As a fellow Cambridge resident, I have a particular affinity for HubSpot. There’s something fantastic about having a resource in my neck of the woods to nerd out with content and contacts, engagements and touchpoints: in other words, all things inbound. But proximity aside, there are some very real reasons why I have come to enjoy – and rely upon – my relationship with HubSpot.
As a modern MarComm professional, understanding inbound marketing is essential. Being able to work within the intersection of paid, owned and earned media translates into more effective strategies for brand awareness and lead generation.
In order to tap the potential of this “trifecta,” however, you must start at the beginning: by telling a story.
In order to reinforce this point, let me tell you a story of my own: how I made HubSpot my best friend (ok, best “work-friend”), how you can, too, and how this strong relationship will in turn create a stronger bond with your customers and prospects.
Learn more about integrated marketing and PR, read: Defining Your Integrated Marketing & PR Strategy.
The meet cute. When working with an inbound marketing platform, it’s important to realize that there will always be nuances that require expertise – and setup is key as a foundation for success. Having a go-to resource for consultation means that you can dive into the particulars without losing sight of strategy or best practices. The initial conversations about inbound marketing programs are what establish expectations, helping to define realistic goals and affirm that the path you’re taking will be a step in the right direction for long-term success. So, whether you’re working directly with HubSpot or with a third party contact, you’ll want to make a tight connection early on – cue the next chapter in the story (and add said contact to speed dial). It has made all the difference.
Exchanging digits (and data). A lot rests upon the first month(s) of a blossoming friendship – and the same is true for an inbound marketing program. What are your first impressions built upon? Likely who takes initiative – and how that is communicated. Is this new pal responsive? Honest with feedback? Open to new ideas? Starting with an inbound marketing framework (like this HubSpot template) helps to create a baseline to measure for the future. This can pull from other sources – previous email marketing campaigns, GA, AdWords, paid social media campaigns, content marketing, you name it – while being mindful that the outcomes will be shaped by a number of different tactics. Setting the tone from the beginning requires taking the time to dial in those numbers and jumping in with a good faith effort. The important thing is to ask the right questions at this stage in the game. If you’re setting up a foundation of trust, you’ll want to dig into your inquisitive nature to probe for what you’ll need up front so that you can realize all you stand to gain with inbound marketing.
Source: startupstockphotos.com used under CC license.
Learning something new – together – every day. For inbound marketing campaigns to work, they have to stay fresh. To prevent things from getting stale, marketers can take a page from the book of life. What pop culture tie-ins can be made? What seasonal activities will resonate with consumers and professionals, alike? Working in predominantly B2B technology myself, I can attest to the importance of creativity in the face of enterprise routine. Fortunately, there are a number of resources out there that serve as reminders to keep your content interesting – and HubSpot is full of helpful tips to get you there.
A recent piece of premium content we developed, for example, was a big hit: ‘Building an IT “dream team”’ more than doubled click rates and visits simply because it tied managed services to March Madness! When content can be captivating through analogies, formats, landing page design support and better online reading experiences, the proof is in the pudding. And that takes a concerted effort between friends.
Sharing is Caring. Ever have a friend who can’t learn to share? In the world of marketing, sharing is caring – and those who keep creative suggestions close to the vest can get the boot. By giving your team a good sense of what’s on the horizon and leveraging what’s available to greet every new campaign as a new way to reach people – old friends or new – is a great way to approach inbound in a meaningful way. This means taking a look at all of the available resources at play, whether events, creative assets, thought leadership or upcoming company announcements. How can they work in harmony? Getting these things in order requires a content calendar – here’s a handy one. From there, clear ownership can set the stage for a better long-term inbound marketing strategy, ensuring nothing (and no one) falls through the cracks.
Introduce them to your circle(s) of friends. One important thing to keep in mind is that inbound marketing strategies should include strong personas built within them. They should correspond to your contact lists within HubSpot – so that you can share relevant, personalized information with your customers and prospects. By doing so, you’ll be starting each campaign with a clear audience in mind, so that you and your team can work from a strong sense of identity, pain points and cohesive themes to build out topics that are compelling, not generic.
Friends who play together, stay together. Keeping things entertaining from a content perspective is one thing; keeping things lively behind the scenes is another. Are you stopping to reflect on the quality of your campaigns? Are you getting jazzed about goals? Setting your eyes on new targets? Adding some variety to the different touchpoints you’re sending out onto the World Wide Web? Mixing up the channels through which you’re opening up the doors for customers and prospects to discover your awesomeness? The answer should be “yes” to all of the above. Your team needs to get on board with this approach to inbound marketing, and your technology should support you on this journey. Experimenting and testing creates opportunities for a sustained relationship, relying both on inbound marketing tools to set up the process and on your marketing gurus to foster the environment with the ideas to drive them.
When we had a conversation recently with a client about their goals, we realized a key missing link to their inbound marketing efforts: our heavy focus on email marketing was overlooking the bigger picture of generating entirely new contacts. Because we had compelling content and a close partnership, we could make adjustments and recommendations to support more social, organic and referral traffic, focusing first on a content marketing campaign that captured more than 86,000 impressions and nearly 400 clicks through to their website with minimal spend over a one-week period.
Staying in touch. Friendships evolve over time, and so must your outreach to customers and prospects. Adjusting lists, segmenting contacts and adding in workflows will make you applicable to those you’re reaching out to, no matter what stage of the customer journey they’re on. Nothing is worse than scaring someone away by being a little overeager. Be cool, listen to their needs and show up when you’re needed, and you’ll be a fast friend when it matters most.
Building in logic helps sales in the long run, too, by understanding how invested a contact is. If you scale out your content, starting with top-of-funnel awareness pieces and moving down to mid- and bottom-of-the-funnel assets (company-specific information, sales sheets and assessment tools, for example), you’ll be able to gauge their decision-making process so that your sales can nurture the lead with greater specificity. Surprise and delight them – and with some help from the resources available to you for inbound marketing, you can do just that.
Friends are hard to come by, and good partners can be even harder to find. As the Beatles said, “I get by with a little help from my friends” – and finding the right ones will help you immensely as a marketer today.