Inbound is a fundamental shift in the way you do business and is a philosophy based on helping people. The Inbound approach to doing business is more human and customer-centred. In today's world, buyers have all the power. There's been a massive shift in the relationship between businesses and buyers. Now, a buyer has more information about your product, industry, and competition. Inbound is a better way to market, a better way to sell, and a better way to help your customers. If your customers can grow then your business will too. Growth is the result of a well-executed Inbound strategy. So, instead of interruption-based messaging where businesses had all the control, Inbound is about EMPOWERING your buyers. You need to align with the way buyers think, research, and purchase. It's about being helpful and being a business that's helpful during each experience they have with you and your business. Rise to the challenge to meet consumers where they are.
To practice inbound, you need to be Inbound. Being an Inbound business means building relationships and having conversations with (not at) your audiences by giving them value. Being a part of that conversation means sharing helpful, relevant content and at the right time. It's about drawing people in -- that's why it's called Inbound, after all. If you want to get value out of prospects and customers, you need to give them an experience that they value. This includes good marketing, sales, and customer experience.
You've probably come across some of your favourite brands actively practising Inbound. It's that problem-solving blog post that shows on your Facebook feed. It's the product review that you found after doing a quick search on Google. The sales representative that you worked with you to help solve your problem at the appropriate time. Or that question you had about your subscription that got easily answered by a customer service representative on the company's website. These are experiences that felt personalized. Experiences that felt relevant. Experiences that felt helpful. Inbound is a philosophy that if you fully embrace it, will transform your business. If you haven't already caught on, there are some common themes when it comes to Inbound.
The core tenants of inbound are about being more human, helpful, and holistic in how you market, how you sell to people, and how you help your customers be more successful. It's about being as helpful as you can be as you're trying to take a prospect and turn them into a customer and how you are trying to help your customers see more value from your product or service.
The Inbound Marketing term was created by Brian Halligan, the CEO and co-founder of HubSpot. Experiences and content that are beneficial and personalized for consumers are created in the Inbound Marketing method to lure them.
Think about the last big purchase you made, you probably had a problem or need, did a little bit of research to figure out how you could fix it and then made the purchase from there. This is a classic example of Inbound Marketing. Personalized content and experiences that match the distinct needs and purchase journey of new consumers are created strategically in the Inbound Marketing method to learn them in.
Unlike Outbound Marketing, Inbound Marketing does not interrupt prospective customers with unwanted content. Instead, it tries to come up with solutions to problems they already have by forming connections. Instead of pursuing prospects aggressively through assertive tactics, Inbound strategies focus on being found organically.
Inbound Marketing is a non-invasive form of marketing that's based on providing the right content, at the right time. It aims to attract users to your website using content that moves them along the buyer journey. Instead of going to the users we let the users find us. Inbound Marketing is an all-inclusive term that actually encompasses many different marketing tactics, including, Content Marketing, SEO, Marketing Automation and more.
(1) APPROACH: Inbound Marketing creating personalized content for prospective consumers who are already searching for answers, looking up your competitors, reading about your industry, and trying to make a purchase decision are the key focus. But, on the other hand, using traditional marketing methods, like TV ads, print ads, cold calls, e-mail lists, ads on billboards, sponsorships for tradeshow booths, etc., to reach prospective consumers.
(2) FOCUS: Inbound Marketing focus is to let potential consumers organically find your brand or business. Aligning content to consumers needs. Creating content that reflects stages and scenarios of purchase processes. On the other hand, Outbound is all about to aggressively make marketing messages reach potential consumers. And to broadcast marketing messages.
(3) GOAL: Goal in Inbound Marketing is to make consumer is come to you instead of you reaching out to them so you can turn them, close deals And satisfy them in the future. On the Outbound angle, getting leads and responses to encourage potential customers to use your product or service.
(4) TYPE OF MEDIA: In Inbound, there are 2:
(a) First is OWNED MEDIA, media whose publication decisions your business controls. Example, blogs, social media profiles, websites, YouTube channels, and landing pages.
(b) The other speciality of Inbound Marketing is EARNED MEDIA, hard work leads to coverage on such media platforms. Lesser control over coverage. Offline examples are magazines, newspapers. Online examples are news sites (due to digital PR), social media mentions, and hashtags related to campaigns, reviews, and forum discussions.
