8 Cringeworthy B2B Email Nurturing Mistakes that Leave Your Leads Dead in the Water

According to Gleanster Research, 50% of qualified leads aren’t ready to buy. 

Okay, so if they are interacting with your website, but they aren’t ready to buy, what are they doing? They are likely researching solutions to solve their problems and considering several options prior to making a purchase decision. 

The way that we as marketers help leads through the buyer’s journey, is by leveraging email nurture sequences, also known as lead nurturing. Lead Nurturing by definition is the process of building effective relationships with potential customers throughout the buying journey. 

One to one direct communication with all B2B leads isn’t scalable, but strategic email lead nurturing is, and it’s effective. The caveat? Email nurturing must be strategic. 

Here are 8 B2B email nurturing mistakes that will tank your conversion rates and leave your leads dead in the water.  

B2B email nurturing mistakes

Mistake #1: Not Having a Lead Nurturing Campaign at All

Every B2B company needs lead nurturing one way or another. Not convinced? Start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Do you have content available for download?
  2. Do you have a chatbot?
  3. Do you have a ‘Contact Us’ form on your website?
  4. Do you offer a demo or webinar?
  5. Do you a newsletter sign up?

If you answered yes to any of the above, email nurture sequences are for you. They do some of the heavy lifting by giving the potential buyer the information they need to help themselves, yet still provide them with the opportunity to easily raise their hand for sales. 

And let’s face it, if you’re not nurturing them, another company likely will and they’ll be drawn elsewhere.

Mistake #2: Forgoing Strategy and Research 

Nothing can turn your leads away faster than poorly targeted random marketing emails. Let strategy and research fuel your persona development and help you craft your marketing plan at large. Email lead nurturing should roll up nicely and be aligned across teams.

Interested in how Lake One does strategy? Here’s what we include.

Mistake #3: Not using personalization

Make sure your emails sound like they were written by a human being for another human being to read. 

If you’re using a marketing automation software like HubSpot, you’ve likely collected data that can be easily inserted into your emails to add a personal touch. It can be as simple as addressing the email with their first name or you can take it a step further. Do you know their role? Their job title? The more insights you can glean from your leads, the more tailored you can make your emails. 

Also, here’s a fun fact. 

B2B Email Nurturing Mistakes

Mistake #4: Death by sales pitch 

Not all leads are ready to buy the second they begin interacting with your brand, so hang tight on transcribing your elevator pitch.  

It’s important to meet personas where they are at in the buyer’s journey by providing relevant, helpful content. Videos, blogs, additional resources, case studies, and customer testimony are perfect tidbits that can be shared via email nurture campaigns.

Are sales pitches ever appropriate? Absolutely. There comes a point in the nurture sequence, which should be determined by user engagement, where you absolutely ‘ask for the sale’. Here are some ways to do that.

Mistake #5: CTA Overload

Every email should have at least one clear call-to-action (CTA), but too many CTAs can be a distraction. Not to mention, it makes for an ugly email. 

Pro Tip: If you’re unclear about the purpose of your email, the lead likely will be too. Take a step back and list out the email subject, primary CTA and secondary CTAs if you have them, in a doc prior to building out your sequence. 

B2B Email Nurturing Mistakes

Mistake #6: Radio Silence When Leads Engage 

This one seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised how often email replies go unanswered. If a lead replies to your nurture sequence, where does it go? Who checks the inbox? Whose responsibility is it to reply? Make sure to have a game plan in place prior to launching.

What’s worse than silence? Any of these mistakes!

Mistake #7: Thinking Lead Nurturing is One and Done

The more blogs I write, the more I feel like a broken record that’s stuck on research and optimization. But it’s so true. Lead nurture emails are perfect candidates for optimization and should be based on research.

Not sure where to start the optimization process? Let the data be your guide vs intuition. Subject lines, CTAs, and email timing are all great optimization candidates if the data points are lackluster.

Mistake #8: Keeping Sales in the Dark 

Lead conversion is a team effort and often a result of both the sales and marketing team working towards the same goals

Lead Scoring Guide

When it comes to workflows and email nurture, it’s especially critical that sales and marketing align and have a system in place to signify when a lead is actively talking to sales or vice versa. Nothing can confuse or in some cases, annoy your leads more than emails from several people at the same company. Not sure if you’re aligned? Here are some tips to check.

The good news, this can be easily avoided if you’re using HubSpot by leveraging enrollment criteria, lists, and lead status. 

Practical Ways to Implement A/B Testing on Conversion Funnels

A conversion funnel is what we call the path a user follows to convert on a landing page. You can read more about the basics here, but the parts that make up a conversion funnel are the CTA, Landing Page, Thank You Page, and the Thank You Email. As marketers and business people, we want people to convert, but sometimes our marketing underperforms or our guts say that good performance could be better. So then we test. Here are practical ways to implement A/B testing on conversion funnels and improve their performance. 

