Inbound marketing is one of the most crucial elements of your business’ success. However, you need to use the right strategies and techniques or you could miss out on major opportunities and fall into common pitfalls. Use the guide below to understand what inbound marketing is and how to use it to create more revenue for your company.
Inbound Marketing 101
Long gone are the days where salesmen go door to door to drum up business. Today, companies need to leverage the internet to stay ahead of the game. This is especially true in a day and age where you are competing with the whole world, not just your local competitors.
Inbound methodology is all about creating a content and marketing system that identifies potential buyers (prospects) and guides them through a process that allows them to buy when they are ready. As opposed to making cold calls, you are providing a series of steps that educate your potential buyer and build confidence in them that you are the right for their needs.
This can include blog posts, social media ads, and email marketing, among other tactics.
A useful framework to view inbound methods through is a funnel. This funnel guides your buyer through their sales “journey.” Of course, their final destination is hopefully a purchase with your company.
Overview of the Marketing Funnel and Buyer’s Journey
- Visit– The prospect is lead to your site through organic or paid content promotions.
- Lead – The prospect realizes their problem is something they need to deal with and gives their information.
- MQL– Marketing Qualified Lead. Has shown interest and meets crucial definitions set by your company to qualify them as a potential sales lead.
- SQL – Sales Qualifies Lead. The prospect has shown substantial interest and has been proven to fit the target audience of the company.
- Opportunity– Prospect is interested and looking to purchase.
- Customers – prospect has purchased product and been entered into the customer contact database.
- Awareness – the prospect understands they have a problem.
- Consideration – the prospect seeks out information about products and services that can solve their problem.
- Decision – the prospect is closed and they are now a customer.
Awareness Stage (Visit/ Lead)
The pre-sale is as crucial as the sale itself. And the first step in your customer’s journey is becoming aware of their problem in the first place. After all, they can never become your customer if they don’t admit that there is room to improve some aspect of their lives.
There are numerous ways to create awareness in your prospects. The survey is a popular and effective way to bring issues to the surface for your buyers.
You can use the survey in your email marketing content (if you already have a list), on your site (for when people land through SEO or paid ads), or as a “hook” in your advertisements themselves on Facebook and Google.
Treat the survey as a qualifying tool. Ask questions that you normally would if you were standing face to face with a lead:
- Do you have X problem? (ex: “Are you experiencing back pain?”)
- Are you planning on purchasing X product (ex: “chiropractic services”) soon?
- Why haven’t you already purchased X product?
- What factors are important to you in your purchasing decision for X product?
Beware of making the survey too long. Keep it detailed enough that it lets you gain powerful information to close a sale later, but don’t make it so heavy that they are scared away from filling it out.
Also, consider offering some kind of incentive for filling it out, such as a free sample of your product, a free trial of your service, or some other creative reward.
Other ways to drive awareness and attention to your customers’ problem but also to your brand is through long-form blog posts with lots of great information, webinars, direct mail campaigns, and email sequences.
Show Your Worth
Once you find out your basic buyer profile via your survey, blog posts, or other qualifying devices, and your customer is aware of their problem, it’s time to agitate that problem.
This isn’t something unsavory, rather it is a service that you are doing for them. You are helping them realize just how much this problem is costing them in terms of lost income, lost time, pain, sales, and more.
To educate them on this and keep them interested, consider sending them targeted emails or articles that address the specific issues and marketing habits they mentioned in the survey or initial awareness stage. This will help prep them for the next step in the marketing funnel.
Consideration Stage (MQL/ SQL)
Somewhere in the imarketing cycle, whether it’s the first time they hit your website, or months later via email campaigns, your buyer will enter the consideration stage.
This is a great sign, as they are now looking for more information and considering trying your services. To help them through this part of the journey, offer free trials, case studies, and other ways to gain confidence in your ability to deliver on your promises.
So, you have walked your buyer through the stages of understanding that they have a problem, being interested in learning more about it, and specifically considering your company. Now it’s time to present your sales message in full.
No marketing funnel is complete without a demo or product offer. This can come in the form of a webinar, a live sales call, or even a promotion that you send via email. The key is to give them an opportunity to see your product in full and make a purchase.
Take the Stand
If you’re lucky, your buyer will purchase right away after the “intent” stage. However, they typically need to feel that they have shopped around first to compare your product with your competitors.
To help them do this, do your research. Offer articles on comparisons between you and others. Make a habit of knowing what your competitors offer and what they charge so you can give that info to your buyer upfront and prevent them delaying the sale.
Decision Stage (Opportunity/ Customer)
Your job as an inbound marketer isn’t done until you close the deal. That means your buyer completes their journey by pulling out their wallet and clicking “buy.” There are various strategies that can boost your sales.
For example, you should always offer a strong guarantee such as a 100% money-back guarantee, warranty on performance, or warranty for service.
In addition, list several testimonials of previous satisfied customers so they will gain confidence that others have chosen to go with your company.
If you play your cards right, your marketing funnel should guide them right through to the sale at this point. Congratulations! You have now effectively put together a sales funnel that treats your prospect with respect and guides them successfully through their buyer’s journey, but wait! There’s more!
Create an automated email sequence that follows up with your buyers and continues to educate them. You can also promote additional products that you have for a nice revenue boost.
If you don’t follow up, your customers may eventually drift away to your competitors for greener pastures. Don’t assume that just because they bought once with you, they will stay with you forever without some effort on your part.
Think of the last major purchase you made in your life. Did you jump right into it without asking your friends or family? Probably not. That’s the power of social proof.
Your buyers are the same way. It’s important to establish credibility on the web because the majority of customers will not even visit your site if you have bad or no reviews.
If you want to attract ideal customers like the ones you have now, ask them for referrals to friends and family. You can mention that “John” gave you their name, and it could help give you credibility when you reach out to them via email.
In another kind of referral system, you could offer links that customers can post on their social media. For every person that purchases through that link, you could reward your customer with a nice kickback.
Trial and Error
Once you get the basics of the marketing system down, you can add additional layers that increase profitability. A funnel is an evolving system. Sure, you can build it once and let it run forever, but you would be missing out on the opportunity to get more conversions.
Luckily, it is affordable, and sometimes free, to A/B test your campaigns today. With so many software suites allowing you to compare headlines, offers, pictures, and videos, you can constantly rotate in the best versions of your funnel so you don’t leave any revenue on the table.
When it comes to inbound methodology, understanding how to apply each step is crucial. By knowing where your customer is and how to approach them in each part of their journey, you can truly serve them. If you don’t use the marketing funnel to your advantage, it’s akin to shooting in the dark. You might get lucky, but your sales will suffer. So ask yourself what your buyer’s journey looks like and put together a plan today to drive traffic, nurture them, and close more deals.