Inbound marketing is an essential tool for any online business. By creating and distributing useful content, the aim is to attract potential customers to your products and services.
Ultimately the purpose of inbound marketing is to create sales. So, here we examine ways that you can hone your inbound marketing tactics to engage with more prospects and move them along the path to purchase.
It can be easy to assume that inbound marketing is solely focused on attracting visitors to a business’ website and then converting them into leads. However, this is only half the story, for the ultimate goal of inbound marketing is always to increase sales and win new customers.
Indeed, the inbound marketing methodology outlines clearly that attracting strangers and generating leads is just the beginning of the process.
The conclusion is to ensure that those leads are converted into customers, and in turn, those customers become active promoters and brand advocates.
(Image source: hubspot.com)
Why Inbound Marketing works
It has been clear for many years, that sales cannot survive on traditional (i.e. outdated) outbound marketing tactics, whereby marketers essentially force their messages upon prospects.
Outbound techniques such as cold calling and spray and pray email blasts are considered to be intrusive and interruptive forms of marketing, which consumers have long tired of and learned to block out.
And that’s where inbound marketing entered the scene.
Inbound marketing is a permission-based method of engaging a target audience. It focuses on the creation and distribution of relevant and engaging content which delivers value to the prospect, for where they are in the decision-making and buying process.
These content assets are used to engage, educate and nurture the prospect down your marketing and sales funnel at a pace that the prospect feels comfortable with.
Inbound Marketing enhances the buyer’s journey
The assets focus on answering the individual’s pain points and challenges and puts them firmly in the driving seat as they progress through their decision-making journey. They choose when they are ready to make contact – ready to be nurtured towards a sale.
And it works.
Inbound marketing enhances the buyer’s journey, rather than interrupting it, and HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound report reveals numbers that prove it:
- 80% of B2B decision-makers say they rather receive brand information through blogs or articles than advertising
- 96% of B2B buyers want more content from industry thought leaders
- 77% of online customers prefer permission-based promotions via email
- 8 in 10 millennials have abandoned their favourite website due to intrusive advertising
- 77% of B2B buyers prefer to conduct their own research before speaking to a salesperson
- Nearly one-third of B2B marketers believe that outbound marketing is the single most overrated marketing tactic
(Image source: stateofinbound.com)
3 Ways you can use Inbound Marketing to increase sales
The ultimate goal of inbound marketing is to generate sales. So, let’s look at how you can optimise your inbound marketing tactics to guide more of your prospects along the path to purchase.
1. Focus on improving lead quality
Not all leads are created equal. If you’re currently viewing inbound marketing as simply a means of generating leads then you may well be losing out on prime sales opportunities.
Qualifying leads is one of the most important aspects of your inbound marketing programme. Not everyone who downloads your latest eBook or white paper will be genuinely considering a purchase from your company. As such, one of your initial areas for focus should be to improve the quality of the leads that you generate.
As a first step, make sure you have a clear understanding of what constitutes a good lead. Ask yourself;
- What are the attributes of your target buyer persona?
- What are their firmographics, demographic and behavioural traits?
- What pains, issues and challenges are affecting them?
With your audience as your starting point, create educational content and lead generation offers that appeal specifically to the wants, needs and pain points of your audience for where they are in their buying journey and use data capture forms to qualify and segment your leads.
This process of identification and segmentation may well decrease the total number of leads that you are generating however, it will increase the number of high quality, targeted leads that actually convert into paying customers.
2. Optimise lead conversion paths
Now that you have increased the quality of your leads, the next step is to increase the quantity of leads.
To do so, you need to make it as easy as possible for your leads to enter your inbound marketing funnel and take the steps that you want them to take – which will usually begin by downloading your lead generation offer.
This means optimising your lead conversion paths so that they are as short, clear and enticing as possible. Your conversion paths should mirror your prospect’s decision-making and buying journey.
At each step of the conversion path, messaging should be consistent and your lead should understand exactly what they are downloading and the value it will deliver to them.
Three key steps in the conversion path are:
- Call-to-action (CTA)
- Landing Page
- Thank You Page
(Image source: slideshare.net)
You will need to experiment and run A/B tests to ensure that your CTAs and landing pages are fully optimised for both high-quantity and high-quality lead generation.
By trialling a variety of CTAs, such as slide-ins and pop-ups, traditional CTA boxes at the middle and bottom of blog posts, and combined CTA/landing pages, you will begin to understand what appeals to your target audience for where they are in their buying cycle.
And remember, whilst you want to collect information on your prospect, so you can continually develop your understanding of your audience and segment your data, balance information collection against the value you are delivering through your content asset.
Nobody will give you their life history if they are simply downloading a short eBook. Conversely, a value-led thought leadership paper may warrant a more detailed exchange of contact information for the value you are delivering.
3. Delight existing customers and turn them into advocates
Every new customer you win has the potential for repeat sales and to help you attract even more customers – provided you both delight and convert them into evangelical promoters of your product, service or solution.
As with the entire inbound methodology, this is about ensuring you continue to create a relationship, even post-purchase. Keep in touch with regular, personalised communications, through social media and by providing outstanding customer support and an entire customer experience.
Ensure your customers have ease of access to your team and that you continue to deliver value through your content, assets, offers and thought leadership.
The ultimate goal of inbound marketing is to generate sales – that cannot be over-emphasised. But the true value in inbound marketing, lead and revenue generation comes when you place your customer at the very heart of everything.
It is only by really understanding your customers’ needs, wants and pain points that you can begin to drive that value – to them.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Julia Payne, co-founder of Incisive Edge a marketing agency specialising in high growth tech startups.
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