Over the past six years, I've gotten lots of questions about Inbound Marketing. There's still a fair amount of confusion about the difference between Inbound and Content Marketing, but by and large, Inbound Marketing has matured from, "what" through, "how-to" and into the most popular question at Verge Pipe Media today, which is are you a good fit for Inbound Marketing?
When I chat with anyone new or a potential client and they ask about Inbound Marketing, I normally show them the illustration below and respond with questions of my own, including:
- Do you sell something (service, product)?
- Do you want to sell more of __________ (your service or product)?
At this point, believe it or not, some folks have ended the conversation when they indicate they don't want to sell more of their __________.
But that's rare, and the conversation continues until we agree their business could benefit from devoting some (or all!) of their marketing spend to inbound. So, if you're at that point already, tap on the "Free Analysis" button and so we can get started ASAP!
Otherwise, I'd like to give you some food for thought to determine if you are a good fit for Inbound Marketing.
Step 1: You want and need to Attract Visitors. You have a website, or many websites, and at least part of your business relies upon visitors finding you, learning more about you, and then referring back to your website later or contacting you for more information.
a. Create value for those visitors. In other words, people have business problems and questions. They have anxiety about meeting quarterly or end of year sales goals. They have needs which you can satisfy through well thought out and written blog posts and articles.
b. Build a Social Media presence that speaks their language. Be a person, be personable and be on the social networks your ideal customers are spending time on. Just don't be that person who talks about themselves all the time! By sharing snippets and links to your valuable content on social media, you're amplifying your voice and you're placing that voice right there where they are scrolling and browsing. Increasingly, the internet IS social media so you have to be there!
c. Optimize your content for Search Engines. The internet and social media have long since matured from, 'If we build it, they will come'. No, in today's world you've got to have relevant, timely and useful content to get the attention of humans and search engines. Building it is one small piece, optimizing for search is all the larger pieces that get you found and actioned.
d. Create and manage a smart retargeting ads campaign. Listen closely, "ads" are often times interruptive and therefore a classic outbound, marketer centric tactic. But, if your visitors come to your site, look around and then fail to convert or respond to your calls to action, serving them a friendly reminder while they browse Facebook or the web isn't interrupting, it's continuting to add value as an elective exercise for the visitor. Be smart though, and don't just pay to have ads served to any and all visitors, target them wisely based on the profile of your best customers.
Step 2: You want and need to Convert Leads. Your websites have to be an extension of your best performing sales and marketing leaders in your organization, and therefore need to continue the conversation until the visitor becomes a lead. If you're investing in trade shows, you really need to consider shifting money to inbound because you inherently know the value of getting all those passerbys to take action!
a. Play crossing guard on your site and lead customers to the desired action. Placing calls to action at key places on your site is crucial to building and growing your marketing funnel. It's also a sure way to start the conversation and give you actionable intelligence about the visitors who are responding to your leadership.
b. Add more value through content offers. Take your valuable blog posts to the next level through eBooks, Guides, and interactive How-To videos and more long form content which will convert those visitors into leads.
c. Convert your visitors with landing pages and forms. Use your calls to action and content offers to smartly convert the visitors to your landing pages. They're simple, straightforward and if done well, help combat even the most short attention span visitors.
d. Use your best customer reviews as social proof and conversion engines. It's not bragging if you can back it up, and it's even better if your visitors hear it from a friend or someone like them. Use your best reviews as a way to drive quicker conversions because those reviews will help answer, "will they do what they say they're going to do?"
Step 3: You want and need to Close Leads to Customers! What's the point of all this great content and strategy if you don't turn any of your visitors and leads into paying customers?
a. Personalize everything going forward by using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. With all the visitors and leads you're going to have, you'll need a good CRM to track and nurture your leads and make your email campaigns smarter.
b. Use marketing automation and email to seal the deals. Being efficient and personalizing your emails are to 2016 what instant messaging was to 2001.
c. Don't stop delivering valuable content. You know that blog you've created and maintain? Chances are, once a visitor has converted to a lead by downloading your eBook, they won't go back to your site daily. That's why email is so effective at maintaining the relationship. Use it and the intelligence you've generated about your leads to continue sharing, helping and responding. At this point, you should also be prepared to be blending in analytics to help tell you where all your visitors and coming from, responding to, and improving your overall marketing funnel.
Step 4: You LOVE Delighting your Customers. You're the type of business that knows it's less expensive to keep the customers you have than to go win new ones. Inbound Marketing is a cost effective way to generate new customers, yes, but it's also a fantastic way to continue the love affair.
a. Be known for your customer support. It doesn't take much anymore for keyboard warriors to take to social media to blast a poor experience with a brand or company. So, make certain your employees are empowered to help customers before, during and especially after the sale.
b. Create and Reward your communities on social media. Many of those "Likes" and "Follows" you have are current customers, not just prospective ones. Utilizing your CRM and awesome customer service and content are just a few components to creating an experience on social media that builds true brand advocates and community leaders. This again, feeds the cycle of using social media to generate awareness and drive new traffic to your website to start the whole process anew.
c. Utilize surveys and feedback tools. And then actually do something with the feedback you receive. Even if it's a completely off-the-wall suggestion, acknowledge the customer and if your brand voice allows, have a little fun!
d. Collect reviews, social mentions and testimonials. You should now know the power of social proof as part of the Inbound Marketing methodology. Use that positive feedback to continue leading strangers to visit your site and so on.
Let's wrap this up. If you've read through this list of some of my favorite tips at each stage of the Inbound Marketing methodology and said, "I'm a good fit, but don't know how to get started," then you should contact us without a doubt.
Or maybe this all looks overwhelming to you? That's fair and I'd be pleasantly surprised if you found yourself questioning even further by asking, 'Am I a good fit for Inbound Marketing'? That's a common reaction. There is a lot to learn and adapt to, but just know this, Inbound Marketing covers every single stage of the buying process from stranger to brand advocate. That's powerful!
When employed correctly, Inbound Marketing is one of the most effective ways to grow your business (or non-profit) in today's digital savvy world.
If you're ready to launch your first Inbound Marketing campaign, let's keep the movement going by downloading our FREE checklist (and by now you know what's coming next) on how to run an Inbound Marketing campaign!