This post focuses on the four (4) inbound marketing best practices shared in HubSpot’s Inbound Certification Video Class 2: What Are The Fundamentals of Inbound Success?:
- Use Buyer Personas
- Use The Buyer’s Journey
- Create Remarkable Content
- Leverage Your Content Via Distribution Platforms
Here’s what to expect from this blog post on these inbound marketing best practices (and future blog posts) as I prepare for the inbound marketing certification exam:
- Open Sharing. I’ll publish my study notes on this blog as I review each video in the twelve (12) classes.
- Detail. My notes will be very detailed. Many of the slides in the video classes state the learning or take-home-message perfectly. If I think that’s the best way to state the learning, I’ll record the learning in my notes verbatim from the respective slide.
- Context. I’ll provide my context whenever it may help us better understand the inbound marketing and sales concept(s).
Inbound Marketing Best Practices Focus on The Buyer, The Buyer Journey, Educational Content, and Distribution Platforms
Buyers Don’t Want To Be Sold. They Want To Be Educated. Great inbound marketing execution requires discipline. You want to align the buyer’s intent and the buyer journey with educational content and distribution platforms.
Buyers Want To Make Informed Decisions. Today’s buyer / customer / consumer trusts and appreciates an organization, company, or individuals who publish helpful content. She/he seeks educational content and experiences enabling her/him to make informed purchasing decisions.
That’s why an important inbound marketing objective focuses on publishing and delivering educational content at precisely the right time(s) of the buyer journey.
Inbound Marketing Best Practice 1: Use Buyer Personas
Buyer Persona Defined. A buyer persona is the representation of the ideal buyer/customer you’re trying to reach. It’s based on real data and some educated insights about customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.
Buyer personas are a big deal in inbound marketing best practices. They’re the literal foundation of your inbound marketing strategy and tactics. Buyer personas guide your choices for creating and promoting the right, educational content to your audience target(s).
Creating Buyer Personas Requires Three (3) Stages. The three stage process is as follows:
- Conducting actual research and buyer interviews
- Identifying trends and looking for common patterns
- Creating persona profile stories
Collect and Analzye Actual Buyer Data. Don’t guess or assume anything. Focus on the “why” and “why not.” Don’t just look at the buyer’s end behavior(s). Understand your buyer’s intent, goals, overall behaviors, and motivations. Let the data guide your decisions on how many buyer personas to create.
Buyer Personas Apply To B2C and B2B Businesses. Understanding the buyer and what motivates her/him gives buyer personas their marketing power. Identifying and recognizing the buyer’s pains and then linking how your company’s products and services uniquely address these specific pains applies to business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) situations.
Focus Your Buyer Interview Questions On Painting The Picture Of Your Ideal Customer(s). Here are some questions to consider:
- Role: What is your job role and job title?
- Company / Organization: What industry/industries is your company work or role in?
- Goal: What are you working to accomplish?
- Challenges: What are your greatest/biggest challenges?
- Education and Learning: How do you learn about new information in your job?
- How This Buyer Shops or Researches A Potential Purchase: Do you use the Internet to research vendors or products? How did you learn about Company X’s products and services?
Don’t Limit Your Buyer Persona Interview To Current Customers. There’s a lot to learn from people outside and inside your organization. Look for trends and patterns in the interview responses of the following audiences:
- Current buyers / customers
- Current customer prospects
- Former buyers / customers
- Current colleagues
A One to Two-Page PowerPoint Slide Can Capture The Buyer Persona Attributes. You can decide on how much detail to include for each buyer persona attribute as well as which ones are most important to your business:
- Photograph. Include a picture of the actual person.
- Background. Basic details about the persona’s role; information about the company; relevant background info.
- Demographics. Gender, age range, household income (consider a spouse’s income if relevant).
- Identifiers. Buzzwords and mannerisms.
- Goals. Persona’s primary and secondary goals.
- Challenges. Primary and secondary challenges to persona’s success. What does she/he have to overcome to be successful in her/his job?
- How We Can Help. How does your company solve and address this persona’s goals and challenges? What is it you do to make this person’s life easier or make this person’s life better?
