5 ways inbound marketing can build momentum fast
Improving marketing in the industrial sector
As a marketing agency to businesses in the industrial sector - manufacturers, engineering companies, technology and construction related organisations - we work in a market segment that is somewhat less marketing savvy than a lot of other sectors (no offence).
I say this with love of course. Most industrial companies we meet - big and small - are led by innovative people, who are bringing new ideas to market and are doing great things for their clients. When it comes to how they market their business, however, they’re not always making the most of what marketing offers.
Why am I saying this?
Because it means there is untapped marketing potential waiting to be harnessed - for quick wins, to drive ongoing business growth, as well as improve marketing ROI and transparency. We’ve found the potential for improvement is in 4 areas:
understanding - what they think marketing is and what it can do for their business
methods - the marketing concepts and processes used for strategy and planning
tools - the marketing systems and software used
insights - what they measure and the insights they get from marketing
There are short and long term benefits for businesses to improve across all four of these areas.
One of the best examples of this is Inbound.
The Inbound Methodology has been around since 2006. Yet the take-up in the industrial sector is still quite low.
Inbound has been (and continues to be) one of the most transformative business concepts in marketing and sales. Simplistically you could say Inbound is a better way to do digital marketing … or perhaps how you can do more with digital. But it is much more than this.
Importantly, Inbound affects all 4 of the above areas to unlock marketing potential:
Inbound is a new way to think about marketing (and sales, service). It is about creating valuable experiences that have a positive impact on people and your business.
the Inbound Methodology is a structured path to follow to business growth and customer happiness
Hubspot (the inventors of Inbound) provide an integrated suite of tools for sales, marketing, and customer service.
Inbound is all about the numbers. It is data driven and closed-loop reporting provides greater insights for businesses by having all your information in one place.
So what is Inbound exactly?
What is inbound?
In essence, Inbound is a more helpful and human approach to growing your business.
It’s a method of attracting, engaging, and delighting people that provides value, and builds trust. It encompasses marketing, sales and customer service - wherever you interact with prospects and customers. Inbound marketing, more specifically, is about creating valuable experiences that have a positive impact on your audience and your business.
How do you do that?
In Inbound, you attract prospects and customers to your website, blog and social channels through relevant and helpful content. Once there, you engage them using conversational tools like email and chat and by promising continued value. And finally, you delight them by continuing to be an empathetic advisor and expert.
Unlike outbound marketing, with inbound marketing, you don’t need to fight for your potential customers’ attention. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, you attract qualified prospects and build trust and credibility for your business.
Watch this Hubspot video for some more insights on inbound. Or visit our Inbound Marketing page for a deeper dive into what Inbound is all about.
Building business momentum
How can Inbound help?
The key takeaway from all this is that Inbound allows you to grow your business by being more helpful, more human. Hopefully to most of us humans this should come fairly naturally. It might even be desirable to be more human and helpful!
It can take a bit of effort though - it requires putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and walking with them to understand how you can be more helpful.
This is where our 5 ways to build business momentum comes into play. We’ve shortlisted five priority topics to get you started on the path to a more helpful, more human, more inbound business.
For each topic, we’ve provided guidance in the form of an action or two.
Here’s the list.
Get this list as a downloadable PDF
#1 Give your customer a name
Before you can be more helpful and human, you first need to know who it is you’re helping, what is important to them and how you can relate to them on a personal level.
In marketing speak, this is called creating a customer persona. A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. You create it by researching and gathering as much real data on your customers as possible. And yes, you even give your persona a name, to humanise it.
Your customer persona should be a key resource that guides everything you do in business and marketing - driving a more human and helpful approach. A common failing is relying on anecdotes, assumptions and historic insights, rather than capturing real customer information in a persona and keeping it up to date.
ACTION: Create a Persona (30 mins)
It is not uncommon to have more than one persona. But start by creating just one, for the ideal customer with whom you engage the most. Here are two tools to help you. Don’t overthink it. You can always improve on it in the future.
