Why Talk About Inbound Marketing?
Before we get into what inbound marketing is all about, it is important to understand how buyer habits have changed in recent years.
Inbound marketing is important because of the continuing shift toward self-reliance in consumer decision-making. With the rise of digital technology, access to information is increasingly right at our fingertips. Today, when buyers identify a problem, they increasingly arrive at a solution through their own online research. Rather than calling a friend or going to check out a local company in person, they likely turn straight to their smartphone or computer. The internet allows for buyers to compare companies with similar products and services and then select one that they feel most fits their needs. So how do you get a potential customer to pick you out of the crowd?
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is a holistic data driven approach to marketing that attracts individuals to your brand and converts them to long-lasting customers. Inbound marketing revolves around promoting your company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, newsletters, whitepapers, SEO, physical products, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing that serve to attract customers through the different stages of the purchase funnel. The overall goal of these activities is to establish your brand as an expert and thought leader in your industry.
Inbound vs. Outbound
Outbound marketing includes buying attention, cold-calling, direct paper mail, radio, TV advertisements, sales flyers, spam, telemarketing and other traditional advertising. These activities are known as the old way of marketing and continue to become less effective as technology advances.
This All Sounds Great, So Let’s Start a Blog!
Though creating killer content is what inbound marketing is all about, you shouldn’t just jump into it without a strong strategy. Surprisingly enough, this is what companies try to do. They start a blog, generate content, and see minimal results for their efforts. Just like building a business or constructing a new home, success requires a logical blueprint and a solid foundation.
Creating an Inbound Marketing Game Plan
Creating an effective inbound marketing strategy can be a challenging and intensive process that requires a lot of energy and planning. To help with this process, we have created a step-by-step guide to an effective game plan.
Step 1 – Understanding Your Customer's Buying Journey
So what is the buyer’s journey and why is it relevant?
The buyer’s journey encompasses the active research process a buyer undergoes, beginning with the desire for a product or service and ending with a purchase.
Understanding your potential customer’s decision-making process will allow you to create targeted content for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
According to the major advisory services company CEB, 57% of the buyer’s journey is completed before the buyer ever contacts a company. This means that customers go through the awareness and consideration stages (discussed in step 3) all by themselves, identifying their own problem and conducting their own research. Your job from a marketing standpoint is to reach the buyer before she or he reaches the critical decision stage.
Step 2 – Define Your Buyer Persona
Before producing content to engage a buyer along their journey, you should define your buyer persona. A buyer persona is a fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customer. Creating a simplified model customer will help you focus your strategy toward a specific market of consumers. Personas are also helpful in a variety of other business activities such as sales and product development. Download a free buyer persona template here.
Step 3 – Creating the RIGHT Content
Once you have an idea of your targeted consumer, you can begin creating content specific to that buyer persona. You might consider eBooks, webinars, industry reports, how-to guides, video demonstrations, blog posts, or anything that will likely grab the attention of your defined buyer persona. Content should be sharp, engaging, and useful.
Two stages of the buyer’s journey, Awareness and Consideration, are especially important in determining how to cater your content.
In the Awareness stage, buyers are focused solely on gathering information to address their immediate problem. Informational content is key at this stage of the buyer’s journey. To attract consumers at this stage, your content should offer useful information about the product or service and convey your company’s unique strengths. such as quality or experience. When initiating an inbound campaign, you should vary your content in information and creative style. This will reveal which content attracts your ideal customer and which is not as effective.
In the Consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, it is important to cater your content to each of your buyer personas. Most educated buyers have a few hesitations or questions they want answered before entering the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. Your job as a marketer is to find out what these hesitations are and create content that will answer questions and relieve doubt about your product or service.
Step 4 - Lead Nurturing
When you first capture a lead and they start to begin the journey down your lead tunnel the potential customer is very far from making a sale at this point in the buyer’s journey. So the question is how do you get your potential customer to progress down the sales funnel automatically? The answer is lead nurturing.
Lead Nuturing- Is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer’s journey. It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need.
Avanti Vision can help you with this process to help convert more leads into customers. If you decide to set this lead nurturing process by yourself, it is important to create emails that answer any questions or concerns the buyer might have at the specific of the buyers journey. Having a chain of emails that relieve any doubts about your product or service as well as supplying additional useful content to the potential customer is the key to moving them along the sales cycle.
Step 5 - The Blog
Once you have a lead capture and nurture system in place such as (Hubspot CRM), then you are finally ready to set up your blog. The blogger’s goal is to generate interesting subject matter that will attract your buyer persona. The style should be conversational and educative rather than rigid or condescending. You should aim to inform the consumer, not to deliver a sales pitch for your product or service.
Typically, it’s useful to start with blog posts that answer frequently asked questions. Addressing the potential questions of your buyer persona is a great way to eliminate doubt. It also provides useful subject matter if it is difficult to think of interesting blog topics related to your industry.
Review: Creating a valuable inbound marketing strategy
• Buyer’s journey - Consider the buyer’s journey for your product or service
• Buyer persona - Create target buyer personas specific to your company and determine problems they may encounter through the buyer's journey
• Content - Create content offers that are interesting and informative to your targeted buyer persona
• Lead nurturing system - Utilize a lead nurturing system (Hubspot CRM) to access data relevant to the buyer’s journey. Determine what kinds of content converted leads to customers.
• Blog – Create interesting posts that will attract the ideal customer to your site. Provide useful information by answering commonly asked questions that arise as potential customers enter into the buyer's journey
These steps serve as an excellent guide to effective inbound marketing. As technology continues to advance, nuanced marketing strategies are pivotal in building a strong brand, attracting customers, and standing out among industry competition.
How Avanti Vision Can Help
If you are interested in starting your Inbound Marketing Plan, we would love to help you along the way.