Inbound Marketing Automation Overview

By | May 15, 2010

Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation are relatively new fields representing a new way to market. Some people call the whole approach Marketing 2.0; we call it Inbound Marketing Automation or IMA.

As opposed to the old techniques of Outbound Marketing, Inbound relies on having your website get found on the web. Today, more than 90% of B2B buyers begin their search for a solution to their need online. To make this statistic even more significant, consider that 85% of people don’t progress beyond the 1st page of Google’s results to their search query. Essentially, if you’re not on page one, you’re not there!

If you’re thinking that this kind of thing is a little too much like the next silver bullet, and perhaps as ineffective as the last one, allow me to set your mind at rest: Inbound Marketing Automation really does work:

  1. Most people more than double their website traffic using it
  2. Conversion rate increases of more than 250% are frequent
  3. The average cost to acquire a lead is 60% less compared to Outbound Approaches.

With that as your incentive, then, lets start by clarifying an important point: Inbound Marketing Automation is best thought of as a process. Yes, it consists of a set of tools, and yes, you do use them via specific techniques. But to gain maximum benefit its best to consider the Process as a way to tie them all together and thus ensure that the whole system is greater than the sum of its parts.

Formal Process Descriptions should be based on the Continuous Process Improvements mantra of Think, Plan, Do, Measure and Repeat. This link provides a good example of such a process description, this one dealing with How to run a B2B Twitter Campaign.

Three points to consider while you design the Process:

1. Holistic Websites are the only way to fly…

As a regular reader of Pete’s blog, you will know that he promotes the concept of a Holistic Website – a website which is carefully designed upfront to accommodate the results of your SEO effort, is easily extended to include a Blog and the other forms of Social Media marketing, has its copy and content properly designed around its keyword phrases, and, of course, is ready for your IMA system to plug into when you switch it on.

2. Design your Marketing Strategy

But before you start designing this Holistic Website (or renovating your existing one), the very first thing to think about is your Marketing Strategy. If you have already articulated a comprehensive strategy including its online components, you will obviously omit this step. But if your strategy is out of date (or – gasp – doesn’t exist!), or doesn’t cover the online aspects of the new marketing approach, then proceeding on without it is a bad idea. You are, after all, going to base your whole website (all the copy, graphics, structure and content) on the keywords and core competencies you define in the strategy. If you get the strategy wrong, your entire effort which follows this step is a waste of precious resources.

3. Key performance indicators and metrics
Armed with your strategy, you can now turn your attention to defining some key goals for adding Inbound Marketing to your website. As the famous slogan so succinctly puts it, the goals are usually, More Sales Leads of higher quality at lower cost. Once you have your objectives stated clearly, think of the metrics you will use to both measure the current values now and decide how best to portray these metrics as a trend thereby making it easy to monitor your progress towards your goal.

Okay, now for the overview.

The major thrust behind Inbound Marketing’s success, is that done right, your ideal prospects come knocking on your door and give you permission to sell them something. It’s a lot like the Field of Dreams: If you build a great website, the buyers will come.

And because the buyers may number in their thousands (perhaps even hundreds of thousands), you will need the aforementioned process involving software tools and techniques to manage it all. But please note: This is an all or nothing approach. Automating a part of the whole process is akin to speeding up the flow of water in the middle of a river. It makes that part rush for sure, but the overall throughput doesn’t change.

With that in mind, a good example system is shown below.

Web 2.0 Marketing

Components of Inbound Marketing Automation

1) Your Content. A subject unto itself, but the whole process depends on having content that makes your site the destination of choice for people interested in your field. Tools here help create it, display it, disseminate, promote and catalogue it. Our blog offers some ideas on how to create such content (website details at the end).

2) SEO and PPC Tools. Search Engine Marketing includes tools for Organic Search (SEO) and those for Pay-Per-Click (PPC). There are tools to help you devise the right Keyword strategy; others to assist in developing your advertising campaigns; yet more tools score your website, analyze its traffic share, determine your SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking, assess incoming and outgoing links, and on and on.

3) Social Media Marketing tools help you run your SMM Campaigns. Reputation Analytics monitor the social networks to determine the “buzz” around your products/services and company. These tools also help you to find the most authoritative or influential blogs and websites for your area. There are tools to help with Twitter, Blogging, LinkedIn and all of the may social media platforms and because this is a hot topic, there are many articles on how and what and when – again our blog covers the subject well.

4) Demand Generator packages capture, score and grade visitors on their profiles and digital footprints, and then nurture them from cold leads to hot prospects via drip-email campaigns run via Automation Rules.

5) The hot prospects (those who achieve a sufficiently high score) are fed into your CRM system enabling your sales people to place very effective sales calls.

Prospecting Heaven would look like this…

Imagine visitors arrive on your site, attracted by your excellent keyword and SEO strategy, and all that amazing Social Media Marketing you’re doing daily. They find, when they get there, that your site is a perfect match to the keyword phrase they keyed in (because you created your marketing strategy and keyword phrases well, and then used the holistic approach to build the website and write its copy). So they don’t bounce off and they do begin exploring…

They find your thought-provoking content and register to get it. They read it and hustle back for more. Because they are now an official Prospect (i.e. they have given you their name and email address), they are inserted into the first of your drip-email nurturing campaigns and from here on, they are managed automatically. Nurtured and cared for, according to your best sales and marketing practices which are encoded in your Inbound Marketing system’s Business or Automation Rules. Your prospects are cared for flawlessly, repeatably and 24/7. And with each automated drip-email element of every campaign, provided with just the right response to nudge them to the next step in their buying cycle.

Your marketing people are freed from the drudgery of managing leads and responding to routine inquiries allowing them to create brilliant new campaigns, and your sales people no longer spend time on people who are “just looking”, but instead concentrate their efforts on the hot prospects who are ready to buy now. This is how Inbound Marketing Automation increases your revenues while lowering your costs and thus boosts profit significantly.