In this Complete Guide to Inbound Marketing we'll show you all the steps you need to start taking to implement Inbound Marketing Strategies in an easy way.
- What is Inbound Marketing
- The Inbound Marketing Framework
- The Inbound Marketing Cycle
- Attract Clients
- Convert Clients
- Close Deals
- Delight Clients
Inbound marketing is one the biggest trends in marketing.
A lot is said about this strategy, which has been revolutionizing, a bit all over the world, the way marketing is currently applied in organizations, particularly in digital media.
And yes. This method changes everything.
We’re sure that by adopting an inbound marketing strategy in your business, the results will be blatant clear. But don’t get desperate if you are still not aware of it. We’ve compiled a guide that is going to teach you all the key concepts in order to help you to develop inbound marketing strategies like nobody else will.
So go pick up the pen and some paper to take notes about it.
In order to develop good inbound marketing strategies one needs to know its concept and background. Let's start with the base – the definition.
There are several concepts for this new methodology, because it’s hard to categorize something so complex and cross-cutting. However, quite briefly, inbound marketing is a marketing method that consists in attracting the interest of the target audience by using customized content, in order to convert visitors into loyal customers.
The innovativeness behind inbound marketing is centered on making available relevant content, produced or made available by the company, which is interesting for potential customers. This process generates a proximity between the organization and its customers, thus resulting in a higher degree of confidence. The greater the entrusted confidence is, the more the client is qualified for the purchasing process.
What makes this method an innovative concept is how companies begin to perceive their own market with it. The traditional marketing strategies are increasingly unsuited for a highly informed and demanding audience. In order to carry out inbound marketing, first of all it’s necessary to ‘twist’ the tactics and the marketing’s way of thinking. By leaving the conventional methods behind, which push the consumers towards products, without putting the focus on the needs of the former, determining profit and sales as the number one priority.
The inbound marketing strategies require precisely the opposite: instead of focusing time and resources on traditional and less effective marketing methods, and intrusive advertising, the inbound focuses itself on creating a strategy of presence and powerful content that acts as the resource which the target is looking for.
The inbound marketing guides itself by the behavior of the contemporary consumer, acknowledging his needs, knowing him and it’s only after that that it will offer products and services which address his wishes.
Inbound marketing focus itself essentially on creating quality content, in order to attract people to the companies and products which, naturally, they want to have. By aligning the published content with the interests of prospects, you will be able to generate traffic in an organic manner, in which you can then convert and enchant your customers throughout time. “Sharing is caring” – the phrase isn’t ours, but it fits like a glove. In inbound marketing, everything revolves around sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically conceived for your target audience, you’ll be able to attract prospects qualified for your business, keeping them and even make them come back for more.
How did the inbound marketing emerge?
In order to tell you the story behind this phenomenon we need to go back a few years. Do you remember the time when there was no internet? That’s right, we don’t either. But those were easy and thriving years for marketing. The access to information was scarcest and the media were limited, hence, it was (was) easier for an advertisement to stand out.
This type of traditional marketing consists on any tactic that “pushes” products or services towards its customers, usually spread through all those communication channels with which we grew up, such as TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, outdoors, etc.
This is also called outbound marketing.
The outbound marketing focus itself on a one-to-many communication, however relying on information of little interest and with little or no added value for the target.
Despite being the method that prevailed in the last decades, it presents several inconveniences both for companies and for the audience. The percentage of conversions is very small considering the big investments that a mass communication needs, since this is an intrusive method that invades people’s lives without asking for permission (at home on TV, in the car via radio, on the streets through outdoors), among many other situations to which we are exposed on a daily basis, where few are the ones who are actually available and interested in receiving the message. In outbound marketing the strategy is quite a straightforward one, because the methods available for it are confined. The outbound marketing’s goal has always been to be the highlight. However, the message is inherently overshadowed by things that have little interest, but they are unavoidable when you have so much to spread with very little room to work.
The emergence of the internet and the democratization of digital media, with cheaper devices accessible to everyone, has revolutionized the way people communicate and interact with each other and with companies. However, the methods that have worked so far in traditional marketing proved to be inefficient in the online world.
These days, no one bears advertising anymore. By having access to all answers through a simple click on the web, patience runs out rather easily, because people don’t have time to respond to the marketing’s stimuli with which they are bombed on a daily basis. The purchasing behavior of the ideal target customers has changed significantly in recent times and, because of that, it’s important to develop other methods to conquest their attention.
It’s in this context that emerges the need for a paradigm shift in the way marketing was being conducted.
The concept of Inbound Marketing has gained special notoriety thanks to the company and agency Hubspot, which defines, even if briefly, that “Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.”
If outbound marketing uses a “push” strategy in which, basically, the company or brand is “pushed” towards the audience, being almost imposed by recurring to invasive methods, inbound marketing works in the exact opposite way, as it seeks to attract attention with “pull” tactics, which raise the interest of prospects.
The big secret of inbound marketing is being able to attract consumers with the right information, precisely in the right moment. By having the ability to properly understand your audience, as well as its challenges and needs, you can develop a marketing campaign that specifically works to attract and convert long-term customers.
Thus, even though inbound marketing directs its strategy towards an audience much smaller than the outbound crowd, the former has the big advantage of having an audience whose largest share is a type of audience that’s really interested in the available content and one that will value this action, providing added value to the brand, product or service, substantially increasing the conversion rate.
What can you expect from inbound?
The inbound marketing strategy combines several techniques which give the company the possibility to gather and present their knowledge, in order to attract a quality target audience. Some of the most used, and the ones we are going to explore in the following chapters, are the searches, social media and content. When combined, it’s much easier for the company to understand what their prospects need and, then, deliver it.
A successful inbound marketing strategy requires a consistent availability of quality in order to increase visibility and display its knowledge. Without content there’s nothing to optimize and nothing to share. It is way easier to establish a connection and build a relationship of trust when a prospect finds a company in a natural way, because the latter offers everything he needs.
