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In this blog, we discuss what’s involved with the world of Inbound Marketing. It includes the things Inbound Marketing Managers should be doing, and the things they should be thinking about on a day-to-day basis.

Inbound Marketing is big business. As a term and as a marketing strategy, Inbound Marketing took off around 15years ago. Now, there are many organisations out there with employees called ‘Inbound Marketing Managers’. But what are they? What makes a good Inbound Marketing Manager? How do they differ from an Outbound Marketing Manager or a standard Marketing Manager? There is one golden rule to remember if you’re thinking of adopting Inbound Marketing— you need to go all-in on content; without content, you’ll fail. Before reading, it’s important to understand the attract, convert, close and delight structure.

ATTRACT →What are you doing to attract new people to your business?

CONVERT →How are you converting visitors to your website?

CLOSE →What are you using to get customers over the line? Why should they buy from you?

DELIGHT →Your customers are awesome, so how are you making them feel even more valued? Keep this in mind, and try to match these segments to each element of the Inbound Marketing spectrum.

Generating and managing leads

Where is your next piece of business going to come from, and how are you going to make sure that it’s managed appropriately? inbound marketing management is all about lead generation and lead management. Let’s start with lead generation. Are you creating valuable content that will generate leads through your website? Your website must be set up to ensure any unknown visitor coming to your site is provided with:

- The content they find valuable and educational

- A pleasant user experience

- Opportunities to convert

Your website must act as your best salesperson, as well as the best friend to your website visitor. The visitor should leave your site feeling as if they’ve received the information they wanted to research. In order to do this, you need to have valuable content available via your website, preferably sitting behind a form that the visitor must complete before viewing the content. Items like well-considered and thought-out eBooks, whitepapers and how-to guides work well to engage your visitors — but valuable content can also be video or graphics or process templates — anything that is going to help your potential customers in their day to day life.

What if you’re already generating a steady amount of leads each month?

At this point, you need to ensure you’re managing these leads correctly. Many Marketing Managers believe that the responsibility of the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is purely down to the Sales teams, whilst many Sales teams don’t believe that the Marketing team does very much at all! However, the two need to work together to ensure that marketing activity and sales activity are aligned. ‘Smarketing’ is a term that combines Marketing and Sales departments to ensure they are using the same language, the same positioning, and providing a consistently high level of value. The management of this must start in the CRM system. One of the most important and effective things you can do from the start is to define your marketing and sales lead stages. The standard marketing stages might be as follows; Contact, Lead, Marketing Qualified Lead, Sales Qualified Lead, Opportunity, Customer; but at what stage should sales start managing leads? The sales cycle will also have its own stages depending on the industry and company; things like demo, trial, proposal sent, negotiations are all common things to see.

Where is that information stored and kept up to date? Again, it brings us back to the CRM system. From the web pages, a person has visited, to which emails have been sent, to which industry they are in and what their budget is, the CRM system is the central hub of information that should provide as much information as possible to make every single interaction with every lead as relevant and as specific as possible.

If you’re looking to bring together your marketing and sales teams, have a workshop meeting to agree on the lead stages. This is one of the most important things you need to agree on, and achieve.

Marketing Automation

How can it help?

The number of different things an Inbound Marketing manager has to think about and juggle at any one time is enormous. One 8 hour day (who are we kidding!) can consist of anything from checking the latest lead status, dealing with partners suppliers, assessing the website performance to see whether another call-to-action is needed, building website landing pages, writing content, scheduling or engaging on social media, building engagement emails, managing the internal communications to different department heads, reporting on various campaign performances and creating the overarching marketing performance report for the Chief Exec’s board meetings. Marketing Automation is what’s going to make life easier for you. It’s the process of using software to ensure ‘something happens when certain activity occurs.

Your day without marketing automation

A visitor lands on your website and downloads an eBook.Without marketing automation, you would get a notification of this, but then you’d have to remember two days later to follow up with that visitor, as well as to manually change the CRM record to update their lifecycle stage to MQL, and then send an email to a salesperson to keep an eye on them.

