Why Do FDMA Members Need Inbound Marketing More Than They Realize?
Depending on who you ask, anywhere from 60% to 90% of the typical B2B purchasing cycle is over before decision makers contact any company. This represents a drastic shift in power that frankly many direct marketers and FDMA members are completely ignoring.
To help Florida Direct Marketing Association members and guests understand why this is happening and how to best navigate these challenges, I gave a presentation called “6 Ways to Drive More Leads, Revenue, and ROI from Inbound Marketing.” In this post, I’ll share some of the most important takeaways.
Note: While my specialization is primarily in the B2B space, most of this article largely applies to both B2B and B2C.
The Old Marketing Playbook is Broken
Because of the extremely high rates of adoption with mobile devices, search engines, social media, and cloud computing, traditional direct marketing is being massively disrupted.
As a result, many DM channels that were effective for decades, even generations, are now being called onto the mat as modern humans now research and shop for goods and services in a very different way compared to five years ago, let alone ten years ago.
Roll back to 2005. Were direct marketers even pondering tools like iPhone, Siri, Google Now, Twitter, and SaaS marketing platforms?
Selective consumption, mobile, search, social, and cloud mandates a new buyer-centric approach. And it’s make-or-break critical for your company to get found early enough, often enough, and in the right context to reach your goals.
Successful Inbound marketing requires goal setting, buyer personas, and covering the full sales funnel. Are you prepared?
1. Build an End-to-End Solution that Focuses on SMART Goals
Most direct marketers that dabble in digital or Internet marketing know a little about blogging, a little about SEO, and a little about social media. And that’s exactly the problem: a little is no longer enough in a world that’s dominated by mobile, search, social, and cloud.
To be successful with Inbound marketing, your approach must cover the entire sales funnel of the Inbound Methodology:
- Attract (Strangers into Visitors)
- Convert (Visitors into Leads)
- Close (Leads into Clients)
- Delight (Clients into Promoters) — to attract more strangers and repeat the cycle
If all you worry about is how to attract some visitors with SEO or social media, and completely neglect the rest of the funnel, you will not be successful because you’re only managing a very small part of the buyer’s journey.
Inbound Marketing Through the Lens of Major League Baseball
I often explain this in terms very relatable to baseball fans. Imagine that the New York Yankees arrive at Fenway Park to play the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox have all 25 players on their active roster on hand, either in the dugout or in the bullpen. However for some bizarre inexplicable reason, the Yankees only brought along their starting pitcher and primary catcher.
So what do you think will happen to the outcome of that game both offensively and defensively? The Yankees won’t have a chance as they only have one player who can competently swing a baseball bat and only two players who can take the field, compared to the nine Red Sox players on the field.
This same thing happens when marketing forgets to bring along the convert, close, and delight phases of the Inbound methodology. There’s no way to scale lead generation, no predictable way to nurture leads into clients, and no systematic way to delight clients for long-term retention and activation.
Along the same lines, all Inbound marketing must center around goals — and not just any goals, SMART goals that are
Often marketers kick around vague goals like growing revenue, or generating more leads. But frankly those goals aren’t going to cut it.
Because Inbound marketing is all about analyzing ROI, your goals must be super-specific. For example, generate 1,000 marketing qualified leads (MQLs) by the end of this calendar year. Or generate $1.2 million of monthly recurring revenue (MRR) by a specific date.
2. Personalize Content to Match Buyer Personas
Selective consumption has trained decision makers to no longer tolerate semi-relevant content.
Who buys an $18 music CD anymore just to get the one song he or she really wanted? An iTunes account and $0.99 solves the problem.
Who watches television commercials anymore if they can simply watch the program on their DVR and fast forward through a 60 minute sitcom in 39 minutes?
How many do you know that are paying a few bucks a month to enjoy commercial-free radio in their car?
And spam filters are more aggressive than ever — and many times mistakenly lump the “good guys” in with the “bad guys.”
Decision makers are getting sick and tired of being interrupted — and have gotten really good at tuning you out.
So how can you cut through the clutter and still attract the right strangers?
Personalize your content to match the needs of your core buyer personas.
