The inbound marketing process chain
Inbound marketing is widely discussed not only in startup circles but in every company that tries to improve their sales through social media.
A key player in the market for inbound marketing tools and services is doubtlessly HubSpot that offers its services to a broad variety of companies with a great feature set that seems to cover all requirements currently existing out there.
But does a startup or small business really need all the marvelous features offered by HubSpot? Is an investment of about 10k Euro per year justified? Or are there alternatives?
This post is only the starting point of a series of posts that will dive deep into the requirements of inbound marketing. It will explain how inbound marketing can be realized with a given budget and also covers the usage of different tools.
If you want to describe inbound marketing in a single phrase, it would be the process of converting total strangers into happy customers with the help of online acitivities and tools. HubSpot offers a great diagram depicting the inbound marketing process chain:
While this diagram is strongly related to the workflow of the HubSpot platform, I want to give an overview on the important steps when starting with inbound marketing.
How to start with your online marketing
Before we can even think about attraction and conversion we have to create some sort of visibility or better call it perceptibility. I assume that you have already found a proper name for your business. Did you also get the URL that suits your business? If so, we can continue to the first step, else you will have to spend quite some time to find a proper URL.
Create a website and a blog for your content. Your website is the figurehead for potential customers and must represent the basic idea of your business. It must be easy to grasp the idea, since people will not spend a lot of time thinking about it.
Even more important is your blog. Nowadays it is crucial for every business to
provide high quality content. It is not only a proof of your skills but also arouses your visitors’ interest. And visitors who are interested in what you are saying will probably come back.
After your website and blog is set up, we need to think about your social media presence. Did you set up a LinkedIn profile that matches your website identity? Did your create a fetching Twitter profile? If not, it is the right time to do so now. Depending on your products or services you should also consider Facebook, Google+ or whatever social network you like. But for now we want to keep the efforts at a minimum. You can still enhance your social media presence when you have your first paying customers aboard.
Now that you made your first steps to create some visibility, it is time to attract visitors.
Build up a lively community. How to do that? Join groups in LinkedIn that match your own interests. Take part in discussions. Actively approach people by sending them messages that show interest in what they are doing.
Also start searching for people on Twitter that share your interests and that have an active followership. Start tweeting about your own content but also about content of other people. At least if it is of high quality and as long as it fits into your company profile. And of course retweet whatever you like. Start managing your Twitter contacts actively. To get a first impression how to do that you could read our Twitter follower policies.
Landing pages. Landing pages. Landing pages. You have different ideas and want to evaluate how interesting they are for potential customers? Create landing pages that are easy to understand. That are appealing. And that trigger a “want to have” stimulus that makes your visitors throw their email addresses at you (why am I thinking about rock stars getting things thrown at them now). Oh, and we should not forget to think about SEO. It is crucial and it will take some time to understand the basics to a sufficient extent.
We have attracted people to your website by now. They start reading your awesome content. And they love your landing pages. Now comes the last step.
Give them so called opt-ins. At every moment, on every occasion and at every location on your website where they might want to throw their email address at you. The opt-in is some nicely colored button, that cries out for whatever it is made for: “GIVE ME THAT EBOOK”. Or “TELL ME THE WHOLE STORY”. Maybe also “SHOW ME MORE OF THAT CREEPY LIST”. And when they click that button, it is supposed to open a short form asking for basic information. Keep the form as simple as possible, because everybody hates filling in forms. Probably email and name should do it.
We did it! We have the email addresses of our first 200,000 potential customers. Pretty easy, isn’t it?
That was only a first overview and I don’t want to dive any deeper for now. We will have a look at each part of the inbound marketing process chain in more detail soon. Stay tuned and let me know, if you have some other vital points I did not mention yet.