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What is Inbound Marketing?

attract, convert, close and delight.

Inbound marketing positions you to be a trusted resource by creating content that answers their questions, concerns, and everyday challenges.

Our Experts
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Kim Wilcox

Senior Strategist,
20+ years experience

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Sean Royer

Senior Strategist,
Former agency owner

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Your site visitors are humans (not numbers).  They have needs, interests and their own questions. But the real question is ‘Is your website, content, and social channels providing the answers they are looking for?’

Sean Royer, Sr. Strategist
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01

outbound vs. inbound marketing

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Inbound marketing is everything outbound marketing isn’t. 

  • It’s using marketing tactics to draw leads in.
  • It’s providing prospects with information to make an informed decision they can feel good about.
  • It’s NOT blasting a large number of people with TV ads, cold calls, flyers, etc.
  • It’s NOT contacting people who have never shown interest in your business or solution.

Essentially, inbound marketing is attracting people who are interested in your product or service by helping them solve a problem they have. Why would you spend time and money blasting people with advertisements who don’t need your solution? By providing consumers who have a problem you can solve with valuable information at the right time in their buyer’s journey, you’re helping the right people—at a fraction of the cost.

02

The Buyer’s Journey

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The Buyer’s Journey is the steps a consumer will go through while deciding, and ultimately choosing a product or service to purchase.

Awareness stage

The consumer has come across a problem they’re experiencing and they want to fix it. For example, Jan’s company is growing and they’ve decided to get a project management software. It’s her responsibility to research the options, so she starts by googling, “Best project management software for small businesses,” or “What to look for in a project management tool.” Blog posts, ebooks, white papers and more can help educate Jan on her options and decide which features are the best fit for her company.

Consideration stage

Once the consumer has realized they have a problem, they’re going to consider different options to solve their problem. So Jan will look at a few different project management tool benefits and features pages, FAQ pages, download content about the features of each product, and possibly request a demo. At this point, she will narrow down her options to a few project management tools that best fit her small business’ needs.

Decision stage

During this stage, the consumer decides which company to buy from, talks to a salesperson, tests their options and considers price, before purchasing. She will visit the pricing pages, read case studies, or start a free trial to make her final decision. At the end of this stage, her team will have a new product management software.

03

The Inbound Methodology

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Behind the curtain, the Inbound Methodology is the steps a business goes through to get consumers to choose their product over a competitor’s.

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Attract

The attract phase involves creating content to get potential customers to your site. This content is meant to educate the consumer and get them to take the next step in the buyer’s journey. The content should be educational but not product-specific or brand-specific just yet. Think blog posts about a topic related to your business, a content strategy with a pillar page and topic clusters, and social media posts that will attract your buyer personas.

Convert

Once your organization has attracted a potential customer, the goal is to get them to convert, by having them give you their contact information. There are many ways a lead can convert, from filling out a form for more in-depth content, to messaging your sales team through live chat, to setting up a meeting for a live demo. The goal is to start a conversation about the options the consumer has to solve their current problem. And once you have their information, you can better target your marketing efforts to where they are in the buyer’s journey, their pain points and more.

Close

Once you’ve attracted the right person and they’ve converted, now’s the time to close. CRM, sequences and other tools help convert opportunities into customers. If they’ve gone through the other stages and haven’t closed yet, use a well-timed email campaign full of decision-stage content to further educate and persuade them to buy.

Delight

After a lead becomes a customer, you don’t just forget about them—you delight them! Keep serving them what they want by sending a survey, asking what can be better. Provide top notch customer service and they’ll keep coming back. Happy customers will tell their friends and colleagues about you—and would be delighted to give you a testimonial.

04

How to Set Up an Inbound Marketing Campaign

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Establish SMART goals

How do you know if you’re successful if you haven’t decided what success looks like? Enter SMART goals. SMART goals are the most important part of an inbound marketing campaign. Establishing SMART goals is the obvious first step, because you need intention in order to create a strategy to reach those milestones. Each part of your strategy should be tailored to meet the goals you set forth at the beginning.

What makes a goal smart?

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timebound.

When creating a goal, it’s important to follow these parameters to know if it’s valuable to your company. For example, you wouldn’t say, “I want to increase leads.” Ok, that’s a good start but by how much? And in how long? A better goal would be, “I’d like to increase the number of marketing qualified leads to 25 per month in the next six months.” Pick a number and a time frame that’s attainable for your business, based on your history. Creating goals that aren’t SMART is just a fast track to failure. The right SMART goals can set you up for measurable success that you can feel good about.

Create Buyer Personas

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. Buyer persona information can include age, gender, income, personality traits and more. You can decide who your buyer personas are through research and interviewing your customers.

Your buyer personas reveal where your ideal customer hangs out (do they use Facebook, email, LinkedIn?), how they like to buy (through a salesperson, online, etc.?), where they get their information (publications, colleagues, podcasts..?), and more. Getting to know your buyer persona allows you to know their pain points and buyer behavior. That way, you’ll be able to create content based on your findings that speaks to your ideal customer.

Knowing who your buyer personas are also dictates who not to sell to. Some companies will even create a negative buyer persona, which is made up of demographics and psychographics that are disqualifiers for your product or service. The goal is to avoid spending too much time selling to people who are not a good fit for your services (i.e. students, researchers, competitors). 

Create Assets For Conversion Path

Once you build your buyer personas, your goal is to create content that will attract, convert, close and delight them. Each stage of the buyer’s journey should involve content that has the goal of moving visitors into the next stage. Think about the information that your buyer persona will need at each stage of their buyer’s journey. Create high value content based on your personas needs, and they will happily fill out a form to access your content. It's a win-win. They get helpful information, you get their contact information to help move them along in their buyer's journey.