The inbound marketing requires a long-term working process, the results may not be immediately visible, but the coherence and the relevance of a strategy bring several benefits to the company or brand:
• It increases the brand’s visibility
• It develops long-term relationships with the Target
• It improves the brand’s notoriety and recognition
• It creates loyalty and trust with your customers
• It helps to build credibility
• It develops long-term relationships with the Target
• It improves the brand’s notoriety and recognition
• It creates loyalty and trust with your customers
• It helps to build credibility
• It puts you in the “expert” position within your industry
• It generates more traffic to the website (it improves lead generation)
• It helps the client to take a purchasing decision more quickly
• It provides added value to the brand
However, there are some challenges ahead for companies that adopt an inbound marketing strategy. We know that this is a continuous process which requires regular work, by making available consistent content that is relevant to the target audience. And it’s not always easy, mainly for smaller companies, to have enough time and resources to produce quality content on a consistent basis, one that excites and informs your audience. But, deep down, the important thing is to know how to plan and have your goals set.In order to guide you through this process, we will present in the next chapter a framework that is going to help you to set a strategy for your business.
In the first chapter we’ve introduced you to inbound marketing and we’ve presented the first notions on the matter. What is it? In what context did it emerge? What makes it innovative? What can one expect from it? These were some of the questions that we’ve tried to clarify.
After understating a little bit better the things in which an inbound marketing strategies relies on, it can become a little bit tricky to apprehend what route one should take in order to put this process into practice. Resources are numerous, thus not having an idea about where to start it’s quite normal.
And that’s why we’re here: to guide you.
Taking you into account, we’ve developed a framework that comprises some steps which we deem as essential when it’s time to develop an inbound marketing strategy.
We want to teach you to develop an effective working structure for an inbound strategy, and that starts by carrying out an in-depth analysis, in order to actually understand the things you want to do, what your goals are and how you are going to outline the planning procedure. Read on to learn how.
Step 1: Analyzing
There’s no doubt that inbound marketing is an innovative strategy, one that is absolutely different from everything that has been conducted over the years. However, some things never actually change and, analyzing what is being done, in order to understand what one wants to do, is a vital exercise in the early planning stages of any marketing strategy.
To get things going, we recommend you to start by analyzing what customers and common people immediately associate your company with: the brand image.
The client’s engagement begins by having a solid brand as its base, which is settled upon a message and a coherent positioning and meets the needs of its audience.
Hence, start by checking what sort of changes or restructuring your company’s brand needs:
• Does the brand reflect the company’s identity?
• Is the communication suited to the target audience? Is it accessible?
• Does the brand distinguish itself from the competition?
• Is it innovative and creative?
• Is the brand aligned with the organization’s principles?
• Its positioning matches the corporative values and goals?
If you answered yes to all these questions, then analyze everything once again, this time more carefully. There’s always some point that needs to be improved or restructured. We’re not talking about extreme rebranding here, but certainly there are always small details that need to be adjusted to the company’s reality.
A great share of an inbound marketing strategy takes place in the online world. To sum things up, inbound is designed to attract visitors to the site, converting its traffic into leads, turning those leads into customers, and engaging its customers throughout all the relationship, unifying marketing with the sales process.
Hence, it’s decisive to analyze the company’s web presence, in order to start to understand the things that can be worked on and improved in the online context. Here are some steering questions:
• How is your business perceived in the online medium?
• Is the brand consistent in all properties?
• Is it easy to find? Can it be found in everything?
Step 2: Goal setting
After having analyzed the brand’s journey and having perceived what the best path forward is, it’s time to set goals to put it into practice.
Before anything else, we recommend establishing goals: What do I want for my company? What route should I take? How am I going to measure its success? – these are some questions that you ought to ask yourself, before embarking on this journey.
The goals should be properly set, with clear, direct and focused statements. Keep your foot firmly on the ground while you’re establishing your company’s goals: define what you really need to reach your goal, in a realistic and measurable manner. Challenge your company’s limits, but, while doing so, always take into account how and in what way you’re going to measure the results of each single goal, in a reasonable timeline, otherwise you may end up being too ambitious and, ultimately, you won’t be able to achieve anything whatsoever.
In order to ease this process, we present you a rather used approach, which facilitates the goals’ development. The magic recipe is just a single word, five letters, translated into five characteristics for well-developed goals.
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely)
• Specific: Itemize your goals down to the most intricate detail! The more specific you are regarding what you really want to do, the greater the probabilities of reaching your goals are.
• Measurable: All goals must have well-defined assessment criteria, in order to know when you are being successful. If you’re able to answer to “How much?”, “How many?” and “Until when?” you can move to the next step.
• Attainable: Be realistic when you’re setting your goals; always keep an eye on the resources that the company owns or the ones that are within its reach. Your best goals are those that encourage the company to grow and overcome itself, within its own limits.
• Relevant: Check the goal’s utility. If it helps you to achieve your vision, then it’s certainly relevant. In the other way, setting goals that don’t align themselves with the final outcome is something that is going to divert attention and disrupt the route that you want to take.
• Timely: Focus yourself on a deadline and work in order to reach it. If you don’t establish specific deadlines for each target, it will be much harder to reach them. Set priorities and organize your schedule in order to reach them one by one.
Define the Personas
In this analysis, besides setting goals, defining the Personas of your business is also crucial.
Personas are a term given to general representations of the target customers which companies are trying to attract. Deep down, they are, no more, no less, than a market segmentation tool or method. Attributing personas can help a company to understand their customers (and prospects) in a better way. This eases the process of having to adapt the content, messages, product and service development to the specific needs, behaviors and concerns of different groups.
Proceed to build your personas based on market researches and insights from your current database, either by carrying out surveys, interviews, etc. The better developed your personas are, the better and greater the results will be, because by obtaining a deeper knowledge about your target audience, you can also improve and adapt your content, whether in product development, sales, and everything that concerns customer acquisition and retention.
Step 3: Planning
Developing a marketing strategy with a well-thought and structured plan is already half the battle in order to have things going smoothly in the long term.
