Inbound marketing may sound like an obscure marketing term, but in reality, its effectiveness relies on its simplicity: it adheres to customer-centric messaging, not too blatant ad campaigns. No matter how great your product or service is, if you fail to address your clients’ concerns about your solution, your sales pitch will go down the drain. Inbound marketing is an efficient, yet effective methodology for filling your sales pipeline while catering to your prospects’ needs.
Inbound marketing is an ingenious byproduct of the internet, the first real interactive media. In the past, marketers shoved their sales pitches in our faces with their disruptive TV and radio commercials, colossal billboards that muddled our cityscape, and salespeople knocking on your door at the most ill-conceived time imaginable.
Instead of disrupting or chasing down customers through outbound marketing, inbound marketing is a well-thought-out process that consists of elements whose success relies on the success of prior elements. Define your buyer persona – who typically buys your product, what are their demographics, roles in their social circles (company, community, or family), and what are the symptoms of the problems they are experiencing that your product resolves?
In no mistake of their own, customers are cautious about giving away personal information and have the predilection to remain anonymous when using the net. This is where progressive profiling, lead magnets, and gated and un-gated content work their magic.
Progressive profiling starts immediately after the prospect has visited your landing page for the first time. In exchange for some valuable piece of content, the prospect is willing to divulge some personal information (name, location, email, company role, etc.) through a seemingly innocuous form.
However, a long, tedious progressive profiling campaign could backfire. After all, people these days have little patience and short attention span. Consequently, you should only seek additional information after the users have downloaded a second or third round of content. Hence, if you know their name and company name, why ask them for this information again? Start by asking new questions to progressively create a new profile – better yet, ask questions that qualify them as a marketing qualified lead (MQL) like budget, time til expected purchase, etc. Additionally, try not to have more than four fields at a time as every additional field on a form reduces the conversion rate by about 8% per field.
Lead magnets are best exemplified by e-books and white papers, both of which are persuasive, authoritative, and engaging; their primary goal is to educate their audience about a particular issue or problem, and ultimately the solution to it. These are not about promoting your company as the hero – these are to provide value-added content that supports your persona’s concerns.
Lead magnets are typically used as gated content, meaning it requires prospects to give some information, usually email and other personal information, in exchange for the content. On the other hand, ungated content typically includes Facebook pages, YouTube posts, and website blogs as there are no forms to fill out.
Once you have a full grasp of the buyer persona, you can now proceed with the content map, which is a plan to create and deliver the right content to the right audience at the most auspicious time.
In terms of content creation, it should be tailored to your target persona. Take into account the lead funnel stage, which pertains to how close the prospect is to taking action. Content provided at the top of the lead funnel should match the concerns the persona is experiencing at that stage; whereas, prospects who have made their way to the bottom of the funnel should only be offered information that matches their concerns at that stage.
To further beef up your inbound marketing tactics, marketing automation technology plays a critical role in your success. This is where customer relationship management or CRMs come into play.
In essence, a CRM is a database that houses customer data along with all interactions with that customer. Incorporated with marketing automation, this technology streamlines and improves interactions between companies and their customers (current and potential), which results in increased profitability and scalability. A CRM refers to a system that simplifies the tasks and collaborations between sales and marketing especially with the transition of the MQL’s hand-off to sales.
This technology is best exemplified through marketing automation systems offered by Hubspot, Pardot, Marketo, and Eloqua, which are recognized as enterprise-grade platforms in the industry. Smaller players include Active Campaign, Drip, Get Response, Infusion Soft, and Click funnels. It’s these smaller players that enable side gig startups to compete with enterprises when it comes to marketing automation and lead nurturing.
Inbound marketing is a great way to provide effective communication in the most efficient way. Establish repeatable processes, build templates, map out the journey, and utilize technology to make it all work.