The Fundamentals of Inbound Marketing
If you consider how we naturally build relationships with strangers, the basic concept behind inbound marketing is simple.
In real life, we make a connection with someone by having similar interests or helping them in some way, and then by extending an invitation to hang out.
After spending time together for a few times we might consider them our best friend, our go-to call when we need someone–we might even marry them after building a solid relationship! But, if it feels forced, it usually doesn’t go past a few visits. Especially if they start asking for a bunch of favors right off the bat without adding any value to your life. (Harsh truth, right?)
So, why do we expect different results from our potential customers?
Every salesperson knows the struggle of cold calling—trying to get voice time, but continually being hung up on. If you think about it, you can understand why! You can’t go up to strangers and start asking them to pay you (just like you wouldn’t ask a stranger to marry you!)
With inbound marketing, potential customers come to your business naturally (with automation) and are nurtured into sales-ready leads.
It starts by understanding the buyer’s journey, the stages a random person goes through to become a lead for your product or service.
Regardless of your service, the general buyer’s journey looks like this:
The buyer becomes aware of his/her problem
Buyer starts considering different solutions to problem
The buyer decides on solution (buys your product or service) to solve problem
This is important to understand and observe your specific product/service. You’ll see it in cart abandonment or leads that fall off in the journey because they were missing a key piece of information that they needed to be persuaded to buy.
The truth is your product/service solves a problem, and if there is someone with that problem there is no reason they shouldn’t buy from you. If you don’t have the messaging for the awareness stage, they might never find you!
How do you know what they are missing?
Try to map your brand content to the buyer’s journey and nurture them to pick your brand. You’ll quickly find holes.
You map your content using “the funnel”(The spine of inbound marketing methodology). The funnel mirrors the buyer’s journey with content for the:
- Awareness Stage
- Consideration Stage
- Decision Stage
- And Delight Stage (Post-Conversion)
Using segmented messaging when creating content for your target customers, when they’re ready to digest it, you will be able to nurture your leads down the funnel (to conversion).
Content at the top of the funnel (Awareness Stage)
At the Awareness Stage, you’re reaching people through content (blogs, social media, etc) who don’t know they have a problem (or you’re reminding them of a hole that your service/product will help), so you’re going to help them become AWARE of their problem.
Your content will also use keywords your target audience is already searching so your organic rank on the search network will go up.
For a company that promotes an event venue in a garden, you might write a blog about the “Must Haves For Throwing the Best July 4th Party” or “Things Every Perfect Party Planner Needs to Know”. These topics are very top-level “problems” people in your target audience will be searching.
Content in the middle of the funnel (Consideration Stage)
At the Consideration Stage, you’re helping them solve that problem (as any good friend would do).
You do this by presenting information they will find helpful as they consider options. You can include your general product as a solution, without including your brand.
For a company that promotes an event venue at a garden, you might write a blog about “Why Garden Venues Are The Big New Trend“ or “Top Reasons Flowers Make the Best Backdrop”. These are a little more specific to your company’s solution, but you’re still not talking about yourself. It’s a way to ease them into the idea of using a garden venue as a solution, in general.
Content at the bottom of the funnel (Decision Stage)
At the Decision Stage, you let them meet your company. Through content, you can use copy that introduces what sets your company apart as a viable option.
For a company that promotes an event venue at a garden, you can promote content that relates to your garden venue specifically: 5 Reasons [Your Company’s Name] Garden Was Picked #1 Venue 2018. You could also use a call-to-action (button at the bottom of the article) to “Schedule a Tour”
Content to convert and delight!
After they meet you and book your service, why not keep the relationship alive? Send thank you notes and offer help in other areas they might need it! This will not only help keep your relationship alive, but it could even create a bond so strong that these customers go out in the community and recommend you to others.
Here are a few ways to do this (and how they each help your strategy):
If you post consistently and respond diligently, social media is great for building relationships and promoting your content. Promote industry relevant articles (including your own) to become a resource for your industry, a thought-leader.
For more social media fundamentals, engagement tips, and ways to generate leads for your business through social platforms, download our Social Media Handbook.
Email IS NOT dead. In fact, 4.3 billion people use email around the world. You can use email as a way to send newsletters (your content, fun tips, etc.) and as a way to stay in touch with leads (both before and after they convert). Who wants to work with a company that only sends them invoices and payment reminders?
Blogging is an essential element of content marketing that increases search rankings by consistently increasing the number of indexed pages on your website. Effective blogging means consistently posting at least two, 600-1200 word posts per week aimed to answer the buyers’ questions in both the awareness and consideration stages.
Creating quality and relevant content improves keyword ranking through SEM and asserts your brand as a thought-leader.
Premium content is a document or media piece that provides enough informational value to justify asking a user to fill out a contact form to gain access. The most common examples are white papers, eBooks, webinars, and video assets. These offers typically span through every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Search Engine Optimization:
The practice of increasing the quality and quantity of qualified traffic to your website through organic search results.
Check out our Guide to SEO for quick SEO tips you can make on your website today!
Sometimes your strategy needs a boost.
For short wins and quick awareness, paid search marketing is your best friend. These are the campaigns behind the “Ads” you see at top of your search results.
Based on picking keywords that you want to rank for, you can sponsor listings on a search engine by paying either each time your ad is clicked (pay-per-click or PPC) or when your ad is displayed (cost-per-impression or CPM).
If those acronyms seem a little foreign, check out this Cheat Sheet for Marketing Terms.
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