Such plan must align the inbound strategies with your business goals, in order to develop successful campaigns and overcome the competition.
Planning eases the execution of activities in a consistent way, and allows you to check the results. Without planning, it’s likely that you’ll end up disorientated, without doing anything, since you didn’t even know where to start or because everything becomes a priority when facing a set of goals and tasks which, even though they were set, they were actually not programmed.
Create a system that works for you
Begin with a simple plan, so you’re able to expand it as long as you think you can do more. Define when and what resources you need for each one of the activities and make sure that you have everything for the moment. Be realistic about what you can actually invest time and money-wise. Set aside the necessary time in your schedule, so you can commit yourself to the proposed calendar.
Take advantage of new technologies
You don’t necessarily need to carry an appointment book with you at all times, nor do you need to be online at the moment you want to post something online. There are several sites and apps that can help you to manage your tasks. Evernote is one the most used apps to organize content, which synchronizes itself with all your devices and, because of that, you can access your notes and reminders wherever you are. Buffer is another app that has emerged to ease your life, used to schedule posts on social networks. But, like these, you have much more!
Try several of them and pick the one with which you identify yourself the most.
Do short-term planning periods
Don’t plan for the long-term. In our current world, news and events are very volatile and unpredictable. Always establish a schedule, but keep in mind that if you plan things too far in advance you run the risk of having to go back and structure everything again, whilst having to give up your precious time.
Each person has their own personal rhythm, what we recommend you to do is a monthly planning, with brief weekly reviews. However, prepare yourself to be flexible, because one never knows when the next breaking news about your business area will pop out. (In that case, here’s a tip: shelve the ideas and use them the following month!).
Make yourself aware right away of the challenge of having to plan a schedule and having to keep it running. Particularly with startups, which may have to face some of these struggles, which must always be looked at as challenges!
The challenges and unexpected events will always be numerous, the important thing is to never lose the focus.
• Be realistic about the time that you can actually spend, based on your resources. You can always consider hiring a specialized company, which identifies itself with your vision and goals.
• Produce quality content that is timeless. Relevant content that is always up to date is one the best ways to capitalize all this work, because it will continue to be of interest to the public and it will provide long-term results.
In order for you to be able to put into practice your framework and all the planning tips, in the next chapter we’re going to explain how the cycle of inbound marketing works. Then, in the following chapters, we will go into details about each one of its moments.
In the second chapter we’ve presented you a framework to assist you in developing an effective work structure concerning inbound marketing strategies. Now that you know how you should structure your strategy, it’s time to understand how you can put the theory into practice.
Before anything else, always keep in mind that inbound marketing, more than a strategy in itself, is a way of being in the relationship with your long-term customers. It’s a practice whose aim is to educate and entertain at the same time, thus, being able to develop growth by relying on trust in the relationship with your customers can be something fun as well.
Before you proceed further with your reading, you should start this chapter by tearing down the paradigms with which you’ve been familiar so far, while forgetting everything you’ve learned on traditional marketing strategies, those that push customers to sales and are solely focused on profiting. Here, we introduce you to a strategy that is different from what is usually carried out, but that’s precisely the reason why you’re here: to learn. Have fun and, above anything else, keep in mind that the Inbound is ascertaining the audience and knowing how to give it what it needs, even when, or mainly, when it’s not looking for such thing.
The Cycle of Inbound Marketing
As you know, Inbound Marketing is a technique that was conceived to attract visitors to the site, converting its traffic into leads, turning those leads into customers, and engaging its customers throughout all their relationship.
Hubspot presents four key elements, which provide an overview of how to develop an inbound marketing strategy: attract, convert, close, delight. Albeit different, these elements work together and the success of some has to rely on others, cyclically speaking.
The first step of the inbound marketing strategy is to develop a plan so that you’re able to attract people’s attention to your website.
However, this strategy cannot be solely outlined by having that goal in mind and nothing else, you need as well to identify the right kind of visitors, those that are actually valuable for your business. If, back in the day, the emphasis was put on the traffic volume, nowadays what really matters is the visitor’s quality.
One must have something more than an online presence in order to generate visitors and attract valuable people to your organization.
There are several inbound techniques that allow you to draw the audience’s attention and, even more important, tactics that will make them come back for more.
We are going to explore some of these tactics of attraction whose role is to generate valuable leads, in chapter IV.
Once you have managed to attract quality traffic to your website, the next step is to make sure that you have some sort of way to capture it and convert it into leads.
This process consists of being able to retain something of the visitors.
However, most of the times that information will not be something that visitors will give you freely.
In order to get their information, in return you need to offer something valuable.
Conversion paths are a vital component of a successful inbound strategy.
Usually these begin by having something outlined, whose goal is to make the user take actions; and that’s a “call-to-action”.
Usually, conversion paths appear in the form of free content, such as e-books, white papers, webinars, among others.
By offering quality content to your visitors, which will match their interests, there’s a higher chance of you being able to organically convert those prospects.
This will result in conversion rates that are much higher. In chapter V we will talk in depth about conversion, where you’ll be able to know more about all these tactics and how you can deploy them.
When we’re able to attract the right visitors, whilst converting the right corrections into successful leads, the information that is given to us, when wisely used by the sales team, becomes essential to convert prospects into paying customers.
There are several marking tools that can be used during this stage, whose goal is to make sure that you are properly referring your prospects.
Some tools that are helpful when closing the deal with customers are the Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Analysis Reports and Email Marketing.
These and other sales capture tools, which are helpful during the closing deal stage, are presented in chapter VI.
All customers, even the most satisfied ones, need to be given attention, in order to make them feel appreciated by the organization in the long run.
Keeping your customers engaged with the business is crucial for its success, and it will ensure that your customers remain happy over time.
The inbound marketing’s path is about providing outstanding content to your users, whether they are visitors, leads or existing customers.
Just because someone has already become a customer of yours, that doesn’t mean you can just forget about that person!
