There’s not much debate about the potential success of an effective inbound marketing program. The methodology, once a revolutionary marketing approach, is now recognized as a practical, evolutionary response to changes in behavior. Most notably, customers are empowered to drive the majority of the buying process and conduct their own research before ever contacting a potential solution provider. By 2020, customers will drive 85% of their brand relationships without talking to a human – click to tweet this fact – (Gartner Research).
Making the Switch to Inbound Marketing
Most companies are making the shift to inbound marketing rather than building an inbound engine from the ground-up with the start of your business. This requires a fundamental shift in how you build relationships with customers and drive sales – and there’s nothing that inspires fear and resistance like change, especially when your previous efforts have been reasonable enough to pay the salaries and keep the lights on. Getting buy-in from the C-Suite for inbound marketing inevitably requires an understanding of the potential return-on-investment, the functional changes required, and timing. Timing Can be a Big Obstacle
Let’s face it, we live in a world where the virtues of delayed-gratification are nonexistent. Inbound marketing is like a locomotive, and you’re going to need to damper the some of the early-stage expectations of higher-ups by encouraging them to think about this fundamental shift as a marathon, and by focusing on the right metrics to consistently gather data as you are building your program. If your website has steady traffic from your target audiences, then you’re going to see results faster as you can focus your efforts on converting them to leads, but if your visit figures are down in the dumps; everyone is going to need a little patience. It takes a little time to get an inbound marketing program started, but once moving, it’s hard to stop.
However, there are a few sure-fire tactics that you can add to your inbound arsenal to speed things up and amplify your results.
One of the most effective means of accelerating your inbound marketing strategy is by amplifying your content through influencers who already have an audience with the target personas you wish to reach. Influencers come in a variety of format: the thought-leaders in your category, or journalists in professional publication, or even bloggers or other content channel owners. They’re people, not channels or transactions; and that means that the principles that govern normal human relationship-building are just as important as building a healthy influencer strategy. You’ll need to participate in the conversation, and try to help. Relationships take time to build. Influencers, Public Relations, and Earned media – they aren’t exactly free. Time is the greatest resource that you’ll need to invest in.
Content Topics: Guest articles, interviews, social shares, editorial articles, and reviews.
Define Audiences: Leverage your buyer personas to define your target audience, the communities that they participate in, and the key problems that you wish to solve.
Discover Influencers: Identify influencers through social profiles, blogs, industry publications, LinkedIn groups, and other niche communities that your personas are engaged with.
Monitor Conversations: Set up social searches and monitor feeds for conversations related to your content and solutions to your persona’s problems.
Build Relationships: Reach out to potential influencers and ask about their objectives and how you might help them build authority with their audiences. Be prepared with potential topics to suggest.
Growth Driven Design
The traditional model for website design and development is broken. The problem lies in an obsolete model for building websites with tremendous up-front investment and guesswork – requirements based on subjective ideas instead of user requirements. The traditional model was driven by extensive planning and lengthy development processes that exhausted budgets, added risk, and were slow to implement.
A growth-driven development model consists of a lean development process, driven by a methodically prioritized list of user-driven features and goals. Website features are prioritized according to their ability to deliver business results. Instead of a big budget major website development initiative – websites are built in lean stages. First with a launchpad website prioritizing the essential needs, then with constant user testing, investment, and improvements.
The result is a website that starts small and gets bigger over time, because it is carefully planned and measured, and then evolves with new information and real data gathered from real users and real business results.
What about the targeted users who visit your website but don’t take any actions to enter your sales funnel? It’s not uncommon for visitors to stop by and bookmark your website for later or to bounce to other websites as they search for solutions. The natural journey of any user isn’t exactly linear. People visit and revisit websites and take deeper steps through the sales funnel. Retargeting offers a way to straighten out this line by bringing visitors back and website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert on your website. 46% of search marketers agree that retargeting is the most underused online marketing technology.
Retargeting works because it keeps your brand or your solution top-of-mind with your visitors through banner ads served by other targeted websites. The average click-through for retargeted ads is 10x that of standard display ads.
The retargeting process works best when it is used as a conversion rate optimization tool, through continuous testing and optimization – to refine how the retargeting ads are executed to improve conversions.
Forget about PPC or cold calling. Blend your inbound content strategies with an effective and highly targeted outbound promotion method. If you want to reach a highly-targeted list of prospects, as narrowly defined as, by company size, segment and even job title, or company name. LinkedIn Advertising is an effective way to complement inbound marketing because of the accuracy of their targeting platform and by the context with which users are interacting with the platform. 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to disseminate educational content.
It’s a business networking and collection of thought-leadership communities. Users participate in the channel for business content, thus your opportunity is to select a highly-relevant audience that matches your target persona and then promote sponsored content which will be displayed in their feeds, and links to your landing pages. By using HubSpot’s native integration with LinkedIn advertising, you can attribute your ads to revenues through the advertising and campaign reporting features.
Always consider how to accelerate your engine
Inbound is a natural response to the way that buyers have changed to interact with content and brands. It’s a data-driven, methodical process that requires a marathon mindset. But that doesn’t mean that the process has to be slow; you can leverage any of the above techniques to accelerate your inbound strategies and drive demand for your solutions.