5 (Practical) Secrets to Awesome Inbound Marketing in 2016
2016 is coming and research shows that Inbound Marketing will be more important than ever as an online lead generation tool. Here are 5 practical things you can do to stay ahead of the curve.
Inbound Content Will Matter More Than Ever: We know that 67% of buyers now rely more on inbound marketing content to research and make purchasing decisions. But buyers are consuming a wider variety of content types than ever before. The type of content they engage with depends on where they are in the decision-making process; research shows they want more detailed and industry-specific information as they make their way through the buying process. But more than ever, you will need a range of good content to be successful. Eccolo Media whose findings reveal nearly 64% of B2B technology buyers indicated that prospects read up to five pieces of content before making a purchase.
1. Using Proven, Effective Types of Inbound Content: B2B marketers continue to be heavily focused on creating engaging content, with 72% citing it as the top priority for their internal content creators. White papers and webinars are still popular ways of engaging prospects, but buyers are increasingly relying on infographics, videos and other visual content; episodic content, video and interactive tools like ROI calculators are predicted to be important tools for attracting and converting prospects in 2016.
2. Taking A Structured Approach to Inbound Marketing: Research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) says that while 88% of B2B marketers say they use content marketing, the Institute says that only 30% responded that their organisations are effective at content marketing. And while 44% say that their organisation is clear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like, 55% are unsure or unclear.
One step that we know improves inbound success in all areas is having a documented inbound marketing strategy. The CMI agrees with this, but only 32% of respondents said they had one.
Get started on your Inbound Marketing Plan with our guide to Buyer Personas (including a free template).
3. Distributing and Amplifying Your Content: Need quick wins? If you know your content is good then get it out there for people to discover. Distribution and amplification of inbound content should be critical to your 2016 strategy.
It used to be that distribution was a mixed affair - a bit of social advertising, maybe a content discovery tool. But distribution and amplification is more important and more complex than ever. Even Google has a native ad platform in private beta, which will compete directly with content syndication networks. That alone tells you that 2016 will be a year when the way we amplify the reach of our content is going to be shaken up. This will mean big changes to your content promotion strategy if you’re going to stay ahead of the game.
Here are two amplification tools to take a look at:
Check out Google for loads more. And don’t forget you can pay to boost your posts on your Social Media platforms, like LinkedIn and Twitter.
Search engine marketing has become more important than ever, with 58% rating search as the most effective distribution tool.
According to the B2B Content Marketing - 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends, 55% of respondents rated paid search as the most effective method of paid advertising and 48% thought promoted posts were most effective.
4. Planning Your Inbound Marketing Budget: The effectiveness of inbound marketing for lead generation is well established, and more than half of respondents said that they intend to increase the allocation of their marketing spend to inbound over the next year.
Inbound is like anything else, you get out what you put in. If you’re going to create engaging content distributed and amplified across multiple channels and bring in sales leads consistently that means time, resources and financial investment. But your budget should be based on clear business goals. Your inbound marketing budget should be a part of your marketing plan, outlining the costs of how you will achieve your marketing goals. Treat Inbound exactly the same.
- What leads do you get and from which sources?
- What are your conversation rates for each type of lead, both from lead to opportunity and then to closed deal?
- What is the revenue for a deal?
- What are your operational costs for generating these leads?
- What are you business objectives for each quarter? How about for the year? How do these fit into the longer term plan of the business?
- How many sales qualified leads would it take to meet these objectives in each time period?
- What are the costs of doing this internally? Would you need more staff? Can you cope with the additional demands of working and closing this volume of leads (there are plenty of instances where successful campaigns have been damaged because this consideration was not built into the planning and budgeting phase). Same question for using an external agency and are the results greater/fewer/equal? And of course, what is the cost of doing nothing?
Pay attention to where your company is in its growth stage, because rapidly growing software companies need to build brand fast, and will typically spend up to 20% of sales on marketing. Alternatively, you may be in a phase where steady growth is more important. All of this is essential when working out your marketing, and then your inbound spend. Always remember, marketing is an investment and as such must be linked to clear, quantifiable returns. This is one of the benefits of inbound as a tool for effective online lead generation, which has an easily trackable RIO and is proven to be effective at winning and converting leads.
Respondents also said that their top challenges are producing effective content; measuring content effectiveness and producing consistent content. The B2B content producers themselves cite creating more engaging content as their top priority, followed by gaining a better understanding of what content is effective and what is not.
Inbound marketing and the need for great content is set to grow very significantly in 2016. And those companies that have the right strategies in place are the ones who are set to benefit the most.
5. Click below and get your free guide to Inbound Marketing.
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