You know the internet is important to your business. But, doesn’t it seem a lot harder to leverage it than everyone is making it out to be?
If so, that’s probably because you’re using the internet but still relying on outdated outbound marketing strategies instead of tapping into how your buyers really use the internet.
- Over 70% of B2B buyers start their process online (source: Marketo)
- According to the Corporate Executive Board – 57% of the typical B2B purchase decision is made online before a customer even talks to you.
- The Content Marketing Institute reported that 80% of decision-makers prefer their information in a series of articles versus in an advertisement.
- Finally, according to Search Engine Journal leads produced from inbound marketing cost you 60% less than leads from traditional outbound marketing.
The point is simple and profound: today’s buyers respond more favorably and end up buying more often from inbound marketing than outbound marketing.
So what is inbound marketing? In simple terms it’s publishing great content that eventually draws interested prospects to you as you continue to build trust, relationships and the sale.
If you are ready to put inbound marketing to work for your company here’s 5 steps you need to put into action.
1) Attract the Right Traffic
Companies who are excelling at inbound marketing are selective about where and what information they publish. The goal isn’t a bunch of traffic – but a bunch of the right traffic.
How do you make that happen?
Simple: you produce content that solves your potential customers problems.
You can identify those problems in a number of way from Linkedin Groups, feedback from your customer service and sales departments or good old fashioned phone calls with prospects.
Once you’ve identified the problems then publish content that solves those problems in a number of different ways and formats:
- On your blog
- Online or offline trade magazines
- LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+
- Comment on related blogs
- White papers and case studies
2) Elevate and Identify
After your problem solving content begins to attract the right traffic to your website your focus then turns to converting them to leads.
This is a process that buyers like even more because they are in control of identifying themselves as interested in taking the next step and it elevates them from a visitor to a lead.
The simplest way is often the best way when it comes to lead generation:
- As above, identify a big problem your potential customer is having
- Write a short (3-5 page) document showing them how to solve this problem. Don’t sell or mention your product. Then convert this to a PDF document.
- Offer this document in return for their name and email address
Forrester Research showed that companies that excel at lead nurturing see 50% more sales and their costs go down 33%. The Annuitas Group showed that leads that were nurtured made 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
I’ve seen it before: nurturing your newfound leads properly will likely be the most profitable thing you can do with your inbound marketing.
Follow these guidelines to make it happen:
- Conduct most of your nurturing via email (on an ROI basis it still outperforms social media)
- Subject lines are very important – be willing to test and experiment
- Utilize marketing automation like auto responders. These tools allow you to load in any information you want your leads to receive. You direct it to send on certain days. Once this upfront work is done the system runs automatically for every lead 24/7 without any involvement on your part.
- Remember your goal is to ‘drip’the desired information to your leads and in the process build trust, relationships and their view of your company not as a vendor – but as an authority
This is where the rubber meets the road and leads become customers.
Ironically, it’s a bit anticlimactic because if you’ve done the three steps above correctly, there’s less of a need to ‘close’. They come to you already pre-sold.
This is in stark contrast to the old outbound model of ‘interrupting’the process and ‘trying to close the sale’ and push things.
5) Never Stop Nurturing
I know. We talked about nurturing your leads above. But now you need to focus on nurturing your customers into more purchases and referrals.
You’ve undoubtedly heard it before that the best sales force you have is past satisfied clients because they can bring you more business.
Failing to Adapt: Don’t End Up Like Kodak
As recently as 1996 Kodak was rated as one of the top 5 brands in the world with total revenues at over $16 billion. In the last year it’s stock price has plummeted nearly 90%. Its revenues barely over $6 billion and Chapter 11 bankruptcy being whispered as a real possibility for the former giant.
Fuji Film – a direct competitor – is thriving.
Why? It can all come down to a decision decades ago as to how best to respond to the coming digital film revolution.
Much like Kodak and FujiFilm you have a similar choice. You can stick to the old models that use to work or face reality and begin adapting to what your customers want and will want more of in the future. And profit from doing it.
Curtis Alexander helps companies leverage the internet to transform their business. He is a nationally recognized digital marketing consultant, author and speaker. To learn more ways to increase traffic, qualified leads, customers and grow your online brand visit www.curtismalexander.com