Implement A/B Testing

A/B Testing CTAs

CTA testing in HubSpot could not be any easier. By creating two versions of your CTAs- A and B- HubSpot will naturally serve the CTAs equally. When running multivariate CTA testing, we’re focusing the majority of our attention on the Click Rates because clicks are the main goal of a CTA. Submission rates are a secondary factor because they are mostly an indication of your landing page performance. The caveat here is relevance, though. High clicks and low submission rates can be an indication that the promise of your CTA is incongruent with that of your landing page. The messaging of one or the other may need to be adjusted. 

Not all leads are created equal! Download our Lead Scoring Guide to learn how to automate your lead qualification.

In this example, version A and B were created at the same time. After a few months of testing, both have nearly identical views, but the clicks on version B are a full percentage point higher. At this point, since we have a decent amount of data, it might be time to create a new version “A” to see if we can beat or at least match version B.

Implement A/B Testing

A/B Testing Landing Pages

HubSpot also makes implementing A/B testing on landing pages super easy. What you’re looking at when testing landing pages are submissions. WordStream tells us we want 10% or higher to be considered among the best. Some of the things you could vary are your headlines and copy. You can even try testing the medium of your offer- guide vs eBook vs infographic etc.- to see what your audience is more compelled to utilize.

One of the biggest advantages to A/B testing a landing page is to see how the length of a form affects your submissions. As marketers, we of course want as much data as we can get, but we also know that there’s a breaking point in what we request. High-value offers have a higher threshold for longer forms. To test, create two variants of your landing page- one with a shorter form and one with a more complex form- to find out where your persona’s threshold is. If you can get away with having a longer form and requesting more information without your submissions rates suffering, go for it.

If you’re not sure where to start with your landing page testing, you can try setting up heat mapping to see exactly how your users are interacting with your page. You might find people are leaving right away (a better headline or more appealing design, perhaps?) or abandoning the form (shorten that sucker up!). Bounce rates can also indicate where to start.

Bonus: are your landing pages optimized for SEO? Learn more about it here.

A/B Testing Thank You Pages

You create Thank You Pages (TYPs) variants the same way you do Landing Pages in HubSpot. So what are you looking for here? Engagement. You want people to access their offer (via a link or a button) and then go on to engage with the site. This is where you have the opportunity to move them through the funnel or charm them with delight. You can create full variants of your TYP or try testing a CTA within your TYP as we discussed above. 

A/B Testing Thank You Emails (Kind of)

Thank You Emails are the automated emails that send after a user submits a form. They can be set up directly on the landing page form or via a workflow. Unfortunately, you cannot implement A/B testing of automated emails in HubSpot. But, there are a few ways to get around it. What you want to measure by testing thank you emails are your open rates and click rates.

Lead Scoring Guide

Open rates are correlated to the strength of your subject line. To test, benchmark your current views and opens then manually make and publish your updates to the same email. Allow your updates to gather data and then measure performance against your benchmarked data. Rinse and repeat.

You can test the click rates in your thank you emails by creating multivariate CTAs as discussed in the CTA section above. You can also manually update the copy and hyperlinks to your “next step” offer (whatever action you’ve included in your TYE that you want your user to take next such as downloading a different offer or contacting you for a consult). Benchmark your stats and revisit often to check the efficacy of your updates. 

The Conversion Funnel: Inbound Marketing Basics

Conversion funnel by definition can mean a few different things depending on the source, but here at Lake One, when we talk about conversion funnel as it relates to an inbound marketing program, we’re talking about the call-to-action, landing page, thank you page, and follow-up email that supports our inbound efforts. 

Read on to learn more about the key components of a conversion funnel along with some insider tips for implementation.  

conversion funnel

Call-to-Actions

With content consumption at an all-time high among consumers, Call-to-Actions (CTAs) are uber important. 

In Marketing, a call-to-action (CTA) is an instruction to your target buyer designed to provoke an immediate response. Figuratively speaking, CTAs are a hand wave or an arrow saying, “Hey! Look over here. We have something you might like!” 

CTAs use action words to direct the user. For example, ‘download this white paper now’, ‘click here’ and ‘watch the video’. There are so many examples of CTAs, but a few elements stay consistent across the board.

  • Headline: Write a header that makes it clear and easy to see what it is you’re offering.
  • Sub Header: Explain the value to the user of what you’re offering, but keep it concise. Space is limited. 
  • Image: Include an image that relates to what you’re offering to catch the user’s eye and add additional context.
  • Action Words: Here’s where you actually say what action you want the user to take (download here) typically called out by a button or highlighted differently in some way.

Below is an example of a Lake One’s CTAs. Go ahead. Click on it 

LinkedIn Marketing Guide

Landing Page 

Although the majority of B2B businesses are using landing pages, not all landing pages are created equal. 

Landing pages are different than your other website pages for a few reasons and should contain at a minimum, the following elements.

No Page Navigation

Landing pages should be designed to be lean mean converting machines and the full navigation menu can distract users. We want them to submit the form and get down to business. 

Above the Fold

Keep the main gist of your offer (body copy, image, form, CTA, etc.) above the fold. If the CTA is below the fold and requires a scroll, conversion rates could suffer. You want to make it as easy as possible for the user to convert.

