enterprise inbound marketingWe will be talking about our new emphasis on Enterprise Inbound Marketing at the HubSpot Inbound 2012 Conference in Boston, August 27-30, 2012. We see this as an evolution for us as a company and also for the inbound marketing industry as a whole. Inbound marketing started out as a relatively low-cost means for small businesses to gain a foothold in their online markets by leveraging comparatively inexpensive channels, such as blogging and social media. Mid-sized and larger companies have started to embrace the new inbound tactics as part of their broader marketing efforts, but their demands and focus are different from those of SMBs. Let’s take a look at some of those new challenges and our approach to solving them.

SMBs and Inbound Marketing

We’ve worked with a lot of small businesses over the years, and they are commonly in the same boat when it comes to marketing:

  • Limited starting experience and “footprint” when it comes to digital marketing
  • Limited budget for marketing as a whole—still primarily relying on word of mouth or untargeted PPC campaigns
  • Limited knowledge of digital marketing tactics and trends
  • Limited resources for in-house content creation and marketing
  • Limited leadership assigned exclusively to marketing

HubSpot got its start (as we did) providing a cost-effective solution for helping SMB marketers get more done with limited resources. HubSpot provides the software, and agencies like ours provide outsourced inbound marketing services. The emphasis has been on generating relatively low-cost leads by automating and integrating many of the digital marketing chores and diverting advertising budgets into online content and social media.

Over the years, we have found that growth in sales for SMBs is constrained by their  marketing budgets. With a relatively small budget ($3,000 – $6,000 per month) and at least some internal resources, companies using inbound tactics can expect to see sustained, but not explosive, growth in traffic and leads over at least 6-12 months. Unfortunately, many SMBs (and even larger companies) treat inbound marketing as an experiment, giving a service provider 3-6 months to show positive ROI and insufficient resources to meet that objective. It’s incumbent on the inbound marketing agency to make sure that realistic goals and expectations are set prior to execution, or the experiment will likely fail.

Enterprise Inbound Marketing

Larger companies are generally better funded and tend to devote most of their marketing budgets to demand generation. Most have years under their belt working with agencies and in-house experts to optimize their search strategies, and most have ongoing, often successful PPC campaigns going, as well. Brand awareness could be improved, but they’re certainly not starting from scratch. What’s challenging to these enterprises is capturing more qualified leads and turning them into customers. Many have started working with marketing automation software and solution providers, but there is something missing. In our view and recent experience, what’s missing is a coherent blend of content marketing, conversion rate optimization and lead nurturing. In particular:

  • Content mapping to buyer persona and sales funnel stages
  • Content creation to fill the content map
  • Landing page and CTA optimization via A/B testing to convert more leads
  • Lead nurturing campaigns developed from the content map
  • Marketing automation and analtyics tuned to lead nurturing campaigns
  • Performance scoring based on relevant KPIs

Our New Emphasis

There is still a huge market for both software and service providers in the SMB space. As more and more entrepreneurs create startups, they will clamor for cost-effective marketing solutions. We’re not abandoning the SMB marketplace entirely, but we see a rapidly growing group of HubSpot certified inbound marketing agencies that are well qualified to provide inbound services in the budget ranges that are comfortable for SMBs. We are building our future around the Enterprise level market because we feel that there is a growing need for agencies with our focus, expertise and capacity to scale in this space. It doesn’t hurt that HubSpot is also making fantastic strides to develop the tools that we need to meet our new challenges. We are aligning our sales and execution processes around providing content-driven lead generation and lead nurturing using the most advanced marketing automation tools to meet the demands of enterprise level companies.

Since we “drink our own champage,” you will also notice that our own content and lead nurturing strategies are moving in this new direction. In today’s fast-paced, constantly changing marketing world, it behooves every company to continuously improve and evolve to find new niches where the competition may be lagging and the opportunities are ripe.

See you at Inbound 2012!

Photo credit: Lel4nd

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