Inbound marketing is a dawn of a new era, a renaissance of marketing since the internet and digital age began. Is consumerism still dominating most of the world? Yes, but the methodology to get the products to them has changed. Outbound marketing is of the past, when television ads and billboards dominated the market to get the word out. 44% of mail via post isn’t opened, making paper a waste of time and bad for the environment. 86% of people now record television series and skip the ads, or watch Netflix. With consumers increasingly going online to find what they want, new methodologies include drawing the customer to the company or product, making them stand out amongst millions of other products. How? Through earning the attention and loyalty of the customer, often through social media. Blogs, podcasts and other means are used to draw the eyes of the customer and engage them, finally selling them a product and keeping them a loyal customer.
Previously with outbound marketing, communication was one-way, through a billboard of a cheeseburger or one on a T.V. ad. Now communication is two-way, engaging the customer as well and encouraging them to also promote the product. Before, customers were sought out, now customers are drawn to you through the internet, search engines, social media and referrals. Before, the marketer had little influence in entertaining or educating the public about a product and why it is the best. Now, the marketer engages the potential customer through entertaining them, making them aware of the product and educating them about the product and why theirs is the best.
Inbound marketing is a methodology that uses various forms called pull marketing such as: blogs, podcasts, events, SEO and others to make customers aware of their product or company and also attract business from new customers. Before, outbound sought to find customers out there in the world, now inbound earns not just the sale, but the attention of the customer through making the product and company easy to be found by the customer and understood, as well as connected to why this product is better than others like it.
Since 2006, increased internet consumerism has made inbound marketing the best methodology for doing online business. Now, instead of purchasing advertisements, buying email listings, hoping for leads and other outside methods, inbound marketing has the goal to make good content that draws people to your product where they will want to be by aligning published content with the interests of your potential customer. This process is seen as Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight over a specific time period.
1. Attract (Strangers, Visitors): Blogs, Social Media, Keywords, Pages
In this stage, you want strangers to your product to be converted into visitors in several ways:
Blogs: Don’t underestimate the power of content that is interesting and draws your customer as well as engages them with content that is relevant to them. When you educate them with quality information that is credible, you can become the first answer on a product. And you earn trust.
Social Media: Many social platforms are online and people spend most of their time there. Put your blog and other content on these sites where people already are.
Keywords: Where do people go when they want to buy something online? Most likely to Google. How many times have I put into Google: “Cheapest flights from Point A to Point B” when searching for my next trip? You can find out what the keywords are here if you are an airline company, like “flights,” and integrate them into content that you bring such as a blog or other platforms and provide links, and this will attract customers to you.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Keywords with content that is relevant on your site can help you make a website that will bring potential customers to your site that are looking for a product like the one you offer.
2. Convert (visitors, leads): Calls to Action, Landing Pages, Forms, Contacts
Now it’s time to convert. It’s time to make visitors to your site become leads that will eventually become your loyal customers. You want to ask for their information so you can get in touch and keep in touch with them. You do this through:
Calls to Action (CTA): Here you can provide links to click that get a site visitor to do some point of action, such as provide their email address in a form or download something.
Forms and Landing Pages: After the Call to Action, you will bring a potential customer to a page where they can submit a form and give further personal contact information.
3. Close (leads, customers): Email, Workflows, Lead Screening, CRM Integrations
Now it’s time to use marketing analytics to close the sale with the visitor or lead:
Marketing Automation System: This is a software system, and there are many different kinds, that contacts leads for you and gives them content to secure a sale for you. Each customer receives a score that is recorded for you that is based on the probability that they will buy your product. You watch these scores in order to eventually make a sale. These systems also tell you when to change content so that your customer doesn’t continually get hit with the same emails or other forms of content you are sending them.
Emails: You have their email address now after the CTA so you can send them the content mentioned above that is relevant to them and interesting and will make them want to buy the product from you.
4. Delight (customers, promoters): Social Media, Smart Calls to Action, Email, Workflows
Now that your lead has become a customer and they are happy with their product, you want to continue to get their service so that they become an ongoing customer.
Email and Marketing Automation: this means your customers will always keep up-to-date with your newest products and content that is relevant and interesting.
Social Media: This helps your customers stay with you when you post and the posts come up before their eyes on the everyday sites they are using.
