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This article is Part 2 of the Post: What is Inbound Marketing and How Can it Help Indian SMEs Get More Business Online? If you have not read it yet, please do before continuing with this article.
In my previous article I had explained what inbound marketing is. In this article, we will dive into the why’s and the how’s of Inbound marketing. I will show you examples from our own experience of how Inbound marketing has helped us generate quality leads and sometimes much better than outbound marketing. But before we dive into the why’s and how’s, we will first understand the buying cycle of a customer.
The B2B Buying Cycle: People do Research before they Buy
People generally research before they buy something. It could be for personal use or it could be for their business. Sometimes they do very little research and sometimes they research for months. Let us take an example of a simple product such as a Soap. If you are going to buy a soap, how much research would you do? You would probably ask your friends about the best soap and you would go to a store and buy it. Here, we can safely assume that the buying cycle is something like half a day.
The buying cycle is less because Soaps are pretty simple products. Yes, there are many different brands of soap and many varieties to suit different types of skin, but still soaps are simple and perform a specific action without much fuss. Also, if you end up buying the wrong soap, the loss of time and money because of buying the wrong product is very less.
However, if you are going to buy a business phone system for handling all your customer calls, you would do a lot of research before you buy. If you end up buying the wrong product for your business, you not only waste your hard earned money but also your time which is very precious and priceless.
Let us assume that you would start your research with Google. You would probably search for the following keywords:
- Business phone system
- Virtual business phone system
- IVR for business phones
- Setup virtual call center
- Cloud based call centers
- Handle multiple calls with one business number
- Call recording for business calls
- Business phone system with CRM integration
You would be sifting through a lot of CONTENT first before you get an idea about the providers in the market, the features, the pricing and so on. You are in the research phase now. You are educating yourself about business phone systems. Once you are confident that you have all the information that you need, then you would go and buy the best product in the market (perhaps Exotel! 🙂 ) for your business telephony needs.
That’s why Content Marketing is an important part of Inbound Marketing.
Quality Content Generates Attention
When you do research, you consume content. You either ask your friends or search for a keyword on Google and you consume the information that’s coming back to you so that you can make informed decisions.
If we get your attention while you are researching, we have a higher chance of converting you as our customer. For example, we had published this article a while back: Top 5 things to Consider while buying a Cloud Telephony Product. This article was published to help someone who is considering to buy a cloud telephony product. Anyone who is in the research phase of the buying cycle would be interested in reading that article.
If you refer to the funnel image above, we are basically generating attention when the prospect is at Awareness, Interest and Consideration phase.
As the prospect moves deeper into the funnel, more people are fighting for the attention of the prospect and hence it becomes costlier to get the attention of a potential customer.
For example, if someone is searching for “Buy Virtual Business Phone System” or “Buy IVR for Business” they are in the intent phase and very close to evaluation and purchase.
The market and the competition wants reach prospects in this stage and spends money on advertisements. This are is crowded. But if you have generated interest during the research phase of the prospect, the prospect is likely to notice what you have to offer.
How Content Marketing has helped Exotel
Content marketing has been one of the most effective marketing strategies for Exotel. We generated attention and interest of prospective customers by creating quality content that helps them make an informed buying decision. We create content and publish it on our blog (this one), we create videos and publish it on our YouTube channel. We create presentations and publish it on SlideShare.net.
The above screenshot shows the organic traffic that Exotel receives weekly. Around 35% of our traffic comes from the search engines. Compared to 1 year ago, we are getting 10 times more traffic per week now. A 1000% increase in a matter of 1 year. If you consider the increase in traffic from other sources, it would even be higher.
Many visitors who read articles on our blog are also interested in the product that we offer. They register for a free trial and within a short span of time they become our customers if what we offer suits their business needs. We present our offering in different places through out our website which increases the chance of people noticing our offer.
Content Marketing Fuels Social Media Marketing
Content marketing is a great tool to attract visitors but it need not try to achieve the goal of generating traffic and conversions on its own. Content marketing can help fuel your social media marketing and make it complement each other.
What do people share on social media? What do you share on social media? It has always been and always will be interesting content. If a content is boring you would not share it with your friends. When you publish interesting content on your blog, people are likely to share it on social media with their network which helps you generate more inbound traffic from social media websites.
Whenever we publish a blog post in Exotel’s blog we share it on our Facebook page, Twitter feed and LinkedIn account. Followers of Exotel would discover our new article and if they find it interesting and useful, they would share it with their network – and we get new visitors to our blog. These new visitors can become our social media followers, subscribers and customers! So content marketing helps social media and social media helps the content spread which ultimately increases customers and revenue.
Integrating Content, Social, Search, Email & More
As I have explained in the post above, content can support social strategy and social can support content. We can add even more elements into the mix such as search and email marketing strategy in a way that each element complements each other. This is also called integrated digital marketing.
When you have good quality content and it is shared well on social media, it helps you get more search engine traffic. This is because search engines pick up signals from user behavior such as social media sharing, time spent on website and so on. If an article is read, commented, shared on social media then it is an obvious signal to the search engines that the content should be of good quality.
The Inbound Marketing Cheat Sheet
Throughout this article we have talked about the buying cycles, how quality content generates traffic, awareness, attention, interest and so on. I also explained how inbound marketing has helped Exotel and how content marketing can help you with other digital marketing strategies. Having said all that we are yet to develop a step-by-step strategy or an action list which can help you get started and achieve your goals.
So here it goes:
- Identify the questions in the mind of your target audience. Pick out your typical customer and find out what his needs are, what he searches for when he is trying to find a solution for his needs.
- Based on the questions in step 1, develop a master list of keywords that people would search for in the search engines when trying to find a solution for their problems/needs.
- Install a blog in your website. It can be blog.website.com or website.com/blog. The preferred option for blogging system is WordPress.
- Publish articles in this blog regularly. Make sure that they are seo optimized. (SEO tips is beyond the scope of this article, but if you are not sure about it, you can just Google about it and learn how to publish search engine friendly articles on your blog).
- Sync your content through other channels such as YouTube, Social Media websites, Slideshare etc.
- Convert your visitors into subscribers/leads.
- Follow up with your leads using auto-responders and nurture them. If they are not ready to buy your product, educate them.
- Convert leads into paying customers using proven sales techniques. If you are going to call your leads make sure that you also collect phone numbers as part of lead generation.
When you are connecting with people who have registered on your website and explicitly given you permission to contact them, they will be much more receptive to your sales pitch. I hope you would agree that this method is definitely much better for both the buyer and seller than outbound marketing such as cold calling etc.
I hope this post has given you a good idea about how to create an inbound marketing strategy and execute it. The best way to master inbound marketing is to start practicing it as early as possible. If you have any questions about how to do inbound marketing for your own company, you can ask me. You can leave a comment below or contact me through email or social channels.