It’s natural for those starting Inbound campaigns to have questions. Whether they revolve around expected investment, activity, results or ROI, here are some common FAQs.
10 Common Inbound Marketing Questions Answered
Though the term ‘Inbound Marketing has been around for a decade (coined by HubSpot founder Brian Halligan in 2015), the Inbound Marketing Methodology is still one of the most effective ways to market today, with growth exploding in recent years.
But if you’re one of the three out of four marketers across the globe now prioritising an Inbound approach, you likely have questions.
1: What is Inbound Marketing?
First up, the basics. Inbound Marketing strategies exist due to the ineffectiveness of traditional, interruptive marketing techniques.
Earning the relevant attention of good-fit prospects (also known as Buyer Personas) is the goal of Inbound campaigns. Using a wide range of digital content, an Inbound marketing strategy works to attract good-fit buyers, then educates and nurtures them through their purchase journey (rather than interrupting and hard selling to potentially inappropriate or uninterested buyers).
Digital technology plays a huge part here; as digital channels have evolved, buyers now use them to research solutions to their problems prior to making purchase decisions. In order to reach these buyers, marketers must not only be active in the digital space, but recognise their buyer’s challenges, and demonstrate niche expertise to build trust.
2: Why Has Inbound Marketing Evolved?
Simply, because we’re all more technology-savvy than ever before. So with buyers using online tools to do their own market research before purchasing, marketers need to have a solid online marketing presence - attracting relevant buyers to the right, appropriate results - to succeed.
To see more on just how much marketing has changed, Hubspot have produced this great infographic on the History of Marketing. It shows marketing’s transition over the last century; moving from traditional outbound methods of (print, billboards, telemarketing etc), through the introduction of the digital age and into modern digital and Inbound marketing.
3: What Marketing Activities Does Inbound Include?
To ensure a successful campaign, there are several activities that must be included. These should all be plotted out when planning an Inbound strategy.
- Persona development: identifying and understanding who your best-fit prospects are, and their key challenges that you can address.
- Blogging: writing about topics that you know will interest your personas, to attract them to your site and begin that relationship with them.
- Content writing: producing a wide range of content (eBooks, blogs, whitepapers, webinars etc) that address buyer challenges throughout the Buyer’s Journey, to nurture them through the purchase funnel.
- Social media: building strong relationships with potential and current prospects - social selling - is a key Inbound sales activity. Social is also a strong promotional channel for content.
- SEO: ensuring a website appear well in search rank is important. Search is still one of the most important channels for buyers looking for solutions.
- Landing pages: creating quality relevant content and gating it behind a landing page is the first key step in quality lead generation.
- Email: sending personalised, topical emails is key to nurture leads through the purchase funnel
- Marketing and Sales alignment: Inbound marketing and sales teams work together; sales must use marketing’s historical data on a lead to understand their context, and marketing must ensure the right content is in place to nurture leads to sales ready qualification.
79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing in 2013. - HubSpot State of Inbound, 2013
You can use our Inbound marketing checklist to ensure your campaign has the key points covered.
Note: If you are new to some of this terminology, you may find our Glossary of Inbound Marketing Jargon & Terms useful.
4: How Much Is A Typical Inbound Investment?
This is the million dollar question, and it depends very much on budget, and multiple other factors - from whether you’re going to restructure and retrain your marketing and sales departments, to whether you will invest in a marketing automation platform.
A full 12-month campaign investment typically sits between £25,000 and £60,000 per annum. This variance depends on a number of factors including monthly lead volumes, financial targets and growth expectations, as well as internal resources to help with implementation.
After initial discussions, a reputable agency will be able to provide an accurate figure.
5: How Often Should I Publish Content?
The level of content you produce will of course depend on your resources, but as we’ve found in our recent blogging case study, you should aim to produce upward of 11 blogs per month to see a distinct rise in traffic.
84% of Inbound marketers - compared to only 9% of outbound marketers - cite organic sources (blogging, SEO, social media) as rising in importance. - HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014
You should also regularly produce content that maps to address challenges throughout each Buyer’s Journey stage. From whitepapers to webinars, this range of content and information helps to ensures effective lead nurture.
Keep in mind here that quality is always a priority over quantity. Your content must be relevant; offering value through helping buyers address their challenges, to have effect. Note too, that as long as your content continues to address key buyer challenges, it will continue to bring value back into your business.
