Inbound Marketing is the opposite of traditional marketing which is interruptive, usually in the form of cold calling, unsolicited emails, intrusive ads and is marketer-centric. Inbound flips this model on its head.
Inbound marketing is customer-centric, educational and informative, and through the inbound process, nurtures customers through the sales & marketing funnel providing them with the right content at the right time.
The Inbound Methodology has four stages:
- Attract:First, we attract strangers to your site turning them into visitors. Some of the key tools used in this stage are blogs, SEO and social media marketing.
- Convert:Next, we convert some of these visitors into leads. To do this, we need to obtain their contact information. For users to give up their contact details, you’ll need to offer something in return. The offer can be in the form of eBooks, whitepapers or tip-sheets and we use forms, calls-to-action, and landing pages to collect the information.
- Close:Transforming leads into customers is the next stage. The important tools we use here are Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and emails.
- Delight:Finally, happy customers can become promoters of your company. Using surveys, smart content and social monitoring, you can continue to delight your client base. Remember, new customer acquisition is always going to be costlier than retaining an existing, happy buyer.
While the Inbound Marketer is looking at the four stages of the Inbound Methodology, the buyer is looking at it from a different perspective. Nowadays, buyers do tons of research online before making that final purchase decision. The key is to grab that mindshare while that research is taking place. Hence, it’s important to understand the journey a buyer goes through when deciding. This journey has three stages:
- Awareness:The awareness stage is where the buyer is trying to define his/her problem or opportunity. At this point in time, they’re researching with the aim to name and frame their problem. Some examples of useful content for this stage would be analyst reports, research reports, eBooks, editorial content, expert content, whitepapers, educational content etc.
- Consideration:The consideration stage is where the buyer has clearly defined his/her problem or opportunity. Now, they’re researching to understand all the possible solutions to their problem or opportunity. Some examples of useful content for this stage would be expert guides, live interactions, webcasts, podcasts, videos, comparison whitepapers etc.
- Decision:The decision stage is where the buyer has settled on their solution strategy. They’re likely making lists of available vendors and/or products. Some examples of useful content for this stage would be vendor comparisons, product comparisons, case studies, trial downloads, product literature, live demos etc.