Ever feel like advertising spend is just an endless drain on your marketing budget that never achieves the ROI you are looking for? Wish there was a way you could achieve more with less?

The arrival of digital media and what we might now call the Internet Age has changed consumer behaviours and expectations. As a result, marketing has had to change too. Potential customers are no longer a captive audience reading a magazine or newspaper, watching TV or listening to the radio, who you can push your marketing messages onto in the form of advertisements.

The internet has handed consumers unprecedented levels of choice in the media they use, and one of the consequences of that is many choose to avoid advertising altogether. With their time at a premium and in complete control of what they watch, listen to or read, people have in general become more wary of direct sales messages that intrude on their attention, especially when they have to intention or interest in buying at that particular moment.

Marketeers have had to respond to this empowerment of the customer. Inbound marketing in many ways represents a reversal in the politics of marketing - instead of brands controlling when and how consumers see their messages, inbound marketing acknowledges that the power lies with the individual to choose when, where, how and with whom they engage.

An good analogy might be that traditional ‘outbound’ marketing is like fishing with a net - cast the net wide enough, and you are bound to pick up a couple of catches. Inbound marketing is more like angling - creating the right conditions to attract attention, waiting for the ideal opportunity, and then making sure you can reel the customer in when you get a bite.

But as any angler knows, this kind of approach requires patience. Can brands fighting for survival in the ultra-competitive digital marketplace afford to play a waiting game? Is there any way of ensuring inbound marketing has more of an immediate impact?

 

inbound marketing methodology

 


Inbound marketing methodology


Done correctly, a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy should not leave you waiting for months on end to see positive results. In fact, experienced marketeers often argue that inbound methods achieve better results than traditional tactics for two very good reasons - they appeal to customer preferences in terms of the format and channels used to convey marketing messages, and they focus heavily on optimising the conversion funnel.

There are four stages to what marketing professionals refer to as the inbound marketing methodology - attract, convert, close and delight.

The first step is all about creating the right conditions for customers to find you. This includes things like SEO, which focuses on raising your visibility in search engines so more people click through to your websites. But it also involves making your brand accessible to customers in a way they prefer - not pushing sales messages with intrusive adverts as they browse for something completely different, but using content and channels that interest and engage them.

High quality content, be it blogs or vlogs, infographics and ebooks, even funny memes or eye-catching pictures, is crucial to the attract stage. It is about giving potential customers a reason to engage with your brand, not because you are trying to push a sale onto them, but because you offer something that interests or entertains them. You want to give consumers a reason to choose you.

Although having your own content-rich websites are important in inbound marketing, you also want to reach out to audiences on the channels they prefer. This is why social media marketing has grown in importance.

Social media is the perfect digital platform for brands to share and promote content in a format where people are comfortable selecting from a large ‘feed’ of choices. It is also where you can speak directly to your customers and engage them through dialogue.

So that covers the first benefit of inbound marketing, creating high-quality opportunities for potential customers to interact with a brand in a way which acknowledges consumer choice. But sometimes people talk about inbound marketing as if the ‘attract’ stage is the be all and end all. If all you did was raise your profile on social media and search engines and wrote great blogs, you probably would be waiting months to see any real ROI.


Convert, close, delight


The other three stages of the inbound marketing methodology - convert, close and delight - essentially boil down to optimising your marketing funnel, making sure you maximise the returns you get from the interest your attract tactics generate. These three stages of the methodology represent great marketing practice, and are essential for achieving high impact, rapid results.

The convert phase is all about turning a visitor who clicks a link you post on social media or reads a blog post into a genuine lead. At this stage, they might be curious about your brand, but there is no firm commitment to take the relationship forward. Action is all important here - offering the chance to sign up to a newsletter, or to access premium content, or complete a survey to enter a prize draw. Their action is confirmation of their choice to engage further. In return, you get valuable data to use in lead marketing campaigns.

Once you have your leads, you can work on closing the deal, perhaps through targeted special offers, email or direct mail campaigns, or sales alignment. And once you have converted a lead into a customer, then it is time to delight - with after-sales service, with cross- and up-selling, with loyalty schemes. Part of this is to create repeat custom, but it is also about completing the circle and turning customers into promoters, for example by harnessing positive feedback on social media.

Treated as a complete end-to-end marketing approach that aims to optimise each stage, inbound marketing can yield significant and rapid ROI. Ultimate Creative specialises in designing bespoke inbound marketing campaigns that focus on results first. To find out more about making it work for your brand, contact our digital marketing team today.



Written by Carrie Shaw April of 2018