Your Crash Course in Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is the latest and greatest idea in growing your business. In the old days, outbound (sometimes called “interruptive”) marketing was basically the only way to get your message and product out into the world. 

Companies would put ads on TV, call families during dinner, splash banners on every website, and fill mailboxes with colorful pamphlets.

Now, people watch Netflix and use DVR, so they don’t see your TV ads. They have caller ID, so they don’t answer your phone calls. They use ad blockers, so they don’t see your banners. And no one gives a second glance to the stuff in their mailbox.

That’s where inbound marketing comes in. Rather than jumping in front of people, you wait for them to come to you. Don’t worry, they will — consumers are starting their buyer’s journey with research and internet search more than they ever have. Your job is to make sure they find you when they start looking.

Step One: Attract

The Attract phase of the inbound marketing methodology is about turning strangers into visitors. You don’t want just anyone stumbling across your site — some of them aren’t going to care who you are or what you do. You want the people to find you who are likely to become leads.

The way you do that is by having what your potential customers are looking for. You need the right content for them, and you need it when they’re looking.

A blog is the single best way to get potential customers to your website. Through your blog, you can provide educational content that addresses potential customers’ questions and concerns.

These days, it’s safe to assume that your customers are starting their search online, so you need to make sure you end up in the right search results. Be where they’re looking by clearly defining and implementing a content strategy. 

Social media is as important now as it’s ever been. It allows you to share the same useful information as your blog, but with a human face. Engage with your prospects and focus your attention on the platforms where your ideal customer spends their time.

 

Step Two: Convert

The Convert phase is where your visitors become leads. To make that happen, you need to start a conversation with them. Whether you use forms, messages, or meetings, your goal is to get in touch and open the door for future conversations, where you can answer questions and continue to provide valuable information.

Forms are the simplest way to generate leads. Having a visitor give you some basic information and consent to a future follow-up is quick, easy, and doesn’t take much manpower on your end. Keep in mind that visitors came to your site because your Attract plan worked, and they don’t want to be interrupted with filling out forms. Keep it simple.

Messages take a little more time investment but are much more personal and customized. Live chat tools are easy to set up and use and can solicit questions and conversations right when your visitors are most engaged.

Meetings are the most time-intensive, but really give you the chance to make a good impression. Give your visitors the opportunity to set up a phone call or in-person meeting with you, give them some one-on-one time, and win them over.

Finally, make sure you’re keeping track of everything. Who you’ve engaged with, who you’ve contacted, who you’ve met, and all their information can get overwhelming, so setting up customer relationship management (CRM) software is a good idea to stay on top of it all.

 

Step Three: Close

The third phase of the inbound marketing methodology is Close — where leads become customers. You attracted the right visitors and turned them into promising leads, but how do you get them to commit?

Lead nurturing is the process of adapting your messaging to each lead to turn them into customers more reliably and efficiently. Pages they’ve visited, content they’ve read — all of this information can help you win customers faster

Email marketing is perfect to nudge a lead in the right direction. Maybe they’ve clicked on a CTA or downloaded your e-book, but haven’t bought in yet. Sending these leads emails with useful, relevant content will remind them how your product can service their needs and get them closer to buying. 

It’s also important to focus your attention on the leads that are most likely to become customers. You don’t necessarily want to get in touch with every single person who filled out a form, so try using some form of lead scoring — assigning value to each lead based on channel, campaign, location, or any number of other factors — to determine where to direct your efforts.

 

Step Four: Delight

You work isn’t over once the check clears. More than ever, it matters how you treat your current customers. They’re the ones you want to repeat business,  and they have high expectations of how they’re treated.

First things first: don’t treat your loyal customers like first-time buyers. Make sure you have a system in place so that whenever possible, your existing customers aren’t being served the same ads, emails, and CTAs as your newcomers.

Second, make sure that you’re answering questions on whatever channel they come in, and in a timely fashion. And it’s not just complaints you should be on the lookout for. Respond to compliments, acknowledge mentions, and address requests to keep your customers delighted and loyal.

Finally, stay organized! You don’t want to have two customer service reps contact the same customer, or call someone who’d rather be emailed. There are plenty of tools out there to keep your customer interactions centralized and sortable, so you provide the best experience you can.

 

The world of marketing is a fluid one, and big changes like the switch to an inbound methodology can be intimidating. But with engaging content and helpful customer support, you can create a loyal, lasting customer base for years to come.

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