Inbound Marketing: the most effective strategy to attract clients that buy time and time again

Do you switch on the TV and get bored of the constant stream of ad after ad? Inbound marketing is the answer.
Surely you are not the only one that ends up surfing the Internet looking for a different, more interesting type of content.
That’s the tendency. Consumers have said that’s enough and that they want to interact with brand in another way.
How? Inbound marketing
Get ready because today you’ll learn about a strategy that will help you foster your clients’ loyalty so they can become promoters of your brand.
Here we go!

What is Inbound Marketing?

Let’s start with the definition.
According to Hubspot, inbound marketing is an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media.
What do we have to focus on within this definition?

  • Attracting: we do not chase the client the way we do with traditional marketing (we’ll come back to this later). The user comes voluntarily.
  • Qualified traffic: your content should focus on your audience and not on just anyone and everyone. Here we can again see the importance of defining the buyer persona.
  • Creating loyal customers: we won’t stop at attracting, we will continue to create content that makes the users become a lead and then a client (continuing through our sales funnel).

Now you may have some doubts, but don’t worry because we are going to clarify each point as we go through this post.

Inbound marketing VS. outbound marketing

The opposite strategy of inbound is outbound marketing (the traditional way of promoting products and services).
We are talking about newspapers and television ads, banners, pop-ups… they are unexpected advertisements fighting for a piece of your attention. Often, without thinking much about the how.
However, inbound focuses on attracting clients thanks to content.
What do we get from that?
A total change of the user’s attitude towards our brand. Instead of being annoying, we are seen as useful to our clients.

Advantages and disadvantages of inbound marketing for eCommerce

Besides more final sales, applying an inbound marketing strategy will give you some other added benefits.

Advantages

  • Authority: we already talked about this in our post about content marketing, creating content about your field makes you a leader in that field.
  • It saves you money: it is more profitable than traditional marketing. It is calculated that inbound leads are 60% cheaper than the outbound ones.
  • It creates a good image: with inbound marketing we don’t talk about the product, but about people and their needs. This will make them see us with better eyes than if we try to sell them directly.
  • Qualified traffic: we attract clients that have a real interest in our products. This will be a real boost to your conversion rate.

Disadvantages

  • Heterogeneous customers: when selling online, we have the challenge of getting different clients to the different products they are each looking for as soon as possible. How do we cope? By improving the website architecture, the navigability, or adding an internal search engine.
  • Different kinds of products: in your eCommerce you may have impulse-purchase products and others that require a bit more decision-making. Getting to know the sales cycle of each one and adding it to the strategy is a real challenge.
  • The client can’t always be educated: there are some sectors in which the whole process is just more difficult.
  • Too much segmentation: sometimes we want to get so close to a certain profile that we may filter out and lose potential clients on the way.

And now it’s time to start with the more practical part of the post. 😉

How to plan an inbound marketing strategy

An inbound marketing strategy can be divided into 5 stages. Let’s break them down one by one.

1. Attracting with content

In this post, we explained in depth how to develop a content marketing strategy. That’s why in today’s article we are going to focus on just the most important parts.

  • Buyer persona: your content will only work if it’s attractive to your target audience. You should focus on learning about their problems and necessities. If you don’t know how to define it, have a look at this post.
  • Format: there is more than just text, you also have videos, podcasts, images, etc.
  • Editorial schedule: establish the frequency and when you will publish.

Besides content creation, there are other strategies that you can use to get more traffic.

  • SEO: organic positioning for search engines. Have a look at our SEO guide for eCommerce
  • Social networks: share interesting content for your audience on your social networks so you can direct traffic to your website later.

Once they are on our website, we continue to push them through our sales funnel.

2. From visitor to subscriber (lead)

The second stage is about converting that visitor into a subscriber (also known as lead).
In order to get their email addresses, we can offer them an eBook, a course, or even a free trial of our services. There are two ways of doing this.

  • Lead magnet (“bait for hooking leads”): for example, if you have a dog food eCommerce, a good lead magnet would be a “Beginner’s Guide to Dog Nutrition”.
  • Content upgrade: this is extra content that is added to the original bit. Following the same example, if you wrote a post about “the best time to feed your dog”, the content upgrade could be a downloadable calendar to keep track of the times you feed your dog. It is also very useful to create a segmented list.

