Stage 1: Awareness
Thanks for entering the inbound marketing experience! To understand inbound marketing, and how it drives customers, you must first understand the way that the buyer's journey influences your inbound strategy. Why? Because inbound marketing, at it's foundation, is a marketing-based approach to replicating the sales process. To replicate the sales process, you must first understand the journey of the buyer.
Note: to aid in understanding how inbound marketing works, we will be using the example of a Boston Alarm Company to illustrate.
There are three stages of the buyer's journey: awareness, consideration, and decision. At each stage, the prospect is looking for very specific types of content or resources that provide the information they need. The role of an inbound marketer is to:
- Understand what the prospect cares about, and the type of content that will help them. (the Buyer's Journey)
- Create relevant content or other resources for the prospect to consume. (content creation)
- Implement an inbound marketing process that gets the right content to the right people at the right time. (content delivery)
By applying the inbound marketing process to the buyer's journey, you are able to attract visits and ultimately convert them into customers.
Right now, we're in the awareness stage. It's called the awareness stage because it is at this moment that the prospect realizes they have a problem or a pain point. For example, the prospect may have a neighbor who just got their house robbed. Or, they came home to a broken window. Or, they are going to be on away from their home for a large amount of time, and have no way to keep it safe during their absence.
Our goal, as inbound marketers, is to provide an answer or solution to the problem that this prospect is facing. How do we do that?
Buyer Persona Research & the Buyer's Journey
First and foremost, it's impossible to provide an answer to those pain points, if you don't know what they are. This is where buyer persona research aspect of the inbound marketing process comes in handy. This research allows us to map their buyer's journey.
At Innovative Marketing Resources (IMR) we pick up the phone and interview 5-10 people who are current customers, or who have completed your sales process. The goal of this research is to understand what pain points they were facing that made them even look for a solution like the one you offer. During this process, we also learn what types of content they care about, what they consider "credible", what their role is in the purchasing process, as well as any "pushbacks" that make them less likely to purchase. This exercise results in a detailed buyer persona profile for at least one person (e.g. Homeowner Harold), but usually multiple.
In other words, this is a mapping of the buyer's journey: what they care about at each stage, and how to reach them with credibility. Now we take what we know about the prospect, and we think about how we can get them the information they need while they are in the awareness stage. This is where the content creation comes in.
This buyer persona research forms the basis of inbound marketing content.
The next step in the inbound marketing process is to start building content. Luckily, this becomes easy when you know exactly what your buyers care about. There is no guess work. Your single goal as an inbound marketer is to create content that:
- helps prospects better understand their problem
- helps them better understand how to find a resolution to their pain point, or
- directly offers a solution to their problem
If you can do that, you will already be miles ahead of your competitors. More importantly, when a prospect has a problen, you are one of the first people that will be there to help them.
So what types of content?
That's an easy one! For most inbound marketing campaigns, it's better to start with the basics:
- Blogging - bite-sized articles that offer problem identification and resolution. This is the single most important thing in any inbound marketing campaign, and this content forms the basis of your strategy.
- Long-form content - You also want a few pieces of long-form content that more comprehensively addresses a prospect's problem. Where a blog might address one small portion (e.g. "what features to look for in a security camera"), a piece of long-form content will either:
- Dig very deep into a single aspect of the problem/solution (e.g. "Demystifying security cameras: Pros, Cons, and a Buying Guide"), or:
- It will address the entire problem broadly (e.g. "How to Keep Your Home Safe from Burglars")
- Call-to-action (CTAs) - these are images, or even text, that simply advertise the next step the prospect should take to learn more about their problem.
- Email - you also want to create a set of targeted emails that further elaborate, or address, the pain point.
How does the content work together? (Content delivery)
Another simple one! The inbound marketing methodology is very clear here, and we have seen it work with countless clients. This is the typical process that a prospect follows:
- Prospect realizes they have a problem (e.g. their neighbor's house was robbed)
- Prospect looks for information regarding the problem on Google (search term: "How can I keep my home safe from burglers?")
- Prospect finds your blog article ("25 Burglary Prevention Tips for Homeowners")
- Prospects reads it and gets value out of it.
- Prospect sees the CTA at the bottom of the blog article for a piece of long-form content ("The 12-Step Guide for Keeping Your Home Safe from Burglars")
- Prospect clicks CTA and downloads the long-form content.
- Follow-up emails continue to provide value around the subject, and keep your company top-of-mind, while promoting the next steps they should be taking to further solve their problem.
Pretty simple, right? While inbound marketing can seem complex, it's really not that difficult once you break it down into a campaign. On the next page, we will be discussing the consideration stage of the Buyer's Journey. Just review the Strategy In Action section below, and then click the big orange next button at the bottom of this page.