Inbound Marketing White Paper: What Every CEO/CMO/CFO Should Know. By Cary Baskin Managing Partner The Marketing Department Malvern, PA

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1 Inbound Marketing White Paper: What Every CEO/CMO/CFO Should Know By Cary Baskin Managing Partner The Marketing Department Malvern, PA Copyright, November 2013, The Marketing Department, Malvern, PA. All Rights Reserved. Pictures, images and graphical data courtesy HubSpot Inc.

2 Table of Contents Preface... 3 Introduction to Inbound Marketing... 4 Inbound Marketing Process... 5 Strategies of the Inbound Marketing Process... 6 Attracting the Right Buyer... 6 Convert... 6 Nurture and Close... 7 The Strategic Importance of Content... 7 Types of Content Used in Inbound Marketing... 8 Sales Funnel & Inbound Marketing as Strategy Social Media and Inbound Marketing The Tools of Inbound Marketing Inbound Marketing Game Plan Website Landing Page & Call-To-Action (CTA) Forms Marketing Automation Platform Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Buyer Personas Goals & Analytics Summary

3 Preface Inbound Marketing: Top line revenue not growing fast enough to meet your long term goals. Not sure how to get the most bang for your buck with a limited marketing budget. Volume of website traffic is too low to generate enough leads to grow the business. Advertising & trade show budgets used to generate a much higher ROI than they do today. If these are the kinds of challenges you are facing today, you are not alone. Industry data suggests that the main contributor to these challenges is a result of a paradigm shift in the B-to-B and B-to-C sales process from Prospect Sales Rep to Prospect Search Engine Sales Rep. What worked well in the old days, 4 yours ago, no longer seems as effective. To address this paradigm shift companies must adopt the internet as their core marketing strategy. Doing so will allow your brand to engage with prospects much early in the sales cycle. The goal of the internet strategy is to attract more visitors to your website, where they can be converted to leads to grow the business. You do that by creating an abundance of relevant (to your target market) informational content to educate, inform and engage your prospects. And in doing so, you can nurture an online relationship and establish trust and confidence in your brand. The more relevant the content, the more likely the prospects are to give you their contact information in exchange for the content. When consumers search online, find you, get informed, share their contact information and buy, it s called inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is run as yearlong campaign consisting of the following elements: Goal Setting, Marketing Strategy & Buyer Persona Development Content Strategy, Sourcing and Development Sales Strategy & Sales Process Automation Content used in inbound marketing includes blogs, white papers, ebooks, literature, case studies, videos, etc. According to HubSpot, market leader in inbound marketing automation software, companies who blog get 55% more traffic to their website than those who don t and companies that promote their blogs get 70% more leads than those who don t. Inbound marketing is not just about lead generation and revenue growth. It s also about goal setting and continuous improvement of the sales process and marketing optimization. The speed by which a company wants to get to their goal drives the inbound marketing budget. The budget involves license fees for marketing automation software, a monthly retainer fee to the marketing agency executing the inbound marketing campaign, and the cost of developing the content needed to drive traffic to the website and enable engagement with prospects that help meet the sales goals. Inbound marketing has demonstrated a high degree of success, across many vertical markets when the goal is to increase traffic to the website, lead generation through the company website, and nurture prospects through the sales process online. According to HubSpot, inbound marketing delivers a lower cost per lead resulting in a higher ROI when compared to traditional outbound advertising (radio, TV, print). Inbound marketing demands a C-level commitment because it requires: A commitment to resource the process. A year-long budgetary commitment in outsourced services and software. A willingness to refine (optimize) or at least modify your existing sales process. A commitment to generate leads and revenue differently than you do today. This white paper discusses a highly effective, high ROI marketing strategy available to small and medium sized businesses. It s what every CEO/CFO and CMO should know before spending another penny on advertising. 3

