The beginning of a romantic relationship is a beautiful phase.

The feeling of being around her/him is exhilarating; you are on a ‘love high’, your brain doles out a solid cocktail of hormones – dopamine, serotonin, adrenalin, oxytocin, and vasopressin – and life seems its rosiest most.

Even in this overwhelming and pleasurable phase, when every single iota of your energy, emotion, focus, and time is spent day-dreaming about your lover, what if he/she straight away proposes you for marriage? You’d immediately take a step back, right?

Even though both of you feel like soul-mates, you’d still like to spend a good amount of time in getting to know each other thoroughly, partake in emotional exchanges, before you change your relationship status on Facebook, and put a ring on it.

A consumer’s relationship with your business grows on similar terms.

Your potential customer doesn’t straight away want to tie the knot and get into a ‘marriage’ with you. A marketing activity where you reach out to your potential customer, and straight away ask him to purchase your product puts him off, because:

  1. He is on his first date, has just come to know about your brand, and wants to spend some time and take some steps with you before buying.

  2. You pushing for a purchase immediately makes him feel like he is being ‘sold to’, and he becomes apprehensive.

What is Inbound Marketing?

In traditional ‘Outbound Marketing’ methods, such as telemarketing, TV ads, radio spots, print ads, buying email lists etc., you have to go out to potential customers, ‘interrupt’ in their life, sell your product, and ask them to make an immediate buy.

These means are no longer effective, and the chances of success are extremely low, because

  • Your customer is already tired of being bombarded with gazillion such intrusive ads, and

  • the costs incurred at your end are extremely high; outbound marketing space is cluttered and hyper-competitive.

Inbound-marketing-example

With Inbound Marketing, instead, you create online content that your potential customer is a) searching for and b) is of value to him, such as by writing Informative blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, and knowledge full videos through proper content marketing strategies that help him or his business. Your customer finds this content via search engines or social media, and has to submit his details for accessing it; making this a win-win case for both parties – you get the customer details, and customer gets valuable information of use to him. You hence don’t ‘interrupt’ in your customers’ lives, but ‘earn your way in.

Inbound Marketing, hence, refers to marketing activities where:

  1. Customer himself comes in, and shares his details with you, rather than you having to reach out to him.

  2. Customer is engaged, and tactfully walked through different stages to make a purchase, rather than being straight away asked to buy your product.

Now that you know the wonders Inbound Marketing can work for you, how do you get started?

Like relationships, you’ve to make the right move at the right time. Inbound Marketing works only if done smartly, and not in a ‘copy-cat’ manner.

Below goes a handy guide on Inbound Marketing strategy you can follow, and tips and tricks you can spin up to WOW your potential clients and crush your competition.

The Inbound Marketing Cycle: Steps, Tips and Tricks

1) Create 2) Spread 3) Capture 4) Convert 5) Re-spread: This 5-step methodology will not only help you have increased traffic, leads, and revenue, but also set-up an Automated Inbound Marketing Engine for you, that will organically scale with time and keep on exponentially amplifying the results. Let’s have a walk through one-by-one.

  1. Create – Content will always be the king!

    Before you chart your content generation roadmap, ask yourself 4 preliminary questions:

    1. Who is your target customer?

    2. What is your target customer’s goal?

    3. What are his problems and pain-points?

    4. How can you subtly co-relate and address these problems with your content, and solve them with your product?inbound-marketing

    The answers will help you understand what kind of content your potential customer wants to read, and you have to generate.

    Once clear with this, build valuable, informative, well-researched, data-driven, and most importantly, easy-to-understand content in forms of blog posts, DIY videos, eBooks, podcasts, white-papers, how-to articles, webinars, FAQ articles, case-studies, guides etc.

    The more content you have, more are the customers you attract. To generate huge amount of content regularly:

    1. Don’t rely only on your marketing department; take help of all your employees and ask them to write on areas of their expertise.

    2. Turn written content to audio/visual content and vice-versa. Cross-circulate on YouTube and blog respectively.

    3. Turn blogs to e-books and vice-versa.

    4. Turn your company’s PPTs into content pieces, publish them on SlideShare, and embed in your blog posts.

    5. Be open to guest-blogging.

  2. Spread – Widen your wings!

    Once you’ve solid content, put it in-front of your target customer. Again, ask yourself 3 basic questions:

    1. What places does your target customer visit on the internet?

    2. How does he search for solutions to his problems on the internet?

    3. The competition is huge – how can you innovatively place your content in front of your customer on the platform he visits most on the internet?