From this moment on, email will be our main communication channel and it will allow us to move into the third stage of the inbound marketing strategy.

3. Lead education

Here we have two sub-stages. The first one is to find out if the users are ready to buy. On the other hand, in the second stage we will lead them to the purchase with some specialised content.

A. Lead scoring

The first step when we have a new contact is to find out how “ready” the client is to buy (lead scoring).
How hot the lead is depends on many factors:

  • The source of the traffic
  • The price
  • The brand’s authority

If your e-commers is a small one or it is just starting out, you don’t need to worry about this too much — you need to focus on the following section.

B. Lead nurturing

This is the process of educating, growing, and feeding (quite literally “nurturing”) the potential client.
A common way to do this is with an automated technique using an autoresponder (a programmed sequence of emails that users receive one by one).
The key is to send content according to the lead temperature. Here you have some examples:

  • Cold lead: we send general content so that clients can see the different solutions available. They start to notice the need.
  • Warm leads: they know their problems and they are looking for solutions. Here we can send success cases, statistics, or studies supporting our products as a solution to what they need.

Depending on the way clients interact with the emails, we will send them more appropriate content so they continue to follow the funnel.

4. Selling the product or service

If you have already started thinking, “okay, but when do I sell?”, this is the section you are looking for.
In one of the last emails of the sequence, we will send them a sales email about a product or service. It normally involves a discount, though a bonus gift works too.
It is very important that you set a deadline for the discount in order to create a sense of urgency. When clients think that they might miss an opportunity, they’ll feel a bigger necessity to make the purchase.
Besides this offer email, we will send at least one other email reminding them that time is running out.

5. From one-time client to returning client

Now it’s time to give it the finishing touch — our job is not done after making the sale.
Now, your goal is to send them more valuable information so that they can make better use of whatever they have bought. At this point it is also important to be mindful of your post sales service.

Inbound marketing tools for eCommerce

Though we use different tools for each part of the funnel, we can try to group them here:

1. Attraction

As we saw before, you can use different strategies for this. We’ll provide some tools for each of them:

  • External copywriter: if you don’t want to write your own content, you can hire a person to do it for you.
  • Social networks automation: tools that move your content automatically: Buffer, Hootsuite and Postcron.
  • Advertisements: Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads or Google Adwords will be your allies to attract traffic to your eCommerce.
  • SEO: in order to find keywords, you can use Ubersuggest, Hypersuggest, or Semrush.

If you are planning on writing your own content, a very useful tool to find ideas for your posts is Buzzsumo.

2. Nurturing

Here we can use the email marketing tools.
We already talked about how Mailchimp, Active Campaign, GetResponse or MailRelay can help you in this article.

3. Selling

You will need some sort of tool to create the feeling of a possible missed opportunity.
If you use WordPress, you can use Page Expiration Robot, a plugin that creates scarcity to go along with the call to action.
There are also email marketing tools that allow you to send and automate emails when clients abandon their carts. For example,  Active Campaign.

👉 7 examples of companies applying inbound marketing (and what you can learn from them)

Now it’s time to go over the examples we promised you.

✅ 1. We Are Knitters: video tutorials that teach you to use their products

You may now be thinking…

This whole inbound thing is pretty cool, but the products I sell are too simple to create content out around them”.

Sure about that? We might be able to change your mind after telling you about We Are Knitters. 😉

We Are Knitters is an online store that only sells two things: wool balls and sewing needles. But this fairly simple catalog hasn’t stopped them from building an audience of almost 40,000 YouTube subscribers.

Their strategy relies on tutorials that teach different sewing techniques, patterns, etc.

Here’s one of their videos.

✅ 2. GoPro: customer-generated content

At GoPro they’ve also relied on video marketing to attract potential customers, albeit with a slightly different approach.

Instead of creating content themselves, they post videos made by their own clients to their YouTube channel (after applying a few editing improvements). Here’s an example:

These kinds of videos keep their community engaged and serve as social proof to show that their products work.

