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You’ve heard the term before, but do you know what exactly inbound marketing entails?

Inbound marketing is the process of attracting prospects online via compelling and relevant content, and providing value at all stages of the customer’s buying journey. When you create and share content your target audience is already interested in, you’re able to educate, engage, and enlighten prospects.

With inbound marketing, customers come to you when they’re ready to buy. It’s about pulling people to your brand instead of intruding on people’s lives with aggressive outbound tactics. It helps you attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers.

“Instead of interrupting, work on attracting.” — Dharmesh Shah

Inbound marketing allows you to sell to prospects in the way they want to buy, making it the most effective strategy today.

“Companies that don’t adapt to the new way customers buy and don’t invest in inbound marketing and sales enablement now, will not exist in the next 5-10 years.” — Matthew Cook

38% of salespeople say getting a response from prospects is getting harder.

Inbound leads cost 60% less than outbound leads.

72% of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic.

80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in articles versus advertisements.

B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t.

Online buyers go through about 57% of the buying cycle on their own without talking to salespeople.

1. What Is Inbound Marketing?

To gain a better understanding of inbound marketing, let’s first look at what it isn’t.

Inbound and outbound marketing involve massively different strategies—here’s a comparison of the two to get a better picture of what each strategy involves.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is a traditional marketing strategy where companies advertise to prospective buyers through channels including magazines, newspapers, television, and radio.

Outbound marketing tactics include cold calling, door-to-door sales, billboard ads, printed ads, and broadcast commercials. Today, these strategies are deemed intrusive and often aggressive. Companies force their brands on consumers who may not be interested in what they sell.

Plus there’s no real way to track how outbound ads are affecting consumer behaviours. You can’t know how many people your TV ads reached, who actually paid attention, and how it impacted your sales.

Not only is outbound marketing less effective than inbound marketing—it also costs more. TV ads are the most expensive but have minimal impact on your business’s sales.

Inbound Marketing

Whereas outbound marketing is designed to interrupt people’s lives, inbound marketing aims to pull in interested consumers. It doesn’t require you to fight for your audience’s attention. Rather, it’s a reliable, intelligent, and cost-effective method.

Put simply, it’s about attracting instead of chasing customers. It involves building online awareness, social trust, and credibility.

“Don’t interrupt what your buyers want to consume – BE what they want to consume.” ― Mike Volpe, CMO, HubSpot

Rather than pushing your product or service onto potential buyers, you engage your audience with high-quality and relevant content. Through content marketing, your company teaches and solves consumer problems and earns buyer trust.

“Content build relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” — Andrew Davis

As Marcus Sheridan states in They Ask, You Answer, inbound marketing comes down to answering people’s questions. Today’s consumers want instant answers to their questions. They want to obtain information quickly when they need it with minimal effort. Thus, when you make it easy for people to get the resources they need, they’ll come to trust you.

“The old ways aren’t coming back.” — Marcus Sheridan

The goal of inbound marketing is to direct qualified leads through a sales funnel that creates brand awareness. By creating and sharing content that appeals to your target customers, you’re able to attract qualified leads to your company.

With inbound marketing, strong customer relationships are key. It’s all about engagement and connection—this is what will help you create sustainable brand loyalty.  

“If marketers aren’t creating quality content that is, above all, useful, the effectiveness of their inbound efforts will be curtailed. Content is the soil in which inbound success is grown.” — Jay Baer

Where Did the Term Come From?

The term inbound marketing was coined by HubSpot CEO and co-founder Brian Halligan. He defines it as “an approach to attract customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful—not interruptive.”

The 4 Stages of Inbound Marketing

This proven methodology helps business owners grow their brands and get high-quality customers.

1. Attract the Right Leads

Who are your ideal customers? The first step of inbound marketing is answering this question. You need to know your buyer personas—the people who are most likely to buy from your company.

“Everyone is not your customer.” — Seth Godin

This step is crucial to ensure you get the right traffic to your website. Then, target that specific audience with blogging, SEO, and social media.

2. Convert Visitors into Leads

Now that you’ve attracted the right visitors, it’s time to convert them into leads. This step involves offering relevant, useful content in exchange for a visitor’s contact information.

The tools needed for this step include CTAs, forms, and landing pages. To become leads, your visitors can click on a CTA that will bring them to a form on a landing page where they submit their information.

You should chat with visitors, make it easy for prospects to book meetings with you, and always connect them to the right people. To keep track of all the leads you’re converting, use a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. When all your data is in one place, the process becomes a lot easier.

3. Close the Deal

This is where you turn leads into paying customers. Nurture your leads according to their interests and lifecycle stage through tailored email messaging until they’re ready to buy.

Predictive lead scoring is a great way to ensure your sales team is prioritizing the most qualified leads.

