Inbound Marketing Methodology – Convert Strangers to Customers to Advocates

How To Convert Strangers  To Customers  To Advocates

In today’s Internet driven world, the only way to consistently convert strangers to paying customers and paying customers to your business advocates, is using Inbound Marketing.

Yet there are a ton of businesses on the web who still persist in using outbound marketing strategies to market their products / services. They are losing both market share and income. Their profit and loss sheet must reflect this.

For Internet driven businesses to survive (and thrive) it’s absolutely necessary to move to Inbound Marketing.

The workflow of Inbound Marketing
Diagram 1 – The workflow of Inbound Marketing.

How To Interpret The Graphic Shown In Diagram 1

Along the top are four specific actions that the Inbound Marketing strategy must fulfil (Attract, Convert, Close, Delight) in order to draw in site visitors, convert them to leads, change the leads into customers, and having delighted the customers with the quality of the product(s) / Service(s) convert the customers to active promoters of the product(s) / service(s).

Along the bottom are the tools and/or techniques that the Inbound Marketing strategy uses to accomplish these actions.

NOTE: The tools and/or techniques are listed under the action where they first come into play. This is not the only place they’re applicable! Several tools, like email, can be essential in several stages of the Digital Marketing methodology.

The old methods of marketing such as buying ads, buying email lists and sending out 1000s of email newsletters, then praying for leads, is really going nowhere fast. The costs of individual conversions using old marketing methods are skyrocketing.

It’s a well planned and executed Inbound Marketing strategy that turns this around.

What An Inbound Marketing Strategy Is All About?

Inbound marketing strategy focuses on creating such high quality content that the content itself pulls people toward the company and its product(s). Any website delivering such high quality, value add, content is where the site visitor naturally wants to be.

By aligning website content published closely with your site visitor’s interests and requirements, you naturally attract inbound traffic. Such traffic can then be converted to paying customers and delighted, turning them into your business advocates over time.

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What Is Inbound?

Content place timeInbound is about creating and sharing, specifically designed, high quality content that appeals to your dream customers. Thus inbound attracts qualified customers to your business and keeps them coming back for more.

By publishing the perfectly structured content, in the right place at the right time, your marketing becomes relevant and helpful to your customers, not interruptive.

Now that’s the type of marketing people can love.

What’s The Best Way Of Doing This?

Content Creation + Distribution

You have to create targeted content that answers prospective customer’s basic questions and needs implicitly. Then share that content across specific social streams, at the places where your target market hangs out, to catch their attention and drive them out of sheer curiosity to your website.

You also need to ensure that you content is perfectly optimized for search engines to benefit from organic (the very best kind of) inbound traffic.

Lifecycle Marketing

Business advocates don’t just materialize out of thin air. They start off as complete strangers, (i.e. site visitors), gradually convert to paying customers. If these customers are delighted with the products they purchase and awesome support services, they willingly and almost unconsciously change into your business advocates.

Personalization

It’s imperative to tailor your site content to the wants and needs of the site visitors viewing it.

As you learn more about your site visitors over time, let’s say by studying the statistics delivered by Google Analytics, improve the personalization of your website’s content to their specific needs.

It will be as though the website content is speaking to each site visitor directly and personally delivering solutions to their pain points in a simple and lucid manner.

This approach is what rapidly moves a site visitor into becoming a paying customer.

Multi-channel

An Inbound marketing strategy is usually delivered using multiple channels. Because the Inbound marketing strategy must deliver valuable content to people where they are, in channels where they want to interact with you.

Inbound Marketing delivers such valuable content using multiple formats, i.e. Copy, Images, Video and Podcasts delivered via appropriate channels.

NOTE: Content creation, its publishing and analytic tools must all work together like a well-oiled machine. This allows you to focus on publishing the right content in the right place at the right time.

The Four Marketing Actions

attractAs business owner you don’t want just any traffic to your site, you want the right traffic (i.e. focused site visitors). Focused site visitors are the people who are most likely to become leads, and, ultimately, happy customers.

So who are focused site visitors (i.e. the ideal customer)?

To identify a focused site visitor you must first document your ideal – buyer persona.

A buyer persona is a holistic description of what your customer is really like, inside and out. Personas encompass the:

  • Goals
  • Challenges
  • Pain points
  • Common objections

To products and services, as well as personal and demographic information shared among all members of that particular customer type.

Your buyer personas aptly and accurately describes the people, around whom your whole business model is built.

A few of the most important tools to attract focused site visitors are:

Web Site Pages

Your website pages are your digital storefront. So put your best face forward!

Optimize the Copy, Images, Videos and Podcasts of your website to appeal to your ideal buyer. Transform your website into a beacon of helpful content. It should entice focused strangers to visit and stay on your website interacting with your web page content for a while.

The longer a focused site visitor stays interacting with your web page content the more likely they will convert to paying customers.

Search Engine Optimization

Your potential customers begin their buying process online, usually by using a search engine to locate something they have questions about.

Hence, you must sure your webpages are appearing prominently within a search engine when your customers are performing a search. To do that, you need to analyse and carefully pick keywords which when used in search engines you want your content to be found. Then you have to optimize your web page copy to naturally include such keywords. It’s also a good thing to build links around the keywords your ideal buyers are searching for.

Blogging

An Inbound Marketing strategy always starts with blogging. A blog is the single best way to attract new visitors to your website. In order to get found by the right prospective customers, you must create content that speaks to them, educates them gently and answers all their questions.

Social Publishing

convertA successful Inbound Marketing strategy always includes remarkable (epic) content.

Publishing such content on various Social Media networks, within groups that already have people that fit your buyer persona, empowers you to engage with your prospects, and put a human face on your brand.

You have to interact with your prospects on various social media streams where they spend their time engage with them, pique their curiosity and draw them to your website.