The Make my Persona online tool from Hubspot is easy and interactive way to get started with Personas. There is helpful information to guide you through the process.
The Persona Canvas challenges you to think a bit more deeply about your customer, what is happening in their world and what is most important to them.
#2 Walk with your customer
Now that you have a better idea of who your customer really is, the next step is to understand the journey they take in becoming a customer. Sure your only contact with some customers might be when they’re ready to buy, but there is an entire journey that they’ve taken to reach that point.
The better you understand the customer journey, the better you will be at connecting with your customers more meaningfully, providing more value and increasing the likelihood of a sale.
Additionally, you’re likely to find customers that you didn’t know existed.
By being aware of where your customers are and what they need at all stages of their journey, you’ll be able to make yourself available to them, to offer them help, to engage them in a human way - rather than leaving them to find your competitors.
So let’s get started on walking in your customers’ shoes.
ACTION: Map your Customer Journey (45 mins)
Every Customer Journey first requires a Persona. So make sure you’ve completed that step first. As with the persona, don’t overthink the process. Use the best information you have available to map out the journey. You can continue to refine this in the future.
The Customer Journey Canvas is a great tool for mapping a journey by focusing on the key moments, needs, insights and emotions of your persona.
ACTION: Perform a Content Audit (60 mins)
Now that you’ve mapped your customer journey, you will have an idea of what your customer needs at each stage of this journey. So it’s time to think about what you can offer them to meet these needs - i.e. how you can be more helpful.
The best place to start is to conduct an audit of your existing content.
This content could include brochures, technical articles, white papers, how to guides, videos - anything that helps address a customer need you’ve identified. Once you’ve identified these materials, you then create an inventory of effective content by mapping it to the appropriate stage in the customer journey.
Hubspot has an article and some templates to help you do this.
#3 Start educating
You now have an inventory of great content and you know when and where to use it.
So let’s start using it.
Rather than creating a mammoth task of deciding how you can put all this content to better use, start with a single item. What one content item stands out as being the most underutilised and could be re-purposed in a new way to help your customer?
What is repurposing?
Firstly repurposing is not revamping. A revamp is where you take an existing content item (e.g. an eBook) and you continue to use it for the same purpose (eBook) but you update it somehow - either a visual update or an update to the content to ensure it remains relevant.
Repurposing is taking an existing content item (e.g. an ebook) and changing the format of it (e.g. turning the ebook into a slideshow, a blog post, a series of short videos, etc) so that it is useful to your audience in a new way, or at a different stage of their journey.
ACTION: Repurpose one content item (60 mins)
It’s time to repurpose one item from your content library. Here’s what you need to do:
Select the content item
Decide what the new purpose is (what customer need are you addressing and at which stage of the journey)
Decide on the new format (a blog post, infographic, flyer, template, how to guide, etc)
The time required for this exercise will vary depending on what resources you have access to. Consider using some of the many free templates or low cost tools like these to speed up the job: for infographics, video creation, flyer design, blog ideas generator.
ACTION: Share it in a quick campaign (45 mins)
Don’t stop at repurposing the content item. Share it with your customers - wherever you think it can have the greatest impact.
Decide how you will present it to your customers: e.g. as a freely available educational item, a more valuable gated content offer, a bit of technical advice, an essential update, etc.
Build and schedule the content: get the content loaded onto the relevant channel
Be ready to measure: this is critical!
Being able to measure your quick campaign is an essential step. It will help you to understand how effective you’ve been and how you can improve on it to be even more helpful. Ensure the tools you’re using allow you to measure your performance.
#4 Make your website work for you
Your website is the most important tool in your marketing bag of tricks. It is the channel that your customers will interact most with and through which you can have the most impact.
So, yes, it is important.
But what condition is your website in right now?
Hopefully your website is an asset you tend to regularly and keep performing well. Part of that includes a semi-regular audit of your site to identify problem areas and keep things humming along.
