WHAT IS INBOUND MARKETING
In a nutshell, inbound marketing is about marketing with a magnet, not a sledgehammer. Instead of outdated, interruptive marketing methods, inbound marketing focuses on earning trust by using educational content that draws consumers toward your website where they can learn more about your products and services on their own terms.
The inbound approach to marketing employs two fundamental concepts – content and context – to appeal to consumers based on how they actually research products and services they’re interested in buying.
Content is exactly what you think it is; creating valuable content like new web pages, white label documents, blog articles, etc., and optimizing them for search and social media to be found by potential buyers. While context is understanding what content pulls your buyers through the sales funnel, and using it to personalize what your potential buyers see. So, in a nutshell, generating new leads by creating – not interrupting – the content your prospects actually want to see.
Rather than using multiple platforms to juggle the tools of modern sales technology, HubSpot offers the Sales Hub, which harnesses all of these capabilities in one location. In this section, we’ll look at the Sales Hub and its valuable tools that save time for your sales team to return to doing what they do best. Afterward, we’ll consider some of the many tools and benefits of using the HubSpot Sales Hub, not only as a salesperson but as someone managing a sales team.
INBOUND VS. OUTBOUND
Inbound and outbound marketing methods approach lead generation and sales in very different ways. Both types can successfully generate leads, though most prospects are more appreciative of inbound methods versus outbound. The difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing is that while traditional outbound marketing is focused on finding customers for your business, inbound marketing is focused on making it easy for customers to find you. Instead of continually driving home your advertising messages, inbound marketing gently pulls customers in your direction by providing helpful and relevant information that gently suggests your organization as a potential solution for the buyer.
The entire inbound marketing methodology is based on the ideology of help vs. sell. While traditional organizations relied heavily on a pushy or aggressive sales force that constantly contacts prospects, in the hopes that eventually they’ll decide to buy. After years of this, most people were almost conditioned to spot these calls or emails in the wild and avoid them like the plague. Where Inbound Marketing makes a noticeable difference to your prospects, is by subtly placing helpful information for them to find on their own, which removes the abrasive sales tactics, and actually helps position you in the mind of prospects as the solution that they found. If deployed correctly, a successful inbound approach will provide a plethora of information that positions you as a subject matter expert. Once you agree to work together, then you’ll just have to worry about delighting them to ensure you produce repeat business and retain them for years to come.
HOW INBOUND WORKS
The inbound philosophy is backed by a methodology that helps brands attract, engage, and delight visitors, leads, and customers through a variety of channels. The methodology facilitates the buyer's journey through the sales funnel – from strangers to promoters of your brand. The inbound methodology can be applied in three ways:
- Attract: Inbound marketing is effective because it attracts your ideal buyers based on buyer personas. Rather than advertising to anyone and everyone, inbound marketing focuses on your relevant target audience. You can attract an audience through content deployed on social media platforms, search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, and more. This content should make your audience aware of a particular problem, and educate them on potential solutions.
- Engage: Once you’ve drawn in potential consumers, you engage them with valuable content that helps them understand your service’s value. This content should be educational or entertaining and set up to make it easy for interested parties to find answers. The content should help build long-term relationships with qualified leads by establishing trust and reliability between them and your company.
- Delight: The delighting stage is how businesses support their customers and ensure their needs are met. Checking in on your customers’ satisfaction while continuously looking for ways to improve their experience can signal your investment in their long-term happiness with your services beyond the point of sale. In doing so, you’ll see what HubSpot refers to as the flywheel effect. This is where your business can produce, service, and retain more customers that are highly supportive of your business.
There are a ton of different ways to execute inbound marketing. But if you want to get it right, you need to have a few cornerstones in place. Key examples of inbound cornerstones your company should be implementing include:
Lead Generation - building quality email lists for continual, long-term marketing by providing:
- Downloadable offers like checklists, templates, or eBooks
- Interactive content like quizzes and calculators
- Access to helpful content behind a subscribe button
- Newsletters full of informative content and tips sent monthly or bi-monthly
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - maintaining and continually adding to a website that is:
- Textually tailored for key phrases that consumers search for using the pillar content approach
- Fast to load and easy to navigate both on desktop and mobile devices
- Intuitive and informative, providing consumers with easy-to-absorb information
- Properly configured in regard to purchasing safety, consumer data privacy, and security
Social Media Marketing (SMM) - using social media platforms for:
- Organic Outreach
- Sharing third-party and user-generated content to establish trust
- Referrals with context comparable to traditional word of mouth
Blogging - short and long-form article marketing which:
- Educates consumers
- Shares helpful tips
- Answers to common questions
- Provides solutions
Video Content - videos with a clear message and branding designed to:
- Appeal to target audiences
- Be widely shared on social and messaging platforms
- Increase brand visibility and recognition
- Position you as a thought leader of subject matter expert
All of the above actions are driven by the ideology that consumers who are educated about their purchasing choices are better leads than those who are simply presented with a sales pitch. Inbound marketing activities are less costly over the long term than traditional advertising and tend to produce more ROI. Exploring inbound marketing can help you build a solid base of consumers with a high Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
When making any crucial decision – let alone a business decision – we all do a risk-benefit analysis. When it comes to inbound marketing strategies, most times in our technology-driven world, the benefits almost always outweigh the risks. Here are a few of the most common benefits:
Build Credibility and Trust
Inbound marketing will certainly reduce friction between your sales team and prospects by building credibility and trust. But how? When following the inbound marketing methodology, you will be producing consistent and relevant information that informs and helps your prospects. This helps remove a hidden barrier.
