The Skeleton: Just as the human body needs a strong skeleton to walk and eventually run, companies need three components in order for Inbound Marketing to take flight and generate warm leads.
- An email database / social network: An opt-in email list of current clients, referral sources and prospects and a large social network of the same act as the bones of your Inbound Marketing program. Without this list and network, you simply can’t move.
- A Blog Portal: This is where you house your thought leadership (aka content). A blog portal is equivalent to your joints because it allows your firm to be flexible in addressing the most unsettling challenges faced by your buyers.
- Marketing Automation Software: Through tools including HubSpot (yes, there are others, but I’m admittedly biased and a huge fan), you can connect the different elements of your Inbound Marketing program such as your email distribution, social media activity, blogging and more. Marketing automation software is like the ligaments that tie the separate pieces of marketing outreach together.
- Original Content: Pumping out original content is the heart of your Inbound Marketing program. If you don’t have ridiculously fabulous original content, your skeleton is just a bag of bones. Your content needs to target particular buyer groups and address what keeps them up at night. Did I mention it has to be great?
- Third Party Content: For an Inbound Marketing program to be successful, you’ll need to touch your social network and email database frequently with highly relevant content. Most small businesses can’t pump out enough original content, so there is a need to supplement with third party content. This is the blood that keeps your Inbound Marketing program flowing. The third party content you share is a direct reflection of you and your firm, so make sure it rocks and meets your high standards.
- Content Strategy: You’ll need to put some brain power behind your Inbound Marketing program, especially with regard to what pieces of original content you’ll be writing and sharing. Develop a content strategy that pulls leads into the top of your sales funnel and then nurtures them until they are ready to select a vendor. By reviewing the marketing activities of your contacts, you’ll gain a better understanding of the optimal time to hand red hot leads off to the sales department for follow-up. Premature follow-up will turn your warm, savory leads back into dry, cold contacts.
Inbound Marketing in Action
Recently, I worked with a client on an Inbound Marketing campaign centered around a piece of federal legislation that is causing the firm’s target buyers a great deal of pain. Fully complying with this particular law is challenging given that it is almost as complex as the tax code. Non-compliance could result in penalties by the Department of Justice as well as legal fees and punitive damages from class action lawsuits. My client helps companies navigate through the complexities of the law. Let’s break down the anatomy of this Inbound Marketing campaign:
- An email database / social network: Check! My client had a target list of both existing clients and potential prospects. In addition, many of the firm’s professionals had extensive social networks, primarily on LinkedIn.
- A Blog Portal: Check! We launched a portal on the firm’s website last year.
- Marketing Automation Software: Recently, my client purchased HubSpot and went through its two-day, comprehensive training. Check!
- Original Content: Check! Thought leaders at the firm wrote a teaser blog that discussed the legislation and shared information about common pain points. My client then created a 60 minute virtual presentation that offered practical strategies for dealing with the legislation and its many complexities.
- Third Party Content: We distributed the blog as well as relevant third party articles on social networks and by email blast. Check!
- Content Strategy: Check! Our blog was aimed at filling the top of my client’s sales funnel with potential buyers who were seeking current and relevant information on the federal law. Readers of the blog were invited to sign up for a complimentary Webinar. We also emailed out invitations to the Webinar and posted them on social media. The recorded Webinar was distributed to everyone in the target database.
The results: More than 150 people signed up for the webinar. Of these, 49 are considered warm leads. Some of these leads are existing clients of the firm, but most weren’t even in its database. My client’s sales team is in the process of following up, and they are confident that new business will close.
Can you almost smell and taste the potential of Inbound Marketing? Delicious results await you and your firm if you choose to harness its power.