4 Introduction to Inbound Marketing You want more people to find your website, and you want those people to buy your product. But how do you even do that? Long gone are the days when advertising alone can significantly increase sales, in part because consumers have learned how to tune out these ads, that for the most part interrupt their day. Instead, consumers search online for relevant information about your product, when they have a need. This search process gives you the unique opportunity to engage directly with the prospects when they are on your website. When consumers search, find, get informed, and buy, it is called inbound marketing. Welcome to the new era of marketing. The goal of inbound marketing is to attract visitors to your website, get leads and turn them into customers. How do you do that? You do that by creating relevant, remarkable content to educate and inform your prospects. When done right, visitors will give you their contact information and become a lead. An inbound marketing campaign includes: Marketing Strategy & Goal Setting Website Design & SEO Conversion Strategy Content Marketing Content Sourcing & Development Social Media Marketing Sales Strategy Campaign Analytics Each of these important parts of inbound marketing supports a new customer sales funnel that you re going to hear a lot about. The role of the sales funnel is to: Attract, convert, and close. You want people to find your company, you want to get their information before they leave the website, you want to nurture those relationships, and you want those people to buy your product. From the prospect perspective it generally means search, find, get informed and buy (or ignore if you ve missed the mark). If you need more leads to grow faster, inbound marketing is a way to fill the sales funnel and get results. This white paper will provide some insights into how the sales funnel works and how to use inbound marketing based on consumers internet usage: Attracting consumers, converting them into leads, and closing the sale Marketing strategies to define and target your prospects Website optimized for prospect engagement throughout the sales cycle Conversion strategy to promote lead generation Content marketing to educate and inform your target market SEO & content development Social Media engagement to build a following Sales strategies to foster engagement and sales transactions Metrics & Analytics to measure and optimize performance 4

5 Inbound Marketing Process Inbound marketing is a process used to attract to and engage visitors on your website, supported by: Keyword optimization techniques Content management strategies Prospect engagement processes to nurture and engage Core to the content strategy is the ongoing creation and use of blogs, white papers, ebooks, videos, news articles, buying guides, etc., on the website. This content gets identified (indexed) by the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) based on the keywords embedded in the content that consumers will search on. Google ranks the website based on the relevance (closeness to the search word) and authority (importance or authoritativeness) of the content on the website. Integration and incorporation with Social Media channels (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) combined with inbound marketing plays a very important role in your websites SEO to achieve excellent ranking. Inbound marketing is an ongoing process (as opposed to a project or event) that must be maintained over an extended period of time to continuously improve the websites relevance and authoritativeness to prospective clients. It s the difference between spending a lot of time and money to launch the best website versus having a better website that is always, over time, getting better. The ultimate goal is being on the first page of the organic search results (as opposed to getting on the first page through a paidsearch through a Google ad). Companies with multiple products or lines of business will each require their own set of keywords that consumers use to search for the product or service. This means that not all lines of business will perform equally when searched organically. This is why we strive to get better search results for each product or service in the business over time, by developing content for each line of business. Search results will vary depending on: How competitive the market is. The quality of the content being created and posted to the website for each line of business. How well integrated the content and conversation is with social media channels (Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, You Tube, etc.) into the inbound marketing process. The frequency of the postings, which means how often we provide new content for the search engines to index. A minimum of once per week is required, but to be noticed by the search engines, you have to show Google that you are serious about producing meaningful original content 2 to 4 times per week. The quantity of inbound links that can be generated (from authoritative sources). An inbound link is a scenario where a link to your website is posted onto another website (or directory, e.g., Chamber of Commerce website, online Yellow Pages, or an online recommendation posted on Angie s List, etc.). 5

6 Strategies of the Inbound Marketing Process Inbound Marketing: Attracting the Right Buyer Inbound marketing is all about placing the right content in the right place at the right time that targets the ideal consumers. Inbound marketing is not just about driving traffic to your website, it s about drawing people in (through search) who are actually interested in what you re selling. The first question you need to ask yourself when creating inbound marketing content is: Who do I want to talk to and what are their buyer personas. Personas are made up characters which embody the characteristics, personality traits, demographic attributes and personal interests that control or influence the buying behavior of your target audience. Some things to consider: What are the demographics like age, gender, personal interests, etc.? Where do they live, nationality, income level? What is their problem, and how can you solve that problem? What are their decision criteria when considering your solution? Inbound marketing will help you attract the right people through the use of blogs, keywords, and social media that feature content relevant to your target audience. Companies who blog get 55% more traffic on their website than those who don t. Companies who promote their blogs get 70% more leads than those who don t. If you create the right content that meet a consumer s buyer persona the right people will come. Convert How do you convert visitors into leads? You get valuable contact information from them, and provide them with something they want in return (meaningful content that addresses the question they were searching for). To capture a visitor s contact information, you use landing pages, forms, and calls-to action. Calls-to-action Calls-to-action encourages visitors to your site to engage with your content or promotions. It is important to create strong calls-to-action that entices them to learn more otherwise it will not produce the response you desire. Here are some typical calls-to-actions: Buy Now & Get 15% Off Call Today for a Free Audit Schedule an Appointment Landing pages Landing pages are the web pages that visitors are sent to when they click on a call-to-action button. Before you provide consumers with the content they are looking for, like the white paper on how to grow a vegetable garden, you ask visitors to provide you with their contact information. By providing their contact information, they are giving you the opportunity and permission to engage with them again. Forms Forms are how you will collect visitors information. Make forms as simple as possible, while still getting the necessary information. Users will rethink their need for your content if forms are too complicated, time consuming or intrusive. At the very least, you want to get a person s address. When you get information about who a visitor is and how you can get in touch with them, they become leads. 6

