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A Beginner's Guide to Inbound Content

Rewatch our Tech Tuesday Webinar, where we cover Inbound Content and CRM's role in aiding quality content. 

July 10, 2014 | 9 Min Read

What Effective Inbound Strategies Look Like

Posted By
Amy Post
What Effective Inbound Strategies Look Like

Last time I had the pleasure of taking some time to write for our ManoByte blog, I highlighted some important reasons why your business needs inbound marketing. In a nutshell, I explained how traditional marketing tactics are loosing their effectiveness in today’s social environment and how a new, more engagement-driven process is needed to achieve marketing success. That new process is called Inbound Marketing.

At ManoByte, we understand that many businesses are struggling to navigate a new marketing strategy. This is most commonly due to decades of processes designed around old, “salesy” tactics that simply don’t work anymore. One of the biggest problems we hear from potential clients is, “I don’t understand how to start inbound marketing, and I don’t want to put money into something new unless I have an effective strategy in place ahead of time.” 

The good news for you is that this blog is going to help you do just that! I am going to highlight some of the most common questions we hear from business owners who want to revolutionize their marketing efforts. After reading this blog, you should understand what an effective inbound strategy looks like, as well as what you need to do to implement one for your business.

“Remind me again, what exactly is inbound marketing?”

Inbound marketing is a different way of drawing the right type of potential customers to your business. Instead of cold calls and mailing out hundreds of advertisements in hopes for a few return phone calls, inbound marketing creates an experience for your potential customers that help the right customers find you. 

The inbound process works through a buyer’s journey that has four different phases: Attract, Convert, Close and Delight.

Attract: Getting the right traffic to your website through carefully crafted content.

Convert: After you have traffic, it is time to convert that traffic into leads by gaining their contact information. This happens through an exchange of something they want from you. They want things like whitepapers, ebooks, resource guides and more. (The idea is: “You give something to me, I’ll give something to you.”)

Close: After you market your products and services with information targeted directly at the potential customer, you then meet their needs with a product or service and close the sale.

Delight: Repeat business is the best kind of business, so you must create happy customers who will keep buying and recommending you to their friends. 

Then, the cycle just repeats over and over again putting money in your pocket and a smile on your delighted customers faces!

attract convert close delight

 “So, I’m using online content to drive sales?” 
Yes, that's correct. Content is the key component to any successful inbound marketing strategy. If you don't offer your website visitors something they want, they aren't very likely to hand over their email address for your use. Give today’s buyer what they want, which is quality, engaging information they can use to solve a problem or need they have. 

How do you know what kind of content to write? You refer to the inbound methodology and begin by focusing the content on the first two stages, Attract and Convert. Think about your buyers. What are their main concerns when they are first looking into doing business with you? What are some of the questions they ask? Then, create the content that helps them answer those questions. 

I think the best way to show you how this all works is by taking you through an example: 

Fisher Sprinkling knows that one of the first questions many of their future customers ask them is, “What is involved when installing a sprinkler system?” Because Fisher Sprinkling has an inbound marketing strategy in place, they have resources available on their website including a complimentary ebook titled: “What to Expect When Installing a Sprinkler System.” The content within this guide gives potential buyers like Larry Lawn exactly what he is looking for. The guide includes information on the installation process, pricing as well as a list of the many benefits of installing a sprinkler system. However, in order for Larry to download the informational guide, he had to fill out an online form on the Fisher Website (a Landing Page) with his contact information and email address. Because he completed that action, the Marketing Team over at Fisher Sprinkling will begin sending emails to him regarding sprinkler installation specials to help move him towards the next phase of the journey, which is closing the sale. 

Fisher Sprinkling made the decision to write an ebook that catered to the needs of their buyers like Larry Lawn, who are in the Attract and Convert stages of the buyer’s journey. The emails Larry is receiving about sprinkler installation are the content that is being created to cater to the Close phase of the process. After he has a system installed, he will then receive monthly newsletters with information about how to maximize the life of his sprinkling system. That's the content that meets the Delight phase, and brings Larry back to Fisher Sprinkling for service on the sprinkler head he accidentally damaged with his lawn mower. 

“So, I need to figure out who my ‘Larry’ is, huh?” 

Absolutely! People like Larry Lawn are what we like to call, “Buyer Personas,” and they are crucial when implementing an effective inbound marketing strategy for a business. HubSpot defines buyer personas as, “archetypes that describe your various goals and observed behavior patterns among your potential users and customers.” Essentially, this means that buyer personas are fictional characters you create that represent your most frequent buyers. 

Personas don’t just help the marketing team either, they help the sales and product teams to identify what type of customer they are trying to attract, make products for, and who they should relate to. Personas should serve as the starting point for everything you do as far as content creation, development of products and services and sales. 

Your business may have more than one persona type; in all actuality more than one persona is very common. The good news is that creating your personas is a relatively easy (and fun) process. To help make this process even more simplistic, HubSpot has created a free online template and interview guide to walk through the process of building your personas. This template helps to identify your persona names, goals, challenges, demographics, and identifiers. By the end of the process, you will have some clearly defined personas that your entire organization can use attract the right type of buyer to your business. 

“Okay, all of this does make sense, but who’s going to write all the content?” 

The answer to that question depends on your business. Content writing is not something you can just assign to an intern coming in for a few weeks over the summer. You are better off finding someone on your staff or hiring someone with the skills and experience to write great content about products, services and industry-related topics. Alternatively, you can also look to outside writers or agencies that can provide this type of writing service.

“But after I do all of this, how do I monitor it all?” 

That’s where our friends over at HubSpot come into play. HubSpot is a software tool that helps businesses implement an inbound marketing process, so everything is managed and monitored to help you grow your business. It brings the entire marketing process together for your business, so you have control of your inbound marketing strategy. The platform has unique and easy-to-use functionality so you can control your content and marketing performance at a 360-degree view from your dashboard. Some of the elements HubSpot streamlines and provide data for include: blogging, SEO, lead management, email, marketing automation, CRM, analytics and much more. 

At ManoByte, our entire staff is HubSpot certified, and our business is an official HubSpot partner. We have a comprehensive understanding of how to pull all the elements of effective inbound strategies together including creating content, developing and catering to your buyer personas and the implementation of the HubSpot software to make your inbound marketing strategy work for you. Please let us know if you want our assistance in pulling all of these elements together. We’d love to be a part of helping your business grow with an effective inbound marketing strategy!

Topics: Inbound Marketing

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