Mayday, mayday! Your marketing machine is sinking fast! At this point, you can keep struggling along, bleeding money, or you can bring in the big guns. Inbound marketing services are your big guns.
Most businesses have a marketing budget, and it's being spent on "marketing stuff" without any returns. Most businesses have websites, but they don't convert leads or produce ROI. Most inbound marketing agencies have dealt with these problems before, and can help you get your head above water.
Let's look at some major issues that many businesses deal with, and why inbound marketing services are your lifeboat.
1. You have a good marketing budget, so you should be seeing tangible results - but you're not.
You know you need to market your business to bring in new customers. Your marketing budget is decent, you have employees dedicated to promoting your business, but you're not seeing any return on your investment. That's tens of thousands of dollars annually down the drain. What gives?
You could be running into a few different roadblocks, all of which can be solved by hiring professional inbound marketing services. Here are the most common marketing issues for small businesses:
Relying on Outdated Tactics
Your daddy and his daddy grew up with telemarketing, radio ads, TV ads, direct mail, and newspaper advertising. Your mistake is continuing to use those tactics just because that's how it's always been done. Extensive studies and research have shown a major shift in buyer behavior with the advent of the Internet:
- 94% of B2B buyers do some sort of online research for purchase decisions. (Accenture)
- 74% of business buyers said they conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. (Forrester)
- 59% of executives would rather watch video than read text. (Forbes)
- 98% of U.S. smartphone users notice mobile ads. (Google)
- 71% of B2B researchers start their research with a generic query (NOT for a product or service). (Google)
- Nearly half of all B2B researchers are millenials. (Google)
- On average, B2B researchers do 12 searches prior to engaging on a specific brand's site. (Google)
The same research shows most B2B marketers are aware of these trends and are prepared to shift focus to match new buyer behaviors:
- 82% of B2B marketers planned to increase their online spend in 2015. (Regalix)
- 87% of B2B marketers indicated that understanding the customer journey will be most important for the success of their digital marketing initiatives. (Regalix)
- HubSpot's 2015 State of Inbound report showed that businesses prefer inbound marketing to outbound by a ratio of 3 to 1. (HubSpot)
- Companies that invest more in inbound marketing than outbound save an average of $20k per year. (HubSpot)
Inbound marketing is the kind of marketing that gets results today. Content marketing, SEO, social media - all of it provides the information that today's buyers are searching for. When you can take a step back from selling and instead provide that education, buyers are more likely to trust you. When buyers trust you, they buy from you.
What does it take to do inbound marketing effectively? Start with this Inbound Campaign Checklist to figure out what you're missing and how you can improve.
Targeting the Wrong Audience
Are you already using some inbound marketing tactics? Are you blogging consistently, engaging on social media, optimizing every channel, and still not seeing results? You probably have an issue with targeting.
First, you're aiming in the wrong direction. You may have an idea in your head of what kind of people buy your products and why - but you might be completely wrong. Your perspective as the producer and distributor of your product is completely different from the perspective of your buyer. You're selling a product to make money, revolutionize your industry, become an industry leader, make the world a better place, or what have you.
Your buyer is buying your product because the product will, hopefully, solve a problem that's making their life difficult. Your buyer cares ONLY about what your product or service can do for them. They don't care how revolutionary or innovative your product is. They don't care how much time you spent drafting it up or how many investors are backing the design.
Second, you're not targeting precisely enough. Precise targeting requires buyer personas. Buyer personas are better than demographics because they give you insight into specific pain points, action drivers, and goals. Demographics are important (they'll tell you the age, gender, and industry of your target audience so you can refine your voice), but they don't tell you what your target audience cares about.
You have to know what they care about - what drives them to succeed in work and in life? What do they want to do before they die? What makes them angry, excited, fearful? In the later stages of their buyer's journey, what can your product or service do to make their life easier? Knowing all of these things will help you create content that speaks to their circumstances and their pains, building trust and rapport.
To get started on your own buyer personas, check out our Buyer Persona Guide for Beginners.
Letting Leads Slip Through the Cracks
Maybe you're using inbound tactics AND targeting the right audience... but your leads aren't making that final jump into buying. You probably have an issue with your lead scoring or lead nurturing systems (if you even have those!).
Lead scoring helps you organize and prioritize leads based on their level of interest and how good a fit they are for your company. You can do this yourself as they come in or, if there are too many, you can automate the process with marketing automation software. This blog post will tell you all about lead scoring.
Lead nurturing is the process of following up with your leads to keep them hot. You're still not trying to sell to them yet - merely point them in the direction of additional relevant resources and let them know you're there if they have questions. As they move through their buyer's journey, you'll be there to nurture them along. If you do it right, you'll look like the best solution when they're ready to buy.
2. You can't track any of your leads or sales back to your online activities.
You've got one of two problems here. One, you're not getting many leads or sales at all. Two, you're getting leads and sales, but you can't definitively say they're coming from your website or other online marketing efforts. Let's focus on the issue of being unable to track the sources of your leads and sales.
Maybe you know in your heart that your marketing efforts are spot on, and they're producing the results you want. But, when it comes time to report those results to your boss, he/she won't accept "my feelings" as evidence. You have to show concrete ROI and metrics. Currently, you don't have those numbers. Here's how to get them.
