What’s the Inbound Marketing Funnel Anyway?
Here at Evenbound, we’re always talking about inbound marketing. It’s kind of our thing, so you’ll notice most of our blogs talk about how your inbound marketing strategy can attract more clients, produce more leads, and boost your ROI. What we only occasionally talk about, however, is what exactly the inbound marketing methodology is. While HubSpot used to describe this methodology using the inbound marketing funnel, that’s recently given way to a less-complicated inbound marketing flywheel.
If you’re new to inbound marketing, or just aren’t quite sure what the terms mean, then this is the blog for you! We’re going to break down the basics of the inbound marketing funnel and compare them to the new inbound marketing flywheel:
Also known as the inbound marketing methodology or inbound flow chart, the inbound marketing funnel looks like this:
The inbound marketing funnel refers to where a lead is in their process of choosing your company over the competition. If you’re familiar at all with the generic sales funnel, or buyer’s journey, the inbound marketing funnel offers a similar way of looking at things. The inbound marketing funnel labels clients with a different title based on how interested they are in what you have to offer — so you know what types of content to send them, and when.
- Strangers – Consumers who don’t know about your brand or your company.
- Visitors – Strangers who come to your site and learn a bit about your company
- Leads – Visitors who have progressed further into your site, and eventually give you their contact information.
- Customer – Leads who convert into customers by purchasing your product or service.
- Promoters – Customers who are delighted by your continued efforts to make sure they have everything they need, and who are so pleased with your company and your service that they love telling their friends and family about you.
While it’s fairly easy to understand these 5 stages of the inbound marketing funnel, especially as they line up with the old, traditional sales funnel, HubSpot has recently transitioned to a flywheel model instead.
Bear with me for a second, I promise the flywheel is a little less complicated to understand.
What is the Inbound Marketing Flywheel?
The inbound marketing flywheel offers an easier way to conceptualize how customers feed growth. Instead of thinking of each individual customer making a journey from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel, and then dropping out, the flywheel offers a more holistic look.
Customers are a driving force for any business, and the flywheel illustrates that. Take a look at what HubSpot has to say about replacing your funnel with a flywheel.
Instead of focusing so much on pulling customers through a funnel and forgetting about them, the flywheel puts the focus on customers at all times, relating to them in three different ways:
- Attract: Pulling in strangers to your website and brand. This stage is also used to illustrate the process of attracting existing customers with a new content offer, product, upgraded service, etc.
- Engage: How you interact with those customers, leads and prospects. Sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time is a great example of how you engage with people in your flywheel to close more deals.
- Delight: What you do to keep those customers in your flywheel. Excellent customer service, personalized follow-up and check-in emails, and even rewards programs are great ways to delight your existing customers and turn them into promoters.
To keep your flywheel spinning, you should be attracting, engaging, and delighting all at the same time, rather than just focusing on one small piece of the pipeline. Click To Tweet And when you focus on retaining the customers you’ve already worked so hard to convert, your flywheel spins even faster.
Perhaps the most difficult-to-target are strangers. Strangers don’t know you from Adam, which means it’s your job to somehow catch their attention. In today’s oversaturated world, consumers are constantly barraged by advertisements and non-relevant content that makes your job just that much harder.
It’s important to attract key buyers that you know want or need your product or service, and the best ways to do that are:
Social Media Advertising
Social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn have super powerful advertising capabilities. When you put out an ad on social media, you can choose exactly who sees that ad, from age to occupation and even to what type of content they “like”.
Basic like campaigns or simple banner ads are cheap, and they’re one of the best ways to get your name out there. That is the point of this stage of the flywheel, after all.
Since you’re marketing to strangers, the first step is introducing yourself. Your goal for the attract phase is to increase your awareness, which means you need to look for social media advertising campaigns that can get you plenty of impressions.
Clicks are great, but most people won’t click on your ad until they’ve seen it a few times, or they’ve heard about you somewhere else. For consumers at the stranger level of the inbound marketing funnel or flywheel, focus on ads that cast a wide net, and get your name out there.
Attract Qualified Visitors with Google Ads
Another paid way to introduce your site and company to strangers is to invest in Google Pay-Per-Click Ads. If you think about it, most people looking for information are going to search Google before they do anything.
From there, they’ll make their decisions based on the results they get. If you’re the first to pop up, even as an ad, that’s a major step to brand recognition, and getting someone to click through to your site. Check out this blog for information on optimizing a PPC campaign, and see this one for more information about what PPC actually is.
Attract Organic Traffic with SEO
Another key way of making yourself visible to strangers is ensuring you have impeccable SEO. Search engine optimization is the process of making your website highly visible to search engines. The more search engines like your site, the more likely they are to show it to consumers.
Improve your SEO, and you’ll improve your online search engine ranking. The higher you show up in rankings, the more eyes you’ll get on your site, which means more strangers turning into visitors. Best of all, SEO is free. No paid ads here!
