Inbound Marketing 101: Get Your Customers to Listen and Buy

The web and social media have forever changed the tactics of marketing.

Sending more promotional messages through traditional push-based tactics doesn’t work any more. So leading businesses are using inbound marketing (or “Pull Marketing”) to more effectively attract new customers.

But simply “telling stories” about your products is not enough either. Making emotional appeals to your prospects to have them buy your products and services is going past the realm of “not working” to actually working against many brands.

Today’s consumers want to learn. They can sense whether marketing is spin and self interest or truth and altruism. The more trustworthy and helpful your content, the more your customers will listen.

To support this effort at our company, my colleagues Travis Teo and Lisa Halim (@lizhalim) have created an infographic called The Definitive Guide To Pull Marketing to lay out the basics of inbound marketing…

Inbound Marketing 101

  • Pull marketing seeks to have a dialogue. Pull marketers know the customer controls the conversation.
  • It is thought provoking, timely, mutually interesting, and easy to find
  • Inbound nurtures and develops long-term relationships by serving the needs of your audience.
  • It helps your audience to influence or participate in the conversation by taking their feedback seriously.
  • Pull marketing accepts that you have to earn your audiences attention since they are in control.

The 6 Steps to Inbound Marketing Success

  1. Develop an effective marketing strategy. Marketing is an investment in the growth of your business, not an expense.
  2. Create and maintain a powerful website. An effective website is the hub of all your online marketing and lead generation activities.
  3. Generate more traffic through effective blogging, social media, SEO and paid search. By increasing the traffic to your website you increase the number of opportunities for visitors to convert into leads.
  4. Convert traffic to leads. Create effective offers and calls to action that appeal to potential buyers at all stages.
  5. Convert Leads into sales through effective nurturing strategies and marketing automation.
  6. Measure everything! The most important measures are: Traffic to leads, Leads to customer, cost per lead and cost per customer.  But the image also provides 24 measures you should use for each inbound marketing tactic.

Earn the Right to Be Heard

Conversations with customers are easy to kill. Customer service agents who cannot satisfy customer needs at the first contact. Difficulty contacting your business. Web sites that are not user friendly and do not serve customer needs in a timely manner. No matter what marketing channel you choose, make sure your customers do not experience these tragic consequences of a poor strategy.

Follow these simple best practices to entice your consumers to listen… and buy:

Search Engine Marketing

  • Give your audience members the content they want
  • Deliver content that uses terms that are frequently searched on a variety of search engines
  • Include appropriate calls-to-action on your website and landing pages

Your Web Site

  • Create Web pages that include search-friendly keywords that your customers are using
  • Recommend and display content that drives the next step in the buying process
  • Refresh your content frequently

Social Media

  • Gather audience insights from social channels
  • Get the resources you need to facilitate a conversation with the audience
  • Develop and adhere to a content calendar that aligns to customer needs

Inbound hotlines

  • Include inbound numbers on all of your communications across all channels and media
  • Train inbound agents on all your products
  • Make sure your inbound hotline is accessible across all phone devices
  • Conform to permission marketing best practices across all channels

Online Chat

  • Make sure chat functions are available across all digital channels
  • Give agents what they need to provide an optimal chat experience for all consumers

Third-Party Web Sites

  • Use third-party sites to publish your content
  • Drive content that media sites will rank high on search results
  • Prominently display hotline, chat, and contact us forms

Download this reminder tool to help create your next pull campaign 

Check out the infographic “The Definitive Guide to Pull Marketing.” Download and post it to remind you how you can create a winning pull marketing campaign.

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

4 thoughts on “Inbound Marketing 101: Get Your Customers to Listen and Buy

  1. Thanks for sharing Michael. I think the key to success for today’s modern marketing is having conversations and relevant, useful content that positions your company as a trusted adviser. At Dreamforce one of the sessions shared research that buyer’s have typically done 60% of the buying process before they actually visit your website or landing page. People can easily get ratings, reviews, ask peers, analysts and more before they begin interacting with vendors to make a purchase decision. With regards to the Infographic in the Social Media section the question “Do you have resources (the right resources) to facilitate the conversation on social media channels” is critical. I would add that it’s also important to have a social media playbook/guidelines for the entire company: Sales, Product Marketing, Product Management, Support and more to further extend the reach and engagement for social media. Thanks for the 101 post!

    1. Thanks Kurt and great feedback. We have even seen research that says that it can be up to 80% of the purchase process that is complete before the buyer reaches out to the vendor. So it is critical to create that early stage content to attract your audience with education and thought leadership.

      And you are absolutely correct that it requires resources, guidelines and training for anyone who might interact with potential buyers. Increasingly, that is becoming everyone in the company.

  2. The one thing that stuck out to me was “Recommend and display content that drives the next step in the buying process”. It’s funny how that sounds so obvious when you read it but it’s so overlooked in reality. I’m going to be redoing a bunch of content on my website and that’s actually one of the best bits of advice I’ve come across! In a lot of ways the idea of inbound marketing is still sort of detached from the process. It tends to fall into categories like blogging and using social media but only in a few cases have I seen companies actually use their blog as a marketing tool as opposed to just a content repository. Your statement pulls content and marketing together perfectly.

    1. Thanks Carol, to me the point of content has to be equal parts reach, engagement AND conversion. It needs to inspire action by helping our buyers take the next step. I thin valuable content earns you the right to suggest that next step as well.

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