What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing can be defined as a set of marketing techniques with the ultimate goal of drawing more and more target customers to your business. It is typically content driven, meaning that by generating meaningful and valuable content, business owners try to attract customers and prospects toward a business.
Rather than a simple tactic, it is a collection of various methods which typically work towards generating high-quality content. It is then dispersed throughout the official website and digital platforms, where potential customers view them and are converted into paid customers.
To give you a better understanding of the same, let’s take a look at the four most important steps in the inbound marketing e-commerce process.
The first and foremost step of inbound marketing e-commerce is to attract people to your website. This is done by generating valuable, meaningful content such as blog posts or embedded videos. Reaching out to social media platforms such as Instagram, and TikTok, with added links to your product or service, is another way to drive more traffic to your website.
Generating traffic to your website from search engines and actually converting them to paid customers are two entirely different things. In order to achieve the latter, you need to substantiate your content with engaging materials. A few examples might include issuing CTA (Call To Action) or offering free trials or sales. Once your target audience visits your website, it can be hard to make them return. Therefore, try to make the best of it as much as possible. After all, the ultimate goal of inbound marketing e-commerce is to convert potential customers into paid customers.
Finally, it is time to close the sale and establish a customer-vendor relationship. Implementing CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software during this stage can be quite beneficial. You not only get to monitor your customers’ shopping carts but can also gather valuable insights related to their shopping behavior or demographics. Based on the data collected, you can then understand what kind of products attract the customers the best or the price points and marketing techniques that have proved effective.
Every business’s ultimate goal is to make sales and create a strong, long-lasting relationship with its audience base. The best way to achieve this is by enhancing the customer shopping experience, which can be done by
- Providing strong product quality
- Offering reliable customer service
- Conducting follow-up surveys to identify their pain points
- Widening the social media base.
Inbound vs. outbound marketing
While inbound marketing is a content-driven marketing technique, outbound marketing is another popular technique many businesses follow. It involves tasks such as cold calling, trade shows, and seminar series. Furthermore, it tends to be much costlier than inbound marketing, and the ROI is also much lower.
The following list highlights some similarities and differences between inbound and outbound marketing.
The ultimate goal of both inbound and outbound marketing is to drive as many potential customers as possible to e-commerce platforms and convert them effectively into paid customers.
However, the way they approach these said customers differ. For example, inbound marketing lets customers discover the brand or business by themselves. On the other hand, outbound marketing actively reaches out to potential targets, even if they are not looking for that specific product or service.
Every marketing strategy, be it inbound or outbound, must have an online presence alongside an up-to-date website that offers the key functionalities of e-commerce.
One of the major points of differences between inbound and outbound marketing is that the former focuses more on organic reach. This is done with the help of techniques such as generating helpful content, word of mouth, search engine optimization, and ensuring a strong social media presence.
Contrary to this, outbound marketing harnesses the power of traditional advertising methods. These include telemarketing, banner ads, and television, among others.
To sum it up, both inbound and outbound marketing tactics vary in the way they approach and execute marketing strategies. While inbound has a specific group of audience that they want to target via their content, outbound marketing has a much broader base audience. They do not specifically target only those likely to purchase but instead focus on the border swath of the population.
Why Does Your E-commerce Store Need Inbound Marketing?
In today’s digitized marketplace, the need for inbound marketing has increased. With the recent changes in customer behavior and customer needs, merely having an e-commerce presence does not hit the target anymore.
Researchers indicate that as much as 35% of online shoppers have agreed that mobile phones were their primary shopping tool. Furthermore, there also has been a gradual shift towards voice-assisted devices, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.
To deal with such a dynamic environment, all businesses need to scale their engagement with potential, current, and past customers. The same can be achieved with the help of inbound marketing. It is not merely a simple tool or strategy but a huge set of ongoing activities that ultimately impact the overall growth of a business.
Steps to Launch Inbound Marketing for Your Online Store
The ultimate key to success in this e-commerce journey is to be able to understand your customers. Here are the fundamental steps on how to get this done and begin implementing your inbound marketing strategies!
1. Create buyer personas
Buyer personas are representations of your ideal customers, backed by research and data. It helps you understand specific customer purchasing behavior, demographics, lifestyle, and hobbies. Based on the information you gather, you can align all the work within your organization ranging from marketing to sales, to meet the needs of the customers. Typically, it should consist of information such as
- Education and
- Geography, among others.
