What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing attracts prospects who are actively researching or buying to your website rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention through traditional means. Inbound then helps nurture these prospects as leads and helps them convert into buyers. Inbound marketing taps into this fundamental reality: your buyers are in charge. Inbound marketing succeeds when it delivers prospects the right content, in the right place at the right time. That’s how your marketing becomes relevant and helpful - not intrusive.

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Our clients are always amazed at how inbound marketing brings together an array of distinct marketing tools that they once used in a piecemeal, chaotic fashion: search engine optimization software, marketing automation, email databases, CRM systems, social media platforms, blogs, landing pages, etc. Once those gears mesh, their marketing efforts achieve consider momentum.

The four steps of an inbound marketing process are defined with the buyer in mind. They’re structured in a way that helps marketing and sales provide buyers with the right information at the right time by building a buying experience from the prospect’s perspective. After all, prospects are relying on multiple resources - both online and offline, to define their needs and evaluate your offerings.

Attract


Inbound thrives on website content that answers information seekers, think a Google search, basic questions and needs, then share that content far and wide.

Inbound marketing attracts more than visitors to your website; it attracts the right visitors – the ones who are the best fit for your business. An inbound optimized website attracts the kinds of visitors who will become leads, and, ultimately, customers.

But who are the “right” customers? Buyer personas are ideal ways to represent who your customers are and build an experience around them. Those personas describe their needs, goals, challenges, and oftentimes personal and demographic information as well. You build your offerings around customers, so why not your marketing, too?

(A Few) Marketing Tools that Attract Visitors


Blogging:



Inbound marketing starts with blogging for one simple reason: a blog is the single best way to attract new visitors to your website. In order to get found by the right prospective customers, you must create educational content that speaks to them and answers their questions (and signals your expertise). Blogging also helps with…

Search Engine Optimization:



The consumer decision journey begins online, usually with a search engine query in pursuit of information about a product, service or need. So, it’s imperative to stand out when and where they search. To do that, you need more than content – you also need to apply the fundamentals of search engine optimization (which is more than just picking the right keywords).

Social Media:



Successful inbound strategies thrive on insight-driven content - and publishing your insights through social media allows you to share that valuable information while putting a human face on your brand. It also helps to know which platforms your buyers rely on the most (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.).

Convert


Once you’ve attracted website visitors, the next step is to convert those visitors into leads by gathering their contact information in exchange for helpful content (like eBooks, whitepapers or cast studies). Buyers start off as strangers, then visitors, then contacts, and customers. Specific marketing actions and tools help to transform those strangers into leads.

Tailoring content to the wants and needs of the people who are viewing your site is part of the art of inbound! As you learn more about a lead over time, inbound can personalize messages to their specific needs.

Contact information for leads is the most valuable currency there is to a sales team. So in order for your web site’s visitors to offer up that currency willingly, you need to offer them something in return! No matter what you offer website visitors, it must be interesting and valuable.

(A Few) Marketing Tools that Convert Leads


Forms:



In order for visitors to become leads, they must fill out a form and submit their information. A contact form shouldn’t be a barrier to a lead conversion. Forms that focus on gathering the right contact information (only four or five fields at most) are the easiest to fill out.

Calls-to-Action:



Calls-to-action are buttons or links that encourage your visitors to take action, like “Download a Whitepaper” or “Attend a Webinar.” If you don’t have clear, relevant and compelling calls-to-action, you won’t generate leads.

Landing Pages:



A landing page is where the offer in the call-to-action is fulfilled, and where the prospect submits information that your sales team can use to determine whether it’s the right time to start a conversation. When website visitors fill out a form on a and downloads the promised content offering, that visitor becomes a contact. You’ll want to track those contacts in a CRM system.

Close


Now that your website and inbound marketing efforts are attracting the right visitors and converting the right leads, the objective for your marketing and sales teams is to work together to close those leads into customers. Certain marketing tools, such as CRM systems, can be used at this stage to make sure you’re delivering the most appropriate sales tools and behaviors. Content creation, publishing and analytics tools all should work together like a well-oiled machine - allowing you to focus on publishing the right content in the right place at the right time to lead and help buyers, well, buy!

(A Few) Marketing (and Sales) Tools that Close Deals


CRM:



Keep track of the details about all the contacts, companies, and deals in your pipeline, and easily get in touch with the right prospects at the right time. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems help you track prospect information while facilitating collaboration between marketing and sales. Your sales and marketing teams will use a CRM system as long as it can give them the information they need to better engage with prospects.

Marketing Automation:



What do you do if a visitor clicks on your call-to-action, fills out a landing page, or downloads your whitepaper, but still isn’t ready to become a customer? A series of emails focused on useful, relevant content can build trust with a prospect and help them become more ready to buy. This process involves creating email marketing and lead nurturing tailored to the needs and lifecycle stage of each lead.

Closed-loop Reporting:


How do you know which marketing efforts are bringing in the best leads? Is your sales team effectively closing those best leads into customers? Integration with your CRM system allows you to analyze just how well your marketing and sales teams are playing together. This breeds not only accountability but confidence.

Delight


Inbound marketing provides valuable content to buyers well after they become customers. Just because someone has already written you a check doesn’t mean you can forget about them! Retention and upsell opportunities abound! This is especially true if your products can be bundled with certain service offerings such as training or consulting. The goal of your inbound marketing program in the “Delight” phase is to turn your customers into happy promoters of your business and your offerings.

(A Few) Marketing Tools that Delight Customers


Surveys: The best way to figure out what your users want is by asking them. Use feedback and surveys to ensure you’re providing customers with what they’re looking for (and that they’re satisfied with the customer experiences you’ve created).

Smart Calls-to-Action:



These present different users with offers that change based on buyer persona and lifecycle stage.

Smart Text:


Provide your existing customers with remarkable content tailored to their interests and challenges. Help them achieve their own goals, as well as introduce new products and features that might be of interest to them. These dynamic experiences are also a useful vehicle for upselling consulting or other service offerings.

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To determine if inbound is a fit for your business we created a diagnostic that will offer you a quick look under the hood in less than 5 minutes.

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If you are ready to talk about how inbound has helped other companies, give us a shout. We will show you the tools, the practices and the results.