Inbound marketing seems easy on the surface. Create content people want and attract more people to your website.
However, as you guessed, there is more to it than that. If you miss any of the five fundamentals in your inbound marketing strategy, it will stifle your ROI. And you will feel like inbound marketing doesn't work.
The good news is understanding these fundamentals will help you develop a marketing plan that focuses on doing business that is more human- and customer-centered. We will show you how to get business results by delighting customers.
For a more thorough overview of inbound marketing, visit Everything You Need To Know About Inbound Marketing. This article covers a lot more topics and how you should use them in your business.
The five fundamentals of inbound marketing are:
- Buyer personas
- Buyer’s journey
Inbound marketing thrives on establishing real human connections with both potential customers and industry partners.
Contacts may be:
- People who engage and become leads
- Influencers who've shown interest in your brand
- New customers
- Displeased customers
- Delighted customers
- Loyal customers
- Business partners
- Industry experts
- Other local businesses
- Brand fans who share your content but never become a customer (still some value)
These contacts may engage with you on social media or share an experience in a review. They may create blog posts or videos about you or interact more directly with your customer support team or sales. Each of these interactions strengthens your brand's presence within its community and should not be ignored.
Invest in a Robust CRM to Manage Contacts
Keeping track of your contacts is extremely important, especially for those who can become qualified leads. But as you can imagine keeping track of all of these interactions is cumbersome. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software allows your sales team to keep detailed records on your contacts discussed above and track the sales pipeline.
It helps you identify where various leads are in the funnel and gain direct insight from customer analytics that helps you:
- Improve timing and frequency of follow up
- Automate some follow up to improve response rate and increase sales qualified leads
- Shorten the sales cycle
- Increase average order value (AOV)
- Better align content with customer intent
- Delight your customers
- Reduce funnel leakage
- Optimize your inbound marketing plan
2. Buyer Personas
Inbound marketing buyer personas are fictionalized representations of your ideal customers. Knowing who your ideal customers are (and understanding that this fictionalized representation can change over time) allows you to more effectively address their needs and position yourself as a business that can solve their problems.
Why Do You Need a Buyer Persona?
It comes down to this. If you're trying to speak to every potential customer at once, then you won't connect with any of them. Instead, narrow down your target customers to one or more buyer personas and speak to them like "real people". The truth is YOU ARE speaking to real people. We forget that sometimes.
Your potential customers are frustrated with worn-out marketing messages and misaligned solutions just like you are. But when you create a persona and give them a name, a face, and real goals, it's easier to speak person-to-person as your best salesperson would, but before they even become a sales-qualified lead.
How to Determine Your Buyer Persona
When getting started, create a persona that represents real customers who are:
- Easy to sell to
- Delighted with your product and write reviews about it
- Buy more and buy often
Acquire data through your website, CRM, social media, Google Ads, SEO, and other analytics tools to determine who these people are and what they have in common. If analytics is currently lacking, start by speaking with your sales team and customer service to see what they hear from customers. Grow from there.
The idea behind the buyer persona is that it's the profile of your ideal existing customer who is also what your potential customer looks like. As you explore what this person looks like, look for:
- Types of content they consume
- Where they hang out online
- Real quotes
- Common objections
- How your company helps this person reach their goals, overcome challenges, etc.
3. Buyer’s Journey
The Buyer's Journey is a customer-centric way to look at how a contact goes from being a stranger to a paying customer. It's also based upon data and will help you create inbound marketing content that reaches the buyer persona with the right message, in the right place, at the right time.
Three Stages to a Buyer’s Journey
There are three stages to a Buyer’s Journey:
- Awareness - the buyer has a problem and is experiencing symptoms of this problem
- Consideration - the buyer is committed to solving this clearly defined problem
- Decision - the buyer is compiling a list of products or services that can solve this problem
It helps to think of this in terms of search queries. Search engines like Google are where people go to find answers to questions like:
- What's that burning smell coming from my car? (Awareness) Oh, it's my transmission!
