What Are Inbound Marketing Services?
The increasing influence of social media and new technologies have dramatically changed how people spend their money. Gone are the days of cold calling, spam mail, and pop-up graphics. Consumers now take a far more active role in sourcing their needs and are far less receptive to interruptive content. Needless to say, this isn't where conventional advertising shines.
Instead, inbound marketing has taken the throne with its ability to reach audiences without obstructing their day. It does this by framing the service or product as a solution to a problem. A treasure that needs to be willingly found. In other words, inbound marketing services focus on supplying content that is easily searchable while putting the burden of finding it on the customer.
If you want to capture the leads that are already out there and grow your business with sustainable, cost-effective methods — you need to be on top of inbound marketing.
Why Inbound Marketing Works
One of the biggest problems with traditional marketing is a lack of holding power. We all know that there's a huge gap of time between when a shopper first shows interest in a product and when they actually make a purchase.
Think of marketing as a frustrating crane game at the arcade with the grand prize being 'customer engagement.' If you're using traditional marketing, then the claw won't be strong enough to bring your prize all the way to the end. It loses its grip and drops the prize halfway to the deposit area. This makes it easier for the next person to swoop in and carry it the rest of the way.
Inbound marketing finishes the job. It doesn't give other businesses the chance to benefit from your work. By pulling potential customers into a sales funnel, inbound marketing organically guides them through your content. This willing engagement makes it so that when they do buy, they buy from the company that provided the content rather than the company whose brochure was thrown on their doorstep months earlier.
Through informative content, helpful videos, funny tweets, and many other outlets — inbound marketing works because it draws the leads to you.
The Inbound Sales Funnel Explained
At its core, the inbound sales funnel isn't much different from the buyer's journey you're familiar with. It’s purpose is to keep a lead engaged with only your content so they choose your product over your competitor’s.
Leads are shown different types of content based on how far they’ve gotten in your sales funnel. First-time customers might find a blog post outlining how a product can solve a new problem they have. Perhaps they’ve realized that their shingles aren’t fit for severe weather and need to find a more enduring roofing material.
On the other hand, promoters who have interacted deeply with a business will get much more shareable content. They are already an entrenched part of your customer base and are a reliable source of social proof and general excitement over your brand.
What is an Automated Workflow?
Leads are much more likely to continue interacting with your business if you respond to their interest within the first 5-minutes. However, assigning someone to sit down and monitor all incoming interactions is a blatant waste of manpower. Especially when the process can be easily automated.
Automated workflows in inbound marketing refer to pre-made responses that are sent based on specific customer actions. Examples include sending a free gift for providing your email or emailing recommendations based on previous purchases.
A prepared response may sound like it’s going against the “customized experience” of inbound marketing, but that’s far from the truth. Since it is the customer’s actions that prompt a workflow to initiate, they feel like they are being individually looked after. That’s why it’s important that the template message you craft doesn’t come off as overly robotic.
Additionally, although these messages follow a template, they have sections that differ according to the situation. Things like the recipient’s name, recommended products, and special offer types will vary widely for a more personal experience.
Nurturing Leads Throughout the Sales Funnel
When buyers are merely seeking out initial information, a hard sell pushes them away. Likewise, you do need to close when the time is right. Inbound marketing uses strategy and tactics that strike the right chord at the right time. A carefully crafted workflow lets you set up follow-up emails ensuring that you’re reaching them when their interest is peaking.
Generally, leads are separated into five stages that determine what type of content they’re searching for.
- Strangers: Completely new consumers who haven’t discovered your brand yet. These are people who have identified a problem and just started to search for a solution.
- Visitors: Strangers who are interacting with your business on a surface level. I.E. Browsing your site or checking for social proof.
- Leads: Visitors that have interacted with multiple forms of your content. They are in the research phase and are considering making a purchase.
- Customer: Leads who have taken the next step and gone through with a purchase from your business. This is where trust is cemented and where they can start providing social proof to your brand.
- Promoters: Customers that make an effort to spread your brand within their circles. They are the best targets for involvement in social media and other highly interactive and shareable mediums.
Inbound campaigns can each begin and conclude with the right sales tactic — delivering hands-off information, offering a soft sell, or requiring a filled-out contact form to obtain more info. At each stage, inbound marketing nurtures the lead with the right touch.
The Benefit of Inbound Marketing for Small Businesses
The resources available to large corporations give them the freedom to pursue high-budget advertising campaigns, but smaller-sized businesses don't have that option. Inbound marketing helps bridge this gap.
Many inbound strategies don't involve large productions or endorsements. They rely on using owned media sources to improve your online visibility and access. This includes mediums like email marketing, SEO, blog posts, and social media presence.
All of the presented options, when utilized correctly, can introduce large demographics to your brand at a low-cost. It's worth noting that the low cost also means that they are extremely forgiving as you can just continue perfecting them until you get it right.
Types of Inbound Marketing Methods
Any number of mediums can play a part in your inbound sales process. After all, marketing is an inherently creative process and new ideas are popping up all the time. But to make a complete campaign, you'll need to include a variety of these for your target customer to interact with as they go through their research. To make things easier, we've included some of the most popular inbound methods below.
Subscriber Lists and Email Marketing
There's a little confusion over whether or not email marketing is an inbound method. Some people confuse it with "cold calling” which involves sending unsolicited messages without prior interaction. However, email marketing is sent based on a company's subscriber list which is a collection of email addresses gained through willing means. We've all entered an online store and been prompted to provide our email for "$5 OFF Your First Purchase!"
