Best practices to turn your cold audience into raving fans
When you first start your online business as a solopreneur, you’re probably not thinking about your customer journey or know much about inbound marketing. These two concepts are cornerstones of B2B marketing, for good reason. Borrowing some ideas from theses proven methods of attracting and closing clients can help you grow your business faster.
(I’ve worked in B2B marketing for over fifteen years and I also coach new business owners around their marketing.)
Let’s first start with some background context.
Inbound marketing became popular in the early 2000s when companies realized it was easier to attract clients by creating content relevant to what people were searching for solutions for vs. blasting their message out to everyone and anyone and hoping it would resonate.
Think: finding a helpful article online and seeing what else the person has written vs. getting a cold DM or email from a stranger trying to pitch you their services without you ever asking for help.
The first one feels a lot better, am I right?
A customer journey is all the steps a potential customer (prospect) must go through to become your customer. Several famous models are out there, but AIDA is probably the most well-known, created by E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1899.
It goes like this: Attention (or Awareness) → Interest → Desire → Action.
Your potential customer needs to go through all these steps to learn about your services and decide that you’re the right person to work with. It’s what us digital marketers call a “funnel.”
So, how do you apply these concepts to your online business?
1. Begin with the end goal in mind.
If you’re creating a piece of content, you first have to know WHY you’re doing it. Is your goal to create awareness (top of the funnel) about your brand or close a sale (bottom of the funnel)?
Both of these goals are useful, but knowing what you’re trying to make people do as a result of consuming your content will inform how you create it.
So an Instagram reel works well for initial awareness whereas a a virtual workshop is better to convert leads into clients because people get to experience more of you and you can easily invite people to learn more about your offer at the end.
And the language you should use will change based on where someone is in your funnel. Someone seeing your brand for the first time shouldn’t be pitched to immediately. That will just turn them off.
2. Be intentional with your customer journey.
To successfully nurture people into becoming your clients, you need to be intentional about it. You can’t just create a lead magnet (free resource) and expect someone to download it and immediately become your client. That’s not how marketing works.
I’ve worked in digital marketing for 18 years, and even I have to be patient and let my marketing do it’s job.
People need to see your message at least seven times before they build enough trust with your brand that they consider working with you. And especially if what you’re offering is high-ticket, as in, priced more than a few thousand dollars.
Each touchpoint on your journey should aim to bring someone further down the funnel. If someone lands on your social media profile, is there a call-to-action (CTA) taking them to your website to download a free resource like an eBook, video series, or webinar?
And when someone does check out your freebie, what happens then? Can they opt into your email series so they can learn more about you over time? And are you intentional about what that follow-up message contains?
If not, you’re losing an opportunity to convert them into a customer.
For example, I created a quiz that helps people learn what their marketing personality is and in my follow-up email that gives them their results, I include a quick video explaining how to best use this information in their business.
In the video, I share a bit of my philosophy around marketing which helps my audience get to know me and start picturing what it might look like to work with me.
3. Create searchable content.
Content powers inbound marketing — it’s what people search for when they go to Google or their preferred search engine and type in a search term like “How can I grow my business?”. It’s everything from videos to podcast episodes to blog articles.
When you create content, you need to make sure that you’re optimizing it for search engines. By paying attention to search engine optimization (SEO), you’ll ensure that your content can be found and, in turn, that your ideal customer can find you. There are many helpful tools for beginners explaining how to do this, and website plugins like Yoast that walk you through the process.
And a pro tip: Long-form content is where it’s at when it comes to helping your website rank. If you can create in-depth content like articles that really explain the answer to a specific question someone is searching for, you’re going to outrank your competition because you’re tapping into something called search intent, which search engines favor. And be as niche and specific as possible; that way, your content has a better chance of being seen.
To give you an example, I have only been writing blogs for three years, and one of my website pages is now ranking on the first page of Google. And it just so happens to be the page promoting my signature program.
4. Optimize your customer journey over time.
Finally, make sure to optimize your customer journey over time. By paying attention to how people find you and what content they consume both on and off your site, you can make small tweaks that will help you move people along their journey faster.
If you see that people are downloading your lead magnet and then going to a specific resource on your website next, why not speed that process up by linking to that piece of content in a follow up email? Or tell them how they can book a call with you to discuss your program or offer.
You want to start thinking like a marketer and collecting data so that you can help people move from engaging with your free content to working with you on a paid basis.
- Understand your end goal for a piece of content before you create it. Are you trying to build awareness or sell something?
- Be intentional with your customer journey. You want to nurture your audience by showing them content that helps them understand what you do and how you can help them.
- Create searchable content. Google loves it, and it helps you rank higher in search which means your ideal customers will be able to find you.
- Optimize your customer journey over time. Take a look at your data and see where you can make small tweaks for better results.