The idea of inbound marketing is great. Create the content, systems, and processes so that customers come to YOU.
They find your magical content online while performing their searches. It's exactly what they were looking for, they are ready to buy, and they immediately become paying customers.
If only it were that easy. So what's the process? How do we get people from strangers to customers?
I really love the way HubSpot breaks it down, and that's the model I follow and use. The Inbound Marketing Methodology, as coined by HubSpot, goes a little something like this:
So when you're getting started with inbound marketing, you need to break it down into these 4 stages to ensure you're creating the right kind of content, at the right point in your buyer's journey. You need different content when you're attracting potential leads, versus trying to close a sale.
When you're initially trying to attract clients, you're essentially trying to get strangers to look at your stuff. This might be in the form of your blog, your website, or your social media content. So you work hard on creating really great content and manage to get a few people to your blog. Now what?
The reality is that the vast majority of people who come to your website, landing page or social profiles are NOT ready to buy. So this is your chance to start a relationship with them. They may not be ready to buy now, but when they are ready, you want to make sure they choose you. This is where the next stage comes in.
Now that you've gotten strangers to look at your content, your next goal must be to collect their contact information. Email addresses are the currency of inbound marketing - remember that. Getting people to opt-in to your list is the very core of what you're trying to achieve here. The easiest way to get people to give you their email addresses is if you offer them something valuable in return. Contact information is valuable to the owner, and you can't expect people to hand it out unless they're getting something out of the exchange.
You've managed to get their email address. What's the next step? This is where the real relationship-building can start. You need to be thinking Nurture Series, Sales Funnels, valuable content, and more free stuff. There is a lot that goes into creating a solid email marketing strategy, but you need to start somewhere. It might not be fancy, and that's okay. The main goal is to start, tweak, and improve as you continue to grow your list. The end-game here is to monetize your list and CLOSE that sale.
Once you've got their money, it's not over. It's still crucial that you continue to deliver solid customer service, to ensure your paying customers are happy and will be out there telling others about it. Most people read online reviews and check what their friends say about products on Facebook before making a purchase, so it's critical that what they find about you is positive. Staying engaged with your current and past customers to ensure they continue to be satisfied with their purchase, and find ways you can improve, will assist in continuing the cycle of attracting strangers to your blog or website. This goes full-circle.
So when you're trying to nail down what your objective is for your inbound marketing, make sure you incorporate these 4 stages into your plan. If you're going to invest in attracting strangers, you need to ensure you're getting the opportunity to convert. If you're getting paying customers, keep them happy and use them as agents to drive more strangers down your funnel.
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Founder of Malamax Content Marketing