4. Delight Your Customers

The inbound process doesn’t end when you close the deal. You want to ensure you keep long-term, loyal customers. Delight your customers so they stay with you, buy more, and turn into promoters of your business by referring their friends.

2. Why Your Business Needs Inbound Marketing

Think inbound marketing is great in theory but not something your business needs?

Think again. Here’s why businesses of all shapes and sizes—yours included—need inbound marketing to stay competitive.

The Buying Landscape Has Changed

Outbound marketing wasn’t always called “outbound marketing”—it was just called advertising. With the rise of big businesses in America’s Gilded Age, TV, radio, and printed ads became more popular. Consumer capitalism began to dominate the world.

Fast forward to the modern era and the birth of the internet—evolving technology rendered these old-school strategies ineffective. The internet has dramatically shifted consumer behaviours and changed the buyer’s journey. Simply put, the way people buy has changed.

"People shop and learn in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago, so marketers need to adapt or risk extinction." Brian Halligan, CEO & Co-Founder, HubSpot

Consumers spend more time searching for commercial-free content online than passively absorbing media like TV and radio. We’re tired of telemarketers and interruptions. Instead, we’re spending more time online researching brands, products, and services to make better purchasing decisions.

Search now plays a big role in how people are making buying decisions. In fact, before any lead comes to you, almost 60% of their buying decision has already been made. They come to you only after conducting independent research through search engines, social media sites, online communities, blogs, and company websites.

“Adapt to your customer’s needs. They expect it.” — Scott Abel

Think about the last time you were actually inspired to buy something when you drove by a billboard. When you put your consumer hat on, it’s easy to understand why inbound marketing is so effective.

If consumers are changing the way they shop, it only makes sense that businesses have to adapt. Companies that don’t embrace change and the advent of technology risk becoming irrelevant.

 

Case in point: Blockbuster and Netflix. Blockbuster didn’t adapt its business plan when it should have, while Netflix transitioned its model from DVD shipments to online streaming in 2007. The company is now worth more than GE and Ford—and we know what happened to Blockbuster.

Better Lead Generation

Consumers don’t want to be sold to. After all, they’re now in charge of the buying process—not your salespeople. Consumers want to be listened to and educated. And that’s exactly how you can care for your prospects with inbound marketing techniques.

Sales and marketing alignment is crucial for a successful inbound marketing strategy. By developing valuable and relevant content, marketers attract prospects that are truly interested in your company’s products or services. The marketing team nurtures leads through each stage of the process and delivers them to the sales team at the exact right time.

“Prospects will see your company as a trusted voice in the industry and come to you without question when they’re ready to buy.”

They build the much-needed trust, credibility, and authority to warm up leads for the sales team. Prospects will see your company as a trusted voice in the industry and come to you without question when they’re ready to buy.

What’s great about inbound marketing is that it takes the guesswork out of knowing when a prospect is ready to buy. When the sales reps have more high-quality leads, they’ll be able to close more sales and boost revenue. Everyone’s happy!

Build Brand Awareness

Building brand awareness is vital for any small or medium-sized business. A strong brand helps you be seen and heard in your industry, and stay ahead of your competitors.

By creating and sharing educational resources like e-books and how-to guides, you have the opportunity to be a thought leader in your industry. Staying relevant in this way will dramatically improve your sales.

Capture Data and Measure Results

By providing free resources to visitors in exchange for their contact information, you can gather a long list of leads to follow up with. By capturing the right data from your leads, you’ll avoid wasting time and you’ll be able to send more relevant content their way.

Your business also needs inbound marketing to measure your efforts. How else will you know what’s working? You can measure the effects of your strategies by analyzing website visits and what people download, click on, comment on, and more.

By getting real-time alerts about the type of content your prospects are engaging with and what actions they’ve taken on your site, you’ll learn more about their pain points and interests. You can analyze patterns and trends to see where your conversion rate is lacking and what could be improved.

matt-cook-quote

3. How to Create an Effective Inbound Marketing Campaign

What constitutes a good marketing campaign? And how do you begin the process?

First, let’s consider some characteristics of a successful campaign:

Educational and Helpful

The content you create should always answer your prospects’ questions or address their needs and concerns. The better you know your ideal customer, the more useful and relevant your content will be.

Focus on creating how-to blog posts and step-by-step videos, for example. You shouldn’t be using your blog to sell to people. Rather, the purpose of your inbound marketing campaign should be to develop relationships with your prospects before you sell them on your company.

“The better you know your ideal customer, the more useful and relevant your content will be.”

Timely and Customized

Inbound marketing is all about creating the right content for the right people at the right time. How can you achieve this?

Again, you need to understand who your audience is. Tailor your content to their wants and challenges and deliver it exactly when they need the information.

