By Mike Wolfe
Inbound marketing has changed the way businesses reach potential buyers. It’s all about attracting the right people, educating them with the right content, and converting them into leads at the right time – when they’re ready to speak with sales. For the consumer, inbound marketing is different than traditional outbound marketing in that it’s helpful, non-interruptive, non-intrusive and even sought after. It’s no wonder why HubSpot calls it marketing that people love.
But for any business that’s new to executing inbound marketing strategies, it can be very easy to lose site of inbound marketing fundamentals. If that’s the case for you or your organization, here are some tips to keep in mind that will help you evaluate your inbound strategies and stay the course:
1. Know who you’re talking to.
The essence of inbound marketing is attracting the right audience. So before writing content, creating offers and blasting out messages, consider who the targeted audience is going to be and develop buyer personas. Identify the specific problems that relate to their role and how your product or service could help solve those problems. Will it save money? Will it help them work more efficiently due to tighter budgets and less resources? Will it help them please their boss and advance their career? Once you know the persona you’re talking to, you can deliver a personalized message that resonates with them specifically.
2. Understand their buyer journey.
One email click a lead does not make. Even when delivering a message that resonates, understand that there is a process for every buying decision. Before handing a prospect off to sales, it helps to understand what stage of the buyer’s journey they are in. They may still be trying to identify their problems and prefer to do research on their own. If that’s the case, they probably wouldn’t be very responsive to a sales call. Inbound marketing is about delivering helpful content and messaging specific to personas based on their current needs – which can be different in each stage of the buyer’s journey. By delivering the right amount of education in your content, you can ensure that you are providing value that prospects want and you can nurture them by showing them the next step in solving their problems and identifying solutions.
3. Provide value instead of a sales pitch.
After identifying the targeted persona’s needs and understanding their buyer journey, inbound marketers then have the opportunity to help them. This is not always done by starting the conversation about products and services, but instead by delivering helpful advice and industry insights over time through lead nurturing. Research from Roper’s Public Affairs shows that 80% percent of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. A lead nurturing path should include educational blog articles, tip sheets, whitepapers, case studies etc. that provide value to your personas while moving them along to the next stage of the buyer’s journey.
These resources are not just valuable to the prospects already in your funnel, they’re also sought after online by new prospects that haven’t discovered you yet.
4. Promote it, and they will come.
Having the right educational content that’s geared toward different personas and stages of the buyer’s journey doesn’t do a whole of good if you can’t deliver it to those personas. When your targeted personas are doing research on problems they have and solutions they need, they’re turning to search engines, reading blogs and interacting on social media sites for answers. The keywords and phrases they search for are the bridge between your content and their attention. Identify and utilize the keywords that your targeted personas are searching for – keeping their pain points in mind – while developing your content. Promote your content through blogs, site pages, webinars, videos and social media and you’ll begin to build an audience of new prospects.
5. Trust builds a following, and a sales pipeline.
By truly understanding your audience, creating educational content that helps them in their stage of the buyer’s journey, and delivering that content to them at the right time, you build a following of prospects that know and trust you. When it comes time for them to evaluate solutions and make a purchase decision, prospects that find your content relevant, informational and helpful will already be engaged with your brand and somewhat familiar with your products and/or services – turning into valuable leads for your sales team.