Many marketers' priority is to attract more – and better – leads. Even though there's a wealth of resources, tools and processes that can help achieve this goal, qualifying leads and increasing conversion rates is a recurring headache for all kinds of marketing teams.
Enter inbound marketing. This methodology, meant to guide marketing teams towards creating tailored, customer-centric content, can be the key to attracting leads that are genuinely interested in what you have to say – and to buy from you. Read on to learn what inbound marketing is and how to use it to fine-tune your marketing strategy and attract better leads.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is a methodology developed by HubSpot that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. By providing the kind of content that your leads and customers want, you can build genuine consumer interest and loyalty.
This is opposed to outbound marketing, which is the more traditional approach of throwing content at audiences and simply hoping they find it attractive. While you might get lucky with outbound marketing, inbound marketing is a more organic way to boost your leads and conversion rates by providing exactly what your key demographics have been searching for.
The bottom line of inbound marketing is to provide value to your audience. You're educating, informing, and giving them something they want and need, building a customer-centric approach to your marketing strategy. The rationale is simple: when your customers succeed, you succeed.
Attract, engage and delight
The main pillars for the inbound marketing methodology are to attract, engage and delight customers. Each element works in tandem to ensure a strong customer experience across the board, from the lead stage all the way until they become customers and promoters of your brand.
Here's a closer look at each component of the inbound methodology:
Attract: you put out valuable, tailored content to draw in the right leads and customers for your business, establishing you as a trusted advisor with whom they want to engage.
Engage: you present insights and solutions that align with their pain points and goals so they are more likely to buy from you – because it's clear that you can solve their problems and make life easier for them.
Delight: you provide help and support to empower your customers to make the most of your product and be absolutely satisfied with it.
Attracting leads with inbound marketing
Inbound marketing isn't a linear process – it's a flywheel, which means it's a continuous cycle that doesn't end when you convert a lead to customer. By deploying the right strategies, you can add momentum to your wheel to acquire and retain customers, and one of these key strategies is attracting quality leads. Here's how you can make it happen.
Perfect your SEO
When it comes to digital marketing, good SEO is the cornerstone of your ongoing success. And SEO represents a solid opportunity to use inbound marketing to generate additional leads.
SEO is one of the best ways to reach your audience where they are and grow your organic traffic, so you need to approach it with a customer-centric point of view. What are the problems that your key demographic is facing? Where and how are they looking for help to solve their issues?
Once you have this information, you can create an SEO strategy centered around targeting specific keywords related to your products or services, leading your content to organically appear on search engines for people who are looking for this information.
This is the heart of inbound marketing because it represents a unique chance for you to solve consumer problems. By providing free information and resources to improve their lives, you build customer loyalty and generate positive word-of-mouth – and customers who trust you and vouch for your product and expertise are invaluable.
Invest in a watertight content strategy
Because inbound marketing is focused on providing value for your audience in the form of content, investing in content marketing is paramount for this strategy to work.
Generally speaking, value-added content such as blog posts, articles, online courses, ebooks, white papers and webinars are the best way to provide important and helpful information. This means creating well-written, engaging and informative content that reaches your audience where they live. Your SEO strategy and your content strategy need to be closely linked, as SEO is what gives your great content visibility in search engines.
Use social media to your advantage
Social media is great for inbound marketing on several levels. First of all, it creates an online hub where your most loyal fans can gather. And those fans can like, comment on, and share your content, effectively recruiting additional leads all on their own.
It's also one of the best channels for you to keep in touch with your customers directly. Your followers can use social media to provide feedback, ask questions, or share their experience with your products or services. Stay in contact with them, respond to their interactions with your profile, and take this opportunity to help, support and encourage your customers to show that you're listening to them.
In addition, social media is another platform for you to create and promote personalized content. You can tailor unique content to social media that range from polls and infographics to engaging videos. At the same time, you can repurpose content from your website and other platforms to engage your audience.
Develop PPC plays
As we said before, organic SEO is the cornerstone of a successful digital marketing strategy. There's just one problem: it takes a long time for the results to start pouring in.
Even an absolutely amazing organic SEO strategy can take months or even years to pay off. If you have different marketing strategies and initiatives that require quick results, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can help provide the results you need.