So in Summary: Inbound marketing is the superior method of attracting and promoting a company or product to potential customers online, gaining in the end not just their purchasing but their loyalty. This promotion can be through various online platforms such as podcasts, short videos, blogs, e-newsletters, eBooks, Search Engine Optimization or SEO, marketing through social media and platforms already used by customers and other forms of marketing that attract potential customers through the different levels of the sales funnel such as leads, managing contacts, email marketing and keeping and maintaining customers.
Some Tools Used in Effective Inbound Marketing
There isn’t necessarily one tool or platform that is all-inclusive and helps you as the company selling your product or products. There are tools that encompass all of the areas you will need to include to successfully employ the inbound marketing system such as distributing the content, social media, paid media and advertising, analytics, automated emails and marketing and others. Here are some main categories involved in Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight, the inbound marketing process:
1. Web Analytics
This is a process of getting your goals, defining them, getting and analyzing data, and testing and implementing results. In short it involves:
Defining Goals: Get a clear definition of what your business goals are.
Build Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Get the key points you want analyzed to track whether you have achieved this goal.
Collect Data: Keep accurate and complete data.
Analyze Data: To get insights on how to better your marketing and sales in the future of your business.
Test Alternatives: Based on insights you got from analyzing your data.
Implement: The insights you got from analyzing your data and/or testing your website.
2. Email Marketing
Getting your visitors to make an action step. You want to include:
Communication that is Relevant
Your subscriber needs content that is relevant and interesting for them. You want your rate of email opens to be over 20%, so make your email message solve a problem for them or give information that your target audience needs.
You have to say who you are or what your company is and why you’re getting in touch. Take advantage of openers such as “You are receiving this email because…” to help give an opening line that will help customers remember and mark who you are and not count your email as spam.
Short and Sweet
You don’t want to overwhelm your customers with a lot of information. Keep the details not only relevant, but open with a subject that is short and to the point, and then keep the content simple and with short sentences.
You get this through giving information that is exactly what a customer should expect from you as far as frequency of contact. Then also follow with communication that is regular to strengthen the bond. Don’t over-promote. Keep the tone of the emails educational and try to stick to a maximum or 10-20% promotion and 80-90% other information that will help the customer. Also, make it easy to unsubscribe to your list.
Make sure to find a provider with a good-looking template and also customizations so you can tweak your look to what you like. Keep added images small and also make sure that your images are enabled so viewers see this when looking at your content.
Make sure to tailor your messages based on where someone is in the sales funnel. Educational emails are for those who are not yet customers, for example, whereas those further down the line might opt in to an up-sell point. Engage your customers according to where they are in the pipeline.
Provide Call to Action
Ask for the order. It might be a request to click and read a blogpost, or watch a video. It’s not always to buy a product, but the stage should be clear to ask for a next action step from your customer.
These should lead to improved conversions from the Convert stage to the Close stage.
3. Leads And Database Management: Managing Leads
Here you want to figure out what kind of leads you want, get their attention with the right content, plan how to nurture your leads, invest in an automation marketing program, keep the data nice and neat, and make a feedback loop.
Create Your Ideal Lead
To create your lead you first need to study and know them. You want to find out what their interests are and what problems they have to generate content that will be interesting for them. Where do they spend most of their time online and offline, what ways do they communicate through, social media, emails and others. And find out what components makes them ready to be given as leads to your sales team or go from leads to eventually customers. If you are working with a sales team, communicate with them this process.
Attract Them by Your Content
Blogging. Companies that use blogging have been shown to get 67% more leads than those companies that fail to blog. With a blog you have the chance to make a buyer’s potential decision by showing your company, the product, your expertise in the field through educational articles and not asking for a buy right away. Divide your audience of potential customers and give content that will give a clear CTA, or Call to Action and bring your leads into your social media strategy. Exposing them to social media will increase your customers’ chance of seeing your content, you will reach more people, and don’t forget to educate your potential customers before giving a sales pitch.
Sales and Marketing Working Together
Your sales team and marketing team, if you have them, should be one cohesive unit. They should establish a funnel that is based on marketing leading to sales and the timeline for that connection, and both teams should have access to a database of customer contact information as well as sales activity and marketing activity together. You want for each member of your teams to be able to get insight about the customer to better your chances of getting attention from potential customers and closing sales.
