Here at HA Digital Marketing, we’re always talking about inbound marketing. It’s kind of our thing, so you’ll notice most of our blogs talk about how your inbound marketing strategy can attract more clients, produce more leads, and boost your ROI. What we only occasionally talk about, however, is what exactly the inbound marketing methodology, or inbound marketing funnel is. If you’re new to inbound marketing, or just aren’t quite sure what the term means, then this is the blog for you! We’re going to break down the basics of the inbound marketing funnel right now:
What is the Inbound Marketing Funnel?
Also known as the inbound marketing methodology or inbound flow chart, the inbound marketing funnel looks like this:
The overall idea of an inbound marketing strategy is to attract new visitors, convert them to leads, who close and become customers, and then to delight those customers with continued quality service, so they become your word of mouth promoters of your business. That’s what we call the inbound marketing methodology.
The inbound marketing funnel refers specifically to where the client is in their process of choosing your company above the competition. If you’re familiar at all with the generic sales funnel, or buyer’s journey, think of the inbound marketing funnel as a similar way of looking at things. The inbound marketing funnel labels clients with a different title based on how interested they are in what you have to offer — so you know what types of content to send them, and when.
- Strangers – Consumers who don’t know about your brand or your company
- Visitors – Strangers who come to your site and learn a bit about your company
- Leads – Visitors who have progressed further into your site, and eventually give you their contact information.
- Customer – Leads who convert into customers by purchasing your product or service.
- Promoters – Customers who are delighted by your continued efforts to make sure they have everything they need, and who are so pleased with your company and your service that they love telling their friends and family about you.
While it’s fairly easy to understand these 5 stages of the inbound marketing funnel, what’s more difficult to figure out is how to get ahold of consumers at each stage of the funnel, and attract them to your company in a way that interests them. Here are a few ways to think about boosting your inbound marketing strategy, based on each step of the inbound marketing funnel.
Perhaps the most difficult-to-target is consumers at the very top of the funnel. Strangers don’t know you from Adam, which means it’s your job to somehow catch their attention. In today’s oversaturated world, consumers are constantly barraged by advertisements and non-relevant content that makes your job just that much harder. It’s important to target key buyers that you know want or need your product or service, and the best ways to do that are:
Facebook / Instagram Advertising
Facebook and Instagram have super powerful advertising abilities. When you put out an ad on Facebook or Insta, you can choose exactly who sees that ad, from age to occupation and even to what type of content they “like”. Basic like campaigns or simple banner ads are cheap, and they’re one of the best ways to get your name out there. That is the point of this stage of the funnel, after all.
Since you’re marketing to strangers, the first step is introducing yourself. Your goal for this top level of the funnel is awareness, which means you need to look for ad campaigns that can get you plenty of impressions. Clicks are great, but most people won’t click on your ad until they’ve seen it a few times, or they’ve heard about you somewhere else. For consumers at the stranger level of the inbound marketing funnel, focus on ads that cast a wide net, and get your name out there.
Another paid way to introduce your site and company to strangers is to invest in Google Pay-Per-Click Ads. If you think about it, most people looking for information are going to search in Google before they do anything. From there, they’ll make their decisions based on the results they get. If you’re the first to pop up, even as an ad, that’s a major step to brand recognition, and getting someone to click through to your site. Check out this blog for information on optimizing a PPC campaign, and see this one for more information about what PPC actually is.
Another key way of making yourself visible to strangers is ensuring you have impeccable SEO. If you don’t know what that is, we’ve got an insane number of blogs to help you out — this SEO Site Checkup blog, Simple SEO Tips, and 15 Free SEO Audit Tools We Love — but basically it means making your website and digital presence visible to search engines. The more search engines like your site, the more likely they are to show it to consumers. Improve your SEO, and you’ll improve your online search engine ranking. The higher you show up in rankings, the more eyes you’ll get on your site, which means more strangers turning into visitors. Best of all, SEO is free. No paid ads here!
Another key, free way to draw in strangers is to start a blog. The more you blog about topics that are relevant to your target buyer, the more of an authority you’ll become in the industry. When you’re the company everyone turns to for information about the next big thing in your industry, you’re also the first company they recognize, think of, and then buy from once they get around to making a decision.