Landing Page Copy

The copy should have a header, a subheader, a few sentences that explain your offering in more detail, and then roughly 3 – 5 supporting bullets that talk about the user benefits of your offer and what the user can expect by submitting the form.

Image

Include an image on your landing page that depicts the offer. The image should be sized appropriately and placed in close proximity to the copy and the CTA making sure to add value and not distract the user from converting.

Here’s an example of the type of image we like to use. Click to see the full funnel in use.

conversion funnel

Form

Forms are an absolute must. They are the method you’ll use to capture the lead’s information in exchange for whatever your offering. Make sure that your ask matches the value of the offer. For example, if you have a form 10 questions deep for an infographic, you’ll likely scare away your user.

Insider Tip: My favorite form field is ‘Role’. Role is imperative because it essentially identifies the lead by persona. Role identification allows us to better tailor our workflows, and, not to mention, it gives us better insight into who is actually submitting our forms and engaging with our content. Oh and the bonus is, we’ve found that ‘Role’ is a light ask for the user as it doesn’t hold the same trepidation that company name or phone number can.

Needing help setting up your conversion funnels and forms might be a sign it’s time to hire a digital marketing agency. Learn about the other indicators here.

CTA 

All landing pages must have a CTA that’s clearly visible and intuitive to the user as to what they’re getting and what step to do next. 

Truthfully, the above just scratches the surface on the information available on landing pages and best practices. Here is an awesome infographic by Unbouncedescribing additional elements of a landing page if you want to learn more. 

Thank You Page

Some conversion funnel implementations don’t use a ‘Thank You Page’ (TYP), but we are big fans. In short, a TYP is just that- a page thanking the now lead for submitting their information via the form to obtain whatever it was you were offering. The TYP also hosts an actual link to the file, guide, case study, etc. 

If you’re peeking ahead and seeing that we deploy a follow-up email that also contains the asset link and thinking TYPs are pointless, they aren’t! TYPs have an important job and here are a few highlights on what they bring to your conversion funnel:

  • Trust: For some leads, submitting information via the form in hopes of obtaining an asset can feel a little uncomfortable. They are likely wondering if they’ll actually get the asset, will they start getting spammed and harassed, etc. TYPs are a chance to build trust with your lead by showing them you’ll give them what you promised and you’ll do it fast. 

Learn more about lead follow up strategies here.

  • Conversion: TYPs have prime real estate for additional CTAs. Make sure the CTAs are relevant and helpful in aiding in the next step of the buyer’s journey. Also, insider tip: Make sure the CTAs are not interfering with the user clicking on the asset to download it. It can go from helpful to intrusive quickly.
  • Brand & Site Exploration: Unlike landing pages, TYPs have a full navigation menu and can incorporate links to the company’s social media pages as well. It’s a chance for the lead to explore more on their own.
  • Tracking: Without getting too technical for the sake of this post, the TYP is a perfect place to fire your conversion pixel for tracking. Why? Because in order for the TYP to render, the form submission must be completed. You get the lead’s info, they get the asset. Bam. Conversion.

Follow-Up Email

Follow-up emails consist of a direct link to the piece of content (or whatever the CTA promised) and then an additional CTA to interact with your brand an additional way like a newsletter sign up or to check out your blog.

The emails are pretty simple, but we send them for a few reasons. 

  • User Experience: For example, if your offer is a download of a white paper, how convenient for the lead is it to have the white paper sent to their inbox vs needing to download it and save it right away? 
  • Conversion: It opens the door of communication with the lead via email and provides them with more ways to convert and interact with your brand right from their inbox. 
  • Lead Nurturing: Simple follow up emails can be a great segway into lead nurturing as the lead will have already received their first email from you. It seems more natural after sending the high-value first email to continue a cadence.

Key Takeaways

In summary, now that you know about the elements of a conversion funnel, here are a few reminders to take with you if you put the elements above into practice.

SEO. SEO. SEO.

All conversion funnel elements must be optimized for SEO. Think images, landing pages, meta descriptions, URLs, etc. All of it. 

Optimize. Rinse. Repeat.

Nothing in marketing is set it and forget it, including conversion funnels. Let the numbers be your optimization compass. They’ll point you to where you need to focus your attention first.

Marketing is for Humans.

When in doubt, always remember you’re content was created for humans and so were your conversion funnels. Where is your eye naturally drawn? Can you understand what you’re offering quickly and easily? A little humanity gut check can go a long way.

6 Common Misconceptions about Digital Marketing

Digital marketing encompasses all of the different marketing techniques that take place online. It can include any of the following, and more:

  1. Websites/Landing pages
  2. Social media marketing (SMM)
  3. Inbound marketing
  4. Content marketing
  5. Email marketing
  6. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
  7. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  8. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  9. Affiliate & Influencer marketing

There are all kinds of digital marketing companies and experts, critics and avid fans, so there is a lot of information (and misinformation) out there. Here are 6 common misconceptions about digital marketing.

