Businesses are catching on. Those using effective inbound marketing initiatives are producing sales leads and, at the same time, establishing expertise and thought leadership in their specific industry. Those experiencing this success will tell you that it is contagious, but requires the constant sharing of quality content (in most cases, through blog posts), which attracts interested prospects to their companies.
How to Create Raving Fans
Strong inbound marketing gives you the ability to take someone who does not know you or your business and effectively convert them from a stranger to a raving fan!
Here is how it happens:
Strangers find your content through myriad ways, including web searches and social media, and become visitors to your blog and website.
Visitors to your blog enjoy what they read and feel that they are learning, which leads them to willingly download a free white paper, e-book, or how-to guide. At this point, they become prospects.
Prospects come back again and again because the information is helpful. You encourage their return by providing them with more information that they enjoy, and alerting them via email workflows. The more they come back and the more you get to know them, the more they become qualified prospects.
Qualified prospects become customers. The more qualified the prospect, the better able you are to deliver your product and service. Once a prospect is identified as a quality prospect, it is time to turn that lead over to the sales department and let salespeople do what they do best: find needs and present solutions.
Customers become raving fans once you provide them with solutions to their challenges as well as help them grow their businesses and receive successful returns on their investments.
Quality Content is the Key
None of this happens without the production of quality content; producing regular blog posts is key to an effective inbound marketing plan! The most effective blog posts are the ones that are targeted specifically for the people you are trying to reach, and you can easily tell which ones are successful – they are the posts that others share on LinkedIn, tweet on Twitter, and forward via email to their colleagues. Inbound marketing can only work as well as the content of your blog posts allow.
Writing an effective blog post.
There are many ways to write an effective blog post, and the first thing to consider is your audience. While a personal blog or journal gives you a forum to write whatever you want, a business blog practicing inbound marketing provides you with a vehicle to write articles that your prospects and customers want to read. You cannot treat your business blog like a personal journal.
Here is a tried and true 4-step process that will get you started:
Think about a recent meeting with a prospect that you feel went pretty well, that ended with you making the sale.
Take a moment to remember the specific questions and concerns your prospect had that seemed to be the most important.
Imagine that there are many more prospects out there who have that same exact question or concern. Consider your blog post as an opportunity to respond to them all at once. Instead of being put on the spot and answering the question multiple times, blogging provides you with the opportunity to carefully craft your response. Organize yourself by writing down a question at the top of a page and then composing your response below it. When you are done with your response, you essentially have a blog post!
Go back, reread your blog post, and edit it to make sure that it is a clear, interesting, and easy-to-understand response to a question that your audience may have.
Just getting started with inbound marketing? Download our Inbound 101 guide to get a solid foundation.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published July 16, 2013, and has been updated.