Create blogs that are interesting, relevant, and content rich. Don’t just write listicles every month, try to put out some deep content that answers questions and proves useful for your target buyer. The more content you have out there, and that’s promoted on your social media platforms, the more consumers you’re speaking to, and the more likely they are to come to your site to see what you have to say.
Visitors are strangers who’ve made it to your website. They want to learn a bit about you, and see what it is your company has to offer. Once they make it to your site, your goal is to get their contact information, so you can encourage a sale. Here are a few ways to keep visitors on your site, and coming back so you can get them to convert to leads:
Gated content is content that requires an email address and name to access it. It is a key way for any inbound marketer to pull potential clients and visitors through to the lead stage of the funnel. Offer up some amazing, in-depth content that you know your key buyer just wouldn’t be able to resist, and simply ask for their email address in return for the downloadable PDF. Once you have their email, that visitor becomes a lead, and you can target them in other ways.
Keep visitors coming back with remarketing campaigns. Extremely effective, these campaigns most often show up on Facebook, Instagram, and Google, and remind past visitors to your website what they looked at while they were there. If they added a pair of shoes to their cart, but bailed before making it to checkout, a remarketing campaign will show those shoes on other sites they frequent, like Facebook and Google, and remind them of the purchase they almost made. This is a great way to get visitors to come back to your site, where you’ll have another chance to capture their contact information.
Once you finally get an email address, your potential buyer will move down into the lead level of the inbound marketing funnel. Now you can nurture this lead to the decision-making stage with relevant, deep content, and clear calls-to-action that explain the benefits of purchasing your product or service.
Longer, deeper content is a key way to entice a lead to purchase. They have a lot of questions — answer them as fully as you possibly can. By providing answers to their questions, and by providing as much detail as they can stand, you’re assuring them that your product really is that great, and you’re eliminating any fears of buyers remorse they might have. Create thorough content that genuinely helps them make a decision and stay away from the b.s. — consumers can smell it from miles away.
If you want someone to make a purchase, you have to make it easy for them. Make it super obvious how they can purchase your product or service with calls-to-action. Whether they need to simply checkout, or call your office, or fill out a form, calls-to-action can get them there. These colorful buttons are everywhere these days, and they’re perhaps the best tool to convince a lead to convert. Make it easy for leads to buy or pick up the phone, and they will. Here’s how to make sure your CTAs are spectacular.
Finally, after a long journey through the inbound marketing funnel, you’ve converted a lead into a customer. They’ve made a purchase, and now you can wipe your hands of them.
Not so fast!
This customer can be useful to you. More than that, who’s to say they won’t buy from you again? Customers who are delighted by your helpful service can become your best promoters. They’ll leave 5 star reviews, tell their friends about you, and share all your posts on social media. Be good to those customers, and they’ll be good to you. Here’s how to help them out.
Lead nurturing emails
After someone’s made a purchase, don’t just forget about them. Send them emails about add-on products or services they might like now that they have your other offering. If you sell something that pairs really well with that purse they bought, let them know! The more customized and tailored your follow-up emails, the more likely they are to purchase again. Another good way to turn your customers into promoters is to ask them for reviews after they’ve received their product. A simple “how did you like your socks?” email, with a link to write a review on your site or on Google can go a long way in boosting your reputation, and making it easier for the next consumer to convert to a sale.
People love to feel like they’re getting the inside scoop. If you have a newsletter that’s exclusively for people who have purchased an item or service, and if you offer occasional exclusive deals, people will start to talk. The better you take care of those existing customers, the more they’ll tell their friends about you, which will start that inbound funnel all over again.
The inbound marketing funnel, and this simple breakdown of what type of content to provide, and when, can make it easy for you to align and optimize your sales and marketing teams. If you notice you’re getting plenty of site traffic, but visitors seem to drop off before offering up their email address, start focusing on more valuable content, and maybe consider remarketing. The inbound marketing funnel offers and easy, clear way to see your potential clients, and to devise smart ways to help pull them through the funnel, and convert them to sale.
We know this is a lot of talk, and it’s not always as simple to implement an inbound marketing strategy as it might seem. If you’re looking to move into pull, inbound marketing methods, but aren’t sure how, let’s chat! A simple one-on-one conversation might answer more questions than you’d think.
And in case you’d like to learn even more about inbound marketing — in a sassy, irreverent, totally hilarious, and not-at-all sarcastic way — be sure to check out our Smartass Guide to Inbound Marketing below: