Inbound marketing activities: To target every stage of the sales funnel

Posted under Inbound Marketing

Let me start with a confession. I’ve led you here under false pretence. This blog isn’t about the sales funnel – nope. It’s about the sales and marketing flywheel. Scandalous, I know, but bear with me, once you’ve learnt a bit more about this flywheel, I’m sure you’ll be as much of a fan of it as we are.

sales-funnel-pictureYou’re probably already familiar with the sales funnel: leads hit the top of the funnel and trickle through different customer journey phases from awareness through to purchase. Different channels and tactics can be used at each part of the funnel to encourage the individual to move further down towards purchase – but inevitably some individuals don’t make it to the next step, so the funnel narrows.

But, if you ask us, there are issues with the funnel model.

What on earth is a flywheel and why is it replacing the funnel?

First off, the funnel doesn’t give any indication of what happens after purchase. Do these customers just disappear from marketing’s radar completely?

Secondly, the funnel doesn’t show the power of momentum. Marketing and sales take time, budget and sustained effort – and in turn, momentum should build and lead to more results.

To realise the full potential of sales and marketing, they shouldn’t be working in silo from one another and from other areas of the business. A close relationship with after-sales customer care will lead to a positive experience for customers, which in turn will lead to more recommendations and word of mouth – momentum will build.

flywheel-picture

That’s exactly what the flywheel shows and that’s why, as a HubSpot Partner, we like to follow the flywheel model for inbound marketing.

As individuals experience different touchpoints with your business you attract, engage and delight them, and as they go through that process momentum builds and is harnessed as growth. The result is that individuals go from being strangers right through to promoters (to other strangers) of your business.

So, what can you do to attract, engage and delight, in turn realising the power of the flywheel? We’d suggest you start by adopting inbound marketing – with specific inbound marketing activities designed for each stage of the customer’s journey.

Not sure what inbound marketing is or want to brush up your knowledge? Head over to our blog: What is inbound marketing and why do you need it?

For now, let’s start at the beginning of that journey with the attract phase…

Awareness > Attract

In the days of the sales funnel, stage one of your customers‘ journey was ’awareness’ – but this implies an outbound approach, as if you’re making them aware of your business by pushing marketing on to them.

Change this to ’attract’ and it implies the opposite – your aim is to pull people in. Your marketing is appealing to potential customers and is attracting them like a magnet, for example by answering questions they may have or by fulfilling a need.

Here are a few inbound marketing activities you could try to attract ’strangers’ to your business, thus starting their journey around the flywheel:

Search engine optimisation (SEO): When a potential customer has a question and your business has the expertise to provide an answer, you want your website to be presented when they put that question to a search engine. The right SEO strategy should ensure that your website is coming up in search engine results when a potential customer is searching for a solution or for knowledge and insight that you can offer.

Content marketing: Create content that is genuinely useful to your audience. This should tie in really tightly with your SEO strategy – the content you produce should be answering the questions your audience are asking. Understand your audience by developing buyer personas and look to help them overcome challenges and achieve goals with your content. You could create whitepapers, blogs, ebooks and much more.

PR: A great PR strategy should spread your content far and wide, so it has the chance of being seen by more potential customers.

Advertising: Whether it’s PPC or social media advertising, using the right paid channels will help you to reach new audiences who may not already know of your brand. Just make sure you know who you want to reach and get your targeting right to make the most of your budget.

Not only will you want to try different inbound marketing activities for the different phases of the flywheel, you’ll also want to adjust your messaging at every step to ensure you’re meeting people with content that resonates.

During the attract phase remember people are only just becoming familiar with your brand – use messaging that gives them plenty of opportunity to learn more, present further content that may be of interest and avoid those hard sell messages.

Consideration > Engage

The next phase of the flywheel is engage, which you may have known as consideration in the sales funnel. At this point you want to build upon the relationship you’ve begun during the attract phase – you want to continue offering value through your content but also begin to show how your product or service is a solution to the individual’s pain point or need.  

