In the first post of this 2-part series, we discussed the first two phases of the inbound marketing framework: Attract and Capture.

To recap, the first stage involves attracting the right kind of traffic to your website with relevant, remarkable content. The more visitors you can attract that fit into your target demographic, the better. The second phase, Capture, focuses on what to do with that traffic. Ideally, you want visitors to give you some sort of information which can be used to target the messages you distribute to them in the future. This is done by offering up premium content in exchange for information.

In this post, we're going to dive into the next two phases of the inbound marketing framework: Close and Delight.

Phase 3: Close

If you've properly gone through the first two phases, you now know who the visitors to your website are and who the fans of your content are. You have captured information on these prospects, and this knowledge can be leveraged to determine where they are in the buying process and what they are interested in.

In the Close phase, it is critical to use the knowledge you've acquired about site visitors to determine whether or not they are a good prospective client. In other words, are they likely to buy from you, and furthermore, are they the type of client you want to work with should they buy from you (more about this in the Delight phase). If the answer is yes, then this is the point where you focus your efforts on lead nurturing ­- establishing a dialogue and giving leads the content they require as they move through the buying process. You should cater content to correspond with:

  • The problem recognition phase
  • The information and research phase
  • Evaluation of solutions (feature comparisons, product and service comparisons, price and vendor comparison, etc).

    The point is to lead prospects consultatively to the conclusion that they want to buy your products or use your services over those offered by your competition. Some of the tactics that you should employ to help close more leads are the following:

    Email or Marketing Automation: The sometime misunderstood tactic that can achieve huge ROI. This is one of the best formats to build trust with a prospective client. By tailoring your message and sending useful and educational content at the right time you can help them become more inclined to buy from you.

    Lead Scoring: If you can define the customers that are a perfect fit for your organization and which behaviours they demonstrate before they purchase you can implement lead scoring. Fit is generally easier to define because you can focus on Industry, Size of Business, Role, etc. Engagement will take a little bit of guess work and analysis to determine a winning formula. Focus on events that you can track that indicate a lead's engagement in your company. For example, # of emails opened, # of times they viewed the pricing page, # of content downloads, and so on. Use a numerical value for each element and start testing your theory.

    Phase 4: Delight

    Contrary to popular belief, the inbound marketing framework does not end with closing a lead into a sale. When we talked above about determining whether or not a site visitor would be a good prospective buyer, it's because today more than ever, it is crucial that clients have a positive experience with your company. If you think a lead will be difficult to work with or will have unrealistic expectations that you simply cannot meet, you should cease any efforts to convert them into customers.

    The logic behind this is simple. More and more people turn to recommendations and online reviews to (at least partially) inform their purchasing decisions. If you choose to nurture and ultimately do business with a lead that will likely be dissatisfied with your services, the chances of this dissatisfaction turning into a negative review online are that much higher. And the more negative reviews your company racks up, the less people are going to want to opt for you over your competition.

    Ultimately, you want clients that don't just buy your product or service, but also love it. They are much more inclined to share their positive experiences, thus acting as ambassadors of your brand. Remember, positive recommendations from those who have employed your company are far more trusted and effective than any advertising you may do.

    Extend Value: To build customer loyalty it's imperative to provide value far beyond your core services and offering useful information for free will help forge a stronger connection between you and your customers. Developing customer exclusive content, for example, massively extends value in a way that is personalized and highly useful to clients.

    Email: Use email to keep your customers informed. But not to sell them more. Use email to add value and be helpful, through curating content, updates that affect the industry or new amazing stories that you know they will love. Make sure to answer these three questions when sending out commination to your customers.

    1. How will this information help them?

    2. Why will they care about this message?

    3. How can they use this information?

    Continue to offer your clients unparalleled service, and watch as they transform from clients to ambassadors of your brand.