The goal is to engage yourself with the customers in the long run, those of your current database and, if everything goes according to plan, being able to transform them into proud advocators of your organization, valuing the products that they love.
There are several ways that you can develop by yourself in order to keep your customers engaged and satisfied with the brand, some of them will be analyzed in chapter VII.
How can we run this cycle?
In an initial stage, the cycle of inbound marketing may seem a bit complex, and even too complex. But don’t let yourself be intimated by it, because they all are naturally jointed to each other, and you will notice that in practice it will be much easier than it may look. To make things easier, we will give you some tips, of the kind that we wish we had gotten back then.
Follow all the points...
In an inbound marketing campaign, it’s important to take into account the customer’s mind. The campaign must be built to attract, not to irritate. Follow all the cycle’s points in order to generate new leads, and transforming those quality leads into satisfied customers by relying on attractive and relevant content.
... And link them properly
Within the cycle of inbound marketing, each one of the keywords influences the whole picture equally. Following all the points and linking them properly is the only way to achieve a robust and coherent strategy, one that is able to face the extreme challenges and, thus, reaching the proposed goals.
In the life cycle of marketing, any person begins as a stranger to the organization: they start as strangers, visitors, contacts and, finally, they become customers. Get closer, boost specific actions and tools that will help to transform those strangers into customers.
Take advantage of the different channels
Inbound marketing, at its core, is a multichannel strategy, that’s why we talk about a “cycle” and not any other name instead. Take advantage of all the channels in order to get closer to people wherever they are. Don’t confine yourself to one or two platforms, assess and check the places where people are and go after them, because the channel where they stop by more frequently is also the place where they will be more inclined to interact.
Use integrated tools
In order to make the most of an inbound campaign, use interconnected tools to link all your distribution channels and tools, in a coherent and organized manner.
The result will be a process that is much smoother, with customized experiences for all customers, translating into improved results in marketing and sales.
Any campaign can be an inbound campaign. Take advantage of everything that happens around you in order to promote your business. Whether it’s a conversion you have with your neighbor, a trade fair or a non-formal meeting, all opportunities are good for you to work on your campaign and spread the word about your organization.
Adapt your content to the wishes and needs of the people who visit your site. As time goes by, it becomes easier to customize the messages in accordance to the audience’s specific needs. There are as well some marketing tools that ease this process.
Develop buyer personas
Buyer personas are often used as the basis for an optimized marketing campaign. Since they are a fictional representation of the ideal customer, this tool makes it easier to narrow down the marketing strategy in accordance with the information gathered, whose goal is to create content and marketing material that actually impresses the right audience.
Business happens almost naturally when the cycle is being developed
Don’t forget that the inbound marketing’s focus is the content. The cycle’s goal is to deliver added value to their prospects and current customers, with the sole intention of being naturally perceived, without being forced or unwanted, as traditional methods tend to be.
In the next four chapters we will go into details for each of the key points of the cycle, so that you will get to know each one of the presented stages thoroughly. We will start by presenting the processes of attraction in chapter IV, then we’ll explore some of the best conversion methods in chapter V, followed by a presentation of several techniques to close a deal in chapter VI, and we will conclude this cycle by analyzing some of the most common methods used to keep the customers satisfied over time in chap. VII.
We started the journey about the Cycle of Inbound Marketing in the third chapter, in which you had to chance to meet, even if briefly, the four key elements that create the opportunity to provide an overview of how to develop an inbound marketing strategy: attract, convert, close, delight.
In these next four chapters, we are going to explore each one of them, because we believe that a vaster knowledge provides a better strategic vision for your business.
The first stage of the inbound marketing methodology is to attract. This concept is based on attracting qualified prospects to a given business, by creating and sharing high quality and relevant content.
How can one be able to attract customers?
First step: planning
Before thinking about attracting visitors to generate valuable leads, one should first carry out an analysis, as well as a proper planning, of the inbound tactics that are going to attract the attention of your specific audience.
So keep this mind: we are not looking to hit a large audience, only those specific individuals, who have a high probability of generating leads.
Second step: know the perfect customer
The best way to attract qualified customers to a business is by creating and sharing high-quality content.
Being able to give them what they are looking for is only possible if you know your target properly.
Use all the insights available at your reach, which allow you to have an in-depth knowledge about your prospect.
One of the most common techniques is to use personas, in order to obtain a more extensive perception about the goals, challenges and “pain-points” of the ideal customers.
Personas are the people around whom the business flourishes.
Thus, the more you know about your audience, the easier it will be to create highly relevant content, approaching the real needs, questions and interests of ideal customers.
Third step: master all the tools
We know that content is the inbound marketing’s golden key, however, there are several tools that can be used by you to put this strategy into practice, which aim to attract qualified visitors to your website.
Blogging, SEO and social media management are some of the techniques that we’ll explore later in this chapter. And don’t forget: work them properly!
Each one of these tools has its own features which give your strategy a big advantage, however, it’s important to know them well, in order to be able to link them together and make the most out of everything as a whole.
Fourth step: put it into practice
After doing the planning, knowing your audience properly and mastering the tools, which allow you to increase your attraction rate, it’s time to go into the ground (in this case, to a computer with internet connection), to put everything into practice so that you will start to attract valuable customers to your site.
Fifth step: analyze the results
The “art of attraction” is a work that requires a continuous performance.
Thus, in an initial stage it’s quite normal to see results not being directly proportional to the time and the number of hours committed.
Analyze the results on a regular basis in order to perceive what’s working properly and focus your efforts in that direction.
Be consistent and the results will start to emerge gradually.
The three best components to ATTRACT visitors
The 3 most effective and common inbound marketing techniques to attract the right users to your site are:
The best way to provide content is by having a blog.
In addition to being an excellent method to make yourself stand out from your competition, this is a component almost mandatory in any plan that is based on attraction through content.
A nice blog is a crucial part of your success with inbound marketing, since it used to provide educational and interesting content, which address the questions and doubts of prospects.
And, because of that, it’s one of the best ways for people to find out your company.
Did you know...?