At this point you may have captured data, such as an email address, or those previous strangers may have started following you on social media – so you may have a captive audience to reach, and as a result inbound marketing activities you may want to try include: 

Email marketing: During the attract phase and into the engage phase individuals may have signed up to receive further information from your business. As a result, you may have the permissions you need to begin email marketing. Think about what content to include in your emails that helps to solidify their perception of your brand as helpful and knowledgeable whilst also introducing your products or services.

Organic social media: Social media is a fantastic way to reach new audiences and grow your relationships with those already familiar with your brand. There are so many creative ways you can use social media channels to engage with your audience – you could try sharing positive customer stories, content supporting your brand values, exclusive content, advice pieces, top tips, product showcases and so much more. 

The important thing is to make sure your social media aligns with your brand and really appeals to your audience, offering them value and positively reinforcing their relationship with your business. 

Sales enablement: One of the fantastic things about the flywheel model is that it highlights the importance of seamless collaboration between departments, where everyone is focussed on the customer and their goals. That’s why, for many B2B or high purchase value B2C brands, sales enablement can be such a powerful ’engage’ tool.

During the attract and engage phases, marketing will likely learn a lot about the audience they’re working with – and that knowledge should be passed on to sales teams so they are well-equipped to carry on building the relationship. In our opinion one of the most powerful tools to help with this sales enablement is a great CRM that’s used, and has tools for, marketing, sales and customer relations – just like HubSpot does! By holding your customer data in a central CRM system, which can be used for marketing automation, sales tracking and customer service you can be confident everyone has the information they need to seamlessly manage the customer relationship.

Learn a bit more about the power of HubSpot 

Decision > Delight

Like any successful relationship…you need to work at it. And that’s why the decision stage has become the delight phase in the flywheel model. Instead of focussing on the purchase as an endpoint for the customer relationship, the delight phase is all about continuing the customer-centric frame of mind.

At this stage you will want to focus on how you can delight your customer, not only through the product or service you provide, but with brilliant customer service and continued value offered through marketing.

Remember – your messaging during this phase will likely want to shift – you’ve secured your sale, and now you want to focus on providing that sought-after added value, support and guidance. As far as activities go, you might want to try:

Email marketing: Could you run email marketing campaigns specifically for existing customers? Perhaps including exclusive content, referral incentives, discounts or sneak peeks.

Loyalty programmes: Consider introducing loyalty programmes to encourage referrals, word of mouth and positive reviews.

Customer service: Look for tools that can enable your teams to deliver great customer service – could live chatbots help? Could you create a knowledge base of content to help you customers get the most out of your product or service?

Social media: You can use social media to delight your existing customers too! How about creating a group for your customers where you can build a community and offer exclusive deals and content?

 

Hopefully I’ve given you some inspiration on where to start with inbound marketing activities for every phase of the flywheel (whilst also convincing you that the flywheel is definitely the way forwards) – but remember, the possibilities really are endless when it comes to inbound marketing, it all depends on what works best for your business and what channels are right for reaching your audience. Focus on: how can you make the customer the priority at each stage, and how can you deliver the value they’re looking for?

If you want some more help planning your inbound marketing activity, then don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01733 371 363 or email info@mediamatters-pr.co.uk for a quick chat about how we can help.

 

Amy Bull

Amy looks after our clients’ accounts. She’s the glue that holds our strategy, delivery and results together; she makes it happen and keeps it on track. She is the wearer of many hats!

Amy joined MM as the queen of words, crafting content and securing some incredible outreach opportunities for our clients. She’s since combined this with an in-depth knowledge of SEO, making every one of our clients’ words work as hard as possible in the digital landscape.

Her passion revolves wholeheartedly around ‘client accountability’ - hard work, integrity and honesty – doing the very best for our clients based upon data-driven evidence.