What is Inbound Marketing? How To Use CRMs To Optimize Your Inbound Marketing Channels

Inbound marketing is a staple strategy in 2022. But to get the most from your inbound marketing channels, you must optimize them with a CRM. Here’s how.

Thanks to the internet’s easy content distribution and metric tracking, inbound marketing has become a focus for many top brands. But with thousands of brands investing in content, it’s challenging to stand out. 

You’ve seen some results, but it feels like you’re throwing darts from 20 meters away with your eyes shut. What metrics should you track to gauge success? How do you know your content will resonate with your audience? 

While it’s a powerful tool, inbound marketing won’t yield results unless you do it right. 

But what’s the right way? It’s using your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data to optimize inbound marketing channels and drive results for your company. 

If you’re new to inbound marketing, we’ll first cover some background on the topic. Otherwise, you can jump straight to the best ways to optimize your inbound marketing with a CRM.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is about sharing content that entices your audience to opt-in to hear more from your company. For example, a person could opt-in to your email updates or follow you on social media. 

What makes inbound different from outbound? 

Outbound strategies focus on pushing a message to a customer. Think of a door-to-door salesperson or a cold caller. Another feature is that many outbound strategies aim to sell a product or service as soon as possible — for example, direct mail. 

On the other hand, inbound marketing lets a customer dictate the business relationship. 

Companies share content, often online, which consumers find when they’re actively searching. 

For example, a customer searching for home improvement tips may find a helpful article from a local renovation company. 

If they find the content helpful, the customer can share their email address with the company to receive more home improvement information. Then, the company can share targeted content with the new lead to move them down the marketing funnel.

But why should you care about inbound marketing? 

  • Inbound leads convert roughly 33% better than their outbound counterparts. 
  • Inbound lead acquisition costs are about 70% lower than outbound. 
  • Small businesses that implement inbound marketing generate 126% more leads than those that don’t.

As you can see, inbound marketing is a powerful business tool.

There are several inbound frameworks that you can follow, but a popular one is the Attract, Engage, Delight method. Here’s how this inbound strategy works: 

  • Attract. The first step of the framework involves creating and distributing helpful content to your target audience. For example, you could create blog articles, social posts, or do some guest blogging. Content at this stage should be primarily informational and help your audience solve their problems.
  • Engage. Once prospects share their information with you, they move to the second stage. The main difference between this stage and the first one is that the content is more specific. For example, attraction content may cover topics like, ‘What is X?’ or ‘Benefits of Y’ while engagement content can be, ‘How CRM XYZ can boost your conversions.’ The content is still helpful but focuses more on the company’s solution and aims to convert leads to customers. 
  • Delight. The final stage empowers your customer to make the most of your product. Here, you’ll share exclusive content about your product, such as user guides or tips and tricks. It’s also essential to ask for feedback so you can address any product issues the customer may have.
diagram attract delight engage

Source: Rizen

Inbound Marketing Channels

Inbound marketing strategies revolve around many channels which often overlap with each other.

They are: 

  • Email marketing. Email marketing focuses on the second stage of the inbound funnel. You’ve already attracted a prospect, so it’s time to share more targeted content. For example, you can send a welcome sequence to new leads or share new blog content that they’ll find helpful. 
  • Social media marketing. Social media is excellent for attracting and engaging prospects since it offers two-way communication. You can repurpose product reviews as social proof and publicly address customer concerns. You can also repurpose content from other channels, like your blog, to increase traffic. 
  • Search marketing. Search marketing involves creating public content, such as blog posts, infographics, and guides. If you produce helpful articles that follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices, your content can reach a search engine’s first page results over time. You can also optimize your web copy so your business is easier to find. 
  • Third-party marketing. This channel involves publishing your content on a third-party channel. For example, you can guest post on Forbes, Business Insider, or an industry-centric blog. Alternatively, you can appear on podcasts or video interviews. 