Nurturing Leads Pathway
It’s time to structure how you will nurture your leads. You want to build relationship with potential customers, keep leads that are not as interested now for the future, give leads to the sales team but only once they have reached a certain score that makes them more likely to convert to a closed sale. If the threshold isn’t yet met or they don’t seem like a good lead now, keep them for a future time to communicate with. There should be top leads, middle leads, and bottom leads, but don’t forget the least likely leads for the future. Keep nurturing the relationship for future selling opportunities.
Buy Marketing Automation Tools
You want your business to grow, so you will need to eventually invest in marketing automation software. It’s best to invest in this at the beginning of your process rather than down the road when you have a process that is fragmented and not working. This will also help you make better decisions from the outset about your leads, where to invest and also to find out how your marketing activities are faring. There are many different tools but we will mention some in the next section.
Get And Keep Good Data
The last thing you want is data that is not accurate because it will cost you time, money and eventually you will need to regather better data to make sales. Bad data can also lead to damaging your company’s reputation. With good data quality you can find effectiveness and also where you need to strengthen you marketing and sales activities.
Time to Make a Feedback Loop
Once you have closed a deal from a lead you are not finished! You have gathered insights from teams such as why the customer was hesitant at first to buy the product. From there you can measure how the sales overcame the hurdle and determine which features of your product didn’t work. Also, determine how many interactions were made before the deal was settles? Get a system where feedback can be given to teams and improve the process you are making as you move ahead with your business.
4. Landing page
The landing page will look like all other sites but their goal and operation is a bit different. In the marketing online industry, landing pages take visitors to leads to customers through getting them to click and take particular action steps. The action could be buying something through your online page, or it could be subscribing to a newsletter you wrote, or other actions. A quality landing page can help you immensely and in contrast to a full site, this is a single, simple site that will have a specific target in mind to get the visitors to click and meet your end goal.
With the content of the page, the site will be promotional in nature. It will try to convey the benefits of performing a specific action and get the person to take that specific action. This means that the goal is to get the person to fulfill this specific action, such as subscribing or downloading content, and that’s it. It also should be designed simply and without too many words or distractions that could take away your potential customer’s attention.
The objective of the landing page ultimately is to get the people viewing the page to click on it, so the design of the page and the text on the page should reflect that goal. Also, as a page, it is singular, so your goal should be that it is one, short page that convey’s its action points clearly and simply, without a lot of content.
You can include a header, a subheading, images, small photos, buttons to click and other items. Just make sure that everything you use visually is showing the reader the message you want to send effectively.
Unless you want to design a landing page from the ground up, which will be complicated and time-consuming, plan to use a professional template for your landing page design. This will help you ensure that your landing page is of good quality, is visually appealing, and will lead your customers where you want them to go and take the action you want them to take.
5. SEO Monitoring, Management
Now you need to monitor your website’s search engine so you can find out what is working and what is not. You want to track the following information:
Researching Automatic Keywords
You want to find a program that will get at least a thousand relevant keywords with big SEO opportunities.
The tool tells you what number of people will see your site in Google results and looks at the total amount of searches made on a list of keywords that are relevant to your site and company..
Insights on the Competition
You want to note and comprehend quickly where you stack up in comparison to your competitors. And keep track of it.
Keyword Difficulty and Opportunity to Predict the Amount of Money Made:
You want to make as much money as possible without spending a lot of resources, so you prioritize what you are doing based on your keywords. You want your keywords to have large opportunities with low difficulty.
Best Inbound Marketing Tools for You to Use
Now that we have defined Inbound Marketing, discussed what is involved in attracting, converting, closing and delighting your customers to move your business forward, and defined different components that help you track, analyze and draw customers converting them from potentials to leads to customers, let’s look at a few recommended systems recommended by top experts in the field that might work for you. Here are four more successful ones.
Marketing Automation Software – Easy to use, powerful to generate business, complete in that it incorporates several aspects of inbound marketing.
For: Email and email automation, landing page creating, lead and database management.
