto-pilot.
The most commonly used form of marketing automation is email drip campaigns. By assigning triggers, conditions and actions, you can send targeted emails to your prospects according to their specific needs. Workflows can be setup according to time frames, hyperlinks within an email, or web pages they visit. Marketing automation can help move a contact from prospect, to lead, to customer, without you having to lift a finger.
Measuring Inbound Marketing Success
One of the reasons Inbound Marketing is so effective is that all aspects of your campaign can be measured and analysed. This differentiates it from other types of marketing and is, in fact, one of the fundamental principles of the Inbound methodology. Inbound Marketing is essentially made up of 3 stages:
- Attracting visitors
- Converting traffic into leads
- Analysing and improving the processes
Stage 3 is essential to the success of your campaign. By measuring the data in stages 1 and 2, you can make the necessary improvements to increase the number of visitors and conversions. This is a cyclic process which enables you, over time, to maximise your campaign conversions.
So what data should you be measuring?
With so much data available it’s essential to know which factors you should be looking at in order to evaluate your campaign. The truth is each campaign is different and the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will differ depending on your business and goals. For example, a campaign for an eCommerce site will have different KPIs than a campaign for a software subscription service.
Examples of marketing goals and metrics include:
- Brand Awareness & Engagement
- Website Traffic
- Page Views
- Time on Page
- Session Duration
- Inbound Links
- Likes, Shares, Tweets
- Blog Comments
- Lead Generation
- CTA Click-Through Rate
- Landing Page Views
- Form Completions
- Email Signups
- Conversion Rate
- Product Views
- Cart Abandonment
- Customer Loyalty
- Repeat Orders
- Content Consumed by Existing Customers
- New vs Returning Visitors
As you can see, there are lots of metrics that may or may not be relevant to your business. The key here is to identify which metrics are important to you and should therefore be considered as KPIs for your campaign.
If you’re running an Inbound Marketing campaign incorporating a landing page, content offer and CTAs, there are certain metrics you need to keep an eye on.
- Click-Through Rate (%)
- Landing Page
- Traffic Source
- Bounce Rate (%)
- Conversion Rate (%)
- Landing Page Form
- Submission Rate (%)
Your content offer, landing page, submission form and CTAs need to work in unison to deliver effective lead generation. By looking at the above metrics, any problem areas will become clear.
Example 1 – Your CTA click-through rate is good, people are spending time on your landing page, but your form submission rate is poor.
Possible solution – There could be a problem with your submission form. Perhaps you’re asking for too much data from your user. You could try simplifying the form.
Example 2 – Your landing page and submission form have a good conversion rate, but the traffic numbers are low, and your CTA has a poor click-through rate.
Possible solution – Your CTA needs to be looked at. Perhaps it is not visible enough. You could try making it stand out more, or try a different style of CTA, e.g. a pop-up or slide-in. Another problem could be that your CTA is not in the right location. Make sure you have added it to relevant blog posts and pages, to attract the relevant traffic.
Delighting and Retaining Your Customers
So, you’ve generated quality leads and acquired new customers, what now? Now for the fun part, the part which makes all the difference. Delighting your customers is one of the key elements of the Inbound methodology and can lead to huge rewards for your business. As we mentioned earlier in this guide, customer service is so important that brands are spending huge portions of their budget to get this right. And It’s worth doing. Word of mouth can make or break your business.
Here’s some statistics for you:
- 81% of customers trust recommendations from family and friends over those from companies.
- 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service.
- 77% of customers have maintained loyal relationships with their preferred companies for 10 or more years.
- 50% of loyal customers have left a company for a competitor who was able to stay more relevant and better satisfy their needs.
- 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers.
- The likelihood of selling to an existing customer is between 60 – 70% and to a new prospect just 5 – 20%.
Delighting your customers makes perfect business sense and should be embraced by all organisations. When done correctly, it will lead to an army of brand advocates who have more persuasive power than your sales and marketing teams combined.
Here’s some tips on creating a delightful experience for your customers:
- Offer a solution to your customers’ problems
- Be available and responsive when your customers need you
- Educate and empower your customers so they can avoid future problems down the road
- Exceed your customers’ expectations by helping them to succeed
- Encourage, listen to and embrace customer feedback
- Be enthusiastic and welcoming during every customer interaction
- Provide the unexpected and create a one-of-a kind experience for your customers
Customers expect you to fulfil their needs, so to leave them truly delighted, you must go above and beyond their expectations. By creating memorable experiences with your brand you can capture that elusive loyalty factor, turning your customers into your strongest brand advocates.
The flywheel model for your Inbound Marketing uses the momentum of your happy
customers to drive referrals, repeat sales, and keep your business spinning.
- Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing
- The Benefits of Inbound Marketing
- 5 Steps to a Successful Inbound Marketing Strategy
- How to Create a Successful Content Marketing Strategy
- 5 Inbound Marketing Tools to Boost Your Campaign
- The Role of SEO in Inbound Marketing
- Why is Inbound Marketing More Effective Than an SEO or PPC Campaign?
We hope you found our Beginner’s Guide to Inbound Marketing helpful. To find out more about Inbound Marketing, get in touch with our team for a friendly, no obligation chat.