There are many aspects to inbound marketing, especially when other teams come into play. Business development, marketing and often customer service, all go into producing a brand image and making a sale.
Sometimes it can be difficult to take a fresh look at marketing mainstays and make a strategy feel ‘new’. Most companies have their version of ‘the funnel’ fuelled by customer service, emails and newsletters. However, with 2019 approaching, we want to give you a few thought provoking ideas to consider, when re-inventing your inbound marketing strategy for the new year.
First let’s look at the sales process:
If your business considers a sale the ‘end of the funnel’, then you might need to think about using a ‘flywheel’ instead of a funnel for your business development activity.
Customer/sale isn’t the end of your involvement with that individual or brand - and that’s why the funnel isn’t always helpful.
The flywheel analogy puts customers at the centre of the activity. Your marketing should attract, your sales process engage and, once sold, your follow up should delight your customers. This could lie with customer services or even with more marketing activity, depending on the circumstances.
Picture a spin bike -when you push on that pedal that momentum starts. You want your sales and marketing activity to gather speed constantly, pushing past any friction. You should be delighting your customers with other useful content, by incredible results, or by exceeding the expectations of what the original sale was.
But unlike the funnel, the customer isn’t the end of the sale. You need to continue attracting your existing customers to come back, and improve your retention (you could even make this a KPI for your business). Brand loyalty is a large part of how consumers make their purchasing decisions in this day and age, so it’s all about keeping the wheel moving with continuous momentum. Figure out where your friction is, and how you (or the relevant team) can ease it, and then start to build momentum around your strong areas.
Here’s a more detailed look at a flywheel, complete with where your consumers and teams fit in. Consider each section of this in your inbound strategy to ensure you are minimising the friction, and maximising your momentum with focused activity.
GDPR shook the whole world of marketing in general, but the impact was most acutely felt among inbound marketers who worried about losing their email database. Email is a tried and tested marketing technique, but how can you reinvent your email activity for the year ahead? Relevancy and value offer the way to move forward.
In the GDPR-driven world, it is important to send emails that are relevant for your consumers. And including messaging on WHY this email is relevant for the individual is common practice, to be GDPR compliant.
But just explaining why you’re sending the email isn’t enough any more. Regardless of the source of the email, making the purpose clear for the user is key - otherwise consumers may see it as a hindrance. Even if the email is on the same topic as the contact’s previous interactions with your brand, is it actually adding value to them? Are they getting something out of this email? If they are not, you have basically wasted their time.
The way to engage your contacts is offer them something valuable every single time. If you are working in-house for a retail brand, could you offer a discount code? For inbound marketing in travel, maybe a free guide or language translation app? As marketers, using your content to the best of your ability to reach the right audience is the way to build a better relationship with those customers you want to delight again and again.
Consumers now do not have the patience of users of the past. It’s easy to hit ‘unsubscribe’ and people can be ruthless. Unless you are adding value to your customer in every single interaction then you run the risk of exhausting your audience and plateauting, in terms of building your GDPR-compliant opted in audience.
Bots and live chat features are increasingly commonplace on websites. And what inbound technique could be more direct than talking to your actual customers when they need you?
This really makes the most of your consumer’s micro moments. And marketing is all about micro moments - those ‘where can I?’, ‘what is?’, ‘how can I?’ moments, are paramount in conversions. Getting your site’s content right in order to answer these questions when asked on search engines is marketing 101. But if you have specialist knowledge and/or a customer service team to hand, then answering questions from site visitors directly can be a powerful way to look after your customers.
Customers don’t want to wait. Especially in an era of instant communications and multiple distractions, we really aren’t very patient. And if you don’t have a system to provide immediate answers (whether that’s live chat or a custom bot to provide relevant content) then you could be losing out on an easy sale, or even causing more tension on your flywheel. Indeed, this tension could be the difference between a conversion, or giving the user away to a faster, more helpful competitor.
Remember, even after the sale you want to delight your customers to bring them back, time and time again. So, if the customer has an issue and you can’t resolve it sharpish, this could be a threat to their possible ‘retention’.
Consumer behaviour is always changing and live chat is now a preferred way of brand communication. Think of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, for example. We all use these chat systems in our personal lives and are familiar with their layout, so it makes sense to embrace this sort of technology in a professional setting too.
If your website doesn’t feature a chat system, or a bot to filter enquiries, then you need to be considering how you can fit this into your inbound marketing strategy for the year ahead. Don’t be left behind, you are the expert on your business, so be sure to show that off on features like this. Prove why your business is the best option for those all important site visitors and don’t leave them to suffer in silence.
Hopefully these brief points have given you food for thought. We hope your brain is buzzing with ideas for the new year and you’re ready to inject new life into your marketing and wider business strategies.
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