Consistent Language and Message

Consistency is key in your marketing campaign. Your messaging needs to stay the same across all your marketing efforts. Prospects will form an impression of your company through your website, blog posts, social media posts, and resources. To make a good first impression, getting the content right is crucial.

Create content that doesn’t contradict itself to help your prospects understand your brand and to build trust. The more your prospects come to trust you, the more likely they are to become customers and evangelists of your brand.

“Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like.” — Brian Chesky

How to Develop a Stellar Marketing Offer

Keeping these characteristics in mind, here are some components of a successful marketing campaign:

Components of an inbound marketing campaign

Focus on the Right Stage

The buyer’s journey is the process buyers go through to purchase a new product or service. To capture your audience’s attention, you need to create content appropriate for each stage of this journey.

Awareness

The prospect realizes they have a problem. Content that will deliver value at this stage includes blog posts, e-books, videos, and other educational content.

Consideration

The prospect identifies their problem and researches potential solutions. This is arguably the most important part of the buyer’s journey since it’s where prospects start eliminating solutions. For this stage, create content that shows you’re an industry expert through guides, webinars, and e-books. Demonstrate how your products or services stand out from the competition.

Purchase

The prospect makes a purchase decision. Effective content for this stage includes case studies, trial offers, and demos.

Recruit a Team of Content Creators

You’ve heard it before—content is king. To create an effective inbound marketing campaign, you need a team of skilled content creators. One option is to use people inside your organization. Your coworkers can contribute by writing e-books themselves, or content specialists can interview them and share their expertise.

 “Without strategy, content is just stuff, and the world has enough stuff.” — Arjun Basu

You can also look outside your own company for help creating content. New online content marketplaces are springing up to connect marketers with legions of freelance writers and editors who will take on blog posts, e-books, and other writing jobs for you.

You can specify the topic, your desired style and tone, and your intended audience. You probably won’t have to pay unless you accept the finished article. You can find external writers using Zerys or the WriterAccess—apps available in the HubSpot marketplace for HubSpot customers.

Repurpose Content

Make the most of your marketing campaign by repurposing your content. When you focus on upcycling, you’re converting existing content into multiple formats to add value and extend your reach.

The key to upcycling content is to take something old and make something new that is equally or more valuable. Whether it’s a new format, platform, medium, or audience, the new content should be able to stand alone. It cannot depreciate in value. Upcycling content is great for SEO and it respects different people’s learning styles.

“Make the most of your marketing campaign by repurposing your content.”

Place the Offer on Your Website

To start generating new leads from your content offer, create a unique landing page for that offer. This is where visitors will fill out a form with their contact information to receive the offer and become leads.

Landing pages are critical to the conversion process. Once you get a lead’s contact information, you can begin nurturing them.

Lead Generation Visualization from HubSpot

Lead generation visualization

How to Make Effective Landing Pages

Here are the key components that make a landing page effective:

Headline

Ensure your headline makes your offer immediately clear. Landing pages are meant to entice a specific action—let the visitor clearly know what you want them to do. Don’t leave the viewer wondering if they’re in the right place.

The Image

Use a visual representation to quickly communicate your offer. No one wants to read a giant block of text online. Images ensure your landing pages aren’t cluttered, capture your audience’s attention, and help your main points stand out.

The Body of the Page

Your landing page should cover all the necessary information without being too long or cluttered. Otherwise, you’ll drive visitors away.

Include a brief description of your offer and why your visitors should download it. Use bolded text and bullet points to clearly convey the value and benefits.

The Form

The form

The ultimate goal of your landing page is to get visitors to fill out the form. Either avoid having a fold or ensure the form appears above the fold so the viewer doesn’t have to scroll down to see it.

Keep the form short. Asking too many questions will make your visitors wonder if they really want to put time and effort filling out the form to get your offer. The shorter the form, the more likely people will be willing to fill it out.

That being said, higher quality leads will be more likely to provide more information about themselves and what they’re looking for. Thus, longer forms will result in fewer but higher quality leads. Find the balance between collecting enough information to contact and qualify the leads and not asking for too much.

Calls-to-Action

Your landing page should focus on one single offer and include a succinct call-to-action. Avoid being vague—make it clear exactly what action you want your web visitors to take. Use powerful conversion words to increase your conversions.

Sample Landing Page

Sample landing page

Build Workflows

What Is a Workflow?

A workflow is a series of automated emails or other communications you can send out based on a person’s behaviours or contact information. As a powerful marketing tool, workflows allow you to segment leads and convert more leads into customers. Using workflows to nurture your leads also saves your sales team time.

Here are some of the many benefits of using workflows:

Get the Timing Right

You don’t want to rely on your memory to nurture leads and push them down the sales funnel. Instead, you should set up workflows to automatically send out emails whenever you want. Set them accordingly as new leads come in. Customize your messaging to leads who are more ready to buy, and send them emails when they’ll be most responsive.

