Make Inbound Marketing a Part of Your 2016 Digital Strategy
Inbound marketing is “a methodology that focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product.”
This technical definition of marketing was developed by HubSpot in 2006. The lines between digital marketing, content marketing, and inbound marketing have become increasingly blurred over the past decade.
However, the concept and the goal of inbound remains unchanged. It’s creating a magnetism around your organization that turns prospects into marketing leads, and marketing leads into sales-ready leads. Whether you consider yourself a professional inbound marketer, a growth hacker, or a marketer who employs various digital strategies, the goal of all of our programs are the same.
All marketers are tasked with generating a steady stream of future customers at the lowest cost possible. Simply having a website or writing blogs is no longer a competitive advantage. To achieve or exceed marketing program goals, many organizations must continually work to outperform their peers.
6 Core Components of Inbound Marketing
The six critical focus areas that are a crucial component of the most effective B2B marketing strategies:
- Web Design
- Content Marketing
- Social Media
- Lead Generation
- Lead Management
If it takes any longer than 3 seconds for any of your webpages to load, you’ll lose 40% of your website visitors, according to eConsultancy research. Your website doesn’t just need to be informative. It must be easy to use, simple to navigate, and rapid fast.
Your entire brand reputation is determined by your website visitors in less than a second after your page loads. It’s critical to make positive first impressions in even less time than individuals are granted at most in-person networking events.
Here are a few things the leading marketers today are doing:
- Using Responsive Web Design: Responsive web design scales better than most mobile websites. Mobile web traffic has now overtaken desktop as the primary mode for exploring the internet.
- Designing for Mobile First: It’s no longer adequate to scale-down a website that’s ultimately designed for desktop. It’s ultimately easier to progressively enhance a design for larger screens than it is to compress something comprehensive.
- Optimizing for Accessibility: Positive user experience means inclusivity. Your website should accommodate the needs of individuals with disabilities, including support for devices that offer enlargement.
- Provide Long-Form Content: Each page on your website should offer more value than any of your competitors are able to serve up.
- Don’t Lock Up Your Content: While it’s a best practice to include high-value content behind landing page forms, always strive to increase accessibility. Avoid aggressive pop-up ads, cumbersome click-through slideshows, or landing page forms that aren’t optimized for mobile.
Content is Still King. Can you believe it’s been a full decade since Bill Gates infamously stated that content is king? The meaning has changed slightly to marketers in the years since, but it’s still true at it’s core. Consumer are still seeking out companies that offer meaningful, valuable content to do business with.
Mobile is more important than ever. Failing to invest in an exceptional mobile experience can mean devastation to your organic search results on mobile devices. It could mean losing half your prospects. Following Google’s “mobile-geddon” algorithm update in 2015 which heavily penalized non-mobile websites, mobile user experience should be the top SEO priority for organizations.
Backlinking isn’t What it Used to Be. SEO experts, including Rand Fishkin of Moz, believe that simply earning a backlink isn’t as simple as it used to be. Google has come to favor backlinks that mention your organization or are otherwise contextually-relevant. The key to positive SEO is writing content that people are willing and eager to cite organically.
Keywords aren’t a Primary Ranking Factor. Searchmetrics annual SEO study confirmed what many of us have suspected for a long time – keywords aren’t a primary ranking factor any longer! Search Engine Journal writes that it’s more about whether your website “delivers” a high-quality overall experience.
Invest in Information Security. Search engines favor websites with appropriate security measures in place, such as SSL encryption. Ensuring your prospects are safe from cybercrime could be a first step towards any future SEO improvements.
Visual Content Matters. Google might not yet have the capacity to analyze the content of images and videos. However, it doesn’t really need to. Organizations that invest in high-quality videos, infographics, and images experience lower bounce rates, better page engagement, and more social media shares. Your words are still important, but consider visuals as something of equal importance.
Content marketing has actually outpaced inbound marketing in search popularity since 2013. While many organizations might not consider themselves inbound brands, virtually all are creating custom content. Over 90% of B2B marketers today publish branded content. Social media is the most common form of content marketing, through blogging is nearly as possible.
Did you know? Marketers who blog drive 13 times more ROI than their peers. (HubSpot, 2014)
Here are some ways that the most effective B2B organizations are improving the performance of their content marketing:
- Widely Varied Formats
- Open Discussions
- Broad Focus
- Tackling Problems Head On
Social media is a key to a well-rounded marketing strategy for many B2B brands. Organizations worldwide are using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ to attract retain and interact with the right customers. Content marketing, SEO, and branding efforts are all significantly enhanced with the right approach to social.
Social media measurement is a top priority for content marketing programs in 2015, according to CMI research. Metrics measurement allows B2B brands to determine ROI and improve the efficacy of their social outreach.
The following major metrics are social performance indicators:
- New Fans/Followers
- Revenue Data
Once you’ve adjusted to tracking these insights, you may also choose to measure:
- Brand awareness
- Share of voice
- Customer satisfaction
- Employee recruitment
Lead generation isn’t really the process of capturing interest. It’s about offering directed value, and guiding prospects towards becoming customers. For many marketers, lead generation can be one of the most challenging aspects of business. Many organizations struggle to capture a sufficient volume of qualified leads.
B2B prospects typically begin their buyer’s journey with a search engine. When they realize they have an organizational problem to solve, what do they type into search? Chances are, it’s a question your customer service or sales team has already answered a hundred times.
Studies by Capterra have found that marketers are more concerned about lead generation than any other aspect of their digital marketing programs, including SEO and organic search rankings. Organizations must be more sophisticated in their approach to capturing prospect interest than ever before.
If your lead generation efforts are truly disappointing, you might not understand your customers as well as you thought. You may need to refine your buyer persona profiles by conducting in-person interviews with your organization’s best customers. Use these sessions to understand the questions your best customers had in mind when they first began researching product or service solutions, and content they found valuable during the prospect phase.
Lead management is the science of nurturing leads into customers through mastery of customer education, lead scoring, and sales handoffs. The marketer’s role is implementing technologies that capture the right data on leads and mapping prospect behavior to deliver the right content at the right times. A mature lead management program will offer the following benefits:
- Permission-based, open lines of communication with prospects
- Controlling comparison points and education throughout the buyers’ journey
- Ability to adjust marketing and sales communications according to prospect behavior
When done correctly, prospects have a strong brand preference by the time they’re ready to buy.
Inbound marketing is one of the most complex aspects of effective marketing strategies in 2015 and beyond. It requires near-symphonic orchestration of technology, multiple business units, and customer research. However, efforts to effectively attract and manage leads can pay dividends for your company.