6: What Is Marketing Automation Vs. What Is Inbound Marketing?
Are these the same or can you do one without the other? Let’s start with Inbound Marketing.
Inbound marketing is designed to attract relevant prospects to your website by helping them with content tailored to address their challenges. It is a persuasive, rather than interruptive, method of informing potential customers, and works to build solid, trusted relationships with buyers.
Marketing automation software is designed to streamline the management of Inbound marketing tasks. A marketing automation platform (such as HubSpot) will enable you to manage campaigns, from content to email workflows, will help manage leads and nurture activity, and will align marketing and sales with accurate closed-loop reporting.
7: How To Measure Inbound ROI?
Return on investment means different things to different people.
- The marketing team will want to be able to measure KPIs such as lead volume, quality, and traffic.
- The Sales team will want to know that marketing can deliver higher quality qualified leads, and will want to see conversion and close rates improve.
- Thinking traditional ROI, the Financial Director will want to know that the financial investment in the campaign can be (at least) recouped, and will want to know what revenue growth can be expected. Inbound ROI calculators are a good way to assess initial projected ROI.
There are many tools and metrics that can be used to evaluate ROI and these will very much depend on your own business goals. Hubspot’s article on Essential Marketing Metrics gives a good guide on KPIs to monitor for ROI.
Marketers who have prioritised blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI. - HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014
8: How Do I Justify Inbound Investment?
Adopting an Inbound marketing strategy will require a financial investment, which of course must be justified back to the business.
Before suggesting investment, consider:
- Your sales cycle. Before you invest, determine if your sales cycle is suited to Inbound Marketing. A reputable agency will assess your business challenges, budget and goals, to help you determine if Inbound is a solution.
- How long you want a campaign to run for. Inbound Marketing is not a quick-fix, low-cost route to market. Therefore it is important that you base your investment decision on historical data to get reasonable long term ROI predictions.
- Rethinking your current marketing budget. Some of your current marketing activity costs (e.g. content development) will be included Inbound campaign activity, so can therefore be recouped.
- The varying cost of Inbound campaigns. The price of campaigns will vary dependant on your unique needs, and will be influenced by a number of factors from your own internal resources, to your monthly lead volumes, financial goals and growth expectations. Tools and calculators are available however, which can estimate potential ROI/investment costs based on your own historical data (length of sales cycles, number of leads, financial goals etc).
- Researching the cost difference of in-house vs. agency campaign management. There can be a substantial difference in investment between the two. When hiring an Inbound Marketing agency, for example, that investment will include their Inbound marketing expertise, tools, software, reporting, support, and technical skills - from web development to platform integration, content creation, strategy planning and more. For fast implementation especially, it is wise to review the pros and cons of hiring an agency vs. hiring an in-house team, but the option you choose will largely depend on your budget and long term goals.
9: When Will I See Results?
As Inbound marketing is a process of developing the right strategies and forming strong relationships with quality leads, it is a longer term strategy, and typically suits those with long sales cycles.
Successful campaigns hinge on clear planning, and defining realistic financial and lead targets by aligning against historical data. Your sales cycle length, current lead volumes, average order value, buyer personas and the % of total marketing revenue you are attributing to an Inbound strategy will all affect when you see results.
10: Will Inbound Work For My Business?
There are certain criteria that are best met to ensure that an Inbound Marketing strategy will work for your business:
- If your product/service is complex, cannot be bought off the shelf and your prospect needs advice/guidance, then you are a good match
- Similar to the above, if your sales cycle is typically long, an Inbound strategy will suit
- As a rule of thumb, if your customer lifetime value is high (say £500+), this is a good indicator
- A broad financial indicator is that Inbound Marketing will work for companies with an annual revenue of around £10m - but this is not set in stone as many companies with smaller revenues run successful Inbound campaigns.
- Typically B2B industries are best suited to Inbound marketing
- If you are going to adopt an Inbound marketing approach using internal resources, ensure that everyone in-house is trained in the new methodology. If you are using an agency, it is advisable to have at least one internal point of contact to spearhead the activity.
Whether or not you choose an Inbound campaign depends on multiple factors, from the nature of your business, to your budget, buyers and goals.
But as Inbound is a method that prioritises appropriate helping and building relationships with digital buyers, it is likely to remain solid and good investment for a long time to come.
This post first appeared on B2B Inbound Marketing & Web Design Blog By Strateg, please read the originial post: here