Producing good content and enabling prospects to easily find it is a great strategy for building top of the funnel leads. In fact, that is what inbound marketing is all about – bringing the leads in to engage with your content so you can build a relationship over time.
You can drive these visitors to your website with an inbound effort that includes search engine optimization (SEO), social media and PR. All of these efforts require quality content, and a lot of it. Marketers’ number one gripe with content creation is the demand it places on resources. Some of the major challenges around content marketing include:
- Too time consuming
- Too labor intensive
- Too difficult to get customer input
But because of the inbound marketing trend, organizations spend a ton of time, money and effort on creating a content marketing plan that will drive the right traffic to your site. Yahoo news data shows that 93% of B2B buyers initiate their buying process through online search and of these, 88% of visitors land on your website by clicking on organic search results. However, there’s one thing to keep in mind – the majority of the visitors you attract with your digital strategies won’t be ready to actually buy. So just because you’ve captured their attention with your content doesn’t mean your inbound marketing effort stops there.
Standalone Inbound Marketing Doesn’t Cut It
Inbound marketing sparks initial interest and helps your team successfully grab the attention of prospects and drive them to your website, but what do you do after that. Inbound marketing alone does not move leads through the funnel so this means that stand-alone inbound marketing typically stops here. However, with marketing automation, your inbound marketing strategy can continue to be successful.
The job of marketing automation is to jump in where inbound marketing steps back. 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance (MarketingSherpa). The collaboration of inbound marketing and marketing automation surfaces potential buyers and drops them into nurture campaigns to continue their education through emails, high-value assets and event opportunities. By automating a deliberate process to build a relationship with prospects, it’s easier to ensure they are nurtured until they’re ready to engage with sales. Ultimately, this prevents them from slipping away.
When Two Become One: How to Integrate your Inbound and Marketing Automation Strategies
- Start with inbound: Brainstorm, create and edit content relevant to your buyers. Then promote your content. Post it to your website, your company blog and the social media channels your organization uses (we like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ but yours may be different).
- Focus on increasing shares: There is a lot more to social sharing than posting a Facebook status. To increase your shares try sponsoring your tweets and Facebook posts or designing LinkedIn ads. Get partners and employees within your organization involved in posting, build relationships with key influencers, try sponsoring other industry sites. Just like every other aspect of marketing, social sharing is a strategy. And to hone in on your shares even more, make sure your messaging and tone are tailored specifically for each inbound channel.
- Capture audience information: Gate some of your content (eBooks, white papers, webinar recordings, etc.) and share links to that gated content on your social sites or inside blog posts and ask visitors to subscribe. Once they input their email address in your marketing automation solution, you can begin your outbound nurturing efforts to keep them engaged.
- Put marketing automation to work for you: By definition, marketing automation allows users to streamline the creation, management and analysis of campaigns and leads in one place. Automating and tracking processes for email, events, website interactions, nurture campaigns, etc. helps to efficiently manage leads as they move through the customer lifecycle.
Don’t Let Your Inbound Leads Leak out of the Funnel
The 2015 Demand Gen Report Benchmark Study validates that 74% of B2B marketers consider lead quality their priority. In the world of inbound marketing and sales and marketing alignment, quality over quantity is key when it comes to leads. However, focusing on quality can cause all of the other leads that may be ready to buy months from now, to sometimes get lost or even worse, leak out of the funnel completely. Marketing automation offers a few key functionalities to ensure this doesn’t happen:
- Track your website visitors.
- Manage and measure social media.
- Capture leads.
- Automate nurture campaigns.
- Host webinars and in-person events.
- Streamline the lead management process.
- Optimize sales outreach with lead scoring.
- Leverage buyer engagement data.
- Analyze marketing effectiveness.
Make the Most out of your Inbound Marketing Efforts
Marketers are being asked to do more now than they ever have before. And successful inbound marketing is a science that requires specific expertise and plenty of experience. It is no longer a marketing tactic of the future. It’s the now. With proper planning and coordination, inbound marketing paired with marketing automation can increase your lead generation while decreasing your cost per lead.