The Complete Playbook for Corporate Executives and Business Owners
This playbook provides a strategy for inbound marketing and sales in 2021. It is a step-by-step plan for increasing sales revenues in 6 months.
As a business leader, you're focused on one thing, the financial health of your company. Everything else is secondary.
Controlling costs is essential, but sales revenues feed the engine.
If you're looking to generate more leads and close more sales this year, you'll love this playbook.
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The Internet has evolved from an information superhighway to a conversation superhighway.
This desire for interactive communication is driving sales and marketing in new directions.
Consumers demand a more personalized relationship with the companies they buy from. They have grown tired of mass marketing and “push” advertising via direct mail, e-mail, TV, and radio.
Consumers now investigate to make their own buying decisions. Using "Google" for information, and seeking recommendations from peers and asking questions online.
The best part...
It's all done at their leisure without needing to speak to a salesperson.
Consumers progress close to 60% of the way through the buying process before they engage a sales rep. (Source)
Successful companies have recognized these new buying behaviors and media markets. They leverage them to build relationships with buyers. They don't bombard them with one-way interruptive marketing messages.
In recent years a new approach has emerged. It focuses on growth through the inbound channel.
Inbound has the same goals as traditional marketing and sales. To generate sales leads and enable your sales team to convert them to customers.
The difference lies in the way businesses generate leads and keep customers.
Unlike traditional marketing campaigns, inbound marketing is an ongoing reiterative process. It takes commitment, strategy, and talent to “move the needle.” You'll find that results are proportional to effort.
The marketing component of Inbound does not completely replace other forms of marketing.
We will show you examples of how to integrate your marketing campaigns. Giving you the ability to take advantage of both inbound and effective outbound marketing strategies.
Finally, we will discuss the all-important subject of ROI. Including examples of how to measure your inbound efforts and justify them.
You can’t get sales leads without brand awareness. People must find out about you and build trust and credibility before they will buy from you.
You must get found by your target market online, so job #1 is expanding your reach on the Internet.
Search, and social are crucial parts of getting found online. Online advertising and mass email blasts are losing their effectiveness. That's because these outbound techniques fail to resonate with people.
Inbound marketing practices provide the highest quality leads year
Inbound marketing practices include blogs, social media, and SEO. These practices have proved to be more efficient
Inbound marketing seeks to generate qualified sales leads through building trusted relationships.
First, you get found via content, SEO, and social media. The next step is to encourage prospects to join your community. You do this by inviting them to become a subscriber.
You're asking for a value-based relationship from each visitor. In return you'll be providing relevant educational content.
Why does this matter?
Generating leads and sales requires that you understand what your buyers want. Making it easy for you to provide them with something they will value.
Free offers like trials, discounts, events, and games are often used to attract leads. Then well-designed landing pages compel visitors to sign up to take advantage of the offer.
Once registered, subscribers get nurtured and moved through the buying process. They become customers through follow-up calls, webinars and by providing more educational content.
Finding the right mix of offers often requires strategy, experimentation, and analysis.
Here’s a snapshot of the Inbound marketing process for lead generation:
Inbound practices produce higher quality sales leads at a lower cost per lead. Compared to traditional (outbound) marketing techniques.
Companies who spend more than 50% of their budgets on Inbound, reported an average cost per lead of $135. While those who spend the majority of their budget on outbound, have an average cost per lead of $346.
Inbound marketing provides a 61% lower cost per lead. (Source)
Inbound practices build relationships online. These methods attract people to your articles, webinars, videos and other content.
As a result, by building trust and credibility, they become loyal followers. Most of all, they can spread the word about you via their social networks.
Inbound practices raise brand awareness and brand reputation. With far less expenditure in media costs compared to conventional advertising and marketing.
Improving lead conversion rates and customer retention with Inbound requires sustained effort. As a result, your customers are more likely to recommend your products and services. Plus they will likely renew their agreements and upgrade products or services.
Inbound practices produce the highest quality sales leads. Compared to self-sourced leads and leads generated through traditional (outbound) practices.
According to the 2017 State of Inbound Report:
59% of companies ranked leads generated from Inbound practices as the highest quality.
Inbound practices focus on the buyer rather than the seller.
Nurturing leads by addressing their needs, concerns, and questions. Then being available they are ready to speak with your sales team.
As a result, leads generated through Inbound practices are better qualified. Meaning your prospects are more likely to buy your products and services.
Companies continue to increase their budgets for inbound marketing. Meaning companies continue to see a higher ROI generated through inbound practices. Compared to traditional (outbound) practices.
According to the 2017 State of Inbound Report:
71% of marketers have maintained or increased the amount of money spent on inbound - compared to last year.