On the other hand Outbound is all about PAID MEDIA. It mostly consists of Paid Media. Example, paid e-mails, display advertisements and PPC, social media advertisements, or paid promotion on social media (like Facebook, Twitter etc.).
(1) ATTRACT: In the Attract stage, we use interesting or relevant content to attract users to our website. This content can take many different forms, including, blog, articles, social media, videos and more. The most important thing is that, the content builds trust within the user for our brand. This content is how we turn a stranger into a regular website visitor.
(2) CONVERT: We then move to the Convert stage, which is where we use more content to help the user solve the problem, while also allowing us to get a little bit more information about the user. Often this content has to be downloaded using a form which is what turns a visitor into a lead.
(3) CLOSE: In the Closed stage, we use lead nurturing, lead scoring, marketing automation and relevant content to help the user make a purchase and move them along the buyer journey. This is when we turn a lead into a customer.
(4) DELIGHT: Inbound Marketing doesn't end with the sale. We want to make sure that we're constantly delighting the customer, which is the final stage of Inbound Marketing. In this stage, we'll continue to use Inbound techniques to help foster royalty. Remember, it's much easier to keep a customer than to earn a new one.
(1) CONTENT: This is huge in stage one and stage two. Content is how you attract users to your website and also how you convince them to give you their information because Content is so important. Two huge factors within Inbound Marketing are actually Content Marketing and SEO. We want to constantly be creating new, relevant and engaging content that is optimised for SEO, so that users can actually find your Content on the search engines. Some example of Content that can attract users are, blog posts, YouTube videos and social media posts. Content like e-books, webinars, checklists and white papers are great for converting users into leads.
(2) CTAs, FORMS, AND, LANDING PAGES: Speaking of converting, how exactly do you get that information to turn these users into leads. This is where CTAs, Forms and Landing Pages come in.
CTAs or Call-to-actions are small pieces of text, images or buttons that you can include into your Content that encourages users to take a specific action, such as downloading an e-book or signing up for a webinar. When users click on these buttons, they then get taken into a Landing Page. A Landing Page is where you host information about a piece of Content and where your Form exists. Users can learn more information about the content you're offering and when they decide to get it they have to fill out a Form. It's important to properly optimize your Landing Pages, so that users who arrive on the page actually fill out the Form. The Form is what allows you to get more information about your lead. Typically a form will ask questions to the lead, like, what's their name, job position, company and any information that will be relevant to your sales team.
(3) MARKETING AUTOMATION: Marketing Automation is what helps your lead make the final step into closing the sale in Inbound Marketing. You can use Marketing Automation to set up lead nurturing, e-mails sales, workflows and lead scoring.
(1) CREATING STANDARD TRAFFIC BY TARGETING APPROPRIATE CUSTOMERS AT THE RIGHT PLACES: Your Digital marketing goals can be met if your Inbound Marketing strategies focus on targeting appropriate prospects in the correct places. This is in comparison to focusing on consumers who most likely will not use your product or service.
(2) BUILDING TRUST: Inbound Marketing focuses on providing potential customers with information that they may not even know they need in an appealing and innovative way. It does not market unwanted content aggressively.
(3) PREVENT OVER-RELIANCE ON A SINGLE CHANNEL: Your dependency on a single channel and the associated risk reduces if a person standard traffic from various sources. Other sources include social media referrals, organic search, referral through discussions on the websites, etc.
(1) OPTIMISE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: Tesla tries to provide its consumers with the finest of customer experiences, and that acts as its best selling point. Unlike others, there are no retail dealerships of Tesla, due to which the tedious negotiations can be avoided. Their website gives consumers every bit of information needed. The price mentioned is non-negotiable. Customer only have to configure their car online, place in order and schedule it pickup. This saves a lot of time and energy and optimises the customer experience.
(2) DESIGN A POWERFUL REFFERAL PROGRAM: Reference from family members or friends is more reliable for customers than any advertisement of brand promotion. Tesla know that the most successful form of marketing is word-of-mouth. Hence, Tesla has encouraged its users from the beginning to share their experiences. They have a very powerful referral program.
