In marketing, change is a constant, and rightfully so. The strategies and tactics you leveraged yesterday might not apply today. Customer expectations are ever-changing; they long for better opportunities and outcomes. How you respond to their needs will significantly improve your chance of delivering the exact experience they are seeking, which can in turn drive loyalty and improve your bottom line.
Achieving this marketing utopia will require a methodology and a pliable approach.
One such solution, from my perspective, is inbound marketing. As the president and CEO of a growth marketing agency specializing in this form of marketing, I’ve found it to be extremely beneficial for my clients. Inbound marketing is a technique to attract customers by creating valuable experiences through authentic and educational content.
With inbound marketing, you’re not pushing a product or service; rather, you’re helping to solve a conflict with information and tools that are valuable to the customer. You’re establishing your business’s brand personality and credibility, as well as showcasing your support for the individual. You're not just trying to sell them on a solution.
Understanding Inbound Marketing
I’ve learned that in order to flourish with this technique, you must understand the buyer’s journey first and foremost. The buyer's journey refers to the exploration or research process a buyer goes through leading up to a purchase. This path is made up of three stages:
1. Awareness: A person will wake up one day with a problem or challenge they want to solve. They’re eager to learn more about their specific issue but are least ready to buy. This is known as the awareness stage, and it involves them doing high-level research to identify their exact need or problem at hand.
2. Consideration: That person will then take a deep dive into all the information they can find on how to solve their problem. This may look like researching and evaluating options, finding various solutions and analyzing the available methods to solve the challenge. This is the consideration stage.
3. Decision: Once all the homework is done and the buyer feels confident in a solution or offering, they’re ready to make a choice. This is the decision. stage At this point, buyers will compare vendors to make a final decision.
To better understand how you can support consumers throughout the buyer's journey, let's take a closer look at the specific steps brands can take during each stage:
The first stage of the buyer’s journey is awareness. This is where a buyer realizes they have an issue or pain point. Your goal as the marketer is to provide an answer to their problem by creating content that is easy to discover and consume and by establishing meaningful relationships that keep the conversation moving forward.
A few types of content you can create to support consumers at this stage include:
• Social media channels.
• White papers.
In the consideration stage, buyers have done their initial research and can begin defining the challenge or goal they want to address. They review different methods and options available to solve the problem at hand. It’s up to you to provide important information to help the buyer make the best possible decision.
To help buyers at this point, you can create and share:
• Informational videos.
• Comparison charts.
The final — and most important — stage of the buyer’s journey is the decision-making process. While the buyer has made a decision on a solution category and has a strategy in place to address the challenge, they're still undecided on a specific tool to purchase. Your goal is to convince them your solution is best.
I recommend the following content options at this stage:
• Share case studies.
• Offer free trials of your product.
Inbound marketing is all about providing valuable experiences via relevant and purposeful content that's tailored to your audience during each stage of the buyer’s journey. That content comes in a variety of forms — including blog posts, infographics, white papers, e-books, video and more — to build trust and brand loyalty.
You’ll be helping the customer by understanding their problems and figuring out how your business can truly help and solve their needs. This provides value and builds trust. By adopting an inbound marketing approach, I've found that your business can benefit from increased brand awareness and lead generation and can speed up the sales process that grows your bottom line. This is inbound marketing.