<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=857064631080988&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

By
Bill Walls
Bill Walls on September 1, 2020

Implement The Inbound Marketing Process To Revolutionize Your Business

When implementing an inbound marketing strategy, it is important to understand and follow all of the steps of the inbound marketing process in order to...

Inbound Marketing

 

Owning a small business is never easy. But with COVID-19 this year, we have seen that businesses that haven't embraced digital marketing face not surviving. And those that did not adapt quickly, struggled to stay in business. 

In fact, because of COVID-19, many companies are now rethinking their digital strategies .

inbound marketing processThe challenge for many businesses is that marketing strategies that generated leads for their business a few years ago have now stopped working. Unfortunately, many business owners haven't looked up from their day-to-day operations to notice. Or if they have noticed, they don't know what to do about it. 

So, what has changed? In our article, 5 sales strategy tips for successful selling in 2018, we discussed how the power used to be with company marketing and their salespeople.

Because technology, the internet and social media have entered the picture, the power has shifted to the buyer. 

With more power at their fingertips than ever before, buyers can now do their own research. Buyers don't need company marketing efforts (brochures, mailers, ads, or salespeople) to find solutions to their problems anymore. They can  research their own solutions, look up technical specifications, compare pricing, find out how to implement new systems and and see reviews on products, services and suppliers. 

This major shift has created a need for businesses to embrace a new way of marketing...INBOUND MARKETING.  

 

What Is Inbound Marketing?

 

According to HubSpot, "Inbound marketing is focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content and adding value at every stage in your customer's buying journey. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media."

Much of the research for buying decisions is now done early in the buying process ONLINE, before ever speaking with a company representative. People don’t respond to cold calls anymore, and direct mail has become so ubiquitous that many people sort their mail over the recycle bin.  I know I do.

Many companies who are still using these techniques are finding they don't work as well as they did before.

If you don’t believe it, here is a scary statistic for you from research think tank Gartner... “By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human. 

This online shift has already happened and if you haven’t made the transition, you risk being out of business soon. Just look at how COVID-19 impacted so many businesses and their ability to operate this year. If you are still in business, you may be still struggling to get by.  

 

Is Inbound Marketing Right For Your Business?

 

Before you do anything, it is important to determine if inbound marketing is right for your business. Certain businesses are not a good fit for inbound marketing . Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have a sales cycle that is longer than a few minutes?
  • Do your products or services require a level of education before a purchase is made?
  • Do your prospects spend time researching your industry and businesses like yours before making a purchase?
  • Do your prospects spend time on other industry, association and trade-sponsored websites?
  • Are your salespeople telling you that they are having difficulty connecting with prospects?
  • Are your competitor’s websites ranking higher than yours in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo?
  • Are your customers saying to you, “I didn’t know you had that service or product?”
  • Are you finding that traditional advertising like print, trade shows, Yellow Pages and direct mail are showing diminished returns?
  • Are your prospects spending time on social media outlets?
  • Do you want a steady stream of leads over a period of time?

If you answered "yes" to these questions, you are a good candidate for inbound marketing.

 

The Inbound Marketing Process

 

When implementing an inbound marketing strategy, it is important to go through the following steps of the inbound marketing process: 

1. Assess Your Marketing 

This is the first step before you ever discuss tactics or implementation.  The process begins with an honest assessment of your current marketing strategy and current Inbound Marketing Processmarketing tactics.

Questions to ask yourself in this step include:

  • Is my business attracting the types of clients we want?
  • What marketing efforts are we currently using?
  • Which of our current marketing techniques are working, if any?
  • What marketing assets do we have?
  • Can my business realistically handle an increase in sales?
  • Am I and my staff willing to spend the time required to participate in marketing activities?
  • What ROI am I looking to achieve for the investment of time and money?
Once you have done your assessment, set quarterly, semi-annual and annual goals.

2. Set Realistic Goals

Your marketing goals should be aligned with your business goals. They should be specific, measurable, achievable and realistic. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What type of sales increase am I looking for?
  • How much budget can I realistically afford to develop the strategy?
  • What ROI am I looking to achieve for the investment of time and money?
  • What are KPIs that we will we use to measure our success?

 

3. Develop Your Buyer Personas

 

This stage begins with developing a picture of your ideal customer through the development of what is known as a Buyer Persona. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customers, based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

Once you have a picture of your ideal clients and where they hang out online, you can begin to determine which tactics will resonate best with your core audience, whether its SEO, Social Media or content marketing, or a combination of all of the above.

The buyer persona should be the lens through which you evaluate all of your strategic options and select those that give you the best opportunity to reach your target audience.

 

4. Review Your Company Website

 

Your company website is the hub through which all of your online marketing activities will flow.  Remember that visitors are coming to your website because they are looking for a product or service that is a solution to a problem they have. So, it is extremely important that your website has messaging that resonates with your target customer.

Your website should include five things:

1. A Clear Message - This includes a simple sentence that tells your visitors exactly what you do. You only have 6 seconds to let them know if you can help them or not, otherwise they will go elsewhere.