Segmentation

Breaking your contact database into smaller segments allows you to increase engagement and move your leads farther down the funnel. Segmented emails perform better than mass communications. In fact, segmented emails get twice as many clicks as non-segmented emails. Segmentation allows you to divide your leads according to any criteria you want, like your lead’s stage in the buyer’s journey.

Remember to always offer value first. Focus on delivering educational content like videos and blog posts rather than pushing for a sale.

Software Highlight

HubSpot allows you to create smart lists—workflows that can be triggered when one of your contacts becomes part of a segment. Smart lists automatically update themselves, adding new contacts to the lists you created based on the criteria you set.

Not Getting What You Want ut of HubSpot? Partner with an Inbound Agency

Examples of Workflows

Wondering what your workflows should look like? Here are some examples that can help you with lead scoring and moving prospects down the sales funnel:

Workflow for generating a custom lead score Workflow for generating sales

 

Marketing to Your Existing Contacts

How will you notify your existing contacts about your new marketing offer?

Your email list should be one of the most powerful contact databases you have access to. So how would you go about making this announcement to your email list?

Dedicated Email Send

Use your email list to let your current contacts know about your newly released offer. While you might want to reach out to your entire email database in some cases, it’s generally a good idea to segment based on who your new offer best applies to.

Tips for Your Email Sends

Feature One Call-to-Action

Make one call-to-action the focus of your email to see better results.

Personalize Emails

Increase your open and clickthrough rates by showing your prospects that you know them. When it comes to personalization, stick to the basics like recipient names and company names.

Design Mobile Experiences

Most people check email on their phones today, making mobile optimization a necessity. Keep the messaging brief and ensure the layout displays well on mobile devices.

Make Your Emails Social & SEO Friendly

Emails can play an important role in your SEO optimization. To make your email marketing SEO friendly, include inbound links, create a web-only version of your emails, and repurpose newsletters into blogs.

Make sure you also integrate social sharing buttons in your emails to increase engagement.

Clone & Reuse

Create and save email templates that you can reuse in the future. This will save you time when you’re following up with someone you recently met, reminding prospects about an upcoming meeting, reaching out to current customers, and more.

Measure Performance Fast

Having one call-to-action in your emails makes it easier to track progress and measure success. To check your email performance, check the clickthrough rate, bounce rate, forwarding rate, landing page views and conversions, and more.

Promote Your Offer through Blogging and Social

Leveraging your blog and social media channels is a great way to drive traffic to your landing page.

How Social Media Can Propel Business Growth

How to Use Your Blog in the Campaign

Feature a Compelling Image

Include a high-quality image that tells readers what the blog post is about.

Write an Eye-Catching Title

The right title will capture the reader’s attention and entice them to read your post.

Format

Take excerpts from your content offer and feature it as a blog post. Don’t forget to include a call-to-action to the marketing offer you want to promote.

Use subheadings throughout the blog to break up the text. This will make your content more engaging and allow your reader to scroll through the blog.

Social Media Sharing

Include social sharing buttons on every blog post. Doing so will encourage readers to share your content and expand its reach.

How to Use Social in the Campaign

Plan the Timing of Your Promotion

Don’t spam your audience with your new content offer. Instead, control where and how often you share your content.

Decide on Your Networks

Look at your marketing analytics to choose which social networks you’ll use to share your new offer. You want to pick the networks your target buyers are using to get the best results.

Remember, different social networks work better at promoting different types of content. Visual content works best on Pinterest and Instagram, while simple copy works better for Twitter and LinkedIn.

Use a Hashtag

Consider using a hashtag when promoting your content offer. Integrate relevant hashtags into your marketing campaign to see the best results and streamline discussions around your content offer.

Measure Every Element of Your Campaign

After you’ve created and shared a content offer, your work is far from done. You need to revisit every aspect of your campaign and evaluate how well it performed both individually and as a whole.

“All the data you collect won’t make much sense until you analyze it.”

There are many metrics you should look at to evaluate your campaign, including:

Landing Page Analytics

  • Views
  • Submissions
  • Conversion Rate
  • New Leads
  • New Customers

Calls-to-Action Analytics

  • View-to-Click Rate
  • Click-to-Submission Rate

Workflow and Email Analytics

  • Clickthrough Rate
  • Unsubscribe Rate

Blog Post Analytics

  • Page Views
  • Inbound Links
  • Call-to-Action CTR

Social Media Analytics

  • Clickthrough Rate
  • Shares

Remember, though, that all the data you collect won’t make much sense until you analyze it. Analyze your data to identify what’s working and what needs to be improved in your marketing campaign. You’ll find out what your audience responds to and learn how to refine your future campaigns.

