Now that the pandemic has grounded your sales team, your website is your best hope. Here’s how Inbound Marketing can help.
This is the Great Lockdown. About 3 billion people around the world are restricted to their homes as of this writing. The economic loss is immeasurable. But life goes on and businesses need to re-open. It’s not going to be business as usual.
Until the coronavirus goes away, we have to adapt to keep safe. Welcome to the new normal where we will have to maintain safe distances in our social and professional interactions. This includes your sales team not being able to do any legwork. Sales teams won’t be able to rely on trade events, roadshows, or fieldwork to get contacts and leads. The new normal will mean companies need to leverage their websites more than ever. How do you do that when your ‘contact us’ form hasn’t seen a mouse in months?
And this is why we will talk about Inbound Marketing. If you want your business to bounce back after the Great Lockdown is lifted, do give Inbound Marketing a serious thought.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is a philosophy. Inbound attracts the right customers by offering helpful content at a time when they need it. It is content that help solves people’s problem. It’s idea that it’s not enough to just attract people to your website; you have to continue to help, support, and empower them well after they become a customer.
Inbound marketing is also a strategy. It uses different channels and types of content to attract prospects and customers to your website. Then engaging them in a personal way so that they can decide on the right solution to their problem. There are four stages:
- Attract visitors to your website
- Convert visitors into leads
- Nurture leads into customers
- Delight customers so that they become promoters
To be able to do Inbound Marketing, we marketers need to change how we do marketing. Why? Because the old way of marketing is becoming less effective by the day. We need to stop plastering ads on anything and everything that has a blank space. We, marketers, try every effort to interrupt what our target customer is doing by getting in their faces. When they try to read newspapers, when they watch their favorite TV shows, when they go to their social media pages, we follow them around with ads.
This interruptive marketing is getting more costly and the returns are getting fewer and fewer. Ad platforms like Google and Facebook are only too happy to oblige.
Here are a few common problems we hear from clients that Inbound Marketing can help solve:
- “How do we get found online?”
- “How do we attract website visitors?”
- “How do we generate leads?”
- “Nobody is using ‘contact us’?”
- “How do we nurture leads into customers?
- “How do we maximize the life-time value of a customer?”
- “How to show ROI to prove our marketing efforts are working?”
Is any of these sound like you? While we will discuss the above problems in detail in another post, we want to share with you how to get started in Inbound Marketing. At DBrew, we didn’t become an Inbound Marketing agency overnight. It’s a process that continues up to this day. Our road to transformation, while a never-ending process of improvement, featured some turning points that prevented us from losing our way. We want to share these with you and hopefully, make your journey to Inbound Marketing more enjoyable.
First, create your buyer persona.
According to HubSpot, of which DBrew is an agency partner, “A buyer persona 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(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.”
We cannot overemphasize how nailing down your buyer personas will focus your Inbound Marketing. A well-defined buyer persona will influence your messages, contents, SEO, lead generation, lead scoring, inbound sales – the whole marketing-to-sales loop.
Here are some practical methods for gathering the information you need to develop personas:
- Review your contacts list to uncover trends like how they find and consume your content.
- Create forms on your website that capture important persona information like asking about company size on your forms.
- Talk to your sales team about the leads they’re interacting with such as behavior, goals, titles, etc.
- Interview customers and prospects.
A word of caution. Identifying and sticking to your buyer persona has the very real possibility of shrinking your market size. That’s okay. Catering to everyone means a lot of bad fit clients that end up badly for both the agency and the client. You want to solve specific problems of specific companies. Companies where your buyer personas are employed.
We used to market ourselves as an all-in-one, one-stop-shop digital marketing agency just like our competitors. There was no differentiation. There was a lot of bad fit client for us. We and our competitors battled each other offering the lowest cost for the most services. And with an upstart digital agency under every rock, we fought over an ever-shrinking pie.
We decided if our market was going to shrink, it was going to be under our terms. We stuck with our buyer personas. A lot of burden and stress was lifted soon after. Because we stopped chasing after every request-for-pitch, we found time to do proposals that mattered to us. Our accounts team no longer has to work their tail off for clients who pay below profit margins. We are getting more retainer accounts rather than project clients which made business planning more realistic.
