You might be used to traditional marketing strategies like cold calling and sending direct mail, but we’re guessing you probably aren’t generating new business as easily as you could have back in the day. That’s because consumers’ preferences and behaviours are changing, and if your marketing strategy hasn’t changed with them, now is the time to rethink how you’re doing it.
The days of relying on old school marketing techniques are over, newer approaches such as inbound marketing are here to stay. Read on to find out all about it.
Inbound Marketing Defined
Inbound marketing means that you’re generating business by attracting customers and making them come to you, rather than pushing your message out to them (outbound or interruption marketing). TV/radio ads, telemarketing, direct mail brochures, etc are all forms of outbound marketing. Read on to find out all about the more effective forms of inbound marketing.
The shift to inbound marketing goes hand in hand with the rising challenges marketers are facing. People have become so inundated with advertisements that they have started to block out many marketing messages. They either just ignore the messages or use tools like AdBlock to eliminate seeing ads altogether.
Over 6,200 respondents from all over the world were surveyed in 2018 and around 60 percent of companies say that one of the biggest challenges they face is generating traffic and leads. Inbound marketing can help overcome this challenge by attracting and nurturing qualified leads from an engaged audience.
Inbound marketing can be broken down into 4 steps: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight.
You can implement different strategies at each step to help move your customer further along the buyer journey and onto the next step. Let’s go through the stages and find strategies to help your business gain new customers.
First up, Attract:
In this stage, you basically want to draw your target audience to your website. Be clear on who exactly your target audience is - we’ve got a great piece here on buyer personas - it will help you.
Branding and Website Design
Working on your company’s image and visual identity and ensuring it works on your website and across all platforms is a must. In many cases, the buyer journey begins with your website or brand on social, so it’s crucial to get right. We offer website design as part of our content marketing packages; if your look needs a little updating, you are in good hands, we can help you. In fact, we are updating our own brand identity in Q1 2019, so watch this space for what we do to ourselves!
Create unique content that is relevant and helpful for the audience you want to attract. Make customers come to you because you have the best content available and it provides some value to them. Content marketing isn’t about selling your product but rather providing useful information that helps build loyalty and trust in your company. Another B2B example, this time from the USA, sees FedEx provide helpful content. Check out FedEx's How To Guides that help, not sell, and give value.
This is the process of ensuring your site ranks on page 1 of Google and is based on things such as quality and quantity of links, readability, uniqueness, keywords, etc.
Social Media Marketing
While SEO satisfies searches, social puts your business in front of people on social media platforms where they actually hang out. While businesses can be welcome on social, it’s important to interact with potential customers in a way that is genuine and authentic. It’s also important to be consistent, to show up and be there, and over time, trust will build.
Next step, Convert:
So people have found you and visited your website...what’s next? Now you need to convert those site traffic people into leads by getting them to hand over their information to you. Here are a few ways you can go about converting stats to becoming people.
Content Offer or Lead Magnet
To get a person to give you their contact information, there needs to be an exchange of value. For example, you can offer premium content in the form of an eBook or cheatsheet, a video, webinar, or other form of content packaged up in a way that is undeniably attractive. In return, you get the person's email address. This is the lead; and is a qualified lead if you have used ads correctly to target.
This goes hand in hand with a lead magnet. A call-to-action is a feature of the lead magnet where you grab the customer’s attention and point them in the direction of where to go and what to do next. Calls-to-action can guide traffic right to your content offer, which then increases your lead generation. A call-to-action can be as simple as a button labeled “Sign Up For Free”.
Your lead magnet needs to live somewhere, the pages where they are housed are referred to as landing pages. A good landing page has one purpose and one purpose only: to present the lead magnet tantalisingly, and to offer an ability to get it - in the format of a call to action. Check out these examples of great landing pages:
This enterprise video conferencing company keeps the landing page simple and clear. You immediately know where to sign up and what you will be getting.
This company helps other businesses easily track and analyze user behaviour on websites and cloud services. The landing page is bright and attention-grabbing. It also has clear call-to-action buttons featured, making it easy for users to follow.
We are long time fans of Basecamp, and love their work. This landing page is effective because it clearly lists the benefits you will get from signing up, it is very clear on where to enter your information, and notice the way it asks for your business email address?
Third stage, Close:
Now that you’ve got a bunch of leads, it’s time to nurture them and convert them into customers, to drive a sale.
Despite what you may have heard, email marketing is alive and well. If done well, email marketing can be a very effective part of your overall marketing strategy. After you have gotten a person’s contact information and you’ve sent them an email with the premium content they exchanged it for, you now also have permission to send them additional emails to move them further along the buyer journey. Sending follow-up emails is especially effective in the short period after they’ve signed up because your company is still fresh in their mind.
Have you heard of Messenger Bots? They are a really cool new messaging feature to get your message directly into the Facebook inboxes of your audience. Definitely consider using Messenger Bots in 2019 - we've got a great post to teach you all about them!
In 2019, you can expect email marketing messages to be more text-oriented, instead of relying heavily on graphics like in the past. People receive a constant stream of emails to their inboxes and ads and promotions tend to use graphics to get their message across. Focusing on text makes your message feel less like spam and more personal. An increase in email segmentation and personalisation will also be something to take note of in the coming months. Before you send out an email, consider the audience that will be most receptive to its message. There’s no use sending an email to all of your contacts if it doesn’t apply to them and you could risk having people unsubscribe from your messages. Target your messages based on relevant demographics to make people feel like you know what type of communications they care most about.
Send personalised communications to nurture leads over time. A customer generally needs 5 or more pieces of content from a company before they make a purchase so it take a little time to close a customer. How long that takes depends on your industry, the cost of purchase, and life cycle. Use marketing automation means to send targeted content to leads but deliver it based on their actions. So in other words, the recipient guides their own journey through the emails based on how interested they are in your product.
Last but not least, wherever possible - Delight:
So you’ve put in all the work to move someone along the buyer journey and you’ve made the sale, but the job’s not over yet. This stage is all about going above and beyond expectations and providing that 'extra little something' which helps develop customer loyalty. Many companies miss out on this last stage but you don’t want to make that mistake.
Let's say two companies provide very similar products/services, but one of them delights with exceptional customer service - who do you think customers are going to choose? It might seem like common sense, but customers want to feel like you actually care about to their problems and want to help them find a solution. When you genuinely care about your customers, they will in turn care about you as well. This leads people to become advocates of your company, spreading positive word-of-mouth to others. Because B2B companies have far fewer customers than B2C companies, it's especially important that they delight their customers. Around 30-40% of B2B customers will refer others to a company if their customer service experience was a positive one. This word-of-mouth marketing is so valuable.
We hope you have enjoyed our definitive guide to inbound marketing for 2019. If you are interested in lead generation for your business, and you would like a little help, why not get in touch? There can be a lot of work involved getting it all set up and running, but what better time to oil those funnels and turn them on, than now?
We'll always get back to you within one business day.