Key Elements of an Inbound Marketing Strategy

01 January, 2015

Inbound marketing can feel quite different at times to those of us more familiar with traditional forms of outreach.

After all, many were taught that the best prospects needed to be repeatedly lobbied, preferably in person, until they’re convinced of the value of whatever product or services we’re selling, or at least worn down until they eventually say yes.

We may be able to persuade them with features, price, or whatever pain point we can offer to solve. They may be impressed by what we have to offer, sometimes they stay loyal due to past positive experiences, or perhaps our sheer persistence helps close the deal.

However, the reason inbound can feel funny sometimes is because the direct pressure is off of your prospects, which means there’s less pressure on you. If executed correctly, you’re able to create an experience with all your digital tools that can get current and future customers so excited about what you can deliver that they easily will convince themselves to buy.

The challenge is creating an organized, straightforward and persuasive process that guides them along, neither too fast or too slow, and educates them about the value of what your product or service and your company offers. Then, when they’re ready, they will buy, especially if you or at least someone from your organization is on-hand and ready to assist.

There is still some value to outbound efforts as part of a universal marketing strategy, but plenty of newer tools and resources are available to streamline the inbound marketing process and make customer conversions even easier.

1. Start by being SMART.

One of the cleverest acronyms refers to creating goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Plenty of Hubspot pages have been created to expand on the value of each of these areas individually, but together they can allow people to create and outline a realistic strategy for real results rather than vaguely positive general thoughts and good wishes. The parameters need to come first to make sure the goals and expectations of everyone involved in this project are aligned. A timeframe is also important to give a clear start and end date.

2. Buyer persona.

Gone are the days when pricy newspaper, TV or radio ads needed to appeal to “everyone” and hope that the right person will notice and respond. Today, customers are more precisely targeted, to the point that it’s a good idea to create a composite of what type of person will be the most interested in what you have to offer. As part of your marketing research, you can discover demographic information such as age and financial range, interests, even certain vocabulary and references that will get them excited enough to buy.

3. Buyer journey.

After clearly defining the ideal buyer or buyers, use the same precision to plan how they will achieve the final point of purchase. This includes different steps to help them learn more, what terms they can be searching for, and any potential obstacles that can distract or discourage them. It helps to have someone in this target audience, such as an employee, volunteer, or research subject, walk through the process. This doesn’t have to be permanent, either. Prepare to adjust as needed based on feedback from satisfied or less satisfied/confused customers.

4. Clear value proposition.

Here’s where you should promise to deliver something better to your specific customers. This shouldn’t be the same as your mission statement or philosophy saying something vague like that ‘we serve customers who are important,’ but state what exactly what you bring the table and how and why your organization can better solve the customer’s problems and needs better/faster/easier than anyone else. This value has to make sense to them as well, and should be delivered later in the process to allow potential customers to learn more about you and your organization. Making these promises when they’re first learning about you may not create the same emotional resonance that it will have after they’ve discovered more about you.

5. Content matters.

After sharing how you’ll meet customer needs, the next step is to provide further information about your organization, your people, or your history. This could be a useful area to share testimonials from satisfied customers, especially those who can describe their process and experiences of working with you and what kind of results they achieved because of it. Content can describe details of your typical project workflow, your cost structure, and answer other questions or fill in other details to provide even more useful value to aid in making their decision to work with you an easy one.

6. Monitor your organization’s Key Performance Indicators.

Even though it’s important to constantly keep an eye on a campaign’s final goal, the best way to get there is if everyone on the team stays focused, has the tools they need and accomplishes smaller goals in order to make the larger goal possible. KPIs can keep track of your human capital related to the goal, including hours worked, any sales progress, any technical needs, comparisons to past similar projects or related business metrics. It can also include in-bound efforts, including your SMART objectives. This information, which could be visible to everyone involved in a project via a dashboard, can provide a snapshot of everyone’s progress, including any kind of milestones reached or approaching deadlines.

Part of the appeal of inbound marketing is that every organization or project can create customized solutions. But the previous process can offer a good guideline

Ranya Barakat

Ranya Barakat

Ranya is an entrepreneur with over a decade experience in pulling up her sleeves and getting S*** done. She is specialized in inbound marketing and inbound sales.

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