You need to target small to win big. You won’t be able to solve everyone’s problems but you can solve someone’s problems. Conversely, people don’t buy because you can do everything. They buy because you can solve their specific problem.
Second, publish helpful content.
Enough talking about yourself. Start talking about people’s problems and how to solve them. Since you have your buyer personas nailed down, you know which problems to solve. When people are starting to become aware of their problem, they go to the Internet to research, understand, and find possible solutions. Your website is your best bet to meet them. Content is king has never been truer. Google algorithm is looking for content that is relevant, useful, and helpful.
Go back to your buyer personas. What are their pain points? You can help them at the moment of their need by creating content that solves their problems. This is why Inbound is helpful marketing. You talk about your customers’ problems and how to solve them is front and center of your content strategy.
Think about giving value to your visitor. Don’t try to sell anything to them. When you are being helpful, you are giving free information in return for your visitors’ trust. Trying to sell to them at this point will disrupt that and will drive them away.
We highly recommend that you use cluster topics as a strategy to create and organize helpful content. Go back to your buyer personas and:
- Map out five to ten core problems that your buyer persona has.
- Group each of the problems into broad topic areas.
- These broad topics will be your pillar pages.
- For each pillar page, cluster around eight or more subtopics.
- Link back each subtopic to the pillar page.
- Validate each idea with industry and competitive research.
- Create content, measure the impact, and refine.
Above is how your content structure should look like using pillar pages.
Topic clusters have clear benefits. They provide a clean and organized way to present your content. It invites bookmarking and longer browse time. Topic clusters rearrange the architecture so that clusters of content that cover a topic area link to a central pillar page. Search engines like Google can easily scan all the content and understand that there is a semantic relationship between the pages’ content. The cluster setup also signals to search engines that there is real breadth and depth in the content, which gives the pillar page more authority on the topic. Google rewards this orderly linking with higher search placement.
Third, use technology that enables Inbound
Inbound Marketing maybe a philosophy but technology gives it practicality. Without the systems and processes available through a software platform, you will be buried under the deluge of tasks you need to do, which in itself is already a challenge. First, you have to be 100% committed to great content. Second, you have to be prepared to capture leads that your content will attract. Third, you need an efficient and timely way to connect to those leads. And the list goes on. Can you do this manually? Maybe, but the effort will be epic. So, setting up your tech is a must.
While DBrew is a HubSpot Partner Agency, and we will always recommend HubSpot, you can use any software tool that will help you do the job. The tools you need to do inbound are:
- CRM to get insights into your customers and provide the right content
- Social media marketing publisher
- Email marketing tool that works with your CRM
- Marketing automation tool for lead nurturing
- Analytics tools
- Blogging tool with SEO capability
- Good content management system for your website, and landing pages
Fourth, merge the inbound flywheel into your way of doing business.
Inbound goes beyond attracting strangers. It turns them into leads. Leads into customers and customers into promoters. We call this the flywheel, and the practice of inbound powers this flywheel — from Attract, to Engage, to Delight — to help your business grow faster, and better.
You attract your buyer personas to your website with relevant and helpful content. Then you offer your visitors even more value with free e-books and other resources to help them solve their problems. Once they convert by providing their details, your sales team can engage with them through email, chat, and connect call. All the while continually instilling value as they learn about your brand and finally become clients. Then, your customer service team can delight them long after they’ve become customers — acting as an empathetic advisor and expert on your product.
At DBrew, our structure used to be very traditional in that there is a marketing team, a sales team, an accounts service team with the support of a creative and admin teams. To be able to live and breathe inbound marketing, we regrouped ourselves into teams Attract, Engage, and Delight. The obvious purpose of each team keeps us focused on what we are should be doing as an Inbound Marketing firm.
The old way of doing things does not work anymore. The COVID19 pandemic has quicken this change even more. There is uncertainty about what the business world will look like when it emerges at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.
Companies should invest even more in their online presence and use inbound as a key part of their growth strategy. Identify where you can help your customers today, without asking for anything in return. A helpful and sensitive approach will be more effective for your customer base who may be more interested in learning and education right now.
Inbound Marketing will help you do this. Inbound marketing gives companies a solid revenue stream, repeatable process, and solid infrastructure. It could be unchartered territory for you, and that is why we are here to help.