7 Nurture and Close Prospects have been checking out your inbound marketing material and have given you permission to contact them. So, how do you take them from lead to paying customer? You nurture them. Nurturing a lead is all about sending them appropriate content throughout the sales cycle. When your prospects download the content created for them you send them an thanking them for their interest. You can follow-up with additional s to introduce other related content. Your ideal consumer searched for relevant content, and now that you know what they re looking for and you know how to contact them, you can send them information about your company that is relevant to them. By sending them relevant information, you are giving them the opportunity to decide to buy from you. And when consumers make the decision to work with you based on their online research, they develop a level of trust with you that traditional outbound advertising can rarely create. When your prospects show indications they are ready to buy your product or service, consider having a Call-To-Action (CTA) plan to push them towards the sale. Typical CTAs include: Buy Before December 1 st and Get 15% Off Click here for a 10% off coupon Call today for a free evaluation Contact us today to schedule an appointment By showing your prospects you care (with rich information or motivating CTAs), your leads will convert to customers. The Strategic Importance of Content Producing and posting content to your website and social media sites is critical to the process of inbound marketing. Content includes such items as blogs, related news articles, videos, case studies, white papers, buyer s guides, videos, newsletter, product literature, etc. To incorporate content on your website you require a place to post the content. This is typically done on a blog page or landing pages accessed through a call-to-action button (e.g., Download Now), or a resources page, or news page. The blog page and landing page should be incorporated into your website, but can be done external to the website, through a sub-domain (e.g., blog.companyname.com), and made to look like it is on your website. And these days, it needs to be original content, not repurposed content like copying and pasting a news article published by someone else, unless you undertake to do a thoughtful critique of an article you are reposting. To be effective, the recommended frequency of adding content is a minimum of one or two posting per week of content, but to begin to rank well, three or four postings per week would accelerate the process needed by the search engines to acknowledge that you are serious about making your website a content rich destination for prospect. The posting frequency is often described as slow, fast, faster, fastest way to inbound success. The chart form HubSpot s 2013 Report illustrates the impact of blog frequency on website traffic. 7

8 Types of Content Used in Inbound Marketing The key to successful content writing is to match the keywords with the buying persona of your prospects. Buying persona looks at the behavior of your prospects buying influences and seeks to map and match that through content strategies and call to action strategies to engage and connect with prospects. Blog Blogs are the most commonly and prolifically used form of content. They are intended to educate and inform in a highlighted way with a document that typically incorporates about 300 to 700 words. The keyword is usually incorporated in the title and appears in the first sentence of the document. Blogging is an absolutely critical component of helping you achieve inbound marketing success. According to data from HubSpot, a market leader in inbound marketing automation software, companies that blog attract 55% more site visitors, 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages. Furthermore, companies that blog achieve 126% more lead growth than companies that don t. Blogging frequency does matter. The graphs below illustrate the impact of blogging. 8

9 White Paper and ebook White papers and ebooks are considered premium content because they often provide a more in depth discussion on the topic of interest. Their goal is to provide rich relevant (information) content to prospects in exchange for their . Premium content is typically 7 to 12 pages long. Both formats often employ photos, infographics, illustrations, graphs and data tables to make the content more visually interesting. Videos Videos are a great form of content. They get high ranking, often create inbound links and is liked by the viewer. YouTube where most videos are presented, is the second highest search platform after Google, which is another supporting argument to use video as a form of content. Infographics Infographics have become very popular form of presenting information and concepts for complex or process oriented topics. When they are done well, they can draw a lot of interest and occasionally go viral with high volume of downloads. Case Studies, Newsletters and Product Information Case studies, newsletters and product information are popular ways to nurture prospects and current and past customers with up to date information about your products and services. 9

