An Inbound Marketers’ Guide to Dating Your Customers

No, I don’t mean dating your customers romantically. Rather, I’m talking about using the same approach to dating as a guide to building relationships with your customers.

It’s no secret that the traditional sales and marketing models simply don’t work in today’s buyer-centric marketplace. Attracting potential customers and selling them your products with a pitch died with the advent of the social web. Marketplace success today relies on building and maintaining relationships with your customers.

Initial Meeting/Attraction

Attract: Strangers > Visitors

Customer relationships have to start somewhere. The initial meeting may take place on a blog, social media, a page on your site, or any of the different sites around the web.

Different websites offer opportunities for you and your potential customer to get to know each other and determine whether there’s enough curiosity or interest for a stranger to become an active visitor. This is when potential customers first lay their eyes on you and make the split-second decision whether they’re interested in getting to know you more.

Curiosity, Interest, Infatuation

Convert: Visitors > Leads

During the second stage, attraction and infatuation are most pronounced.

Early attraction often involves the attributes of your website and includes details such as your calls to action, landing pages, and overall website aesthetic. At this stage, the attraction isn’t too deep; they’re looking to find out more. They know you’re putting your best foot forward, so they’ll be a bit leery. This isn’t the time or place to ask them to commit, but at least you know that could happen further down the line.

This process may take some time, so don’t rush it. Everyone has different needs, and some people may be asking themselves “Is this company the right fit for me?” It’s your job to determine whether you can fulfill those needs by offering a bit of yourself. This can mean offering something as simple as an eBook, for example. Let them get to know that you’re the one they’ve been looking for.

Also, move at their pace. Going slowly when making decisions about a relationship likely will lead to a better outcome vs. trying to rush the process (unless it’s clear that the relationship isn’t a good fit). In that case, let them find a company that will make them happy. You’ll both be better off in the long run.

Enlightenment and Becoming a Couple

Close: Leads > Customers

During this stage of a relationship, couples often go deeper into their connection. Trust is stronger than it was before, and the customer may be ready for a commitment. This is what all of your blogs, eBooks, and calls to action have been leading to. You’re finally trusted, but the decision to commit and acknowledge you as the right fit is up to them.

Now isn’t the time to hound them about the decision. Going steady is never an easy choice. The best way to go about this is to just offer yourself. This shouldn’t be done with a pitch about how great you are and how eventually you’ll be the greatest thing to ever happen to them but rather a simple “Here I am and here’s what I have to offer.”

This is where your inbound marketing and inbound sales teams need to be on the same page. If the inbound marketing team hands over the lead before they’re ready to commit, you may end up losing them as a customer.

Ideally, this is where the lead will say yes and decide to “go steady” with your company.

Commitment or Engagement

Delight: Customers > Promoters

At this stage in the relationship, your lead is now a customer. They have a good understanding of the value you offer and have been with you for some time. This is when your customers really learn the most about you. They use your product or service and are hip to the reality of being with you.

This is where they evaluate the relationship and their ability to use you long term. This is the stage where they’ll ultimately make a choice to get “engaged” and “marry” your company and promote it or break the whole thing off and look for a better opportunity before they’re too invested.

Sometimes dating comes easily, but sometimes you have to work at it. This will be the same case when you’re trying to woo your current and potential customers with your inbound marketing strategy. Just remember, never try to force it. The best relationships are the ones that grow organically.

Want to learn more about inbound marketing and how it will help your customer dating game? Get our free eBook Inbound Marketing 101: Understanding and Implementing an Effective Inbound Marketing Program.

Charles Bodner is a Digital PR Coordinator at Stream Companies, a full-service Philadelphia-area advertising agency.{{cta(‘cebfa46a-3845-4237-8896-607c6360a0ca’)}}