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal buyers based on research and some educated speculation.
Buyer personas are the foundation for remarkable content creation. Businesses that skip doing persona research end up putting out crappy content that no one wants to read and no one converts to a lead from.
Bear in mind that participating in blogging, search engine optimization, social media, or email marketing without goals and remarkable content doesn’t go over well. No one wants to read self-serving salesy content and they certainly don’t want to be spammed.
Personalized Content No Longer Just a Nice-to-Have
Approached correctly, you’ll likely end up with a few core buyer personas — let’s say three for example. Plus three buyer’s journey stages: awareness, consideration, and decision making. So think of a grid with three rows and three columns — nine boxes to fill, like a tic tac toe board.
The Inbound marketers that drive the best results will make sure that they have remarkable content for each buyer persona and each stage of buyer’s journey.
Remember, personalized content is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have. Why?
Changes in modern buying habits – selective consumption – and the rise of Amazon, iTunes, and Netflix make it impossible for a single content strategy to resonate with different kinds of ideal clients.
3. Design Systems for High-Volume Content Creation
Many direct marketers that dabble in digital or Inbound marketing may occasionally write a blog post, consult a keyword research tool every once in a while, and post on social media a few times a year — which would be OK, if it were 2005. But that’s not the competitive reality of today.
Build for Scale
Everything that you do with Inbound marketing must be built to scale.
Every year, HubSpot works with a professor or grad student from the MIT Sloan School of Management to objectively analyze the data that drives Inbound marketing results.
Each year, there are similar conclusions. For blogging, there are natural tipping points that kick in around 100 indexed remarkable blog posts and at around 400 indexed remarkable blog posts.
In other words, if you only blog once a week, you may still be on the right track to reach your goals — but it just might take you 100 to 400 weeks, or two to eight years. Yikes!
Landing pages have tipping points too: The first kicks in at around 10 to 15 landing pages. And then there’s another tipping point at around 40 landing pages.
So if your website is like most and there’s a Contact Us page and perhaps one or two white papers, you’re going to be severely underperforming.
At the minimum, there must be at least one landing page and offer for each buyer persona and each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Don’t Over-Invest in Today at the Expense of Next Quarter and Next Year
Inbound marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Unless your Inbound infrastructure is already very well built out, most Inbound marketing plans take a good six months to a year before they start to show significant results.
That said, there’s a very long-term payback with a very different mindset shift than paid search engine marketing programs such as Google AdWords.
Let’s say you have a $5,000 per month spend on Google AdWords. While you’ll start getting traffic within hours of launching, once your credit card is maxed out or a Fortune 500 competitor shows up and drives bid prices up from say $5 a click to $50 a click, what’s your backup plan?
If you took that same $5,000 per month and created and promoted a whole bunch of reasonably-evergreen, persona-specific content, it’s very likely that much of that content will still be attracting visitors and generating leads not just this month or this year, but for several years from now.
So Inbound marketing done right is really asset building, not expense. One day soon these assets will even become so mainstream that you’ll see companies accounting for these assets on their balance sheets.
But remember, you cannot win the race across the pool by just putting your pinky toe in the water. Inbound marketing is a cultural change and requires a full-company long-term commitment.
4. Promote Your Content to Get in Front of the Right Eyeballs
It’s not enough to just create remarkable content. Promotion is key.
So balance your efforts between content creation and content promotion. A good back of the napkin guideline is a 50/50 split.
Think about it this way. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did the tree really fall? If you write a blog post and no one reads it, did you really write the blog post?
Watch Out for the HIPPO
But when it comes to promoting your content, be aware of the HIPPO — the highest paid person in the organization, who invariably has very strong opinions about where to promote content.
The problem however is your HIPPO — or CEO if we’re being more tactful — isn’t in most cases part of a buyer persona that you’re trying to attract.
So if you’re trying to prioritize your content promotion efforts, your buyer personas should be who calls the shots.
In fact, discovering favorite “watering holes” is one of the main reasons why Inbound marketers invest the time in creating buyer personas. There’s no reason to guess what blogs they read, what social media channels they use, what trade groups they belong to, or what conferences they attend. Good, solid persona research uncovers that critical consensus you need to get your remarkable content in front of the right potential clients.
