Inbound marketing is really the measures that a business takes to keep customers engaged and keep them coming back. It is a means for building a long-lasting and loyal relationship with your customers.
Your inbound marketing techniques need to be able to reach your customers in each stage of their customer journey, and therefore should be unique and personalized. It’s essential to be able to predict which content and techniques will be most effective at which times or stages in the journey, that can guide them through this journey and convert them into a buyer, and then can also creatively continue the conversation or experience to secure repeat business. This is no small task, but it is an essential part of customer service and customer experience and has a significant impact on the success of your business.
There are arguably five stages to the customer journey, these are: Awareness, Consideration, Inquiry or Decision Making, Purchase, and Reengagement. These should be targeted through the following three marketing vehicles: company website, social media, and email marketing and newsletters.
Website and Awareness
Engaging customers in the “Awareness” portion of the journey requires a rather large net. Although in general you should have a very comprehensive understanding of your market-base, at this stage you are trying to engage your whole base. This is usually where your company website comes in. The customer is seeking a specific answer to a question or to meet a certain requirement. Your website needs to be able to hook customers and make them aware that your company has the solution that they are seeking.
Social Media and Consideration through to Purchase
Once your customers are hooked, they enter into the most challenging part of the journey, which is to keep them engaged and to get them to make the decision to purchase. Because this stage is still highly focused on weighing their options, content that explicitly discusses the product or services in detail, making it seem irresistible, is your best marketing tactic. This is where product and services descriptions on your website are good, but an active blog and social media presence is going to be of the most value. Unlike the static information on your webpage, blog posts and social media posts can go into more detail, compare products and services, and be frequently updated with new engaging information.
Moreover, aside from educating themselves on your products and services, within the inquiry or decision making stage, your customers are going to want to see how the experiences of others have been. Customer likes, comments, and reviews on your social media accounts (as well as on your website) are going to be very influential in helping to solidify this decision making process.
Once the customer is satisfied with what they have read, they can then be targeted by strategic content outlining incentives to push them into the purchase phase of the journey. Of course if they haven’t been convinced, they won’t take this next step. One draw from very successful social media marketing is personalization. Not only can you target your audience based on what they have already looked at and offer them competitive deals, but it is an opportunity to establish an actual personal relationship with your customer base. Sometimes it is this personal touch that actually ushers a customer from inquiry into purchase.
Email Marketing and Reengagement
Finally, once the customer has made a purchase, it is time to follow-up and reengage. Any business that thinks the customer journey ends at the sale is not utilizing their biggest possible revenue stream, which is repeat business from already converted customers. It is actually more economical to invest in customer retention because you are far more likely to secure a sale from a returning customer than you are to acquire the business of a new customer.
One of the best tactics for customer retention is email marketing. Email marketing is one of those marketing tactics that are “allegedly dead”; however, it is actually very much alive and is perhaps the best tactic for the final stage of the customer journey: reengagement.
It goes without saying that all email marketing techniques should obviously be conducted through a company specific professional email address with project management capacities. If your email marketing campaign ends up in your customers spam instead of their inbox, it will obviously not be efficient.
With this professional platform in place, the very first step to your email marketing campaign is to send not only a confirmation of purchase email, but to also follow up that purchase with a sincere thank you email that lets the customer know that his or her business is valued. Then you can target the customer with promotional emails on new deals or new products that they might be interested in based on their last purchase. All of these can bring your company to the forefront so that you aren’t out of sight and out of mind.