Category: Inbound Marketing

Information about inbound marketing

How to Get Inbound Marketing Buy-In

inbound marketing buy-in

As marketing director, you’ve done your research. You are certain that inbound is the best way to market your company going forward. But even after you’ve had conversations, presentations, and even built excitement amongst your colleagues, you’re still spending your time creating magazine ads and laying out proposals. Why is inbound marketing buy-in so hard to accomplish? From my own experience, here are a few reasons I’ve seen.

Ugh, change.

First and foremost, change is hard. Doing something new requires vulnerability. You need to be a novice at something before you can be advanced, and being a novice kind of sucks. A company will put off a change as long as they can. And they can put it off until the alternative to change becomes the worse option.

Fear of Transparency

Inbound marketing is transparent. It means a brand will need to be constantly communicating with their audience. There is a lot of fear centered around showing too much, or saying the wrong thing, and getting a negative reaction.

A lot of businesses are afraid to show themselves wholeheartedly.

What happens if someone leaves a negative comment? What if we didn’t do enough research before posting something? What if we get negative reviews? What if they hate the real us?

Complete accountability

With a complete inbound marketing strategy, you have solid results that are clear as day. You can see what is working and what’s not, and that could mean waving the white flag on a campaign you’ve worked really hard on. If it’s not working, you have the evidence to let it go, but that means admitting it didn’t work the way you had expected it to.

Lack of Resources

When you start with inbound marketing, positions may change, or you may need to hire different types of employees to fill the needs of the strategy. This means a lot of leg work for the company that they may not be too thrilled about.

So how do you get past all this?

Understand your company.

To make a decision like this, you really need to have a handle on your company’s financials. You need to know how they’ve brought in sales in the past. What has worked, what hasn’t worked, and why. You also need to know what your company’s goals are, and most importantly, why they’ve set those goals. This takes a solid amount of trust from your company’s leaders, but it’s a necessity for anyone who is in charge of marketing, no matter their strategy.

Do your homework.

Learn as much as you can about inbound and how it works. There are tons of resources that give solid statistics about inbound. Go further and read case studies and find out how an organization earned their success.

Don’t got it alone.

If you can find an inbound agency that you trust, don’t be afraid to collaborate with them. Get your leaders in a room for a workshop with the inbound agency. The agency will be seen as an outsider and marketing expert, and could get some points across that you haven’t been able to (even though you’ve been telling them for months).

Don’t just tell them, show them.

If you have the resources, run a small scale inbound campaign and track your results. Something as simple as an email marketing campaign with tracked results can really paint a picture for what is possible. Numbers don’t lie. Show them what it would look like if the results you got from your small scale campaign were the same for every marketing action your company takes.

Research your competitors.

Download a browser extension called Ghostery, and see who is already doing inbound among your competitors. Look for applications like HubSpot, Pardot, Infusionsoft, and Marketo. If there are others, research them to gain insight on the tactics they are using. Beating out competitors can be the ultimate motivator.

Let them realize it – don’t drill it into them.

Don’t become a broken record. If you find yourself repeating your inbound pitch over and over, you need to find another way. Ask questions, uncover their goals and their struggles, and lead them to inbound as the answer.




Inbound Marketing Checklist



Traditional Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing: Old Way vs. New Way

Traditional Marketing vs Inbound Marketing

There are lots of statistics that show Inbound Marketing as more effective and a better investment than traditional marketing. Still, a lot of businesses have a hard time changing their ways. I get it, change is hard. But this change is so worth it. Let’s take a look at the difference between the old way of marketing (traditional marketing), vs. the new way (inbound marketing).

Old Way: Cold Calling

For salespeople, this is one of the most significant changes they’ll see when their company jumps into inbound marketing. In the past, marketing has been in charge of branding and messaging, and not gathering leads. The sales person would do their own prospecting, based on company size, location, industry, and position. And it would be up to them to figure out how to make contact. Cold calling, of course, is a popular way to do that. As buyers continue to trust salespeople less and less, cold calling works less often than it once did. So sales people have to get used to lots of rejection.