Once you’ve attracted website visitors, the next step is to convert those visitors into leads by gathering their contact information. The simplest (and easiest) block of contact information to capture is their email address.

Contact information is the most valuable currency there is to the online marketer.

Make an offer to your site visitors they cannot refuse, in exchange for their Name and Email Id. They will them willingly give you such information. Offer great content in the form of eBooks, whitepapers, or tip sheets, whatever information would be interesting and valuable to your customer personas.

Tools Used In Capturing Contact Information

Forms

In order for site visitors to become leads, they will have to fill out a form and submit their Email Id and Name. Create and display this form to site visitors in such a way that it’s most convenient for them to give you their contact information.

Call-To-Action

A Call-To-Action is a button or a link that encourages your site visitors to take action.

For example:

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NOTE: If you do not have an adequately worded Call-To-Action OR your Call-To-Action triggers nothing within your site visitors, you will not be able to capture your site visitors contact information and convert them to leads.

Landing Pages

When a website visitor clicks on a Call-To-Action, they should then be sent to a landing page.

A landing page is where the offer made in the Call-To-Action is fulfilled. It’s where the prospective customer can either submit their contact information so that your sales team can use this information to begin a conversation with them OR not. There are no menu items nor links that can draw a site visitor away from a landing page. The landing page content, Copy, Images, Video and/or Podcast is geared to only one thing, getting the landing page visitor’s contact information.

When website visitors fill out a form on a landing page for the first time, that visitor becomes a lead.

Keep track of the leads captured, (i.e. Name and Email Id) in some sort of centralized marketing database.

Having all such data in one place helps you make sense out of every interaction you’ve had with your prospective customers whether this be it through an Email, landing page, social media interaction, or otherwise. This is the information one must analyze to so as to optimize future interactions with prospective customers to more effectively Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight your site visitors.

Now that you’ve attracted the right visitors and capture the right leads, you need to transform those leads into customers.

Hence the next step is to accomplish this most effectively. Marketing techniques and tools should be used at this stage to make sure you’re moving the right leads at the right times into paying customers.

Closing Techniques / Tools Should Include

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

closeThis is special software, run on a desktop, (Internet run versions are also available) that help you keep very close track of the details associated with contacts, companies, and business deals in your marketing pipeline.

CRM empowers its users to get in touch with the right prospects at the right time easily. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system empowers your sales personnel by making sure they have the right information at their fingertips to engage with prospective customers across every marketing channel.

Closed-loop Reporting

Closing the loop – just means that sales teams report to Marketing about what happened to the leads that they received.

Closed-loop reporting helps Marketing understand:

  • Their best and worst lead sources
  • How sales is dealing with leads given to them

When closed-loop reporting is integrated into your CRM system the combination allows you to analyze just how well your marketing and sales teams are playing together.

Email

What do you do if a visitor clicks on your call-to-action, fills out a landing page, or downloads your whitepaper, but still is not ready to become a paying customer?

You send out a series of emails, filled with focused, useful, relevant content that the site visitor can use to build trust with the prospect, which in turn helps convert them to paying customers.

The Inbound Marketing way is all about providing remarkable content to users, whether they be visitors, leads, or existing customers.

Just because someone is already a paying customer (i.e. written you a check) it does not mean you can forget about them! Companies driven by Inbound Marketing continue to engage with, delight, and (hopefully) upsell their current customer base into turning into advocates of the organizations and products they love.

Tools Used To Delight Customers Include

delightSurveys

The best way to figure out what your site visitors really want is by asking them. Use feedback and surveys to ensure you’re providing your site visitors (i.e. potential paying customers) with exactly what they’re looking for.

Smart – Call-To-Action

These CTAs present different site visitors with offers that change based on the site visitor persona.

Smart Text

This technique helps provide your existing site visitors and existing customers with remarkable content tailored to their interests and challenges. The content helps them achieve their own goals, as well as introduces new products and features that ought to be of interest to them based on their personas.

Social Monitoring

Keeping careful track of conversations that matter on various social streams important to the business. Listening to social stream participants questions, comments, likes, and dislikes. Then reaching out to them with relevant and helpful content.

Inbound Marketing Methodology

Is involved with and closely covers each and every step taken, tool used, and lifecycle stage travelled on the road from stranger (i.e. first time site visitor) to paying customer.

It empowers marketers to attract site visitors, convert them to leads, move these leads to customers, and then delight them into becoming vocal promoters of your products and/or services.

Inbound Marketing methodology acknowledges that inbound marketing doesn’t just happen, as business owner you have to do it.

You do it using tools and applications that help you create and deliver content that will appeal to precisely the right people (your buyer personas) in the right places (channels) at just the right times (i.e. various purchase lifecycle stages).

This is what I’ve gleaned about Inbound Marketing while I’m studying it. Please do share what you’ve learned about Inbound Marketing in the comments section below. I cannot wait to read, learn and hone my Inbound Marketing skills by leveraging what you share. My Blogsite readers will be really grateful as well.

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Ivan Bayross
Digital Marketing Strategist, International Author, Consultant & Business Mentor
I have been an entrepreneur for more than 33 years. Taught at a few MBA schools in Mumbai, India. My subjects are marketing and finance. I believe that both these subjects are supportive of each other, much like a horse and carriage. You can't have one without the other.

Been in digital marketing for around 18 years. I love to teach the subject, plus define, execute, and tweak digital marketing strategies for my own websites and those of my clients. I am technology savvy too as I am armed with an M.Tech from Manchester University, UK. In that sense, you could call me a geek-marketer, as I’m comfortable with both technology and marketing.

I have written and published 70+ books in tech and digital marketing. Many of these are available on Amazon.

I want to move my love for teaching to the web now.
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