Centerpiece of a Successful Inbound Marketing Plan: A Proven Process
Two posts ago I promised to talk about having an online marketing plan. I got distracted but am now tracking back to this important topic. Part of the post will be about Hubspot, the Boston company that has embraced inbound marketing and made its mission to help businesses – including mine – coordinate and analyze their rather complex inbound marketing activities.
In honor of Hubspot – the centerpiece of my inbound marketing plan — I’m offering a musical post – my old friend, jazz scat singer and ‘hipster’ Giacomo Gates singing the Harry “Sweets” Edison tune Centerpiece, with lyrics by Jon Hendricks. Onward!
Many small to mid-size businesses (SMSB) are confused about online/inbound marketing. They think that if they’re on Facebook and/or other social media they’re good to go. Or they’ll go out and hire an SEO agency to get them higher in search results. Let’s say that all builds traffic. Then what??
Traffic doesn’t help unless you convert it to leads and nurture leads to convert them to customers – or better, advocates for your company. Generating traffic is only the first top-of-the-sales-funnel step to building business using the web. And let’s agree that the web is our best chance for growth.
It helps to have a good strategic grasp of the big picture, a process and a plan. Or you may expend a lot of effort in online activities, but with no clear idea of how or whether it will help you get to your business goals. Even I whose business is helping others build their web presence have struggled with my own efforts. We haven’t been doing this stuff all that long, after all. Read this recent blog post and you’ll see what I mean. A process and plan definitely help.
I remember complaining to Hubspot founder and CEO Brian Halligan – who practically invented inbound marketing with his partner Dharmesh Shah – that I know Hubspot works and believe in the process, but time was so tight and I was hoping to do it soon – on and on.
Brian listened to my excuses and with a big grin on his face said, “Get with the program, girl. You just have to commit to it and do it.” Well, he was so cute and he’s so brilliant that I couldn’t argue with his advice. I didn’t even mind that he called me ‘girl’. He got away with it, I got with the program. And so can you!!!
However you decide to pursue building your business online, you have to put a plan in place that addresses the following:
- Get found
Each of these pieces has a number of moving parts and choices to make.
To get found, you have to build great searchable content. Blogging works best. You have to optimize your site and the content you create. That’s where SEO comes in as a supporting player. Not a be-all-end-all.
To convert the traffic you’ll build, you’ll want to offer useful content in exchange for contact info. At first, when a potential buyer is in the information gathering stage or they don’t know your company yet, maybe all they’ll be willing to give for your content is an email address. That’s fine. Keep cranking out helpful content and eventually they’ll be willing to give more in return.
At this point you can nurture the relationship with emails or even phone calls – more direct interactions. The better relationship you build, the better chance you’ll make the sale when your prospect is ready.
Case in point is my relationship with Hubspot. I partook – and still do — of the incredible volume of content they produce – often feeling like an absolute glutton – until I pulled the trigger and became a customer. In the interest of full disclosure, as an inbound marketing consultant, I’m also a Hubspot Partner and Reseller.
The most critical aspect of your online marketing plan is analytics. Hopefully you use a web analytics program. Google Analytics is very robust — and free. So no excuses. Google keeps adding features so that you can track most of your online existence these days. If you don’t measure what’s working and what’s not, you can’t refine your online plan to the make the best use of your time and budget. None of us small/medium company entrepreneurs have anything to waste – so measure.
I promise you can make progress toward your revenue goals if you first understand the process of inbound marketing, choose the right tools/tactics and analyze your activities. You’ll be accountable to your prospects, customers AND your bottom line with a process as the centerpiece of your plan.