Typically, a company with a blog generates a bigger number of visitors to its website, more inbound links and, substantially, a higher amount of indexed pages.
Use the blog to provide really informative content
A mistake often made by marketing teams is to post content focused on showing how great and awesome your product or service is. That’s not the purpose of an inbound strategy. Make your content somehow relevant and useful. Explore some of the issues felt by your target audience and explain how your products and services may benefit them.
Take advantage of all the potentialities of a blog
Having a blog is much more than posting texts. These are the main methods with which you can enhance your company’s blogs, which will be further detailed in another chapter:
• Written posts that are suited to your target
• Summaries of the main “hot topics” of the industry
• Case studies
• Interviews with key players and personalities who intervene in the industry
• Whitepapers, ebooks and guides
• News and comments on the industry
• Trend updates
• Statistical research and analysis
• Sets of slides and presentations
On top of that, the more blog posts you have, the more keywords you’ll be able to include and, thus, you’ll increase the number of people that quite probably will find you when they’re online searching for something related to your products and services. And keywords and Search Engine Optimization is what we’re going to talk about in the next item.
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. In practice, SEO represents a technique that allows you to get more from the searches done by users, through search engine websites, and the most well-known, as well as the most used search engine, is Google.
Why is SEO important for my business?
Before they start their online purchase process, customers usually rely on a search engine in order to find the answers about something they have questions about. Thus, it’s very important to your sales that your business pops up in the first organic search results. Because the better your result is, the greater the chances of your prospect visiting the site and generating a lead are.
The magic of keywords
SEO is worked through keywords.
To start your inbound marketing strategy by putting its focus on attraction, you need to be sure that you’re choosing keywords that suit your business, product and service.
Then, you also need to carry out a segmentation between the words you want to use and those that people effectively search when they’re searching. And it’s in that sense that the SEO tool helps to aggregate data.
Search engines will display your website in their search results if you happen to have strong and relevant content for what people are searching, and one that is also optimized for search terms. To do so, you need to analytically gather keywords, optimize pages, create content, and perform link building by taking into account what your ideal buyers are looking for.
By optimizing your site and content, the focus of keywords are built around products and services, the challenges or issues of the visitor that you’re solving, the way your products can help them, frequent questions, among other content, as it’s crucial that you prove your credibility both to your customers and search engines, with the latter presenting the results of the searches carried out by your prospects.
3. Social Media Networks
Online social media networks are one the biggest phenomena of the Internet in recent years.
Nowadays most people have active accounts on one or more social networks, and spend a great share of their time on these digital platforms, posting and interacting with people who are part of their network. And if you have people there, your prospect and current customers are there as well.
An active presence on social media platforms allows you to share all the valuable information about your brand, to increase your company’s web presence, to engage with your customers and to put a human face on your brand.
The best way for you to interact on social network platforms is by being present where your ideal buyers spend most of their time.
Use the platform to promote your blog’s content; create interesting posts that make your followers interact with them and sharing those with your friends and followers. In a nutshell, make them talk about you, because that will increase the number of readers and the number of leads generated.
In what social media platforms should I be present?
Wherever your ideal buyers are more active is where you will want to be. Investigate, analyze and, if necessary, carry out a small audit in order to understand what social media platforms make more sense for your business. Try to understand where most of your customers are currently interacting and start to work on social media management on those platforms.
Social media platforms aren’t just a way to enhance engagement and interaction with your customers. They are as well a platform that allows you to attract more traffic to your site.
So it’s like this:
1. You need to attract people of quality.
2. To do that, you will provide online content, in your blog.
3. In it, you will approach the needs, questions and interests of your ideal customer.
4. Use specific keywords that allow you to optimize content for search
5. When your potential buyers ask some questions on the internet they will find the answers on your website
6. Use the online social media platforms to share the valuable content which you’ve created, and to engage yourself with your current and potential customers in real time.
As you can see, there are many different aspects that must be taken into account in an online marketing strategy whose aim is to attract more qualified traffic to your website. After having attracted the audience’s attention, it’s time to convert the visitors into leads. In the next chapter we’ll explain how.
In the fourth chapter we deeply covered the subject of Inbound Marketing Cycle, in which we’ve taught you everything on how to attract qualified prospects to a business.
After being able to draw the audience’s attention, it is now time to convert the website visitors into leads.
This is the cycle’s second phase, and today we’re talking about conversion.
Conversion is a vital part of a successful inbound strategy.
The process of conversion bases itself on retaining the information provided by visitors and nurturing the relationship, aiming to turn leads into customers.
These are the two major stages which one should follow in order to be able to convert a visitor into a customer: retaining information and nurturing the relationship.
Step no. 1: Retaining information
The first step if you want to be able to convert a prospect is to retain information about him.
However, this information is not something that the visitors are used to provide on their own initiative, without getting nothing in return.
Hence, in order to retain the information you’re targeting, the best converting method is following a content offer strategy in exchange for information.
The conversion path often appears in the form of an offering.
The offering is the content or something valuable which is being “offered” to the webpage’s viewer.
That should be valuable enough in order to make a visitor provide his personal information in exchange for access to content.
By providing something of value to your prospects, these are more likely to hand out their contact information.
This way, when you provide quality content which meets the interests of your visitors, there is a bigger chance of you being able to organically convert these prospects. Which will result in much higher conversion rates.
Premium content offerings are a great way to promote your brand, without being too forceful. There are several different kinds of content which you may offer to attract consumers, such as e-books, whitepapers, webinars, among others, which are enhanced by some tools that we will approach later on this chapter.In order to make the most out of the information gathered about your prospect, it’s then imperative to decide what your goal is, first of all.
After having outlined this, you must choose the stages through which the prospect may have to go, until he officially becomes a customer, based on behaviors and trends of a common customer.
Throughout those stages you will present different kinds of content, which aim to approach different questions posed by your prospects, nurturing the relationship with your brand.
Step no. 2: Nurturing
After having gathered the information that you wanted from your prospects, it is now time to provide different offering for each one of the previously outlined stages.
