The 4 Key Stages of Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing Methodology

Depending on the purchasing process of your target, the inbound marketing strategy is divided into 4 distinct stages:

  • Attract new visitors
  • Convert visitors to leads
  • Conclude leads as customers
  • Retain satisfied customers

1. Attract new visitors

The first step in an inbound marketing strategy is to increase your website traffic by attracting your prospects. To do this, you must first have defined your buyer personas in order to propose topics that will interest your target. Buyer personas are fictitious representations of your target customers. The interest of this exercise is to get into the minds of your ideal audience, in order to become aware of its challenges, its breaks, and its means of information, in order to be able to address it specifically.

Indeed, there is no question of attracting just anyone to your site. Increasing the volume of site traffic is good, generating quality traffic, it’s better. The increase in the number of visitors is therefore not the only criterion to be taken into account during this phase. It is important that the people who visit your site are potential customers, who have a real interest in what your business offers.

The importance of SEO in an inbound marketing strategy

Once you have clearly defined who your audience is and what problems they are trying to solve, you can start working on a keyword strategy. It is important that the identification of these keywords is done upstream of the production of content, in order to maximize your chances of natural referencing. Put yourself in the head of your target: what keywords will they type on Google to solve their problems? Will his request be in the form of a question? Like “what is inbound marketing”? Or in the form of an association of ideas? Such as “inbound marketing BtoB vs BtoC”?

The goal is for your article to appear in the first results of the search engine. Also, take into account the competition existing on each keyword. It will be difficult at first to appear first on a highly sought after, generalist query. It may therefore be interesting to turn to long-tail keywords, less searched but very specific, with a better conversion rate.

Quality content

The keyword strategy is intertwined with the content strategy. The ideal is to have a Blog or News section on your site, in order to host the content produced. It is these articles that will increase the number of visitors to your business site. In addition to increasing your visibility online, these articles will help strengthen your brand image, placing you as an expert in your field. Even if not all visitors turn into leads, all will feel like they are dealing with a specialist in the sector, an authoritative company in the field. This impression can be reinforced if you vary the contents. In addition to optimized blog posts, you can offer white papers, a buying guide, or webinars.

Viralization on social networks

You should not believe that it is not possible to ignore social networks because you work in BtoB. Chances are, your prospects and customers will use them. Then identify the favorite social networks of your target (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest…) and be present. These are the perfect places to share your blog posts. The information that passes through social networks feeds the thinking of your prospects and participates in their decision-making. Interesting, well-written content that doesn’t grossly advertise your business can even be shared many times in circles close to your industry. Intelligent use of social networks will therefore help increase your site traffic.

Use paid referencing

Even if it does not work, inbound marketing can quite rely on SEA. Using an Adwords campaign or targeted advertising on Linkedin or Facebook can help boost the start of your inbound marketing strategy. As long as you do not fall back into the pitfalls of outbound marketing by pulling at all costs: you have to precisely target your audience. In addition to an inbound marketing strategy, targeted online advertising can reach a larger audience on social networks and on Google, and thus increase your website traffic.

2. Convert visitors to leads

Well done, you have managed to attract more visitors to your site. Now it’s a matter of converting them into leads, otherwise, all the effort so far will be wasted. Indeed, if visitors are content to read the articles that interest them before leaving as they came, you are not going to be able to turn them into customers! The whole principle here is to succeed in obtaining at least one email address from your visitor, in order to be able to stay in contact with him.

If you are lucky, the visitor will leave his contact details himself, to subscribe to the newsletter for example. In other cases, it will have to be attracted with premium content, like a white paper, to encourage him to leave you information about him. In order to monitor the activity of your prospects and understand how they work, it is also advisable to set up tracking and cookie-matching. Several tools have been designed to assist you in this phase of converting visitors into leads.

Call-to-action galore

“Download our white paper”, “request a quote”, “contact us”… Call-to-action (CTA) are buttons that encourage action. They are an essential backbone of the conversion funnel. For example, they can be used to redirect visitors to a landing page where they will be offered access to premium content in exchange for information. The CTA must therefore be visible in its design and clear in its message. The blog article must be ventilated by call-to-action, in order to encourage visitors to take action, as they read.

Optimized landing pages

In a strategy of converting your visitors into leads, a landing page is a valuable tool. It aims to collect data on the people who read you and to know the degree of interest of the visitor as to your offer. The landing page is an external page to your site. Hosted on your site or on a subdomain, this full-page differs from other pages on your site in the sense that it is disconnected from the rest. No navigation menu here, or unnecessary distractions.

The landing page allows you to lock in, to “block” the visitor, so that he has no other options than to do what is expected of him. He must therefore quickly and clearly understand what he has to do: fill out a form. The landing page can relate to a request for a quote or a demo, or to the download of a white paper. The visitor can land on the landing page from your site or after clicking on an external call-to-action, present in an Adwords advertisement, a newsletter, or a banner. It is therefore important to go to the essentials to convert the visitor into a qualified lead.