There are many tools to help you do this. Some go a lot deeper than others. For now, to help you be more helpful sooner, focus on completing a high-level website audit and using the results to identify a few key areas where you can make high impact tweaks.
ACTION: Perform a Website Audit (30 mins)
The free tool we recommend for the job is Hubspot’s Website Grader. It is an intuitive tool that doesn’t get too technical. In under 30 seconds it will assess your site and give you the results in terms of:
An overall score
It also provides links to helpful resources, based on where you need to improve.
ACTION: Improve key areas of website (60 mins)
How did you go?
If you’ve scored in the 90s, great work. There’s probably not too much for you to do, except pat yourself on the back.
If you scored lower, then you’ve got some work to do. If some of the suggestions are too technical for you or if you’re just not sure where to start, the best place to begin is SEO.
The Search Engine Optimisation tips provided in the Website Grader are the basics every website should have right. Read through the extra articles they provide if you need more insights or help. These updates will get you on the way to a more inbound and human-centred website.
#5 Start measuring
But no less important.
It’s all about metrics.
For your business to become more helpful and more human for your customers, you need to first understand what they currently think of you. Do they already find you helpful? Or painful? How? There are two ways to discover the answers:
Talk to your customers - which you can do through surveys, feedback, and your customer-facing employees.
Measure your customer interactions - which you can do by continuously capturing data across every channel where you interact with prospects and customers.
Since data measurement is something you should have in place, working passively for you always, that’s what we’re going to focus on. The following is a list of some of the channels you may be using and which you should be able to monitor:
blog e.g. as above or maybe on a separate blogging platform
How many of these do you currently measure?
How often do you review your data to uncover useful insights?
How effectively do you put these insights to work by optimising your existing marketing and developing new ideas?
ACTION: Build a dashboard (30mins)
Metrics are free.
Sure you can pay for access to advanced metrics and reporting tools. But as a minimum you should be able to get data on everything digital you do without spending a cent - so there’s no excuse to not measure your marketing.
Most marketing system have metrics built in. This includes platforms like social media and email marketing, which give you access to plenty of insights on user activity and behaviour
Your website, depending on what platform it was built on, may have some in-built metrics. But it is always important to have Google Analytics plugged in too, to allow more in depth analysis.
Ideally you should be summarising your analytics in a Marketing Dashboard.
There are three main options, with some free entry points:
There are pros and cons to each.
Building your own dashboard requires little technical know-how and low cost - just some elbow grease. But it requires you to manually source and update data every month.
Standalone BI dashboard tools like Databox make things easier by letting you plug in all your digital marketing sources into one location, so that your dashboard is always up to date. And they provide ready-to-go templates that you can customise freely.
Integrated marketing platforms like Hubspot also allow you to plug in all your data in one location. They go a step further by allowing you to visualise relationships between different activities and channels (e.g. how a campaign is performing) to gain deeper insights.
Where to begin?
A good place to start is to try Databox or Hubspot free versions. Plug in your website (via Google Analytics) as a minimum. Then use one of the standard dashboard templates to visualise the most essential metrics. Then you need to start unlocking insights from the data, not just look at numbers.
This article provides guidance and some practical exercises on how to do this in Hubspot.
Get this list as a downloadable PDF
Becoming more helpful
Hopefully this to-do list gets you on your way to building a more helpful and human approach for your marketing - to becoming more Inbound - and to realising the goals and growth targets for your business.
If you can see the benefits of the Inbound approach for your business, the challenge now is to continue with it. To make “helpful and human” a priority for your business and adopt the inbound methodology, starting with your marketing strategy and planning.
Talk to us if you want to know how to go about this.
We love helping industrial businesses succeed with inbound marketing.
We are an outsourced marketing department for your business, working alongside you to develop the strategy, setup the systems and execute the plans. We provide as much support as you need, in conjunction with whatever internal marketing resources you already have.
Give me (David Leahy, Marketing Strategist and Founder of Brucey Industrial Marketing) a call to find out more.