Marketing Automation needs planning and strategy, the most successful marketing automation tools are the ones that have had lots of planning and testing to see what works best for your company. Start with a whiteboard, or something calledLucidChart, which will allow you to draw out exactly what you want to happen and when.

Your day with marketing automation

A visitor lands on your website and downloads an eBook.Now, an automated email is sent to the prospect receiving the eBook, also offering other valuable pieces of content. The contact is put on a marketing workflow, which will offer them a piece of content every seven days for the next month, ensuring that they aren’t sent an asset that they’ve already read or downloaded. Their CRM record is automatically updated, and the salesperson is assigned and notified. This person will also get notifications as and when the contact comes back to the site. Lastly, if the visitor comes back more than a certain number of times, the salesperson will automatically get an email advising them to make a call, with a list of the exact pages that they have visited and the content they’ve viewed.

Which approach puts your sales team in a better position to sell?

Lead nurturing and scoring

Remember, not every visitor to your website is ready to buy as soon as they land on your site:

Lead Nurturing: Do you have a set process of how you nurture a lead? What happens after someone has come onto your site and downloaded one piece of top of the funnel content, or perhaps subscribed to your blog? Are they left alone, with you sitting and hoping that one day they come back and speak to you? As an Inbound Marketing Manager, you should be looking to nurture your leads once they’ve shown interest; to nudge them along by providing piece after piece of valuable content which enhances their opinion of your business. You can then monitor these people, and try to nurture them into becoming customers.

Lead Scoring: Okay you’ve got a large number of leads coming through the system, and you’re nurturing them accordingly to try and push them through the sales funnel, but will you know who to contact first? Who should you prioritise? Lead scoring is a technique used to give each individual in your marketing contact database a score based on their behaviour and interaction with your business.

For example, a contact who visits your website regularly over several days, viewing the pricing page and also clicking on your emails, is much more qualified than a contact who last visited your site three months ago. You need to set up a lead-scoring system early so that you can prioritise exactly how, when and who you try to engage within a structured order.

Content creation

Content creation is essential to Inbound Marketing success.

No exceptions.

If your marketing tools are your Ferrari, then your content creation is your petrol — it isn’t going anywhere unless it’s got any power to push it forward. But what content shall I write? How do I decide? Who should write it? All valid questions, and whilst every company is different, there are some tips and advice we can share.

Who’s creating the content?

If you’re creating content in-house, the input into ideas, themes and the content itself must be spread across different people in different roles. Use your sales team, use your product team, use your board members. The more views and aspects you can get, the better. If they don’t have time to write it themselves, make it easy for them: record them talking about the topic, and then someone else can write the actual copy and get them to review it.

How do I decide what content to create?

Firstly, remember that buyer persona workshop you did at the start? Use this as a starting point. You need to ensure that your buyer persona’s challenges or pain points are addressed in the content that you create, otherwise, who is it going to resonate with? Be specific with the content you create, be it video, eBook, blog, white paper or infographic.

Effective content creation requires a team of creative specialists. These days, it’s not as simple as hiring one person to wear many content-creating hats. There is far more at stake, and to skimp on talent would be doing your business and your customers a disservice. Marketing teams need to invest in creative specialists such as writers, designers, videographers, SEO specialists, and content managers to truly get the most out of their promotional efforts. Remember, creating good content and design is one of the most effective ways to grab attention and draw people to your brand.

Secondly, consider the value of Search Engine Optimisation(covered in Section Eight of this handbook). That’s the second piece you need to think about when creating content. Creating great content is fantastic, but if no one is going to find it, what's the point? A famous quote you’ll hear in the SEO world is:

“If you want to hide a dead body, hide it on the second-page google”. And it’s true. Make sure your content is either focused on a long-tail keyword or at least a more popular keyword that you have a decent chance of ranking for over enough time.