The longer a prospect moves forward through the stages of the sales funnel, the more complete and interesting should be the premium content available. Here, we’re going to provide a workflow example:
Stage 1: whitepapers, ebooks, checklists, tips, guide
Stage 2: case studies, FAQs, webinars, samples, data sheets
Stage 3: free trials, demos, consulting, coupons
By gradually providing this kind of premium content, you ensure that your prospects are nurturing a more organic interest in your company and, therefore, they are much more likely to become customers. In addition to that, it’s also a much more effective way to develop a relationship of trust with your prospect, making sure that you’re on the right track in order for the lead to proceed to the checkout stage.
Nurturing the relationships with the prospects also implies communicating and being constantly available to the consumer. Sending targeted emails is one of the most effective ways to do that.
By categorizing your leads based on certain profile features or even behaviors, the email can be a powerful way to submit a more targeted communication. Instead of simply relying on bombing the same message to the entire database, a list segmentation will ensure higher open and click rates, because the most relevant content is being submitted towards the proper target.
The conversion process basically consists of three things: call-to-action, landing page and the thank you page. Keep this process in mind while you’re planning the next offer, so you’re able to generate and leads and convert visitors into prospects.
Call-to-Action is a button or a link that encourage visitors to take action, like downloading a whitepaper or engaging with a Webinar.
HubSpot defines CTA as being an image, a button, or a message which, in a certain way, “calls” the website visitors to take some sort of action. When it comes to generating leads, this actions aims to make the visitors fill the “landing page” form, so they are able to retrieve the offering. The content in a CTA, both at the visual and written levels, should be established according to the specific kind of audience which you want to attract. Relying on Call-to-Action is a great way to develop leads, so make sure you provide to your site’s visitors lots of opportunities in order for them to click on your “call”.
If you don’t have enough “call to action” options or if they are not that attractive, you won’t be able to generate leads.
CTAs are a great way to develop leads, so make sure you provide enough opportunities for your visitors to click on one of those. Standardly speaking, it is recommended that you offer at least a CTA for each different content offering. Don’t forget as well to insert CTAs in all areas, particularly in relevant publications of your blog, in important pages of your site and even in emails.
You can also create different CTAs for each one of your workflow’s stages, that way you’re sure that you have inserted “attractions” in all kinds of offerings, for all the stages of the purchasing process.
In addition to that, it’s important to take into account that your CTAs should always be relevant, in order to encourage affiliations and to avoid losing opportunities.
A landing page is a webpage exclusively designed to convert visitors into leads. It’s a “landing page” to which a site’s visitor should be redirected when he clicks on a CTA. This webpage is where the prospect can hand out contact information in exchange for the offering announced by the CTA.
With the landing page the company is able to gather information about prospects, which will grant its sales team the opportunity to initiate a conversation with them. When the website’s visitors fill the form of a landing page for the first time, this visitor becomes a database contact.
Landing pages are helpful to increase conversions. And it’s important to be sure that everything is correctly structured in a way that the visitor will not lose himself in it, nor will he exit the page before the conversion takes place.
When building a targeting page, there are some aspects that one should take into account:
•Write in a clear, concise and persuasive way
Explain the offering’s significance and in what way it can be useful.
• Create an interesting page
Put the emphasis on important words. Underline your offering and company. Rely on images, video or animation in order to describe your offering to a greater extent.
• Optimize the forms
In order to have visitors becoming leads, they should fill a form where they provide their information and get the content that they’ve required.
• Don’t ask for too much information
Make sure that you only ask for information that you really need, i.e., the things that are important to transform visitors into leads.
• Create an absolutely distraction-free page
Remove all the distractions, such as navigation links, menu bars and CTAs that redirect to pages with different content.
• Add icons of social media networks in which your company has an account
Seize that page to promote your social networks and increase the online community
Thank You Page
A Thank You page is a webpage to which the leads are redirected, after having concluded the form available on the landing page.
The thank you page has the role of providing the content for which the visitors have registered themselves.
This is a good chance to offer them another opportunity to engage again with the company. In a thank you page you can include a form in the sidebar, where they can sign up for your blog or newsletter, and you can include a CTA that’ll take your prospects to another landing page of the following stage.
For instance, if the visitor has just downloaded a whitepaper (stage 1), you can provide a case study (stage 2).
When you’re building a thank you page, there are some aspects to take into consideration:
• Keep the visual identity
The thank you page must be visually similar to the landing page.
• Direct the visitor
Make sure that you clearly inform the visitor of where in the landing page he can access the offering.
• Get in touch
As soon as they submit their info, send an email thanking them for the download and provide all the means of contact.
• Add icons of the social media networks in which your company has an account
Use that page to promote your social networks and increase the online community
In a nutshell, the conversion process is a complex one and has lots of variables surrounding it.
You need to constantly assess the offerings, the way they are performing conversions, in order to be sure that you’re maximizing lead generation.
Optimize future interactions to close deals and delight your customers. In the next chapter we’re going to approach the next step: closing the deal.
The Inbound Marketing Cycles consists of four steps. In this guide, we’ve already approached the first two in the previous chapters: attract and convert. The next one is being able to close the deal, with the prospect becoming a final customer.
In this inbound marketing methodology, the “closing” stage is probably one of the most decisive in all of its process. This is the moment of truth, in which we check if all the processes used to attract and convert were strong enough to turn the site’s visitors into a customer (and so we get revenues, aka, money).
Closing leads and converting them into customers can be a morose process and it requires some patience. Taking into account that we’re getting closer to the final stage of the sales process, it’s important to make sure that all the elements are at the right place, in order to get effectively closer to a sale. This is the stage where one must be attentive to every detail. No matter how small they seem to be, making some adjustments or adding something to the process can make the difference between closing a sale and having a bunch of leads which will never amount to anything and take the next step forward.
Now, you should feel the pressure, indeed.
It’s all or nothing. It’s a make-or-break moment.
