So, you developed an amazing product (or two) and started an eCommerce business. You have an eye-catching Shopfiy store. You’ve built an excellent customer service team.
You’ve even sorted out all the tiny-but-daunting details, from creating a marketing budget to researching product liability risk and sales tax.
But how do you get people to through the (virtual) door?
Well, you could run Facebook ads, buy Instagram theme pages, pitch a podcast commercial, and pay celebrities for sponsored product posts. But these traditional methods of outbound marketing will leave your pockets dry, fast.
Enter the inverse: inbound marketing.
Today, I’m going to introduce you to 8 inbound marketing strategies that will have customers running to you.
But first, what is inbound marketing?
What Is Inbound Marketing Strategy?
Inbound marketing has one of the simplest definitions of all marketing strategies: “the process of helping potential customers find your company,” as Marketo puts it.
Unlike traditional advertising, inbound marketing does not disrupt your target audience. It’s not a TV or radio commercial, Facebook ad, or billboard. Instead, it focuses on bringing your ideal customers to you by creating brand awareness. As a result, most customers aren’t ready to make a purchase yet when your inbound efforts reach them.
“Inbound marketing” is somewhat of an umbrella term that’s at the root of other strategies, such as content marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), and social media marketing. As such, most inbound strategies pull from a variety of these techniques, as you’ll see later.
HubSpot breaks inbound marketing down into three stages:
At its core, inbound marketing is about customer experience.
The first stage, “attract,” is when potential customers first become aware of your brand. They’re usually not ready to buy, but the goal of this stage is to turn brand awareness into brand preference.
After attracting the right people to your brand, the next step is to engage them. You can do this by providing them with valuable insight they need or offering solutions to their problems. After successfully educating them about the pain points they struggle with, they’re more likely to trust and eventually buy from you.
Finally, the third step is to delight potential and existing customers. At this point, they’re either already customers or leads getting ready to make a purchase. They might need answers to questions before making a final decision, or existing customers might want guidance on how to get the most out of their investment in your product.
Strategy #1: Create Educational Content to Answer Your Target Audience’s Burning Questions
If your inbound marketing plan could only contain one strategy, I’d recommend this one.
Your potential customers have questions, even when they know what they want or need. And in today’s world, there are a plethora of places they can visit with a single click to find the answers.
Your goal is simple: to be the one who provides them with those answers.
And just like there are a million places people can go to get them, there are just as many where you can provide them. Blog posts, social media content, YouTube videos, online forums, and podcasts are just a few examples.
This strategy is part of stage 1, “attract.” By creating content around questions your audience has, you create brand awareness. And by providing value and bringing them from point A-B, it turns into brand trust, making them more likely to buy from you.
If you don’t know what kind of questions your target customers have, a fantastic resource to use is Answer the Public. Just type in a keyword (such as your product) to find out what people are searching about it. You’ll then be taken to a wheel of potentially hundreds of questions that you can turn into content ideas, all for free.
For example, after searching for “running shoes,” I was given 79 questions:
Strategy #2: Gain Organic Traffic Through SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Why not take strategy #1 a step further?
You’re creating content to answer people’s questions surrounding what you sell. Now, it’s time to devote some focus to creating content for search engines, too.
I gave a few examples of places you can publish your content to raise brand awareness (blogs, social media, podcasts, etc.). But if your content isn’t optimized for these platforms’ algorithms, you’re missing out on potentially hundreds of thousands of views.
Research from Merkle found that 23% of all site visits are produced by organic search. What’s more, Internet Live Stats reports that Google processes over 100,000 searches per minute–over 8.5 billion per day.
It’s clear that when people have questions, Google is the most popular resource of choice.
By practicing SEO, you can start optimizing your content for Google’s algorithm and skyrocket your Shopify store’s monthly visitors. And if you don’t know where to start, there’s a multitude of SEO courses online for cheap or free.
Strategy #3: Get Vocal on Social Media
HubSpot data found that 42% of consumers used social media to research products in 2020. And they expect this statistic to grow, considering that the up-and-coming generations are more present online.
Social media is often viewed as a goldmine for leads in the eCommerce industry, and rightfully so.
However, instead of disrupting your target audience with Facebook ads that have an ever-increasing cost per lead, try attracting, engaging, and delighting them with a creative social media strategy that spans multiple channels.
