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    03/05/2024 |

    Inbound Marketing Has Changed – Learn What’s New and What You Need To Do Differently

    All marketing is changing at light speed. Technology, AI, data regulations and even prospect buyer behavior have all had dramatic influences on what inbound marketing is and how inbound marketing is used across the ecosystem.

    Inbound marketing agencies if that’s even a thing today are all quickly evolving their inbound marketing practices to take advantage of these changes.

    While I’m a huge proponent of inbound marketing as a methodology, the changes are massive and worth unpacking so that your inbound marketing execution is up to date.

    Here are the major advances and challenges facing people executing inbound marketing campaigns today.

    Cutting Through the Content Clutter

    With everyone creating content, it’s become a bit of a mess out there. Content for content’s sake isn’t the right approach. Instead, you should be working on true thought leadership content that has something to say.

    Your prospects are getting so much email, so many ads pushed into their feed and so many ideas, links and suggestions that it’s almost impossible for anyone to sift through it all and find the nugget buried in the sand.

    Your content has to stand out. You have to take a stand. You need to say something disruptive to get people’s attention. Now more than ever it’s critical that you have something to say.

    This starts with strategy. What is your company’s Big Story? How are you disrupting the market? What makes your company remarkable? Once you answer these questions, the content question gets a lot easier.

    Nurturing Inbound Marketing Leads

    When it comes to inbound marketing and the leads it generates, you’re at the mercy of the prospect’s timeline. What I mean is that when an inbound lead comes in, it needs to be nurtured.

    I see a lot of companies dropping the ball around the tactics required to nurture inbound marketing leads. All leads need to be nurtured, but I think inbound leads are especially primed to be nurtured with a specific strategy in mind.

    Here’s how to think about your lead nurture execution.

    They need general air-cover emails. This is a one-to-many campaign that talks at a high level about how your company helps people with the issues and challenges associated with your product or service. It should be sent once or twice a month to everyone in your database, including newly generated inbound leads.

    You need a parallel campaign running that is one-to-one. This is a highly personalized series of emails specific to the person who converted, what they converted for and what persona profile you think they match.

    These emails need to be timed according to your sales cycle. Shorter sales cycles need a tighter schedule of emails, while longer sales cycles could use a schedule that is more spread out. We typically like a series of three or six emails, depending on the length of the sales cycle.

    These emails should also be highly strategic and designed to pull your prospect through the buyer journey. Use the emails as an opportunity for your prospect to signal to you and your sales team that their journey is moving.

    At the end, make sure you tell them the email sequence is ending. Remember, they’re still part of your one-to-many campaign, and hopefully they subscribed to your blog or podcast series so that you’re going to continue to message to them even after this nurture campaign ends. You should have been offering these other content options as part of your nurture campaign.

    Leveraging Sales Follow-Up for Inbound Marketing Leads

    It’s important to get sales involved in the follow-up on all inbound marketing leads. An email, call or LinkedIn connect from the sales rep is an excellent way to provide additional touch points, offer more educational content and gauge their level of interest in moving a sales cycle forward.

    Remember to make it an educational offer touch, not a sales touch. The educational experience has to continue when marketing hands the lead over to sales. This process should be mapped out as part of your documented sales process, and every rep should be doing the same exact thing at the same time and using the same materials (emails and such).

    Using Paid Ads To Drive Inbound Marketing Leads

    The use of paid advertising is one of the major changes to inbound marketing over the past 10 years. Once scorned by inbound marketers as 100% outbound advertising, inbound practitioners quickly learned sometimes inbound alone takes too long and that paid advertising is a critical component of a solid lead generation strategy.

    Today, almost all inbound marketing programs use some type of paid search, paid social, retargeting or other form of digital advertising to supplement the traditional inbound marketing campaigns.

    How inbound marketers apply digital paid ads is slightly different and worth noting. Instead of pushing the late stage offers like Contact Us, Talk With a Rep, Get a Quote or even See a Demo, digital ads are promoting educational content, like tools, templates, guides and checklists.

    The thinking is to get people to your landing pages, get them to convert and nurture them on a more one-to-one level. While this is technically outbound marketing, because you’re pushing ads and content in front of people who are NOT looking, the algorithms on these platforms are so advanced that the targeting criteria allows you to be extremely targeted with who sees your ads and potentially responds to those ads.

    The upgrades in technology make paid search and paid social two highly viable options for marketers working to generate more leads.

    Budgeting Correctly for Inbound Marketing Campaigns

    When inbound marketing first arrived on the big stage in 2008, it was the height of the recession. The mantra was the size of your brain is more important than the size of your wallet. Back then, it made sense. Today, it’s a different ball game.

    In 2024, you need to align your budget directly with what you expect your inbound marketing campaign to produce. The more you feed it with content and the more you optimize it, the better the results. But feeding it with content costs money.

    There is a direct correlation between what you invest and what you get from your inbound marketing campaigns. The more you budget for your investment, the more you strategically plan 30, 60 and 90 days out and the more you invest in the team helping you generate leads with inbound tactics, the more your business will grow.

    There are very few shortcuts these days. It takes expertise, planning and solid blocking and tackling.

    First-Party Data Concerns Around Inbound Marketing

    There’s an entirely new environment when it comes to your data and data you might be using for marketing. Companies like ZoomInfo and Seamless.ai have grown their businesses over the last few years feeding companies information for them to use in their marketing.

    That might be coming to an end soon.

    Regulations and privacy legislation are making it harder for businesses to simply buy names and send emails. Inbound marketing was always about earning your prospects’ attention, getting them to share their contact information and then respectfully continuing the conversation in a value-oriented way.

    It’s likely that this is going to become more relevant in the upcoming years, and perhaps even sooner. If you are running cold email campaigns from purchased lists, consider the scenario where you’re being asked to stop, or worse, getting locked out of your email platform or having your IP address shut down by your internet provider. I’ve seen all three of these scenarios happen.

    Inbound marketing ensures that you get good at the types of campaigns that are aligned with how your prospects want to receive their information and the regulations surrounding ethical marketing.

    But a warning inbound marketing takes time, so the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll start getting the leads you need to grow your company. Don’t wait. Now is the time to move toward inbound marketing and the techniques that have been proven to generate leads over the past 15 years.

    Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist headshot
    CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

    Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

    Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.

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