As the digital world reshapes the industrial world, marketing budgets are on the rise. According to ENGINEERING.com's annual survey of engineering marketers, twice as many respondents reported that their budgets were growing rather than shrinking in 2017.
Like with any investment, marketers and manufacturing companies want to ensure that they are receiving a positive return. We’ve outlined two major areas of return on investment (ROI) that illustrate the effectiveness of inbound marketing — but first, what exactly is the difference between inbound marketing and traditional marketing?
What is Inbound Marketing?
The main idea behind inbound marketing is that you’re creating content and web pages that draw people to you, rather than you going after them. Unlike traditional advertising methods that involve contacting anyone who you think could benefit from your products, you’re tailoring your marketing to the people who have already shown an interest in your services.
But how do these people show an interest if you’re not actively pursuing them? The answer is simple — If you write it, they will download. (We'll touch more on quality content later.)
As industrial marketing budgets continue to rise, more funds are being allocated to the creation of content — in the form of blogs, eBooks, email campaigns, videos, webinars, infographics, and so on. Good content is the core of any successful inbound marketing program.
More Website Visitors Contributing To ROI
Inbound marketing centers on providing directly useful, engaging content to prospective clients in order to catch their attention and make them more aware of your company; ultimately, of course, the goal is to move them from one stage of the sales funnel to the next — converting them from a website visitor to a lead, and from a lead to a paying customer.
According to a recent report conducted by an MIT Sloan MBA student analyzing HubSpot data, inbound marketing is, in fact, extremely effective in securing valuable leads and getting them to convert. The report found that using inbound marketing software resulted in 3.3 times more site visitors per month within one year, and during this same time period, resulted in 3.5 times more leads. Overall, 79% of inbound customers saw an increase in sales revenue within a year.
ROI And Lower Cost Per Acquisition
Yes, implementing an inbound marketing strategy requires an initial monetary investment, but in the long run, it actually costs less money to run an inbound program than it does to run a traditional marketing program, which necessitates expensive trade show attendance and printing costs.
Businesses that rely on inbound marketing strategies save more than $14 for every newly acquired customer, which adds up to significant savings over time. Plus, inbound leads cost an average of 60% less than outbound leads. And, with the average cost per lead dropping 80% over five months of consistent implementation of inbound campaigns, savings accumulate quickly, allowing companies to put those resources toward other areas in need of enhancement or improvement.
Four Steps To Begin Inbound Marketing
Determine Your Ideal Buyer
The first step to beginning an inbound marketing campaign is determining the ideal buyer you want to reach. This is called persona targeting, and involves figuring out who your perfect prospect would be, and tailoring content to that person. It is not based on any one person in real life, but is instead a conglomeration of your overall audience. Therefore, you should consider a few key traits (industry, job function, age, challenges, etc.) and build a persona based on these qualities.
Once you have all the details figured out, feel free to attach a name and face to your persona. Again, this is not based on a real person, but sometimes it helps to have a visualization of the type of customer you’re hoping to reach. This will help as you move on to the next stage of content creation.
Appeal to Your Target Audience's Problems
Once you have identified the type of person you’re trying to reach and what challenges they face at work, determine how your services can help them. Then, create content that responds to these challenges. Think back to the last time you had a pressing issue either at home or at work, and needed an answer quickly. If the first place you turned was Google, you’re probably like most people in a similar situation.
Inbound marketing is essentially the reverse engineering of this process. Instead of looking for answers to a problem, you’re figuring out other people’s problems and providing the answers they’re looking for.
With the proliferation of the internet, today’s consumers are more informed than ever. They’ll actively review each company that can meet their needs to see who is the best option based on numerous factors (aka making it on the shortlist). It’s not just about price or availability of services anymore, it’s also about your reputation and how your online presence ties it all together. Many companies can provide the same products as you, so you need to make sure your web presence is on par, if not surpassing that of your competition.
Create Useful, Unique Content Marketing
After identifying common questions and concerns among your buyer personas, think of a few ways you can answer them. Often, you’ll have a number of options to consider — and it's important to be everywhere your buyers are. If your audience is active on social media, you may want to create something visually compelling that will get shared. Infographics and videos are great ways to gain exposure because in addition to your own delivery methods (publishing a blog, email newsletter, social media postings, etc.), visual content is very sharable. Therefore, the direct recipients of your message will be likely to share this information with their audiences, and so on. You’ll still want to attract visitors back to your site, so make sure that any content you’re creating has a place to live on your website.
Your content needs to be clear and unique — ask yourself, "How this will benefit people?" Remember that people will overlook titles that are very long or confusing, so keep it basic yet compelling. We break down more Why Industrials Use Content Marketing in our blog.
For the text itself, remember that you’re writing both for people and search engines. Think of relevant keyword phrases that people might search for online and incorporate those terms throughout your piece. But, do so in a way that is natural and easy to read. You want people to find you in a Google search, but you don’t want to lose them because your content is painful to read.
Learn More: Content Marketing For Industrial Companies
Nurture Your Leads Through the Sales Funnel
Attracting your audience is great, but it’s not your final objective. Your management is looking for ROI through sales, and as much as you understand the value of retweets and shares, you also know that the purpose of marketing is to provide more leads for your sales team.
This is where the all-encompassing aspects of inbound marketing come together. Once you create an eBook, white paper, or other piece of valuable content, create a complementary form, landing page, and awesome CTAs to go with them — they're the must-have mechanics to successful industrial lead generation. After prospects enter their information in exchange for the content, they’ll be considered leads, rather than just strangers. From there, you’ll be able to more easily move them through the sales funnel.
There are four main steps in the inbound marketing methodology: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. Your content aims to attract visitors, who are “converted” to leads once they fill out a form. When you have their information, you can begin a lead nurturing campaign, delivering tailored content based on their interests before eventually reaching out to close the deal. But the process isn’t over yet!
Delight new customers by continuing to provide them with the information and services they’re looking for. With any luck, you’ll foster a strong relationship that will turn these customers into promoters of your brand, sharing your content within their own channels and helping to sell your services for you. As stated earlier, the main goal of inbound marketing is not to sell your services, but to pass along your knowledge. If you do this successfully, your delighted audience will do the rest for you.
Learn More: An Introduction To Inbound Marketing
To learn more about the great ROI offered by inbound marketing programs, contact us today to speak with one of our industrial marketing experts. We can tailor an inbound program with targeted content marketing specifically suited to your company’s needs and marketing goals.
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