We are all familiar with the legacy model of sales and marketing. An expensive outside sales rep with a rolex and a rolodex promises to waltz you into every blue chip account you can imagine. But the deals are few and far between. Or…
You attend trade show after trade show dropping mega-dollars on each event only to realize that a mountain of business cards have not converted to even a molehill of customers. Or…
You pay handsomely to have a telemarketing firm cold call a database full of companies and decision-makers to set appointments for interesting conversations with potential buyers who are not ready to buy.
There has to be a better way. A less expensive way. A way for buyers to find you instead of you constantly hunting for them. And there is… The new model for customer acquisition is called inbound marketing and it flips the old model upside down. Instead of a sales cycle that is 10% marketing and 90% sales, inbound marketing is 90% marketing and 10% sales. It’s better for buyers and better for sellers and it works.
It’s also highly scientific, trackable, accountable and affordable. Inbound marketing is much more than a collection of blogs, tweets, landing pages, white papers and email campaigns. It’s the science of providing your buyers with exactly the content they need and exactly when they need it to make their buying decision. It uses a marketing automation platform to automate the process of finding and nurturing buyers with campaigns that are measured and optimized for performance and efficiency.
Let’s look under the hood of an inbound marketing engine to see how its many moving parts deliver content to buyers and, in so doing, enable a repeatable progression of website visitors that convert to leads and ultimately to customers.
In the diagram above, focus on the central blue column of images from top to bottom. It illustrates a progression starting with website traffic generated by search engines and visitors directed to your site via social media channels. Your visitors are by attracted by keyword-optimized web pages and authoritative blog topics that speak directly to their interests and business needs.
With the right Calls-To-Action (CTA’s), landing pages and premium content, visitors convert to leads in your sales funnel. As they enter the funnel, they are qualified and nurtured from suspects into prospects and opportunities by content that resonates with their buyer persona and relevant to their stage in the buying cycle. Targeted content is delivered to them via email containing information they want – not spam they don’t need.
What makes this progression work consistently and effectively is content. The many forms of inbound marketing content are illustrated on the left-hand side of the diagram. Based on research (as opposed to intuition), keywords are carefully selected and tested. Similarly, buyer personas are well-defined and based on interviews with real people who buy real products.
This discovery process will provide the insight you need to produce an editorial calendar for your blog, the cornerstone of your inbound marketing strategy. Blog posts are critically important. Headlines must be written to attract readers as well as to rank on search engines. Topics must be informative, authoritative and feature a CTA linked to a landing page. The landing page must offer content with enough value to earn the contact information of your visitors.
Inbound marketing is truly an engine. It must be designed and driven, tested and tuned, monitored and managed. To that end, there are a number of key metrics that are used to ensure the engine is operating at peak performance. The right-hand side of the diagram lists the most important inbound marketing analytics from web statistics to conversion rates and cost factors. Different metrics are used to measure the performance of your inbound marketing engine at different stages of the progression from visitor to lead to customer.
Does your website act as an effective inbound marketing engine by generating quality leads for your business? Take this inbound marketing assessment and grade yourself. The results may surprise you.