This is the moment where you must give everything you have to win your customer. You’re on the right path, you’ve already attracted quality visitors and you’ve converted the right links, but now you need to transform those leads into customers.
And how can one close a deal?
Some marketing tools can be used during this stage, which are helpful to achieve better results.
1. Lead nurturing
Lead nurturing consist of providing the right content, whether by email, through the website or using social media platforms, to ensure that the company is targeting the right people with the right content.
Lead nurturing encourages one to give the attention (and content) that that prospect needs to feel important and special, establishing a trustworthy relationship between the company and its potential customers.
One problem quite recurrent in inbound marketing is having a qualified visitor who is not ready yet to make the purchase when you’re insisting with him to do so, and if you aren’t able to convert the lead, all the work and investment will turn to ashes.
By nurturing the relationship, you get to know the prospect more properly and he gets to know the company in a better way as well, he feels more close to it and thus more confident, so the chances of converting visitors into customers are much higher.
After having converted a lead, you cannot wait for him to take the initiative of buying right away. You need to feed him along the sales process.
We’ve already mentioned the importance of nurturing the relationship to convert customers in the previous chapter, thus the available content must become more complete and interesting as a prospect moves forward in the sales funnel process.
When the lead reaches its last stages, it’s finally the right time for the sales team to chime in to close the deal.
The only way for you to build a successful brand or service is by knitting relationships in all the opportunities you have to make contact. Thus, it’s important to be alert, to follow what’s going on and know the proper time to intervene in order to convert visitors into customers. Keep your presence noted, keep in touch at all times and quickly address the questions. Seize every opportunity to “close” with a more loyal consumer.
Companies often rely on some kind of marketing automation software tool to ease the process of sending emails to their contacts throughout a certain length of time, taking into account how much time a deal needs to be concluded and what the most important content for them is, in order to get them closer to make a purchase.
In practice, this tool eases the process of sending emails that are targeted based on the content with which the contacts have interacted before, and it should be included in the email marketing strategy.
What should one do after attracting a visitor who engaged with a call-to-action, has fulfilled the landing page’s form and has downloaded some of your content, but he’s not ready yet to effectively become a customer?
The answer is simple (and, perhaps, predictable): send emails.
This old technique – not that old actually – may seem a little bit outdated, but actually there’s nothing better than a series of emails with relevant and useful content to help you to build the much-needed trust that makes people purchase more quickly.
One thing is guaranteed: e-mail marketing is still extremely relevant in the marketing and sales world.
This is a top-notch tool to build relationships, create brand awareness and enhance social interaction. And this is also a great way to send customized emails and for companies to connect themselves with their prospects and current customers.
E-mail marketing is an accessible and low-cost tool to promote a product or service. For instance, it has a vital role during the “lead nurturing” stage, process that we’ve approached in point 1. email is also a great way to move connections through the sales funnel.
This technique can specifically be articulated with an automation software, as we’ve said in point 2, in order to target the consumer contact base, thus ensuring that you’re sending a relevant content for the specific needs of several elements of that database, resulting in a higher conversion rate.
Email marketing requires a very well outlined strategy, and we will dedicate a chapter to this tool. Some ideas for an email marketing plan include sending periodic newsletters, sending targeted emails which promote premium content offerings and sending automated emails which help the user to proceed with the sales funnel process until the deal gets closed.
4. CRM – Customer Relationship Management
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is related to the way one manages the relationship with the customer, allowing the companies to develop relationships that are integrated and aligned with the marketing and sales teams.
The CRM strategy is designed to manage the relationships with the customers as a mean to extract from the customer the maximum value possible over the lifetime of the relationship, effectively acting with the goal to boost sales growth.
So make sure that you have all the information right at the tip of your tongue to engage with prospects in all channels, every time you have the chance to. Be alert, follow the details about all customers, companies, offerings etc., and be ready to establish contact at any moment, with the right prospects at the right time.
The relationship is conquered as the relationship marketing is established. Thus, the company must create an interaction and communication process which eases that relationship. The relationship management aims to engage the prospects in all channels. Therefore, all the continuous processes and activities of interaction and communication throughout time become a key part of creating value in your relationship, and they end up being decisive to close with a customer.
But... And if things aren’t working after all this? Analyze!
The techniques that we’ve given you today are good.
But, more important than knowing how to apply each one of them, one needs to pay attention to results.
Analyzing is crucial in every stage of the process.
The information obtained allows you to have a much more specific view about how your inbound marketing campaigns are performing, and it gives you essential elements to know what you should keep and what the areas that need to be improved are.
The success of each one of the steps of the inbound marketing’s cycle depends on the work that was carried out in the previous one.
So start at the beginning, without quality visitors who don’t generate good conversion rates we will not be able to close the deal.
Through analysis reports, it’s possible to understand what content is generating right connections and customers along the sales funnel.
It will also be helpful to determine where the individuals are located in purchasing process, so you become able to streamline the lead nurturing and the automation stages.
This “closing the deal” stage of the cycle is much more than a sales function. In this process you need to gather several marketing techniques to provide new insights that are helpful to improve leads and to increase the chances of closing with the customer.
When we finally make the deal, we move into the fourth and last stage of the inbound marketing cycle: delight.
Keeping them involved with the company will ensure their satisfaction and happiness over the time.
We will learn more about customer delight in the following chapter.
After having attracted the visitors’ attention, converted them into leads and closed the deal, it is now time for the
delight stage (engaging with the customer) – the fourth and last of the Inbound Marketing Cycle.
One of the major criticisms drawn against the traditional marketing methodology is the fact that it applies all of its efforts on conquering the customer, who stops being the major concern of marketing teams as soon as the sale is made. However, this last point of the inbound marketing cycle suggests exactly the opposite: engage with customers throughout all the stages, particularly after having conquered him.
In this stage of our guide, you certainly have already noticed how effective inbound marketing is when it comes to helping brands reaching their business goals. Knowing how to provide the proper care to the consumer he has become a customer is as important as any other step of the cycle. This is the reason why companies that follow an inbound marketing strategy keep engaging with their customers, delighting them, because, by using the right methodologies, they are able to transform their customers into active advocators of the products they love the most. Furthermore, having the ability to get current customers buying on a continuous basis allows the company to reach a more stable and safe position, conditions which provide a greater grown and stability in the long term.
