We’ve all heard the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” What does that mean? According to Wikipedia, “the origin comes from a proverb that leverages the cultural context and belief that it takes an entire community to raise a child. A child has the best ability to become a healthy adult if the entire community takes an active role in contributing to the rearing of the child.”
As an inbound marketer, this saying holds a truth I can relate to in my everyday business life. Let’s begin with what I mean by the statement, “as an inbound marketer.” Inbound marketing is the sales strategy of attracting folks to you (pulling) instead of interrupting them with advertising messaging (pushing). That’s not to say traditional marketing like television commercials, print ads, and billboards no longer work — they’re just not as effective as they once were.
We’re bombarded with more than 3,000 marketing messages a day between traditional advertising, emails, Web banners, cold calls, and meetings. We can’t possibly take all of those in, so we filter through most of it to the things that are relevant to us. Tools and technology expand advertisers’ reach, and the consumer is left to filter through all of these messages. So how do you cut through this clutter and reach your prospect?
What Is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is the act of creating and delivering content specifically designed to appeal to your ideal customers, the ones you wish you could duplicate in order to have an army of amazing customers who you love working with. Inbound attracts qualified, ideal prospects to your website with content that answers the questions they’re asking search engines, then keeps them coming back for more. Over time, these visitors convert and become leads. These leads then become customers once your sales team engages with them. In order to achieve this, you need an informative, educational website and a marketing automation tool — Hubspot, Pardot, or Marketo for example — for lead nurturing.
Think about the last purchase you made that was a significant investment. How did you start to decide what you were going to buy? If it was a new accounting software program, you likely began searching on Google. You wanted to read up on the capabilities, API integrations available, whether it could tie into your ERP system … the list goes on. Only once you felt you had a grasp on the top choices to best fit your business did you reach out and request a demo or more information. This is the power of the Internet. This is the power of buyer 2.0 — the research-focused, savvy buyer who begins his journey online.
Back to the village proverb: it takes a village to create a highly functional and effective inbound marketing program. Having multiple specialists will give your inbound marketing strategy the best ability to become a healthy lead-generation machine. There’s a science to the methodology of attracting, converting, and closing net new customers. Once you gain a new customer, there’s also the science of cross-selling services to these accounts.
What does the population of this village look like?
It takes a skilled team (the village)
Let’s say your dealership is getting ready to build up your managed IT services team. You need certain core people to serve different roles. You wouldn’t dream of bringing in just one person to sell, build, and execute an IT services contract, right? Same goes for inbound marketing and lead generation. A skilled marketing team is needed, as well as support from most, if not all, of your internal departments.
Why your internal departments? For anyone who has been through our inbound workshop and attended our session on “The Value of Each Department in the Inbound Sales Process,” you know that each department plays a vital role in the lead generation process. Marketing is not the sole voice of the company; it’s the collective unit, the essence of the company culture. No one person is the voice of the village — it’s made up of the voice of the entire tribe. The same is true of your organization; there’s a lot of institutional knowledge inside the minds of each employee, such as:
• What different types of questions do customers ask?
• Face-to-face experiences in the field with customers
• Answers to customer questions found in each individual’s inbox
All of this information is important to the message that should be on your website for prospects and customers to find. Nothing that’s an inside trade secret, of course, but common questions your employees answer every day for your buyers should be on your website. But in order for these answers to be found on your website, you need a team of highly skilled marketers with various skill sets to strategize and execute on the inbound methodology. Let’s explore what a basic inbound marketing team should look like.
Inbound Marketing Strategist/Team Leader
Your strategist is your Sherpa on this inbound journey. This is where the inbound marketing strategy is envisioned and built. She is the one who should be identifying each different type of buyer (referred to as Buyer Personas), then segmenting them in your database. You wouldn’t send your golf buddy a dozen roses, right? That’s appropriate for your wife, not your buddy. Same goes for content for your different buyer personas. Your strategist breaks up your buyers into segments and targets each one with appropriate messaging that speaks to them. She also comes up with the plan for the path these folks take on your website and with your content. She leads the entire team through her vision of the buyer’s path on your site from first-time visitor through to the close of the sale.
A quality content writer who is able to capture the digital voice of the company is vital to the process. Buyers want to find answers. Clear, concise writing helps them find those answers quickly – plus poor writing reflects poorly on your business. An experienced copywriter with the ability to speak the buyer’s language converts leads. The content writer creates different messages for each of your buyer personas to speak to them in a unique way, making them understand how your solution solves their challenges. He creates downloadable eBooks, guides, checklists, blogs, and website copy that engages the readers and moves them through your sales funnel.