Now that you understand the basics of an inbound marketing strategy, let’s dive into optimizing your efforts with a CRM. 

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Ways To Optimize Your Inbound Marketing Efforts With a CRM

Undoubtedly, inbound marketing is a powerful tool for attracting and converting prospects. But with the right CRM, you can multiply your results with minimal effort. 

Here’s how to get the most out of your inbound marketing strategy with CRM software:

1. Build a Hub For Customer Data and Use It To Build Customer Profiles

Prospect data is digital gold, but to capture it, you need a customer data platform to store and share information with your CRM platform. 

Once your CRM has access to this data, you can create Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs). While these profiles are fictional, you’ll build them from actual customer data, then use them to target lookalike prospects with the best chance of converting. Plus, ICPs are the foundation of many inbound marketing tactics, so it’s vital you create some. 

Effective ICPs can reduce customer acquisition costs and churn while helping you target customers you can serve best. 

An ideal customer profile should include: 

  • Demographic information — e.g., age, gender, and income. 
  • Psychographic information — e.g., goals, pains, and values.
  • Geographical information — e.g., city, region, and country.

Behavioral information — e.g., content engagement, purchasing history, and product usage.

Here’s an ICP example from Hubspot:

customer profile

Source: HubSpot

2. Use CRM Data To Qualify Leads (Then, Optimize Outbound Marketing)

You don’t have to choose between inbound or outbound marketing. Instead, combine the two strategies for better results.

Once you have your ideal customer profiles, you can use them to rank and qualify your inbound leads to improve sales. With this strategy, your sales team can focus on the best quality leads since they’re most likely to convert. 

Similar to your ICPs, you can qualify your leads based on: 

  • Website interactions (email opens, content downloads, and page views)
  • Answers from opt-in forms 
  • Demographics
  • Revenue potential
  • Income

Using this strategy correctly, you should see faster sales cycles, increased conversions, and more motivated sales teams.

3. Segment Your Audience and Design Content Marketing Strategies For Each Segment

Segmentation is a powerful tool that increases personalization and ensures prospects only receive relevant information. 

You can segment your customers based on any characteristic that you deem relevant. For example, you can categorize them by singular traits, such as age, job, industry, behavior, or combine them.

Like ICPs, segmenting allows you to target specific prospect groups with customized content which is hyper-relevant to their preferences. 

For example, if you want to share holiday-based content, you need to segment your prospects by location. Otherwise, you could end up sharing Fourth of July content with people outside the US, which wouldn’t resonate.

Segmenting prospects by their job role is another way to increase engagement. 

For example, if you sell marketing software, you can target managers with content about the results the software drives. At the same time, you can target marketers with content about how the software makes their job easier. 

Here’s an example of segmentation in action:

crm dashboard

Source: Sprout Social

4. Use a Dashboard To Get Social Media Marketing Feedback in Real-Time

Social media increases company exposure and builds solid relationships with prospects and customers. But to make the most of it, you need analytics to understand how your posts perform. 

By integrating your CRM with your social platforms, you gain vital information that you can use to create data-driven strategies

Here’s how to get the most from a social dashboard: 

  • Track trending topics and hashtags that are relevant to your industry and audience
  • Segment topics and post styles so you can find high-performing combinations 
  • Monitor mentions so you can reply to followers or piggyback on trending content
  • Choose a dashboard with easy-to-understand visualizations, so anyone can quickly gauge performance
  • Track vital metrics, such as your Click-Through Rate (CTR), impressions, referrals, and conversions

5. Measure Your Website Metrics So You Can Identify Seasonal Shifts 

Seasonal shifts determine how customers find or engage with your website at different times of the year. Consequently, you must measure these metrics to increase or taper the types of content you produce. 

Certain trends are obvious — for example, international holidays, like Christmas. Here’s the seasonality of searches for ‘Christmas gifts.’ You can see large spikes leading up to the holiday with a steep drop and non-existent search volume after it’s over.

