on December 19, 2014 Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing: What Exactly Is It?

The proven methodology for the digital age

Since 2006, inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Instead of just focusing on outbound marketing methods like buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that brings the people to you, your company and product. 

It's all about publishing content that's hand in hand with your customer's interests. This way, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you then can convert, close, and delight over time.  

The Four Marketing Actions

Inbound marketing actions

1) Attract

You don't want just any old Joe Schmo visiting your website, you want the right Joe Schmo. You want people who are most likely to become leads, and ultimately, become happy customers with you. Who are your ideal customers? We refer to them as buyer personas, holistic ideals of what your customers are really like, inside and out. Personas encompass the goals, challenges, pain points, common objections to products and services, as well as personal and demographic information shared among all members of that particular customer type. Your personas are the people around whom your whole business is built. 

Tools to attract:

  • Blogging - It all starts here. In order to get found by the right customers, you have to create content that's educational, speaks to them, and answers their questions.
  • SEO - The buying process starts online usually by using a search engine to find something they have questions about. So it's a must that you show up where they search.
  • Pages - Put your best face forward! After all, your website pages are like your digital storefront. Double check to make sure your pages are properly optimize. 
  • Social Publishing - Interact on the networks where your ideal buyers spend their time. Successful inbound strategies are about remarkable content - and social publishing allows you to share that information!

2) Convert

Now that you've caught the attention of website visitors, the next step is to convert those visitors into leads by gathering their contact information. Bare minimum, you'll need their email address. Contact information is like gold to you. It's the most valuable currency there is to the online marketer. But, to help get your visitors to offer up that currency willingly, you need to offer them a gift in return! Give a little, get a little. 

The gift you can give your visitors comes in all shapes and forms of content like eBooks, tip sheets, or white papers, anything that is of value to each of your personas. 

Tools to convert:

  • Forms - For visitors to become leads, they have to fill out a form and submit their information to you. Make sure your form is optimize to make the process as easy as possible.
  • Calls-to-Action - These are buttons or links that encourage visitors to take action, like "Download here" or "Click for the guide". If you don't have enough CTA buttons then you won't generate leads.
  • Landing Pages - When your website visitors click on a call-to-action, they will be sent to a landing page. This is where the offer in the call-to-action comes to fruition and where your prospect submits their info for you sales team to begin a conversation with them. 
  • Contacts - Keep track of the leads you're converting in a centralized marketing database. Having all your data in one place helps you stay organize and consistent - be it through email, a landing page, social media, or otherwise. 

3) Close

You're on the right path so far! You've attracted the right Joe Schmos and converted them into leads, but now you need to make those leads into customers! How do you most effectively do this incredible feat? 

You're on the right track. You've attracted the right visitors and converted the right leads, but now you need to transform those leads into customers. How can you most effectively accomplish this feat? Certain marketing tools can be used at this stage to make sure you're closing the right leads at the right times. 

Tools to close: 

  • CRM - 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.
  • Closed-loop Reporting - Integration with your CRM system allows you to analyze just how well your marketing and sales teams are playing together.
  • Email - What do you do if your customers had gone through all the previous steps and isn't ready to become a customer? Send them some useful information that'll help build trust and help them in their thought process to buy.
  • Marketing Automation - This process involves creating email marketing and lead nurturing tailored to the needs and life cycle stage of each lead. If a visitor downloaded a certain tip sheet, send that lead a series of related emails to that tip sheet's topic. 

4) Delight

The Inbound way is all about providing remarkable content to our users, whether they be visitors, leads, or existing customers. Just because someone has already written you a check doesn't mean you can forget about them! Inbound companies continue to engage with, delight, and (hopefully) up sell their current customer base into happy promoters of the organizations and products they love. 

Tools to delight:

  • Surveys - The best way to find out what your users want is simply by asking them.
  • Smart Calls-to-Action - These present different users with offers that change based on buyer persona and life cycle stage.
  • Smart Text - Proved your existing customers with remarkable content tailored to their interests and challenges. Help them achieve their goals, as well as introduce new products and features that might be of interest to them.
  • Social Monitoring - Keep tabs of the social conversations that matter to you the most. Listen and look out to what your customers are talking about. 

Inbound marketing doesn't just happen, you have to guide it. 

And...you do it using tools and applications above that'll help you create and deliver content that will appeal to precisely the right Joe Schmos (your buyer personas) in the right places (channels) at just the right times (life cycle stages). Now, get to it. 

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Beth Trejo

As the Founder & CEO of Chatterkick I live and breathe all things online. It’s my goal to offer real-world practical solutions to businesses and leaders throughout the community. Although many consider my strengths in technology, I’m still a firm believer in a good ol’ fashioned handshake.