beginners guide inbound bannerMarketing has evolved quite a lot in recent years. With the explosion of social media and changing consumer behaviours it’s important that you keep up with the latest marketing strategy in order to effectively promote your product or business. Today I am going to talk about Inbound Marketing and how you can get started in the world of inbound if you are completely new in this domain. Before jumping right into the details let me explain how inbound marketing evolved into an effective strategy that all major companies use these days to promote their products.

Before the dot com revolution and the explosion of social media marketing used be quite different. A day to day job for any marketer was to do consumer survey, create cold calling scripts, spend lots of money on trade shows, banners, billboards and more. We have been using billboards to promote stuff for eternity. This approach to marketing is broadly categorized as outbound marketing.

What’s the problem with Outbound?

Don’t get me wrong. Almost all companies still use outbound marketing for their promotions and they are likely going to use them in the future. Having said that, there is a fundamental flaw in outbound marketing that has bugged marketers for years. With all the banners, billboards, flyers etc. a marketer is trying to chase their target audience by getting their word out there. It’s like standing in the middle of a carnival with a loudspeaker hoping that your target audience will somehow hear what you have to say.

The problem with this strategy is that the data that you generate from the campaigns are immensely speculative and vague. There is no way you can figure out how people are interacting with your products, which banners are working better than the rest, how your customers are interacting with your brand and most importantly how you can hear and improve upon the customer’s feedback. This is where Inbound Marketing comes into the picture powered by the backbone of the internet.

How is Inbound Marketing Different?

inbound Marketing focuses on attracting your target audience towards your business by providing something valuable to them. While the definition may sound pretty simple inbound marketing consist of a customer acquisition funnel that can be implemented on any business or product. Throughout this guide I will be referring to this funnel and by the end you will have a sound understanding of how things work in the world of inbound.

The Customer Acquisition Funnel

inbound funnel illustration

Getting Visitors

The first stage in the inbound process is to get visitors to your website. The easiest and the most popular way to get more visitors is to produce more content that people would find useful. You can create several pages explaining the different types of services that your business provide or start a blog where you can update your visitors with the latest news in the industry.

In the world of online marketing there is a common phrase called “Content is king”. Even with Google’s new search engine algorithm changes in recent years, the phrase still holds true. Content is truly the most valuable element for a successful website. It not only generates organic visitors but forms as a base to generate notoriety for your business.

I have worked with several bloggers in the past few years and one of the most common problem that business owners face is coming up with new content ideas. Here is a quick checklist that should help you get started with your first few articles:

  • Explain your business methodology
  • If you are running a blog provide your readers with something useful (a list, a tutorial, a comprehensive guide like this post etc.)
  • Write a detailed case study for your business
  • Create an industry statistic blog post for your industry
  • Create an engaging infographic

These are just some of the ideas for generating more content on your website. Most importantly start taking notes and try to maintain a content publishing calendar.

Getting Leads

There is a major difference between getting website visitors and converting them into actual leads for your business. Visitors may or may not be directly interested in your services. The content that you produce on your blog will attract organic visitors from all different background. Your job is to attract your target market from these organic sources and convert them into leads.

The most effective way of converting visitors to leads is to offer them something useful in return for their information. For Example if you have a real estate business then you can offer them a free home evaluation in return for their information. People visiting your real estate blog are likely to opt in to this offer and trade their email for the evaluation. Once you get their email or phone number you have a successful lead for your business.

In order to get higher conversions for your leads I suggest you start with a landing page software like Instapage or LeadPages. These softwares have industry proven conversion rates with their landing page designs and it’s a great source for any inbound marketing newbie.

Converting Leads to Customers

leads to customer faces

This is probably the most important stage of inbound marketing. As a matter of fact I believe this is the most important stage for any business. As a business owner you only make profit if you can tap into your lead pool and start converting them into customers.

The process through which a lead eventually converts into your customer is called Lead Nurturing. To be honest lead nurturing is different for different types of business but the methodology is somewhat similar in all of them.

Once a visitor is converted into a lead do not jump right off forcing them to be your customers. This is a common mistake that many inbound marketers make and if you appear too pushy then it’s a turn off for your lead. Imagine a car dealer forcing you to buy a car once you enter his dealership instead of allowing you to explore different models and letting you get a feel of what’s best for you.

You have to show you value before your can pitch your product to any lead. Try conducting free webinars, send them case studies and success stories about using your product. Using an email drip campaign is often the best method of connecting to these leads. I will try to cover more on Lead Nurturing in a separate post. Make sure to search through our blog’s inbound section to learn more about lead nurturing.

Generating Loyal Fans

Yes you heard me right. This is the final process of the inbound cycle. If you have followed all the steps mentioned above then you will eventually start getting your first few customers through inbound marketing. However, one thing that every company strives for is loyal fans of their business or product. These are your most happy customers who are willing to share your service in social media or through word of mouth. Once other people start getting the word out there it will lead to more leads and eventually more customers for your business.

There is no single proven method of generating loyal fans. You need to concentrate on giving your customers an amazing experience in order to attract their attention and keep them hooked with your business. Eventually some of these customers will turn into your business evangelist.

Measuring Your Inbound Strategy

One of the best thing about using an inbound strategy is that you can track your visitors through the entire process of becoming your customer and beyond. Based on various factors you are required to constantly tweak the experience for your first time visitors making the entire process more attractive and in turn getting better conversions.

Measuring and improving your landing pages, drip campaigns, content strategy etc. should be something that you focus on from day 1 if you are serious about expanding your business. Some of the common tools that I recommend using for tracing your visitors are as follows:

These three starter platforms should give you enough data to work with and it’s one of the best feeling in the world when you can analyze your customer behaviour while making smarter marketing decision which eventually brings in more revenue for your business.

Bonus: Full List of Inbound Softwares for Marketers

Don’t be Afraid – Go Inbound

In the beginning of the guide I promised to touch all the areas of inbound marketing and I did. To be honest inbound is evolving every day since it’s a fairly new way to market something to your target audience. The only way you can truly learn and master this field is to constantly experiment and analyze.

Let me know if you need particular insight regarding some of the steps in the comments section below and I will be happy to assist you.