(3) USE THE SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE OF YOUR CEO: It is common knowledge that the CEO, Elon Musk's daring and charming presence online, is majorly responsible for Tesla motors' success. Generally, CEOs hesitate to participate in social media platforms. But, in the case of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk's social media presence impacted the company success more than its marketing efforts. He has more than 49 million followers, and using the term 'Influencer' to describe him is an understatement.
(4) TRANSPARENCY AND HONESTY: Tesla has always been honest about the issues. Example, Tesla's manufacturing issues leading to delayed deliveries of the pre-order Tesla model 3 what a disappointment to its customers. They started wondering why their model 3S were at assembly plants even after the delivery dates. Elon Musk personally replied to tweets that were posted towards the company, updating them about the situation.
In the past creating content for Inbound Marketing used to be based solely around Keywords. But, if you're looking to bring in more traffic into your website and increase conversions, creating content for Keywords won't be enough.
When users make a search in Google, they're not searching with Keywords. They're just trying to solve problems or questions that they have. Likewise Google wants to answer those problems and those questions. So, how do you make sure that your page is the page that Google shows to answer those questions using the Topic Cluster Model.
The Topic Cluster Model invented by HubSpot, is a method for organizing main topic content and subtopic content. By organizing your website in this way you make it easier for users to navigate through your website, while also making it easier for Google to index your website.
(1) PILLAR PAGES: A Pillar Page is a single piece of long form content that gives a broad yet complete explanation of a certain topic. Pillar Pages are based off a single comprehensive topic that can break off into many different subtopics. In SEO terms, think about a Pillar Page as a short tail Keyword. The topic you write about in your Pillar Pages should be a topic that you're trying to rank for in search engines. This is very important because this will tell the search engines what your website is all about. Your Pillar Page topic should be related to the products or services that you offer.
HOW TO CHOOSE A PILLAR PAGE?
In order to create your own Pillar Page, think about a topic that you can write about generally that you have products or services for and something that users would be interested in. Then with that try to link it to a Keyword that you can rank for on search engines.
WHAT IS THE LENGTH OF A PILLAR PAGE?
Once you have your Keyword in mind, it's then time to start writing the Content. Typically your Pillar Page Content will be much longer than your normal content on your website. While there's no magic number that you should be shooting for while writing your Pillar Page. Your main goal should be to aim to thoroughly explain the topic so that any user reading that page will be able to fully understand the topic once they're done.
While you're writing, don't think about your Content as a collection of Keywords, instead just focus on answering the user's questions and writing about topics that you want to be ranked for.
(2) TOPIC CLUSTER: A Topic Cluster is a more detailed specific content piece that supports your main broad topic or Pillar Page. Dev topic content should be big enough that it can be its own blog post or video yet be able to also fall into a bigger theme that includes your pillar page and other supporting topic cluster content.
For example, if we were to make a Pillar Page about Content Marketing. An example of a Topic Cluster could be Social Media Content Marketing or Video Marketing. These are both subtopics of Content Marketing, but they're too specific to explain in depth and a Pillar Page about Content Marketing.
Another example would be a Pillar Page about Inbound Marketing and then Topic Cluster Content about buyer personas or lead nurturing. You can have hundreds, even thousands of pages that support your Pillar Page Content. They typically take the form of a blog post or a video. Just like Pillar Pages, each cluster will be surrounded by a Keyword, but the most important thing is that you fully answer the user's question who's reading the content and that you provide value.
(3) HYPERLINK: The Hyperlinks are the things that connect your Pillar Page to your subtopic content. Your subtopic content should always include a link back to your Pillar Page. This way users can more easily navigate through your website and more importantly search engines can crawl and index your website. Along with always including a link back to your Pillar Page, you can also choose to include links to other relevant Topic Cluster Content.
So, how does using the Topic Cluster Model help bring in more traffic into your website, because it helps Google understand the intent of your website. While Google's Algorithm is a little bit of a mystery, we do know that in the past google used to rank Content using Keywords. But, those days are over. Google has now gotten much better at understanding what users are looking for when they make a search and in turn they have also gotten much better at assessing whether or not a web page will be able to answer that search. This is why Inbound Marketers need to create content based off of needs and not just Keywords. By doing this, you're better matching the user's need and thus playing by Google's game.