You could easily adjust this strategy to your e‑commerce by encouraging your followers to share photos or videos using your products.

As a matter of fact, people have been using this user-made content technique for quite a while in certain sectors, such as fashion.

✅ 3. Mr. Wonderful: fun posts that connect people

Mr. Wonderful is a Spanish startup created in 2013 that’s been on a nonstop growth trajectory.

In part, this can be attributed to their unmistakable brand image, but their content strategy on social media has also played a role. 😉

Mr. Wonderful realized that social media is a place where people seek entertainment.

And that’s why there’s no intent to sell in half of their posts. Instead, they mainly consist of motivational quotes and fun illustrations, many of which go viral.

The end result?

Not only have they managed to create a strong bond with their followers but they have also expanded internationally, establishing selling points all over the world.

✅ 4. Lucky Brand: lead magnets with a discount

Lead magnets are little “presents” you give your site visitors in exchange for their email (meaning they become your subscribers).

Most of the time, lead magnets are e‑books or educational content of some sort.

However, lots of online stores have adopted a more direct strategy of offering small discounts.

This is what they’ve done at the clothes shop Lucky Brand.

inbound marketing e commerce ejemplos

As soon as you land on their site, a pop‑up offers you a 10% discount if you sign up for their newsletter.

Not only do they get you to subscribe, but you’re also more likely to end up buying something in order to use that voucher.

✅ 5. Bespoke Post: segmenting subscribers from the very first email

What happens when someone subscribes to your mail list?

Well, that means it’s time to segment them. 😉

Lead scoring (or segmentation of potential customers) is one of the pillars of inbound marketing. Its goal is for each of your subscribers to receive their favorite kind of content so they advance through your sales funnel.

And that’s what they do at Bespoke Post, a website that sends you a surprise box every month.

inbound marketing e commerce

Once you’re subscribed, you get an email asking you to configure your preferences.

You can implement the same system into your online store and allow your followers to specify the kinds of products they’d like to receive offers and content for.

✅ 6. Sephora: tips to look better (and that create the ultimate urge to buy)

Many stores have become experts in the laws of attraction.

They publish high-quality content and offer their users irresistible lead magnets to get them to subscribe to their mailing lists.

But that’s where they get stuck.

The list of potential customer grows, but they never complete a single order.

In many cases, that’s because they focus solely on selling and forget about a crucial step: lead nurturing or qualifying potential customers.

In other words, offering your subscribers useful content to gain their trust and make them more willing to purchase your products.

Sephora’s newsletters are a good example of this:

inbound marketing e commerce

While they don’t neglect sales in their emails, the main message consists of a make‑up tutorial that they give their subscribers for free.

✅ 7. Starbucks Rewards: fostering loyalty with extra coffee

Remember: selling is not the endgame of an inbound marketing strategy.

Once you gain new clients, you need to try and make sure they’ll choose you over and over again.

That is, you need to foster loyalty among them.

And loyalty programs are a proven strategy for this.

For example, think of Starbucks Rewards, the point-based system for the world’s most famous brand of cafés.

Once they’ve signed up, users accumulate points every time they order or take part in games and contests on the brand’s social media or mobile app (which is, in turn, a good example of an omnichannel strategy).

Every now and then, users get an email telling them how many points they’ve accumulated:

e commerce inbound marketing

At the end of the day, it’s the same point-based system that is used in physical stores, but it works like a charm to foster loyalty among your clients.

👉 One last note about using inbound marketing

The examples we’ve seen cover the main stages of an inbound marketing strategy.

However, there’s another key component to every marketing strategy that we haven’t mentioned yet – user experience.

Remember that the exact moment when a sale occurs, which is the most delicate time in the process, takes place on your own site.

So something as simple as bad navigability can mean all your efforts go to waste, and the same happens if your users can’t find the product they’re after.

And it’s just the opposite when they can find those products. 😉

Some websites that were seeing subpar results have seen their sales skyrocket after implementing an improved internal search engine.

You don’t believe it? Then here’s the deal:

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See for yourself what a difference it makes to have a smart search engine instead of the default option.

If it’s not what you expected, just uninstall it.

But if it does work for you, you’d better be ready to sell. 😉

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