I joined BlueChief Social team this Summer, prior to that I spend the last 6 years completing a marketing degree. I also worked in a packaging industry which was probably the hardest product I have had to sell so far. Imagine plain corrugated cardboard boxes, a pretty boring product to sell, and a pretty boring product for social media, yet, within two months I was able to increase traffic to website and following on Twitter. I remember one day bank manager met my manager and notes that his company is simply everywhere on social media meaning that at least increase in brand recognition was guaranteed.
In this article I will open a curtain for you to a interesting and trending word of inbound marketing. Now first of all I would like to give you some definitions.
Inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in, rather than marketers having to go out to get prospect’s attention. Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found and draws customers to the website by producing interesting content.
Sales tunnel – In business science a sales process describes an approach to selling a product or service. Tunnel signifies large (wide) number of leads at the beginning of the process and conversion to small number (narrow) of customers and a process of dripping down qualified leads thru each stage until conversion is complete.
AB testing – A/B testing is a methodology in advertising of using randomized experiments with two variants, A and B, if two different examples are published one with greater response rate wins.
Previously advertising was the only way to learn about products, salesperson was the sole source of information and they had a power in their hands. Today, because of easy access to, or ways to publish information, more people know about their options and all customers doing some type of research prior to making a decision. There are Youtube reviews about a products, Yelp reviews of businesses, Blog articles, Social media brand ambassadors, affiliates influencers, imagine some of the people providing reviews on products get money for each product sold if it came from their video. Seems good right?
There before information and knowledge obtained by businesses was considered to be competitive advantage and was hidden away, now is probably submitted in some shape or form already. Some of it for sure is low quality and what one would save in cash might have to spend in looking for credible source, but still renaissance of social learning provides unlimited value for ones submerged in technology. Share your wisdom sparingly, and customers will come to you. You just need to make sure that you will be seen as the best source of information for your target market, scale on which you will decide depending on you market and your vision for future of your business.
1. Traditional (Outbound) VS Inbound
Traditional advertising is interruptive and even still being effective does not provide scalability to a business. Mass advertising is expensive, newspaper full page can easy reach four thousand even for local newspaper. Billboards would go over tens of thousands and TV or Radio in general are only effective as supplement to integrated marketing campaign. You can get your salespeople to do cold calling all day, send mail advertising to new businesses registered, drop fliers around city. Or you can spend same same wages on a research for your target market, by the way research grants are available, copywriter for your blog and email communications. Then people will be coming to you for information over, and over, and over, and over again. There are ways to track their positions in a consumer journey based on their actions so information that is relevant can be provided, and all could slowly drop thru the sales tunnel. No one gives a quote for a customer if they don’t know what they came for, right. So marketing communication has to be the same.
2. What should I do with my contacts?
First of all you need to keep them safe. People working in sales would agree that quality leads is what makes your business isn’t it? I remember 8 years ago I was trying to get work in one telesales agency, where I was asked, how many business contacts I have, I shrugged my shoulders and said none. You might guess did I got the job, but what it taught me, that what I need to do is start collecting contacts. Once contacts are in database and preferably in single database to avoid confusion and overlapping communication, good practice would be to use some sort of CRM – (customer relationship management) software. What it does, is tracked communication with leads, with all information about when lead was contacted, notes, source of lead. Benefits are endless but one of my favourites are that anyone could take over the lead if person responsible is gone from organisation or is not capable to contact them e.g. is sick or on holiday. Information gathered will allow personal communication with customers to a level that you could know their face, interests, hobbies, details of last conversation.
Which one to choose is down to preference, there are number of free ones, some are more suitable for startup budgets some are more suitable for larger organisation, what you need is down to desired integration with other tools such as bookkeeping software if more extensive reports are required. Most of CRM provide sales projection to feed into cash flow reports, measure marketing and sales activity, synch with calendars have reminders so work getting use to the system pays back in efficient operation in no time.
