There is certainly no shortage of people consuming products and services. The opportunities to create customers and generate sales are not going anywhere. However, the culture and the means by which practices attract new clients are changing rapidly. Inbound marketing embraces the notion that you must first earn your customer’s interest, not merely push your services or promotions onto them.
Inbound marketing is the fastest growing form of direct marketing and is proving to be an invaluable approach. It should not be viewed as a single idea, but rather as an overarching strategy for successfully operating your practice online. Inbound Marketing focuses on increasing your online search visibility, attracting the right visitors to your website, converting those visitors into leads, and ultimately customers.
Marketing and advertising have traditionally been outbound-focused, whereby businesses cast out broad messages to a wide audience. TV and radio commercials, print advertisements, billboards, cold calling, and mass email blasts are all examples of traditional outbound marketing. Also known as interruption-based marketing, the aim is to cast a wide net in hopes of catching a small percentage of people that hear your message. These forms of media generally produce a low rate of return on investment, and it can be difficult to track and measure performance. Furthermore, the current Millennial Generation has become exceptional at tuning out these traditional tactics. As we progress further into the digital age, these channels are fading into obsolescence.
As a strategy that embraces all facets of our increasingly online-driven world, inbound marketing may well be the best answer to the shifting business environment. Inbound aims to draw more people to you, and help those visitors through the buyer’s journey with useful, compelling content that specifically addresses their interests and needs. Inbound Marketing tactics can be broken down into 4 steps:
STEP 1: Create & Maintain a Powerful Website
You need to create an attractive, useful, and relevant central hub for your practice. Your website should be enticing, easy to navigate, search engine friendly, mobile ready and easy to update. It is important to understand your intended audience, and the people most likely to become customers. Create buyer personas of your ideal customers. What are their traits, habits, and interests? What do they need? Create compelling, useful, relevant content that directly aligns with this criteria.
STEP 2: Generate More Traffic
Having an exceptional website is key, but what good is it if no one can find you? Attracting people that are already in the buying cycle and seeking out a particular service to our site is essential. If you don't capture those individuals, someone else will. This is achieved through blogging, compelling/useful/relevant content, search engine optimization, keyword targeting and PPC advertising. Forging a strong social media presence can greatly help in this regard as well. Discover which channels your intended audience already uses and make yourself seen. All of these efforts can increase your search visibility and the chance of customers coming to you.
STEP 3: Convert Traffic to Leads
People are coming to your site, they know your brand and engage with your content. How do we convert visitors into new client leads? At the very least, we need their names and email addresses. By offering relevant, useful premium content such as eBooks, tip sheets, whitepapers, and infographics, people are more likely to feel justified in providing some of their personal information. Strategically placed calls to action drive people to fill out forms to receive their premium content, and become leads. Utilizing automated data collection and maintaining an up-to-date lead database is critical.
STEP 4: Convert Leads to Sales
Finally, how do you convert your leads into paying customers? Start by segmenting leads based on which forms they've filled out, and which premium content they've downloaded. Based on this, we have a good idea of their interests and/or needs. These leads are nurtured and moved along the sales funnel with additional relevant, useful information via targeted email follow-ups sent through an automated marketing program. This is an important element of the campaign, and largely what makes Inbound marketing so efficient and effective. Any lead that loses interest or converts to a customer can be easily and immediately be removed of the program.
Is it time to abandon outbound marketing completely? The answer is probably not. Although it is a good idea to begin exploring how inbound marketing can benefit your business. By focusing on the actual needs and interests of your intended audience, and publishing the right content in the right place at the right time, your marketing efforts become synonymous with their needs and desires, and you will earn the credibility and rapport to turn them into new clients.