FATAL (ATTRACT)ION: THE 4 STAGES OF INBOUND MARKETING EXPLAINED
MEET THE POWER COUPLE
Inbound marketing and content marketing are often used interchangeably.
This is because they share an interdependent relationship.
In other words, you can’t have one without the other (not if you want success anyway).
But this doesn’t mean they are the same thing...
Inbound marketing in its simplest form is a modern methodology and practice that enables marketers to turn anonymous visitors into leads - and then nurture said leads until they are ready to be sold to.
Inbound is what produces the results, with focus on the optimisation of content and user experience (UX) at its heart.
Content marketing on the other hand, is the actual material these anonymous visitors and leads are searching for and digesting. Content is created to allow inbound marketing to serve its purpose.
Marketing and sales alignment is the lifeblood of successful inbound marketing.
With a robust inbound marketing strategy, which includes lead nurture criteria (and usually a scoring system), marketers can ensure that only high-quality leads - leads that really cut the mustard - make their way to the sales team, ready for the close.
THE FOUR STAGES OF THE INBOUND MARKETING METHODOLOGY
Not all inbound marketing is content marketing, but all content marketing is inbound marketing.
Working hand in hand, they unite to create real value and real results that can be measured in a transparent, closed-loop fashion.
63% of marketers admit that their biggest challenge in marketing is actually the ability to generate enough traffic and leads (HubSpot).
This is where inbound marketing plays its hand.
Based on real data, it applies tactics which follow a specific and precise structure (below) that comprises four stages - attract, convert, close and delight.
This structure is referred to as the inbound marketing methodology:
By defining these stages we are able to better understand at what stage individuals are in the buyer’s journey and their corresponding needs.
Meaning every action, every message, every piece of content you publish should be laser-focused on bringing value where it’s required.
Understand the methodology and you’ll be able to turn ‘strangers’ (anonymous visitors), into ‘promoters’. Yep, that means advocates cheering and shouting about your brand - what’s not to like about that?
So, let’s turn the lens on each stage and explore what they mean for your marketing...
1. FATAL ATTRACTION
The first step to attracting visitors to your website/blog/social media channels is to produce original, relevant content that’s going to spark their interest in some way.
Creating lots of different pieces of content is all well and good (Content really is King). But it’s the process of aligning this content with your customers wants and needs that will attract traffic and engagement.
The next step is to send this fabulous content out for all the world to see. There are many channels to do this and it really is up to your business which ones you use.
But you need to check this is actually where your audience is!
There’s no point posting some fab content on Twitter, when your audience uses Facebook.
Research, research, research
Where are your customers?
If you already know, great, get posting!
But if you’re not all that certain, it’s time to do some digging…
Having a clear buyer persona will ensure you know exactly where your ideal buyer hangs out online. It’s not as creepy as it sounds, I promise.
2. CONVERT TO THE OTHER SIDE
The anonymous visitor has been attracted to your site. They have read the content and they seem engaged. Woo hoo! Step one complete.
If only it was as simple as it sounds.
The next step is to convert these visitors into leads by obtaining their contact information. The way to get this information is through forms and clear call to actions (CTA) - without these, the visitor won’t have the foggiest idea what you want from them!
People don’t give their contact information as easily as you would hope (*sigh*).
They tend to want something in return. Usually, a remarkable piece of content that grabs their attention and provides them with valuable information and insights.
This is a simple trade-off. Your content needs to stand out, it needs to have clearly defined reasons for existing and it should leave your prospects in a better place.
Otherwise, why would anyone give you their details? You wouldn’t pay for a broken watch.
Contact information is like gold dust to marketers. Without it we have nothing.
Once we have it - the world is our oyster. But that doesn’t mean you can take your foot off the gas...
3. SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR
Closing the deal - the ever important step.
So you enticed a visitor, impressed them with your magical content, gained their trust (and their contact information), but what next?
You don’t want to sell too quickly - they may not be ready for that just yet.
This is where email comes into play…
A series of informative, fun emails which offer quality, relevant content will help to build on the relationship you’ve already struck up with your prospect customers. It will also assist you in nurturing their interest in whatever product and/or service you specialise in.
Marketing automation is the next step up from email marketing. It allows you to automatically set up workflows to send relevant content to people depending on their activity.
If your visitor has downloaded an eBook on a specific topic, for example, you can set up a workflow to send them a series of related emails on this topic.
You can also change the messaging to reflect the platform they have come from and the content they are interested in.
Managing the relationship with your prospect customers offers the sales team key information and allows them to better engage across multiple channels.
It’s important to keep an eye on the information around all of your contacts and companies through a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. This will help to enrich your list of contacts and pull them one step closer to their decision to buy.
4. AFTERNOON ‘DELIGHT’
It’s 6X more expensive to find new customers than it is to manage and retain existing ones.
So why on earth would you forget about the people you just sold too?
Mad right? But some businesses do!
The delight stage is used to remind your customers that you are still here, that you still care and would love to continue business with them, help them optimise their use of the product they’ve paid you for and potentially upsell additional services.
This stage is all about listening.
Listening to what your customers need, what’s changing and what can be improved upon.
Once you have them, it’s oh-so simple to lose them. So keep nurturing that relationship!
Asking for feedback using surveys is a great way to get feedback on how your customers feel and what they want, as is monitoring social conversations surrounding your customers.
Lastly, you want your customers to start shouting about you, screaming at the top of their lungs about how good you are! Free advertising (word of mouth) is always a winner.
This can be done through customer testimonials, reviews, social proof etc.
So there you have it, the four stages of inbound marketing and how to get your business well on the way to selling!