The business executives of a company should be the frontliners in marketing the company’s products and services. There’s hardly any way around it.
If you are a part of the senior leadership or management of a company, it’s crucial to learn how to navigate marketing alongside other business operations.
Digital marketing involves several skills, including content production, email marketing, affiliate and partnerships, as well as social media, analytics, setting and measuring KPIs, tracking and launching campaigns.
Once you have the background in place, you can hire someone or work with a team that can follow the successful steps and expands further. It’s an easy way to evaluate the process and see if they add any value.
Otherwise, partnering up with a consultant, hiring a co-founder, or blindly relying on someone who seems trustworthy may end up being the only option.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
As a starter, business executives should understand the concepts of “Marketing”, the “Inbound Marketing” branch itself, the business needs, and how to apply the different inbound marketing strategies for your target business.
Marketing branches into two main divisions – outbound and inbound. The “inbound marketing” term itself was coined by HubSpot a while ago in 2005. It has since become a common strategy for various B2C and B2B companies aiming for increased brand awareness, traffic, customer base, employee loyalty, among others.
There is a great guide by HubSpot discussing the details of inbound marketing and covering the breakdown of the methodology itself:
As compared to “outbound” which focuses on outreach through advertisement or in-person, “inbound” targets customers who can organically find a business and nurture the initial lead accordingly.
Roughly speaking, it’s a combination of marketing verticals, along with a new definition of a marketing funnel, mostly revolving around brand building, educational content, and non-intrusive reversed sales process.
The Key Concepts Of An Effective Inbound Marketing Strategy
You cannot start utilizing the inbound marketing strategy unless you first have a good grasp of the key concepts that make the strategy effective.
Among these key concepts are the following: the different categories of web visitors, the target output to aim for in the process, the buyer persona to identify and the key performance indicators that will help measure the success of inbound marketing.
Potential website visitors are divided into 5 main categories:
- Strangers – potential prospects who are about to become first-time visitors; not aware of the company or offered solutions.
- Visitors – website visitors who have just landed on the site or interacted just a handful of times while still exploring content and potential solutions.
- Leads – prospects who have interacted with the website through landing pages, call to action buttons and filling out forms for webinars, freebies, product demos or so. They haven’t paid anything yet but demonstrated higher engagement with the business.
- Customers – leads who have paid for a premium solution sold by the business. Those include first-timers and recurring paying clients.
- Promoters – highly engaged customers who actively participate with the business, share content, bring referrals, write about the business or generally promote it to their own circle.
Becoming a better Inbound marketer means having a deeper understanding of the business model, customer market, the target audience and existing competitors. Creating buyer personas is mandatory as it determines the type of content on the website, the language and key features outlined in landing pages, and the general “brand voice” across different channels.
While inbound marketing can incorporate a large suite of strategies, the general concept is focusing on the following key areas:
- high-quality content
- relevant free resources for visitors in different stages of the buying cycle
- targeted landing pages that convert visitors
- various engagement: email marketing, SEO, social media marketing, and interacting with visitors.
Inbound marketers can be experts in a specific field in the process, generalists, or strategists. They work on a specific set of requirements for the business together with a team of experts. Then, they focus on the final results measured through KPIs (key performance indicators).
Those KPIs may vary for each business and could bring different value depending on the actual goals and conversion rates for each channel. Examples being:
- Website traffic
- Increased exposure and leads from different channels (social, organic, direct, referral)
- Number of social shares and interactions
- Conversion rates for landing pages and forms
- Email subscribers
- Marketing or Sales qualified leads
- SEO rankings
- The retention rate for subscription businesses
There are hundreds of KPIs that may matter for a business across different channels whereas the main goal is usually related to direct sales and exposure.
How The Inbound Marketing Methodology Works
Let’s illustrate further how Inbound Marketing methodology can be beneficial, especially in B2B sales prospecting.
While the sales cycle of an organization may differ, this is a standard flow of a successful business building its own brand.
- You start with strangers that notice your service (online, at an event, through an ad).
- Some of those visitors may be interested to learn more about it – by signing up for a newsletter, receiving some promotional or educational material, or scheduling a call/meeting with a rep.
- A portion of those intrigued users may turn into customers by signing up for a service or accepting a customized offer.
- Satisfied customers may be happy with the service and become promoters – by sharing relevant business news on social media, including mentions in their presentations, or even linking back to the service in their own digital and print resources.
As a result, a great technical product won’t spark interest without the right management, sales, and of course, marketing planning and implementation.
How To Become A Better Inbound Marketer (Actionable Tips)
Great inbound marketers understand the whole methodology. They work closely with other inbound marketers and the management toward a successful long-term strategy.
