What is Inbound Marketing?
You may have heard of inbound marketing but do you know what it is? If you have been in the marketing industry for many years you may know what inbound marketing is, but do you know how it works in the digital world?
The Method of Inbound Marketing
Believe me when I tell you that inbound marketing is one of the most powerful and effective marketing methods out there. Once you unlock the secrets and discover what your target audience desires and engage with, you will sit back and say to yourself “God, I’m good”. The days of buying ads, paying for leads, and buying recycled email lists are gone forever (thank goodness)! The days of attracting visitors to your website through interesting and valuable content are here (hoorah)! To put it in short terms, inbound marketing is the method of attracting visitors to your website naturally. This can be done through effective and desirable content.
The Inbound Marketing Funnel
Here is my favourite part… the inbound marketing funnel! Please feel free to bookmark this image or blog post so you have something to refer back to. I done this and it helped me massively when creating content or creating new strategies.
There are stages parts to the funnel which are attract, convert, close, and promote. You may think this sounds slightly obvious but many people lose their way when marketing their website which is why a visual funnel helps. Creating a strategy that includes these four stages will let your website generate visitors, qualified leads, customers, and promoters. This is starting to sound too good to be true, right? Wrong! By working the different tools under each stage of the funnel and analysing the results it brings, you will start to see the powers that inbound marketing can bring. By all means this isn’t going to happen in a week, or even a month. This is going to take a lot of hard work and communication from both your marketing and sales team. Don’t forget that some of these tools can be used in different areas of the funnel.
What is Inbound Marketing?
That’s enough chitter chatter for one day, let’s get to the point shall we. Inbound marketing is essentially bringing visitors to your website naturally rather than outreaching to draw attention to your website.
Draw visitors to your website by creating content that your target audience will want to read and share. I have always told my clients that the best way to do this is to research your target audience interests and search queries and base blog topics around that. For example, if someone searches for “what is inbound marketing” which blog title do you think this person is more likely to click on: “What is Inbound Marketing” or “Say Hello to Our New Inbound Marketer”? This person wants to find the answer to their question which they aren’t going to get from the second blog title. Attracting visitors to your website will also generate qualified leads as they are naturally interested in what your business offers which is why and how they have landed on your website.
The Four Inbound Marketing Stages
Believe it or not, some companies and marketers lose their way at this very first stage of the inbound marketing funnel. This is because they believe getting more and more traffic to the website is of top priority. Whilst having a high traffic volume is great, you really should be focusing on attaining the right traffic rather than anything and everything. Aim for traffic that will have a higher chance of generating qualified leads.
How do you attract the right traffic? These marketing tools will help you do just that:
Blogging – Blogging is something inbound marketing could not live without. This is where it all starts. Blogging is the best way to attract visitors to your website. However don’t just write about anything for the sake of uploading “fresh” content. Make sure you take the time to research your target audience questions and answer them through your blog.
Social Media – Use social media to share you blog content, quick tips, and valuable information. This is where you can also put a face to the brand by adding photos of the office/shop and the staff. Use this marketing tool to interact with your audience.
SEO – When someone would like to buy a product or service, they will naturally search on search engines such as Google for that particular product or service. Make sure you are ranking for your products/services in order to attain these visitors. In order to do this, you need to research and choose your target keywords, optimise your web pages, create effective content, and build related and high quality links.
Pages – I have always said there is no point attracting high quality traffic to a website that doesn’t catch the visitors like a spider web. Create a website that will speak out to your target audience and will make them want to browse through different pages.
Congratulations if you have mastered the first stage of the inbound marketing funnel which is to attract the right traffic to your website. The second stage is to convert those visitors into leads by collecting contact information. Information to collect could be the name, telephone number, and email address. Contact information is one of the most valuable assets to a marketer and to a sales team, but I don’t need to tell you that. The hard part is getting visitors to willingly give you their contact details through a web form. As you may know, people (including myself) are very protective of their personal information and will not give it up unless it is for something they want or whether they have no other choice. Since we can’t go for the latter option, we have to offer the visitor something that will tempt them to submit their contact details. This “something” could be valuable information such as a downloadable guide, or it could be for a 20% discount voucher.
Convert visitors into leads by using the following marketing tools:
Calls-to-Action – Calls-to-action (CTA) are what encourages visitors to perform an action. These CTAs can come in the form of a button or a link. A good CTA would be “Download Our Inbound Marketing Guide” or “Get Your 20% Voucher”. If you don’t have enough call-to-actions on your website or your call-to-actions aren’t tempting enough, you won’t generate many leads.
Landing Pages – After a visitor has clicked on a call-to-action, they should then be directed to a landing page. This landing page should have the details of the offer or downloadable guide, direction as to how to get the offer, and a lead capture form. If the visitor lands on a page that is missing information or simple directions, they will more than likely not fulfil the action and you will lose that potential lead.
Forms – In order to collect the contact information from visitors, you must have a lead capture form on your landing pages. Make sure to have a call-to-action on the submit button rather than just “submit” to remind visitors why they should fill out your form.
Pat yourself on the back if you have managed to not only attract the right traffic to your website but if you have also managed to generate a steady income of qualified leads. Now you have got your leads, the next stage is to transform these leads into customers. To do this, you will need the contact information you collected to nurture leads into completing the buying cycle.
You can do this by using the following marketing tools:
Email – Split your list of email addresses that you have collected into segments relating to how a lead came to submit their contact information. By doing this, you will have more of a chance of turning leads into customers through regular emails that relate to their interests. This will build trust and will encourage leads to buy.
Marketing Automation – Marketing automation involves email marketing as it will use emails to send relevant information and offers to leads. Marketing automation will nurture leads by tailoring to whichever point in the buying cycle a lead is at. For example, if you have collected birth dates you could send happy birthday email to leads offering them 20% off a product.
Now that you have your customers, there is no reason to stop there! Turn you customers into promoters to attract their friends and family to your website to start their buying cycle. In the non-digital world this is called “word-of-mouth”. The same essence is carried over to the digital world but via social media and marketing automation. You want customers to keep buying from you and not move to a competitor so make sure not to forget about them.
Use the following marketing tools to continue interacting with customers:
Social Media – Use social media to encourage customers to leave reviews or send photos in of them with your product. This will help people who are about to start their buying cycle get a feel for the service you offer and establish trust before they even land on your website. You can also use social media as a real-time customer service tool by responding to customer queries and comments.
Marketing Automation – Use marketing automation to encourage customers to leave feedback on your website. You can also use marketing automation to send any new and related products to customers to keep them buying from you. Miss Selfridge always catches me with this one… I just can’t help myself!
Inbound Marketing in a Nutshell
So there you have it, inbound marketing in a nutshell… a rather large nutshell at that! Remember inbound marketing is to attract visitors to your website naturally through effective content. I love to talk about inbound marketing and listen to new ideas and challenges so please leave your comments and questions below.
Feedback From the Twitter-Sphere
— Restwell (@Restwell1) July 28, 2014