How much should you invest in inbound?
Investment cost for inbound varies depending on your lead generation, and sales goals. Start by setting goals for your inbound activities. Align these goals around the amount of targeted traffic, leads and sales you need to generate.
Inbound marketing requires effort, including:
Below is an example of what monthly inbound marketing activities could look like:
Costs are proportional to effort (both in-house and outsourced). Based on the activities above, we recommend a budget for inbound marketing of at least $6,000 per month.
Costs for hiring an internal team are in the example compensation section.
Should you build your team in-house or outsource to an inbound marketing agency?
That depends on your current marketing and sales staffing. As well as your ability to dedicate people and resources to a new initiative.
Besides the recommended level of commitment in time and resources, you'll also need the following expertise to carry out your inbound marketing tasks:
It is rare to find several of these disciplines rolled into one person. You are most likely looking for a 3-5 person team.
Planning to hire these people for your inside team? See our example compensation section for the typical salaries for these positions.
You'll want to do an honest assessment of your staff. Do this by evaluating the candidate's talents, experience, and availability.
You may find that it is less expensive, and faster to generate results by outsourcing. You'll want to find an experienced inbound firm to work with.
If you decide to outsource to an inbound firm, you will want a dedicated person on your team to take part in the process. This helps with creative control and strategy alignment.
Your inside person would act as a leader and liaison between your executive team and the agency. With this approach you choose when to take more of the responsibilities in-house. Which can happen over time as you become familiar with the process.
Here’s the bottom line...
Any marketing and sales growth strategy should result in a positive ROI. (Return on Investment)
According to the 2017 State of Inbound Report:
46% of companies ranked Inbound marketing practices as providing a higher ROI. Compared to 12% that ranked traditional (outbound) marketing as delivering a higher ROI.
One of the significant advantages of digital marketing is that you can measure results with ease. It is often difficult to measure the effects of traditional offline marketing campaigns.
Inbound practices drives sales leads to your lead capture forms. Making it possible to measure:
Do you sell online via e-commerce? If so, you have a direct measurement of sales performance to contribute to the calculation of ROI.
Otherwise, you can associate sales lead conversions with sales performance using a CRM. (Customer Relationship Management) We recommend automated software solutions like HubSpot CRM or Salesforce.
To compute costs, account for the personnel involved in inbound marketing + external fees. Including software, website fees, and any third-party (outsourced) agency or consulting costs.
With this information, you can measure the ROI of your inbound efforts.
There are numerous case studies on the benefits of inbound. Including increased traffic, lead generation, and sales.
Here are some typical examples, and the link at the bottom of this page will lead you to many more.
Medical Software Company: Compliant Healthcare Technologies, LLC (CHT)
Lighting Technology Company: Lumitex, Inc.
Cleveland HVAC Contractor: Central Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC
Learn more about these case studies, or see more Inbound Case Studies
We recommend six months to put inbound in place in your organization.
Within that timeframe, you should be generating new qualified sales leads online.
But that’s not all...
Within the first 90 days, you should start to see results. You'll be generating more web traffic, higher search engine ranking, and a growing social media presence.
Within six months you should see qualified sales leads converting to customers.
Inbound marketing is an ongoing reiterative process; not a campaign.
It takes commitment to the process every day, every month and every year. Without that commitment, you should not expect to see results.
With consistent interaction, you will attract a growing following of brand advocates.
This Playbook provides a framework for building your inbound marketing team. It will show you how to create a strategy and how to execute your plan. We have broken the process down into focused activities over six months.
You may find that certain activities will need to be adjusted. This will help you match your team’s specific priorities and skill set with the plan.
Finding the appropriate fit for your organization is a vital part of your strategy and plan.
Team Leader: Leads the strategy discussion and formulation. Assists the executive team in building the team and developing the plan. Conducts buyer research, assists in policy development sets tasks for the team. The team leader oversees progress and reports to the executive team.
Marketing Team (Member): At least one senior member of your sales and marketing team. This person is instrumental in developing the inbound marketing strategy and plan. In most cases, the inbound marketing team is part of the Sales and Marketing organization. The Team Leader will most likely represent Sales and Marketing on the team.
Content Marketing Manager (CMM): Develops and manages the editorial calendar of content. Including blogs, videos, webinars, e-books, e-mail newsletters and press releases. Shares responsibility for link building and content promotion SEO activities.
Inbound Marketing Specialist (IMS): Assists in evaluating and implementing marketing automation software. The IMS sets up accounts for the team. IMS assists in website design and integration with the inbound marketing toolkit. The IMS sets up the blog. Works with in-house or third-party marketing team to create or change brand identity. Including the website, blog and paid social media. This person is also the team expert on SEO.