Obviously, keeping the customers engaged is essential for the company’s success, in the short, medium and long terms. All customers, even the most satisfied ones, need to be given attention so they feel valued on a permanent basis. By ensuring the happiness of customers, companies can also raise their level of satisfaction, and with customer satisfaction comes loyalty, naturally.
Everything is about making the customer come back for more
Each conquered customer represents a big investment in terms of time and resources. We just need to think about the previous three steps, which every one of them has to cover in order to finally close the deal. The path is a complex and long one and, so, all this effort should be seized as much as possible.
Throughout this guide on inbound marketing cycle, we have constantly mentioned the importance of being close to the customer, of offering him what he needs, and on valuing quality instead of quantity. This strategy strengthens itself especially in the cycle’s last stage. This is the moment to take advantage of all the work previously developed, because the person is no longer a visitor but actually someone who has yield already and purchased. Thus, it will be much easier to communicate with a customer who already knows the company and has experienced some product or service in order to make him come back and motivate him to proceed with a new purchase.
With that being said, the ultimate question arises: How can we turn common customers into happy customers?
There are no rules properly outlined about this, but, however, in engagement everything is about the customer. Making him feel highly satisfied right in the first purchase must be one of the main concerns of marketing, support and customer service teams. The consumers don’t just expect to have great experiences, they expect everything from the brand. When thinking about campaigns to boost customer’s engagement, it’s important to have in mind all the potential forms of engagement, the most suitable means and the most effective way to attract the customers a second time, in order to encourage them to buy again. But, above all, the important thing is to develop strong and lasting relationships, because the closer and deeper a brand is linked to its audience, the stronger the ties which link the brand with their customers will be.
Even though they are not tools intended for that purpose, there are some ways that can help to increase the engagement and the satisfaction level of customers. We will give you 4 today, with some of them being approached later on, in the following chapters of this guide.
1. Exclusive offerings
Exclusive offerings are a classic.
All of us, as customers, always look for the cheapest.
There’s no way you can avoid that, it’s part of our being.
Thus, there’s nothing more captivating to someone who has just become a customer than being offered a small treat.
And although we all agree on this, the question comes right after: what will we offer?
The options are many and different – always keeping in mind the customer’s interest – and these can be temporary discounts, quarterly promotions, exclusive offerings solely for customers or even content offering – Ok, we acknowledge that you’re already sick of hearing about this tip in all chapters!
But this is the point which cannot be forgotten in an inbound marketing campaign, ever.
Offering premium content with quality, and one that is exclusive for customers, appears to be an established fact already, but it’s advisable to have it in mind at all times.
It’s easy, simple and effective as few strategies of engagement can be.
2. E-mail marketing / Newsletters
Sending e-mails on a regular basis is far from being an astonishing action, however it is still one of the most effective methods to communicate and keep yourself present in the thoughts of consumers.
This communication channel easily allows, for instance, to send exclusive offerings and content (as the ones we’ve mentioned in point 1), adapted to the interests and challenges of each customer.
Strategically planned newsletters with smart call-to-actions towards customized offerings are as well one of the ways to make yourself stand out and value the message via electronic mail.
Whatever the content of each email is, the most important thing is having it adapted to each user, based on the customer’s profile and its lifespan.
3. Customer Support / Satisfaction Surveys
Having an active, attentive and functional customer support network is one of the best ways for any company to retain their customers. Knowing the interests and preferences of the consumer is helpful as well.
The best way to find out what your customers want is asking them.
To do that, one can rely on the feedback about the customer service, as well as the feedback coming from research and satisfaction surveys, in order to ensure that the company is providing their customers with what they are looking for and in the way they want.
Surveys are a great tool to identify opportunities and problems, to assess results and to increase the knowledge and understanding about global and particular markets.
Furthermore, this closer kind of monitoring increases customer proximity, which may result in an enhanced satisfaction level.
And, as we really know already, a satisfied customer is the best ambassador that any brand or product can have.
4. Social Media Monitoring
Social media platforms have a major role in any inbound marketing strategy.
We will talk about social media management and its several potentialities with more detail on another chapter.
However, for us, it’s totally logical as well to talk about social media at this stage of the customer’s engagement cycle, since this is a mean which has revolutionized the way brands communicate and interact with their customers and target audience.
Precisely because of that, social media networks are one of the most recommended platforms to develop engagement campaigns.
Social media monitoring is basically about being aware of everything that is happening on the networks and managing the pages in order to control (in the best way possible) the social conversations which emerge around the brand, and their respective products and services.
The more present, active and relevant the involvement of a brand is in social media, the better the results will be.
A basic rule to improve engagement is being aware of comments, shares, likes, dislikes from customers, listening to all their doubts and questions, so then you will be able to reach them with relevant content.
Precisely due to that, we will give you three ideas about engagement actions / campaigns which you can put into practice on social media:
1. Engage your prospects and current customers with exclusive offerings and contests outlined for those platforms, encouraging them to share some post or relevant content;
2. Mobilize your followers to share moments which meet the brand’s identity and values, encouraging them to use a hashtag in a certain context;
3. Share the best photos in which the brand was identified by your customers or by those who have used your hashtag.
But keep this mind: regardless of your actions, the most important thing in all campaigns and brand’s promotion is presenting relevant messages, being always honest and consistent, in order to build loyalty.
As we approach the end of the inbound marketing cycle, it’s easy to conclude that engaging with our customers is one of the best ways to generate more business.
Above all, the most important thing is to take advantage of the delight that your new customers feel about our brand, in order to turn such enthusiasm into a new natural business.
Now that you have an improved knowledge about each one of the steps of the inbound marketing cycle, the moment has come when we will increase our knowledge on some of the techniques which can help you to improve the performance and results throughout all the cycle.