2. Define business goals and objectives
KPIs, also known as key performance indicators, help evaluate and analyze an organization’s success in meeting all the business goals and objectives. Adopting a goal-oriented approach with the help of KPIs can be a great way to maintain synchronization between your customers’ preferences and needs with your marketing efforts. A few examples of key performance indicators, especially for e-commerce, include,
- Website Traffic
- Online revenue
- Average order value and
- Conversion rate, among others.
Digital Marketing Tactics and Strategies for E-commerce Inbound Marketers
1. Search engine optimization
SEO or Search Engine Optimization can be a great way to increase your organic visibility. In order to enjoy all the benefits of SEO, you need to incorporate keywords in your content properly and sufficiently. However, ensure that you are not going overboard with it. Excessively repeating the keywords can cause more harm than good.
Some of the areas to implement SEO keywords are-
Every product or service you offer should have a page of its own. The URL for those pages must contain relevant, high-ranking keywords.
- Meta Description
Meta Description, as the name suggests, is usually visible below the page title tag in search results. It generally contains a unique product or service description and is usually within the range of 300 characters.
- Image Alt Text
Most do not realize that images are also an excellent way to boost your SEO game. Therefore, every image you use for merchandising your product should have ‘alt-tags,’ which contain the keywords.
Apart from these, there are also other places where you can incorporate the page’s targeted keywords. Those include canonical tags, page titles, header tags, and rich snippets.
Substantiating your e-commerce website with valuable blogs can be a great way to increase your website traffic. These blogs help to disseminate useful information to your prospective customers, which helps build a long-lasting bond of trust and loyalty with your consumers.
However, blogging can be quite time-consuming at times. Therefore, to get the maximum benefit from the same, you need to articulate your blogs to provide a clear path to purchase.
For example, you can add product links and relevant images to the blog. You can also offer free trials to let the product sell itself. Reports estimate that as much as 40% of free trial users generally convert into paid plans.
3. User-generated content
User-generated content specifically refers to the inclusion of customer reviews and testimonials. While offering a significant boost to your brand’s credibility, user-generated content can also help increase organic search engine ranking.
4. Social media
Social media has become one of the most important tools for creating a digital presence for your business. You can harness the power of social media for your business in various ways. For example, influencer marketing, wherein you collaborate with online influencers to market your products and services. This can be a great way to expand your reach.
5. Paid media
Paid media can broadly be divided into three main categories, namely,
- Search Engine Marketing
- Display advertising and
- Social media marketing
Regardless of the type you decide to incorporate for your business, paid media marketing has proven an excellent way to engage with new buyers. This is because it specifically targets people based on what they are searching for, which usually comes alongside an intent to buy. Additionally, people who usually click on a paid ad have been known to portray a higher purchase intent.
Between the above-mentioned three types, display advertising and social media marketing are generally considered to be more effective for increasing your brand reach.
6. Catalog optimization
Another effective inbound e-commerce marketing strategy is to categorize all the products you have listed on your e-commerce website properly and efficiently. For example, you can classify the products into four main categories: low traffic, high traffic, low conversion, and high conversion.
Chalk out the items on your site with high traffic and conversion rates. These are usually the top-selling items that generate the maximum revenue for your business. Once you have identified them, you can move on to the second category- items that need promotion. They are usually the ones with lower traffic but high conversion rates. Brainstorm ideas that will help to drive more traffic to these products, as they can significantly increase the conversion rate of these products.
Following this, categorize products with high website traffic but low conversion rates. They usually require extensive testing and product page content experimentation to improve the conversion rate. Your ultimate goal for these products is to add more to the cart and into the checkout.
Lastly, we have products with low conversion rates and low website traffic. These are the ones that are actually bringing down the overall quality of your website. The best way to deal with the same is to remove them from your website and warehouse completely. Although you might face significant losses while carrying out these activities, it will bear fruitful results for your business in the long run.
7. Email marketing
Email marketing remains one of the most significant forms of e-commerce inbound marketing techniques for many businesses. Studies have shown that as much as 81% of small businesses primarily rely on email marketing for customer acquisition. However, to attain maximum benefit, you need to create impactful emails.
Additionally, you should also schedule emails so that you can drive more sales around promotions. A/B testing is a very popular method followed by many businesses wherein you compare two versions of a webpage or email against each other to determine which one generates better results. Leveraging the same can assist you in taking the necessary steps toward improvement.
