Inbound marketing is becoming accepted by marketers in SMB companies, across a wide variety of industries. Any company that needs to educate a prospect to turn them into a customer, and that understands the traditional “sales funnel”, will gravitate naturally to inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is a race to the bottom. The faster you can move a prospect to trust you and to consider you an authority in your industry, the faster they will reach the bottom of the funnel and become a customer.
The sales funnel
The sales funnel illustrates the buying cycle and shows how the web visitor moves from being unaware of you, your brand, and your value, to looking for a solution to their problem.
Just to the right of the funnel are the questions that your prospect is likely to ask at each different stage. These are the questions you need to answer in your blog posts.
It’s important to note that these questions are specific to the stage of the sales process that your prospects are going through, and need to be addressed in order, from top to bottom. Clearly, at the Unaware stage, your web visitor is asking, “What is your product/service? What does it do? And who are you?”
Later, in the Problem Acknowledged stage, your visitor has already built a relationship with you, trusts your advice, and asks, “What are my options? How can I best solve my problem?”
Inbound marketing tools for the race to the bottom
As you can see on the right, there are a wide variety of tools that we use in round-trip marketing to help move your web visitors through the buying cycle.
We start with blogging. For almost all companies, this is the foundation of their online marketing strategy since it provides opportunities to:
- Engage and educate your web visitor
- Begin to build trust, and let them know you’re really a human being, too.
- Offer further information (educational section) through calls-to-action.
Through analytics, we can track new visitors through the process to the point where they decide to download one of your educational products, for example, your eBook.
Educational products (also called informational products) are where your expertise can shine. No selling here!!! This is where you dig more deeply into an issue than you can in a blog post. Or you can go the other direction and offer a survey of information that’s available. Or provide an interview with leaders in your industry, or a compilation of your blog posts on a particular topic.
Lead nuturing now becomes a key factor in continuing to move your prospects towards the bottom of the funnel. Email marketing, demos, free trials, webinars, fact sheets and customer references are key components of this validation process. Again, we continue to track all our interactions with each prospect through extensive analytics.
It’s time for a phone call
For most companies, it makes sense to reach out by phone to the prospect who is engaged in the validation process. “I saw you downloaded our ebook. What challenges are you looking for help with?” Now is the time to provide deeper resources that address the prospect’s problems, like product white papers, competitive intelligence, or other presentations.
Inbound marketing moves your prospects through the buying cycle
Inbound marketing begins with an analysis of the facts: where you are now, what web marketing is working, what isn’t working, where you want to go, how fast you want to go there. Then we work together to create a realistic strategic marketing plan to meet your objectives.
As we work with you to implement the marketing plan, we build the raceway to the bottom, and begin to measure and track everything along the way, so you can see what’s working and can build on that.
Now you have a clearer picture of how we help you build traffic to your website, convert those web visitors to customers, analyze all the metrics, and reiterate the process.