2. A Call-To Action - Too many businesses make the mistake not giving potential customers a way to do business with them. The harder you make it for visitors to contact you, the less likely they are to do it.

3. Images of the End Result - People buy solutions to internal problems not external problems. Your customers will buy your products and services to relieve their internal tension, which is why your website should show images of people being happy with the end result and messaging that relates to their internal problems.

4. An Offer - If potential customers are not ready to buy yet, you will need something to offer them that addresses the problem they are having. Your offer should provide something of value that can help them get an answer to a question or problem they have.

3. A Way To Show Your Authority - Show potential customers that you have already solved a problem or helped customers succeed at overcoming the obstacles they are experiencing. This can include a case study, success story or testimonial.

You can read more by downloading our eBook, Top 5 Things Your Website Needs To Make Money.

 

5. Generate Relevant Traffic

 

Inbound Marketing ProcessOnce you have your website redesigned, the next step is to drive targeted traffic to your website. This is where SEO, blogging, social media and pay-per-click marketing have their place. 

But, which tactic should you use? The answer will depend on factors such as your goals, budget and ultimately on the buyer personas that you developed for your business. One, or a combination of all of these tactics may make sense for your particular situation. More traffic to your website or corporate blog means an increased  chance of attracting your ideal client and converting them into a lead.  

Here are ways to generate targeted visitors: 

1. Publish Blogs - Your blog is a formidable content marketing asset. It attracts ideal customers and clients at all stages of the buying process. Here are some statistics to consider:

  • Blogs are among the primary three forms of media used in content strategies today. (HubSpot, 2020) 
  • Search is the number one traffic source to blogs across all industries. (SEMrush, 2019) 
  • WordPress users produce about 70 million new posts and 77 million new comments each month. (WordPress, 2020)
  • 86% of companies produce blog content compared to other formats. (SEMrush, 2019) 
  • Search is the number one traffic source to blogs across all industries. (SEMrush, 2019) 
  • 83% of traffic to marketing blogs comes from desktops. (SEMrush, 2019) 

But simply writing articles that address subjects and questions that your target customers are interested in isn't necessarily enough. It is important to do research around keywords related to your business and make sure that there is actual search for the articles you write.

2. Develop Premium Content and Offers - You can generate all of the traffic in the world to your site, but if you don't have a mechanism to convert them into a lead, you have wasted your time and effort. Relevant offers for your prospects is a great way to do this.

This step requires the development of premium content in the form of case studies, white papers, ebooks and buyers’ guides that require a prospect to provide information in order to access. Landing pages with contact forms are required to access your high quality content, and ultimately convert a visitor into a lead. Information such as name, company, an email address and/or a phone number are typically required to download offers. This is how your convert a visitor into a lead.

This is the absolutely crucial step in your lead generation process that must be done right in order to generate high quality prospects for your company and sales team.  

It is important to keep in mind not to ask for too much information. If you do this, you could turn off your potential lead. You must remember that inbound marketing is not a hard sell tactic. You are trying to establish credibility and trust at this point in the process. At this stage, the only contact information we typically ask for is an email.

Why? Because they are still in the research phase. They are usually not ready to do business with you yet.

 

6. Promote Your Content

 

There is a misconception that just because you have posted something of value that readers, prospects or customers you are trying to attract will flock to it. If you think about it, how on earth will anyone know you have posted something? Unless they are a blog subscriber or newsletter subscriber, they will have no idea that it is out there.

Social Media plays a big role in getting the message out that your article has been published. If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, Twitter account, Google business page or Pinterest board, then it's time to start. The value of social media cannot be underestimated. The more relevant connections you have in your various social media profiles, the more your message will be shared around the internet and end up in the places where you want your message to resonate.

It is very important not only to post your articles on a regular basis, but also post them in the fashion that each social media platform is designed for. 

 

7. Lead Nurturing and Sales

 

Once you have captured leads, it is important to nurture them and convert them into sales. Lead nurturing is a critical part of a marketer’s job, especially in the B2B space. Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales process and through every step of the buyer's journey.

It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects and providing the information and answers they need. Different tactics, predominantly email marketing and lead nurturing are used in this step of the process.  Marketing automation, social media publishing, paid retargeting and additional marketing tools can also be used in the process.

If your sales process is sound, your sales team will have qualified sales leads that will ultimately convert into sales.

  

8. Evaluate Your Progress

 

It is important to know what is working and what isn't. Analytical tools are required to measure each step of the process to determine the effectiveness of your inbound marketing efforts.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are business metrics that help small business owners keep track of goals and objectives and allow them and their marketing team to determine if their marketing tactics are working. Utilizing a tool like HubSpot can help track your KPIs .

There is a lot of work that goes into implementing an inbound marketing strategy. For many companies, hiring a marketing agency may be required. You can learn whether it makes sense to do it yourself or hire a marketing agency by reading our article, Why Should I Hire A Marketing Agency For My Small Business?

 

hiring a marketing firm

Bill Walls

Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!