“SEO is not something you do anymore. It’s what happens when you do everything else right.” — Chad Pollitt

4. When Does It Make Sense to Invest in Inbound Marketing?

You know the benefits of inbound marketing and how it can transform your business. But is now the right time for you to invest in this methodology?

Before you invest in inbound marketing, take the time to consider what you’re hoping to achieve.

The main purpose of your inbound marketing program should be to generate greater awareness and engagement with your target audience. You also want to stand apart from your competition by developing your thought leadership. Finally, an effective inbound marketing program should generate more sales-qualified leads (SQLs) for your company and increase lead velocity.

“The main purpose of your inbound marketing program should be to generate greater awareness and engagement with your target audience.”

That being said, here are the top signs it’s time to invest in inbound marketing:

Your Outbound Initiatives Aren’t Working

Cold calling. Print advertisements. TV commercials. If none of your outbound initiatives are generating leads, it’s probably time to embrace inbound marketing.

Since more and more people are turning to the internet for answers, your outbound marketing results are probably declining. While it’s possible that some of your buyer personas are still better reached with outbound techniques, completely neglecting inbound would be a mistake. You can do a mix of both inbound and outbound marketing to target all your ideal customers.

You’re Not Sure Where Your Marketing Investment Is Going

If you’re still only using outbound tactics, you likely have no way of knowing how your marketing efforts are going. You simply don’t have a way of measuring your efforts to calculate the ROI.

“With inbound marketing, all your decisions will be based on evidence.”

Inbound, on the other hand, is completely measurable. You’ll be able to find out what’s working and what areas need improvement. You’ll also be able to test different tactics and tailor your strategy accordingly. With inbound marketing, all your decisions will be based on evidence.

Your Ideal Buyers Are Online

If your ideal buyers are online and using search engines, forums, email, and social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook, then you can (and should!) attract your target audience with inbound marketing.

In fact, 57% of the B2B buyer’s journey is now carried out online. Conduct buyer persona research to determine what to publish on what platforms in order to generate the most leads.

You Don’t Have a Strong Online Presence

You know your potential buyers are looking for solutions and educating themselves through search engines. If your company doesn’t produce relevant content that answers their questions or helps solve their problems, your prospects will simply get this information from your competitors.

You need a strong online presence to attract leads to your website. Blogs and social media posts are good ways to do so. Then close the deal through emails, workflows, and sales enablement.

Having a clear, detailed website also informs your customers about all the products and services you offer.

You’re Selling Products or Services at a High Price

Inbound marketing is especially effective for companies with a longer sales cycle. Products or services at a higher price generally require more research on the buyer’s part.

Because your prospects will be asking more questions, they’ll especially value relevant content. If your business is the one creating this content, you’ll stay top of mind when the prospect is ready to buy.

You’re Not Attracting the Right Audience

If you’re not getting high-quality leads, or if not enough leads are becoming customers, it’s time to invest in inbound marketing.

“Inbound will not only help you attract a bigger audience, but also the right audience for your business.”

A low customer conversion rate signals your prospects aren’t yet ready to buy. You have to warm them up first. If you’re not nurturing your leads at all or if you don’t have a strategy in place, inbound marketing can help. Inbound will not only help you attract a bigger audience, but also the right audience for your business.

5. Who Can Help You Get Started with Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a proven method that can help you attract your ideal customers and win their business. But there are different ways to go about getting started.

If you manage inbound marketing in-house, you maintain full control of your efforts. You’ll need employees with the right skills and expertise, which will likely involve hiring new people.

The diverse skills your company needs to succeed with inbound marketing include:

  • Marketing
  • Writing
  • Web design and development
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media
  • Data analytics
  • And more

Besides human capital, you also need the time and technology to take care of all inbound tasks. With everything involved, managing inbound marketing in-house will be extremely costly.

Many companies are realizing they need help with inbound marketing. But who exactly can help you get the results you’re looking for? An inbound marketing agency.

What’s an Inbound Marketing Agency?

It’s an agency that works with you to successfully implement inbound marketing and sales strategies. They help you develop a customized strategy and take care of all inbound marketing tasks for you. They create and distribute content, manage your social media accounts, build and design your website, manage SEO, and more.

Here are the benefits of partnering with an inbound agency to reach your marketing goals:

Gain Access to Expertise

Inbound marketing agencies evidently know all the ins and outs of inbound. They’ll know exactly how to make your goals a reality by implementing leading strategies and using advanced technology. As industry experts, they’ll know all the best practices and mistakes to avoid in order to maximize ROI.

In developing your marketing strategy, they’ll suggest fresh ideas and bring up concerns you probably wouldn’t consider on your own.

When you partner with a firm, you’ll gain access to a team of content writers, social media professionals, and web design experts. Their diverse education and experience in business strategy, inbound marketing, social media, and more will add tremendous value to your company. Projects won’t fall by the wayside, and day-to-day tasks will always be completed on time.