 Misconceptions about Digital Marketing

1) Digital marketing is best suited for large businesses.

A major goal of digital marketing is to increase brand awareness and grow a business. Most small businesses have big aspirations- they’d like to become more well-known with strong desires to find and help their ideal customers. Digital marketing creates opportunities for small businesses that may not be possible with an offline-only presence.

Think an inbound digital strategy might be right for you? Click to find out.

Digital marketing allows you to reach potential customers both far and wide. Many successful small businesses have used digital marketing to grow and scale on a global level even without having a physical location. Moreover, social media provides a means to highlight important information and allows you to have one-on-one or one-to-many conversations, often without any money spent. It’s one of the more cost-effective ways to spread the word about the good work your company is doing. In many ways, it provides an equal opportunity to businesses of all shapes and sizes. You can start small and as you start seeing results, increase the time and money you put into it to increase your returns.

2) Digital marketing doesn’t need to play a part in company-wide goals.

Whatever your larger sales and company goals are, digital marketing should be a part of it. That is to say, it should be included in your overarching company strategy, aligned with your goals, brand, and vision from top to bottom. Sometimes marketing as a whole (not just digital) is put into a corner left to fend for itself. However, we know from experience that the most successful programs are aligned with the rest of the company and aimed at the same goals. Learn more about how you can align sales and marketing here.

3) Digital marketing is basically just creating a website.

If you spend time creating a stunning, interactive website and don’t do anything to promote it, how will people possibly find it? There are thousands of new websites popping up every single day; digital marketing is how you drive traffic to your website.

SEM/SEO paired with a solid content strategy, if done right, allow your information to be found when people are searching for what you offer. Once people actually reach your website, digital marketing efforts will continue to motivate people into a purchase or bottom of funnel action such as submitting a contact form. 

misconceptions about digital marketing

4) It’s too difficult to measure and track digital marketing’s ROI.

There are hundreds of affordable and easy to use tools and methods to track and measure your digital marketing efforts. Many of these platforms are essentially plug-and-play and can be implemented without tech expertise. Even if you need to pull in IT, tracking clicks, conversion rates, site traffic, etc. is far easier than tracking the effectiveness of a radio ad, for instance.  

No matter the method or tool utilized, one of the most important things is to be organized in the beginning and set definitive goals for your different digital marketing efforts. If you start with a SMART goal in mind including specific factors that point to success, along with a timeframe for when to evaluate, that starts you off on the right foot to track how things have gone since the beginning.  

5) Once digital marketing is set, you can forget it.

One of the most exciting and potentially difficult things about digital marketing is the fact that it is constantly evolving and shifting. What was once converting yesterday may not work tomorrow. For instance, short video content (15-45 seconds) was all the rage, but now 1:30-3 minute videos seem to be consumer preference. 

The constant change in the field means that you will need to keep your information and methods up to date or risk falling behind and getting lost in the shuffle. Another example is how Google updates its search algorithms continually. They won’t disclose what is actually included in the algorithm, but we do know that their algorithm values fresh, new information including info on your blogs and websites.

If you don’t have the time or desire to keep up with digital marketing methods or maintain fresh, new information, there are many effective digital marketing companies dedicated to doing that work for you.  

6) Digital Marketing needs to be perfect before launching.

One of the greatest things about digital marketing is it’s different for every company and even every initiative. Your company and offerings are as unique as your customers, and the best way to find what works for how to reach them is through trial and error.  

Here at Lake One, we believe in progress over perfection. So, don’t be afraid to try new things, keep track of what you’ve tried, and the results of those efforts. Put more effort into utilizing the methods that work well and simply let go of the things that don’t.

5 Signs Inbound Marketing is Right for Your Business

You probably already get the gist of inbound marketing if you’re reading this (here’s a refresher if you don’t). But how do you know if it’s right for your business? Here are five telltale signs that inbound marketing is right for you.

Inbound Marketing is Right

1) Your (Potential) Customers are Online

Let’s be honest, your customers are online. Even the majority of B2B purchase decisions are made online now. The expectation of all users is that you have a website that is not only easy on the eyes and simple to navigate but also answers their questions and provides value. Inbound marketing is a way to meet your consumers where they already are (online) rather than trying to find them via hit and miss traditional methods like radio or print.

What do you need to get started with inbound? Grab our checklist.

2) You’re Not Getting Enough Leads

The biggest complaint from salespeople is usually that they aren’t getting enough leads. Understandable. No leads, no sales. Inbound can be a great solution to that problem.

The inbound method aims to move buyers through the funnel at three different stages: awareness (top), consideration (middle), and decision (bottom). You can read more about those stages in this post. While there are many different ways you can help buyers along this journey, they usually involve collecting information from a user in exchange for whatever you’re offering. This is called lead generation. Once you have the contact info of a user, you can market to them personally via things like workflows to help nudge them along into becoming a customer.

is inbound marketing right

3) You’re Not Getting Enough Website Traffic

Perhaps you’re getting leads through things like cold-calling, word of mouth, or repeat business, and the problem is that your website is a wasteland. This is a big sign inbound might be right for your organization. I’ll try to stay at a high-level here, but the way that inbound moves people along the funnel as mentioned above is by offering useful, informative content that your potential buyers want. This information should be targeted to answer your buyer’s questions, make them feel empowered, and show how your product can solve their problems. So how does this help traffic?

