Are You Getting Enough Information From Your Leads?
It's fun to go fishing, but it's even better when you actually catch fish. That's why the most important part of fishing is figuring out what you're going to use to attract those fish: Should you use a blue lure? Green? Chartreuse? How about one that rattles?
You could do some research, perhaps talk to the local fishermen and see what they use; maybe they'll even tell you. Or you could just go with what you know, the old tried-and-true, and throw your favorite lure into every square foot of the pond and see if you just don't snag something. And if that doesn't work -- well, you could always go out to dinner.
But suppose you could talk to the fish, follow them around for a while, and get them to tell you what they want, and where, and when? “Hello Mr. Big Fish, hungry? Great! What would you like? Red lure with a streamer, no rattles? And where in the pond will you be this afternoon? In the cove, under the trees, facing the open water? Excellent. Coming right up!
Marketing is a lot like fishing.
For the most part, people with something to sell will try to either penetrate their particular market by casting their brand into every pool and pocket, which can be expensive and very wasteful of resources; or they'll do some research to try to match their bait to the fish so they can attract leads. This is known as "niche marketing."
The problem with traditional niche marketing is that it's still product-centered. It's a little like going to the pond and casting your bait into pools known to be frequented by the fish you're trying to catch. They may not even be there, so your efforts are wasted. What you really want is a marketing system that focuses on your prospective customers, and tells you exactly how, where, and when to approach them.
Inbound marketing is just such a system. The first task of inbound marketing is to attract the attention of strangers who are interested in what you're selling. And the best way to connect with them, initially, is through a blog. A good blog will contain educational content that touches on topics that interest the people you're trying to reach.
And in that blog, you've included keywords that are the actual words your prospective customers use in a search engine when they're looking for products or services like yours. It's the bait that creates the "A-ha!" in their minds that leads them to you and your products. Oh, they say, there it is, click!
And suddenly there they are, on your page, the one with the product or service they're looking for. This page will contain a more focused educational offering that is worthy of discussing with friends with similar interests on social media. When you catch the prospect’s attention through relevant content you can push them down your sales funnel with much less effort and at a much lower cost, this is how you convert a stranger into a qualified marketing lead.
Time To Ask For Something In Return
This page is also where you collect basic contact information and generate the sales lead. You've also got "calls-to-action," buttons to click on that encourage specific product- or industry-related actions, like "Stay up to Date," "Download a Whitepaper," or "Attend a Webinar."
And since those buttons represent something that is even closer to your buyer's interest, he or she will click on one and find themselves on a landing page, which in this instance means the place where the call-to-action is fulfilled, and where your prospective customer offers up precise information about who they are and what they want. And with this information, you can start a conversation with the customer that will lead to further sales.
All of this information goes into a central database that you can easily access. Here, you collect all of your customers' interactions with your products and your brand online, whether via email, on social media, or landing page activities. This information will in turn enable you to hone your presentation to create more sales and create a better buying experience for the customer.
CRM, The Heart Of The Inbound Marketing Approach
The ‘brain’ of the inbound marketing approach is called Customer Relationship Management, or CRM. CRM takes the information your leads have given you in your online form pages or surveys and organizes it into a database that can be modeled and analyzed. CRM enables you to use closed-loop reporting, in which you can precisely measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts from a customer-centric perspective. How many leads did we generate with that last newsletter? What was clicked on and what was ignored? what type of content is closing more sales? what are my best lead generation sources?
At this stage, email becomes a much more effective marketing tool. If the prospect has come this far without buying anything, the information you've gathered through CRM will allow you to send carefully crafted emails that contain information that is helpful and relevant to that prospect, and that will give the contact more reasons to buy from you.
CRM also allows you to figure out how the prospect prefers to be approached. You will know whether the prospect is more active and responsive to email, or if the prospect prefers to follow you on Twitter or specific content pages on your web site. This allows you to further refine your message and overall approach.
All this adds up to a better buying experience for your customers, and more repeat sales for you. Inbound marketing puts the "ad" in the old adage, "If the story is not about the listener, he will not hear it." Your marketing efforts are no longer about your product, but about your customers, about what they want and need, and how and where they prefer to get it. Or, as they say at the tackle shop, now you're fishing with bait!