Practices of Inbound Marketing
Your Website is the Hub
Build your own marketing channel where the company website is the hub. Funnel traffic from multiple sources (on and offline) to web pages with forms designed to convert visitors into leads.
Content Marketing and SEO
Combine the power of content marketing with optimizing your website for organic traffic by researching key terms your buyer uses and producing content offers and blog posts with these keywords.
Help-based and Permissive Marketing
Set your business up to be discovered online by ideal prospects early in their buying journey. Deliver value first through helpful, premium content and nurture the relationship into a customer based on their expressed level of interest.
Align with the Buyer’s Journey
Establish marketing and sales practices that align with the behaviors of buyer today that want to buy but don’t like being sold to. It’s mapping our strategy to what they are already doing instead of making prospects fit our overly designed funnels.
Build Your Email List
An opt-in email list is the most powerful marketing tool of any business. It’s the number one goal of inbound marketing; along with collecting data points that allow for highly personalized email marketing for the purpose of nurturing the lead.
Leverage Marketing Automation
Reduce man-hours and collect powerful performance data through the use of automation. The best tools are all-in-one platforms such as Hubspot where you can measure source to sale on all your marketing efforts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hubspot summarizes it very nicely, “Inbound marketing is a methodology built on a repeatable process. Drive more traffic to a website, and then from that traffic, generate leads with premium content offers. Then from those leads, use follow-up and targeted emails to turn leads into customers.”
Inbound marketing is a particular form of internet marketing that capitalizes on the advantages of organic social media reach, organic traffic, lead intelligence, and automation. It is focused specifically on generating and nurturing leads so they can be converted into a client or customer when the time is right for them.
The inbound methodology has existed officially for about eight years. It’s practices in various forms have been around longer. Technology, such as marketing automation and other SaaS, is a driving factor behind what is possible.
Consumer buying behavior has changed too because of the internet. The expectation is to find most all the answers to their questions through an online search or network. Inbound marketing capitalizes on both of these aspects.
Each year more businesses are switching to inbound and maintaining it because they find it is doable and profitable. Get the facts in Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2014 report.
If you want to learn more about inbound marketing and how to apply it, consider the free training and certification by Hubspot in their online academy.
The inbound methodology is founded on the practice of “helping” instead of “selling”. It means we help prospects experience the value of your company before they make a purchase or sign a contract.
In traditional marketing, the intent is to promote how “awesome” the company is, and why a person should hire or buy from them. Inbound marketing instead is centered on the potential customer and their needs first before promoting the business to them.
Through inbound, we help prospects become better at their job or business by delivering to them actionable information that aligns with their current challenges and needs. This educational process also moves qualified leads through the marketing funnel and prepares them for the sales team.
We deliver helpful marketing in the form of blog posts, ebooks, video, infographics, images, templates, webinars, and guides. They are promoted via conversion paths on the company website (it means they have to complete a form to download the content). These premium content offers generate new leads, and they are the substance of emails used to nurture marketing qualified leads and delight customers.
Inbound produces better-qualified leads and extends customer loyalty. You can gain more than top-of-mind status, but top-of-preference status.
Traditional forms of marketing, such as advertising, do not ask for permission from their target market about exposing them to promotional content. Instead, traditional or outbound marketing seeks to make itself attractive to a target audience to convert a percent (which is relatively small) into sales. Most forms of traditional marketing and sales are transactional in nature.
B2B selling tends to be consultative. The stakes are high in cost, commitment, and outcomes. For marketing to align with sales, it must also be “consultative” in its approach. Research shows that because of the internet, buyers in the business world are more than 60% through their buying journey before they talk to a sales rep. They do not want to be bombarded by offers or sales people until they have reached the decision-making stage of the journey.
Inbound marketing requires prospects to opt-in to marketing communications. The prospect also sets the tone and pace of the marketing through their behavior. Intelligence data such as website pages visited, downloads, and email opens helps us shape their experience of the marketing funnel. It also scores their readiness to communicate with sales.
It usually takes at least six months to see sales from leads that come from organic website traffic. However, companies that have a good email list, or high website traffic, good connections in the industry, and a social media presence, can see results much faster.
Companies often gain a full ROI after the first year. It all depends on the business and how intense their approach is in producing content and conducting email campaigns. Factors include understanding buyer challenges, blog and content production, coordination between marketing and sales, the number of people involved in the process, and the nature of organic website traffic.
Most businesses who commit to inbound marketing do so because it aligns with their values first, and they also believe in it’s long term advantages for ROI and staying competitive.
The goals of your campaigns can be more than lead generation. Some companies want to nurture leads they already have. Others want to expand into new markets and prospects. Still yet, others want to do more business with their current customer base.
The beauty of inbound marketing is the automation, and much of the marketing content, can be leveraged for difference purposes. In our opinion, all businesses seeking to improve their marketing program should first consider how to serve better their customer base. New customers cost five to ten times more to obtain than it takes to retain a customer. It’s about taking what is done well internally and then expanding it to reach a new audience.
There are some verticals that perform better than others, but in the B2B world you can always reach and nurture prospects through inbound. The majority of people doing business with each other are Boomers and Gen Xers, who use computers, smartphones, and social media on a daily basis, though the frequency of interaction does vary.
Many people influence a business buying decision. Gatekeepers control much of the direct access to executive positions. B2B marketing has to target more than the decision-maker, and the power of the internet makes everyone accessible to each other.
Ask yourself, how will my target market behave three to five years from now? Consider the changes you’ve seen in marketing and media in the past five years, such as the use of mobile devices and cloud managed systems. We must also keep in mind the expectations of newest workforce members, and those who are climbing the corporate ladder. We must prepare our marketing for now and the future.
This varies greatly, depending on how much help is outsourced (for example to us), and the intensity of the marketing. The more money and time spent on inbound, the quicker the results. The appropriate balance is different for each company because of their budget and goals.
Most companies focus predominately on either outbound or inbound marketing since both require a lot of resources and time. However, they can both compliment each other too when properly and proportionally integrated. The key is inbound marketing lowers the cost of acquiring a customer as the company grows, while outbound marketing requires a budget that grows along with the business’s marketing efforts.
“Marketing-share” converts into “market-share”. The internet is the ideal space to grab marketing-share because of its integration into society, and it’s a level playing field for all businesses.
The “real estate” within the internet – ranking for keywords and social media reach – is getting more expensive over time because of competition. A business website that has established content authority, particularly with Google, is very difficult beat. Usually, a company achieves this position because they were the first to be a content resource in their industry. Also, they maintained the position by continuing to publish relevant content on a regular basis.
Do a little research to see if there are any businesses in your industry that are dominating in search results and social media. You might find there is a strategic opportunity that few (or none) have taken. A business’s ownership of website traffic, organic keyword ranking, and social media connections are things that cannot be purchased, they can only be earned. But the dividends are unbeatable.