For many years, companies have used various types of online marketing to attract and cultivate customer connections. Although there are many methods available to marketers, few have proven as effective as inbound marketing.
The inbound process begins with exploring customer concerns, and using them to guide the marketing strategy. During implementation, you'll create and promote valuable content that speaks directly to the needs of the customer. As new connections are made, they are cultivated with high-interest, informative content and compelling calls-to-action that draw your lead in and provide ongoing value. Before long, prospects become customers. After the sale is complete, the connection is sustained through ongoing communication that encourages referral and repeat business.
Let’s explore each of these stages individually:
Capture the attention of prospective customers with high-interest content.
How do you attract visitors who are the most likely to become customers? First, you need to talk about the things that matter most to your customers. What are their goals, challenges, obstacles, and objections? What is their typical station in life?
The more information you can gather to help paint a picture of your ideal customers, the more effective your marketing will be. When combined, this information will enable you to create a target persona, like a character in a novel. Each persona represents one client type, and the more you can tailor the content to the needs and desires of your personas, the more effectively you will attract customers.
After defining target personas, the next step is to build out the following assets to attract prospective customers:
Obtain essential contact information with irresistible content offers.
Nurture and build your relationship with them afterwards.
Once you catch the attention of your prospective customers, how can you engage them? You will need to offer them something so valuable that they won’t mind providing their contact information to access it. In order to understand the needs and desires of your prospective customers, dive into target personas, and develop content and marketing messages that are irresistible to them.
The gated content used to engage prospective customers may include:
At this stage, the marketing objective is to obtain information that can be used to evaluate the connection. Inbound marketing captures information through website forms or trackable phone calls. In most cases, high-value content is offered through a call-to-action, which is a prominent button that is placed in an email, at the end of a blog post, or on a website. Clicking the call-to-action button opens a landing page where details about the offering are presented next to a form that must be completed to access the offering. Information captured in the form enables you to continue the conversation.
Lead nurturing is all about continuing that conversation after the first conversion. It's a crucial piece of the puzzle, so don't forget about planning for sustained interaction that provides valuable education, highlights important features of your services or products, and leads the prospect subtly towards the sale.
Effective lead nurturing strategies may include:
The key is to determine the most important benefits, features, case studies and other information you can share about your business offerings, then deliver that value in a coherent flow, using the right tools at the right time. Understanding customer intent and buyer personas goes a long way towards identifying the right types of lead nurturing content to take you where you'd like to go... which is right into the closing process.
Use personalized and highly-targeted messaging to nurture relationships with your connections until the point of purchase.
Since the moment your prospective customer first learned about your company, they have seen social media posts, read blogs, browsed your website, and sought to learn more. They provided their contact details to receive an offering, enabling you to begin cultivating a deeper connection with the help of target personas. Responses to each marketing effort should be closely monitored and adjusted to ensure optimal ROI.
Smart businesses use the following tools when cultivating connections:
In order for such connections to make a real business impact, the right sales processes have to be put into place. Without the right structure, other efforts can slump right over. It's not enough to just have a software solution like HubSpot or Salesforce. The people using the software - your sales team - have to interact with it, use it and integrate it with real-life repeatable and measurable processes to make the whole thing work.
Getting team buy-in on the closing process is essential. In order to get that buy-in, the inbound sales process has to be clear, repeatable and incorporate feedback from the people who actually use it. The close is an important piece of the puzzle - the last piece that fits so satisfyingly into its place. Then, it's time to move into the delight stage.
Encourage referral and repeat business with valuable, targeted content.
When your transaction is complete, your job is not over. The best source of new business is referrals, and the best way to ensure ongoing revenue is to reduce churn wherever possible and improve customer lifetime value. Thinking strategically about how to delight your customers helps you continue to provide customers with valuable content, reinforces their favorable experience, and keeps contact details updated and within reach for future opportunities.
Tools used to continue delighting your customers include:
This flywheel concept enables you to leverage the power of inbound marketing to attract, engage, close and nurture, and sustain customers through a standardized, holistic process, with personalized, highly-targeted messaging that appeals to connections at every stage of their buyer’s journey. Let’s review at the parts of this powerful machine: