How to Turn Strangers into Customers in 3 Steps using Inbound Marketing

Frank Cowell

William Butler Yeats once said “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet.” And similarly with Inbound Marketing, strangers are just customers you haven’t met yet. Although, by utilizing the key principles outlined in this article, you’ll win customers using Inbound Marketing faster than you can say “attract, convert, and close.”

An Overview of Three Key Principles of Inbound Marketing

Key Inbound Marketing Principle #1. ATTRACT

Inbound Marketing Helps You ATTRACT Potential Ideal Customers

Unlike traditional, or outbound marketing which focuses on finding you, giving you a sales pitch, and attempting to sell you something you may not want or need, inbound is about attracting you to a place where you can find everything you need in order to make an informed decision prior to purchase. How does Inbound accomplish this? Simple. It gets to know you first.

Let’s look at a few ways we can use the ATTRACT principle to accomplish this…

Buyer Personas Help You Emotionally Connect with Potential Ideal Customers

Buyer Personas represent your ideal customer, inside and out. They address the challenges, pain points, objections as well as demographic information shared among a particular customer type. In short, your personas are your target audience. And knowing them is key if you want to earn customers using inbound marketing. So take the time to create your personas properly. Identify your audience targets. Conduct interviews with existing clients. Learn why they love you. Or why they don’t. And then come as close as you can to breathing life into your personas so they can keep your entire Inbound campaign on message.

Keyword Research Helps You Understand What Potential Ideal Customers are Looking For

Wikipedia defines Keyword research as a practice used by search engine optimization professionals to find and research actual search terms people enter into search engines when conducting a search. This means keywords are a huge part of turning strangers in to customers. If you’re running a bike repair shop, and your site is optimized for the keyword “bike repairs” the people in your area searching for bike repairs are going to find you based on that keyword and be happy they did! Because you’re going to fix their bike for them! Which is exactly what they wanted! You can also create blog calendars and blog articles based on the most relevant, well performing keywords for your industry.

Blogging Let’s You Demonstrate Value, Which is Key to ATTRACTion

There are many who believe Inbound marketing truly begins with blogging, and I tend to agree. A blog can be the single best way to attract visitors to your website. They’re a fantastic way to create educational content that converses with your site visitors and answers their questions. Blogs are also very impactful on search rankings. But most of all, blogging is the first place you can demonstrate your commitment to an enrichment-based marketing program. That is, a program that focuses on “enriching” or “serving” instead of the usual “promoting.”

Social Media Helps You Connect With Potential Ideal Customers and Engage Them with Your Content

Social publishing allows you to exponentially disseminate your content. You may have a terrific list of blog subscribers, however you may have an even larger list of social followers that don’t even know you have a blog … unless of course you republish your posts on the social web.

Key Inbound Marketing Principle #2. CONVERT

Inbound Marketing Helps You CONVERT Website Visitors into Leads

Now that you’ve attracted folks to your website your next move is to convert them into leads. How? Again, get to know them. Collect their contact information so you can stay in touch with them. But how do you get their contact information? Simple, give first. Then get. That’s the big idea behind today’s enrichment-based marketing: you must wake up to serve, rather than promote.

Develop a Lead Magnet as a Key Item in Your CONVERT Strategy

A Lead Magnet is a piece of content or offering that allows you to CONVERT visitors into leads through an exchange of their information for the piece that they are requesting. Lead Magnets can be things like eBooks, white papers, guides, assessments, and so on. Offering a truly helpful resource in return for valuable contact information ensures both parties come away from the deal feeling good.

Don't Forget Your Strategy 

It's not enough to just brainstorm a lead magnet idea and hope for the best. It's important to develop an overarching strategy for your marketing initiatives - which buyer persona do you want to target? What particular problem will this lead magnet solve? What are their next steps in the process after download? Fill out your own Digital Utopia Blueprint to craft your strategic approach. 

Craft your own digital marketing strategy With the Digital Utopia Blueprint »

CTAs are one of the Ways You Get People to See Your Lead Magnet

CTAs - Or “calls to action” are linkable graphical pieces that encourage your site visitors to interact, or take an action on your site (ideally, directing them to learn more about the Lead Magnet you’re offering). A typical CTA might say “download this helpful eBook on bike repairs”. Good CTAs are key to generating traffic to the Landing Pages (up next) that feature your Lead Magnets, which are key to generating more leads!

Landing Pages are Where the CONVERSION Rubber Meets the Road

Clicking a CTA should drive your site visitor to a landing page where they can enter more information about themselves. This is where the offer you’re promoting (your Lead Magnet) on the CTA is fulfilled. Once complete, the form will be submitted to your sales team to be followed up on. Make sure your landing pages are very clear and direct. Don’t over crowd them with unnecessary information or text. Keep them succinct and to the point.

Congrats Pages Help Continue the Engagement

Don’t overlook your “Congrats Pages.” Once the form on the landing page has been filled out and the information has been downloaded, your visitor should see a “Congrats Page.” Many people call these “Thank You Pages,” but I’m a big believer in saying “congrats,” because if your Lead Magnet is providing tons of value like it should, then “congrats, you are now on your way to being more awesome because of it!”  Congrats Pages are also a great opportunity to upsell and cross sell more information. You can have a CTA on your Congrats Page that says, “If you liked this, you might also enjoy this other thing too!”

Key Inbound Marketing Principle #3: CLOSE

Inbound Marketing Helps You CLOSE the Sale!

Now that you’ve gotten the right people to your site and converted them into leads it’s time to take the next step and close the deal.

Lead Nurturing Allows You to be a Top-of-Mind Valuable Resource, There for Them When They’re Ready to Buy

By creating follow-up workflows, you can keep your prospects engaged and equipped with the right information at the right time. A Marketing Automation System (MAS) will allow you to create email marketing funnels tailored to the sales stage of each of your leads, being mindful of where your prospects are in their relationship with you. If they prefer your white papers, offer them more. If they’re following you on twitter, keep the right blog content in front of them. Lead Nurturing will make sure your messaging is in alignment with their interests, which is where you build BIG VALUE.

Lead Scoring Allows You to Maximize Sales Team Performance by Working with “Hot Leads”

With your MAS, you can use lead scoring to pinpoint specific behaviors and send targeted content based on your prospect’s activity and level of engagement. For example, scores can be based on number of webpages viewed, number of forms completed, or based on a minimum amount of targeted data collected. When your benchmark for these has been met, you can move your prospect to the next tier and provide your sales team with the qualified leads they’ve been begging for!

With these highly qualified leads at their disposal, your sales team should have no problem taking it from here. And what’s really great about these leads is that they’ve been nurtured properly, and nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

Put These Three Principles Together for an Unstoppable “SMARKETING” Machine

The beauty of Inbound Marketing’s three core principles is that it creates the long-needed union of Sales and Marketing, or what we like to call, “smarketing.” I would highly encourage Sales and Marketing departments to start thinking in this way now to get ahead of a trend that I see coming—the blending of Sales and Marketing into one department where both “sales” and “marketing” are held accountable to numbers. It’s coming. Don’t be caught off guard!

Sources: The Annuitas Group

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