Once consumers went online, they had the upperhand over marketers. Shoppers took control of the sales process and began asking questions online, researching their pain points and identifying potential solutions without any help from TV ads or sales people.
Smart brands quit spending huge amounts of time and money buying ads that no one wanted to see. Instead, they began to attract visitors through content the consumer found valuable. By aligning content with customer interests, these brands were able to naturally attract inbound traffic and build trust rather than asking people to “Buy Now!” right from the beginning.
Getting people to your site isn’t your top priority. (Crazy, right?) You want the right people. The people most likely to become customers, and, more specifically, the people most likely to become happy customers. In Inbound Marketing, you do this by creating semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. The goals, challenges, pain points, common objections to products and services, personal and demographic information – the more info you use to build your personas, the better your content will be.
Blogging. Inbound starts with blogging. Blogs have immense power to help your site get found by customers and search engines alike. They’re also a great way to deliver educational content that quickly creates trust between a person and a brand.
SEO. When was the last time you searched for something online and purchased from a result that was on the third page or later? Optimizing your pages and content for the person and search engines looking for it is crucial.
Social. Build your social networks to share your amazing content, segment your audience into relevant groups to monitor, and engage with those most likely to find value in it. Social is your chance to give your brand a voice you can use to get your name out there.
Pages. Your website is your store. Your flagship. If it’s not optimized to educate potential customers looking to learn more and sell to those ready to buy – you’re losing out. Your site should be helpful, easy to navigate, and make each visitor feel it was made just for them.
Ok, you have some visitors – now what? Convert them into leads by collecting their info. Start with a name and email address and go from there. They’re not just going to hand it over, though. You’re going to have to trade. Offer your visitors something they find exceptionally valuable – an ebook, white paper, free shipping… The info you get in return is the most valuable currency there is to your marketing efforts.
Forms. To collect a visitor’s info, you’ve got to give them a place for them to enter it. Make it easy as possible for the user and consider each field another dollar added to the price of your content. If the price gets too high (you require too many fields) – they’re not going to pay.
Landing Pages. When your visitor clicks a CTA for a content offer, they end up on a landing page where they enter their info in exchange for the promised content. This is the most common place for a visitor to be converted to a lead.
Calls-to-Action. If you want your visitor to act – you’re going to need a CTA. From simply filling out a form to hitting that “buy now” button, your CTAs are vital for getting the conversions that keep your marketing world turning.
Contacts. Once you get a name and email address, you’ve got yourself a contact. Keep adding info to your CRM (customer relationship management) system. Having all your data in one place helps you optimize every interaction.
Once you have leads, create content personalized for their persona and stage in the buyer’s journey that helps you close the deal and turn that lead into a customer.
CRM. Keep track of the details about all the contacts, companies, and deals in your pipeline, and easily get in touch with the right prospects at the right time. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems facilitate sales by making sure you have the right information at your fingertips to better engage with prospects across every channel.
Email. What do you do if a visitor clicks on your call-to-action, fills out a landing page, or downloads your whitepaper, but still isn’t ready to become a customer? A series of emails focused on useful, relevant content can build trust with a prospect and help them become more ready to buy.
Closed-Loop Reporting. How do you know which marketing efforts are bringing in the best leads? Is your sales team effectively closing those best leads into customers? Integration with your CRM system allows you to analyze just how well your marketing and sales teams are playing together.
Marketing Automation. This process involves creating email marketing and lead nurturing tailored to the needs and lifecycle stage of each lead. For example, if a visitor downloaded a whitepaper on a certain topic from you in the past, you might want to send that lead a series of related emails. But if they follow you on Twitter and visited certain pages on your website, you might want to change the messaging to reflect those different interests.
Delight is the foundation of Inbound. By delighting customers, you can not only generate more sales, but you can also create brand evangelists who in turn create new visitors, leads, and sales all on their own.
Surveys. Want to know what you could do better? Ask your customers. If it seems simple, that’s because it is. And that’s a good thing. Giving your customers what they want doesn’t need to be hard.
Smart Text. The way you talk to your customers should also be tailor-fit for them. The content you give a customer should be very different from that of a prospect. Acknowledge their support while helping them solve other problems or get more enjoyment out of the product or service they purchased from you.
Smart CTAs. Everyone wants to be treated like a regular and doing so can really boost a customer’s delight. Be sure your customers get CTAs that fit who they are (their persona) and where they are in their buyer’s journey.
Social Monitoring. People like companies who listen, and social media is a great place to do that. Listen out for your customers’ questions and opinions and provide relevant answers, support, or content whenever you can.