How Inbound Marketing Works
The concepts behind inbound marketing are not magical, techie tricks to make you temporarily successful by circumventing the latest search engine algorithms. Instead, they constitute a modern framework developed to address the seismic shift in the way consumers and businesses go about making buying decisions.
If you want to win the competition for business in this kind of world, you need to support those prospects in the process so you are the preferred source when its time for them to buy. You need to know anticipate how your offerings are going to solve their problems or bring them positive value or emotion. Then you need to make it easy for them to find that information as close to the time they start thinking about that problem (or vacation, or business win…). Make it as easy to access as it is valuable to their buying process, and nurture them through the process, and you’re likely to crush competitors who haven’t “gotten it” yet – things are different.
The Inbound Marketing Flow
The fundamental principle of inbound marketing is that creating content of value draws prospective customers to your business. Lets talk about how its done.
The inbound marketing process is made up of four steps: attract, convert, close, and delight.
Stage One: Attract
This first stage of your inbound marketing effort is the foundation on which the other steps build. Executing the attract stage of inbound marketing requires a few critical steps.
- Develop Buyer Personas
- Do Keyword Research
- Create Great Content
- Effectively Distribute the Content
In order to attract your prospective customers, you need to know something about them. You may know quite a bit about your target audience and customers, but if you don’t, this is the time to learn as much as you can about them.
The process of assembling this information in a useful way is known as developing buyer personas. Hubspot defines a buyer persona this way:
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.
Once you have created your target buyer personas, you can round out your homework with keyword research to identify what keywords or keyword phrases are being used, by them, when searching for things related to your business. That way, you can make sure that the content you are going to provide also incorporates copy that is search-engine (SEO) friendly, and is likely to be found when that prospect is surfing the web.
Creating valuable content is easier when you know your buyer personas and how they will interact with your products or services. And it is easier than ever to capture the valuable elements of content and package them in multiple forms such as blog posts, eBooks, infographics, videos, or whitepapers.
Which ties into the final key element of the attraction stage of inbound marketing, content distribution. Using email, blogs, social media posting and paid promotion, along with your keyword-worthy content, will help you get that great content in places where your prospective customers are likely to find it – and be attracted.
Stage Two: Convert
Now that you’ve created great content and your website traffic is booming – how are you turning your visitors into leads and, eventually into customers? Oops, we are jumping ahead, but we want to be sure we are on the same path. Before a visitor becomes a customer, they become a lead.
In order for inbound marketing to become a lead generating machine, you need a way for your visitors to tell you and converse with you! Make it easy for visitors to tell you “Yes! I am interested!” through the creation of each of these elements:
- CTA’s – Catch your visitor’s attention with an attractive call to action,
- Landing Pages and Forms – Encourage your visitors to give you their contact information in exchange for a great piece of downloadable content,
- Email Nurturing and Workflows – Continue to educate and provide value to your prospects to help them advance through the sales funnel; and,
- Analytics – Understand where your leads are coming from and which campaigns, content and distribution sources are providing a solid ROI.
These elements create a clear path to convert a visitor into a lead and helps them remain in the sales funnel as they progress through their buyer’s journey.
Stage Three: Close
Now that you have generated leads and have developed relevant conversations, you need to close those leads to generate income and revenue.
In the close stage, it is critical that you are engaged directly with your lead. Here are a few of the tools inbound marketing provides to help you with this stage:
- CRM – Customer Relationship Management,
- Case Studies,
- Video Testimonials
This third step of inbound marketing focuses on creating and cultivating relationships with your leads. By removing the “hard sell”, you are able to cultivate relationships by understanding where your customers are in the buying process. You will know where they express interest, which products or services caught their eye, and how your products and/or services will be part of a valuable solution for them.
Step Four: Delight
The last step of inbound marketing revolves around keeping your customers happy. By treating them like gold, finding out what they like, what they want to see more of, and how you can be even more marketing help, you can convert them into champions of your brand. Brand champions are desired by all. Why? Brand champions are those individuals who result in repeat business, referral leads and positive reviews.
Customers can be, by far, your most valuable sales tool.
You have read about the four steps of inbound marketing. Is it still right for you? It is if you believe in the philosophy that it is better to attract customers naturally through valuable content. Inbound marketing is right for you if your goal is:
- to attract visitors to your website,
- convert those visitors into leads,
- close leads and turn them into customers, and
- delight those customers into becoming champions of your brand!
At WSI Web Mark, we work closely with our clients to develop a powerful inbound marketing strategy that fuels the growth of business. The first step is to set up a discovery call where we can learn more about your business and goals. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.