5. Measure Everything: The Case for Inbound Marketing Software
Over a century ago, advertising pioneer John Wanamaker was famously quoted as saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Wanamaker, David Ogilvy, and John Caples would absolutely love to be living in an era now where marketing activities have become extremely trackable, accountable, and actionable.
Marketing Must Be Measurable
Many in the Inbound ecosystem firmly espouse, “In God we trust. All others bring data.”
Or more simply, if you can’t measure it, don’t do it.
Like many marketers, a decade ago I too had a dozen different Internet marketing tools that couldn’t speak to each other. Valuable data was scattered in a dozen different databases.
Extremely time consuming CSV file imports and exports to wrestle with. APIs that were ridiculously complicated and expensive to navigate. Like a freaking franken-system of sorts.
Silos Kill ROI
The problem with all of this? Solutions in silos that can’t communicate with each other fail to deliver positive ROI.
So what’s really needed is an end-to-end holistic solution for:
- Website traffic generation
- Website lead generation
- Website client acquisition/revenue generation
- Website ROI analysis
And that’s precisely what the Inbound methodology addresses in its four core phases:
6. Arrive Earlier in the Sales Cycle to Establish Trusted Advisor Status
With anywhere from 60% to 90% of the buyer’s journey over before potential clients are ready to speak with your company, it’s no longer a luxury to attract prospects earlier in the sales cycle. It’s a necessity.
If your remarkable content gets found by the right decision makers early enough, it’s a chance for your company to establish trusted advisor status and really have a major impact on how that prospect navigates the buyer’s journey.
Get Found Early Enough or Your Company Simply Won’t Matter
However if that same prospect only find your competitors’ content and website, and ends up their sales funnel, how is your company perceived? Well because the prospect navigates the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey without your company being present, it’s like your company doesn’t even exist.
Now, if by some bizarre stroke of luck that prospect does reach out to you when 60% to 90% of their mind is already made up, there’s only one thing that you can say that might get your company into the bottom-of-the-ninth inning consideration — “we’re cheaper.”
And wow what a lousy place to be when your only perceived advantage is price! Goodbye profit margins. Goodbye profitability. Forget about positive cash flow. Your company’s been relegated to a commodity broker.
Sales Today No Longer Has as Much Power
Again, most direct marketers are completely ignoring this drastic shift in power brought up in recent years by selective consumption, mobile, search, social, and the cloud.
But now that you know about the “6 Ways to Drive More Leads, Revenue, and ROI from Inbound Marketing,” you won’t necessarily have to suffer the same fate.
Approached correctly and aggressively enough, you can get your company found
- Early enough (in the buyer’s journey)
- Often enough (by committing to scale)
- By the right decision makers (with marketing to buyer personas)
- In the right places (because half the budget goes to content creation and half goes to content promotion)
(Bonus Strategy) 7. Include a Call to Action (CTA) in Every Piece of Inbound Content
To learn more about how you can reinvent your direct marketing career and successfully navigate today’s complex multi-channel sales funnel and buyer’s journey, you can get access to some additional free Inbound marketing learning resources that have been hand selected for FDMA members and guests.
This resource pack includes
- The slides from the FDMA meeting in Deerfield Beach, Florida
- A 1 hour on-demand webinar recording that covers this same topic in more depth
- A downloadable planning guide (in Microsoft Word format)
Get access now, while it’s still available, at http://www.sphomerun.com/fdma
I’m so glad that you took the time to read this post because these are all massive game-changers that every direct marketer must be prepared to confront.
I wish you great success in driving more leads, revenue, and ROI from Inbound marketing.
Joshua Feinberg is Co-Founder and Chief Inbound Marketing Officer of SP Home Run Inc., a HubSpot Certified Partner that works primarily with B2B technology providers. You can follow him on Twitter @joshua_feinberg and connect with him on LinkedIn. Joshua also co-leads the Boca Raton HubSpot User Group and offers a complimentary marketing assessment for qualified stakeholders leading B2B technology companies.