 Well-designed contact forms

The contact form serves the same purpose as the landing page: to collect data. The landing page also includes a form. That said, contact forms may be offered in various places on the site. They have the advantage of reducing the number of clicks and staying on the page where the visitor is. We prefer the use of forms rather than a landing page for subscribing to a newsletter. Conversely, for high-stake actions, especially during the purchase phase, it is better to favor a landing page.

A pop-up exit

It is true that these windows which appear without warning can be annoying for the Internet user. However, they have proven their worth in terms of conversion. Especially since they can be configured according to your wishes. So don’t hesitate to use it sparingly.

A website designed in UX Design

Assume that Internet users are lazy and that each click costs them, damaging their motivation. For the inbound marketing strategy to be effective, it is imperative that you optimize the user journey. It’s about providing a pleasant and intuitive experience on your site. The Internet user must be able to navigate easily from one content to another, without ever feeling frustrated. The various contents of the site must be easily accessible and clickable. Visitors to your site should be able to contact you with a minimum of clicks. We, therefore, avoid simply sending them back to a stupid contact page, when a form on each footer saves time and clicks.

3. Conclude leads as customers

You now have a base of leads just waiting to become customers. If you did your job well in the previous step, you are able to build a well-organized file with profile and contact engagement information. The idea now is to feed these people with personalized blog content, to support them in their purchasing journey, from discovery to a decision, including evaluation. To convert these leads into customers, inbound marketing relies on lead nurturing and marketing automation, based on lead scoring.

Lead scoring to assess the degree of maturity

In order to know which leads are ready to be picked up by the sales department and which ones need more time and information to reach maturity, it is necessary to rely on lead scoring. This scoring system assigns a certain number of points for each action carried out by the lead. For example, we can decide that opening an article or a newsletter earns 1 point while downloading a white paper – a much more engaging action – earns 10. After 80 points, we estimate that the lead is mature enough in their buying journey to be contacted by a salesperson. Thus, lead scoring makes it possible to prioritize the leads to contact, to identify those for which salespeople have an interest in devoting time. The scoring criteria must be established by the marketing teams.

The importance of relying on segmented lists

Thanks to the information gathered during the lead conversion phase, you must be able to segment your lists, according to relevant criteria. For example, you can segment your leads according to their sectors of activity, in order to send them articles dealing with issues that really concern them. It is this detailed knowledge of your leads that will allow you to send them personalized content and ultimately increase the open rate and click rate on your emails.

A targeted e-mailing to nourish reflection

Your potential customer is still only at the beginning of his buying journey. He has just become aware of his problem and does not yet know how to solve it, or even if it is a crucial issue for his activity. The inbound marketing strategy then consists of feeding them, via e-mails offering the reading of articles on their problem, to gradually lead them to consider your products or services as THE solution to their problem. This is the whole principle of lead nurturing.

Marketing automation and the creation of workflows

In order to save time in this lead nurturing stage, you can rely on marketing automation. This involves automating various marketing processes, such as sending personalized emails based on lead scoring. The creation of workflows will make it possible to automate the entire management of the customer journey according to the commitment to your offer. All this while eliminating manual and repetitive tasks.

Reporting tools

Inbound marketing is not an exact science, but the method of execution is rigorous. To know which marketing campaigns have generated the best return on investment and to know the conversion rates of leads for each source of traffic, it is necessary to have a reporting tool. The latter will allow you to analyze with precision all the actions you have taken. You will be able to redirect some of them, in the event of disappointing results, or simply seek improvement on the less efficient ones.

4. Retain satisfied customers

That’s it, your efforts have finally paid off and now your website visitors have become customers. The last step is to retain them so that they become ambassadors of your brand. To do what? Keep in mind that you are twice as likely to sell a new product to an existing customer as to a new customer. It would be a shame to deprive yourself of this manna. Especially since acquiring a new customer is much more expensive than retaining an existing one. And if the last step of inbound marketing seeks to transform your satisfied customers into ambassadors of your brand, it’s because nothing beats a recommendation from a customer to convince your prospects to use your services!

Marketing automation and smart content

Marketing automation can again prove to be a valuable ally in this loyalty process, in order to keep in touch with your customers. Emailing can, for example, be used to inform them of the existence of a product or an additional service. Thanks to quality personalized content, you stay engaged in the long term with your customers, without appearing too clingy… and by conveying a positive image of your brand.

Social networks

Already used in the phase of attracting new visitors, social networks are also useful for building up a community and maintaining an ongoing relationship. You continue to shine through the quality content you share while making yourself available to your customers. This strategy contributes to higher customer satisfaction.


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