Well, people are actively looking for their answers online. In theory, the content created through an inbound strategy (blogs, webinars, ebooks, etc.) will be filled with the keywords and phrases your users are putting into Google to find your type of solution. By creating content that matches these search queries, your content/website will start ranking higher and higher in the search results.

A bonus to inbound is that search engines favor sites that post fresh content regularly. Therefore, posting new blog content frequently in and of itself can help your search rankings.

4) Your Competitors are Beating You

is inbound marketing right

How can they beat you? Let me count the ways. It could be that your competitor’s website is a work of user-experience art, smartly crafted to guide users into a purchase while yours is… not. Or maybe it’s that they rank higher on every search term than you do, getting all the clicks you wish you had. OR maybe it’s that your competition is encroaching on revenue that used to be yours after they started buying up ad space you didn’t know was even available.

Inbound? Yeah… it can help with all of those things.

5) You Want to Generate Thought Leadership and Authority

Another sign that inbound marketing might be right for your company is that you want to generate thought leadership or be known as an authority in your field. Thought leaders are, “the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise.” Inbound inherently generates thought leadership (assuming you do in fact know your industry and are able to produce high-quality content) by the sheer volume of content you produce. Your content naturally gives you a platform to show off your industry knowledge and expertise.

How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company

Key Takeaways that Inbound Marketing Might be Right for You

  1. Your would-be customers are online (but you’re missing them).
  2. You’re not generating enough leads to make sales happy.
  3. Your website traffic isn’t good enough.
  4. The competition is smoking you.
  5. You want to be a thought leader and authority in your industry.

Anatomy of an Inbound Marketing Campaign

When it comes to human anatomy, every organ and system is essential for optimal function. The same rings true when it comes to your inbound marketing campaign. There are a lot of moving pieces and parts, and each one is vital to discovering and capturing maximum results. We’ve broken down the anatomy of an inbound marketing campaign below. So, grab your lab coats and highlighters and let’s dive in!

via GIPHY

The Brain – Your Inbound Strategy

Your inbound strategy is as important to your overall marketing campaign as your brain is to your body’s ability to function. Your strategy directs all systems. It’s the driver of collaboration on all parts toward a collective purpose.

Take the easy way out. Let an agency build out your campaign for you. Here’s how to pick a good one.

Like the brain, a solid strategy requires both input and output from the rest of the body. Other pieces must be functional to support the brain in a cyclical fashion.  

The Heart: Your Target Persona(s)

The heart is the strongest muscle in the human body- it pumps life into every vital organ with a rhythmic beat. For this reason, your personas are the heart of your inbound campaign. Everything you do should be with careful consideration of your persona because even the best thought out strategies will fail if they don’t meet the persona’s needs or pique their interest. 

You should most likely have between 2-5 Buyer Personas within your strategy. For each persona, define job title, decision-making power, and typical objectives and challenges they encounter.

inbound marketing campaign

The Veins: Your Buyer’s Journey

The buyer’s journey is the potential steps that each persona might take in order to become a customer of your company. In anatomy, the veins are how the heart pumps blood through the body. So naturally, the buyer’s journey is the veins of your campaign- how your persona flows. 

This journey typically happens in three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision.

  • Awareness Stage: This is when one of your persona’s starts to become aware that they have an issue or need. They may begin searching at this point for information about the actual issue itself, whether others are experiencing a similar issue, and how to address it. 
  • Consideration Stage: This stage is when the persona fully understands their need and begins to search for potential solutions to the issue at hand. 
  • Decision Stage: At this stage, your persona has done a good amount of research and is narrowing down the possible options, which hopefully involve considering your offering.

Your marketing funnel is how you set up different stages of the buyer’s journey. Picture a good, old-fashioned household funnel which is larger at the top and gets smaller toward the bottom so you can siphon whatever you need to through the funnel into a container. In the case of your customers and your marketing funnel, you’ll be siphoning your prospects through your marketing funnel into your sales team’s bucket.

The awareness stage will be at the top, the largest part of the funnel, with abundant traffic but not necessarily the most qualified people. The consideration stage is in the middle; fewer enter this stage than the awareness stage, but the ones who do have higher potential than those who exited at awareness. The decision stage is the smallest point of the funnel where leads are making choices and converting to customers.

These stages are also referred to as the TOFU (Top of the Funnel), MOFU (Middle of the Funnel), and BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel). You may have additional stages within these depending on the complexity of your particular buyer journeys.

Have a lead come in on BOFU content? Here’s how to follow up with them.

The Spine – Your Content

Content is the backbone of your inbound marketing campaign- it supports everything. With direct communication from the brain and infusions from the heart, the spine upholds your message. Your content is how your campaign comes to life.

