Inbound Marketing Thoughts
In principle it’s easy – it just takes good planning. Let me say that again – inbound marketing takes good planning. I can’t stress how much you need to take a coordinated approach that ensures your content is consistent across your organisation and that the delivery of that content is carefully controlled – more on that later!
I’ve read in a lot of other articles that inbound marketing is more difficult to measure than outbound – I don’t agree. You are not going toÂ be measuringÂ the more granular activity that outbound offers, which some marketeers will find uncomfortable.
What you will measure is the ultimate point of inbound marketing – The amount of engagement and the number of leads generated.
You’ll need to get everyone in the organisation thinking differently about how marketing works – you’ll need to educate your colleagues about inbound marketing; how their audiences are too busy to read sales emails and how the future is about drawing customers to your organisation by delivering free content that engages them … More on internal buy-in another time though.
Here’s my 5 steps to gaining success from your inbound marketing:
You need to get inside the heads of your customers by researching and analysing their business and industry. You need to demonstrate that you know more about their business and industry than they do by doing the research they never have time to do. This ultimately leads to “Insight” that your customers will want to know about.
You can easilyÂ judgeÂ whether or not you’ve found an insight as they are: hard to attain; are a revelation to the customer; they position your company as being truly “insightful” about your customer both at an organisational and personal level. They areÂ NOT just regurgitation of prior knowledge.
Now you create the content that will keep your customers up a night reading! It can be in many forms – papers, blogs, articles, infographics the list goes on. What’s important here is that the content uses the insights learned from the previous step.
You need to create as much content as you can because inbound marketing is content hungry. While content creation is a big chore remember that is really works.Â Fact:Â B2B companies produce 54% more leads from inbound compared to outbound marketing activities!
3. Engagement and Adaptation
This is where you publish your content, but not in any haphazard way. Having learned all about your target audience in step 1 you’ll know WHERE to publish your content. You’ll plan the publication of content to ensure a steady stream of useful insights being delivered out to your audience.Â Fact:Â B2B companies that blog insight create 67% more leads per month than those that don’t!
You’ll also adapt content, by which I mean you may start with an insight paper from step 2 and here you adapt the content by perhaps splitting the information into two or three blog posts, an internet article and 10 tweets. Re-using content to try and “milk it” across many channels without over-doing it! Fact: 80% of B2B decision makers prefer to get information in a series of articles versus and advert.
Engagement is also where SEO and internet marketing comes into play using these techniques to drive traffic to your insights and company website(s). Fact: Inbound marketers are shown to double the average website conversion rate from 6%-12%.
As interest is sparked and potential customers being to respond you need to have a system in place to process and nurture these leads. Leads that are qualified and ready to move to sales can be pushed straight through to the sales team, but the rest need to be nurtured.Â Fact:Â Nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities.
The initial engagement MUST include permission from the potential clientÂ to keep in touch – if they say yes then you can keep them engaged with further personally targeted content until they’re ready to progress to the sales cycle.
Make your hard work creating content matter by guiding all these engagements through being a lead into being a customer. Fact: Companies that automate leadÂ nurturing see a 10% orÂ more increase in revenue in 6 to 9 months.
Measure the number of engagements that the activities are producing per week, month and quarter. With the constant stream of activity you’ll begin to see a pattern emerge showing the relationship between specific insight topics and number of inbound engagements.
Measure the progress of all of these people through being engaged to being a lead to being a client. You can track your success rate.
Remember you are tracking activity over time and across many publications as a whole rather thanÂ individual pieces of activity.
The point of this stage is for continuous improvement using the measurements to targetÂ the future activity.
It’s all about the plan. Now you know how to run inbound marketing as a continuous loop of activity you need to plan how it’s going to work. Who’s going to do what and when? Which industries to target? Which engagement channels are you going to use? What technologies can your leverage to make your life easier? How are you going to capture the engagement metrics? What’s your lead nurturing process going to be?
On a final note, I’d recommend you creating an Inbound Marketing dashboard. All of this activity can be distilled into simple metrics that you can share with others e.g. No. of insights, No of Â content pieces created, No of items published in each channel selected, No. of engagements, No. of Qualified leads passed to sales etc. It takes time to create inbound engagements and this will help to you maintain buy-in from other in the business during the start of the process.
Remember: Approx 27,000,000 pieces of B2B content are shared everyday – it’s the insightful ones that will get noticed.
Jeremy Graham-Cumming. Managing Director, Ice Blue Sky Ltd.