Marketing is tough.
That’s not to say that it isn’t simple to understand. At its foundation, marketing is easily understood by many, but implementing the concepts and best practices of an inbound marketing strategy in a way that actually generates leads is a task that can overwhelm anyone.
We spend a lot of time highlighting the details of many different facets of marketing (buyer personas, blogging, social media, etc.) in an effort to help you understand what we do as marketers and hopefully provide you with the information you need to be able to effectively drive your own marketing efforts.
That being said, with content coming at you in all directions, how do you pick it all apart and put it back together in one plan from start to finish? Well, you’re not the only one asking. That’s why we’ve decided to take a step back from going over the arduous details and put together an inbound marketing overview - A quick glance at the inbound marketing process in its entirety.
Here’s a helpful start.
This graphic displays the process of inbound marketing. As you can see, it begins with a total stranger being attracted to your business and ends with a delighted promoter helping bring other strangers to your business. Yeah, we know. It’s beautiful!
1. Buyer Personas
Before you can start attracting strangers to your business, you have to first define who those strangers are. While it may seem like a good idea to create content that appeals to anyone, the outcome will almost always be that you appeal to no one. Start by creating ideal buyer personas for your company. This gives you direction for the rest of your marketing strategy. All of your content from then on out will be targeted at your buyer persona - guiding them step-by-step through the process above.
2. Content Creation
Once you have your buyer personas properly built, it’s time to start creating content. Remember, your content is built to provide something of value to your buyer persona and should be designed to move them along the path to becoming a promoter.
With that in mind, in order to provide your personas with the most valuable content, you have to consider their position in the buyer's journey:
Within each stage of their path to purchase your content needs to provide answers to the questions that your personas are asking. The goal with your content is to establish yourself as an authority figure on the problems being faced by your persona. How to do you show that you have authority? Through the creation of topic clusters. With strong topic clusters and various forms of content within them (blogs, podcasts, videos, etc.), you’ll be able to quickly climb the ranks of search engine results and establish yourself as a thought leader within your industry.
Keep in mind this process takes time. But if done properly, strangers will find value in your content and become visitors to your website.
3. Collecting Information
Congratulations, you’ve created content that is speaking to your audience and they are now visiting your site! Now it’s time to turn those visitors into leads. To do that, you're going to have to collect their information.
Most commonly, this is done through landing pages. Landing pages are pages designed to offer something valuable to readers of the page in exchange for their contact info. A properly placed call-to-action, or CTA, is a powerful tool in drawing visitors to your landing pages and converting them to leads.
4. Nurturing Leads
Once you’ve collected a lead’s information there are a number of ways to warm them up to eventually becoming a customer. This is also where the synergy between sales and marketing comes into play. The use of emails is a great way to gauge the quality of a lead. A lead that is engaged with your marketing emails is going to be more likely to have a positive reaction to a sales call than someone who hasn’t read the last 4 email sends.
Nurturing leads until they're ready to purchase can take some time or it can go rather quickly. This is entirely based on the needs of the lead and where they’re at in the buyer's journey. Just make sure that when they are ready to purchase that they are handed over seamlessly to your sales team to close.
5. Creating a Culture
You’ve closed the sale and you now have another satisfied customer. But your relationship doesn’t end there! This is a great opportunity to take the relationship one step further and turn your new customer into a promoter of your business.
In order to do this properly, you need to create a culture around your brand - one that speaks to your audience and that you’re customers feel like they’re a part of. Continue to stay connected by using email best practices and by creating engaging posts across multiple social media platforms. This again goes back to your buyer personas and creating content that is valuable to them.
A satisfied customer is likely to be a repeat customer, but by continuing to engage with your customers you’ll create a relationship with them that will encourage them to share their positive experiences with their friends and colleagues.
6. Repeat and Refine
So, there you have it - a continuous cycle of strangers being nurtured every step of the way to becoming a promoter of your business. When you’ve mastered this process you will have created a targeted and repeatable system of lead generation.
However, markets change. Therefore so should your approach. If you truly want to maintain a process of sustainable lead generation you must continue to adapt the way that you’re reaching your audience. You don’t want to become old news. Continue to revisit and refine your message.
What are you waiting for? Now that we’ve summarized the fundamentals of inbound marketing into a simple 6-step process, it’s time for you to go forth and start generating leads and turning strangers into raving fans of your own!
Not sure where to start with starting your own lead-generating marketing strategy? Start with our FREE marketing assessment!