It's no secret: most businesses are trying to grow. That growth is achievable through sales, but collecting qualified sales leads is often the most difficult part of the growth process.
So what if the leads came to you?
What if you didn't need to work so hard to pull in leads?
Enter An Inbound Marketing Strategy
Inbound marketing centers around content and processes that draw in more visitors. Ideally, those visitors go on to become leads based on what they see and learn in the time they spend on your website.
But is an inbound marketing strategy right for everyone?
Here are ten indicators that inbound marketing might be a good fit for you.
- Your buyers' decision-making process typically involves at least some time and research
- You wish you could tell interested parties more so that they could make educated decisions
- You primarily rely on ads (and their cost) to produce website visits
- You have several months for the content development process to generate more leads
- You aren't embarrassed by your website
- You need to prove the ROI of your marketing efforts
- You have a reasonable marketing budget to use
- You have a plan in place to follow up on new leads
- You have an internal marketing expert (or team) to lead the inbound marketing program
- You're tired of using 3, 4, 5 (or more) different marketing and social media services to get the job done
Ten Signs It's Time to Start Your Inbound Marketing Program
1. The buyer's decision-making process Typically involves at least some time and research
Inbound marketing is popular in virtually every industry, but we find that it's most effective in situations that involve a longer decision-making process.
- Try to create content that addresses the questions you commonly hear
- You should also offer answers to questions that you wish your buyers could know
- As an added bonus, this helps enhance your SEO
Some decisions just don't involve much consideration beforehand. Choosing where to eat lunch or figuring out where to find the nearest emergency room doesn't involve a whole lot of time to think. Businesses that cater to needs like these might not always benefit from inbound marketing in the same way that other businesses do.
- Generally speaking, inbound marketing can be implemented effectively for most organizations
- It's not always as clear-cut in some situations as it is in others, though
2. You wish you could tell interested parties more so they could make an educated decision
Have you ever said, "If we could give our audience a full explanation of why our [insert product or service] is so different, they wouldn't even lump us in with these other companies"?
Well, here's your shot to explain yourself.
- Tell the world why they should choose you using blog content
- The more content you have on the topics you're trying to rank for organically, the more likely you'll be found!
Our note of caution: Present information like this in a way that's helpful-- not pushy. An educational approach that is less "salesy" works better than an aggressive one when potential buyers are weighing their options.
3. You're Mostly relying on ads (and their cost) to produce website visits
I'm in no way say that you shouldn't use ads to increase traffic to your website. However, if online ads drive the majority of visitors to your site, you'll lose that audience as soon as the ads are turned off.
- There is no long-lasting asset left at the end of a PPC ad campaign
- When you work an inbound strategy for several months, you're rewarded with that asset
Using ads as a part of your overall inbound marketing plan can be beneficial and is encouraged, but don't let that be your only marketing strategy.
4. You have several months for the content development process to generate more leads
If you need results in the next two weeks, you should probably look at ads. They're usually the way to go if you need to market short-term.
- If you have patience, consistency, and a great strategy to spare, then you can develop content that draws visitors to your website instead
The #1 most visited blog on our website was written two years ago! Great inbound marketing doesn't happen overnight.
- Prepare yourself for the Gap of Disappointment during the first six months of your inbound marketing process
- Don't get discouraged-- results are on their way! See Month 7!
5. you AREn't embarrassed of Your Website
Your website doesn't need to be perfect; and the truth is, it never will be; but you also don't want a website that makes it impossible for visitors to find answers to their questions or figure out how to contact you.
- If your website needs serious help, create your inbound plan first
- This will allow you what to update within the site (and when)
Sometimes, you need a whole new website (or a pretty large overhaul) to "go inbound--" and that's okay! There are great personalization tools that can make a tremendous difference in your visitors' experience.
- Website updates can be performed in tandem with the first steps of your inbound marketing plan
6. You need to prove the ROI of your marketing efforts
Every marketer has been asked to prove that their efforts work. PPC ads pave one avenue for this. They produce a number of leads generated by each campaign. So, if you have a value tied to a new customer, it's easy to determine whether the ads are worth the money.
- Using inbound software makes it easy to indicate if and when a lead becomes a customer
- From there, you can illustrate how you gained the lead (what they did each time they were on the site, what won the sale, and the date they become a customer)
Yes, some of that has to be entered in by those who are aware of when someone becomes a customer. But, it's absolutely worth the effort to have meaningful reports to show the executive team just how well your marketing efforts are working.
7. You're working with a budget
We can't stress this enough: running an inbound strategy doesn't just take time-- it requires money.
Organic search results are almost never accidental. They're generated through strategy, time, and a budget. Say it out loud with me, "We need a budget!"
- A few months (even 6) spent inbound marketing won't get you where you need to be
- Some scenarios allow for "baby-stepping" up to the full program, but it doesn't generate the same results as going all-in
- Plan to inbound market for a minimum for a year; some industries require more or less time
8. You have a plan to follow up on New leads
It's great when inbound marketing starts generating sales leads. You need a way to manage them. At what point do you need a salesperson to step in?
- We can help you generate leads all day; but id a buyer needs to speak to a salesperson to complete a purchase, you need a sales team that's trained and ready to go
- If you don't already have a CRM, it's time to consider one; HubSpot's is free (we use and recommend it)
- A CRM will give your team comprehensive insight into leads' history, activities, and integration
We have a comparison between HubSpot and SalesForce you may be interested in reading our blog: How HubSpot CRM Won Our Hearts.
9. You have an internal marketing Expert (or Team) to lead the inbound marketing program
Inbound marketing demand regular attention. You need someone in your corner who is committed to the details day-in and day-out. Maybe that you-- but if it's not, you need to have someone identified.
- Even if you work with a marketing agency, someone needs to handle blog and content approvals, reporting reviews, strategy meetings, etc.
- Usually, someone from the marketing department tackles this; sometimes, someone from a sales support team is designated
10. You're sick of using 3, 4, 5 (or more) different marketing and social media services to get your job done
If you're juggling handfuls of platforms for blogging, landing pages, marketing emails, and social media, you're a prime candidate for using an inbound marketing software platform.
- Platforms like these don't just corral functions together; they also give you access to other features (like automated marketing services) that make it easy to grow the relationship between the lead and your company
- HubSpot's free CRM also gives the sales team insight into all of a lead's activities on the website, phone calls placed, deals, etc.
Things that you shouldn't worry about:
Does inbound marketing work for B2B and B2C?
Yes. As long as you're targeting your audience correctly, understand buying behavior and follow the format for attracting, converting and nurturing leads you're going to be able to produce results.
What if we don't have anything to say in a blog?
We bet you do, you just don't know it yet. Take some time to understand your marketing and sales goals, then brainstorm some ideas on what you could do for blogs and downloadable/premium content that is used to turn visitors into leads.
If you're not clear on what you'd blog about to gain more visibility in search results, start here-- five ways to create original inbound content.
We have a free guide available you can use to see how inbound marketing works, along with some ideas for deciding which inbound activities are best for you to use.
If you're thinking about inbound and would like an honest opinion about it please schedule a free consultation with our team. We want clients to be successful so honesty about whether inbound is a good fit is important to both you and us!
Originally published August 2017. Updated July 2020.