Inbound Marketing – A Beginners Guide
For years now, inbound marketing has been a growing segment in the marketer’s arsenal. But what is inbound marketing? Well simply put, it’s a method for attracting leads and customers in to your marketing messages. This flies in the face of more traditional methods of reaching out to them via targeted advertising.
However, inbound marketing will only really work if your brand allows you to build meaningful & lasting relationships with your market. You really need to understand their goals and concerns and empower your prospects to reach them.
If you head into Bunnings (you’re an inbound marketing lead here), you’ll find one of their well-trained staff (how on earth does a sixteen-year-old know how to do that?!) and ask them for a long flat thing to go onto the wall to support a shelf. A short conversation with them will work out that you need a shelving bracket and will be directed to aisle 31 where you can get what you need.
What just happened? The inbound lead engages in a conversation with a brand to be clear on what they want and directed to the right product. The customer succeeds, learning that the “long flat thing” is a bracket and that they can buy one right there. They are empowered to succeed. Because they succeed, so does the vendor. More to the point, the customer will know exactly where to go next time they need hardware.
There are three stages to inbound methodology
- Attraction – Getting the right sort of visitor in by producing valued and engaging content and interactions that will show you to be a trusted advisor.
- Engagement – Production of insightful solutions that deal with their issues and aspirations, making them more likely to buy from you.
- Delighting – Going one step further than they expect by providing excellent support to ensure customers are successful with what they bought from you.
Inbound Marketing Strategies
As a marketer, you will need to come up with a mix of actions based on the following strategies. Coordinate all these actions and you will produce an inbound lead machine, helping your business to grow.
Naturally, before you can engage and delight your audience, you need to get them to notice you. It begins with understanding who they are, what their aspirations are, and where they go to get their information. The creation of buyer personas is a crucial step in this process. You can have as many as you want – and as much content as you like.
Once you’ve identified who you want to attract, start creating content. A great place to start is with blog (news) articles that provide value to the reader. Articles such as product guides, how-tos, challenges, and customer stories – all can be made interesting and engaging. Make sure that your product or service placement is in the right area and subtly told.
Make sure you are getting a deep connection by making sure all your content is search optimised (SEO). Your well thought out SEO strategy will make sure your targeted keywords/keyphrases are closely related to how your product or service can be used to solve your market’s problems.
If you get your SEO activities done well, your web pages will begin to rank as solutions when people type those keywords into search engines such as Google or Bing.
Above all, make sure you build content that will engage your audience. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “engage” as
occupy or attract (someone’s interest or attention).
So, you need to be completely familiar with the subject your visitor is interested in, and work through how to engage with them to build a long-term relationship with you. As you use these strategies, make sure to include how your product or service will provide value to them.
Of course, to work out how you handle inbound sales calls or emails from potential customers will all be helped if you have a well-defined brand. All of your sales staff (actually all staff) need to be on message. It’s also a good idea to ensure your business is selling solutions rather than product or service selling. By focussing on solutions, you will make sure that all purchases result in a mutual benefit – and this will build loyalty.
Back to the Oxford English Dictionary the word “delight” is
a feeling of great pleasure
Why would you bother? Well, a study by PwC in 2018 found that 42% of customers are ready to pay more for a better experience. Delivering a wow moment can change the mood and perception of customers and elevate their buying experience. This in turn can help build long-term loyalty and trust in your brand. Satisfied customers remember the buying experience long after they make a purchase. To delight your customers means your team members become advisors and experts who assist customers to solve their problems. Your business becomes the customers’ Go-To Guy for that particular issue solved.l
As with all marketing, measurement is key, and making sure feedback is received through the use of well thought out surveys or chatbots can add to the delight felt by happy customers. It’s also a great way to turn bad customer experiences around (remember that sign behind the shop counter? “if you don’t like the service, tell me…but if you like the service, tell your friends!“).
Reviewing social media is another important item in your delight toolkit. Social media pages for your business may be used by customers to give kudos – so it’s important to respond to their comments and feedback – and make sure those responses include helpful hints and that will encourage other people to follow your brand.