Aye, all you scallywags. Your prospects and customers are on a treasure hunt for information all across the Internet. And X marks the spot on the virtual treasure map that leads them to their prize – your valuable content. Aaarrrgggg.
Of course your website visitors are not pirates out to pillage and plunder all the valuable loot that is your website content. What they seek is your knowledge, expertise and advice to guide them through their buying process.
Buyers today are nearly 70% through their decision-making process before contacting a vendor. How early in their buying cycle you engage with prospects can make the difference between earning their business or not.
But their journey will take a circuitous route before they finally make a decision to buy. Here are the primary stops they are likely to make where a savvy company sales rep can be granted permission to come aboard.
The Desert Island of Problems and Pains
As visitors set out on their journey to find the content treasure on your website, they first encounter the Desert Island of Problems and Pains. This is a strange and baron place where the traveler is often overwhelmed and confused. They have identified an issue with their business and have set out on their voyage to seek a solution, but they might not know which way to turn for answers.
The Ocean of Options
Without a knowledgeable navigator to guide them, your buyers set out on a journey to find useful information on their own. They search the web for answers, where they discover an Ocean of Options.
Here lurks a monster of online content – articles and blogs on numerous websites, videos and infographics, reviews and suggestions on social networks and review sites.
As they navigate these treacherous waters, they find some of the information useful, and they begin to form their opinions about the products and services that can solve their business problems. They begin to weed out the flotsam and jetsam, narrow the field of qualified vendors, and continue on their quest.
The Jungle of Vendors and Pretenders
Until this point, the prospect has been on their own to navigate the uncertain waters of the Internet. But just as your prospect begins to narrow their selections and form solid opinions about what to do and who to trust, they enter the Jungle of Vendors and Pretenders.
It at this point that most company sales people recognize that a potential new customer is in sight and reach out to make initial contact. But in the Jungle of Vendors and Pretenders, the sales contact is too late. By now the prospect already has most of the information they need and is nearly done comparing options and making selections, and you’re just one of a herd of company reps.
The Inbound Marketing Treasure Map
Company sales reps need to be navigators, offering guidance and direction to nurture potential customers as soon as they set out from the Desert Island of Problems and Pains, cross The Ocean of Options, and navigate the Jungle of Vendors and Pretenders. In order to engage with prospects earlier in their buying cycle, businesses need to be able to identify new prospects as quickly as possible when they begin their online research.
An inbound marketing strategy provides a systematic approach to attract new prospects when they start their online research, convert them into leads, help close them as customers and delight them with the results. Let’s take a closer look at the inbound marketing process.
Attracting interested prospects early in the research phase of their buying cycle is the first step in an inbound marketing approach. A company’s blog is a great way to drive these visitors to the company website by providing knowledge and expertise that can help buyers with the information and answers they seek.
After engaging interested prospects, businesses must convert these strangers into leads. If the visitor found the information they received from your blog useful, they may also be likely to providing their name, email and other information via a web form, in order to download a detailed eBook, whitepaper or case study for even more valuable content that can help them be a better informed shopper.
Once a prospect has provided their contact information in exchange for your valuable content offer, businesses must cultivate these new relationships by providing guidance, support and advice, through personalized email messages and offers of other similar content. The sales rep who was with the prospect from the beginning, offering helpful advice, not sales pitches, will become the trusted resource, and likely the chosen vendor for the new prospect.
Customers are delighted by businesses that continue their inbound marketing strategy after the sale. The personalized and relevant articles, emails and social media posts these companies created to gain the new customer, continue to be used to turn customers into promoters. These new fans will, in turn, recommend and refer the business, and return again with repeat business.