Use a content matrix and content calendar to plan out everything. Your matrix should focus on what content you have related to each persona, allowing you to identify any gaps; whilst your calendar should focus on what content you have gone out over the next three months, and exactly what steps need to be achieved to get the content live.

Social Media

Social Media is how people consume things these days.“The mobile device is now the television, and the television is now the radio.” Gary Vaynerchuk.These days, what is your instant reaction as soon as the TV adverts come on? You either fast forward or if the remote is too far away, you look at Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat for 3.5 minutes. You HAVE to be where your potential customers are right now, not five years ago. If they’re on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat channels, you have to be on there too. Don’t write off Facebook because you think it won’t work. Don’t write off Instagram because you think it won’t work to sell. Do you really think that people are sitting on their phones waiting for that irrelevant cold email to fall into their inbox? You need to be active on all these channels to reach the highest audience possible. Note that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn have different audiences, so you’ll see different levels of success when using these different channels. But what does that mean for an Inbound Marketing manager?

Firstly, you need to be creating social media posts for that social media channel. Don’t write one post and create one image and expect to use exactly the same thing on each platform. You need to write one post for Facebook, another one for LinkedIn; whilst you may want to think about using a video on Twitter, or a high-quality image on Instagram. Secondly, you need to be monitoring performance constantly, checking out what’s working and what isn’t. Having an understanding of what tweet got the highest amount of clicks, or what Facebook post got the highest amount of likes is crucial. It lets you then deep-dive into those successful posts. What time was it posted? How many characters were involved? Did you include an image or a video? What was the topic of the post? Once you’ve got a better understanding of what is working well, you can base your next social posts on that information. Whereas previously, you may have been putting all of your posts out at 9 am, it may be the case that no one is on social platforms at that time, so a 1 pm lunch hour post could have the potential to gain more traction.

Get buy-in from your company spokespeople Gone are the days of growing your company social media pages through impersonal posts and generic messaging. In 2020, it’s all about getting the profiles of your key spokespeople into the spotlight. This strategy is more personal and lends itself to thought leadership, as people are more likely to trust the opinions of flesh-and-blood human beings than company pages.

Use a social media matrix to get on top of your social accounts, this will allow you to see exactly what is going out, and plan out your next posts on all channels

Paid Social

Your organic social media channels are working well for you, but there may come a time when organic social media isn’t quite as targeted as you’d like it to be. You’re posting numerous times a day on your most effective channels to your followers, but perhaps you really want to target a specific segment, profile or even organisation.

Paid social media allows you to do this. Using things like Facebook ads or LinkedIn advertising, you can focus on specific job titles, in a specific location. This is valuable, for example, if you are a B2B organisation and have already identified the companies that you want to target with your marketing activity. You can actually target the people that work at a specific company on Facebook, so why not go and write a blog, or an eBook, or create a video on how a ‘specific company’ can benefit from being a customer of yours?

Search Engine Optimisation

Going back to the earlier point about hiding a dead body on the second page of Google, how much do you value search engine optimisation (SEO) and how much do you understand it?

Getting SEO right can have huge benefits for your organisation; being able to rank higher, and more frequently on Google can bring new business right away. Initially, you want to decide what keywords you should be ranking for — remember that this needs to be focused not on the things that you think you should be ranking for, but the things that your potential customers would be searching for when conducting their awareness stage research.

Create a long list of short-tail keywords which explain what your business offers and the problems you can solve; as well as long-tail keywords, which do the same thing, but are much more specific. For long-tail keywords, you want to be really specific so that you’ve got a greater chance of ranking number one on Google if someone searches that term.

Once you’ve got this list you need to be creating the following based on those keywords:

Website Pages – have you heard of growth-driven design(GDD)? Rather than spend a huge amount of time, energy and stress building 50 website pages all to go live on a certain date at a certain time, you should spend your time more wisely. Launch your new 15-page website and build up the new web pages you need over time. For example, build two web pages a month for the next year. This is a more efficient, cost-effective and less stressful way of building your website.