Your content is extremely important to your campaign because it is how you will get prospects to enter and make their way through your marketing funnel. It’s how eager solution-seeking users come to you to name, understand, and fix their problem.

Great content helps your company gain attention, but even more importantly it allows you to build trust with prospective customers because it offers value without directly seeking anything more from them.

Nervous System: The Buyer’s Journey

The messaging pathways. How your strategy connects to your content. Your content should map to the different stages within your marketing funnel and be targeted at getting a prospect to the next stage.

Let’s take the example of somebody with the problem of generating website leads. Here are some questions/content examples that somebody would be looking for at each stage:

Awareness: Why is my website traffic awful? Why am I not getting any web leads? 

Consideration: Tips for generating more traffic to your site. How digital marketing agencies can help increase traffic.

Decision: How Lake One generates traffic for our clients. Lake One Services: increasing traffic through SEO strategy.

Consider your persona’s pains and needs and what questions they need answered at every stage of the journey. Strategically design your content plan to answer those questions and pose yourself as the right solution at the bottom of the funnel.

inbound marketing campaign

The Extremities – Execution and Distribution

You can have the greatest strategy and the most amazing content, but without execution, no one will ever know. That’s why execution and distribution are the arms and legs of your inbound marketing campaign. 

The Arms – Social Media

Your social media strategy is one of the primary drivers keeping you visible and top of mind for your prospects and customers. It’s important to understand the differences and subtle nuances between the platforms and respect them by using each for what it was designed to do best. For example, LinkedIn tends to have a more professional tone, so you might use it for short product demo videos or to share your blog posts, and save your funny memes or GIFs for Twitter.

It’s also important to know which platforms your prospects utilize. Find out where they hang out and exist in those same spaces with them. Just because this is inbound marketing doesn’t mean you need to make it hard work to find you. Being active in the spaces your prospects spend time in will allow them to see your company as an authority on topics that interest or concern them.

The Legs – Email

If a prospect or customer has entrusted you with their email address by signing up as a subscriber, you better be sure to provide them with regular, valuable, targeted content. Make use of the information you collect from your subscribers and their placement in your marketing funnel to ensure you are sending timely helpful messages. Try to avoid sending blanket emails out to everyone on your list unless the message is actually relevant to all.

How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your CompanyAnother good practice is to make it easy for subscribers to edit their subscription settings and preferences. This is a great way to build trust and continue to ensure your messages are adding value to the people receiving them.

The History of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing has an exciting, rich, and still somewhat young history. The timing of factors like the internet gaining steam, creation of social media, and the mobile phone boom have all played a part in the creation and rising popularity of inbound marketing. We’re going to take you through the history of inbound marketing and some of the differences between traditional and new-age digital marketing, but first, let’s cover the question of what is inbound marketing.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is any strategy that earns the attention of prospects, engages their interest, makes your company easy to find, and builds brand awareness. Some of these strategies include SEO, content marketing, blogs, social media, webinars, online courses, events, and more.

Looking at starting an inbound program? Use this checklist as your guide.

Inbound marketing includes a cyclical relationship with consumers where you attract visitors with content and resources they are interested in or intentionally seeking. Inbound aims to answer the buyer’s questions and problems with content, and then nurture leads through the buying funnel. There is typically an exchange of information between the company and the lead- contact info for an eBook, for example. That contact info is used to personalize, nurture, and inform to hopefully convert them into a customer. Once a customer, the idea is to continue to delight them by adding further value through your relationship with them as a trusted, empathetic advisor. Read more about inbound and why it works here.

The History of Inbound Marketing – The Perfect Storm

Many credit HubSpot’s co-founder and CEO, Brian Halligan with creating inbound marketing. He and his co-founders, Dharmesh Shah and David Meerman Scott, coined the term and the genius theory we associate with inbound marketing in 2005. From there, they built the marketing powerhouse platform Hubspot around that theory.

However, pieces and parts of inbound marketing already existed or were being dreamt up around the same time as Halligan and friends were conceptualizing, creating a perfect storm that eventually led to our modern-day version of inbound marketing.

The 90s – The Beginnings of SEO

The very first search engine, Archie, was created in 1990 as a school project. By ’93, Wandex became the first search engine to crawl the web indexing and searching indexed pages on the web, and our beloved Google was founded in 1998.

According to The History of SEO, SEO symptomatically began to grow out of the development of search engines and the World Wide Web. Results started to be ranked, drawing more traffic to sites as search engines grew “smarter.” Read more about SEO here.

May 1999 – The Release of “Permission Marketing

Another modern-day marketing guru, Seth Godin, quietly released his fourth published book in the exciting, revolutionary year of 1999. The wider marketing world didn’t quite know who Godin was yet, and it was the first time all were exposed to his bald head as he selected it as the primary image on the cover of the book.

Permission Marketing is based on the idea that consumers will come to you and provide you permission to market to them. Godin’s idea was to bring consumers into a long-standing cooperative marketing relationship with multiple layers of exchanging permission and valuable incentives.

