Understanding the 4 Stages of the Inbound Methodology
Inbound marketing is a strategy focussed on bringing customers “in” or attractingthem to your product on the internet instead of purchasing space out there. It does this by offering them the information they need to learn about their problem and make a decision on how to solve it before asking them for anything in return.
According to Emarketer, the Inbound Methodology “is an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media.”
The methodology works by attracting strangers to your website, converting them into leads, closing their deal and then delighting them to be promoters of your brand in the future. Let's look at those four steps in detail.
The Inbound Methodology
The most important way to attract a stranger to your content is to understand them. It’s best to have at least one to three detailed buyer personas so you have a good idea of their behaviors at the beginning of the buyer’s journey. Do they look for information through Google, or will they read a Twitter feed instead? Knowing this information will help you get found where your ideal customers are looking. Attractive content tends to be educational, informative and provide instant value. At this stage, blog posts with great SEO, and social media publishing are great ways to attract potential customers.
After you’ve attracted a stranger to your content you want to lead them further down the buyer’s journey. You can do this by offering them something in return for a piece of information about themselves, usually an email address or other piece of contact information, that will convert them from being a stranger into a lead. Here’s where CTA’s, landing pages, and forms come into play. The more the perceived value of your offering, whether a tutorial or a template, the more information you can ask for.
By this point your lead is ready to make a decision on how to solve their problem. They’ve learned how your business or product can help them and they’ve probably checked out your competitors too. This is where you can get really detailed with your content. They’re more informed than someone in the awareness stage so content like whitepapers and comparison literature won’t overwhelm them. Comparing your service or product to your competitors also shows transparency and builds trust for your brand. Now that trust is there, it’s the perfect time to ask for a little something in return by asking them to fill out a survey about their experience.
You’ve attracted a lead, nurtured them through the buyer’s journey, and closed the deal, but your relationship with them is not over. Businesses are built by loyal customers that come back again and again becoming evangelists for your brand. White House Consumer Affairs says it is six to seven times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. Take care of these customers by continuing to add value to them. Pardot says “happy, satisfied, and informed costumers are one of the best marketing investments that companies can make.
At the heart of the inbound methodology is a “give first” mentality. It’s providing your customers with the information they need before even mentioning your product. It’s building a relationship of trust that brings your clients back to your business seeking your knowledge and expertise. It’s nurturing that relationship after you’ve made the sale so they send their friends to your company next time.
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