Businesses of all sizes have become huge believers over the past year in the power and effectiveness of inbound marketing to drive lead generation and sales. While outbound and interruption marketing (phone calls, or display/audio/video advertisements) still play a part in the sales strategy of startups and scale ups, those methods are quickly getting left behind by the way that inbound marketing is able to attract and help qualify potential customers who choose to engage with a company and their solution.
By producing high-quality content that attracts and satisfies the needs of your customer base, and then utilizing marketing automation to nurture those leads, inbound marketing can be the fuel to growth that persists and accelerates over time.
- Content assets used for inbound marketing create engagement with a prospect by answering a question or building their knowledge, which creates trust and authority on the part of the company.
- CRMs and other sales and marketing automation tools make it possible to test and measure every interaction that happens through inbound marketing. This testing allows for campaigns to be fine tuned to be as effective as possible.
- Inbound marketing is built on providing as much value as possible to the prospect, so be willing to give away high-quality case studies, white papers and other assets that can convert into lead generation information.
Inbound Marketing Building Blocks
Knowledge is the base ingredient of all inbound marketing, beginning with companies having well-defined customer personas that tell them what problems and motivations those groups face in their professional lives. Knowing those pain points or needs serves as the start block of sorts for creating content marketing assets that serve as an accumulated knowledge base to be passed onto prospects digitally on the company’s website, through guest postings, email, social media or other delivery channels.
Inbound marketing has developed in concert with the freefall in effectiveness of traditional advertising via broadcast or other media that try to interrupt someone’s attention to deliver a sales or branding message. The beauty of inbound marketing targets is that they are self selecting to be a potential customer, and with the right mix of content pieces and digital tools to move them on their journey, the sales process now is far more collaborative than in previous decades.
Assets used for inbound marketing can include:
- Case studies
- White papers
- Short demonstration videos
- Basic SEO strategy to build web traffic
- Landing pages
- Press releases
- Earned or paid placement media coverage
Advancing The Buyer’s Journey
The basic mechanics of inbound marketing rely on a “give to get” exchange of value. The company makes an offer of informative, high-value content that the prospective customer is able to access by providing an email address or other contact information that puts them at the top of the sales funnel.
Thought of another way, inbound marketing begins by drawing someone into the beginning of the customer’s journey side of the sales cycle where they are in charge and purely learning via engagement assets.
If they are truly curious about the product or service that your company is offering, then they will choose to heighten the engagement by accessing a piece of gated content only available with their contact information. That exchange moves them over to the buyer’s journey portion of the sales process, when the sales associate or team takes more control and guides the interactions toward a potential deal between the two parties.
In addition to providing knowledge, the content assets deployed for inbound marketing need to build a vision or idea of becoming a customer in the mind of the prospect.
Creating that reality through subtle writing and editing cues will help move them forward and increase the likelihood of clicking the call to action button that takes them to the landing page designed specifically to accept their contact information.
Automate, Test And Improve
One of the biggest reasons why inbound marketing has continued to grow as a portion of companies’ sales and marketing efforts is because advancements in software technology allow the process to be precisely measured and managed for maximum effectiveness.
Those advancements in CRMs and other tools have taken email from being another form of interruption “spray and pray” marketing, driven by volume alone, to a valuable mode of communication that marks the beginning of a relationship between your company and a prospect. Customized emails or email sequences with messaging tailored based on previous interactions can be loaded into your software and set to send at preset intervals to nurture prospects and offer more opportunities for a sales-focused interaction.
These campaigns are perfect testing opportunities for the many different components involved in inbound marketing, from the asset being offered to the language and design around a CTA and landing page, to the subject line and message copy of the emails in the sequence. The mantra of “Test. Measure. Learn.” fits well with inbound marketing to make sure your campaigns are performing as effectively as possible.
Tests should be performed in segments once baseline results have been established, using small samples of a total audience or email list to test the different options under consideration at each step.
Simultaneous multivariate testing requires several hundred or thousands of exposure to the emails or website factors being tested. That means companies need to carefully consider their testing process if they don’t have a large database of contacts yet or don’t want to invest in significant amounts of paid traffic to generate the impressions needed for adequate testing.
Inbound marketing is an important tool to attract and help qualify potential customers exploring their options along a customer journey. Make sure the content you offer is valuable to your target audience. This starts the exchange and helps them move at their pace from the customer journey into the buyer’s journey, and is a great way to turn prospects into customers.
Find out how Sellerant can help you create, build and deliver effective inbound marketing programs that attract and engage your audience to grow your business.