First, let’s start with the definition of Inbound Marketing: Inbound marketing* is based on the concept of earning the attention of prospects, making yourself easy to be found and drawing customers to your website by producing content customers value. (Thank you Wikipedia)
* Term coined by HubSpot CEO, Brian Halligan, 2005
Now that you’ve got the gist of what we’re talking about here, let’s dig in to what really constitutes an inbound marketing strategy.
A Different Thought Process
Anyone with a marketing degree is likely familiar with the 4 Ps (Product, Price, Place and Promotion). The 4 Ps, provide a roadmap marketers have used for decades to select a successful scenario for marketing and selling their company’s products. The thought of this traditional marketing model is that if I create the correct product at the correct price for my target market, make that product conveniently available for that target market and promote it to them, I’ll sell a lot of it and be successful.
I’m not going to argue this basic principle – but I am going to examine the Promotion element more closely. The fact is, in 1948 (when this framework was first established) this was a really new thought process. Marketers could determine the answers to these four questions and be fairly successful at selling product. But, as everyone adopted this approach, the level of competition increased. No longer was it this simple. New approaches to the same game have been tried – with relative success. But, not until the more recent approach of applying inbound marketing strategies did the game really change.
Traditional marketing practices at their core consist of creating a message and promoting it to the target market when appropriate for the company, hoping that a small percentage of the audience will bite. Inbound marketing strategies flip this thought process on its head. Instead, we provide remarkable, original content in the venues where the target audiences go, making this information available whenever the audience is looking for it. In short, it’s about providing the access to your company via great content when the buyer is ready instead of forcing your product or service when the buyer may or may not be ready.
The Components of a Successful Inbound Marketing Strategy
A solid inbound marketing strategy includes attracting new visitors, converting those visitors to leads, and turning those leads into new customers utilizing a handful of useful tools.
1. Attracting New Potential Customers
The name of the game is getting traffic to your site that could become customers in the future. To accomplish this you’ll want to use:
- Blogging – Blogging gives you a great venue to create and publish your remarkable, original content. Some of the keys to blogging successfully are deliberately selecting topics centered around your keyword strategy (more on that in a later post…), blogging often and regularly (at least once a week, but striving for 2-3 times every week), and following blogging best practices (optimizing your post, adding photos, making the post approachable and engaging and giving props to other relevant thought leaders). Blogging helps you get found on the web – Google likes it, and so do your potential customers.
- Social Media – Social media is how you promote that amazing content you’re creating. You’ll want to post often, and make sure your content is fresh and engaging. There’s a balance of content you’ll want to strike as well. You want to participate in the social media community, not just promote yourself. A good rule of thumb is posting once about yourself for every three posts about someone or something else.
2. Converting Visitors to Leads
Now that the newfound visitors are on your site, give them a way to engage with you without too much commitment – Here’s how:
- Calls to Action – Calls to action (or CTAs) placed strategically on your site offer your visitors compelling content to engage with (again… we’re back to this idea of creating remarkable, original content) and give them a clear action to take to get that information. These can simply be brightly colored buttons with text, or custom graphics you create – either way, they should stand out from the rest of the content on the page and attract the visitors’ attention. The button should tell them exactly what they’re going to get.
- Landing Pages – This is where the visitor is taken after clicking a CTA. Landing pages serve a very distinct purpose, offering only one option for the visitor: go through to get the offer you promoted in your CTA and on this page. They’re effective and they are a crucial part of a successful inbound marketing campaign.
3. Closing the Deal – i.e. Getting More Customers
Getting your new leads to convert to customers is where your campaign kicks into high gear. Now that they’re engaged with you, we’re going to pull the leads through a sales funnel online, very similarly to how an offline sales process might work. Again, we’re going to do this with additional original content, but content that’s geared specifically to the target audience and their stage in the buying process. And, we’re going to use one more important tool:
- Email – Using email, we can build out scheduled campaigns that are triggered when the next step in the sales funnel should take place (all customized to your sales process and buying cycle). Once a lead reaches the bottom of our funnel, we know they’re ready to make a buying decision.
If you use these inbound marketing strategies and tools, and use them well, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your online lead generation goals.
Learn more about generating leads through an inbound marketing strategy for your business: