Essentials of an Effective Inbound Strategy
Typically when you start a new job the first day is all about official paperwork and on the job orientation. One of the activities that DIR Incorporated implemented as part of orientation is the Hubspot Inbound Academy.
We are to watch one lesson at a time, stop to discuss it with our in-house team and then blog about it. Well, here I am with Lesson #1: Essentials of an Effective Inbound Strategy
Over the course of the next few weeks. You will see my posts and learn about how DIR Incorporated clients are benefited by the particular lesson I am summarizing. So, let us jump right in.
What is the Inbound Methodology?
Going through this class on inbound marketing strategy, I learned about Inbound Methodology. That is, Attract: Convert: Close: Delight.
Attracting Visitors to Your Words Using Online Content and Social Media
First, we need to attract strangers to our website through online search engines using keywords that every day people would use. This requires understanding the target audience by developing buyer personas. I will cover this in more detail shortly.
Converting Website Visitors into the right program segment
We then need our title and bio to be simple and to the point, but informative and interesting enough to make these strangers want to visit the website. Once the strangers become web visitors we need to inform, educate and play on what they want to know or see. By doing this, we can turn them into leads. A lead is a potential customer and comes in three forms:
- A marketing qualified lead [MQL]: responded to marketing offer and/or content
- A sales qualified lead [SQL]: shows interest in what you offer and meets all requirements of an ideal customer.
- Converted Sales Lead [Customer]: Is ready to buy now, or has already purchased, and can be upgraded at a future time.
Delighting Your Online Audience
While the macro conversion goal is to have customers share their delight of working with you to others a micro conversion goal is that all leads become promoters even if they currently buy from someone else.
Understanding Your Buyer’s Persona Is Critical to Inbound Marketing Success
The inbound marketing strategy class also discussed buyer personas. A buyer personas is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When creating your buyer persona, consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.
For this reason we need to figure out who we want visiting our website, buying our products and promoting us.
Websites, such as P&G, have multiple pages to interest multiple buyer personas. They know their products can and will be used for many different purposes by many different people, and as a result knowing buyer persona is critical to conversion success.
The P&G website also offers information and educational materials from cleaning the kitchen to organizing your home. These informational materials can be downloaded after the visitor enters some personal information helping P&G to better research and understand their visitors and customers. P&G uses this to their advantage to help them adjust their websites accordingly.
Bringing Buyer Personas and Lead Types Together
The final portions of Lesson #1: Essentials of an Effective Inbound Strategy is about the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey starts at “The Zero-Moment of Truth”, which is a phrase coined by Google. It is commonly called …
The Awareness Stage
One morning you wake up, get ready for work and go through your normal morning routine. You get to work and deal with the typical work day, and then seemingly out of nowhere you say to yourself, “I really need a vacation”. That is your Zero-Moment of Truth. (ZMOT). You are aware that you need a break from your routine. You might love your job, but you still need a break to re-charge.
Okay, so here are some things you need consider: where do you want to go and how much do you have budgeted for vacation? You are now a buyer who may not know where you would like to go, but you might have some ideas about the type of environment you would like to vacation in.
Your natural first reaction is not likely to be a phone call to Menno Travel or EZ-Travel pad. Instead, you visit your favorite search engine, most likely Google, Bing, or Yahoo and start putting in keywords such as: ‘warm places to visit’; ‘sunny vacation spots’; ‘best waterpark destinations in the US’ or ‘top beach vacations on a tight budget’ to see what results you get and what options are available.
That instant result from the search engine automatically places you into the “First Moment of Truth”, which is a phrase coined by P&G. It is commonly known as…
The Consideration Stage
Once you have done your initial search you will start to filter through the suggested sites. When the ideal headline on the organic search results pops-up, or the perfect Adwords offer is revealed, on the advertisements surrounding your natural search results you will click on something. What you click on will typically be either a webpage, landing page, or possibly a social media platform. [SIDE NOTE: From a Marketers viewpoint you are now a visitor].
You will continue this process of visiting and considering multiple locations for your next vacation until eventually one of three things happens.
(a) Decide vacation is going to have to wait due to budget restrictions, timing is off due to prior unchangeable commitments, or some other issue.