- Common Objections. Identify the most common objections the persona will raise during the sales process.
- Real Quotes. Include a few real quotes (taken during interviews to make it easier for employees to relate to/understand the buyer).
Inbound Marketing Best Practice 2: Use The Buyer Journey
The Buyer’s Journey: What Is It? The Buyer’s Journey is the series of activities he/she goes through with your company that eventually lead to a purchase. Uncovering and learning these series of buyer activities links to an important buyer persona interview question:
How Did You Learn About / Find Out About Company X’s Products and Services?
Every interaction your buyer persona has with your company should be tailored for that particular buyer to reinforce key objectives of the inbound marketing practices:
- Enable the buyer with helpful content so she/he can make an informed purchasing decision
- Give the buyer real, tangible reasons to trust your company instead of a competitor
Three (3) Stages of The Buyer Journey. The buyer journey stages portray the experiences your customer goes through as she/he evaluates her/his purchasing options:
Awareness Is When A Buyer Starts Looking For Answers To Her/His Problem. The buyer is doing “education research” during the awareness stage. This consumer behavior represents opportunity because the buyer expresses symptoms of the problem she/he is experiencing.
She/he is online actively looking for answers. She/he is researching this problem. The buyer is looking for: The Problem’s Name. What do other people call this problem?
Consideration Is When The Buyer Sees A Match To Her/His Problem. The buyer persona knows what to call the problem during the consideration stage. She/he has named the problem or opportunity for you to solve. You’ve framed the problem in a way that closely matches the buyer’s current pain.
By showing your understanding of the problem, the buyer now has reasons to trust you can help her/him “think things through.” You’re presenting the buyer with workable options.
The buyer now has a reason(s) to commit to solving the problem while on your website.
Decision Is When The Buyer Chooses A Solution. This stage includes making and prioritizing a list of potential companies for vendor selection (i.e., a B2B research objective). The buyer decides to select a specific method, solution, strategy, or approach addressing the problem.
From A Buyer’s Perspective, Her/His Interactions With Your Company Aren’t Necessarily Sequential (i.e., Start At The Awareness Stage). The buyer personas may enter your website at any one of these buyer’s journey stages. This research behavior reality is why publishing helpful, on-demand, 24/7 content accommodating that buyer’s specific buyer journey stage is vital.
Important Note: Take Time To Diagnose and Name The Buyer’s Problem. Think like a physician/doctor interacting with a patient. Companies often skip naming the problem or showing how they understand the nature of the problem. It’s a mistake to go right into product and service descriptions.
Work To Build Trust First. When creating content, keep it educational. Educate the buyer on the problems they’re experiencing and provide different solution options. Don’t just hammer away at what it is you do and who you are.
Remember it’s not about you. It’s about The Buyer. It’s about how you build and earn the buyer’s trust.
Inbound Marketing Best Practice 3: Create Remarkable Content
Inbound Marketing = Content + Context. If you think of the buyer as the heart of inbound marketing best practices, then think of content as the inbound marketing blood. Inbound marketing can’t exist without content.
Content takes many forms:
- Interactive Tools
- White papers
Context Grounds The Best Content. Be remarkable by tailoring your content to the people you’re trying to reach and by serving their interests first. Prioritize how the content serves the needs and purchasing decisions of the audience / the buyer.
Question how the content better informs the audience or buyer’s decision making process.
Inbound Marketing Best Practice 4: Leverage Your Content Via Distribution Platforms
Platforms Matter. Great, relevant, educational content isn’t enough. You have to have a relevant distribution platform(s) for that content to reach your buyers. Distribution platforms leverage your content by making it relevant.
These platforms get your content to the right buyer at the right time (i.e., the stage the buyer is in during the buyer journey — Awareness, Consideration, Decision):
- Website Pages
- Business Blog
- Social Media
- Landing Pages
- Calls-to-action (CTA)
- Marketing Emails
Please let me know if you agree or disagree with my thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear from you. I’m here to read, listen, and learn from YOUR PERSPECTIVE. Comments are open. So let’er rip!
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Photo Credit: by TopRankMarketing