We live in a digital era where access to information is abundant, the creation of new content is rapidly growing, and the public’s attention span is shrinking. By now, your business has probably heard of the buzzword “inbound marketing,” and found yourself asking if it’s a strategy that’ll align with your company’s needs and help you get more qualified leads.
Inbound marketing is all about creating positive and valuable experiences for your customers and target audience to help attract new business opportunities and drive leads to your website and blog.
Inbound marketing takes a holistic approach that leverages a variety of different platforms to reach clients, consumers, and offer value, such as social media and conversational devices.
This strategy is different from traditional outbound marketing because it highlights the entire client journey. Rather than competing for your intended audience’s attention, the purpose is to design content that addresses the needs and challenges of your ideal customer profile, so you can generate qualified leads, build confidence among prospective customers and improve your brand ‘s credibility.
Inbound Marketing & The Customer Journey
Prospective buyers all travel a similar path, known as the customer journey. The customer journey is when a consumer becomes aware of a product or service, considers and evaluates if it can deliver value, and determines whether or not it can alleviate the problem they are facing, ultimately helping them to make a buying decision.
Consumers usually avoid becoming a priority for sales. From their viewpoint, the conventional demo and closing process struggle to offer flexibility or set a definite value as a buyer to them. Despite detailed and thorough knowledge of your target audience, creating an inbound marketing plan that efficiently targets certain individuals would be practically impossible.
Through market research, speaking with internal salespeople, and conducting interviews with prospects and customers, you’ll be able to uncover the overarching themes that define their buying journey.
To better understand the customer journey, you should focus on these five stages for a successful inbound marketing campaign:
The awareness stage is the first step on the client’s journey, where consumers face a specific challenge or need they want to pursue. If you know the problem that your audience is facing then this gives your business the opportunity to build brand awareness through your content for these individuals.
How are your prospective customers educating themselves when faced with a challenge or goal?
What words or phrases are your customers using to describe their needs (and subsequently, to find your business)?
What are the potential consequences consumers would face should they fail to take action to solve their problem?
Are there any myths or misconceptions potential consumers have surrounding the particular challenges or goals your business can resolve?
How does your target audience prioritize their goals or issues they are facing?
#2. Enlighten & Consider:
When your potential customers are in the consideration phase, they have already identified and defined the need they are looking to address and are now assessing different products and services available to them. During this stage, your company should be delivering content that specifically focuses on enlightening your target audience to usher their buying decision towards your company.
To help you craft the right resources to enlighten consumers, you should be able to answer what types of outlets or categories do your customers typically turn to when investigating solutions, how they interpret the various pros and cons of each category, and how these individuals typically decide which solution is right for them.
#3. Convert & Close:
At this point in the customer journey, consumers have already settled on which solution will properly address their needs. For your company, that means converting traffic into leads and then transitioning those leads into actual customers. You will need to understand the criteria your potential customers use when evaluating the various offerings available.
It’s also important to do a deep dive into what your business is providing potential clientele to determine how individuals will see your product or services in comparison with your competition.
Will they have any concerns that would prevent them from converting into a client? Would your company consider a ‘try before you buy’ option? Are you able to offer all the necessary resources, including training or implementation assistance to ensure the buyer has a seamless purchasing experience?
These types of questions will help boost the efficacy of your buying process and ensure you’re able to optimize the customer journey in a way that’ll lead to retained business and referrals.
#4. Retain & Excite:
This step is a part of the post-sales process, designed to maintain clientele and get your consumers excited about your brand and products. Keeping a customer for life can be accomplished in many different ways. For example, you can use email marketing to continue delivering relevant information to your customers based on your buyer personas.
You want to create valuable and contextual conversations with your consumers, as well as social posts and content that is memorable and will entice your customers to share with family and friends.
Retaining and growing your customer base means ensuring consumers have a positive experience. Continually collect feedback to improve upon any inefficiencies or gaps in the customer service process.
Knowing your short-comings and strengths will help you refine and enhance the type of content you produce and share amongst both your customers and target audience.