Inbound Sales Specialist (ISS): Assists in evaluating and implementing Customer Relationship Management software (CRM). The ISS sets up the accounts for the team. ISS sets up all tools and resources related to sales enablement practices. This person handles planning automated follow-up activities related to the sales process. This person is also the team expert in managing Inbound Sales.
Website/Graphic Designer: Works to arrive at an optimal design for inbound marketing. Creates the design(s) and helps complete and integrate the site with the inbound toolset. Works with in-house or third-party marketing team to develop or change brand identity. Including the website, blog and social media.
Note: This is one example of a possible team configuration. The scale and makeup of the team will depend on your available staff and requirements. See the example compensation section for average salaries for these positions.
Strategy Session #1 – Set business goals, metrics, deliverables, and benchmarks. Set the sales forecast for the inbound marketing 6-month plan. Set policies for social media use and participation by the team, staff.
Strategy Session #2– Create the specifics of the inbound marketing plan including content. Including paid / organic social media marketing strategy and schedule. Identify buyer research candidates and conduct 2-3 interviews.
Software Tools – Decide upon a standard toolset for the team, set up user accounts and provide training to the team. Each team member needs to be familiar with the entire toolset. Making sure the roles are interchangeable during vacations, personal days-off, and temporary reassignments.
Website Design – Review the current company website and determine criteria for design updates. Integrate the site with inbound tools. Redesign the website to make it more visitor-centric and less like a company brochure. Include interactive elements such as social media sharing and follow links. Set up blog feeds, comments, polls, and surveys. Design calls-to-action to sign up visitors and convert them to leads. The initial goal is to build a website that looks and performs better than what you have today. But, it’s not the final product. We call this a “Launch Pad” website, and it’s a starting point for continuous improvement and growth.
Content Strategy – Determine website content for site pages and the blog. Outline who will be writing and when to publish. Requires resource allocation and training on using the website. Also how to use the inbound toolset as needed.
Strategy Session– Team Leader, (CMM), (IMS) and (ISS) set marketing goals. Then they identify the topics and target market for content marketing. They also create policies for content creation and review as well.
Blogging– Content team works with the (IMS) to develop comprehensive, in-depth content. Best results are more likely with consistent, high-quality publication. Coordinate with the (IMS) and graphic designer for calls-to-action and landing pages. Making it possible to capture leads from each piece of advanced content.
Content Promotion– Coordinate with the (IMS) for off-site publishing. Develop any paid social media campaigns promoting each new piece.
Analysis– Check the effectiveness of different content and offers for capturing leads. Also, check to see if SEO results are improving. Adjust strategy to emphasize useful topics and offers that resonate with your audience.
SEO Strategy Session– Team Leader, (IMS), (CMM) and (ISS) identify industry thought leaders. They then determine competitor SEO strategies. Including keywords, rankings, and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords. The team then decides how inbound and outbound efforts work together. The (IMS) will research these topics before the meeting to guide the discussion.
Optimize the Website– The (IMS) migrates the website to a Content Management System (CMS). If the site already uses a CMS, then migration isn't necessary. Next step is the on-page search optimization of each page. The (IMS) decides which pages need optimization. The (IMS) selects targeted keywords and proceeds to make the updates. Including page titles, headings, URL, images, tags, links and content on every page in the site. The strategy involves understanding the content of each page. Then making sure that keywords and content are relevant to the search intent.
Staff Training – Content creators need to understand how SEO works with their content. They also need to understand content promotion. The (IMS) will be responsible for providing this training and ongoing support.
Analytics and Reporting – SEO is a long-term strategy. Quick improvements in keyword ranking and search traffic are unlikely. The (IMS) handles ongoing SEO analysis and social media monitoring. The (IMS) determines the effectiveness of the SEO. Also tracking the effectiveness of social media strategies and recommending adjustments to improve results.
Social Media Marketing Strategy Session– Involves the Team Leader, (CMM), (IMS) and (ISS). Together they review industry and competitor strategies. They consider social media options and decide which platforms to use. Then develop social media engagement and promotion strategies. Including plans for both paid and organic social media activities. Then the team decides how to respond to positive and negative comments. Also, what types of content to promote (outside of company content). The team determines training schedule for all staff supporting material and social media.
Provide Training– (IMS) provides training on the use of the inbound toolset and functionality. Including social media monitoring and publishing. Training also includes updating social media profiles, adding updates.
