The sales process hasn’t changed much over the years. There are specific tactics all members of the sales team perform each and every day to get closer to the deal. They interrupt, engage, educate and offer. That’s it in a nutshell of course, but what about online leads? The online sales strategy is called inbound marketing and it unfolds much the same way but with one glaring exception.
Cold calling, direct mail, outdoor and online advertising are no longer working. Organizations cannot interrupt audiences with advertising like they used to. People have far more control over media for that to be effective. Now the consumer comes to you, not the other way around. So how can you get their attention? That’s where inbound marketing comes into play. Keep reading for a super simple introduction to inbound marketing.
Why is inbound marketing so important?
The reason organizations implement inbound marketing is to help them grow. Not only can it help grow their revenue but it can also help extend the reach of their brand. It helps organizations communicate their story more effectively. It gives them a voice online. It is one of the only marketing strategies that operates 24 hours a day and never calls in sick. Think of inbound marketing as a member of the sales team that never sleeps.
- Attract qualified traffic to your website
- Encourage discussion and social sharing
- Available 24/7/365
- Far more affordable than outbound marketing. (i.e., cold calling and direct mail)
“Businesses that blog at least 20x per month generate 5x more internet traffic and 4x more qualified leads.” – Hubspot
The inbound marketing sales team.
The email address is at the top of every inbound marketing sales funnel. Whether you are offering a free whitepaper or encouraging blog subscriptions, the email address is critical to nurturing leads. Here are several ways organizations use remarkable content to earn an email address.
Email newsletters are a must have component of every inbound marketing strategy. Newsletters are the next best thing to a getting a direct quote request from a visitor. It’s a safe way for your audiences to learn more about your organization. Start with an attractive and informative monthly newsletter and you’ll be way ahead of the game.
- Send industry related news
- Deliver your blog content
- Send special offers and promotions
- Encourage social media engagement
Visitors to your site are thirsty for knowledge. Chances are they are in the early phases of the buying process. By offering whitepapers on topics your visitors care about, you give them a chance to further their knowledge. The great thing about whitepapers is that they are often readily available from a manufacturer or trade partner. All you need to do is rebrand it and offer it as a download on your website.
- Offer whitepapers in exchange for an email address
- Automate the follow-up process with an email autoresponder
Similar to Whitepapers, eBooks are a great way to educate your audiences while obtaining leads. eBooks are much more substantial than whitepapers with more than 20 or 30 pages of helpful content. As I mentioned earlier, your visitors are craving information. If you can offer them a comprehensive guide that tells a compelling story, the dividends will be worthwhile. Here’s an example of a fantastic eBook from Freshbooks.
- Ask for an email address before delivering the eBook
- Follow up with a series of automated emails to nurture the relationship
Premium content is just what it sounds like; exclusive content produced for a unique audience. While some organizations offer premium content for a small fee, you could potentially offer it for free. People love to feel special. That’s exactly why brands like American Express, Costco and Mercedes do so well. There is perceived value in being a member of an exclusive club. You could potentially create an exclusive members area on your site where you offer content not found anywhere else such as podcasts or videos.
- Create an exclusive content club for members
- Use videos and podcasts
- Sweeten the membership deal with special offers
Blogs are a powerful business development tool for organizations. Blog posts create a permanent record of authentic thought leadership, opinion and authority. Blogs are also an excellent way to nurture leads by reaching prospects during the early phases of the buying process. Encourage visitors to stick around by listing related content at the bottom of the blog post.
- Use blogs to build authority and gain trust
- Place a call to action at the bottom of every blog post
- Keep them on your site by linking them to related content
Since about 2010 Infographics have been an increasing trend. An infographic is data that has been summarized in a visual manner. It typically involves complex information that has been reinterpreted with graphical elements such as graphs and charts. Perhaps this is best explained using an example. Here’s an infographic about productivity. Infographics can help educate and entertain your audiences with a branded, visual story. The last thing I will say about infographics is that they are incredible shareable. If they are designed well and contains great information, your infographic can easily go viral.
- People are visual learners
- Use infographics to visually convey meaning
- Infographics are easily shared across the web
So now what?
The best part about the leads generated from inbound marketing is that they are already qualified. You’ve gained their trust and they want to know more. Once a fresh lead hits your inbox you need to reply as soon as possible! Use autoresponders to send a daily or weekly drip email to keep the relationship going. Here are a few examples of what you could tie into your autoresponder.
- Thank them for visiting and interacting with your website.
- Let them know how to reach you on social media.
- Send case studies or examples of your work
- Send them a link to your blog
- Share an infographic with them
- Send them a special offer
It’s extremely helpful to have an automated system in place to nurture leads. Once you have an email address you should continue to communicate with them on a regular basis. One word of warning, never, ever send email to someone who has not asked to receive it. You also need to give them a way to opt-out when they want to. Always include an unsubscribe link in your email campaigns.
Schedule a Free Business Marketing Review
Our business marketing review is comprehensive, informative and provides you with actionable advice to improve your marketing mix. Schedule a review today!