questions.jpgToday’s consumers do their own research online. Buyers can find out nearly anything about the products and services they’re shopping for, even compare vendors, with a simple web search, right from their desktop or smartphone.

This virtually unlimited access to product information has changed sales conversations. Consumers, not companies, control the buying process. While they seek out the information they want, they tune out traditional marketing and advertising that they don’t want or do not expect.

Research from Google found that consumers are nearly two-thirds through their buying cycle before reaching out to a sales rep. What would it mean to your business if you connected with your customer earlier in their decision-making process?

Inbound marketing is a methodology that puts companies in the driver’s seat by emphasizing the content that their customers are looking for online. But before starting an inbound marketing strategy, it is important that you have a detailed game plan. The answers to these 6 important questions will help guide you in developing your inbound marketing strategy:

1) Who is my ideal customer and what are their pains?

A Buyer Persona is a detailed picture of your ideal customer. A thorough understanding of your buyer personas’ demographics will go a long way toward equipping your content team to create helpful resources that connect with each persona.

2) How will people find us online?

Inbound marketing is about being found when people start searching. Inbound marketing campaigns are collections of marketing tactics designed to attract visitors from your search engines, social media, email and your other online channels.

3) How will we convert website visitors into leads?

Most websites have a conversion problem. They attract visitors, but few are “raising their hands” and requesting more information. Visits to your website are not enough to bring success. To convert visitors into leads, and ultimately customers, give visitors the opportunity to give you their contact information by providing free educational resources that assist them in their research and decision-making process.

4) How can I use education to nurture them through the process?

Most of your website visitors are not yet ready to buy. The process of nurturing a lead from one stage in their buyer’s journey to the next requires a lot of education. Lead nurturing is a way to automate this process by sharing the right content with the right people at the right time.

5) How can I delight my customers after purchasing so that they buy again (and tell their friends)?

It’s often expensive to acquire a customer. Focus on increasing your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) by investing in communication and processes focused on delighting your customers. Use customer nurturing tactics to help automate the upsell and secondary purchase process.

6) How can we make our marketing efforts more sustainable?

Scale for growth. Inbound marketing success depends on a system that focuses on the core tasks that are critical for your ongoing business growth.

Your answers to these 6 questions will help you create an inbound marketing game plan that includes consistent blogging, an active social media presence, content creation, and analytics reporting that all work together to move the ball down the field.