Sometimes businesses operate under the misconception that marketing is a two-step process in which total strangers suddenly become customers. I’m over-simplifying this a bit, but what happens is something like this.
The business puts out information about their products and services and expects total strangers to immediately buy these products and services (to become customers). Unfortunately, when companies take this approach, they often come to the conclusion that “Marketing is a waste of time and money.”
In reality, effective marketing is more like a four-step process that works something like this:
1. Businesses need to attract strangers with their marketing efforts, such as blogs, keywords, and the use of social media. They need to get the attention of strangers who are legitimate candidates to become customers and let them know that the business has something of value for them. In today’s market, that means getting strangers to visit the company’s website. The stranger becomes a visitor.
2. Companies need to convert visitors to leads. Sales departments constantly complain that they don’t have good leads. Often, they’re right. Effective marketing moves visitors into the category of leads. They use calls-to-action, and landing pages to collect information about these leads. Not every visitor is a lead. But the people who are willing to give up their contact information move from being visitors to being leads.
3. Businesses need to move leads to being customers. This is the nurturing part of the program. Leads are great, but they don’t pay the bills. They’ve told you they are interested in what you have to offer, but you need to close the deal and give them a reason to buy. This is where follow-up emails and phone calls come in. And businesses need a workflow/system to make sure this happens.
4. Companies need to delight their customers and turn them into evangelists. We all know that the absolute best kind of marketing is independent, word-of-mouth marketing: Satisfied customers telling their friends (and strangers!) about your products and services. That’s why you need to stay in touch with your customers through events, social media, and additional content that helps them to get the most out of what they have purchased from you.
That’s really what inbound marketing is all about. It’s not just words. It’s not just technology. It’s action. It’s engaging in specific marketing activities that are intended to move people to the next level. And the cool thing about it is that it meets their needs and your needs. Want to know more about how to make inbound marketing work for you in each area of this process? Download our free Inbound Marketing 101 e-book to learn how to create engaging content that attracts the most relevant visitors to your website, convert them into leads and ultimately win them as customers.
So what’s your next action step?