If you want to ramp up your online leads, you need to try inbound marketing. This wholistic approach to digital marketing drives more leads and creates cheerleader customers that will champion your business. But how does inbound marketing work? And what tactics do you use to get started?
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is customer-oriented and customer-driven. Simply put, inbound marketing starts with valuable content that your target audience wants, instead of just advertising your services. In a traditional marketing model, you would simply “spread the word” about your business through print or online ads. With inbound marketing, you instead focus on providing valuable information or items your customers can use. For example, you might start with an ebook, a quiz, a checklist or a blog that your ideal customer might find useful. You dangle that content offer to get nibbles in exchange for a form fill or phone call and then follow-up with more direct advertising. Additionally, inbound marketing is also focused on keeping buyers perpetually in motion with your brand, even after a purchase.
The Inbound Methodology
Inbound marketing follows a methodology of three primary stages. Each stage represents a different point in your customers’ journeys. HubSpot defines the stages of the inbound methodology as:
- Attract: drawing in the right people with valuable content and conversations that establish you as a trusted advisor with whom they want to engage.
- Engage: presenting insights and solutions that align with their pain points and goals so they are more likely to buy from you.
- Delight: providing help and support to empower your customers to find success with their purchase.
These stages are cyclical – even after a customer makes a purchase, you can still draw them back for more with relevant content. This creates a never-ending flywheel that’s perpetually in motion.
Get Started With Inbound Marketing [Free Guide]
Inbound Marketing Tactics
Research or Analyst Reports
Blogs or Editorial Content
eBooks & eGuides
Templates & Worksheets
Specific Service Info
In order to attract people to your website, social media, email or blog through inbound marketing, you need to provide valuable content. Start with free content such as blogs, social media posts and pages on your website. This could include promotions/discounts, information on how to use your product, customer testimonials and an explanation of your services. Once you have a solid foundation of base content, you’ll move onto content offers.
Content offers are more in-depth content pieces that you offer to your audience, typically in exchange for an email or phone number. These include:
- eBooks: Take a look back at some blogs you’ve done – a simple eBook idea is to take a few blogs you’ve written on the same topic and compile them into one larger eBook.
- Quizzes: You can create targeted quizzes related to your industry and gate the results – simply have people enter their email before they can see their results. Quizzes are unique content offerings in that they’re interactive and allow you to mine more information about your leads before you meet with them.
- Gated Videos: Try creating a webinar about a topic that you’re knowledgeable about (or even have a roundtable discussion with other thought leaders in your industry). You can then work this into an inbound marketing campaign by gating the video – requiring visitors to fill out a form or RSVP online before they are given access to the video.
- Templates/Worksheets: Templates or worksheets are a fantastic way to deliver content to your audience that they can use. Best of all, these content pieces will be used again and again.
- Checklists: A checklist can help someone new to a process or concept navigate through it with ease. Checklists are also very simple to create as they’re typically only a few pages in length.
Once you have compelling content, you can attract new visitors to your website with an SEO strategy. Optimize all your content and target the keywords relevant to your products or services. This will propel your content forward to appear organically in search results. Having a strong SEO presence backed up with content allows your ideal customer to find you on their own.
After you’ve attracted an audience with valuable content, make sure you then engage with them strategically. After someone submits a form to download a content offer, that should not be the last time they hear from you.
There are two main types of engagement strategies you can take: automated and manual. The best inbound marketing strategies use both techniques.
Automated communication includes tools like chatbots and email automation. After someone downloads a content offer, create a series of follow-up drip emails that include other relevant content pieces and opportunities to connect with your business. A chatbot can be used globally on your website to answer basic questions and give visitors direction.
Manual communication depends on your business’ sales strategy. Make sure your sales team has an understanding of inbound marketing methodology so that they are solution selling, not product selling. This approach is mutually beneficial – you provide the right value for your right-fit customers.
Your current customers have the potential to be the most powerful brand ambassadors, but are often ignored in digital marketing strategies that focus on bringing in new leads. Beyond that, it’s simply good business to take care of your current customers after they make a purchase, so they feel valued and respected.
Chatbots and surveys are fantastic, automated ways of keeping in touch with current clients. Like in the engaging step, chatbots can be used on your website to help current customers find their way, too (“How do I pay my bill online?”). Surveys allow you to solicit information and source reviews from your audience that doesn’t require much effort on their part. When rolling out a new product update, send a survey to your clients to get their feedback.
Social media is a fantastic tool for delighting current customers. They can use social media to ask questions, provide feedback or share their experiences. When you respond publicly, potential customers can see the care you take with your current customers. This also makes current customers feel heard and seen.
Finally, remember that a truly successful inbound marketing campaign focuses on the customer, not on the bottom line. Whether or not your business sees any direct value or ROI from a situation, inbound strategy focuses on delighting customers in any situation. Every action has a ripple effect – taking the time to respond to a customer’s question on social media may not earn you money in that moment, but a customer who feels heard and loyal to a company may recommend your business to a friend.
Using these tactics will allow you to create a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy. Make sure to provide value for your customers at every stage of their journey. By creating compelling content they enjoy, you can keep your customers coming back and referring your business.
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Free Guide: The Beginner’s Guide to Inbound Marketing
In this download you’ll find:
- A step-by-step guide on how to create an inbound marketing strategy, including building buyer personas and setting SMART goals
- Sample lead magnets to use in your inbound marketing campaigns
- Step-by-step instructions to create a lead capture form
- A checklist for creating an effective landing page
- Instructions for building automated emails
- Actionable tips for marketing your campaign to a new audience
- Steps for optimizing your campaign for search engines
Need a new digital marketing or web design plan? We are a Minneapolis SEO, digital marketing, social media marketing, web design and HubSpot inbound marketing agency. Stop on by and get started – and while you’re here, pick up a free honey stick (yes, we love our bee-related theme).