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Guest Post The Misunderstood art of inbound marketing

The two terms inbound marketing and outbound marketing are used commonly throughout the marketing world, but there seems to be confusion around how they differ.

The difference isn’t subtle. The wording derives from telephone marketing — outbound sales teams cold-call people, while inbound sales teams field calls from interested prospects. Inbound marketing means capturing a lead as it comes in from a marketing campaign. Outbound marketing is more like cold calling.

Put another way, inbound marketing strikes while the iron is hot, while outbound marketing makes the iron hot by striking it.

Now that we’re clear on what inbound marketing means, we can move to the core of this article: how to get inbound marketing right by attracting, converting and closing your inbound marketing leads. Let’s begin!

How to attract interested prospects

Your business is likely one of many doing similar things. For that reason, most customers won’t be tracking your business down specifically.

If you sell pizzas, for instance, your prospective customers are interested in buying pizza from anyone, or buying food from anyone (they may simply be hungry). That means you need to get your business in front of customers at the moment they’re interested in making a purchase.

This is why SEO is so important for every business. Prospective customers usually start with an online search, whether it's a mother looking for a local dentist or a mechanical engineer in need of a technical solution to a manufacturing problem.

Here are a few ways to optimize your presence in keyword rankings:

  • Distribute high-value content. Content is a huge part of inbound marketing. Release content that your prospects want to read. You’ll earn their attention and showcase your expertise. Plus, every backlink you pick up will help your rankings.
  • Price your products dynamically. Smart pricing is a core component of eCommerce, but pricing for SEO is slightly different. It’s about appearing prominently in Google Shopping results, giving you an edge over other sellers. You can do this with dynamic pricing; pricing that automatically responds to competitor prices..
  • Improve your website’s performance. Google likes fast  websites with clean code and multi-device functionality. Whether you need to upgrade your host or migrate to a new platform, do what you can get to polish your website and improve the user experience.
  • Try to appear in featured snippets. I mentioned a featured snippet earlier — it’s the answer that Google displays at the top of the page for a particular search query. Featured snippets aren’t always useful or even accurate, but they get people’s attention. If you mark up your content according to best practices, you give yourself a chance to have it selected for featured snippets.

How to convert your leads

If you nail your SEO and provide high-value content for prospective customers, you should start to pick up some relevant leads. Be sure to track them carefully, as this data will be exceptionally useful. The next step is to convert those leads, which in this context means moving them towards a purchase.

  • Immediately meet their expectations. In eCommerce, message matching matters. Your inbound marketing brought this person to your site, so your site has to match the inbound marketing. If your marketing materials promise one thing but your landing page doesn’t mention it, the visitor will likely leave immediately.
  • Make the possible actions clear. Visitors come to your site because they’re ready to take some kind of action. If you provide the information they need but don’t give them a way to take action, it’s a wasted opportunity. Make your call-to-action clear.
  • Provide social proof and guarantees. When someone is seriously considering a purchase, doubts enter their head. What if there’s a better option elsewhere? What if it’s not as good as it sounds? Provide social proof in the form of reviews, guarantees about return options and quality control so you can assuage these concerns and keep the ball rolling.

How to close

You’ve brought someone in and pushed them close to the point of taking action, so how do you close? This part is relatively simple (you’ve done most the work already), but there are still points to pay attention to:

  • Make the checkout process clear. When eCommerce checkouts are designed poorly, shoppers drop out of the checkout process. Clearly show customers which stage of the checkout process they’re on, and make it easy for them to go back to previous steps without losing progress. Also, consider using social logins to speed things along.
  • Allow various payment methods. Plenty of people prefer to pay with PayPal these days. That’s  just one method you should support alongside credit or debit payments. The more payment methods you support, the better.
  • Give the shopper options. People like to have customized buying experiences. Give shoppers options for things like shipping or compatible products. Not only will the customer be more likely to complete their orders, but also more likely to expand those orders by upgrading their selections or adding more items.

That’s how to improve your inbound marketing, from attracting leads to turning them into sales. We’ve really only scratched the surface here, though, as there’s so much more to learn — so focus on iterative improvement and you’ll eventually get the results you’re looking for.

Kayleigh Alexandra
Kayleigh Alexandra

This is a guest post from Kayleigh Alexandra part-time writer at WriterZone and at Microstartups ; a business community that celebrates inspiring startups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. Whether you’re a solopreneur or a startup making your way in the business world, Microstartups can help.

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