When we were meticulously planning the content for this blog a month or so ago, I was very surprised to find I had not already written this post. The inbound methodology is pretty core to what we, Inflowing, do for our customers, and I thought as such I’d explained what it was and why we (and everyone else) use it, and how it delivers value. Well, turns out I haven’t. What have I been playing at?!
So, without further ado, after about twelve months in the making, I will take you through the inbound methodology. Better late than never, eh?
What is the inbound methodology?
Above is a diagram you may have seen before. You may not have seen it before. I’ve tweaked it slightly and re-done it in Inflowing colours, ‘cause why not?
The inbound methodology, in this particular form anyway, was developed and popularised by everyone’s favourite Boston-based marketing software company, HubSpot, as a way to contextualise how content can be used to move people through the buyer’s journey (which is a different thing, but kinda related). It’s now widely accepted as the model and methodology for shaping an inbound strategy, as it helps you understand how each piece of content should be structured, pitched and distributed to achieve different goals.
Let’s break down each stage.
Before we begin on the journey from stranger to customer, we have to actually get people to engage with us, our website and our content. This is where the Attract stage comes in. It’s all about writing and promoting great content to pique people’s interests and bring them to your site. You can do this in a variety of ways, but the most common are:
- Blogging, combined with search engine optimisation – using keyword research to find popular phrases your ideal customers are searching for, and building a content plan to target these
- Social media – promoting your content and engaging with your potential customers on social platforms, driving them to your website and your amazing content.
Cool, so you’ve got them on your site. They’ve gone from stranger to visitor. What now?
This stage is all about turning your visitors into those all-important leads. Assuming your blog content has kept them interested and engaged, you should now think about what the next steps are. How are you going to get them to submit their contact details and agree to more communication from you? Here are a couple of tactics:
- Conversion content – also known as consideration content, this is usually long-form content which is valuable enough to a visitor to warrant giving up their details. A whitepaper, guide, or even a webinar makes great conversion content. Get them behind a great landing page and optimised form to encourage people to sign up. Make sure you include a clear tick box for consent too (if this is your grounds for processing of choice).
- Call-to-actions – a way to drive people towards that all-important conversion content. Add a striking image or button to your blog posts which link through to a landing page or form for relevant conversion content.
- Live chat – can be a great way to engage with someone who’s hanging around on your site. Use it wisely to automate a message when they’ve been on a page for a particular amount of time, maybe driving them towards your conversion content or logical next steps.
Splendid, you’ve got yourself a lead! What now?
Once you’ve got ‘em on the hook, it’s time to reel ‘em in. If you’ve done your job right so far, you’ve got a lead who’s highly engaged with your content and your brand, and they’re ready to talk about buying your product or service. They trust you, they feel like they know you. In old-school sales lead terms, they’re pretty toasty warm.
So what’s a marketer to do? How do you tip them over the edge from lead to customer? In inbound, it’s not just about passing them off to sales as soon as they’ve given up their email address. It’s a bit more nuanced than that. Let’s drill into closing tactics for the inbound methodology.
- Lead nurturing – this is where you can use things like automated workflows to keep your lead close and share content and messaging with them that’s relevant to the content they’ve already engaged with and the service or product they’re interested in.
- Lead scoring – a handy feature that’s built-in to most marketing automation systems, this helps you assign a number of points to an activity a lead completes. For example, you might award 2 points for spending 5 minutes on a blog post page, or 5 points for whitepaper download. Once they’re over a certain threshold, you can activate the next stage – whether that’s sending a nurturing email, or passing them over to sales to close. Nifty, eh?
Right then, off to the pub! We’ve got ourselves a customer! Not so fast there, skippy. We’ve got one stage left.
This is a very important – and frequently overlooked – part of the inbound methodology and wider sales process. Delight is where you turn your shiny new customers into loyal promoters of your brand – often referred to as “brand evangelists”. These little gems not only give you plenty of return business, they also do a lot of work for you in the way of recommending you to other people – their friends, social media followers, the local shopkeeper – you name it, if you do your job right, they’ll tell ‘em.
So how do you go about delighting your customers? Well, wouldn’t you know, I have already actually written a blog post on this very subject, which talks specifically about using marketing automation to delight customers (with real world examples including things which have delighted me!). To give you a brief run-down, it’s all about:
- Follow-up – make sure your new customers get an email thanking them for purchasing. Think about next steps, and about how you can guide them and add more value to their experience.
- Feedback – give your customers the chance to give you feedback. You want to own this process. If something did go wrong, they should feel like they can come to you and give you chance to resolve it, avoiding bad reviews elsewhere.
- Personalisation – use the information you have about your customer to personalise their experience for them. Tailored content, website personalisation and offers just for them are great ways to make them feel special.
Ready to go inbound?
Do you think the inbound methodology is for you and your business? Still not sure? We’d love to chat about whether inbound is the right fit for you and how we could help – just get in touch.