Social Media Strategist
We live our lives online. Think about how often you look at LinkedIn and Facebook throughout your day. While you may, as a dealership principal, not use it frequently, you do use it. We use social media for a plethora of reasons: to find an answer, surf what others are sharing, or just to check Facebook for the day’s birthdays and photos. The more we use social, the more we condition ourselves to use social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and new ones that seem to spring into existence weekly) for research and relaxation. Having a strong social presence expands your reach and builds up credibility with both your prospects who are visiting your social channels as well as Google, which seeks out qualified links to serve up as results (yes! Your social shares can show up as results on Google.)
Tactical Execution Coordinator
Once all of your content is created, you need someone to actually get in on your website or into your marketing automation platform (HubSpot, Pardot, or whatever tool you use). Don’t underestimate the time it takes to do the manual work required to automate a process for your customers and potential customers.
These are your villagers. As you grow your marketing effort into a town and then a city, you’ll need more “villagers.”
Roles and responsibilities of the villagers
In order to keep a village functioning, each villager has tasks to perform. It’s no different with inbound lead generation.
• SEO: Google moves fast. Google has one primary goal – to give the user the best possible answer. This is what keeps them on top of the search engine game. They’re the 800-pound gorilla because they are consistently making the user’s experience better. As we all grow impatient with our searches because we’re conditioned to get exactly what we want when we type our query into the magic search bar, Google follows our behaviors and creates algorithms to improve the search experience. Your inbound marketing team should be keeping up with these complexities and incorporating them into your website experience, ultimately enhancing your lead generation program for the reps.
• Content: This might seem to tie back to the content writer, and it does. However, content in the eyes of a search engine can be a blog, a podcast, a video, a social message, or a PowerPoint on Slideshare. With so many options for the user to digest, it simply depends on which of these things your buyer persona wishes to click on. So why not have similar information living on all of these channels to appease all of your potential buyers?
• Social Media: Social is a conduit to reaching your audience in a place where they spend time. For some, that’s LinkedIn, for others it’s Facebook or Pinterest. Search engines love to see social shares and the engagement its users have with these platforms. It helps Google know what’s interesting based on likes, shares, follows, and retweets (to name a few). Having the right voice and messaging is key to maintaining your brand’s consistency and sharing your content, as well as that of others who are relevant to your industry, is a great strategy. What it is not for is hard selling. Share educational information so that you can build an audience that trusts you and is willing to share your messages.
• Email: Blanket emails are a thing of the past. What used to be an “email blast” is now a tool used to segment messages to different audiences so you can attract new folks and grow your email list. Again, your buddy doesn’t want roses, your wife does. Same premise here — send the right message to the right person and they’ll keep coming back to your site for the information and educational content you’re sharing via your email efforts. You need to incorporate personalization and smart content based on user behavior, and segment your lists. Otherwise, you fall into that interruption-based category of spam. Targeting your information builds up buyer trust.
• Marketing Automation: Building out a successful marketing automation platform is not something that takes a few hours. It takes weeks, months, and sometimes years. Think of all the messaging we’ve discussed. It all needs a place to live, to be shared from, to be monitored and tracked. We know of many industry folks using HubSpot, Marketo, InfusionSoft, and Pardot. As HubSpot Gold partners, we work with HubSpot, and we know its powerful capabilities. All platforms have similar capabilities, but since we’re the most familiar with HubSpot, we’ll start here. We use HubSpot to build out nurturing campaigns for each persona based upon their behavioral interests. Marketing automation allows you to focus on goals and track what is working and what is not (the latter allows you to reallocate time and dollars to things that are working in your marketing strategy). It allows you to set branching logic based upon buyer behavior and keep track of the folks who might not close today, but if you continue nurturing them, could convert within a few months.
• Analytics and tracking: All of this is pointless unless it leads to sales. Tracking and monitoring all the goals we’ve set for ourselves allows us to close the loop and tie in the ROI at the end of the year. This is the magic of inbound lead generation. Knowing what closed, how they found you, knowing what other touchpoints assisted in the sale, and repeating the successful strategies. Otherwise, why spend the money?
Now, let’s bring this full circle. A child has the best chance of becoming a healthy adult if the entire community takes an active role in contributing to the rearing of the child. The same goes for the health of your inbound marketing and lead generation strategy. There are vital members of the village necessary to have a healthy and successful inbound lead gen strategy. You could bring these people in-house or hire an outside agency. Whichever you decide, be sure that you know and understand what villagers you need in order to grow your dealership in today’s Buyer 2.0 sales environment.
Contributor: Lindsay Kelley, Prospect Builder