(b) You make a small move [micro conversion] towards a final decision, by identifying where you want to go. At this point you have probably also identified a few websites that offer solid information about your desired destination, however, if you are wanting more details and specifies you will visit your favorite search engine again and start putting in more targeted keywords such as fun things to do in Nappanee Indiana, lake homes for rent in Edwardsburg Michigan, places to eat while in Hinsdale Illinois or best Folly Beach vacation packages to see what results you get and what options are available.
Again, you begin clicking, yet this time your behavior online is different. You have been avoiding those online forums, messenger chat boxes, and call now for 10% off call to actions, because you be did not want to deal with junk emails and pesky sales calls. However, you just ran into an eBook title “Everything You Need to Know about Hinsdale Illinois” by Chicago Realtors Bill and Mary Wilson. So, you figure “I can always unsubscribe from future marketing messages if FindAHinsdale.com becomes annoying. So, you fill-out the form to get the eBook. [SIDE NOTE: To an inbound marketer you just became an MQL or a Marketing Qualified Lead].
Let us assume the eBook is broken down into three sections.
- Hinsdale for Business, which covers things related to starting a business and/or doing business in the area and features a few links to webpages about the local Chamber of Commerce and local government. Obviously, this information is of no interest to you. So, you skip to the next section.
- Hinsdale for Fun, which covers all the attractions, has an entertainment directory, lists the best hotels, and recommends a few blog post offering a ‘What to Do in Hinsdale Checklist’, and how to prepare for your visit. This section strikes the perfect cord with you, and so you click on the links and continue planning your trip. Or, you might hold off on the clicking and view the next section
- Hinsdale Forever, which covers topics like buying a family home in Hinsdale, what schools are most desirable, or offers reviews on the best 55-Plus living communities. At this point of your “buyer’s journey” the Hinsdale Forever section is not ideal for you either so you go back to the Hinsdale for Fun section or go back to search engines. [SIDE NOTE: If you do click, an inbound marketer will segment you into a campaign related specifically to vacationing in Hinsdale and the surrounding areas. As you click around, you slowly start to draw a path toward what interests you, and the phone might ring.] You might hint in your consideration of visiting Hinsdale our love for suburban life, art and polo, even though you have not spoken to anyone. I your mind you are just doing research.
Now, you go back to reviewing the ‘What to Do in Hinsdale Checklist’ and discover you cannot go next week due to limited availability of your targeted destination, or perhaps the annual special museum exhibit which is now a must see for you was three months ago. [SIDE NOTE: To an inbound marketer you are now an SQL or Sales Qualified Lead].
You continue your research by asking peers on Facebook or Twitter, “Has anyone ever been to Hinsdale on vacation? Should I go?” A few close friends tell you about the incredible polo grounds, so you decide seeing the Oak Brook Polo Grounds trumps the art exhibit and you decide it is time to book a hotel, flight, car or some combination thereof.
Now, you have done your homework and make a decision to go to Hinsdale as soon as possible. Once again you visit the search engine, but now you are using keyword phrases like “Best deals for the Hamptons of Hinsdale”. Or, you might go to a credit card review program site to earn bonus points. Either way, you have now entered the …
The Decision Stage
(c) You are going to pull-out a credit or debit card and make an online purchase, or possibly visit your local travel agency. You make a payment. [Side Note: You would not call yourself a customer, but to a marketer you are a converted sales lead.] To prove this point, when you open your email confirmation you discover it is accompanied by an offer for 50% off the Art Institute’s Fullerton Hall.
Now, think all you have to do is pack and wait for your travel date. However, there is more to do like giving feedback of your experience and of course, if you enjoy Hinsdale there might be the desire to live there someday … see the Hinsdale Forever section of the eBook.
In order to reach buyers your company will need to first go through the Inbound Methodology as stated earlier.
After going through Lesson #1: Essentials of an Effective Inbound Strategy, I now have a better understanding about Inbound Marketing. And, I hope you will too. Simply keep reading our blog posts and the following related resources:
Inbound Marketing Blogs:
Inbound Sales Performance Blogs: