Inbound Marketing: A Guide to Generating Leads
Inbound Marketing is a technique and process of attracting prospects to your website through a strategic combination of content marketing, email, SEO and social media.
Find out what it can mean to you and your business in this concise guide.
Reach your goals with Inbound Marketing
This guide explains how and why the inbound approach is effective at attracting and converting leads
Need a cost-effective, targeted and momentum-building marketing strategy? Then you need to go inbound. This guide explains how an inbound approach can help you build awareness, credibility and trust.
Outbound marketing is going the way of the Dodo. Savvy buyers are no longer interested in the traditional selling methods used on them, so a new approach is required. The answer is to go inbound. Inbound Marketing attracts prospects and engages with them through valuable and helpful content. It gives buyers the control they desire, encourages interaction and provides the most cost-effective way to convert strangers into customers.
This guide explains why an inbound approach is effective at not only attracting and converting leads, but also turning customers into promoters of your business.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound Marketing is a technique and process of attracting prospects to your products and services through a strategic combination of content marketing, email, search engine optimisation and social media.
At the core of Inbound Marketing is your website
Your website provides information that is valuable to the reader, even before they are ready to buy. Delivering such value builds trust and improves the customer experience. Inbound Marketing pays particular attention to a prospect's needs based on the actions they take, adapting to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. Because of this, Inbound Marketing is the most cost-effective way to convert strangers into customers and customers into endorsers of your business.
Attract. Engage. Delight.
It’s not just about generating leads and it’s not just about converting those leads into sales (new customers) either.
- Attract: Inbound Marketing is about drawing visitors to your website and blog through relevant and useful content
- Engage: Inbound Marketing provides the means to engage visitors when they are ready through conversational tools, such as chat and email, by offering continued value
- Delight: Finally, the inbound methodology enables you to deliver against your promise through your expertise and provides measurable ROI for the client.
Although there is no magic bullet, an inbound approach is a golden ticket to a seamless marketing, sales and service function – providing valuable synergy for your organisation and its customers.
A recent, but very impactful change to inbound is the introduction of the flywheel to replace the old school funnel. In short, the flywheel puts customers at the heart of your strategy, using the momentum of your happy customers to drive referrals and repeat sales. In simple terms, your business keeps spinning. This replaces the repeating process of marketing > sales > customer, with the customer being an afterthought rather than driving your actions and in turn increasing your growth.
Inbound vs. Outbound
Which wins the battle? Pull vs Push: Pull visitors to your site with content and information they actually want, or bombard them with messaging they have no interest in?
Inbound Marketing vs. traditional 'Outbound' Marketing strategies
The lines between Inbound and Outbound Marketing are blurred when considering tactics and channels. The biggest differentiators are methodology and effectiveness. Essentially, outbound is a push strategy whereas inbound is pull. With inbound, you don't need to fight for each potential customer's attention. outbound utilises more traditional marketing and often includes large spend to reach a much broader audience. Inbound Marketing is more cost-effective, timely and targeted.
Content that educates
Content that sells
Audience interaction is key
Little or no audience interaction
Most valuable content wins
Biggest budget wins
Gains permission and buy-in from the prospective customer
Interrupts the prospective customer
Targeted, relevant, timely
Outbound Marketing is very much on the decline and here’s why:
- Buyer behaviour has changed, modern buyers do not welcome attempts to sell to them, preferring to conduct their own private research approaching sellers when they are ready to buy
- The changes brought about by GDPR in 2018 mean that companies can no longer buy bulk email lists for bulk email blasts
- Buyers are savvy to advertising and selling methods and ignore them. The stats* support this:
- 86% of people fast forward through TV ads
- 44% of direct mail isn’t opened
- 91% of email users have unsubscribed from an email they’d previously subscribed to
- 84% of 25-34 year olds have left a favourite website because of intrusive advertising
- Buyers have more control over the information they receive
- Communication is one-way
- Fundamentally, the outbound marketer is not seeking to educate, entertain or provide value to the potential buyer
- Lastly, the alternative, Inbound Marketing is up to 60% cheaper than traditional Outbound Marketing.
According to Forbes the average person is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 advertising message each day. Why waste the effort joining that queue. Let your buyers come to you instead, when they are ready.
Why companies find it difficult to go inbound
Is it a struggle against what they are used to or is it more than that?
Inbound: the fear of the unknown
Tech companies have spent years trialling traditional Outbound Marketing tactics, usually based on the decision makers' previous experience. Sometimes it could be that the company had such great success to begin with, they didn't need to invest resource in marketing themselves (until now).
Many of our clients (generally speaking, the person with 'growth' as their remit) buy into inbound and all of its 'almost-too-good-to-be-true' benefits, but there are a few hurdles. Most often, fear of the unknown by the powers that be can prevent progress. It's all too common for questions to be asked such as 'why can't we just buy a list?' or 'where is Steve's black book?'.
Sometimes the lack of understanding is what's holding them back - if this is the case then please direct them to this guide. For 'high D' personality types (low attention span, need information served in a concise manner), this graphic is a one-image-visual-summary of the guide you can send them.
If you are struggling and need some more convincing yourself or information to convince others, have a look at the benefits listed below. No one can argue with these if growth and customer acquisition are on your organisation's to-do list.
How to go 'Inbound'
Before you start, you've first got to understand the important role content plays in the process.
How to turn your organisation to Inbound
There are many benefits to adopting an inbound approach. However, before you can begin to appreciate its potential it is crucial to understand the importance of content and its role in marketing today.
Inbound Marketing can be broken down into four steps:
Step 1: Attract strangers to your website through the creation of compelling content
Step 2: Convert visitors into leads
Step 3: Close deals to turn your leads into customers
Step 4: Deliver and Delight to turn your customers into promoters.
Step 1. Create compelling content
We’ve all heard content is king, but what is it and why is it so important? Simply put, content delivers credibility and reach that even the best cold call/email from your top salesman could not compete with. Content is important because it is what’s going to bring visitors to your site and convert them into leads. Not only that, but in an inbound context, due to its relevance and targeting, it’s also going to ensure high-quality leads and gain a level of buy-in pre-contact that turns visitors into warm leads rather than cold prospects.
Decision-makers rely on content in order to perform their role effectively. Making an impact and looking good are key drivers for business leaders. Credible content can help them with this by providing the information they need to gain stakeholder buy-in, make the right decisions and deliver against objectives.
- Decision-makers rely on content to stay informed and make decisions (Raconteur, Marketing to the C-Suite, 2018)
- 96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders (Demand Gen Report, 2016)
- 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep (Demand Gen Report, 2016).
There are many types and formats of content. The effectiveness of each piece will differ according to the organisation and buyer, but broadly speaking and to give some context to the concept of content marketing, here are some examples. These will be housed on your website as the destination point but may be amplified/shared across other platforms such as social media or found via search engines (SEO).
|CTA (Call to Action)
Number of Views
Demo / RFP
Survey / Report
Participation / Contact
The same piece of content can be repurposed into all of the above formats and more visual pieces such as infographics, videos, gifs, images, etc. to suit the audience and channel. Similarly, the way it's positioned will differ according to the channel or platform. The language, tone and length of the introduction will need to be considered by social media platforms too. Restrictions and best practices exist for each channel and audience type.
Step 2. Convert visitors into leads
Once you’ve attracted a visitor to your blog or website through the content you’ve created, the next goal is to ensure that they ‘convert’. Every website (or content hub/blog) should be created (or re-created) with conversion goals in mind. Lead generation is often the main conversion goal for B2B companies, with forms and messaging used for capturing contact details. Simply having forms and a chat function does not mean you’ll convert visitors into leads. However, having valuable content that helps to prequalify and move them further along the buyer journey, with relevant and strategically placed CTAs to those forms/chat functions, absolutely will.
Step 3. Turn your leads into customers
You’ve been successful in pulling in visitors to your website or blog by demonstrating value in the content you’ve provided. So much so, some of those visitors are completing your CTAs to ask for more. That form-fill transforms visitors into leads, but how do you progress leads along the buying journey and turn them into customers?
This is where lead nurturing fits into the process.
Many of your leads won’t be ready to buy right now, if at all, but they could potentially buy from you in the future. Lead nurturing is about maintaining contact with them via marketing automation, email-driven workflows and pipeline management.
As soon as marketing automation is mentioned it can feel like you are drifting back over to outbound marketing techniques in bombarding the lead with unwanted emails. It’s not like that. We are talking about inbound methodology here. You’ll still be offering relevant educational content, product details and information related to the industry in which they work. You’ll be using marketing automation for efficiency, but most importantly to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. In other words, responding to the actions the lead takes.
Context is key in closing leads. Different content you present to the lead represents a different sense of intent from them. In pipeline management, scoring leads according to the actions they’ve taken, the timing and the content they have consumed helps you to understand how close they might be in their buying readiness. Using marketing automation you can respond immediately to triggers such as changes to the lead score or specific actions such as a download of your pricing information.
In the close stage of Inbound Marketing one thing is key - listening. If it's your priority to understand the needs of your buyer, then you’ll be positioned to deliver relevant, highly targeted information that will fit their needs and help solve their issues. That's how you keep your customers coming back for more.
Step 4. Deliver and delight: turn customers into advocates of your product or service
It's often a neglected stage of the inbound process but we cannot emphasise the importance of customer communication, even after they sign their contract. The concept of delight in Inbound Marketing - providing a remarkable experience to users that focuses on customers' needs, interests, and wishes - leaves them so satisfied, they are more than happy to be advocates for your business, products and services. Great inbound companies focus on delighting both potential and existing customers from their very first interactions.
Delight your customers by:
- Solving their problems
- Being timely
- Being helpful
- Helping them succeed
- Listening to customer feedback
- Being enthusiastic
- Being unexpected.
The benefits of Inbound Marketing
Inbound Marketing is a win-win for you and your customers.
7 reasons why Inbound Marketing will benefit your business
There are many benefits of moving to an inbound approach, some of these are:
1. Cost-effective, not wasteful
Businesses on average can generate leads from Inbound Marketing by spending only a third of what it would have cost from traditional marketing methods. Also, Inbound Marketing strategies are proven to be more effective. When rating their marketing strategies, 75% of Inbound Marketing teams believed their marketing strategy was effective compared to 62% of traditional marketers. (Source: the state of inbound 2018).
2. Targeted vs. broadcast
You are creating content for specifically the people who want to consume it. It’s pulling rather than pushing. With Inbound Marketing, your prospects are searching and finding your content by choice, and you’re meeting them with the type of content they are looking for. Answers to questions, solutions to problems and products they need. Gone are the days of blast emails, blanket ads and interruptions to their day.
3. Quality over quantity
The content you are creating is both valuable and original and both your readers and Google appreciate that. Your ratings will not increase by repeating existing content, repurposing somebody else’s or even copy-pasting someone else’s stuff. In fact, the opposite will happen.
Because the stuff you are putting out there is researched, targeted and most importantly answering some key questions, you are rewarded.
4. Higher ROI than Outbound Marketing
- plus increased tracking and measurability too.
Because the content you create resonates with the prospects you are targeting, the sales closing rate is much higher. In addition, due to the nature of being primarily online, Inbound Marketing generates leads at a significantly lower cost than outbound marketing.
5. Value exchange - mutually beneficial for customers and your business
It’s a win-win. Your customers get answers to their questions and solutions to their problems, which both in turn help them to succeed in their jobs. You get increased web traffic, leads, conversions and new customers!
6. Creates awareness, credibility and trust in order to generate leads
Connecting to your prospect by providing quality educational and entertaining content adds value to their lives. Therefore through this content, you are enhancing your brand and putting yourself out as a thought leader in your industry.
7. Builds growth momentum, not a one-off success
Inbound Marketing builds connections with your customers and prospects. This means that it’s not a one-off relationship but something that will last for more time provided that you have established trust. Blogging, providing consistently great content and implementing good SEO practices over time increases your search rankings and therefore traffic - and it lasts for a long time too. The process may be slow at the start but after around six months you should see a considerable change in your website reports.
Is your business ready to get started with inbound?
The right content to the right person at the right time
With Inbound Marketing the goal is to attract potential prospects to your organisation at scale through the creation and distribution of appealing valuable and helpful content. Once engaged you continue to provide value through lead nurturing and conversational tools like online chat and email. Finally, you delight your customer by delivering against your promise through your expertise in addition to providing a measurable ROI for the client.
It’s the content and context that is key. With Inbound Marketing you do not need to fight for attention. By providing the answers and solutions to the needs of your target audience, you not only are able to generate qualified leads but are able to build trust and credibility for your business.
How to get started
We offer a free inbound Marketing consultation to establish whether an inbound approach can deliver against your lead generation, customer acquisition or retention goals.