The Conversion Funnel is a graphic representation of the buyer journey or the process that the user follows in all the phases of Inbound Marketing. We call it a funnel, because in each stage your audience will get smaller and smaller but they will also be more qualified.
(1) THE TOFU STAGE OR THE TOP OF THE FUNNEL: where there are thousands of users. This stage corresponds to users who begin to have a need but do not yet know how to solve it. They're starting to do some initial research. In the TOFU stage we want to offer generic content that attracts users and answers their questions. This can be e-books, videos with information about a keyword or a specific sector or some kind of survey or white paper that we have already developed. At this stage we want to pay attention to the first interaction. For some users, the best channels are organic positioning and for others they may be social media videos or posts that you've made. The best way to reach out to these users is by understanding your buyer personas and knowing how your audience likes to receive their content.
(2) THE MOFU STAGE OR THE MIDDLE OF THE FUNNEL: where we have a few hundred users. When users reache the MOFU stage or the middle of the funnel, they are now interested in a product that are getting closer to the purchasing process. This is the moment they are going to investigate, which means we need to prepare content that is relevant for the phase of the buyer journey. For example, we can create case studies, product demonstrations or comparisons. It could also be a good idea to create Q&A that you can share with users. In this stage, it's important that the first interaction initiates a final conversion. As a diffusion tool, we can use social media, keywords that have to do with the purchase or product conversion, e-mail marketing to our database or even retargeting actions in which we impact users who have already shown interest in the product.
(3) THE BOFU STAGE OR THE BOTTOM OF THE FUNNEL: this is the part where the final conversion is made, where we have dozens of users. This stage is the end of the conversion funnel. It is the moment of truth, the time where we try to convert a user into a customer and bring them to make their first transaction. In this stage, we can give them some final support, whether it's a call with your sales department, a sales visit or even offering a free trial or discount. They already have all the necessary information to make a decision. So, now we are positioning ourselves as a reference or as a company that is going to provide them with the most value. The goal at the BOFU stage is to encourage that final conversion.
The Conversion Funnel has been used for many years in marketing, especially in Inbound Marketing, but, HubSpot has introduced a new concept the 'Flywheel'. In the Flywheel, instead of following a traditional conversion process, we put the customer in the center of the process and create a momentum for the conversion strategy by focusing on attracting, engaging and delighting customers.
Before practising inbound, it's important to understand the fundamentals of Inbound success. Consumers don't want to be sold to, they want to be educated, and Inbound tactics can deliver the kind of information your prospects and customers need to help them make smart, well-informed decisions and, ultimately, help them grow. To do Inbound, you need to be Inbound. Here are 4 fundamentals to having an Inbound business:
(1) YOUR COMPANY CULTURE: A strong company culture is less about the perks and rewards. A culture of a company is the environment that defines and informs how employees act on behalf of customers and how the company hires, retains, and grows its people. Executives need a better understanding of the day-to-day challenges employees to face, and employees need to communicate more clearly the roadblocks in the way of success. Without clear communication and alignment, a company will struggle to build strong and lasting relationships with its customers. At its core, Inbound is all about being human. Inbound has huge applications for how you should find, grow, recruit, and retain your team. Your recruiting and growth process, both the candidate and the employee experience, need to be inherently human and that means being inherently Inbound.
Company culture is really about defining what makes your company and your organization tick. So it's about your mission, it's about your values, and it's about the decisions that people make when no one else is watching. In far too many companies, human resources are honestly, a compliance tool. So when you're running your business day-to-day, really think about designing not just a great customer experience but also a great employee experience. So the way I think about making our employee experience Inbound is what do we know about you as a person? What do we know about you as a human? What do you care about? What drives you? What motivates you? And when you start designing people's experience as employees around those details, all of a sudden you have an Inbound experience that's significantly more remarkable and you have happier and more productive people who work on your team.
Your culture is part of the product that you offer and the service and promises you to make to your customers. It's not something that you can set and then forget about. Inbound is about being human and that means having empathy and being adaptable. So rather than thinking about your employee experience as something you can afford to wait and innovate on, think about it as fundamental to your promise, to your customers, and your business, and to your growth strategy.