People are naturally inclined to listen to recommendations and suggestions if they come from a place of helping vs. selling. Inbound will help to soften your conversations by providing prospects with context and information to aid in your recommendations for products or services, leading to more closed sales.
If you provide your prospects with enough valuable information in your process and pricing, you’ll be surprised at how many people will self-qualify. This saves your sales team time and helps them close more deals. As buyers today, we do more and more research on our own before talking to a salesperson. When our research aligns with what a salesperson is telling us, it is a subliminal way of confirming that we’ve made the right decision on a product or service.
It doesn't matter if you are new to using an inbound approach or have been using inbound marketing for a while, make sure you use the content effectively. Taking the time to develop consistent content, whether that be blogs or premium content offers, videos, etc., is an investment of time and money. So, make sure you strategically develop those items for multiple uses. There are so many digital platforms and places where you can now share your content. Having your content on various platforms will bolster your brand's visibility, even if someone doesn’t read or consume your content.
Ease of Conversion and Softer Selling
Chances are if you are exploring an inbound effort, you likely have a product or service that requires a considered purchase. This means you sell something that is typically higher in cost or something that people will take their time before deciding. In these circumstances, the easier you can make the sales conversation and soften the sales process, the better your chances of converting that prospect to a customer. The inbound methodology of help vs. sell aims to do this exactly.
You should aim to provide your prospects with just enough information to help them make a decision. To do this, educate them on your process or product so that when it is time for a sales discussion, your sales team can come in and reaffirm what they have read, and answer any additional questions. Nine times out of ten, at this point, the prospect will be ready to make a decision, and hopefully an easy one.
AFTER INBOUND MARKETING
You've put the effort into generating some interesting content for your target personas, and now they've taken an interest in your business. Whether they downloaded a key piece of content, requested more information, or contacted you directly – congrats! You have a new lead. But are they actually ready for your sales pipeline?
Well, that depends on if the lead is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) OR a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).
What Are They?
A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a lead that your marketing team has designated as most likely to become a customer compared to other leads. This designation is typically determined by which CTAs the lead clicked on, the pages they visited, offers downloaded, interactions with social posts, etc. A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a prospective customer that is ready to talk to your sales team. Typically, this lead has expressed enough interest in your product or service, that they're ready to move into your sales process.
How Do They Differ?
MQLs and SQLs are both leads. But, they’re not the same. To go even more in-depth, here are the key differences explained:
- Behavior - MQLs have interacted with your company’s marketing efforts and are interested in finding out more about your product or service. While SQLs are leads who have expressed an intent to buy by responding to your sales team or asking for a quote.
- Timing - Generally speaking, most MQLs take longer to become customers compared to SQLs. This is because MQLs are still in the early stages of decision-making, while SQLs are ready to sign on the dotted line.
- Conversion rate - MQLs typically have a lower conversion rate than SQLs, as they are still in the process of being educated on your product or service. SQLs already know what they want, know what you can offer, and are more likely to convert into customers.
- Lead nurturing strategies - MQLs must be nurtured through the funnel with content tailored to their needs. This includes personalized emails, webinars, or blogs. SQLs need to be persuaded with decision-stage content focused on closing the deal. This could include special offers or discounts, product demos, and case studies, to name a few.
Why is Knowing the Difference Important?
To maximize the return on investment (ROI) of your sales and marketing efforts, it's crucial to differentiate between MQLs and SQLs. Properly distinguishing between MQLs and SQLs not only streamlines your sales process but also allows for more targeted and personalized communication with potential customers. By implementing a lead scoring system, your sales team can prioritize the most valuable leads and focus on cultivating meaningful relationships with them. This can lead to increased conversion rates and revenue.
Furthermore, tracking the conversion rates of MQLs to SQLs provides valuable information about the effectiveness of your inbound marketing strategy. By analyzing which channels and tactics bring in the most SQLs, you can optimize your inbound strategy and better target your ideal customers. Additionally, monitoring the performance of your sales team in closing SQLs can reveal areas for improvement in your sales process.
If you are looking to grow or improve your ability to close more leads, start thinking about ways to take advantage of inbound marketing. Inbound requires a lot of effort, but a good inbound strategy is worth its weight in gold. Using SEO best practices, compelling content, effective web design, and video, we have helped companies bring in leads, develop their brand, and build a strong rapport with clients. If you need help determining which direction you should go with your inbound strategy, our team is more than happy to help out. Give us a call or feel free to schedule some time with us, we can't wait to discuss your goals and build your business!
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