- How do I stop the burning smell coming from my transmission (Consideration)
- Who can fix my transmission? How much will it cost? How do I choose a reputable transmission repair person? (Decision)
The content you would create in the next fundamental will align with this journey and might look like this:
- 10 Likely Causes for that Burning Smell in Your Car or 10 Signs of a Bad Transmission (Awareness)
- How to Fix a Transmission or Tools You Need to Fix Your Transmission (Consideration). Note: Your Buyer Persona doesn't have the skill to fix it. You're building trust and guiding them to the next stage.
- What to Expect During a Transmission Repair or How Much Does a Transmission Repair Cost? or How Much for a New Transmission? Etc. (Decision)
4. Content Creation
Carefully crafted content revolves around bringing contacts to you to turn them into customers. Because this content is built around your buyer persona and the Buyer's Journey, it answers real customer questions and provides helpful information these customers need to buy your product. By aligning content creation to the Buyer's Journey, you're setting expectations with customers. You know what you're talking about, can help them, and you're willing to give a little away for free (in the form of tips) to prove you can do that.
The Benefits of Content
Content can benefit you in the following ways:
- Increase search engine visibility when combined with other SEO strategies. Websites with regular blogs have 436% more indexed pages in search. Hint: Pillar pages are especially valuable for SEO. Because they're large and cover several related topics in detail, they're easier to rank in search engines and improve overall performance in search.
- Increase engagement on social media and drive social traffic to your site
- Nurture leads through email segmentation and automation
- Build trust and establish you as an authority in your industry with helpful content like a blog
- Encourage website visitors to go deeper into your site because they're finding useful content
- Magnetize your brand with among your buyer persona
Choosing The Type of Content
Different types of content reach people at various stages and in complementary ways, so it's critical to strategically invest in an array of content in inbound marketing, but only as much as you can produce consistently and of high-quality.
- Video tutorials
- White papers
- How-to videos and buyers’ guides
How to Optimize Content
Start with the above fundamentals, then:
- Match content to intent
- Research what your buyer persona is searching in Google
- Build trust
- Provide real, actionable, helpful information....not fluff
- Know where a person viewing content is in Buyer's Journey
- Align your CTA with where they are in the Journey
- A/B Test CTAs
- Analyze content performance to learn what works
- Continually adapt
Finally, a marketing strategy should include measurable goals that help you determine what’s working and what isn’t working. Setting goals and keeping track of your progress are essential.
Why Is Goal Setting Important?
Goals help you focus your inbound marketing efforts to generate more sales-qualified leads. They show you where you can do better to increase your marketing ROI.
They inform you when something you're doing isn't resonating with your audience so that you can adjust your content strategy. And most importantly, setting goals enhances collaboration and alignment across your teams (marketing, sales, services, etc.)
Tips to Setting Goals
Marketing Goals ultimately lead to tangible business success (revenues). You'll be setting goals for every aspect of inbound marketing, from SEO to lead-nurturing.
To get that, follow these tips:
- Assess your current marketing. Are you reaching the right customers? Are you doing it effectively?
- Determine where you reasonably see yourself in three months, six, 12 regarding important KPI like customer lifetime value, average order value, website traffic, conversion rate
- Communicate the goals to your team and help each of them understand how they contribute to reaching that goal
- Make sure you have the tools in place to measure that goal effectively. Know what you're measuring and make sure it really indicates success in inbound marketing.
- Set achievable goals (SMART GOALS)
What Does the SMART Acronym Stand for?
- Specific - Be precise about what you expect to achieve
- Measurable - Makes sure it is measurable, and you have the tools to measure it. If someone is having to measure it by hand, re-think that time-waster.
- Attainable - You know you can achieve it, but you may have to push to do so. If you're uncertain, consider setting an attainable goal and a stretch goal that carries an extra reward for your team if they meet it.
- Relevant - It should ultimately contribute to the BIG business goals
- Timely (or Timebound) - You have a specific amount of time to reach it.
Inbound marketing is the way to connect with your customers on a human level to build trust and grow your brand. Make this customer-focused methodology a part of who you are to compete in even saturated marketplaces and win big with your buyer persona.
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!