You can start by creating profiles on the platforms your target customers hang out on the most. This varies by industry, but Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are typically where you’ll want to be.
Being mindful of each one’s algorithms, start creating content to build a following. You can even recycle content you’ve already published on your blog, YouTube channel, and other sites.
Strategy #4: Build an Email List
In the past, email lists were considered more of a “blogger thing.” But in 2022 and beyond, this inbound practice is among the most powerful lead generation strategies for all businesses.
Email marketing has one of the lowest costs of investment, but the highest ROIs (return on investment). According to DMA, email generates $42 for every $1 spent. Plus, there’s a wide variety of cheap email services on the market.
It goes without saying that in 2022, it should be a high priority to grow your email list.
Once someone joins your email list, they essentially qualify themselves as a lead. They’ve willingly handed you their contact information and expressed interest in what you offer.
So when you email your subscribers, you aren’t just talking to people with the intent of raising brand awareness (as you are with blog posts and social media). You’re trying to close deals with qualified leads.
One of the best ways to motivate Shopify visitors to join your list is to offer incentives known as opt-in offers. As an eCommerce business, the type of offers your potential subscribers would be interested in are most likely discount codes, promises to notify them of future sales, early notice of new product releases, and more.
Strategy #5: Partner with Social Media Influencers
To take your social media marketing plan from strategy #3 a step further, consider partnering with social media influencers to promote your products.
For example, you can hire influencers on Instagram or YouTube to be ambassadors for your brand. This means they use your products and share them with their audience. Many times, the business owner also gives the influencer their own discount code to motivate their followers to buy it for themselves at 10-20% off.
Some influencers also offer to promote companies’ products either in their stories or as a post in their feed, but this is usually only for 24-48 hours and they charge hefty rates. Plus, I would consider this to be more like outbound marketing, since the post was paid for as an advertisement that disrupts the influencer’s audience.
Strategy #6: Improve Your Inbound Sales Calls
Since inbound marketing is based in customer experience, it’s essential that excellent customer service is part of your overall plan.
If you have a customer service team, observe how your representatives answer the calls they receive from prospects, leads, and potential customers. These calls are known as “inbound sales calls” because the person calling is already interested in what you’re selling. Thus, the goal of these calls is essentially to “close the deal.”
Two important things to watch for in your service representatives are that they’re solution selling rather than product selling and that they’re fully engaged in the conversation.
If your employees don’t have high energy and radiate positive vibes, good luck getting them to convert questioning leads.
But come to find out this is a problem you’re facing, there’s no need to panic and fire your entire team. Instead, try implementing some effective employee engagement strategies and watch your sales soar.
Strategy #7: Install Chatbots or Live Chat Features on Your Website
As an eCommerce store, you deal with customers across all timezones. So even with a customer service team, it’s impossible to serve all your potential buyers any time they might need you (unless you have a global, 24/7 team).
Luckily, in 2022, that’s no longer an issue you have to brush under the rug thanks to a host of easy-to-install live chat plugins.
Now there’s the option of self-service. By installing features like chatbots and live chats onto your Shopify store website, visitors and existing customers can get the service they need without having to call a service rep between 8AM and 5PM.
In fact, businesses across the board are implementing self-service features. Take the Law Offices of Jay Knipsel, for example–a New York city law firm that uses live chat on their legal website:
Strategy #8: Prompt the Creation of User-Generated Content (UGC)
User-generated content (UGC) refers to content created by existing customers about your brand and/or products.
Essentially, your most loyal buyers are doing the marketing for you, usually in the form of social media posts.
You might even already have a collection of UGC waiting for you to discover it. To start, check your direct messages and mentions to see if anyone on social media has tagged you in a post where they discuss your product.
If you don’t have any UGC yet (or simply want more), then it’s time to prompt the creation of it.
One idea is to incentivize your followers to create UGC by running contests or offering rewards.
For example, if you sell cameras, challenge your customers to post the best pictures they’ve taken with your camera online. To enter the challenge, all they need to do is tag your company’s social media page. They’ll then be entered into a drawing for a $100 store discount.
Inbound strategies are the future of marketing, especially as the younger generations become more tech-savvy and digital-favoring. And with these 8 strategies, you’ll be ahead of the game with a fierce, bulletproof inbound marketing plan that’s sure to increase your Shopify sales.