Inbound marketing is the process of drawing potential customers to your business using the right content, at the right time and in the right place.
By creating content for your ideal customers to consume and enjoy, new leads will be naturally drawn to your business. As they learn about your industry and what you do, they will begin to move down the sales funnel.
In this article, we're going to delve further into what inbound marketing is and how you can use it for your business.
What is inbound marketing?
How is it different from traditional marketing?
In today's market, prospects and customers are bombarded by marketing every day, in almost everything they do. Much of this marketing goes to waste because it's not relevant to them.
Inbound marketing takes a different approach. Instead of throwing resources into campaigns and hoping for the best, you invest in prospects who will genuinely make a good match for your products and services.
This method is far less intrusive than traditional marketing. It involves bringing suitable prospects to you by offering them valuable content, rather than disturbing the lives of strangers who may not be interested.
The 'pull' rather than 'push' approach of inbound marketing uses content and a combination of SEO, social media and other outlets. Traditional marketing, on the other hand, involves more interruptive methods such as cold calling and billboards.
The buyer’s journey
Before jumping into what an inbound marketing strategy looks like, it's important to understand the buyer's journey.
Every one of your customers takes a journey between realising they have a problem and becoming a customer. This journey is likely to look different for each customer, but the broad stages are the same:
As mentioned above, content marketing is the key to inbound marketing. The content you create should be aimed at each of the buyer's journey stages.
In the awareness stage, leads are looking for educational content. They are just becoming aware of their problems and begin to research them.
Leads in the consideration stage are learning about the solutions available to them. They will be seeking out expert guides, podcasts and even comparison whitepapers.
It's not until the decision stage that your content should begin to become more sales-heavy. These leads know what they want and they're deciding who to get it from. Content such as case studies, demos and free trial downloads is just what they're after.
With the wealth of content available for prospects to consume at their leisure, they have more control over their journey than you do. However, what you can do is nudge them in the right direction.
The process of inbound marketing
Inbound marketing is made up of four broad stages:
The goal of the attract stage is to make strangers aware of your business and turn them into visitors.
In order to attract potential customers, you need to know who they are. Buyer personas are therefore an essential reference point for building your inbound marketing strategy.
Using profiles of your ideal customers, you can create the content that will form the basis of your strategy. To do this, you need to understand your prospects' lifestyles and challenges. You should also find out how and when they consume content.
Gradually, you can build up a wealth of content that will attract new leads and make them aware of your business.
Content such as educational blogs and videos are perfect for the attract stage of inbound marketing. You can use SEO and social media to promote your content.
The goal of the convert stage is to turn visitors into leads by offering them valuable content in exchange for some of their contact information.
The educational content used in the attract stage is suitable for this stage, too. Pair this content with landing pages, forms and calls-to-action (CTAs).
Once leads have offered up some of their contact details, you can start building the relationships further using CRM and emails.
The goal of the close stage is to turn leads into customers.
A common theme running throughout all the stages of inbound marketing is building relationships with your contacts. The close stage is where you nurture your contacts and start to build fruitful relationships.
CRM and email marketing are your friends here. You should create emails and workflows that provide value to your contacts. Use personalisation and segmentation to tailor your communication specifically to leads' individual needs.
The length of this stage varies depending on the nature of your business and its products or services. You may want to consider implementing a long-term nurture strategy for those leads who are taking longer to close.
The buyer's journey doesn't stop when a lead becomes a customer.
This stage involves turning your customers into happy promoters who share their positive experiences with friends, family and colleagues.
It sounds like free marketing, but that doesn't mean you can put your feet up. The work required for this stage is similar to what's required in the rest of your inbound marketing strategy. As always, good communication is key.
Before you start turning your customers into promoters, you need to provide them with an excellent service and make them feel welcomed and valued as customers.
Consider implementing a welcome series. You could include emails about FAQs, tutorials for using your products and services or simply check in to see how they're doing.
You could also recommend other products or services that may be beneficial to them. Not only will this make your customers feel understood, but you'll also benefit from any resulting cross-sells.
Don't make the mistake of dropping off the map as soon as a customer has made a purchase. Keep in contact and make it easy for them to get in touch with you if they need to.
Following this, you can capitalise on your happy customers by encouraging them to spread the word. Online reviews and surveys work well for this.
We've covered the basics when it comes to answering the question, 'what is inbound marketing?'
A lot goes into putting together a successful strategy and it can seem daunting to do it from scratch. At Flowbird, we've seen the benefits inbound marketing can bring to a business. Get in touch if you want to see what it can do for yours.