There are many ways to deploy PPC to attract leads, including targeted display ads and SEM ads, but you are likely to see the best results if you focus on retargeting ads in order to bring customers back to your site.
These are customers that showed some interest in you before, but were maybe on the fence about your products and services. If you throw the right deal or special offer to these customers, it may be enough to reignite their interest and bring them back to your site.
Remember, PPC should not be a lead generation strategy in and of itself. Instead, it works best when coupled with other content and lead generation strategies – use it to guide customers on their individual buyer's journey, and retargeting customers who need to be guided back to the journey.
Optimize your landing pages
On paper, your landing pages are one of the primary ways that you can generate leads. In practice, many businesses need to work on their landing pages in order to optimize lead generation.
For example, you must first optimize landing pages for SEO – otherwise, potential leads may never find your website to begin with.
You also need to streamline the landing page as much as possible, with engaging visuals, punchy and catchy copy, and actionable CTAs. The trick is to stoke the interest of site visitors and answer their questions without overwhelming them.
One of the most essential requirements of a good landing page is that it is mobile-friendly. Consider using responsive design to make sure your site looks great across all devices.
Finally, you need to make sure the landing page focuses on a primary call to action, such as subscribing to your newsletter, signing up for a demo, downloading content, or starting a free trial. Don't try to do too much at once in one page – keep in mind the optimal conversion path from lead to customer for your business and decide on one CTA.
This is also where some of your tailored content can serve as a powerful incentive for customers. Someone may be hesitant to give you their information, but they are much more likely to do so in exchange for something such as a free ebook or free online course.
Understanding the customer journey
In order to make the most out of your marketing strategy, you must understand your customer journey inside and out.
What your customer journey will look like is probably unique to your company and depends on a number of factors. That's why mapping your customer journey is essential to understanding what makes your customers tick. When you do, you will be able to tailor unique content to customers who are at different stages in their journey – and that's when inbound marketing works at its best. Here's an example of what a typical customer journey might look like:
Acknowledging a need. This is when a customer realizes they have a need that they must solve. This need could be as simple as being hungry or as complex as their growing dissatisfaction with a current provider.
Searching for information. Once a customer identifies what they need, they will research information on how to satisfy that need. This is typically when they start doing online searches, checking out user reviews, and seeking information via social media.
Evaluating options. At this point, a customer has discovered a number of potential solutions to their problem. They aren't yet ready to make a decision, but are learning more about the pros and cons of different potential solutions. At this point, a customer is likely to reach out to companies and get further answers to their questions. If your company can address their concerns in a comprehensive and persuasive way, the customer will feel secure making the purchase.
Deciding to purchase. This is when the customer decides you're the best provider for them and chooses to buy from you – yay! It doesn't end here, though – you need to make sure that your customer receives their product quickly, or provide them with a seamless onboarding experience. When and if they have any questions, you need to be on hand to help them out with whatever they need.
Interacting with your company as a customer. It's also important to gauge their satisfaction with your company throughout the process, especially after they become customers. Happy customers are loyal customers, and loyal customers can become brand advocates – and nothing helps promote your brand more than raving fans.
Content for different stages
All in all, the biggest strength of inbound marketing is in the content you create. But to get the most out of that content, you have to create an effective marketing funnel to target customers at different stages of the buying process with the content they most need at that moment.
For example, content for customers who are still acknowledging a need is primarily informative. It should be designed to help raise customer awareness about problems they may not even know they have.
Customers in the search for information stage, however, will benefit from plenty of information about how your products and services fulfill their needs. Don't be afraid to get really granular: customers in this stage are expecting in-depth information.
What about customers who are evaluating different potential options? You should target these groups with product testimonials, customer reviews, and social proof to help establish the quality of your product in a crowded field of competitors.
For customers who are close to making a purchase, you need to provide transparent information about prices, features, warranty, delivery, onboarding, and so on. Basically, you want content that reassures them and leads to a sale.
Finally, once they become a customer, they need access to content such as videos, infographics, articles about your product, and self-service help docs – as well as easy and continuous access to a capable customer support team. By making sure your strategy covers your entire funnel, you can be sure that you are attracting, engaging and delighting customers every step of the way.
By following these steps, you will have an excellent foundation to implement the inbound methodology. Don’t forget to document your results to keep learning and tracking performance along the way.
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