A Beginner's Guide To Inbound Marketing
Inbound Marketing Definition
Inbound marketing creates relevant and helpful content to attract potential customers and turns them to customers.
Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing is the traditional way of marketing where products are pushed to people hoping that they will become customers. Some prominent examples of outbound marketing are paid ads via television, print media, pop-ups, direct mail, billboards, cold callings etc.
As of June 2018 more than half of the world’s population has internet access. Though outbound marketing is still very much alive and effective yet with the boom of the internet, inbound marketing is becoming more and more effective. A study conducted by Moz.com revealed that 58% of respondents use some form of ad-blocking software. The survey further revealed that 88% of the study group used online search to learn more about a company.
Common Examples of Inbound Marketing
According to marketingschools.org some of the well-known examples of inbound marketing are topical blogs, e-books, SEO optimized website content, webinars, social media campaigns, and viral videos.
Stages of Inbound Marketing Strategy
The term inbound marketing was introduced by hubspot.com in 2006. According to HubSpot, there are three stages of an inbound marketing strategy, namely:
First of all, you attract a prospect by using super helpful content and appearing in search results. In the next step, you engage with the prospect by converting him to a lead by giving relevant content upgrades for free. You then close the deal and turn the lead to a customer. Finally, you delight the customer with a continued supply of helpful content and beneficial offers so that the customer ultimately becomes a promoter of your product.
Now you know the overview of an inbound marketing strategy. Let’s get into the details and go through each step in detail.
1. Attracting Visitors to Your Website.
Attracting the right kind of website visitors is the first step of inbound marketing.
I said the ‘the right kind of visitors’ because we are not targeting everybody. To provide value to your customer you need to:
i) Create and Understand Your Buyer’s Persona
A buyer’s persona is the representation of your ideal customer. In the buyer’s persona you have data like the demographics, pain-points, goals, fears, and hopes of your ideal customer. It helps you to better help your prospect and finally turn into a customer. You may create a buyer’s persona by surveying and interviewing your customers, using analytics, and studying customer behavior in social media groups and online forums.
I have written about Creating a buyer’s persona in detail in the following article:
ii) Implement A Rock Solid Content Marketing Strategy
Once you understand your buyer’s persona then you need to create content according to the needs of your customers. A stellar content is the cornerstone of your inbound marketing strategy. Having search engine optimized (SEO) content helps you to come in front of your audience. You need to create awesome content for each stage of your customer’s journey on your website. Essential elements of an effective content marketing strategy are:
· Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of Content, so that you can come in front of your audience in their searches on search engines. Targeting the right keywords and creating super helpful content around those keywords is the key to creating content which ranks in Google.
· Social Media Presence: It's estimated that 2.77 billion people will be using social media in 2019. It’s highly likely that the majority of your customers are present on social media. So the presence of your brand on social media is essential to attract prospects.
2. Engaging: Step-1- Converting Website Visitors To Leads With Free Content
A visitor, looking for a solution for a problem, has reached your website because your article around the searched keyword is ranking on a search engine, now what?
You need to convert that customer to a lead by giving an incentive to subscribe to your email list.
i) Build an Email List
You might have heard it before, “The money is in the list”, and they are talking about the email list here. In order to build an email list, you will have to give free content in exchange for the prospect’s email address. Through that email address, you can stay in touch with your potential customer. Without an email list, the website visitor might never return to your website again. A few examples of free content to build an email list are:
· Cheat Sheets
· Email courses
A helpful lead magnet (free content) with an effective call-to-action will build your email list quickly.
3. Engaging: Step-2- Close The Deal By Converting Leads To customers
The ultimate goal of inbound marketing is to convert your prospects to customers. Trust is the major factor in buying. When you have your potential customer’s email address, you can build trust with your prospect by:
Nurturing Your Email List
If you want to nurture your email address, you need to be genuinely interested in helping your email subscribers. Send helpful content to your subscribers.
Instead of sending too many sale pitches, find a balance between trying to sell and being genuinely helpful.
Email segmentation and automation help in nurturing your subscribers with relevant marketing campaigns and content.
Do not expect to build trust with your email subscribers overnight. Email marketing is a long haul. But once you become trustworthy in the eyes of your subscribers you are in for some serious profit.
4. Delight Your Customers
After your email list starts producing revenue and you have converted your leads into customers you need to delight your customers so that:
· Your customers purchase from you again and again: You need to build trust with your customers so that you can retain them. A SurveyMonkey survey in 2018 shows that a brand’s trust affects purchasing decisions. Similarly, 89% of people have been reported to have stopped doing business with a company because of a poor experience.
· Your customers ultimately become promoters for your business: Happy customers tell about their happy experiences to their friends and family. Your satisfied customers might recommend your product to others in their circle and thus be a free and trusted form of marketing which can produce more sales.
Some ways you may delight your customers are, by:
· Following up after they have made a purchase from you.
· Attentively listening to their concerns or complaints and promptly rectifying the issues.
· Guiding them in the best possible ways when they contact you for help.
· Giving them special discounts and offers.
· With the growing number of internet users inbound marketing is becoming more and more effective.
· The key stages of inbound marketing are Attract, Engage and Delight.
· Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Email marketing when tailored for your audience guaranties more engagement and ultimately more profit.
Here you go! I have introduced you to inbound marketing, if you want to learn more then you may look into the following resources
Books on Inbound Marketing
Some of the most popular books on inbound marketing are:
· Inbound Marketing: Attract, Engage and Delight Customers Online By Brian Halligan Dharmesh Shah
· Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
· Inbound Marketing and SEO: Insights From Moz Blog By Rand Fishkin & Thomas Hogenhaven
· Getting Goosebumps: A Pragmatic Guide to Effective Inbound Marketing By Bryan Adams & Dave Hazelhurst
· Unmarketing: Stop Marketing Start Engaging-Second Edition By Scott Stratten & Alison Kramer
Courses On Inbound Marketing
You may learn inbound marketing in HubSpot Academy’s Inbound Digital Marketing Course which is completely free.
What is your take on inbound marketing? Share your thoughts in the response section.