In the book, Godin labeled most strategies at the time as Interruptive Marketing, which took the form of advertisements in magazines or on the radio or television, unanticipated telemarketing calls, or annoying internet pop-ups. They were designed to interrupt you in the middle of doing something else and steal your time away. These were typically promotional in the form of a forward, shameless sale, often designed to trigger an emotional response such as fear or anxiety to get you to take an action or make a purchase as soon as possible.

Early 2000’s – The Dawn of Social Media

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter were all introduced to the world between 2002 and 2006. (Let’s take a moment of silence for MySpace…) These spaces were designed for people to congregate and socialize on the web within their own networks of friends and colleagues. However, the rapid growth and massive popularity of the platforms caught the watchful eyes of businesses rather quickly. Those users were their customers and potential prospects, after all, and they wanted to exist where they spend their time on the web. They were willing to pay to catch the eyes of those users; therefore, social media advertising began.

History of inbound

As you can see, in the twenty years from 1990 to 2010, most of the puzzle pieces for modern inbound marketing fell into place. Pair SEO, fresh value-based marketing ideology, and social media with the mobile phone boom and you’ve got your digital marketing perfect storm.

Traditional vs. Digital Marketing

Traditional marketing is still widely used today. Although digital marketing is newer, it’s gained relevance quickly and caught up with or perhaps even surpassed traditional marketing in popularity and relevance. There are many differences between the two marketing methods which we’ve laid out below. But first, let’s cover what each method entails.

Traditional Marketing

Most everyone is exposed to traditional marketing multiple times throughout every day. Traditional marketing is considered any kind of offline marketing.

  1. Broadcast – TV & radio
  2. Print – newspapers & magazines
  3. Outdoor – billboards & fliers
  4. Direct Mail – catalogs & postcards
  5. Phone – telemarketing & SMS marketing

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing encompasses all of the different marketing techniques that take place online utilizing the internet and internet-connected devices.

  1. Websites/landing pages
  2. Social media
  3. Inbound marketing
  4. Content marketing
  5. Email marketing
  6. SEO
  7. PPC & SEM
  8. Affiliate marketing
  9. Influencer marketing

Looking for agency help with your digital program? Here are some of the benefits.

One-way vs. Interactive

One major setback of traditional marketing is it is a one-way street. Your creatives work hard to come up with a campaign that will be printed or recorded and placed. From there the hope is that the right people will see or hear it, be motivated to take action, and seek out your company or product. But, there is typically no way to know if that particular traditional marketing asset was what drove them to your company. It is mainly just a way to broadcast whatever message you’d like to get out into the world as a way of building your brand and letting people know you exist.

history of inbound marketing

A lot of digital marketing techniques and mediums involve ways to see and interact directly with your potential consumer. You attract them with a message or some kind of content, then they are usually called to take a specific action, like providing their email address. Marketers use this as an indication that it’s time to interact with them by sending content or reaching out to move the consumer through the buying funnel.

Static vs. Fluid

Traditional marketing methods are quite static. A lot of planning goes in to creating a 60-second radio ad or drawing up a 48-foot wide billboard that will be up over a major highway for 3 months. That planning is essential because once the ad is running or the billboard is placed, it can be nearly impossible to make a change. Usually, with traditional marketing, you’ll have to replace the outdated information with something completely new.

Emails are one of the only digital marketing methods that may be difficult to change once sent. However, it’s easy to send an additional email to note a correction or adjustment. Other than email, most other digital marketing mediums allow for changes to be made on the fly. For example, you can make a quick update to pricing on a landing page, or recalibrate SEO keywords in a published blog.

Ability to Track Results

One of the major advantages of digital marketing is the ability to track and analyze results. Because digital marketing exists online, nearly everything is trackable. As long as you have the tools to collect the relevant data, and expertise to analyze it, you’ll usually be able to decipher which specific techniques are working or not.

Traditional marketing can be nearly impossible to track as it can be difficult to build a correlation between people hearing a radio ad and deciding to walk into your store or visit your website. That certainly doesn’t mean there isn’t value in these tactics. If that were the case, no company would spend $5.25 million on a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl. But, dozens did this year and some even purchased multiple spots.

Cost

Speaking of $5.25 million, traditional marketing can be quite costly (though that’s an extreme example). Because it’s difficult to track results, it is also very hard to decipher ROI from your spend on traditional marketing techniques.

inbound campaign checklist

Digital marketing offers several techniques that come at a very low to no cost to your company. It costs nothing to exist on social media or write a blog article other than your time. Spinning up a website involves cost, but you need one regardless of your marketing strategy. Creating killer content or having an expert help optimize your site for SEO may start to cost a bit. But, having the ability to track results from your different digital marketing techniques allows you to understand ROI and invest in the methods that work for your consumers.

