I’m a typical consumer.
I’m rarely interested in flyers that come through the door or telesales calls. Most of what I watch on TV is recorded, so I skip through TV commercials. If a website I’m looking at is flooded with annoying banners or pop-up ads, I exit the site.
When I need something, I look for it online using a search engine. Price comparison websites help me find the best deal and review sites reassure me that I’m making the right decision. Good website content or recommendations on social media help me decide whether the product meets my exact needs. I use social media to follow brands that interest me or my company.
The companies that win my business know what I’m looking for and give me the information I need, when I need it. These companies use inbound marketing.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is about attracting prospective customers to your website by publishing content that demonstrates your understanding of what they really want and need. It’s about the delivery of great content that customers will want to use or share at various stages throughout their buying journey (your sales cycle). Inbound marketing is about presenting a relevant message to your target audience – one that focuses on fulfilling their needs. Successful inbound marketing demands the effective use of customer insight.
Businesses are learning that by irritating people with badly-timed cold calls or irrelevant, poorly-placed pop-up ads, they’ll not achieve many sales. However, useful content, delivered to customers when they want to read it, such as via social media networks or blogs, is far more effective. Timing is everything. This excellent HubSpot web page details some inbound methodologies and marketing actions that help define inbound marketing.
Today’s smart businesses develop strategic content marketing practices to focus on inbound marketing rather than traditional outbound marketing methods. Let’s face it – pushing out masses of information in the hope that a prospect, somewhere, might see it, is highly impractical in today’s market. It’s just an expensive way of achieving comparatively little in the way of new business. Again, the HubSpot website offers some great examples of inbound marketing success stories.
Inbound marketing and social media
Social media is a key component of any inbound marketing strategy. It enables people to share great information and offers a fantastic platform for recommendations. People can choose whether they want to follow or join the networking community of a particular brand, product or service. Based on this, organisations can deliver targeted messages or information to prospects who’ve already expressed their interest. But inbound marketing tactics don’t involve bombarding these prospects with any old content. The messages are relevant and interesting, providing value to prospects to help turn their interest into something more.
Smart marketers can find ways to encourage social media users to share and distribute brand information to others on their social networks – providing the business with an international following quickly. This year saw the John Lewis Christmas ad published on social media platforms before the TV advert aired. That’s how powerful social media has become.
Understanding customers using insight
Businesses using inbound marketing take time to understand their customers’ buying habits. They can examine all the influences that prompt customers to buy products or services, and identify the points in a sales process at which a prospect may change his or her mind about continuing with the purchase. Marketing automation technology can help businesses to take a more informed view of their sales cycles, helping them to convert interest into sales more easily.
An organisation using inbound marketing clearly understands its sales cycle from the customer’s point of view. It will know what information customers need to finalise their purchases and what issues stand in the way of customers making a purchase. Armed with this information, the business can intercept the sales cycle at relevant points with targeted content that will resolve customers’ issues, nurturing them through the process to make the sale.
Marketing automation is a clever way of making sure customers receive appropriate messages at the right points in the sales cycle. A marketing automation tool tells a business how often a prospect has been in touch, or enables it to send messages that are timed according to a prospect’s actions. Marketing automation technologies provide statistics that rate the amount of contact from each customer, helping the business identify which prospects are most likely to progress to the purchasing stage.
For example, take a VoIP provider selling predictive dialler technology to a call centre. During the sales cycle, the buyer has concerns that his IT manager will resist the purchase of the dialler. He’s worried about the costs, time and resources needed to deploy new technology. The VoIP provider uses inbound marketing techniques to anticipate these concerns and times the delivery of a message to the prospect. This message explains that the dialler is a hosted solution that can be set up in 24 hours without any new technology installations and without the need for any involvement from the IT team. Other objections to the sale can be handled in the same way.
How can inbound marketing work for you?
Using inbound marketing, your business draws in new customers who are, essentially, looking for you. With your relevant, thoughtfully-placed content, your business demonstrates how you can meet their precise needs. Inbound marketing will help you increase your organisation’s credibility in the market, get publications to follow you, attract more prospects and generate more sales.
To find out how KG Moore can help with your inbound marketing activity, get in touch on 01206 646 006