10 Sales Funnel & Inbound Marketing as Strategy Inbound marketing as a process is not just about drawing traffic to your website. It is also about managing the experience of the visitor to the website when they arrive. So the goal is not only to put content on the website that is keyword specific to help you get found, but to also provide content that is interesting or engaging to the visitor, and to help them through the buying process throughout the sales cycle. Inbound marketing protocol is to segment content for visitors that are at the top of the funnel, middle of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel. Top of the funnel are people early in the buying process, who are seeking information. For this type of visitor we provide high level but engaging content to help them satisfy their need to become aware of your product. Some examples include 7 Things to consider when choosing a plumber or 5 Ideas for lowering your health care cost, etc. This type of content is provided for free, meaning it is delivered without requiring the visitor to leave their in exchange to view the content. Videos are also powerful tools for engaging prospects at this phase of the buying cycle, and search engines give high points for video content. Middle of the funnel is the visitor who is searching for a solution, and wants to get either get deeper into the subject matter to help facilitate their analysis or interest in your product/service or help them better understand the technical attributes of the product/service or the types of offerings you have, and in some cases to identify qualified vendors to consider in their purchase decision. At this phase you are trying to demonstrate your firm s competency in the product or service, by building your brand s credibility in the eye of the consumer. This is typically done with white papers, case studies, reports, ebooks, videos, etc. For the visitor to get a copy of this premium content they should be required to provide their . This process turns a visitor into a lead, because you now know who they are and that they are interested in a particular product or service, and you know how to communicate with them. With this prospect knowledge you can also begin to nurture the relationship with the prospect. This nurturing can happen two ways. First, once you know what product they are interested in, you can send follow-up s pointing them to other articles, white papers, etc. that they may be interested in. Second, you can track their return to the website and point them to content you think might be of interest. Content at this stage starts to get very explicit about how they can experience your brand should they purchase from you and could include Buying Guides or Success Kits as two examples. Bottom of the funnel is when the consumer is feeling the pain and is ready to buy. At this stage the goal is give an incentive to engage with you and make the sale happen. A typical bottom of the funnel process is to introduce a compelling call-to-action (CTA) button. CTA examples include Request a Quote, Click Here for a Free Audit, Schedule an Appointment, Buy Now & Save 15%, etc. 10

11 Social Media and Inbound Marketing Social media is a blessing and nightmare for most businesses. It can be a blessing when you can develop strategies to connect with clients and prospects to foster engagement and communication. It can be a nightmare because not all people see the value and return on investment, and you can feel like you are left out of the game by not participating. Social media s biggest contribution to inbound marketing is its ability to easily share rich, relevant content (read that again: rich, relevant content) with the people who want to read it. So, step one is to create the content your consumers want to see. Step two is to share that content on social media. But, remember that you shouldn t just post a link to your content anywhere you need to use the appropriate social media channel for your business. The social media channels most frequently employed with inbound marketing is Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube. Other social channels, are also employed, but tend to be vertical market specific. For example, if you sell retail merchandise to consumers, Pinterest is a good place. If you are a contractor, plumber, electrician, etc., then Angie s List is a must. If you sell only to other businesses, LinkedIn is the most important social channel to engage with prospects and your active referral network of colleagues. If you are trying to become a thought leader, with lots of followers, then Twitter is the place you have to be. Social media also helps your search engine ranking to make your website more visible, by creating engagement (comments, sharing) around your content. For some vertical markets (e.g., retail, restaurants, etc.), it can also leverage the way people shop for your service or product online through Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, etc., where recommendations do matter. The small business marketer should view social media marketing in two ways: 1. Tools for researching and finding content on your targeted keywords to develop rich content strategies. 2. The mechanics of posting content on a regular basis to your social channels LinkedIn, Facebook, and You Tube accounts and employing Twitter as a broadcast medium to make followers aware of you postings. The social media channel you emphasize in your marketing strategy depends on the type of business: Business-to-Business companies should have LinkedIn as a core element of their social media marketing mix. 11

12 Business-to-Consumer companies should have a strong Facebook marketing plan, but it also works for B to B, though not as good as other social channels like LinkedIn. Twitter is emerging as an important resource for consumers and therefore an important channel for all companies to nurture and pay attention to, though currently a stronger tool for B to B markets. Both Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer companies can benefit from You Tube and Google+. If your business is retail and serves mostly women, then Pinterest is a good place to be. 12