Daily Activities– Check social media for branded keyword “mentions,” respond as needed. Track alerts for relevant content, publish to social media sites. Promote company blogs and other content to social networks. Recycle posts if appropriate.
Weekly Activities– Establish new connections “followers” on the main social networking sites. Using search and invitations to connect.
Analytics and Reporting– Track “reach” (brand awareness). Includes the number of new followers and “influence.” As well as the number of posts and tweets “retweeted” by followers. Track monitored keywords in conversations and responses to positive and negative comments. Adjust topics if needed. Adjust quality and quantity of social media engagements, enhancing reach, influence and brand reputation.
Lead Capture and Conversion Strategy Session – (CMM), (IMS) and (ISS) brainstorming session. Mapping offers to the buyer’s journey. Review industry and competitor strategies in lead capture and conversion.
Create Content and Promote Special Offers – (CMM) coordinates with (ISS) and Sales Team. Working to publish advanced content offers. Including trials, discounts or limited time offers. Design the offers to attract the target audience. Then compel them to sign up, i.e., convert them to subscribers or leads. The (CMM) coordinates with (IMS). They create social media campaigns to promote these offers and events.
Create CTAs, Landing Pages and Thank You Pages – (CMM) creates Calls-To-Action for offers. Then creates Landing pages, and Thank You pages for the related offers. (CMM) checks its relative strength in capturing leads, in comparison to offer variations.
Analytics and Reporting – (IMS) checks the number of leads and conversion rates. Comparing lead sign-ups vs. page views for each landing page offer over time. The (IMS) tests different landing page variations. Including content and layout for each offer to optimize conversion rate. The (IMS) tests different promotion channels to maximize conversion rate. The (IMS) examines various social media campaigns to maximize conversion rate. Adjust lead conversion strategy to leverage the best offers. Adjustments include landing page configuration, channels, and campaigns. Leads are “handed off” to the sales team via CRM software for closing sales.
Strategy Sessions (Ongoing) – We recommend at least one strategy analysis meeting per month. You need to assess progress by testing the strategy. By doing so, you can fine-tune the process and update the plan to improve month over month.
Calculate ROI– Verify ROI by comparing the inbound marketing and sales costs. This includes labor + tools + outsourced + social media campaign costs. Compared to the increase (or decrease) in sales revenues over the six month period and beyond. Comparing sales results before inbound marketing gives you a measure of the efficacy. Proving the results of your new marketing and sales strategy.
Report to Senior Management– Once per quarter, report results to Senior Management. Keeping them aware of your progress, asking for input, and answer questions. Identifying the costs and benefits of inbound marketing and sales.
Source: Robert Half 2018 Creative & Marketing Salary Guide
Inbound Marketing and Sales need the proper strategy. But you also need the appropriate tools to get the job done right.
Companies have recognized that the internet has caused a shift in buying behavior. Moving from “seller-centric” to “buyer-centric.” Massive investment in the digital technology space has created a boom in the technology.
According to a study conducted by Chief Marketing Technologist Scott Brinker:
In 2011, there were a reported 150 marketing software technology companies. Six years later in 2017, there are now over 5,000 companies in the technology landscape.
Below is a list of popular options that are often used to help digital marketing and sales efforts:
(Some of which your organization may already be using.)
To name a few….
This growth in technology options can be overwhelming to sift through. It often leads companies to purchase a collection of marketing and sales technologies. Many times they don’t work together as needed and can even overlap in functionality.
Using too many marketing and sales technologies often leads to inefficiencies.
Some of these inefficiencies include:
You can overcome these challenges by using a software toolset that is an all-in-one solution. When it comes to inbound marketing, Hubspot is the recognized technology leader.
HubSpot offers a full stack of software. HubSpot software provides tools for marketing, sales, and customer success, with a completely free CRM at its core.
The HubSpot platform integrates the following:
The benefits include:
Making it much easier to manage your inbound marketing and sales efforts in one spot.
We hope that the Inbound Sales Playbook has helped you understand the value, benefits and best practices of Inbound.
Your company is unique. For that reason, the solutions presented in this Playbook may need to adjust to fit your business.
We recommend that you hire an inbound marketing agency. Hire a provider that has experience in the areas outlined in this Playbook to maximize your success.
In 6 months, they should be able to assist you in gaining a better understanding of your buyers. They should also help you to develop your strategy for growth, and put it all into action.
We're a HubSpot Certified Inbound Marketing Agency, but there are others. We recommend that you have conversations with more than one. See how their vision, project scope, and costs might differ from ours.
We view this process as collaboration with our customers to help them grow. We're looking for relationships with customers who want to improve with inbound. Let us know if you would like to explore having us create one with your company.
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