Jen Spencer is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for SmartBug Media, a leading growth marketing agency in inbound marketing, digital strategy, design, marketing automation, and PR, that assists businesses in generating leads, increasing awareness, and building brand loyalty. For more information or to contact Jen directly you can send her an email or give her a call at (949) 236-6448.
Inbound marketing is about buyers and buyer behavior. The power in the sales process has shifted from being with the salesperson to being with the buyer.
The concept of inbound marketing is that you first identify who your ideal customer is and then put content out there and promote it in places where your ideal customer is listening. This is intended to drive people back to your website and convert them to leads.
This isn’t just a numbers game nor about simply creating more content. Because there’s so much content out there right now, buyers are starting to gloss over much of the sub-par content that people are promoting.
It’s best to use data oriented strategies in your execution. It’s important to do thorough psychological research for your buyer personas, then use that content in not only the way you approach your content creation but content but also things like your website, PR and sales enablement.
Inbound marketing can work as well for B2C as it does for B2B. If your buyer buys online or looks for information to education themselves online then inbound makes sense. It matters more about how your buyer makes their buying decision.
The customer journey starts with creating your buyer personas. These are semi-fictional representations of your buyer. SmartBug interviews 3-5 different individual that are purchasing a product so they can understand how they think and operate and to find out what’s important to them.
When you’re starting a company you always have a ton of ideas. It’s important to prioritize these ideas to determine if they’re inline with your buyer personas and what kind of impact they will have. Then, identify the pain this person has and how you can help them. You need provide value before they’re willing to get to know you or give you their credit card.
When you’re putting together a buyer persona the types of things you want to know about are their your consumer’s responsibilities, how they are evaluated, what’s going to cause them to look for some kind of a solution, and how will they measure success.
You should ask these questions of people that are actually your customers or your potential customers so you don’t introduce your own bias about what’s important. You should also figure out what objections or challenges they have that would keep them from investing in your product. Why would they not choose you and what’s potentially at risk for them. You should also know what role that individual plays in the decision.
The best way to move someone through the sales process is to focus on what they’re interested in. sending people information about content and services they’re not interested in will only make the buyer feel like you don’t care about them
Some of the key benefits you get from a marketing automation platform is it should both meet the needs you have today and also be able to grow with your business. Your technology should give you a window into buyer behavior and should also be easy to use.
You have to make an investment in more complicated technology if what you’re offering is more also complex. If you have a simple offering or a single buyer persona then you may not need a more sophisticated tool.
Some of the differences between simple email marketing and a marketing automation tool are the ability to nurture individuals as well as setting up automated campaigns that will drip the right content to the right people at the right time. It should also be able to turn that content on or off depending on their behavior.
Buyers today expect that you know everything about them. When they receive a communication that is out of line or jarring they’re going to think you don’t care.
The other thing you should be doing with your inbound marketing platform is social listening.
A marketing qualified lead (MQL) has completed some kind of a form on your website that is not a decision stage form. They’ve shown interest in learning more. A sales qualified lead (SQL) is similar to an MQL but they have completed some kind of decision stage form on my website (i.e. requesting a demo or requesting to talk to sales).
A marketing qualified lead is someone you’re willing to spend more money on to nurture and should have a higher probability of becoming a sales qualified lead and eventually an opportunity in your sales pipeline.
The buyer’s journey is when someone goes through the stages of awareness, consideration and decision. The awareness stage is when a buyer has some kind of a pain but they may not even know the pain exists. Bringing someone into the awareness stage is showing them that the pain does exist and their pain can be solved in some way.
The consideration phase means that a buyer has recognized they have a pain and are considering doing something to alleviate that pain.
In the decision stage, they’re now deciding what kind of solution they will use to solve their pain.
For companies that are trying to solve a brand new problem and are creating a new category of offering, inbound marketing is a great way to solve the problem of moving people into the awareness phase.
PR is a great addition to your inbound methodology because publishing content on other popular sites or podcasts will help you bring visitors back to your site. This is a good reason to ask your personas what places they read content or listen to podcasts because you can work on getting content placed in on those sites.
When you’re looking for a vendor to do inbound marketing you really need to look for someone who will be a true partner. Then have an honest conversation with them about how they’re going to work with you. Will they be helping with strategy and expecting you to build the content? Vice versa? Or will they do it all?
If an agency has a large intern program this could be a red flag that inexperienced employees are working on your project. Also find out who you’re going to be working with on a daily basis. Will that person be a marketing strategist or an account manager. An account manager is in charge of selling you more services and being a barrier to the people actually doing the work.
Results could be based on an increase in web traffic, leads, revenue goals will happen as a result of a slow and steady process. Results should begin to happen in 3-6 months and it should compound over time.
Before starting an inbound campaign, you need to assess your website to make sure it will convert visitors. The last thing you want is to spend time and energy sending people to your website and not having a place for them to convert.
An industry best practice would be to write 2 blog posts per week that are targeted to your key words.
Some of the biggest mistakes people make is either not setting goals or setting unrealistic goals. Once your goals are set then you can figure out the best path to success is. Taking the time to map that out and do your homework up front is one of the biggest keys to ensure success.
In regards to writing content, we all have the same amount of time but many don’t prioritize that activity. Block it out in your day to jot down your thoughts. Almost anyone can dedicate an hour to building your business.
Remember that when you think to yourself that you or your business are so special, that’s the same thing that every other person on the planet is thinking. A good author can interview your subject matter experts and create content that is suitable for your audience.