Everybody, it seems, is talking about inbound. The word is interchangeable with "content", "attraction", "pull", but the principals are the same. Use your industry expertise, brand, and position, to become more discoverable, and to "pre-sell" prospects. No wonder so many are attracted to the concept - anything that makes the area of sale a little (or a lot) easier, will be just fine for a great many people in business.
Like most marketing disciplines, there's a process, and a strategy for ensuring the desired results come to fruition. The businesses who hope to create more blogs and eBooks, in the belief that more brand awareness equals more business, will be disappointed. Help is at hand. Here are the 4 areas we believe you'll do well to focus on, to ensure you're at least thinking about the inbound customer journey.
1. Generate Traffic
It kind of goes without saying, that the inbound process starts with getting visitors to your site - a steady stream, or an increasing number - sufficient to support your business objectives, and conversion ambitions. This is "top of the funnel" stuff. Ensure you're paying attention to SEO (still highly relevant), and are creating new content (blogs being the obvious option) on an ongoing and consistent basis. Use keywords that you can prove are in high demand, using Google's suite of research tools. This is also the point at which you want to ensure your social media presence is bearing fruit. Use social CTR (click through rate) tracking, such as Bit.ly and Ow.ly, to prove the effectiveness of your social posts.
2. Convert Traffic to Leads
Use eBooks and other digital downloads to capture more information about your visitors, and allow for further nurturing. A simple opt-in, in return for your well-composed guides and expert publications, will go to ensure that those who pass over their valuable contact information, are doing so because they're a real prospect for your core offering. Do this by making your lead bait relevant to the needs of your target market.
3. Qualify Leads and Create Sales Opportunities
Nurturing leads is about serving them as customers, before they ever transact with you. Once you have their digits, continue to provide education and value, to further learn what interests and compels them. Offer demonstrations, trials or consultations, to elicit more detail, and to showcase your talents in delivering the end product. Your follow-up is key to converting those now-qualified leads into real sales opportunities. The sale will be all the more simple, now that the lead has experienced so many touch points with your organisation.
4. Measure and Refine
This is where many businesses would exit the process. Don't settle for the results you get from steps 1-3. There are more opportunities to learn about the successes and failures of your strategy, not to mention the individual communication pieces and content provided. What was it about that particular download that caused a huge spike in opt-in's? Could your conversions have been improved by split-testing your copy and calls to action? Are you reaching your prospects via the most effective social channels, and do your updates hit home often enough? Know he analytics of your strategy inside out, and play the game of improving your stats, week after week.
This is just the high level view of the inbound process, but it's no doubt one that many businesses can benefit from being reminded of. Efficiency is one of the main attractions of this strategy, and if that's not a good enough reason to get involved, go review your latest "push" marketing stats; how are those ads working out for you?