What Is Inbound Marketing?
The foundations of Inbound Marketing consist of five elements: an updated contact database, a defined Buyer Persona for your products and services, a mapped-out buyer’s journey, relevant content, and setting goals.
We define a contact as any individual your company displays ads or sells content to; who you have arranged partnerships with; who you are interacting with or who you are employing. A strong and continually updated contact database improves your company’s growth. Identify useful contacts and place them into proper segments, so that the information you offer is relevant and useful to them.
- THE BUYER PERSONA
Inbound Marketing is oriented toward the customer. It is customer‑centric, which is why you need to know who the right customers to reach are. To repeat, the Buyer Persona is a semi fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customer by which we define their demographics, interests, education and job position. This is part of the customer’s journey, which is based on empirical data, interviews and educated guesses.
- THE BUYER’S JOURNEY
The buyer’s journey is defined as the process that prospective customers go through to make a purchase decision for a product. The buyer’s journey consists of three stages: Awareness—Consideration—Decision.
The content you provide your customers – in line with the Inbound philosophy and methodology – consists of two elements: content and context. Content implies the marketing tools you use (for instance, blogs), while context refers to the guiding answer to the question “Who is this content for?”
At the very start of planning your Inbound Marketing strategy, it is important to begin from a clearly defined goal you wish to achieve. Setting short‑term goals helps you align your marketing team with your sales team, but it also shows you stats which enable you to quantitatively measure your company’s success.
The contacts in your database are real people who you communicate with and with whom you want to create a relationship. They are at the very centre of Inbound Marketing, which is why they go through each stage of the Inbound methodology.
The Principles of Inbound Marketing
The principles of the Inbound approach act as guidelines for each interaction between your team and potential customers or clients. If you implement the following principles correctly, they ensure you do business in an obliging, humane and all‑encompassing manner.
The principles to be implemented are the following:
Ensure consistency of communication – if a potential customer or client asks three different team members within your company the same question, they should get the same answer each time. Consistent communication builds trust.
Contextualize interactions to remain relevant – contextualization means using information from previous interactions in order to offer potential customers of clients the most quick and relevant information. Contextualization helps you avoid repetitive interactions and wasted time solving repeat issues.
Optimize communication for the sake of clarity – be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each communication channel – determine which communication channel suits your business best.
Personalize communication to make a stronger impression – by using shared knowledge from your contact database, conform each interaction to the individual you are speaking with. Instead of using generic responses, adapt your messages so they speak directly to the person you are targeting.
Base your perspective on empathy – the Inbound approach stands by its basic values of humaneness and empathy; always be mindful that your potential customers or clients have emotions of their own. Therefore, ensure you use the right atmosphere and tone during your interaction, depending on their emotional state.
THE THREE STAGES OF INBOUND MARKETING
Inbound Marketing follows the three stages (Attract—Engage—Delight) of the Inbound methodology. By creating relevant content which speaks directly to your audience, without pretense or hidden agenda, you will build trust and attract customers.
When a customer is engaged and starts interacting with this content, it is important to continue to build trust. Two guiding questions help you offer the customer an excellent experience:
1) What basic challenge caused the setback in their business plan, and why did they decide to reach out to your company?
2) How can we help them resolve this challenge?
In this stage, you continue to build trust by working with the customer or client; providing them with relevant, useful information directly related to their challenge; and finally identifying and resolving this challenge.
When you reach the Delight stage, you have already provided enough value and removed the barriers they faced; you have now strengthened the one‑on‑one relationship with the customer. The goal of this stage is to educate and delight the customer so they can learn to solve certain challenges themselves and continue prospering alongside your company. When you have become a source of support and expertise in the eyes of your customers, they will not think twice before recommending you to others.