8. Site search
Site search is another important feature, which, unfortunately, most businesses tend to ignore. By enabling site search on your website, you can enhance the customer shopping experience, helping them find what they need when they arrive at your website.
9. Live chat
The live chat feature is quite a popular tactic many businesses use to connect visitors or customers with a live customer service agent who can answer all their queries and doubts regarding your services.
Furthermore, with so many technological innovations happening worldwide, there has also been a significant rise in the use of chatbots, or automated Q&A systems, to ease the whole process for business owners. With the help of chatbots, you can easily manage all the customer inquiries and connect them with a live human being, if needed.
Including a form on your website can be a great way to engage with prospective customers regarding all their doubts and queries. It enhances their purchase experiences while nurturing long-lasting and better customer relationships.
11. Upsell incentives
Providing incentives for your customers is an effective way to increase sales and generate more revenue for your business. It can be in the form of offering free shipping or even welcome offers to your customers. For example, if a customer has placed their first order on your website, you can offer them a discount as a part of your welcome package.
You can also provide free shipping for orders that exceed a specified amount of money. If a customer is close to reaching that threshold, you can generate a countdown message during checkout. This way, you will be able to increase your overall order value and bottom line.
12. Customer recovery (aka shopping cart abandonment)
Cart abandonment is one of the many challenges faced by e-commerce sites. Researchers indicate that, on average, the shopping cart abandonment rate is as high as 69.57% across all industries. From slow delivery to the complicated checkout process, multiple reasons can be attributed to this problem.
In order to deal with the same, you need to consider marketing automation. It basically includes a series of emails consisting of various special offers and discounts so that you can re-engage with your audience. You can send out these emails in specific periods to recapture the abandoned carts. For example, the first email should be sent out within 1-2 hours after abandonment. Following this, if your customer still hasn’t responded, you can send the second email again after 12-24 hours of abandonment. By being consistent with your emails, you can significantly reduce your business’s shopping cart abandonment rate.
While incorporating various marketing strategies in your business undoubtedly bears fruitful results, it is also important to analyze and measure the performance of each one of them. This is where analytics come into play. As an inbound marketer, it is your responsibility to check the successes and failures of all marketing efforts. You must also ensure they align with the overall business goals and objectives.
Personalizing the shopping experience is a great way to achieve a happy and satisfied customer base. For example, Shinola, a very popular luxury watch brand, sets up its watches according to the buyer’s time zone. While it is not always possible or even feasible to achieve this level of personalization, you can always look for other opportunities. You can include a personalized note, or a small gift, every time your customer places an order.
As a business owner, it is your duty to keep the conversation going, even after the buying process is completed. The best way to do so is by following up with your customer for product reviews. In this way, you are not only creating opportunities for a positive customer experience but also gathering potential feedback that will help you understand their pain points and preferences.
16. Re-engagement campaign
The cost of winning a new customer is always more than retaining an already-existing customer. Most often than not, your existing customers can go quiet after a time. As a business owner, your ultimate goal is to gain them back before you lose them forever or to the point where they never purchase from you again. The best way to do this is periodically checking in with them and re-engaging so that you can convert them again. You can draft a segmented list based on their last date of purchase. Accordingly, you can send out emails to reconnect with them.
17. Loyalty program
Lastly, offering exclusive loyalty programs is an exceptional way to keep your customers happy. This can be in the form of sending birthday discounts or offering gifts on special occasions. Regardless of the type you choose for your business, this can effectively leave a long-lasting impression in your customers’ minds. If they feel valued enough, they will likely purchase from you repeatedly. Furthermore, this also helps to build strong brand loyalty, which is undoubtedly one of the key ingredients to e-commerce success.
With this, we come to an end of e-commerce inbound marketing strategies. To sum up, inbound e-commerce marketing is undoubtedly one of the most effective tools that need to be incorporated into every business. With the emergence of inbound marketing, business processes have become much simpler and easier to navigate. However, note that the above-mentioned strategies are undergoing constant change and innovations. Therefore, you need to stay up-to-date accordingly.
The ultimate goal is to put your customers first, understand their needs, and take the necessary course of action. All these have now been made possible with inbound marketing. Furthermore, you can also automate a majority of the marketing tasks, which in turn not only saves you a lot of resources but also identifies any potential areas of revenue leaks that you might be experiencing.