GUIDE TO THE INBOUND FLYWHEEL

Attract, engage, close, and delight people to create demand and drive sales

 

The Inbound Methodology

 

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:


Stage 1: Attract

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:

  • Blog Posts - Directly addressing the concerns of your prospective customers with educational content lets them know that you understand what they need and invites them to learn more about your offerings.
  • Keyword Optimization - The words we type into a search engine determine which websites will be listed in our results. It is very important to include relevant keywords in your online content to increase the likelihood that your website will be listed in the search results of your prospective customers.
  • Website Content - Your website may be your visitor’s first impression of your company. Design your website for a simple, informative experience that doesn't confuse them, and write in a way that tells them what they need to know, not what you want them to hear.
  • Social Media - With so much emphasis on social media platforms, every company needs to publish meaningful content that speaks to the needs and desires of their prospective customers in the social media channels they prefer.
  • Digital Advertising - Maximize your impact with a turbo boost. Take the momentum created by your website content, landing pages, blog posts, and social media and accelerate it to achieve even more prominent visibility on Google and the social media channels in which your prospects are spending their time.

Stage 2: Engage

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.

Engage and Convert with Enticing Content

The gated content used to engage prospective customers may include:

  • Tip Sheets - Quick and easy. Tip sheets provide a concise, simplified guide to a process, instructions, or other helpful hints that are extremely useful and practical.
  • Infographics - Combining data with graphics is a very effective way to engage prospective customers. The key is to present the perfect balance of art and information for maximum impact.
  • eBooks - These brief publications, which are about the length of a standard book chapter, contain educational information that appeals to prospective customers. Some examples include best practice tips, industry trends, and “how to” instructions.
  • White Papers - Popular among technical audiences, these 5-20 page publications provide in-depth analysis of industry topics that are of great value to prospective customers. They may explain technological advancements, processes, histories, or other analytical perspectives.
  • Demos and Consultations - Before customers finalize their buying decision, they often request a live demo or in-depth consultation.

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

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:

  • Segmented Email Campaigns - Specific messaging to specific sub-sets of your email list
  • Marketing Automation - Workflows that send automated email messages and link to the right types of content at the right time, presenting opportunities to reconvert and share even more detailed personal and behavioral data
  • Creating Communities on Social Media - Use the platforms your prospects hang out in most to keep the conversation going and keep your brand top-of-mind
  • Personalized Direct Mail - Some companies even choose to link their CRM with a direct mail campaign to take lead nurturing impacts offline through real-time, 1-to-1 direct mail

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. 


Stage 3: Close

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.

Cultivating Connections with the Right Sales Tools

Smart businesses use the following tools when cultivating connections:

  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Tools - Every piece of information obtained about a connection, company, or industry has value. CRM systems guide precisely-timed messaging tailored to the needs and desires of each connection.
  • Integrated Reporting - Providing reporting on marketing effectiveness. Regular review by sales and management teams ensure maximum effectiveness. 

Sales Processes

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.


Stage 4: Delight

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:

  • Surveys - Post-transaction surveys often reveal the reasons customers prefer your company as well as opportunities for improvement and expansion.
  • Customer Reviews - Systematically encouraging and requesting customer reviews help improve your SEO and lead more new people to choose you over your competitors.
  • Referral Programs - Building out a repeatable referral incentive program leverages and maximizes the single best source of new business for you: personal referrals from your best customers.
  • Social Monitoring - Listening carefully to sentiments posted on social media reveals trends and helps to recognize unmet needs, and predict future needs.

Why Is This So Effective?

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:

  • High-Quality Content - Whether it’s website content, email messaging, videos, graphics, or eBooks, all content used in an inbound marketing process is created for a specific audience and includes as much personalization as possible.
  • Smoother Sales Cycle - From the first contact to the customary handshake, inbound marketing enables marketers to ensure every message is relevant and action-worthy.
  • Increased Visibility - Inbound marketing delivers targeted messaging in the channels most frequented by your customers.
  • Seamless Integration - Using a single system, methodology, and reporting to create and deliver content, cultivate connections, and review results makes marketing easy for you to understand and extremely efficient.