While it can be seen as an older strategy, email marketing is highly recommended by most online experts. Not only is it affordable, but it brings back a dizzyingly high ROI of 3,800 percent! This is by far the highest recorded returns of any standard marketing method.
Much of this success is owed to its innate customizability through gathered data. By sending out regular email circulars, you can track customer interactions with links, graphics, or deals you have going on. This lets your next attempt be better optimized for your subscriber list.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO is the practice of improving your web page's ranking on sites like Google. Without proper SEO, potential shoppers are much less likely to find and interact with your content themselves. This is the least conspicuous form of inbound marketing, but it serves as the foundation of all your content.
One of SEO's most compatible attributes with inbound marketing is keyword detection. When people are searching for a solution to their needs, the keywords they include in their query help Google bring up appropriate results. If the right words or phrases aren't integrated, then your content will end up buried somewhere on the 50th page of results.
The key word here is consistent. There are countless blogs on nearly every subject, but most of them are content starved. They start out strong with updates coming once, sometimes twice, a week. However, as time goes on and view counts remain low, they are often put on the backburner.
This is a major loss to any inbound marketing campaign as many of the benefits of a consistent blog aren’t quantified by direct views. They factor into SEO rankings and make your site visible to a much wider range of search queries.
The more active your blog is, the more shopper questions your site addresses as well. This gives your business a higher level of credibility and makes it more likely that shoppers remain in your sales funnel.
Social Media is one of the more intimidating aspects for small and medium-sized businesses to tackle. It’s a very direct method for conversing with your customer base and opens up dialogue for both fair and unfair critiques. However, most also recognize the necessity of some form of social media presence for business growth.
It helps you build the right brand image and provides an easy source of social proof in comment sections. These are invaluable assets to any inbound marketing strategy. Since most social media content is only given glancing consideration, you’re able to get out an extensive amount of content to potential customers while hitting a wide range of keywords and phrases.
There’s no need to create high-production skits or partnerships either. Depending on your goals, you can use template surveys or product highlights to get a discussion going and spark the engagement you need.
Content Designed for Your Customers
Inbound marketing provides content that specifically appeals to your potential customers. Better than casting an open net, better than targeting a general demographic — inbound content has direct relevance to the information sought by the consumer.
This means you’re not wasting resources attempting to connect with uninterested parties. So, while inbound marketing gets in front of fewer leads than traditional advertising, it only brings in the hottest leads.
How to Create a Buyer Persona
However, to do this effectively, you need to have a clear image of the type of shopper you’re trying to target. This is your “buyer persona.”
Initially, you can get the needed information from consumer research, surveys, subscriber information, or just by consulting your sales team. You’re looking for trends about which people consume your content and how they find it in the first place. Figuring out data like age, gender, income, and preferred media will allow you to create targeted messaging for a marketing campaign that is several times more efficient than general advertising.
Data to Analyze and Improve
Creating your buyer persona isn’t the end. You’re just a few steps from the starting line. The results of inbound marketing can be tracked on a daily basis and offer immediate feedback to inform changes to your campaign.
However, this also means that the specifics of your buyer persona evolve as you gather more data. It might reveal new treads or force you to pivot strategies with a newly released product. The beauty of inbound marketing is that you always know where your leads are coming from, how often they convert, and what engagement is causing it.
This reveals another major weakness in traditional marketing. Because it hits a broad audience, there’s no way to test the effects that small tweaks have. It’s lack of focus means that businesses can’t be sure that better results are due to a new tactic or occur because that tactic is reaching an entirely new person.
Choosing an Agency
It’s a brand new world and you don’t want to get lost in it. The vital role of inbound marketing in cultivating a brand means that your messaging needs to have a consistent voice on top of everything else. Rather than hiring full-time specialists to take over this role, it’s more effective to bring on a third-party agency.
They’ll manage your resources so that everything is optimized for your ever-changing buyer persona. This means purposeful blog posts that draw in new searchers rather than pumping out irrelevant topics. It means an optimized website experience that organically prompts visitors to share their information. Most importantly, it means keeping customers with YOU the entire time.
It’s difficult to judge a marketing agency on the small things, since you’re not an expert yourself. However, it speaks volumes toward their credibility when they’re open about their previous body of work. Their website should include case studies and testimonials detailing the exact results they brought to each of their clients. If you need further confirmation, you can always contact these clients and ask for their first-hand experience.
It’s also worth considering how an agency handles their own marketing. If you have a poor experience with their website, have trouble finding them, or notice poor activity on blogs or social media, then that should be a red flag. If an agency can’t do right by themselves, how can you expect any better for your business?
Turn to BroadVision Marketing for Help with Inbound Marketing
As we’ve been saying, success with inbound marketing requires a sound strategy, purposeful content creation, and plenty more. At BroadVision Marketing, we keep our client’s names right on our homepage as badges of pride.
We get multiple content sources set up for you right away so you can start seeing results as soon as possible. We also perform a holistic overview of your current website to find pain points that are hindering your ability to generate leads and convert new visitors.
Then we get to the real work.
You’ll see remarkable changes in your online visibility and customer interaction. We’ll spread targeted content through several channels and bring fast and improving results to your brand.
If you’re ready to dive in or need more info about the process, contact BroadVision Marketing today. We’ll lead the way!