Measure Your Efforts

Work with an inbound agency and you’ll never have to wonder if your efforts are paying off. The right agency will ensure you see measurable results sooner than you could on your own.

You won’t be spending your budget blindly. Rather, you’ll be tracking and measuring all your efforts. The marketing automation software your agency uses will give you a high-level view of all your activities. You’ll always know what’s working and where you went wrong so you can improve.

An agency will help you set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) marketing goals and develop a strategy to reach them. This prevents you from becoming overwhelmed by marketing data and allows you to prioritize the right metrics.

Some key metrics to track include:

  • Conversion rate
  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Bounce rate
  • Amount of content shared

A Cost-Effective Solution

When you handle inbound marketing on your own, you need to hire the right people and invest in the right technology. Paying a team to handle marketing in-house is expensive—costs will quickly add up.

While partnering with a firm requires an upfront cost, it’s an investment that will pay off. Hiring an inbound marketing firm allows you to avoid the overhead costs of salaried employees like benefits, vacation pay, training, and more. Plus, you won’t need to spend money on implementing new technology and training your staff on it.

You’ll pay an inbound marketing firm a flat fee, which will help you stay within your marketing budget.

Stay Ahead of Marketing Trends

Your employees are already busy with their current roles. Asking them to stay aware of inbound marketing trends on top of their everyday tasks will take precious time away from their jobs and add undue stress.  

“Since the marketing landscape is always changing, staying vigilant in this industry is crucial.”

Marketing agencies, however, are always up to date on the latest trends and tools. It’s their job to stay ahead of the social media, SEO, content marketing, and technology trends. Since the marketing landscape is always changing, staying vigilant in this industry is crucial.

Use the Right Tools

It seems like there’s an infinite number of tools out there that promise to boost productivity and generate more leads. How do you know which ones will work best for your business? What tools and apps will truly help you?

An inbound marketing agency will know about all the latest tools and techniques, including which ones to ignore. It’s their job to ensure you manage inbound marketing in the most effective way possible. Thus, they’ll only use the best tools available.

How to Ensure Your Company's Success in the Future and Beyond

6. How Can You Calculate the ROI of Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is all about measurable results. Having a hunch that things are working is not enough. You need hard facts and data to prove the effectiveness of your inbound marketing efforts.

While it’s not easy to do so, you need to be able to predict your inbound marketing ROI. If marketers can’t measure the ROI of inbound marketing, they’ll have a hard time getting their budget approved by management. It’s a marketer’s job to help salespeople achieve their targets. And part of that job requires proving the return on investment in dollars.

“You need hard facts and data to prove the effectiveness of your inbound marketing efforts.”

When you’re calculating the ROI of inbound marketing, you’re measuring how much you gain versus how much you spent. But with everything that goes into inbound marketing, how exactly can you calculate the ROI?

Set Goals

What do you want to accomplish with inbound marketing? To be able to prove that you can achieve your goals, you need to set goals to begin with. These goals should be quantitative and revenue based. Keep the SMART framework top of mind when setting and achieving your goals.

Use Analytics

With outbound marketing methods like billboard and TV ads, calculating the ROI is next to impossible. You simply have no way of measuring the results.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is a much more efficient strategy. Since inbound marketing is performed online, it comes with great analytics that can tell you almost everything you need to know about your visitors, leads, and customers.

“To avoid analysis paralysis, pinpoint the most important metrics to look at based on your goals.”

Of course, having access to all this data can be overwhelming. To avoid analysis paralysis, pinpoint the most important metrics to look at based on your goals. Some key metrics you should be measuring include the number of new leads you attract each month, the number of opportunities you identify, and the number of new paying customers.

Use Historical Data

Historical sales data will tell you how many new leads you’ll need to generate and how many new clients you’ll need to close to reach your goals. This information also tells you how much revenue you should expect from a new customer, how much it costs to acquire a new customer, the average number of new customers you’ve closed in past years, and your sales team’s close percentage.

Know Your Customer Acquisition Cost

You need to know all your sales and marketing costs to calculate your inbound marketing ROI. This includes your customer acquisition cost, which is made up of marketing spend, employee salaries, and all other expenses during a given timeframe. Once you have the total amount of costs, divide that by the total number of new customers you get over that same period of time.

Calculate Your Customer Lifetime Value

Your customer lifetime value is the total net profit your company makes from a given customer. This metric helps you determine how much money you want to spend on acquiring new customers and how much repeat business you can expect from your customers.

To calculate this value, subtract the total cost of acquiring and serving a customer from the revenue gained from this customer.

When Can You Expect Results?

Companies just getting started with inbound marketing might be frustrated that they’re not seeing results fast enough. Where are the profits they were promised?

