Inbound Marketing is the process of attracting customers to your brand through educational content, engaging them with meaningful experiences, and delighting them with a challenge-solving product or service.
Unlike outbound marketing, which interrupts your prospects’ experiences with unwanted outreach, the inbound methodology is designed to reach customers when they are actively seeking a solution to a problem or challenge that they’re having that your product solves.
Inbound marketing can be thought of as a flywheel. As you attract, engage, and delight your customers, you build momentum for your organization. That momentum can be used to help customers be so successful with your product that renewals and repeat purchases are a given – and referrals, reviews, and recommendations are common.
Rather than working to simply retain customers, you’ll be able to focus on turning those happy customers into ambassadors for your brand.
But it all begins with the often mysterious task of attracting new customers to your brand. This can be difficult, especially with the literal thousands of options and ideas of how to market your business floating out there.
At Renoun Creative, we aim to simplify this mystery of lead generation for you. As we see it, customers have a few different ways of finding most brands. They are:
Search is a powerful way to attract customers to your brand because it gives you the opportunity to be present at the moment that customers are actively seeking out a solution to a challenge.
Google is called a Search Engine, because their product is the actual function that enables a person to search billions of websites for an answer. When considering Google from the standpoint of a brand wanting to rank highly, we must think of Google as an Answer Engine, because your goal is to answer the questions a person is asking and to have your solution rank high enough for them to consider it.
Search Engine Optimization is the practice of considering the seemingly endless ranking factors that Google uses to decide what websites best answer the question a searcher is asking, and then applying them to a website with the goal of ranking highly.
Social media marketing can mean a lot of things, depending on who you ask. In the context of inbound marketing, we typically view it as a distribution channel for the educational content that you’re producing. While companies have built brands on social media, this continues to get more difficult to do organically (not paid) as time goes on. Social Media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all push organic brand posts out of the view of many of your followers, and it’s nearly impossible to get your posts seen by non-followers without paying for the opportunity.
This isn’t to say that social media isn’t a worthwhile venture for most brands looking to get their message to new audiences, it just means you’ll likely have to pay for it via native ads (on the platform themselves) or via paid promotion via another outlet that does have a larger, relevant following.
Once you’ve attracted customers to your brand through inbound marketing, it’s crucial to engage with those people in an efficient and effective manner. This is where many companies get it wrong. They attempt to dictate the way a customer has to communicate with their team because of processes they’ve put in place internally.
With inbound marketing, your prospects are finding you the way they prefer – on their own terms – so they need to be free to engage or buy from you the way they prefer. Without this freedom, you’re going to see a drastic drop in conversions.
Imagine this scenario: you find a potential solution to a challenge you’re having in the search engine results, you click through to the website, but you’ve got a really niche question. This company may have all the frequently asked questions handled, but not the one you’re looking for, even though you know they can answer it.
You might fill out a form, but that usually means you’re going to wait between an hour and a few days. There might be an email address, but it’s a generic sales@XYZcompany.com – so you know you’re not going to get the answer there, at least not without the dreaded sales pitch.
Livechat or even a really good Chatbot would be a good option for you to ask a quick question, but they don’t have that on their site.
This is an easy problem for the you, the searcher, to solve. You back out of that site and find a competitor’s site in the search results that does have Livechat up and running on their site, and that company now has the new lead.
It’s important to remember that with inbound marketing, the customers you attract and engage with are not the output of your efforts. They are one of your most valuable resources for growth. Here at Renoun Creative, we like to say: People don’t just buy brands they love, they love the brands they buy. It’s a simple reminder that brand loyalty doesn’t come first, the leap of faith purchase does. Once your company delivers on what you’ve promised, the loyalty and love, occurs.
Your delighted customer will usually be a loyal customer when it comes time for renewal or repeat purchase. Just the same, your delighted customer is usually one who loves your brand, not the way they love their family, but in the sense that they are proud to be a customer and recommend your brand to their peers.
But how do you go about delighting a customer? How do you ensure that your customers are truly successful with your brand?
This often comes back to having the content and engagement channels they prefer. If an existing customer is having an issue with your product, make sure they can get answers quickly. If there’s a learning curve to your service, ensure that you’ve got the tools in place and are taking the time to ensure they’re onboarded correctly and put into a position to succeed.
Who is Inbound Marketing right for?
As is the case with a lot of things marketing, the simple answer is: it depends.
It depends on a number of factors, including:
- Is your product B2B or B2C?
- Average Sale Price
- Length of Sales Cycle
- Amount of research required before purchase
- Number of competitors in your space
It’s unlikely that inbound marketing would prove valuable to a Pizza Shop due to the low sale price, short sales cycle, and number of competitors in the space.
Yet a professional service organization, like a Law or Accounting Firm has a higher price and relatively longer sales cycle. Same goes for many SaaS companies, Manufacturing, high priced consumer good, like cars or HVAC etc..
How long does Inbound Marketing take to deliver results?
Similarly, the amount of time it takes for Inbound Marketing to begin delivering results depends on the brand. A good rule of thumb is that it’s going to take around a year before you can expect to see substantial results. The reason for this is the nature of search engines, how long it takes for SEO to really take hold, and the length of time it can take to build a substantial library of content.