(2) YOUR COMPANY BUYER PERSONAS: Another fundamental piece of an Inbound business is the understanding and development of your company's buyer personas. Since Inbound is customer-centric, you need to know who you're trying to reach and who you're trying to serve. You don't want just any traffic to your site, you want the right traffic. You want to engage with the right prospects and customers because those are the ones that will not only stick around but also be evangelists for your brand. You want the people who are most likely to become leads, and, ultimately, happy customers.
Who are the "right" people? The right people are your ideal customers, what we call your buyer personas. It's vital that your sales, marketing, customer service teams, really your whole organization, should have a shared vision of your ideal customer. You may have already given this some thought. Maybe you have a list of common attributes that you know your ideal customer has. If you have that, you've developed an ideal customer profile. An ideal customer profile is a great starting point for your persona development, but it isn't a persona. Ideal customer profiles identify a category of people, and within that category, there are usually subcategories. And that's where buyer personas come in.
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of an ideal customer, based on real data and some educated speculation about demographics, behaviours, motivations, and goals. Personas are created through research, analysis, and taking a close look at who's already buying from you. They can help you get into the mindset of your potential buyers and create the right content. When you create the right content, you'll effectively attract your ideal visitors, convert them into leads, and close them into customers. They're the glue that holds every aspect of inbound (marketing, sales, and customer service) together.
The persona story is something that your entire organization can align behind. It's something that new hires can review, so they know who they are trying to market, sell, or service. It's a way that you can make sure you're solving for the customer and having the customer voice in mind. If you know your customer (and potential customers) well, you can make sure that they're always represented in everything that
When it comes to creating a great inbound strategy, it's not enough to know just who you're trying to reach, you also have to know what purchase experience they're looking for. That's how you're going to align everyone at your business around the customer. Make the customer your number one focus and priority.
(3) YOUR BUYER'S JOURNEY: Every interaction your persona has with your organization should be tailored to where they are in the buyer's journey. The buyer's journey is the active research process someone goes through leading up to a purchase. Knowing your buyer's journey for your persona will be key to creating the best content possible. Instead of talking, moving someone through the funnel, the buyer's journey is tailored to your buyer and the stages.
3 stages portray the experience your potential customers go through. You've gone through the buyer's journey before. Everyone goes through it when looking to make a purchase. It's the path you take when you have a problem to solve then do your research on potential solutions and make your purchasing decision. If you're making a larger purchase for your business it will be a different buyer's journey than if you were buying a commodity.
(a) THE AWARENESS STAGE: The awareness stage is when your prospect is experiencing and expressing symptoms of a problem or opportunity. They're doing education research to more clearly understand, frame, and give a name to their problem. This is not the point that a prospect is now aware of your business. They're now aware of their problem. Maybe they're ready to fire their existing process or know that their existing process just isn't working yet. Your buyer persona should describe the stage as "I AM A BUYER AWARE THAT I HAVE A PROBLEM". Fill these in as if you were your buyer persona to better understand your buyer at this stage. I need to improve _________ I need to prevent _________ I need to start _________ I need to stop _________ I need to optimize _________ I need to solve _________ I need to learn more about _________. The terms that you start to insert are the phrases or keywords that your buyer persona would use to describe the awareness stage.
(b) THE CONSIDERATION STAGE: During the consideration stage, buyers have clearly defined the goal or challenge, they've given a name to it, and they've committed to addressing it. They evaluate the different approaches or methods available to solve their challenge or capitalize on their opportunity. This isn't the point that they're considering your business. They're considering the different solutions they have to solve their problem. For the consideration stage, your buyer would say "I AM A BUYER CONSIDERING HOW TO SOLVE MY PROBLEM" Fill these as if you were your buyer persona. What tools are available for _______? What are __________ industry solutions? What are my ________________ options? What _____________ options are there for _______________ ? You'll start to notice that the terms used here are solution keywords. You aren't inserting your company name here, but you might be inserting terms that you'd use to describe the solutions that you provide.
