When it comes to inbound marketing, we often have conversations with clients who are hungry for leads, and intent on “doing some SEO” or “running a bit of PPC” to satisfy their needs. While we can see why they jump to this conclusion, it’s time to tell some painful truths.
When it comes to marketing, it doesn’t pay to have a one-track mind. Attracting, nurturing, converting and delighting leads relies on marketers seeing the bigger picture. And there’s no better way to do this than by implementing a fully-integrated inbound marketing campaign.
What is inbound marketing?
First thing’s first – what is inbound marketing anyway? In simple terms, inbound marketing draws new leads to your brand, nurtures them to conversion and continues to engage with them as customers. This is done through the promotion of relevant and genuinely valuable content, shared at the right time in the right place, moving leads along the buyer’s journey.
A fully-integrated inbound marketing campaign can include blogging, content outreach, social media marketing, video marketing, landing pages and downloadable content, search engine optimisation (SEO for short), pay per click (otherwise known as PPC or paid search) and many other marketing strategies.
The key thing to remember here is that each of the strategies noted above are better suited to particular stages in the buyer’s journey. Think about it…
- Social media - great at attracting new leads to your brand
- Blogs - brilliant at engaging with leads and getting them to think about their needs
- Case studies - perfect for educating leads about your services
HubSpot refer to four stages of the buyer’s journey – attract, convert, close and delight. To put it into perspective, you attract new prospects to your website, convert them into leads, close them as customers and delight them so they act as evangelists (spreading the word).
What’s wrong with just using SEO or PPC?
SEO and PPC play important parts within the broader inbound marketing campaign. Crucially, both strategies make it easier for leads to find you using search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. SEO focuses on improving your search ranking organically, while PPC involves bidding on key search terms to place adverts on Google search results.
Here’s the thing though – SEO and PPC only represent the first step (that’s attract, remember) in what should be an intuitive and personalised lead nurturing campaign.
Certainly, SEO and PPC help to attract leads, as (fingers crossed) your brand becomes much more visible on search engine results. However, you need to perfect your landing pages in order to improve conversion rates. It’s no good ranking on the first page of every relevant Google search if your landing page doesn’t resonate with your prospect.
For instance, you could pay to improve your search ranking for key terms such as “legal services” or “accountancy firm.” However, few prospects are likely to become customers immediately on finding your ad.
In fact, 57% of the average B2B buyer’s purchase decision happens before they talk to a sales team.
This is especially true in the case of professional services, for instance, which can come with lengthy contracts, high costs and lots of effort involved in working with new suppliers.
How an inbound marketing campaign can convert leads
So what are you offering these prospects to engage and convert them? An inbound marketing strategy would use a piece of value-added downloadable content, which prospects would be happy to exchange their contact details for. “A simple guide to organising your legal services” or “Ten benefits to streamlining your company accounts” are both good examples, as they offer valuable advice to the prospect and nurture a positive impression of your brand, without being too salesy.
Now, once a prospect has downloaded one of your guides, you have their contact details. But it’s not time to hand over to the sales team just yet. Having employees relentlessly chase leads one by one through a long nurturing process is time-consuming, inefficient and annoying.
48% of businesses find that most of their leads require a long period of nurturing.
Marketing automation workflows represent another part of an inbound marketing strategy. Leads are automatically sent relevant communications appropriate to their movement though the buyer’s journey. For instance, leads can be sent the latest blogs, followed by engaging video content, and finally some convincing case studies. The result of all this – leads get delivered the right content at the right time, supporting them through the buyer’s journey at the perfect pace.
Some of our clients also use automated lead scoring to inform the efforts of their sales teams, determining lead quality by email opens and clicks, webpage views and other interactions. Once a lead has shown appropriate interest, it can be passed onto sales.
What inbound marketing can tell you about your customers
Not only will this process reduce time and effort on the part of your sales team. By implementing this inbound process, you can collect a range of information about your leads which can inform how you interact with them and other leads in the future. You can continually perfect your inbound marketing campaign in line with this insight.
All of this insight also means you can perfect your SEO and PPC efforts, ultimately improving the efficiency and cutting the costs of these two strategies. Done right, an inbound marketing campaign should be a continual learning process which only gets better with age.