Analyze and Adjust

Analyze your data at each step of your campaign. What worked? What didn’t work? If a blog post didn’t get many views, your buyer persona might not be interested in that topic. If your CTA didn’t get many clicks, it may need to be rewritten or redesigned.

Pay attention to analytics at every step, and it won’t take a detective to tell you what your ideal buyer wants to see—numbers don’t lie.

05

How to do Inbound Marketing with HubSpot

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Inbound Marketing Software

HubSpot’s inbound marketing software has a comprehensive suite of tools that work together to improve your inbound marketing efforts through lead intelligence, marketing automation and more. It’s also available to sync with your HubSpot or Salesforce CRM, so your salespeople can take note of every touchpoint before reaching out to a potential customer.

Get Certified

If you’re a new to HubSpot, or if you just want to learn a little bit more about inbound marketing, HubSpot’s free certifications are made for you. Each certification is comprised of bite-sized classes that cover topics like inbound marketing, email marketing, content marketing and more.

Your Dashboard

Your marketing dashboard allows you to see all of your marketing efforts at a glance. Decide which metrics are important to your business and add them to your dashboard, and click into any report to dig deeper.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation allows you to do the work once and continue to reap the benefits. Create automated workflows that include drip emails, lead scoring, list adding, and more, to allow targeted marketing that best meets the needs of your personas.

Data and Reporting Features

Since all forms, CTAs, content, and more are contained in the HubSpot marketing portal, it’s easy to track and measure important metrics through the reporting tools. This is extremely beneficial for marketers because they can analyze the conversion paths that leads take to become customers, see what’s working and what’s not, and improve based on cold hard data that all lives in one place.

Lead Intelligence and Lead Scoring

Knowing where your lead is in their journey is important. You don’t want to prematurely reach out to them or prioritize the wrong lead. That’s where lead intelligence and lead scoring come into play. Every action a lead takes adds or subtracts points to a lead score, and the leads with the highest scores should be prioritized, as they’re further along in their buyer’s journey. For example, visiting a pricing page is worth a lot of points, but visiting a careers page subtracts points. You’re also able to decipher a lead’s pain points or interests, based on the content they’ve downloaded or webinars they’ve watched.

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The Future of Inbound Marketing

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Conversational Marketing

Consumers are burnt out on cold calls and mass emails. They want an on-demand personalized experience, not another hoop to jump through before they can speak to a salesperson. Conversational marketing is already changing the game—live chat and bots allow your website visitors to speak with someone ASAP, or find what they’re looking for without having to fill out another form. Don’t get us wrong—forms are great; but when your website visitor just wants to convert, why are you making it so hard? Conversational marketing can cut out the middleman and get your lead on the path to becoming a customer as fast as it takes to send a text.

Conversational marketing is also a great way to delight your customers. According to HubSpot Research, 90% of consumers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question. Serve your customers faster and more efficiently with conversational marketing.

Use of Video

When it comes to content, the key is to find what your personas enjoy by testing different types and seeing which platform gets the most engagement. Incorporating video is becoming more and more popular because it’s a highly engaging platform that many consumers react well to. From social media strategy to offers, to web copy, video can be incorporated in every step of the buyer’s journey, if your buyer persona enjoys engaging with video.

Content Strategy

The days of throwing a ton of content onto the Internet and hoping it’ll stick are over. Did you know that 91% of content gets no traffic from Google? If your content is part of that 91%, that’s a lot of money to be throwing down the drain. Today, content creation needs to be strategic. Creating a solid content-based SEO strategy is going to get you to rank on Google. The most important thing to keep in mind is creating quality content that has value. If you’re going to do anything to change your strategy right away, start thinking quality over quantity and you’ll be on your way to increasing search position ranking.

Natural Language Search

As Siri, Alexa and Google Home become more and more a part of daily lives, SEO has to change in order to keep up. More likely than not, your voice assistant will pull an answer from Position Zero, or the featured snippet at the top of the results page. Optimizing for featured snippets will become more important as voice search becomes ubiquitous. According to ComScore, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.

When natural language searching, the user is more conversational, using words like “who,” “what,” “where,” “why,” and “when.” For example, when text searching, you would type, “Elon Musk,” to see information about the SpaceX entrepreneur. When voice searching, you would say, “Who is Elon Musk?” See the difference? Start creating content optimized for natural language search by adding question words into your titles and H1s.

Data and Reporting Features

Since all forms, CTAs, content, and more are contained in the HubSpot marketing portal, it’s easy to track and measure important metrics through the reporting tools. This is extremely beneficial for marketers, because they can analyze the conversion paths that leads take to become customers, see what’s working and what’s not, and improve based on cold hard data that all lives in one place.

Lead Intelligence and Lead Scoring

Knowing where your lead is in their journey is important. You don’t want to prematurely reach out to them or prioritize the wrong lead. That’s where lead intelligence and lead scoring will come into play. Every action a lead takes adds or subtracts points to a lead score, and the leads with the highest scores should be prioritized, as they’re further along in their buyer’s journey. For example, visiting a pricing page is worth a lot of points, but visiting a careers page subtracts points. You’re also able to decipher a lead’s pain points or interests, based on the content they’ve downloaded or webinars they’ve watched.

Smart Content

Consumers in each stage of the buyer’s journey use websites differently. It’s frustrating when you’re a customer of a company and their website is still trying to sell you their product. That’s why with Smart content, your website will be able to recognize a customer and only give them content they actually want. For example, instead of showing them a top of the funnel offer like an ebook, it will show them a user guide for your product. Smart content allows you to serve your leads and customers what they want—when they want it. 

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LET'S TALK

You’ve got goals, we’ve got ideas.

Topics we'd like to cover:

  • Current status of your marketing/sales efforts
  • Future short and long-term business goals
  • What kind of a partnership best fits your needs
  • How we can help