These require refining the existing process, setting down expectations, producing outstanding content, optimizing conversion rates, increasing customer satisfaction and generally facilitating the growth of the business.
Mastering the utilization of inbound marketing does not come easy for all business executives. But since marketing is among the key activities of every business in any industry, it’s important for these business executives to understand inbound marketing and hone their know-how on utilizing it for the business.
Here are actionable steps business executives must take to be a better inbound marketer.
1. Read and Learn
Browse online for the top marketers or marketing tools writing about the field. Identify some blogs and magazines worth subscribing to. Follow some content marketers profiling in online guides.
You can enroll in a marketing course as well. There aren’t tons of great ones out there, an easy way in is HubSpot’s inbound training. You can check some videos on Udemy or marketers building educational content on YouTube.
Assuming that you know nothing, digesting large volumes of information for a few weeks/a couple of months would help you intercept some patterns and get a broader overview of the subject. You can specialize and profile later.
There are marketing communities online discussing all things marketing. Podcasts are available as well. Just dig around and add some sources to your RSS reader, podcast app, or a Twitter list.
2. Explore Different Marketing Channels
Channel your knowledge into content pieces that are well-structured and valuable to your prospects. Consider setting up a website for your personal brand so you can explore different marketing channels freely. Start producing some quality content. Set up social media accounts and connect with other business executives. Create a few educational videos and post them on YouTube. Promote your website on social media or community websites (without being spammy).
Consider investing a bit in PPC. No need to put a fortune in, Facebook even launched some low-end plan at $35/mo.
But digging into data, creating content and tracking patterns would help you identify areas that need improvement and make you more equipped.
3. Work Closely With Your Marketing Team
Figure out a way to work closely with your marketing team on different projects. It could be marketing-related activities for their clients, internal marketing tools and integrations, landing page builders or anything along the lines. If your organization is small, your role can be very valuable.
You can connect with the marketers from your team and let them know that you’re willing to help.
4. Find A Freelance Client In Need Of Marketing
As long as your contract allows it, look for freelance opportunities by marketing clients. If you’re not in for the money, you can look for something closer to a “partnership” opportunity where you look after your part of the business.
This would be a long journey whereas you’ll have to integrate different marketing tools, build landing pages, create crawlers or aggregators, or anything else within the marketing field. It could be a learning process that leads to actionable results at the end.
How We Rely On Inbound Marketing
I am a great proponent of inbound marketing. In fact, approximately 90% of our business in DevriX is entirely driven by our content marketing.
And I love this for two specific reasons:
1) I don’t like traditional sales. Sales should be a supporting role for buyers and buyers are far more educated and better-informed upfront nowadays.
2) I love transparency. I see no reason in wasting time explaining our processes and pricing when we can publish them on our site.
We rely on inbound marketing by incorporating content marketing, email marketing, building landing pages, SEO, conversion rate optimization and the like.
In our aim to continue improving our ranking, we constantly publish a lot of content in our blog and create landing pages for our services. Several of our “WordPress SaaS” variations rank around the 5th place. That is because our landing page showcases a conference video of my previous talk about building a SaaS business and a portfolio of our SaaS projects, along with a breakdown of the development process we follow when working with the different SaaS providers.
We tailor our marketing approach to our target audience. Our target audience includes entrepreneurs, startups, and companies who want to join the competitive SaaS space for which they need to work with a credible and experienced vendor.
Clients are expected to do their due diligence before committing their business into partnerships. This is why make sure to cover all areas by investing in our online presence, maintaining our social media accounts, accepting guest submissions and cross-promoting our services.
These clients want to know more about what we do, our team, and our stability. By being constantly active online, we solidify our reputation.
Growing Your Inbound Traffic
Inbound marketing itself won’t magically lead users to your website.
But the core inbound marketing methodology revolves around tangible factors that naturally grow your traffic such as:
- Various forms of content, from blog posts through articles and tutorials to case studies
- Search engine optimization hacks for better ranking in Google or Bing
- Engaging social media techniques around your quality content
- Smart and really engaging landing pages (along with their CTAs and forms)
- Email marketing and pre-designed workflows
If you produce quality content and distribute it to the channels where your prospects stick around, your traffic will grow steadily.
If you maintain valuable social media accounts, followers will follow through.
Now, if you also maintain an email list with actionable content, this would strengthen your content strategy. This would also boost your traffic as far as your list grows.
Inbound vs. Outbound: Our Take
Some time ago, Colin and I met and discussed the pros and cons of inbound and outbound marketing. We discussed what’s all the fuzz about both, which technique do we bet on.
We review a sample scenario with a fixed budget and what we would normally do based on our expertise.
Check out Building an Effective Marketing Strategy (Inbound vs. Outbound) to know more about inbound marketing vis a vis outbound marketing.