While the ROI of inbound is much higher than that of outbound marketing, it’s crucial to remember that inbound marketing is a long-term strategy and a multi-channel endeavour. It’s not a one-off campaign. Rather, it requires your ongoing attention. It takes time to execute inbound tasks and build company trust and credibility. You simply can’t build your brand’s presence overnight.

“Inbound marketing is a long-term strategy and a multi-channel endeavour.”

Companies generally see the results they were hoping for after about six months. That’s why it’s a good idea to hold off calculating your ROI until then. The longer you work, the better results you’ll see. The wait will be worth it, as you’ll be sure to experience sustainable growth.

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7. 15 Inbound Marketing Tools You’ll Love

Effective marketing tools are crucial to promote your business and increase your sales. But with all the options available, how do you know which ones to use? Which ones are more than a passing fad and will actually satisfy your company’s needs?

While there are tons of useful marketing tools out there, we’ve put together some of the top ones today. Broken down by category, here are 15 apps and tools inbound marketing agencies swear by.

SEO

1. Moz

Moz is a top SEO tool recognized by industry experts worldwide. It makes the complex world of SEO easy to understand and helps you monitor and improve your SEO practices. You can track and monitor rankings and link building efforts, and improve your overall SEO listings.

2. Google Keyword Planner

This tool helps you get keyword group ideas, access keyword trends, view historical statistics, and more. You can reach a larger audience by finding out the exact number of searches occurring for different keywords, and tailoring your strategy accordingly.

Content Marketing

3. Hemingway Editor

This text editor helps you improve your writing and assess how readable your content is. By highlighting problematic areas, it helps you avoid common errors and lengthy, overly complex sentences. That way, your audience can truly focus on your message and not get bogged down in complex phrasing.

4. Wistia

If video isn’t already part of your content marketing strategy, it’s time for an update. As a top video-hosting platform, Wistia can help you get started. It gives you ample viewership analytics, making it a no-brainer for inbound marketers.

Social Media

5. Hootsuite

As an easy-to-use social media management tool, Hootsuite is a top pick for marketers today. You can schedule posts and quickly respond to users across all your social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn in one simple dashboard. With its many useful features, Hootsuite truly enables you to step up your social media game.

6. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a powerful tool that helps you improve your outreach and influencer marketing. It helps you find top influencers in any topic area and analyze the best content in any niche by showing you the most shared and trending content.

PPC

7. Google AdWords

Google AdWords helps you manage, monitor, and report on all your pay-per-click campaigns. Use this tool to find out what’s working, where you’re wasting money, and which pages can be improved.

Email Marketing

8. MailChimp

Email marketing isn’t going anywhere. It allows you to engage in personal and intimate interactions with your prospects and customers. MailChimp is a free email marketing tool that helps you send better emails and nurture leads.

Collaboration and File Sharing

9. Dropbox

Dropbox is one of the best file sharing programs out there. Whether it’s Word documents, presentation files, or large graphics, you can painlessly send files to your colleagues and clients.

10. Google Docs

Google Docs makes it easy to both share documents and collaborate with others. Simply upload or start a file and invite others to work on it with you.  

11. Slack

Effective communication is crucial for all inbound marketing activities. Slack makes it easy to get in touch with your colleagues and ask questions. It’s a free intuitive app that cuts down on internal emails, makes it more fun to communicate with your team, and boosts productivity.

Organization

12. Trello

Trello is a list lover’s paradise. It allows you to keep individual task lists and organize people into teams. Trello acts as a virtual bulletin board where you can assign cards and tasks to team members, see who’s working on what, and track progress.

Analytics

13. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a tool many marketers use to see how their campaigns are performing. It lets you track and measure campaign success and gives you insight into how you can improve your website.

14. Hotjar

Hotjar is a must to see how exactly your visitors are using your website. Through heat maps, Hotjar provides detailed analyses of what your site visitors look at and for how long, and what they click on. You can get detailed analytics all from one single interface.

15. HubSpot: The One-Stop Shop

HubSpot is the ultimate inbound marketing platform for marketing automation and customer relationship management. It’s the foundation you need to build out all aspects of inbound marketing, including creating, optimizing, and promoting content.

It provides all the tools you need for managing your ongoing relationships with visitors, leads, and customers. You can build lead generation funnels, automate lead nurturing, and analyze reports all in one place.

It makes sense HubSpot is the top solution—it was created by the founders of inbound marketing, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.

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8. What to Look for in an Inbound Marketing Agency

Once you’ve decided to get the help you need with inbound marketing, it’s time to find the right agency to work with. Not all agencies are created equal, so you need to do your research to find the one that best suits your needs. The right one will take the burden off your shoulders and help you see amazing results.

