Many companies have trouble differentiating themselves in a crowded market, which makes it difficult to attract marketing and sales leads.
Inbound marketing can help. It’s used to attract and engage potential clients with valuable content that addresses their challenges or answers difficult questions. Inbound is a long-term endeavor, not a one-shot attempt.
The inbound methodology lets marketers:
• Increase the volume of qualified marketing and sales leads via enhanced website traffic
• Generate more conversions and greater sales revenues
• Track the customer throughout the buyer’s journey
• Determine how many leads and web visitors it takes to get the desired number of customers each month
• Develop appropriate strategies and offers to engage customers as they move through the sales funnel from site visitor to paying customer
• Maximize the lifetime value of a customer
• Achieve scale to lower cost per customer acquisition
• Shorten the sales process via content that supports sales or positions the company as an industry leader
Your Inbound Strategy Transforms Strangers to Loyal Customers
Your inbound marketing strategy should focus on how to move your prospect to a lead and then a loyal client.
- Align your inbound strategy to the rest of your marketing strategy focusing on SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely
- Clearly define buyer personas to understand exactly who your target audiences are, their goals and challenges, demographics, behavior patterns, and motivations
- Plan for well-thought-out content that will deliver traffic to your website
- Ensure search engine optimization – Instead of relying on a specific keyword, consider your visibility across a topic and create content within topic “clusters” instead of disconnected posts, thus enlarging your bank of keywords, increasing search traffic across these keywords, and boosting your brand recognition around easy-to-recognize topics
- Create your campaigns based on hard data and real-time consumer behavior
- Complement content with images and infographics, using design to educate, entertain, and connect; and utilize visual content with conversion in mind
- Use social media to build and nurture an online community, communicating via the appropriate social media channels for your industry and audience; the more followers and engagement, the more likely conversions will be
- Leverage public relations to build trust and good relationships between your clients and the public with content customized to the latter’s needs and interests. Use PR to nurture relationships with media and industry analysts.
The Focus of Inbound – It’s the Content
- Align content to the stages of marketing – convert, attract, close, delight.
- Ensure you send the right messages at the right time.
- Use strong calls to action
Content doesn’t mean just blogs and whitepapers. Diverse and engaging content formats range from blogs and ebooks to interviews and infographics, from vlogs and videos to memes and mind maps, from quotes and quizzes to polls and podcasts, and many, many more.
The writing needs to not only win the hearts and minds of your audience, but also convince them that the solution you are promoting is the answer to the pain points.
Content Format Best for
|Blog||Providing leads with the information they need – creating “news you can use.” Explain how a technology works, what customer success it has had, how it compares with your competition, what implementation problems can be expected, and more. The more informative, frequent, and timely, you’ll build more customer trust and top-of-mind awareness.|
|Whitepaper||Offers information in greater depth and value and influences the decision-making process of prospective customers. It must provide added value because it is usually gated and requires that the prospective client provide contact information.|
|Case Study||Demonstrates to prospective customers that a solution really works. Analyzes a real-life situation wherein past clients used your solution to great success.|
|Infographic||Grabs potential customers’ attention quickly to generate buzz about your brand. Make sure the imagery is vibrant, the text succinct, the topics trending, and the overall style dynamic and engaging enough to be shareable. These can also be given to the media to run as news briefs.|
|Social Media||Serving as a long-term tool for attracting and converting prospects. Helps you talk and engage with people, project reliability and trustworthiness by offering credible information, responding to customer inquiries, providing feedback, and tactfully handling negative reviews - resulting in a positive image of your business and increased conversion potential.|
|Webinar||Webinars add a human face to abstract data and generate leads since you can request customer contact information as a “fee” for the webinar. Achieve instant lead capture, directly engage with prospects at a low cost, and quickly convey and clarify complex information thanks to interactive capabilities.|
|Podcast||Engaging potential customers with a cheap, non-labor-intensive tool. All it requires is a laptop, two microphones, and an interesting colleague in a natural setting - interviews that drive new business and increase brand awareness.|
Turn Visitors into Leads
- Presenting an offer – Valuable content comes with a price – their contact information
- Use clear calls to action (CTA) – Make it clear to your readers that you want them to act. Make the CTA action oriented like “Get your free ebook,” “Receive an instant quote,” or other phrasing that clearly indicates what the prospect is getting.
- Creating a landing page – A destination upon clicking on the CTA, the landing page details exactly what your visitor is getting in exchange for her contact information. It should encourage the prospect to click “Submit” and continue on the path to conversion. Make sure the “Submit” button leads to a Thank You page.
- Implementing a Thank You page – This page concludes the process of turning the visitor into a bonafide contact. Use navigation on the page that encourages your visitor to stay engaged rather than leave your website.
To move clients along the marketing and sales funnel,
- Offer personalized, targeted content that can increase sales opportunities, such as customized content links sent via individualized emails
- Reach out via multiple channels, including one-on-one social media
- Make timely follow ups when a lead performs an action using marketing automation to increase the odds of getting a conversion
- Use lead scoring to rank prospects against a value scale and determine which leads should be prioritized. Review criteria frequently for relevance.
- Align sales and marketing teams and activities to optimize your nurturing efforts
- Leverage email marketing, segmenting, and managing audience lists based on buyer personas
- Use traditional public relations tools like editorial opportunities on industry-leading websites and speaking engagements at industry events and conferences
Measuring Inbound ROI
High customer value + low acquisition cost = higher ROI.
Track the following:
- Landing page metrics, including call-to-action clickthrough and visitor-to-lead-to-customer conversion rates
- SEO efforts via keyword performance, unique traffic-driving search terms, organic and branded vs. non-branded search traffic, inbound links, and organic search-generated conversion rates. SEO strategy needs to be aligned with long-term business goals
- Blogging results by looking at individual post views, blog traffic and traffic sources, call-to-action conversions, and blog-generated leads
- Social media traffic, including number of interactions and social media visitors who converted into leads or customers
- Email performance via bounce/delivery/click-through/conversion rates
Factor in costs by:
- Assigning real dollar values to abstract numbers: in the case of blogs, combine data of how many blog views lead to call-to-action clicks and, in turn, how many become leads and subsequently customers to determine how much one or a thousand views is worth.
- Know how much is actually being spent. Remember, the cost includes not just the inbound marketing platform, but also the expenses incurred in content creation, office space, software, salaries, and other overhead.
- Get ROI by subtracting total earnings from inbound marketing from the total investment and divide the result by the total earned.
Creating the Ideal Inbound Team
Recent stats bear the importance of having a “dream team” with specific sets of skills that when successfully blended deliver profitable results.
- Content marketing takes up 40 percent of most successful B2B marketers’ budget.
- Search engines, rather than salespeople, provide product information for 62 percent of potential customers.
- Email is the preferred distribution channel for demand-gen activities
Content writing, search engine marketing, and email marketing are just three of the critical skills needed for successful inbound marketing efforts. Here are the 8 people you need, and their attributes, to rock your inbound marketing:
|Content Strategist||Runs and manages content creation, playing a major role in strategy and planning. Multi-tasker, creative writing ace, research buff, and industry trend-conversant, ensures the content is perpetually fresh, aligned with marketing direction and, most of all, speaks to the buyer persona.|
|Content Writer||Storyteller extraordinaire with creative and analytical skills, a passion for writing, and a razor-sharp grasp of SEO and social media. Writes timely, high-quality, persuasive, and SEO-optimized content for your website, blogs, e-books, and other digital assets - content aligned with the marketing strategy and the customer’s stage in the buyer's journey.|
|Data Analyst||Combines number-crunching skills with analytics tools to analyze critical metrics, such as traffic, time spent on a site, number of inbound links, click-throughs by email recipients, etc., needed for continuous improvement and sales maximization, etc.|
|Email Marketer||Be where potential customers are, identify and understand their stage in the buyer's journey, and pinpoint ways to nurture leads and turn them into customers.|
|Designer||Ensure all the materials are engaging, leveraging graphic design, visual storytelling, and web-page layouts - effectively enhancing brand through design|
|Social Media Expert||A skilled social-media strategist can attract new readers to your site, drive engagement, build your brand, and transform readers into followers into customers. Look for one who’s a great communicator|
|SEO Pro||SEO makes your website more attractive to search engines and thus more visible by increasing your page’s authority and ranking for your keywords. The SEO specialist must have an analytical mindset, a solid knowledge of performance measurement and keyword tracking tools, and an understanding of SEO best practices and trends.|
|Public Relations Master||Be adept at building media lists, nurturing influencer relationships, projecting thought leadership, finding link-building opportunities, and generating partnerships with industry bloggers.|
These are just some of the critical members of your inbound marketing’s A-team. Of course, each person can fill more than one function.
The key takeaway is this: any well-oiled machine requires excellent moving parts. Your inbound marketing team deserves no less.
Seven Ways Outsourcing Inbound Gives Better Results
A recent survey1 of 501 small businesses in the US demonstrated that inbound marketing helped increase their leads by 72 percent and conversion rates by 55 percent. Most of those who are still DIY-ing it are doing so out of financial concerns.
Hiring an inbound agency saves you money by
- Eliminating hiring and training costs – Your agency has the personnel and tech in place to hit the ground running. This also means your efforts won’t be subject to trial and error. Additionally, you’ll reduce employee churn.
- Increasing productivity – Developing, curating, and tracking your inbound efforts are time consuming. Leaving the blog-writing, social media monitoring, lead nurturing, and myriad other inbound marketing tasks to a hired agency means your employees can focus on the jobs you hired them for, rather than either heaping more responsibilities on already burdened workers
- Experts have your back – you can be assured that someone is there to effectively course-correct strategies or techniques to achieve your inbound goals.
- Better budgeting – An experienced inbound agency keeps your marketing efforts organized, focuses your spending only on tested strategies. At the same time, you can work with the agency ahead of time to allocate resources to the inbound activities that need them most.
- Maximizing capital expenditures – Inbound agencies have metrics to assess campaign success, providing a wealth of information such as indicating which potential customers interacted best with your message, in which platform or channel, and what actions they took afterward. Working hand-in-glove with an agency takes the guesswork out of where to direct your marketing budget.
Saving money and time as you drive sales leads to your team are among the glaring advantages of partnering with an inbound marketing agency. When you’re ready to make that choice, make sure you choose one that’s going to be a strategic partner and not just a vendor.
Successful inbound is a combination of strategies, tactics, information, effort, and persistence. If you need assistance on the path to success, contact K2.