Blog – your blog needs to focus on things that will help, educate and support your customers in a time of need. But remember, they must be SEO-focused. If they aren't SEO-optimised with the correct Headers, Page Titles, Meta Data, etc., who’s going to find them after the initial social media push?

Reporting

If you are an Inbound Marketing Manager or aspiring to become an Inbound Marketing Manager, I expect that a list of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for your activity includes the following metrics as standard:

- Website visits and traffic

- Organic search visits and traffic

- Landing page performance

- New leads generated

- Existing contacts engaged

- Opportunities generated

- New customers

- Attribution and revenue generated from marketing activities

You need to be able to get at your KPI information quickly and readily, without having to create lots of custom views and custom reports every month. Additionally, you need to focus on how marketing is influencing revenue. For instance, how much revenue can be attributed to marketing activity? By proving that your marketing efforts are having a direct impact on the bottom line, you'll make it easier for you and your team to get buy-in and more budget for future campaigns.

I recommend that you spend the time mapping out your KPIs, looking at exactly where you can get the information and whether the information is really needed. DO NOT just report for the sake of reporting; keep things strict and to the point.

Remember, there’s reporting so that you can do your job better and improve your own marketing, and there’s reporting for your boss. Your boss doesn’t need to know how many Facebook impressions you got last month, or how many clicks your tweets received, but they would be interested in knowing how many leads this activity generates, the validity of these leads and how they are moving down the funnel towards a sale. It’s your job to do the reporting and analysis around those posts to optimise them over and over again.

Set up your reporting so that it’s easy to collate. Spend the time to understand what data is relevant and how your technology can help you generate the reports you need. Learn GoogleAnalytics and set it up so that each month or week you can simply go in and pull the numbers you need.

The tools

The tools you’re using for your Inbound Marketing journey will make or break your success. As your business grows, you’ll start needing more and more bits of technology in order to grow. Starting off with your website and social media tools, to your marketing automation and CRM tools, you’ll need to make sure that all of these tools integrate well. There’s no point in using an awesome social media tool if you can't tell within your CRM system if a potential customer has been interacting with you on Facebook. These tools are just the start, as you grow, you’ll need email tools, creative tools, landing pages, forms, as well a wide range of sales tools available. All of these tools have separate payments, separate logins. The last tip of this handbook is to take a step back at this point:

There are many tools out there that do a great job but try and keep things simple. Try and minimise the number of tools that you have to integrate, or link together to get the most out of them. As your business grows, you’ll need many different tools, so try and find a tool that has many housed in one. Otherwise, you’ll waste time moving or transferring data.

Conclusion

We think that Inbound Marketing is great, and we love it because it gives small- and medium-sized businesses real opportunities to compete against the big players in the game. But it takes consistency, persistence, creativity, quality and most importantly —investment. Not just financial investment, but the investment of time from multiple stakeholders within the business. We’ve been involved in campaigns where the Marketing department has 100% bought into the programme, but ultimately it struggles because the Sales team isn’t invested in the process, or vice versa. Sometimes both Marketing & Sales are invested, but the CEO isn’t, therefore they don’t invest any time into content creation and instead constantly scrutinise the financial investment and production of leads without understanding the entire process.

Resist the temptation to cut corners in order to make short term financial gains. Make sure you optimise absolutely everything you do: from a tweet to a blog, to a piece of downloadable content. The tools are out there to make sure that every single decision you make can be optimised using your data, your knowledge and your experience. By using all of this data to make your marketing decisions, you increase the chance of doing more of what works, and less of what doesn’t – sound good right? Inbound Marketing is a strategy, a term and a job role that is forever evolving; Inbound Marketing of 2006 was completely different to the Inbound Marketing spectrum of 2020 that we’ve focused on in this handbook. Change is inevitable, but rest assured we’re always developing our knowledge to make sure that we can provide our customers with the information they need to overcome their business challenges.

Want more information? We’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to discuss your website requirements with one of the teams at HubleDigital, contact one of our consultants.

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