Four 2019 Marketing Trends You Can Count On

If you’ve been paying attention, the most likely 2019 marketing trends will come as no surprise. With an over-arching theme to connect to consumers personally, we expect 2019 to be filled with content intended to engage and meet consumers where they are rather than getting in their face. Here are the four trends we’d like to call attention to for the upcoming year.

Continue reading “Four 2019 Marketing Trends You Can Count On”

Inbound Marketing Defined and Why It Works

You’ve likely heard the term, “inbound marketing”. Broken down in its simplest form, it’s the idea of attracting your buyers with valuable, helpful content vs pushing product and leading with a sale.

In this post, you’ll learn the definition of inbound marketing, the buyer’s journey, the methodology behind inbound marketing, and why it’s so popular with not only marketers but buyers.

Inbound Marketing Defined

Inbound Marketing

It’s nearly impossible to talk about inbound marketing without mentioning HubSpot. Brian Halligan, the CEO of HubSpot, coined the term “inbound marketing” back in 2006. Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content by adding value at every stage in the customer’s buying journey. HubSpot says we need to nurture our customers from the time they are “strangers” to our business all the way to equipping them to be our “promoters.”

Already running inbound marketing? Download our Inbound Marketing Campaign Checklist. Never miss a critical campaign component. 

Buyer’s Journey

Okay, so what’s the buyer’s journey? The buyer’s journey is the active research process a buyer goes through to become aware of, consider, and then ultimately purchase a new product or service. The buyer’s journey is categorized into three steps:

Awareness Stage: The buyer realizes they have a problem.

Consideration Stage: The buyer has been able to name the problem and begins to search for a solution to their pain.

Decision Stage: The buyer decides on a solution.

“Inbound Marketing is the best way to turn strangers into customers and promoters of your business. ” [Click to Tweet!]

Inbound Marketing Methodology

There are four main phases of the inbound methodology all moving towards the goal of using content to draw consumers toward your website where they can learn more about what you sell on their own terms. Their own terms meaning someone searching a question on Google vs. a tv commercial in the middle of their favorite show. Each step of the way requires tweaking of tactics to achieve the overall strategy. In order to do this, we closely follow their Four Phases of Inbound Methodology.

Phase 1: Attract

The first part of the inbound marketing methodology is to attract the right visitors to your site at the right time. Inbound puts your brand in front of prospects when they are actually in the process of looking for what you have to deliver which in the case of inbound, comes to them through meaningful, helpful, relevant content that helps them along their buyer’s journey.

Some crucial tools in attracting the right users to your site:

  • Buyer persona development
  • Search engine optimization
  • Keywords/content strategy
  • Blogging
  • Social media marketing

Social Media Inbound Marketing

Phase 2: Convert

The convert phase is where you have already attracted your ideal buyer persona to your website (through content) and now, you need to convert them into a qualified lead by having them submit their contact information on your website via a form. Once they submit their contact information, they can join your marketing sales funnel. The key here is matching the information requested with the value of the offered content. It should be an equal exchange.

Key elements in converting users on your site:

  • Premium Content Offers (ebooks, white papers, checklists, how-tos)
  • Optimized landing pages
  • Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
  • Forms to capture user information

Phase 3: Close

This stage is critical. Essentially you are closing the sale, money in the bank. However, closing a lead and converting them into a customer can be a long process and varies from industry to industry so there isn’t a magic formula that can be applied. We can though, take advantage of some important tools to better ensure success.

Important tools to close leads into customers:

Buyers Journey - Inbound Marketing

Phase 4: Delight

Just because you get the sale, doesn’t mean that the inbound process is finished and that your is work is done. It’s quite the opposite. Inbound marketing calls for the continuation of customer engagement, delight, upselling, and ultimately growing your customer base into happy promoters of your company.

Must-have tactics for delighting your customers are:

Do customer’s coming to you, sound too good to be true? It’s not! It’s real and it works. The inbound methodology is quickly becoming a popular strategy as audiences are changing and so are their buying habits. Customer’s expectations are higher than ever before as they are demanding a more personal, tailored relationship with the company they purchase from.

Inbound Works with the Modern Buyer

With inbound marketing, you aren’t blasting a one size fits all message on an overcrowded channel. Instead, you are crafting helpful relevant content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers.  Thoughtful content creation builds trust and boosts your business’ overall creditability with your consumers.

Inbound consumers have changed their expectations of how they want to interact with marketing material. Consumers have a lot more control than they used to with changing technology. There’s now ways consumers can block and avoid unwanted marketing tactics fairly easily such as tv commercials, pop-up ads, mailers, and telemarketers. If customers are actively avoiding your outbound tactics, it renders them useless.

via GIPHY

Given the state of the state, targeting specific personas with well-researched content tailored to their problems and pains is way more likely to be effective and earn their attention.

Inbound marketing at its core is a process, which is designed to be easily scaled, replicated, and optimized. Attract, Convert, Close, Delight, and Repeat.

Ready to get to work planning your next digital Inbound Marketing plan, but need a little inspiration? Check out our Free Ebook – 32 Enviable Inbound Marketing Examples.

Enviable Inbound Marketing Examples Ebook