crazy_cat_meme.jpgWhat if you time-traveled back to the 1950’s, and blew everyone’s minds by showing them a handheld device that gives you access to the bulk of human knowledge? And you use it watch crazy cat videos…

The Internet gives people unlimited access to information – and unlimited choices to make buying decisions differently than they did just a few years ago. The result is a revolutionary shift where customers, not advertisers, define their own buying process. In order to stay competitive, marketers need to adapt.

Before the Internet, marketing was much different. Buyers were relatively uninformed, so they needed to contact a salesperson to gather the product information they required to make their purchase. Sales reps interrupted prospects with cold calls. Brands saturated the marketplace with “outbound” advertising in trade magazines, on bus benches and billboards, in the local paper, on the radio and TV – the more, the better.

Today, consumers are in the driver’s seat. Buyers have the power to research goods and services, and discover new products at their own leisure. They direct their own buyer journey, mostly online, with little influence from a salesperson, and ignore or block the marketing messages they do not want.

“Inbound” is a fresh approach to marketing that reaches today’s consumer. Rather than interrupting shoppers with less effective old-school marketing tactics, inbound marketing focuses on creating educational content that attracts people to your website where they can learn more about what you sell on their own accord.

By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you can earn permission to market to prospects that you can convert into leads, close into customers, and delight to the point they become promoters of your brand.

Here are some of the major themes of inbound marketing:

  1. Content Creation
    You create targeted content that answers your customer’s basic questions and needs, and you share that content far and wide.
  2. Lifecycle Marketing
    You recognize that people go through stages as they interact with your company, and that each stage requires different marketing actions.
  3. Personalization and Context
    As you learn more about your leads over time, you can better personalize your messages to their specific needs.
  4. A Multi-Channel Experience
    Inbound marketing is multi-channel by nature because it engages people where they are, in the channel where they want to interact with you.
  5. Integration
    Your publishing and analytics tools all work together like a well-oiled machine, allowing you to understand what is working, and what is not.

How does Inbound work?

The inbound marketing methodology helps brands attract, convert, close, and delight visitors, leads and customers across multiple online channels such as social media, blogging, SEO, landing pages, forms, and email. It facilitates the buyer’s journey through their buying cycle – from initial awareness of a problem, to researching different solutions, to deciding on their purchase.

Step 1: Attract strangers to your website

Create content that’s valuable and easy to find on search engines. Blogging is one of the most effective ways to attract qualified visitors to your website. According to research from HubSpot, companies that blog get 55% more website visitors. Promote your blogs on social media sites to extend their reach.

Step 2: Convert website visitors into leads

A modern website converts anonymous website visitors into leads by offering downloadable content, such as a whitepaper or eBook, that is designed to entice the visitor to give you their contact information.

Step 3: Nurture leads to help close customers

Send leads targeted, automated emails to nurture them through your buying cycle. Provide your sales team with lead intelligence for more effective sales calls.

Step 4: Delight customers and turn them into promoters of your brand

Using context and personalization to deliver tailored messages, continue to engage with, delight, and (hopefully) upsell your customers into happy promoters of your company.

Technology has changed and so has the consumer’s buying process. Modern marketers use inbound marketing to outsmart, not outspend, their competition by attracting and educating visitors, and converting leads into customers. After all, more efficient marketing strategy means more free time to watch crazy cat videos!