Marketo is a user-friendly designed software that is also powerful because it combines both a social media angle strategy with features that are optimized for marketing analyzation. If gives a cloud-based platform for marketing and works for all types of businesses and helps to enhance the accountability with the marketing in any given organization. You can segment campaigns, keep tracking results and the contract is for a minimum of one year with quarterly payments available to help pay for the overall cost. This is good to send automated emails, it will help you create a landing page and will help you keep track of your leads with their database management system.
For: Analyzing data for insights, giving personalized customer experience and brand recognition.
This is a product of Oracle and is a Marketing Cloud Product Suite component that was added in 2012. Eloqua subsequently grew into one of the biggest and most widely used platforms for content marketing with an analytics tool part of the platform. This analytics tool has 12 dashboards that track and measure data from multiple sources to give insight into many different angles. There is also an app for the software that gives you access to 150 other apps like LinkedIn, Pinterest and other and the software is good for companies or organizations that want to give a personalized experience for the customer and more brand recognition.
For: Beginners because of it’s user-friendly platform.
This might be the best software to use for those that are seeks to start out in inbound marketing or who are new to the whole system. They have good, user-friendly aspects to their platform while you will still not miss on in-depth material such as articles, presentations, blog posts on inbound marketing, infographics, articles on lead generating in the resources section and so it is a good help section for those starting out.
SalesPanda gives you marketing software that integrates several aspects of inbound marketing that benefits many different types of businesses such as educating, real estate business, technology, IT service and consulting. There is an automated platform for generating leads, which is one of the most challenging tasks in getting eventual customers, and the automated platform makes a hub for the company’s site with no coding to worry about. Also you can get leads captured through one link. You can set up the cycle quickly, get customized content that is also of high quality in several forms: case studies, infographics, newsletters and you can also reduce the time of the customer and sales cycle through the lead nurturing.
For: Bigger Businesses and those wanting to combine all of the Inbound Marketing into one software program.
This is an all-inclusive platform that will incorporate most if not all of the aspects of Inbound Marketing into one resource for you, combining such elements as:
– Web Analytics
– SEO Monitoring/ Management
– PPC/ Advertising Analytics/ Management
– Email/ Marketing Automation
– Landing Page Creation/ A/B Testing
– Lead/ Database Management
HubSpot was founded in 2006 and includes marketing software that targets middle to large-sized companies. It has essentially redefined the internet marketing industry and is a powerhouse in the marketing business because the renaissance in many ways was actually helped with this company. It redefined through its focus on inbound marketing more than any other previous software systems and how to pull the customer toward the product or company rather than trying to hard sell it. There is a year-long contract that is $3,000 and can go up to $10,000 per year depending on what features you decide to run with and the usage.
Hubspot offers a marketing platform that helps to generate leads, gets scores, gathers analytics, monitors social media and helps with email marketing. It gives a lead scoring system based on data points including websites, emails, social media and landing forms. There is also a personalization engine that gives the individual customer experiences integration and gives campaigns afterward that are based on the analytics that were previously generated.
It is a good provider for companies, giving them a solution to marketing that is more holistic because of all the aspects it incorporates rather than one single aspect, as many professionals have concluded that Inbound Marketing should involve many tactics like those listed in the above section and not just one or two.
So we have covered Inbound Marketing, the rebirth of marketing especially in the last decade, and its goal to draw and attract customers rather than go out an push customers into the position of closing on a sale. We have covered the different aspect of Inbound Marketing from Attracting strangers to converting visitors to closing leads to delighted customers that become promoters of your product and business.
We have covered the different aspects of Inbound Marketing as one aspect will probably not cover all of its bases, from blogs and social media and keywords to Calls to Action, landing pages, subscriptions and contacts, to email contact and closing your sales, to entertaining and educating your customers before the sale and continued promotion after to keep them coming back and promote your product and company to others. Finally we have covered different systems that exist to cover all of the aspects of Inbound Marketing to only one or two aspects depending on your needs, from web analytics to SEO monitoring, to email marketing, to landing pages and lead and database management.
Which system or which aspects of the system are right for you will depend on whether you are someone new to business and just starting a company, what the business size is, and what you need to measure to get more sales and success for your company. Evaluate based on your needs and go for it. Also some of the software has a great help section and many articles and information included to help you get better at Inbound Marketing and measure better and get better results, so use these features and you are bound, with a lot of elbow grease included, to get the success with your online company that you have dreamed of, and navigate the internet business world with the best players out there.