New Way: Following up with leads

As an inbound marketing strategy picks up steam, a salesperson will have more leads to follow up with and to nurture, and less prospecting and cold calling to do. As your content grows, and your brand becomes a recognizable thought leader, more qualified leads will seek you out. Not only will the sales team receive leads with contact info, but they also have information as to what type of content the lead is interested in. When you do contact prospects cold, it will be easier to make contact since they may have already heard of you and respect your brand.

Old way: Free consulting to close the sale

Some sales cycles can be really long. It usually depends on the price tag associated with the sale, and the amount of education needed to close. Sales people often have to take on the role of educator once their prospect becomes a lead. This not only means teaching the lead about your product, but also showing them how they can apply it—which becomes free consulting.

New way: Free content to close the sale

As a salesperson, I want to be doing less educating and more selling. There is nothing wrong with giving people information, but if it takes up valuable time it can become a detriment. When implementing an inbound marketing campaign, you can compile a list of topics that you find yourself educating leads about, and have your marketing team turn them into online content. A prospect has a question about something? Well wouldn’t you know it, we just published a blog post about the exact subject. Write up your answer in an email and let them know they can explore it more at this link. Now, they get their answer, and more, as they poke around and check out all your other content. And you can collect data, and see which topics they are most interested in without them even telling you. Magic.

Old Way: Blanket an area with direct mail

Direct mail used to be a great way to get the word out about your company or product, until everyone started doing it and the term “junk mail” was born. Direct mail can still work, but along with other forms of traditional marketing, it is becoming less effective over time.

New Way: Target your audience with social ads

Social Media has bloomed into an incredible way to reach your target persona. Facebook ads allow you to target people based on their interests and their activity, rather than just their age and income level. You’re no longer guessing, “Well, they are high income earners, so they might ski! Let’s send them this direct mail piece we spent a bunch of money on and pray that we’re right!” Now, you can target someone who has voluntarily listed skiing as one of their interests. And that’s just the basics of social ads, it gets a lot more in depth (and borderline creepy) than that.

Old Way: Guess what your sales will be

The old way of marketing is very hard to measure, especially for small businesses. There is no such thing as an engagement rate for a billboard. The company that places your billboard might tell you it gets x amount of views every day, and you will have no idea if that’s true. The ROI for most traditional methods of marketing and advertising is almost impossible to measure. If you can’t measure any data you can’t project your sales based on your efforts.

New Way: Project sales based on data

Now that your inbound strategy is showing you solid results and you can equate your marketing efforts to your sales, you’ll be able to forecast what’s to come more effectively. Statistics like Cost per Customer Acquisition and Leads to Sales Ratios will become your best friends. No more stress wondering where your company will be 6 months from now. As long as you put the work in, you know where you’ll be.

Old Way: Trade Shows and Networking events

Face to face networking is great. Put in a few hours every week at an event in your area, come away with some business cards and maybe even some meetings booked. Closing rates are high, but you can only meet so many people. Every event takes a lot of energy, and if you have no follow up, there’s no way of building on what you’ve already put in to grow your results. Sure you can collect email addresses, but a lot of attendees won’t give theirs up (because they don’t want spam). Every time you break down a trade show booth, you’re back at where you started.

New Way: Linkedin Groups and Webinars

Meeting and connecting with people online give you an ongoing line of communication with them. Want to join my free webinar? Give us your email to register. Start a Linkedin or Facebook group and you have an easy way to send a message and start a conversation. The content you post or talk about will help you earn their trust, so they won’t run away (like they do at a trade show when you make eye contact with them).

Old Way: Looking at marketing as arts & crafts.

In the past, sales and marketing were two different worlds. Sales was data driven and focused on closing, while marketing was creating images and messaging that enticed their target audience. Sales looked at marketing as something that wasn’t completely necessary as long as the sales team was solid. And marketing didn’t have an data to prove them wrong.

New Way: Looking at marketing as an extension of your sales team.

Now, sales and marketing work together to get a lead and close a sale. Sales relies on marketing for key information on a lead that helps them shorten their sales cycle and close more sales. Marketing relies on sales for key information about what their prospects and leads are struggling with, so they can create great content. One needs the other in order to succeed.

