Attract More Customers Using The 4 Stages Of Inbound Marketing

Two businesswomen writing on a whiteboard as they go over the four stages of inbound marketing and how to implement them in their business

Inbound marketing consists of various strategies that naturally and unobtrusively get the audience’s attention to your products and services. The sales potential of inbound marketing hinges on the creation of valuable content and personalised online experiences, and how well you can promote these to your ideal customers.

Unlike ‘cold’ or outbound methods, you don’t normally expect to make a sale immediately with inbound marketing. Instead, you build a relationship of trust and credibility in stages – which leads to a better conversion rate, higher value sales, and better customer retention.

There are four main stages of inbound marketing you should be aware of:


1) Attract new leads

The goal of the ‘attract’ stage is raising awareness among your ideal customer base. Here, you want to create varied content that addresses your customer needs and pain points and publish it in the online spaces your audience visits. 

At this stage, content doesn’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) “salesy”. Prospects are aware of a challenge that needs to be addressed and are educating themselves on potential solutions. Purely informational content is your best chance of getting your audience’s attention, as long as it’s relevant. Be informative, consultative, and supportive, without making the content directly about you or your business at all. Just provide free advice and information. This type of content can help make your brand memorable and position your company as a reliable option when prospects are better informed and in a position to start thinking about purchasing a solution.

Tools you can use include written blogs and video content on your website and in social media, paid ads and landing pages, gated incentive content, and SEO. Your goal should be for prospects to make contact with you in some way – through a social media or website message, by making a phone call, or by signing up for your email list.

2) Engage your leads

The ‘engagement’ stage helps nurture leads into paying customers by delivering engaging experiences and supporting content that reinforces the prospect’s trust in your brand. At this stage, the prospect is considering different solutions to their challenges, without (yet) weighing up different suppliers. They may not have set a budget yet and will need more time and information before committing to a sale

Once leads discover that you offer a potential solution, they’re likely to contact you to request more information, clarify doubts, or simply to “test the waters” and see how their enquiry is handled. The best way to keep in touch during this stage is email marketing, so it’s essential to give prospects every opportunity to opt-in to email communications through contact forms on each page of your site and blog. 

The key is handling all enquiries with the goal of providing value. If a prospect is impressed enough with your ‘awareness content’ to sign up for your emails, they will expect more of the same quality and relevance going forward. All interactions should be personalised and clearly demonstrate your interest in offering solutions, instead of just selling products.

Resist jumping the gun and pushing sales too early at this stage. To generate engagement, you’ll want to focus on relationship building, responding to customer cues and providing the right information at the right time to nurture them through the process.

Tools you can use include email automation content flows to ‘drip feed’ material to prospects following behavioural triggers (e.g. someone clicks a link in a marketing email), webinars, ebooks, and articles. Some prospects will already be in the consideration stage when they make first contact, so you should publish regular material on your blog that discusses the value of your products and services in greater depth – without getting too technical or feature-focused.

3) Convert your leads into customers

An ‘engaged lead’ isn’t the same as a committed customer, so sometimes you’ll need to give prospects a gentle ‘push’ towards conversion – i.e. investing their money with your business as opposed to a competitor. At this stage, your prospects are well-informed and are ready to make a purchase decision. Remain solutions-focused, but you can be more direct and sales-oriented in your content at this stage, actively promoting the features and benefits of your solution and how these compare with other options on the market. You may also wish to address specific questions or sales objections in your blogs and web pages and explain the technical aspects of your proposition in greater detail.

You’ll want to create personalised and relevant offers at every stage of the sales funnel, ensuring they gradually build enthusiasm to the point that converting seems the natural thing to do. 

To avoid sales falling at the final hurdle, you’ll need to anticipate the reasons why a lead may hesitate before converting. Do they need more technical information? Testimonials or case studies? A free trial? A call back? Try to anticipate the sales objections you’re likely to face and address these in your content - by using ‘decision stage’ keywords in some of your blogs you may even attract new leads ready to make an immediate purchase. 

4) Delight your customers

The process of inbound marketing doesn’t end with the first sale. The strategy is equally effective at increasing customer retention and encouraging a higher lifetime value from your existing customers. Happy customers stick around for longer. You’ll also want your customers to be so satisfied with their experience that they recommend your company to others, provide glowing online reviews, and share your content with their networks on social media.

The last stage of inbound marketing helps you achieve referrals and boost your sales organically by delighting your customers in ways they didn’t expect. For example, you can offer a freebie post-conversion, send them personalised offers, or email them on their birthday. You may also want to do social media monitoring to get insights into how to delight your customers. In response, some people may promote your content or refer your business spontaneously, but you normally have to ask. It’s ok to use your email list to send out occasional customer satisfaction or feedback surveys to your current customers and to proactively ask for shares, recommendations, and written testimonials. 

Next steps

At JDR, we offer full marketing support for each stage of the inbound marketing process, creating relevant and valuable content for your customers and helping increase your conversion and retention rate. To find out more, please call 01332 343281 today.

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