    Now that you know where to get hold of your target customer, spread your wings, and circulate your content everywhere:

    1. Social media: Identify which social media platform your target customer uses most – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ or other, and circulate your content there. Optimize your post timings and frequency such that you post at the time when your target customer is active on the platform. Remember to measure results and optimize your social strategy accordingly.
      circulate

    2. SEO: It’s important to get your Search Engine Optimization right if you want to increase your website traffic. Very carefully pick keywords that your target customer is searching, and optimize your website and content accordingly. It is better to go for long-tail keywords to drive in quality traffic. Here are the latest SEO tips and tricks that work.

    3. Email marketing: If you’ve the right email data, sharing your quality content via email marketing is a great way to stir up prospects and eventually transform them into customers. Again, with the barrage of emails a consumer gets regularly, email marketing needs substantial creative inputs to yield positive results. Time your emails properly, use dynamic tags to personalize your emails with consumer’s name, optimize call-to-action value, and have a subject that is short and says ‘open me’. Here are some handy email marketing tips.

    4. Syndicate your content: Figure out relevant websites where your content can be auto-syndicated every time you publish a post. It will complement your SEO efforts too.

    5. Find super-niche websites and forms: Instead of taking your content to everybody, go only for the right people. Find niche communities on internet – Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ groups, industry forms, blogs etc. – that your target customers visits, and circulate your content there.

  3. Capture – Throw the bait!

    Now that you’ve gripped your target customer, it’s time to turn him into a lead.

    Create landing pages from where the customer can access your content. Show only a brief overview of content on the landing page, and compel the customer to read the complete content by having to fill a form – which captures his data, such as name, email, phone number etc.

    It is important that your landing page forges an immediate connection with the customer, ideally in the first 2 seconds, and conveys to the customer WIFM (what’s in it for me).

    Below is a screen grab of a clean and crisp landing page we recently used in our marketing campaign to generate leads for Office 365, and it worked wonders for us.

    best-landing-page

    Have a catchy, yet minimal design on the landing page, with only the most important elements, such as – your logo, bold heading, crisp text, and a solid call to action in place that points the customer to the form he needs to fill. Eliminate any and all aspects that distract the customer from filling the form (such as header, menu, navigation, footer, and any links or buttons other than the call to action for filling the form).

  4. Convert – Make your cash boxes ring!

    72.1% of organizations are not able to convert inbound marketing leads into customers only because they do not nurture them properly. To ensure that your leads materialize into dollars:

    1. Have an immediate response system in place: As soon as the customer fills the form, send an immediate email to him (this can be automated or manual) with more information on your company or product. Use this also to inform the customer that you’ll contact him, and when you will do so.

    2. The old-school call: Have a call placed to customer immediately after you get his information, NOT TO MAKE A SALE, but to ask if he seeks any assistance or consultancy regarding the solution he is seeking. This will develop good faith between customer and your brand.

    3. Email series:Send a series of emails to the customer with valuable information that helps him develop a relationship and familiarity with your brand, and makes him more likely and ready to make a purchase.

    4. Track and Automate: Have a closed-loop tracking in place to know exactly which stage of purchase funnel customer is in, and create a set of logics to define action points accordingly. Automate these action points, such as sending emails with relevant information, or remarketing via social media, to interact with him and increase chances of closure.

  5. Re-spread – Because Word of Mouth doesn’t spin out of thin air!

    The beauty of inbound marketing lies in the way sale happens – the customer is not ‘cold sold’ the product; he instead interacts and engages with your brand multiple times, and when you’re completely worthy of his trust, he makes the purchase. The chances of him recommending your brand, hence, are more likely.

    Once you’ve acquired your customer, at the end of the order process, give him an option to put positive reviews about your brand on social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter, and via email. Nothing works quite like the good old WoM (Word of Mouth).

    Having driven user voluntarily in, collected his data, converted him to a lead, nurtured him, closed him as a customer, and finally having turned him into your promoter – your Inbound Marketing Cycle is now complete 🙂

The result of Inbound Marketing – How much traffic? How many sales?

According to a joint research report by MIT and HubSpot, 92.34% of companies using inbound marketing saw increased inflow of interested customers and a growth in their website traffic, and 92.7% of companies saw increase in leads.

When it comes to ROI, 42.2% of companies using Inbound Marketing saw an increased lead-to-sale conversion rate, and 49.7% of companies saw increase in sales within first 7 months.

inbound-marketing-traffic-increase

Now is the time; Embrace Inbound Marketing – Get More Leads, Higher ROI

Everyone wanted to woo the most beautiful girl in the college. The romantically-braindead ones went straight for the proposal with expensive gifts. Bill, the smarter one, first struck a conversation with her, broke the ice, established friendship, spent some time, got to know her, made a good impression of his, and had her fall for him.

Be smart. Be like Bill. Start inbound marketing.

Inbound Marketing VS Outbound Marketing.

Have inputs or your experience on inbound marketing to share? Got questions? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below.

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