If I have learned one thing during my time here at Alaniz Marketing, it’s that when it comes to inbound marketing; it’s either all or nothing. That may seem a bit dramatic, but give me a chance to explain.
Before my dive into the world of inbound, I was lucky enough to work directly with a savvy CEO of a medium sized business. This business owner understood that the world of marketing was changing and they were willing to take steps to make that change happen in their business. Sounds good so far, right?
The problem occurred when the business owner began dipping his toe into the world of inbound by trying a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a tad bit of a few other things – which effectively didn’t do much at all, except maybe waste time.
Here’s what I mean. This business owner was told about the benefits of email marketing. So, he purchased a subscription to an email automation platform and had his marketing team, which consisted of one full-time and one part-time marketer create and send out emails with the company’s newsletter on a quarterly basis. They also sent out emails when there were special events or sales and they even sent out a nice picture and message on major holidays. This same business owner with the help of his marketing team also decided to focus on social media. Together, they were able to gain 1000 followers on Twitter and get 500 likes for the company page on Facebook. They posted daily and sometimes got engagement. Unfortunately, even combining these two inbound marketing elements together, this company completely missed the mark. Why? Because, successful inbound marketing has six core components necessary to make it work. The components are as follows:
Developing a strategy
Have you ever built a custom house? If you have, you already know that long before the foundation is poured, you need to make a significant investment in creating a blueprint.Yet surprisingly, many people who are new to inbound marketing actually start writing blog posts without having invested the time needed to create a detailed inbound marketing game plan. A game plan is your road map for success.
A detailed game plan should address at least the following items:
- Your buyer’s evaluation journey.
- Your target buyer persona(s) and the problems they want to solve.
- Your company’s goals (How much more website traffic? How many leads per month? How many sales attributed attributable to marketing? Etc.)
- The premium content offers you need to create to capture leads.
- The automated lead nurturing sequences you need to create to guide your leads to the point of purchase.
- The blog post topics you need to attract the right traffic to your blog.
As you can see there are a lot of moving parts that come together in an inbound marketing strategy. When we start with a new client it takes a small team about three to four weeks to complete a fully developed game plan.
Attracting more qualified visitors
The second step, after creating an inbound marketing strategy, is to drive customers to find your company online and make them aware of your brand.Generating more traffic for website is like baking: you need lots of complementary ingredients that work cohesively to get a good result. There is no single tactic proven to produce worthwhile results by itself. Rather, it’s a set of strategies and supporting tools working together. Those tactics include:
Converting visitors into leads
Once you’ve successfully generated a significant amount of web traffic, you need to separate the wheat from the chaff, and find out who’s really interested in what your company has to offer, and who’s just passing through. By using your understanding of your ideal buyer persona you continue to create more premium content. This content is generally provided free of charge, but in order to access it, the customer needs to register on your website, providing their name, email address and other contact information. When a visitor fills out the form to access this content, a lead is created. You can then use what you know about that content, and your target buyer persona, to build out both an electronic and a human follow-up process.
Turning leads into customers
All leads who have downloaded your company’s content must either have a human follow-up with them personally, or an automated process must do so. Automated follow-ups can be used in moderation, but in general, a live person is more likely to reach a potential customer and connect with them. Some of that follow-up should be deeper content and offers, which invite them to access more of your content. Let the quality of those leads set the priority for how deeply you follow-up. This is great because these leads keep self-qualifying whenever they opt in to these offers! The offers are typically presented through email marketing and marketing automation. They’re also presented upon revisits to your website.
You should also offer additional relevant content that answers the different questions they’ll have at the various stages in their buying journey. Such lead nurturing and segmented email campaigns are used to better target leads and are intended to generate sales. If you want your efforts to be indisputably connected to sales and revenue goals (and we strongly suggest you do), you must be able to connect the dots between how content feeds and nurtures leads at all stages of the sales funnel.
Creating promoters from customers
Throughout the sales process you should be creating unexpected value in each of your customer’s mind. Moments so awesome that they can’t stop talking about what their experience to everyone they know – online and offline. When customers can’t stop talking about their amazing experiences, they become advocates, evangelists, defenders, apostles, champions — promoters. Various studies show that delighted customers can be worth 10x (or more) of the value of their initial purchase. Advocates buy more, more often, and actively convince others to buy as well.
Measuring, Analyzing, Interpreting
It’s important to periodically take stock of your approach and see exactly what’s working and what’s not.
- What kind of content in is generating the most interest?
- What kind of content is failing to get a following?
- Are you losing a lot of prospects at one particular stage?
- Do you have an especially high conversion rate at a different stage?
One of the great things about marketing online is that you can measure every aspect of the process: how many people clicked on your blog, how they got there (Google search? Facebook? Promotional email?), what other pages they clicked on around your site, and much more.And that’s just at the first stage. You get a plethora of data on every piece of content you offer and every step that potential customers take, from the beginning of the cycle to the end. You can analyze that data to see what went right and what went wrong, so that you can improve your strategy for the future.
By themself none of these components will make a real difference towards your inbound marketing success – remember it’s all or nothing. But, when combined, that’s when the magic of inbound really happens.