Basics of Inbound Marketing
This morning when I woke up it was still dark. I turned on the light in the hallway, the light flickered and everything went dark again. This has been happening lately with that light switch. I made a mental note that I needed to change this light switch today.
I made my first cup of tea and sat down in front of the computer to research and find out how to change that faulty light switch. I wouldn’t call an electrician to fix one light switch, it will cost too much. So, I entered “How to replace a light switch” in Google search. Following is the screenshot of the first few search results.
I could click on the first result, instead I clicked on the second one. Why? The reason is, the second one says that the video was created by Home Depot where I probably will go and buy things that I need to replace the switch. This video very clearly tells me what I need to know before I go to the store and what I need to tell the store assistant if I need help. Home Depot won me as a customer.
Inbound Marketing vs Traditional Marketing
The above is an example of Inbound Marketing.
Let’s think about how traditional marketing works. The methodology of traditional marketing is to push (I prefer the word shove) the information to us by making cold call, TV advertising, sending print mails and several other things that we don’t want at all.
Think for a moment how we prefer to get information today. We prefer to find information when we want it and someone sending us the information that we don’t want to hear, that we feel is a disruption. The technology flipped the world of marketing from marketer-centric to customer-centric.
Buyer Personas and Buyer Journeys
Inbound marketing is centered around two very important things, buyer personas and buyer journeys. The buyer personas define the target customers for the website or business. Understanding buyer personas is important because only then we can create the meaningful content to attract right traffic to the site. The buyer personas can be defined through research and analysis and finding out more from existing customers.
The buyer journey on the other hand is the path that a buyer takes to become a customer. There are three different stages of the buyer journey:
- Awareness Stage: In this stage, the prospect is having some problem and he/she is trying to understand what the problem is through some research.
- Consideration Stage: In this stage the prospect knows what the problem is and now he/she is looking for available solutions.
- Decision Stage: In this stage the prospect is aware of the possible solutions and he/she is going to select a solution.
Inbound Marketing Methodology
Inbound marketing provides a process to take the buyer personas through the buyer journey with the help of right content and tools. The following diagram shows how this happens:
There are four stages of inbound marketing: Attract, Convert, Close and Delight. In each stage we use some tools to help the prospect to take the buyer journey. For example, in my case, Home Depot used SEO properly to attract me to watch their video. I started as a stranger and became a visitor of their site and a customer.
Once a visitor comes to the site, we can use a call to action (CTA) and forms to capture more information from the customer. In this way a visitor becomes lead and finally a happy customer who promotes the products or services to people they know.
This process adds value to the business and creates a value loop that brings more prospects to the business. In each stage of the process , Inbound Methodology uses data analysis and A/B testing to increase the conversion rate.