Over the last ten years, as the majority of people and companies have begun using the internet as a source of information about products and services—as well as increasingly using the internet to do their actual buying and ordering, inbound marketing has taken over as the marketing method of choice.
In the ‘olden’ days, before the advertising giants were born, inbound marketing was the only form of marketing. Imagine a small town where each merchant established good will and became a part of the social fabric of their communities. Everybody recognized the business owners as experts in their fields. People came to them to get help and advice. There was a friendly exchange and the town’s people became loyal customers who continued to refer their friends and family to the businesses they formed relationships with. This progression is as natural as daily life in a community where people know each other.
These are the fundamentals and strategies of inbound marketing in a nutshell. Inbound marketers are part of the community. They enter the discussion with interesting and engaging ideas, and attract potential customers to themselves by providing knowledge about how to solve pressing problems. The inbound marketer provides value added information and substance that people value without asking directly for anything in return.
- When you go to certain markets and find valuable recipes and information printed on the shopping bags, that is inbound marketing too.
- Some manufacturers gained popularity by publishing and giving away useful prizes or booklets that customers could get with box tops.
- When an American merchant named Aaron Montgomery Ward sent out his first mail order catalog in 1872, he was extending his merchant community throughout the country. That was an early form of inbound marketing. People looked through his fascinating and entertaining book, found what they needed and bought it from the experts.
Phase 1: The Internet-based community:
It’s a very large world out there. Yet internet users find their own small village within it. It is a village without geographic limits. It is bounded by mutual interests. Within internet villages, the inbound marketers appear and engage others, contributing to conversations, providing insights and expertise, and establishing themselves as good community members.
- The first rule of inbound marketing is to be very active. Blog or post at least once a week. Keep your name in the game.
- The second rule is to be patient. It may take months before your inbound marketing makes a noticeable impact on your sales, but it will happen.
The places where people gather are the places where inbound marketers go to meet others and become a part of the community. The coffee shops and meeting halls of the internet are:
- Blogging sites like WordPress and Blogger
- Special interest groups (SIGs) like Association for Computing Machinery (ACM SIGs), or SIGs listed with the American Educational Research Association (AERA).
- Social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, or Pinterest.
- Companies are finding creative ways to make use of photographs to enhance their personas on Instagram and Snapchat.
According to Search Engine Journal founder, Jayson DeMers, 92 percent of business owners indicated that social media is important for their businesses. Businesses are taking budgets away from traditional outbound advertising and adding budget to their participation in social media and other inbound marketing strategies.
Phase 2. Getting Business:
The business part of inbound marketing consists of capturing the interests of the right kind of visitors, then making sure they know how to find you. Once a visitor finds you, you will have a qualified self-generated lead. Then the process begins to resemble a more traditional sales process to convert the visitor into a lead, and the lead into a customer.
- Within the online and offline communities you belong to, provide links to your company.
- Make an effective landing page (this will be the page the links go to).
- Personalize your landing page. Make sure it reflects the conversational tone established in the community and clearly communicates your proposition to the visitor.
- Make sure to include a convenient and clear system for accessing information and placing orders.
The landing page provides the basic functions of a traditional sales professional. Landing pages are designed in the form of a “sales funnel.”
- They consist of information sections. The page will describe the benefits of the product or service as completely and specifically as possible. Interactive queries allow the page to overcome objections.
- As the visitor becomes more committed and becomes a prospect, the queries become trial closings (usually named “calls to action (CTAs)”) that lead the prospect deeper into the sales funnel. Deep in the funnel, the prospect reaches a point of final closing that is linked to an order form.
The header of the landing page has to capture visitors’ interest within seconds of the hit.
- Use large type, high quality graphics, colour and other devices to hold viewers’ attention.
- A CTA could be a button to add a product to a shopping cart, a link for more information, or an email address entry field to sign up for your newsletter…
- The CTAs should ask the prospect to do something concrete. They can ask for an email address which can be added to the company mailing list. They can ask for a narrowing down of specific product interests.
- The CTA should always lead the prospect deeper into the sales funnel.
- The landing page should also contain “trust elements” such as customer reviews or testimonials, privacy policies, business certifications or awards.
- Often, pictures and brief biographies of the principle staff help to build confidence, especially in B2B situations.
- The order page is at the bottom of the sales funnel. It should be a clear and simple payment process. Some prospects leave the page without paying if the order page looks questionable or is very complex to use.
- Landing pages should be designed for mobile devices as well as PCs. Many internet users make use of mobile devices exclusively.
Phase 3. Testing and Merchandising:
Landing pages should monitor themselves by collecting the data responses to the various CTAs along the sales funnel. There are several metrics that can be drawn from the way visitors interact with a landing page that can help evaluate the page’s effectiveness and guide improvements.
- Bounce rate: How many visitors leave the page immediately after finding it? If the bounce rate is high, the front end of the landing page can be reshaped.
- Unique visitors: The number of individuals visiting the site is a simple metric of the effectiveness of the inbound marketing campaign itself.
- Conversion rate: The ratio of completed sales/unique visitors is a measure of the effectiveness of the sales funnel in the landing page.
- Time on page: If a lot of people are spending a long time on the page, it may mean they are very interested, or it may mean that they have trouble understanding the message. People who have to scroll around the page a lot are less likely to pass through the sales funnel and convert to sales.
- Lead generation effectiveness: How many visitors move far enough down the sales funnel that they have converted into leads? The ratio of leads/visitors is a measure of the overall effectiveness of the page. Once visitors qualify as a lead, they can be re-contacted to complete their further conversion into customers.
McAllister Marketing is a full-service marketing company in Victoria, BC, specializing in branding, inbound marketing, advertising, graphic design, and online marketing. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your business create its own inbound marketing strategy today.