(c) THE DECISION STAGE: Finally, in the decision stage, buyers have already decided on a solution strategy. They might create a list of specific offerings in their selected category and decide on the one that best meets their needs, or they might go with the solution they find first. To get in the mind-set of your buyer persona at this stage you can use the following: If they say "I AM A BUYER DECIDING ON A SPECIFIC PRODUCT & VENDOR" OR "I AM A BUYER TRYING TO MAKE A DECISION BETWEEN PRODUCTS & VENDORS" How would you fill these as if you were your buyer persona? I need prices for ___________ I need _________ product specifics. I need proof that _________ works. I need evidence that __________ I need assurance that ____________ Prospects, website visitors, or leads might interact with you for the first time in any of the different buyer's journey stages, but you need to be prepared for every stage.
THE BUYER'S JOURNEY:
• For marketing, use it to create content at every stage.
• For sales, better understand how to sell and guide prospects.
• For services, develop a customer's journey.
(4) YOUR INBOUND TOOL STACK: Once you understand your buyer personas and their buying journey, it's time to use tools and tactics to do inbound. Your inbound tool stack should consist of different tools that you can align with your entire organization. It's not just customer service that will be using e-mail. And it's not just helpful to sales to have a CRM. And it's not just marketing that needs reporting and data. The foundation that you'll need is a CRM. Remember, a CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.
CRM's a confusing word. A lot of people think it's software for salespeople, but it's Customer Relationship Management. It's a platform that you use to manage the entire customer journey, and that entire customer loop from marketing into sales, into service, from happy customers into prospects. How do you get that self-reinforcing loop cranking in your business? It's hard to do that if you've got one system for selling and one system for marketing and one system for service that don't talk to each other, that doesn't give contest.
What makes a CRM so powerful is because it's a contacts database. A contacts database is central to every piece of your Inbound business. You'll use it to keep track of all the different people who have a relationship with your business, to personalize every interaction you have with them, and to attract more contacts like them. Your contacts truly are the heart of every piece of your marketing, sales, and services strategy. Contacts are not just names and email addresses inside of a database, but individuals with who you're creating relationships. A constant reminder of why Inbound is and always be customer-centric. A contact is anybody your company markets, sells, partners engage with or employ. When involving both marketing, sales, and services in your contacts strategy and having them use the contacts database, you're creating alignment and consistency with all parts of your Inbound strategy that your contacts are interacting with.
You'll also want to use different types of tools that best support the Inbound methodology. Tools that will help you attract, convert, close, and delight. But if buying behaviours continuously evolve, so will the tactics and tools that you'll use to reach them.
The companies that really do well today are the ones that leverage data to create a gorgeous end-to-end experience for that customer from marketing, when they find you, through to sales, when they become a customer, through to service, and then back to marketing.
Consumers' buying behaviors are going to continue to change and evolve. Your Inbound tactics and tools will also change and evolve, but the Inbound philosophy will still remain true. It's a philosophy about pulling people in by being helpful. By actually caring about what the problems are of your potential buyers and how you can help solve them. That's why Inbound should extend to every aspect of your business.
Inbound is really about a more empathetic human approach to business, whether it's marketing, or sales, or customer service. So, the idea is to put yourself in the customer's shoes, and to say "How would I want to be marketed to? How would I want to be sold to? How would I want to get service from a company?" So, marketing sales and service have all been changing, and are continuing to change. And they're all changing in similar ways, but at different rates.
So, marketing is changing earlier and faster than we saw over the last 10 years. So, a change in marketing, essentially was as people, we got tools that allowed us to block out marketing messages, to block out Outbound. And so, as a result of those tools, we didn't have to get inundated with marketing messages anymore. For sales, we got access to information. So, no longer did we have to rely on a sales rep to tell us things about pricing, or customer reviews. We could just find that information on the internet. So, that's the kind of fundamental shift that started to happen.
In the world of customer service, what's changed is now we have choices. So, back 10, 20 years ago, you could only choose between three providers. And so you had to deal with whatever service they gave you. And now, customers have a choice. So, that's radically changing how we approach customer service.
You want to treat people that are having any type of experience they're having with your business as a human, not just a number. Every individual is unique and they want to be treated that way. And having all of your vectors aligned around an Inbound approach provides holistic experience for anyone that interacts with your business no matter where they are in their buying journey. It's time for you to support your prospect's buying process. It's time for you to join in and empower buyers and customers to make the right decisions for themselves.