13 The Tools of Inbound Marketing There are number of tools that have evolved to help plan and execute an inbound marketing campaign to more efficiently manage the range of strategies and tactics employed over an extended period of time. Inbound Marketing Game Plan One of the first tools employed in the arsenal of inbound marketing is the Game Plan. The Game Plan is used to establish the goals of your inbound marketing campaign, and then articulates all of the content strategies, buyer personas, editorial calendars, and keywords to be used in your campaign. Every inbound marketing initiative should be accompanied by an Inbound Marketing Game Plan, the purpose of which is to: Establish quantifiable goals and metrics for the campaign Specify the keywords related to your business Define premium content that prospects are willing to exchange their to read Develop an editorial calendar to schedule the content development and posting Develop call-to-action strategies Develop blog content plan Website It all starts with your website, the nerve center of your inbound marketing strategy. It s the place you draw people into through key word searches. It s the place where you present your brand. It s the place where you make the first impression to the ideal prospect. It s the place where you promote your product or service, and build trust that you are capable and experienced at what you do. It s the place where you first communicate and solicit interaction with a prospect. It s the place you can nurture relationships until they are ready to buy. Landing Page & Call-To-Action (CTA) Forms The ultimate goal of your website is to create more sales for your business. In order to do so, you need to do more than just bring visitors to the website you need to convert them into leads and then customers. An important tool in the inbound arsenal is the Landing Page and Call-To-Action button and associated form. The Landing Page serves as a destination for website visitors, where you can talk to them about a specific piece of content or engage with them over a specific strategy to grab their attention, to invoke their interest and influence their (buying) behavior. It is the CTA with its Landing Page and Landing Page Form that creates an opportunity to influence prospect behavior and helps you qualify prospects as they move through the sales funnel. The response to a CTA shows you what they are most interested in. 13

14 Marketing Automation Platform There are so many moving parts to an inbound marketing campaign that trying to do it without the support of appropriate software tools can make the process time consuming and costly. Marketing automation platform automates many steps like posting and syndication of the posting to social channels. You can set the time/date of post to reach your target market at the most opportune time to connect with them, and use testing to determine what time is best. Workflow utilities in the marketing automation software allow you to nurture prospects, and feed them content, build forms, and manage call-to-action activity. The software can track prospect behavior while on the website, and even suggest articles or white papers based on the type of content they downloaded on previous visits to the website. Marketing automation software provides recommendations to optimize each page of your website for keyword searches, and can even recommend alternative keywords and show how easy or hard it will be to rank well with the keywords you have chosen. These automation platforms support the sales process in different ways. In addition to nurturing and calls-to-actions, they can help you rank a prospect so you know when to engage with them in the sales cycle. Advanced marketing automation systems can seamlessly integrate with CRM systems like SalesForce.com, Sugar CRM and others to help you manage those prospects after they transition to live prospects requiring human engagement. The marketing automation software also enables A/B testing to determine, for example, which attribute of a Call-To-Action button (e.g., size, shape, color and label, font size, position on page, etc.), produces the best results. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Inbound marketing relies on continuous improvement of the website s ranking with Google as a lynchpin to the execution of the inbound marketing strategy. All of the core strategies (keywords, content, buyer personas,) are employed in inbound marketing to get your company website found online, ahead of the competition. Buyer Personas Developing buyer personas is a process for determining what makes your prospects tick, what makes them interested in your product and service and why they would buy from you. Buyer personas are an important strategic component needed to develop the content strategy for an inbound marketing campaign. They are equally important in weeding out visitors to your website who are not a good fit for your business. 14

15 Goals & Analytics All digital ads, inbound marketing campaigns and social media campaigns incorporate analytics, as a way to track and evaluate traffic to your website and social media channels. The data is reviewed monthly to gauge the level of engagement and involvement. This insight is used to make corrections /adjustments to the keyword and content strategies to optimize call-to-actions for your ideal customer. Tracking and reporting what is happening online through analytics is helpful and important for optimizing and continuous improvement. However, at the end of the day, it is the business goals that matter most, and should be tracked as well. In particular, how many leads on the website are converted to sales and the value of those sales relative to the cost of the inbound marketing budget to determine the return on investment. 15

16 Summary Inbound marketing has demonstrated a high degree of success, across many vertical markets when the goal is to increase lead generation through the company website, and nurture prospects through the early stages of the sales process, which in today s environment happens online. According to HubSpot, inbound marketing has also demonstrated a lower cost per lead when compared to traditional outbound advertising, another significant advantage driving a beneficial ROI. Inbound marketing demands a C-level commitment because it requires: A commitment of man-power to participate in the process. A year-long budgetary commitment in outsourced services and software. A willingness to refine (optimize) or at least modify your existing sales process. A commitment to generating revenue differently than you probably do today. If your business needs to generate more leads than it is today, inbound marketing is the recommended sales and marketing strategy. 16

17 Contact us today for a free website evaluation or to learn more about how inbound marketing can transform your business, Copyright The Marketing Department, Malvern PA. All rights reserved. Market data courtesy of HubSpot, Inc. 17

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