3. Now what I do with my leads
As you import all your contacts into CRM software you can start segmenting them lets say by what value do they bring to organisation. Are they your customers, are they your top 30 percent customers. Are they general contact are they likely to become customer, are they managers making the decision, are they media contacts, are they suppliers? Segmentation of lists will allow to target specific communication to each segment allowing to automate some of the processes and removing workload from monotonous tasks allowing to concentrate on after service or networking. By talking with the customers you will find out what problems they encounter or what questions they have most about service or product. If you start to see trends emerging out of which you can form question, here is your content. Blog articles can provide your customers with answers, it can be distributed in newsletter or if you want to do it right, blog article. Having blog article about recurring question will save time explaining something over phone or email, and if content is very good and resonates with audience can even be shared with few or, if you are extremely lucky become viral.
4. What’s the point of giving for free
Emails are not free, they take time to write and to send. If you are still sending separate email to each person you are losing money. Everyone would agree, that to extent time is money, time you don’t have to work and spend with your loved ones is priceless. If you are not using your lists you are losing time and money. If you are not growing your lists you are also losing time and money. The bigger your list grows the smaller is cost of creative per person, bigger lists also allow to create clusters of customers making AB testing more accurate. By giving free content you will maintain your lists of engaged customers keeping the cost down.
By looking at how customers interacting on your website or email your business can automate lead conversion process. If customer opened email and downloaded product information he is more likely to make a purchase, right. In this situation good practice would be to make a follow up email or make a phone call. Even if they choose not to go forward for some reason, lead is still a prospect, and all is down to waiting game and sending periodic newsletters with value provided. If your business will keep providing value to a prospect time will come, maybe they will fall out with current supplier, maybe they decided to spend money on consulting, now guess who will be the first person on their mind as a pro in that field, you. Even if it is a general contact (e.g.) if they see you in a good light it is still beneficial for company:
a) they are potential employees
b) they are potential customer, maybe the time is just not right yet.
Lets say you captured a lead while they still are students, you are likely to have their personal email meaning you still be able to contact them while they are moving jobs.
4. How will I send bulk Emails
There are number of free emailing clients available for a budget marketers or solopreneurs. Segmentation work you put in at the beginning will allow to export your lists and target them accordingly. You will be able to see how many people opened emails, how many took the action you wanted them to take. Emailing clients will give you templates, suggestions on how to create your email campaigns, industry comparisons AB testing facilities. There is great Irish product Sensorpro providing way more than industry average. MailChimp in the other hand are industry leaders for small lists. They have extensive library of e-books if you want more information of how process can process be streamlined and perfected. They are great example of what inbound/content marketing is. By reading their e-books you could learn great deal of how your content should look like, off course tailored to your target audience.
Email can inform about your products, news about your company, support PR activities or even become business itself. We all know groupon, in a nutshell it is a very large mailing list. It is important to remember that sending unsolicited emails is against the law and is punishable. If you are sending email newsletters you have to provide unsubscribe option and your emails have to be written according to best practice guides make available by your email client provider. If you follow guidelines all process should be more than easy.
5. Linking all together
Ok now, you have created all that needed, you have lists with your customer emails ready, you have your social media accounts setup and interaction with followers is stable. You have drawn strategy for email newsletter and you blogs and e-books are there. Now you need to link it all together, email have to invite to your blog and your social media sites. Your blog have to have landing page to capture more emails.
For sure no-one will give their email for free, but you have valuable e-book ready for subscribers. You blog article has social sharing and commenting available. Your social media site is providing place for interaction and drives further traffic to blog that drives subscription to mailing list. In this way you capture your target audience in their preferred medium and interact with them in language close to them, but as a main goal you have their name surname and email address, something that will stay for a long time, meaning that even if time passes, you will still be able to reach them.
P.S. This content was created while being a part of BlueChief, only due to generosity of Shane McCarthy I was able to share it with public. In addition I am adding spruced up e-book with a same topic to use it for a reference and make message of Inbound stick with you for longer. You can download this e-book by pressing this very attractive button below.