If you’ve been following our blogs on inbound marketing, you should be getting a good grasp of what it’s all about. In this blog, we’ll be looking at how inbound approaches conversion.
The first stage, attraction, was about bringing the right people to you. Inbound’s take on engagement helps you to get closer to those people. Conversion is about uncovering and making something out of the leads that come from that. But how do you take someone from being interested in what you have to say, to being interested in what you have to offer?
A Simple Request
A call to action or a CTA is marketing jargon for asking someone to do something. One example could be prompting an email list sign-up, another would be getting people to create an account on a website.
Receiving a phone number or an email address means someone is showing solid interest in what you’re doing. In other words, they’re a lead.
We touched on website design when covering engagement and it is, again, really important here. Make CTAs prominent and accessible and you’ll generate more actionable leads. Services like Opt-in Monster can help you capitalise on hard-earned website traffic. It’s also useful to pay attention to details like personalising for click-throughs from certain platforms or places.
Tools like MailChimp can even help you see how often someone’s reading your emails. That someone would subscribe to one of your lists is a good sign, if they keep paying attention it’s even better.
And from this we can confidently say, not all leads are made equal. The person above, paying attention to every email you send them, is what marketers call a ‘qualified’ lead.
Qualified leads mean better conversion rates. Qualified leads give you more ROI, more bang for your buck, and inbound marketing takes this a lot further than just an email open rate.
Some inbound marketers advocate for a lead point system. They apply values to recorded actions taken and rank a lead’s value based on their total.
This can provide valuable insight, but it’s also quite blunt. Someone who engages a lot might build up a big total, but perhaps commenting on and sharing your content is as far as their interest goes. Do you want to alienate someone who constantly raises your visibility in key circles with too rigid a sales approach?
You need to understand who your leads are and what you are to them. Take lead scores and prioritise the people they belong to but rely on inbound principles while doing so. They’re human, not a sum representing their likelihood of spending money on you.
Nurturing Inbound Leads
Achieving that respect for individuality is one of the big challenges of inbound. Instituting a buyer journey that is flexible and dynamic enough to account for the wants of a wide range of people is not simple.
Which is why inbound marketers talk about ‘lead nurturing’. Lead nurturing is about building toward a conversion. Some marketers view this in terms of a funnel metaphor.
If your approach to inbound conversion isn’t offering real value to the unconverted lead, it’s failing. Cheesy and abrasive CTAs are hallmarks of a poor inbound programme. People will see through that and be turned off.
Give something useful which makes people realise you have more to offer. This is the key to preserving a relationship of trust. Escalate what you’re already doing to the point that buying seems like the natural thing to do.
But if that’s the case, what do you do in inbound to actually close? A lot of people advocate for outbound-like sales teams, even in an inbound approach. And that’s not a bad idea. Some people will always need a final nudge. There are always going to be questions even the most comprehensive content creators can’t answer in a blog.
If your content is high quality and your service delivery at the level it should be, you won’t have to call on strong-arm sales tactics to make inbound work for you. But having some incarnation of a sales team helps. It’s not a group of fast-talking yuppies yelling at strangers, it’s an extension of everything you’ve done to this point.
Our Good Friend Data
Through everything, we should come back to data. A good database will help you manage the fruits of what will hopefully be more attention, engagement, and leads than you’ve ever had to deal with. It’ll be how any sales team or helplines know who they’re talking to. It’ll help with automation, with understanding your audience. And it’ll be the foundation for the analysis and adjustment that can help you to relentlessly improve your approach.
If you’ve got good data management, conversion – the whole process – will be easier for you.
Inbound is circular. If you can put all its parts together and succeed in its final stage, delighting your customers, making them want to come back, you’ll be on your way to creating a self-replenishing stream of growing exposure. You’ll be fulfilling that core inbound principle of being holistic, and you’ll have a more human, helpful approach to doing business.
We hope this basic, introductory series on inbound marketing has been useful. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to get in touch through twitter or facebook.