All inbound marketing channels provide some sort of tracking and metrics (that's one reason why we love them). Analytics and other metric tracking services help you trace results directly back to your inbound marketing efforts.
- Your social media business pages provide the insight you need to demonstrate results. Facebook offers a comprehensive system of graphs and week-over-week statistics to show even the smallest changes in follower behavior.
- Google Search Console (previously called Webmaster Tools) and AdWords help you keep track of organic search traffic and your PPC campaigns respectively. You can gather all the information you need regarding your website's standing and interaction with searchers through these tools.
For instance, if you receive a phone call through AdWords' call extensions capability, the call data will be logged in the Search Console (calls will not be recorded, however!).
- Sponsored social media advertising offers as much insight as Google's AdWords platform. You can view impressions, clicks, click-through-rate, engagement, and more.
If you're struggling to synthesize all your marketing channels, show ROI, or if you need to know the exact path that visitors take to conversion, marketing automation can be incredibly helpful. Marketing automation is a software platform that helps you track and manage marketing processes across multiple channels.
- Your CMS should provide performance metrics for each blog post, landing page, CTA, website page, etc. No piece of content on your website should go unanalyzed. If your current CMS doesn't do this, it's time to look at a different platform.
- Your CRM tracks the behavior of every lead and customer you've entered into the system. If they make any big movements, or indicate interest in moving further down the funnel, you can enter that info and have it available in one place.
CRMs also give you the ability to manually add all new opportunities and associated qualifiers, information on how each lead is generated, identify which contacts are connected to which campaigns, and mark opportunities as deals won or lost.
- Email marketing automation allows you to see who's opening your emails, who's clicking through, and who's unsubscribing. It shows performance metrics for each email blast and campaign.
Some platforms combine all of this into one service: content management, customer relationship management, social media automation, email marketing, lead nurturing, and more. HubSpot is currently the best marketing tool that offers the entire spectrum of capabilities. WordPress's host of plugins allows you to jerryrig a semblance of a full inbound marketing platform, though it's not nearly as intuitive or easy to use.
The capabilities of marketing automation are endless and very necessary for any business that wants to get serious about its marketing. As you generate more and more leads, it becomes impossible to track them manually. Marketing automation is a requirement for growing your business and tracking your inbound ROI.
3. Your website hasn't provided any ROI.
Are you the kind of business owner who had a website built back in 2003 and haven't touched it since? Or, are you the type who spent thousands of dollars on a sleek, modern website, and still aren't seeing results?
If you're the former, the first order of business is to update your website. Ideally, websites should be updated consistently as the business grows and changes, with major redesigns every few years as best practices shift.
If you need to do a major redesign, or you don't currently have a website, you can do the following as the design is developed - much easier than optimizing it after the fact.
Optimizing Your Website for Lead Generation
You want to start seeing ROI from your website. To get a return on your investment, you need to make money through sales. To make sales, you first need to generate leads. Here are a few tips for optimizing your website for lead generation. For a full rundown, check out the 30 Greatest Lead Generation Tips, Tricks, and Ideas.
- Well-placed CTAs. CTAs should be eye-catching, scannable, and enticing. If you do it right, you could see these awesome results from your CTAs.
- Optimized landing pages. Landing pages should fulfill the promise made by your CTA and provide a form where the visitor will convert.
- Helpful thank-you pages. Thank you pages show your appreciation for your new lead's interest, and direct them to further helpful information.
- Relevant content offers. At the end of your blog posts, you should provide more valuable information in the form of a downloadable content offer. The more relevant it is to the post, the more likely your visitor will click on it.
- Personalized website content. Personalization is the up-and-coming player on the inbound marketing scene. Dynamic website content allows you to precisely target who sees what on your website, which increases the chances of conversion.
- A/B testing. How do you know what's working if you don't test anything? A/B testing ensures you're maximizing lead gen on your website.
- Front & back end SEO. This means optimizing both the things your visitors can see (content, headlines, titles, links) and the things they can't see (XML files, 301 redirects, HTML, alt text). This makes it easier for the search engines AND your visitors to find and read your website.
- Valuable, relevant content. Visitors will only convert into leads if you can convince them with your content. Prove what you know and what you offer is valuable to them, and they'll happily convert.
- Multimedia content. Different people have different content preferences. Some people prefer videos, images, or interactive content rather than blog posts. Offering a diverse array of content formats will make that content more appealing.
- Easy to absorb. Your website should be pleasing to look at, scannable, and quick to load. Most people bounce due to poor design, big blocks of text, and slow loading times.
- Make a path. Using all of the above techniques, you can create a sort of "map" of the route that you'd like your visitor to take through your website. Ultimately, that route should lead to conversion.
These are only a few ways to optimize your website for lead generation. This eBook goes more in-depth if you need additional information.
You can also improve your lead generation efforts off your website through social media, forums, and sponsored advertising.
Are you ready for inbound marketing services?
If you're having any of the problems listed above, it's time to get serious with your inbound marketing. Inbound marketing services can:
- Help you focus your budget and produce greater ROI
- Turn your website into a lead-generating machine
- Track your results directly back to your marketing efforts
To learn more (or get a free consultation), feel free to look through our blog or contact us!