As traditional marketing continues to become less and less effective, inbound marketing becomes more and more crucial for business growth, and even survival.




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How to Build Communication Between Sales and Marketing

sales and marketing

In order for a content marketing team to create great content, they need to understand the problems prospects are having.
 
If marketing does not have access to the problems that the sales department deals with from day to day, they are going to be coming up with topics out of thin air. That’s how you end up with content that sits in a sea of sameness, and doesn’t really connect with your audience.
 
Your prospects, leads and customers are unique. Their problems are unique. And they are the best source for creating unique content. Unique content is the key to success in content marketing. Therefore, your prospects, leads, and customers are the key to success in content marketing. Your marketing team needs access to the information your sales team deals with on a daily basis. They need to communicate.
 
Having access to marketing information also helps out the sales team immensely. Having content for leads to consume, and knowing which content they have consumed, means the sales team can do less educating and more selling.
 
You need to set up a system to harbor communication between sales and marketing. The alignment between these two departments is known as “smarketing,” and it is imperative for content marketing success. Here are some ideas that can help.

Have sales and marketing meet on a regular basis.

Make sure there is a time and place for marketing and sales to meet every week to go over the sales funnel. They can brainstorm ways to move a prospect down the funnel, or think about how they are going to close a deal based on the content they’ve consumed. Sales can also discuss the conversations they have with leads, so marketing can learn about their problems and come up with the right content that can help solve those problems.

Make sure they are working in close quarters.

They don’t have to be on top of each other, but it makes sense to have their work days intertwined. This will help encourage relationships between the departments and make it easier for them to communicate when they need to. It’s hard to learn about a salesperson’s prospects when they work from home all week long. It can be done, but if you have them in close proximity of each other it will help.

Use tools that encourage communication, that both departments have access to.

Simple tools like Slack can open up communication between sales and marketing. It’s also a good idea to make sure the CRM the sales team uses can link up with the marketing software the marketing team uses. HubSpot’s marketing platform and CRM allow leads to seamlessly travel from one to the other, so there’s no chance of dropping the ball.

Make sure they understand why this is so important.

This shouldn’t be too hard once the engine is humming. When there’s a big sales win, have a recap of what made this a success. What was the buyer’s journey like from start to finish? When sales and marketing work well together, you should be able to see where each department had a big part in converting the customer.
 
There needs to be more than just a hand off between marketing and sales when it comes to a lead. With the right communication systems in place, these two departments can help each other through every stage of the buyer’s journey.

Don’t Take It Personal– Why Email Unsubscribes Are a Good Thing

unsubscribes

What’s the first thing you do when someone unsubscribes from your email list?
 
Do you curse? Wonder what went wrong? Blame them for being a big ole meanie? Well, you really shouldn’t let it get to you. Don’t go sulking around the office because of a little bit of contact turnover—unsubscribes are a good thing.

Not everyone is into your content

And that’s OK. In fact, it’s better that way. The more diverse your email list, the harder it is to understand what they consider valuable. When you understand that your target persona is unique, you’ll realize that those people that unsubscribe just don’t fit into that mold. You simply can’t please everyone.

Unsubscribes boost your conversion rates

Why would you want someone on your list if they never open your emails? They are just dead weight keeping you from hitting your goals. Instead of trying to keep people on your list, focus on reaching new contacts that actually open your emails and click on links to take their place.

They keep you on your toes

Unsubscribes give you the challenge you need to create really great content. If your content gets stale, having your contacts jump ship might give you the motivation to pay more attention and get back on your game.
 
If your contact churn is getting out of control, don’t hesitate to do some research to figure out why. Send out a survey to your contacts and ask them what they like and don’t like about their content. Give them the opportunity to let you know what challenges they are facing and what type of content they would like to receive in their inbox.
 
Be honest and helpful with everything you post and understand that the web and your audience will change at a rapid rate. And most importantly, don’t cry over your unsubscribes.




Inbound Marketing Checklist