The simplest way to describe inbound marketing is to use the old, familiar phrase “soft-sell”. You see, your audience is quite suspicious of all your hard-sell attempts, believing that your offer simply must be too good to be true (which is often the case). This is where inbound marketing comes in, offering a much subtler approach to this situation. Its main goal is not to persuade your audience to buy your products. What it aims at is to persuade them that buying from you was their idea in the first place.
No matter how hard to believe this may sound, by boosting your visibility and promoting your product without pushing for the sell, you can achieve just that. Nonetheless, this is not something that can be done without any previous knowledge or experience. So, for all those interested in embarking on an inbound marketing project for their eCommerce business, there are several things worth knowing.
1. Fix your website
Before you even start thinking about inbound marketing, you need to understand that your website is both your first and last line of defense. In other words, regardless of the platform or the source your visitors trace back to your website, what they encounter there might make all the difference. Therefore, the first issue you have to tackle is the responsiveness of your website. An average page load in 2018 may look quite high (8.66 seconds) but this is not what you should aim for. Instead, you need to go for recommended loading time, which is significantly lower at 3 seconds.
Apart from this, you need to deliver on some audience expectations. For instance, an eCommerce website needs to have well-sorted categories, accompanied by suitable photos and descriptive info. Nevertheless, how efficient you are in this field often depends on the CMS (content management system) you work with. It might be worth your while to consider hiring professional web developers to help you out.
2. What techniques are available?
In order to persuade your audience that buying from you is their own idea, you first have to enable them to find you through their independent research. The only way to do so is to become omnipresent. Here, you have to target as many different fields as possible. For starters, you need to think about your overall visibility on search engines, which is something that can be fixed through an extensive SEO campaign. With this in mind, you should also keep in mind that YouTube is currently the world’s second largest search engine. As such, it deserves your full and undivided attention.
As for other ways of boosting traffic, you should consider means that help you establish not only professional but also personal reputation in the industry. In other words, you are looking for personal branding tools that will help you display your prowess in the industry, as well as your knowledge of the subject matter. Here, we’re talking about blogs and podcasts. For those willing to go the extra mile, webinars and white papers are also a viable choice.
Although the Internet is a very powerful tool, don`t forget the importance of traditional telephone in communication with your customers. As everything starts and ends with an effective communication, choosing the right business landline is a way to go if you aim to improve your services and reputation.
3. Is your product a one-time buy?
Another thing you need to know about your inbound marketing is that it heavily depends on the properties of your products. The greatest issue is whether your product is a one-time buy or something that people will need to buy over and over again. In the first case, the value of the product might be a bit higher, which means that your audience won’t be ready to make a purchase as soon as they stumble upon your offer. This means that they will embark on a customer lifecycle, which will make them do some independent research of their own until they’re ready to finally accept your offer.
If the latter is the case (not a one-time buy), you will have to assume a completely different strategy and observe all your buyers as potential return customers. This is particularly important since, if you pull this off the right way, only 8 percent of your regulars can make up to 40 percent of your entire profit. Needless to say, each successful transaction results in positive customer experience, which, in turn, means that you have a much easier job at making them come back. In fact, even if you do nothing at all, there’s a 27 percent chance that they will return. When you add some post-sale engagement techniques (e-mails with special offers) to the mix, the scales tip even more in your favor.
4. Customer lifecycle
In the previous section, we briefly mentioned the term “customer lifecycle” without going into details. However, this is a vital notion in understanding the bigger picture of your inbound marketing. This is a process of several stages.
First, you start with strangers who are interested in your product, your industry or something similar to it, these are so-called qualified leads. These strangers need to be turned into visitors, which is accomplished mostly by the success of your SEO. Then, you need to find a way to make these visitors into leads. These are either return visitors or subscribers (people who are still showing interest in your services after getting introduced to your brand and products).
The next stage is vital, seeing as how it directly affects your profits. This is the stage in which you turn your leads into paying customers (most commonly, marketers track the efficiency of this stage by observing the conversion rate). Depending on the nature of your product (something we’ve discussed in the previous section), you might get a chance to turn these customers into return customers and, therefore, boost their significance for your brand. After this, the only stage you have left is to make these return customers (or one-time customers) into brand ambassadors/promoters.
The beauty of inbound marketing lies in the fact that you aren’t actually persuading anyone to do anything. You’re simply helping them act on their own needs and desires. A person with general lack of interest in your product will never become a customer, no matter how good of a marketer you are. A cat owner is never going to buy your dog food, no matter how good your advertisements are. What you do as an inbound marketer is merely helping people who are already in need of a certain product to make a purchase on your eCommerce website instead of going to that of your competitor.
is marketing specialist, contributor to bizzmarkblog.com and entrepreneur. She helps clients grow their personal and professional brands in fast-changing and demanding market, strongly believing in a holistic approach to business. you can follow her up on twitter: @LaurenNWiseman