Improve your SERP Rankings with Blogs
Another key, free way to attract strangers is to start a blog. The more you blog about topics that are relevant to your target buyer, the more of an authority you’ll become in the industry.
When you’re the company everyone turns to for information about the next big thing in your industry, you’re also the first company they recognize, think of, and then buy from once they get around to making a decision.
Create blogs that are interesting, relevant, and content rich. Don’t just write listicles every month, try to put out some deep content that answers questions and proves useful for your target buyer.
The more content you have out there, and that’s promoted on your social media platforms, the more consumers you’re speaking to, and the more likely they are to come to your site to see what you have to say.
Visitors are strangers who’ve made it to your website. They want to learn a bit about you, and see what it is your company has to offer. Once they make it to your site, your goal is to engage with them. Learn what they’re looking for and what their pain points are, so you can nurture those leads with personalized marketing that provides the solutions they need.
Here are a few ways to engage with visitors in a meaningful way that keeps them interested in your company:
Content offers are often put on websites in the form of gated content. Gated content is content that requires an email address and name to access it.
It is a key way for any inbound marketing agency to pull potential clients and visitors through to the lead stage of the funnel. Offer up some amazing, in-depth content that you know your key buyer just wouldn’t be able to resist, and simply ask for their email address in return for the downloadable PDF. Once you have their email, that visitor becomes a lead, and you can target them in other ways.
Today, it’s becoming more popular to leave those content offers ungated. This is a more natural, seamless engagement for your customer. You can still offer up a PDF version of the content in exchange for an email, which means you’re still getting the info you need, but you’re guaranteed a qualified lead when you do get their contact information.
Engage with visitors outside your website with remarketing campaigns. Extremely effective, these campaigns most often show up on Facebook, Instagram, and Google, and remind visitors they looked at while they were on your website.
If they added a pair of shoes to their cart, but bailed before making it to checkout, a remarketing campaign will show those shoes on other sites they frequent, like Facebook and Google, and remind them of the purchase they almost made.
This is a great way to get visitors to come back to your site, where you’ll have another chance to engage with them and further nurture that lead until they’re ready to make a purchasing decision.
Longer, more in-depth content is a key way to engage with and nurture a lead until they’re ready to make a purchasing decision. Leads in the “engage” phase have a lot of questions. They’re considering the best options to solve their pain points.
By providing answers to their questions, and by providing as much detail as they can stand, you’re assuring them that your product really is that great, and you’re eliminating any fears of buyer’s remorse they might have.
Create thorough content that genuinely helps them make a decision and stay away from the b.s. — consumers can smell it from miles away.
If you want someone to make a purchase, you have to make it easy for them. Make it super obvious how a lead or prospect can purchase your product or service with calls-to-action.
Whether they need to simply checkout, or call your office, or fill out a form, calls-to-action can get them there. These colorful buttons are everywhere these days, and they’re perhaps the best tool to convince a lead to convert. Make it easy for leads to buy or pick up the phone, and they will.
Finally, after a long journey through the inbound marketing funnel, you’ve converted a lead into a customer. They’ve made a purchase, and now you can wipe your hands of them.
Not so fast!
This customer can be useful to you. More than that, who’s to say they won’t buy from you again? Customers who are delighted by your helpful service can become your best promoters.
They’ll leave 5 star reviews, tell their friends about you, and share all your posts on social media. Be good to those customers, and they’ll be good to you. (It’s way cheaper to retain customers than it is to go out and find a brand new one, too.) Here’s how to help them out.
After someone’s made a purchase, don’t just forget about them. Send them emails about add-on products or services they might like now that they have your other offering. If you sell something that pairs really well with that purse they bought, let them know!
The more customized and tailored your follow-up emails, the more likely they are to purchase again. Another good way to turn your customers into promoters is to ask them for reviews after they’ve received their product.
A simple “how did you like your socks?” email, with a link to write a review on your site or on Google can go a long way in boosting your reputation, and making it easier for the next consumer to convert to a sale.
Exclusive, personalized messaging
People love to feel like they’re getting the inside scoop. If you have a newsletter that’s exclusively for people who have purchased an item or service, and if you offer occasional exclusive deals, people will start to talk. The better you take care of those existing customers, the more they’ll tell their friends about you, which will start that inbound funnel all over again.
The inbound marketing funnel and the inbound marketing flywheel were both designed to make it easy for you to align and optimize your sales and marketing teams.
If you notice you’re getting plenty of site traffic, but visitors seem to drop off before offering up their email address, start focusing on more valuable content, and maybe consider remarketing.
The inbound marketing methodology offers an easy, clear way to attract, engage, and delight your leads and customers — keeping your flywheel spinning as quickly as possible.
We know this is a lot of talk, and it’s not always as simple to implement an inbound marketing strategy as it might seem. If you’re looking to move into pull, inbound marketing methods, but aren’t sure how, let’s chat! A simple one-on-one conversation might answer more questions than you’d think.