On the other hand, a less obvious example is the search volume for ‘Mother’s day.’ Unless you keep up with international holidays, you might be unaware that countries celebrate the holiday at different times.

As you can see, there are multiple spikes during the same year. So if a search term relating to your business looks like this, you’ll need to tailor your content distribution, so it matches audience demand. 

Some metrics to pay attention to include: 

  • The search terms (and their volumes) that prospects use to reach your site
  • Page views
  • Traffic sources
  • Bounce rates
  • Average time on page

Besides these, you should note various holidays, events, seasons, and other factors that can affect the seasonality of customer demand.

6. Use SEO Metrics To Inform Your Content Marketing Strategy

Since most content marketing revolves around improving your organic ranking on the search engine results page (SERP), you must track SEO metrics. 

First, you should always create content with search demand. To determine this demand, you’ll need SEO software, such as SEMRush. This software will show you keyword search volume, ranking difficulty, and the types of content that are already ranking. 

In the beginning phase of building organic traffic, you should focus on low-difficulty keywords. While they bring less traffic, they’re easier to rank for, and the traffic they receive is often highly-qualified. 

However, once you’ve got your content factory up and running, here are the metrics to track: 

  • Organic conversions. You should add and track Calls-To-Action (CTAs) on your posts. On top of this, you should track conversions on opt-in forms — for example, pop-ups that ask prospects to download a guide. Then, you can use this information to optimize underperforming content. 
  • Page one keyword growth. The more keywords you rank for on page one, the more traffic you’ll get. Tracking this metric will show your overall SEO performance and help you identify content that ranks well. 
  • Organic traffic and clicks. It’s often difficult to attribute conversions directly to SEO, so traffic and clicks are another way to show potential causality. Plus, you can analyze top-performing content and use it to influence future content.

7. Use Marketing Automation So You Can Produce More Content

Marketing automation saves you from manual tasks that don’t require much thought and improves workflow management. For example, copying lead data from web forms to your CRM or manually sending emails. 

Instead, you can use your extra time to focus on creative tasks like writing content, interacting with customers, or strategizing. 

Here are some everyday tasks that you can automate with a CRM:

  • Create web forms and pop-ups to capture new leads and automatically add them to marketing campaigns and workflows
  • Automatically add leads to drip campaigns, such as after an ebook download or newsletter opt-in
  • Create a schedule for emails, blogs, and social content, then let your CRM distribute it when the time is right
  • Automate metric reporting, so your marketing team doesn’t have to spend hours cleaning and analyzing data every week

Here’s an example of a marketing automation workflow:

Source: Zapier

8. Use CRM Data To Find New Customers

While you should already have your ideal customer profiles segmented in your CRM, consumer demands are constantly changing. So you must be looking for new potential audiences for your business. 

You can find new audiences by searching for similarities between your customers and prospects. 

Do you see a spike in customers from a new location? Are you getting most of your sales from social media followers? Is there a unique pain point that multiple customers mention in feedback forms?

Answers to questions like these will help you identify new audiences, stay on top of trends, and ensure company growth.

Boost Your Inbound Marketing With Really Simple Systems

Inbound marketing is an excellent way to attract and convert highly-engaged prospects. And with the right data, framework, and strategies, your company becomes a magnet for solution-seekers.  

The key to multiplying your inbound marketing efforts is using powerful CRM software, like Really Simple Systems. Really Simple Systems provides you with a host of robust features that help you generate leads and retain customers, such as: 

  • Lead and interaction management with complete visibility across every touchpoint
  • Segmentation to help you target your ideal customers and personalize your content for better results
  • CRM and marketing automation software tools to streamline your workflows and ensure prospects receive timely content
  • Analytics and reporting dashboards so you can monitor and optimize campaigns and drive lasting results

Claim your free trial of Really Simple Systems today and optimize your inbound marketing strategy.