#5. Advocate & Sponsor:
Incredibly vital to the entire customer journey, is turning your customers into brand advocates. When consumers view your brand as a credible, valuable, and trustworthy source, they’ll, in turn, be willing to refer new clientele, as well as leave positive reviews for potential leads to use for insight on your brand.
Channels & Assets Marketers Use for Inbound Marketing
By employing a sound inbound marketing strategy, your business will be able to use a plethora of channels to target different buyer personas, connect with your target audience, amplify your brand presence, and generate more leads.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
SEO is a major contributing factor to getting the brand and voice of your business onto the market. Influencing the ranking of search engines includes a strategic keyword strategy and knowing what is typed into a search by your different buyer people to find your website and content. Your site should be properly structured, error free and your content should be appropriately search optimized.
Blogging is another great technique to drive related traffic to your website and provide landing pages for content. Find out what your various buyer personas are looking for, and then the key is to develop content that specifically addresses your target audience’s pain points, covering major industry topics and highly relevant information.
Blogging is all about consistency; the more you post, the more traffic you’ll drive to your site. Don’t forget: your content needs to be engaging and deliver value. If you are merely putting words and ‘fluff’ on a page, it won’t convert into leads, and visitors will be quick to dismiss your business as lacking credibility.
Content marketing is all about sharing educational information, not just promotional, to gain backlinks and web traffic. Not only is devising an effective strategy good for your company’s bottom line, but it’s highly beneficial for your customers – and potential customers – as well.
Businesses that create highly targeted content marketing campaigns will not only see an increase in sales, but they’ll enjoy cost savings and higher customer loyalty/retention. To find out what your audience responds best your business should leverage a range of platforms and experiment using tactics like A/B testing. Consider using email marketing and newsletters, podcasts, events, webinars, videos, and social media marketing as channels to create brand equity and generate leads.
Many businesses will use paid marketing through display ads and Google AdWords, which provides your company with the opportunity to advertise your message in front of a specific audience. Pay-per-click campaigns give you the bandwidth to use strategic bidding, unique and compelling advertisements and targeted keywords to generate results.
Implementing a paid marketing strategy via social media channels is also a widely popular and effective way to reach your intended audience. From creating engaging Facebook and Twitter campaigns to using an influencer marketing strategy on Instagram, there’s no shortage of creative tactics your business can utilize.
A bulk of the visitors who come to your website for the first time will leave without making a purchase. For the visitors that bounce of your site, this is where re-targeting ads can come in handy. Re-targeting will help engage and convert website visitors into clients after they’ve left your site. A site-based re-targeting strategy leverages cookies by capturing previous site visitor data to stay in front of potential clientele.
Once a potential lead has exited your site, they’ll begin seeing advertisements for your brand, products, and services while browsing the web, reading an online article, listening to music, or perusing their favorite celebrity gossip site.
By using this tool, your brand will stay top-of-mind with potential customers, reminding them of all the fantastic products you have to offer and enticing them back to your website to make a purchase.
There is a myriad of resources just waiting for your business to take advantage of – blog posts, landing pages, eBooks, digital guides, infographics, podcasts, banner ads, calls-to-action, emails, and more.
There’s no denying that in our increasingly digital world that the customer journey begins online, meaning your business must attract, engage, and continue to delight customers in a way showcases your brand as a valuable and trustworthy source.
Other channels needed to support your inbound efforts are email marketing and conversational tools.
Still wondering “what is inbound marketing?” and whether or not it is right for your business?
Fortunately, almost all businesses can plan and execute an incredibly successful inbound marketing campaign. However, if you offer emergency services, such as water restoration, plumbing, or provide a service that doesn’t have a consideration process, maybe inbound marketing isn’t the right strategy for you.
If you’re looking to break into new customer segments, build brand awareness, drive business revenue and showcase your business as a field expert, then setting up digital inbound marketing initiatives for your business is the way forward! The important point to remember is that in order to reap the benefits of inbound there needs to be a consideration mechanism on the part of customers.
Inbound marketing is a perfect way to humanize your business in a technology-driven age, offering ways for customers to interact, know, communicate and address their needs.