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March 22, 2013
How to Crack the Code to Inbound Marketing
Everyone is talking about inbound marketing. If this term is new to you, Wikipedia defines Inbound marketing as advertising for a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, enewsletters, whitepapers, SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing. In contrast, buying attention, cold-calling, direct paper mail, radio, TV advertisements, sales flyers, spam, telemarketing and traditional advertising[4] are considered "outbound marketing." For more definitions, click here.

Unfortunately, inbound marketing is much more complex than old-school traditional outbound advertising. To illustrate the point, when you launch an ad campaign, make cold calls, or send out direct mail, you buy ads, you invest in a certain number of calls, you purchase lists and send out postcards. These are all tactical elements that you can touch and feel; you see the ads and the postcards, and you hear the calls being made. This makes marketing people and their managers feel like they are doing something. The reality of the situation is that these outbound tactics just don’t work like they used to. Do you like getting cold calls? Do you read all your junk mail? Do you watch TV commercials or just fast-forward past them to get to your show? We all behave exactly like you do. Your prospects are behaving like that too. These interruptive tactics don’t work well anymore.

Inbound marketing offers an alternative. The challenge with inbound marketing is that it’s new. People don’t understand it. Marketers don’t know how to put a comprehensive inbound marketing program together because there are very few practical examples of exactly how to do it. It is far more complex and requires proactive planning, landing pages, content creation, sourcing of content, reworking website design, and, perhaps most important to the effort, an analytical perspective that allows you to constantly be adjusting the program to optimize performance.

However, help is on the way. Below are 10 secrets to inbound marketing that will allow you to crack the code and create a marketing machine for your business that helps your company get found, get leads, and grow sales.

Secret Number 1. You have to create a comprehensive marketing strategy and plan before you start. Hope isn’t a strategy. You have to create an inbound marketing strategy that includes detailed personas, targeted messaging, real remarkable differentiation, and details on all your inbound marketing tactics with schedules and budgets.

Secret Number 2. You have to execute a full suite of integrated tactics. Single marketing tactics, even inbound marketing tactics, don’t deliver sustainable results. You need to plan for and implement ALL the tactics necessary to drive your lead goals. More importantly, those tactics need to work together, so they have to be integrated and orchestrated into a single, cohesive Marketing Machine.

Secret Number 3. You need marketing analytics to make performance-oriented decisions. Today’s inbound marketing requires automation. It’s too complicated to be handled without some help from key software support. Plus, the nature of inbound marketing makes it purely data-driven, so you need access to metrics and analytics on the performance of your marketing. Google Analytics just doesn’t cut it anymore. Consider options like HubSpot, Marketo or Eloqua.

Secret Number 4. You need a steady stream of content to attract prospects to your business. If you aren’t creating a steady stream of informative white papers, videos, eBooks, webinars, podcasts, blog posts, and infographics then you aren’t creating the educational content required to attract prospects and build trust in your business.

Secret Number 5. You need to get that content “out there.” Creating the content is only half the effort. The rest comes from putting that content in front of your target prospects. This is done strategically. When you understand the personas of your prospects you’re able to find the blogs and emails they subscribe to, the websites they frequent, and the LinkedIn groups they are members of. This allows you to share your content with them in the places they are already spending their time.

Secret Number 6. You need a conversion approach to your website. Chances are, your website is still acting like an electronic brochure. This approach has to change. You need a conversion machine that includes a wide variety of educational content. You have to consider the entire experience associated with your website and make that experience remarkable for every visitor.

Secret Number 7. You need a website that connects emotionally with prospects quickly. You only have 10 seconds to get their attention. If your website design lacks that emotionally connective message you are going to be sending a lot of potential prospects to your competitors. Give up the chess piece, mountain climber, or picture of your building and replace it with images and messages that generate a strong emotional response in your target prospects.

Secret Number 8. You need to nurture your leads. Your prospects buy at their own pace. People buy when they feel safe and when their pain is acute. You can get them there faster but not by selling them. You do it by educating them, helping them, and guiding them. The more you educate your prospects, the faster they will feel safe, become emotionally invested in your solution, and want to do business with you.

Secret Number 9. Sales has to be part of the process. The days when sales roamed independently from marketing are over. These two groups have to work together to help today’s prospect. Marketing has to create educational content and help sales integrate it into the sales process. Together they have to create a remarkable experience for every prospect.

Secret Number 10. You need to watch your analytics daily. Marketing is now a science. You have to look at your numbers every single day. Where are we with website traffic? Is it up over last month? Is it up over the same month last year? Is it up over a rolling three-month average? The same goes for leads. You need this insight at your fingertips.

Start adding these elements to your own inbound marketing effort and you will quickly see your business get found, get leads, and close sales. To learn more about inbound marketing and how you can crack the code to inbound marketing, click here to download our Free Report: The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Guide.

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Mike Lieberman is Co-Founder and President of Square 2 Marketing. He created Reality Marketing™ and the concept of a Marketing Machine™ to help companies transform their invisible and boring businesses into extraordinary and remarkable revenue generating machines. Mike writes the popular Remarkablog and is co-author of Reality Marketing Revolution and Fire Your Sales Team Today.  Email Mike at mike@square2marketing.com or follow him on Twitter @Mike2Marketing.
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