Here’s what you should look for in an inbound marketing agency:

Core Services

The first thing to do when researching different agencies is to find out whether they offer the services you need. Not every agency offers the same services, and you need to ensure they have the capabilities to meet your inbound goals.

Good inbound marketing agencies should offer four core services: traffic generation, lead generation, lead nurturing, and analysis and measurement. These core services are the foundation of your marketing strategy that will produce tangible results.

A good agency will also list exactly what services they provide, like website design and content creation, so you know what to expect.

“Good inbound marketing agencies should offer four core services: traffic generation, lead generation, lead nurturing, and analysis and measurement.”

A Customized Solution

While your agency should offer a set of core inbound marketing services, they need to go beyond that and offer a truly customized solution. This proves that they’re ultimately focused on the success of your business.

It’s easier for agencies to offer a services package at a set price to every client, but that’s just not how effective inbound marketing works. A cookie-cutter approach simply won’t do it.

Since your company has unique needs and goals, you need to work with an agency that will take the time to understand your situation and develop a customized strategy. Your agency needs to know your business on a deep level and work as your partner. They should also be able to adapt to meet your changing business needs.

While you’ll be asking many questions during an initial consultation, pay attention to the questions they ask as well. If the agency asks good questions during the assessment process, it means they’re taking the time early on to learn more about your business.

Proof of Expertise

Ask the agency about their current clients to find out if they work with businesses like yours—in terms of industry or size. Do they have expertise in your space? Do they have experience dealing with the challenges your type of business faces?

Look for examples of their expertise through case studies and testimonials. This tells you whether past clients were happy with the services they received.

You also want to ensure your agency practices what they preach. Do they implement inbound marketing to generate business? If the agency can’t prove its expertise in this way, they definitely won’t produce the results you’re looking for.

When looking at an agency’s website, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is their web content clear, concise, and persuasive?
  • Is the site easy to navigate and user friendly?
  • Do they blog consistently?
  • Do they use calls-to-action?
  • Do they have a strong social media presence?

A Proven Process

Great inbound marketing relies on following proven processes. Your agency should have a detailed, proven process in place for developing inbound marketing strategies and for creating every deliverable they offer.

For example, they shouldn’t just dive into creating your first content offer without first learning about your company’s target audience, goals, and tone. Keyword research, buyer persona research, and an SEO strategy are needed to create high-performing content.

Keep in mind the agency should also be flexible in their approach. They should know how to rework their plans and tactics to account for changes or new information.

If an agency can’t simply explain their processes for creating and executing an inbound marketing strategy, you’ll want to keep looking.

Advanced Technology

You need an agency that uses the best technology to accomplish inbound marketing tasks. Powerful CRM software and online tools are crucial to give you the results you’re looking for.

Finding out what technology an agency uses will also give you an idea of how your leads will be tracked and how progress will be measured. Your agency should be able to track all campaigns and regularly report on performance—the right technology will allow them to do so.

While the technology should be easy to use, your agency should also offer training to ensure you get the most out of it.

Transparency

The agency you work with should value transparency. This proves they’ll work with you as a partner, regularly asking for feedback and keeping you up to date with everything they do.

In focusing on strategy, your agency should act as an extension of your company. They should explain the choices they make regarding your campaigns, rather than just plug away at their tasks while keeping you in the dark.

“Your agency should act as an extension of your company.”

Do you know who will be responsible for your inbound program? You should meet the people you’ll be working with and have a sense of their backgrounds and experience. Make sure someone will always be available to answer your questions, outline what results you can expect and when, and truly explain how inbound marketing works. Find out how you’ll work together to advance your goals.

Sales Enablement

Inbound marketing requires sales and marketing alignment. Both teams need to work together to generate and nurture leads, and close sales. That’s why the right agency will offer ongoing sales enablement. They should help coach your salespeople and provide all the guidance they need to become better inbound sellers.

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A HubSpot Partner

A Certified HubSpot Partner agency can take your business to the next level. When you work with a HubSpot partner, you can rest assured you’ll get the best inbound marketing strategy for your business, along with the support and guidance you need every step of the way.

These agencies have taken HubSpot courses to ensure they can effectively implement inbound marketing and to ensure they’re up to date on the latest trends and best practices. Plus, they focus on measuring the progress you make on your goals through data insights.

Working with the right agency will help you get the most out of your inbound marketing investment. You need someone who will act as your trusted partner, with the experience and expertise to ensure you achieve your specific goals.

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Conclusion

The way people buy has changed. At the end of the day, if you don’t evolve with the times, your company will be left behind.

The role of the traditional salesperson is dead, and customers are now in charge of the buying process. You can’t continue pushing uninterested people to buy your products or services. To be successful in today’s market, work on building trust, establishing credibility, and nurturing relationships. Put your customers’ needs above all else.

Inbound marketing is truly the only strategy that will help you successfully adapt to the new way people buy.

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