8 MORE Revelations From Our First Year of Inbound Marketing

Lightbulbs Idea

Lightbulbs IdeaIt’s been twelve months since we embraced inbound marketing at the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA). What an exciting ride it has been so far – not without its ups and downs though! In this second of two posts I identify eight more revelations from our first year of inbound marketing…some of which are more eye-opening than the original eight (see part 1 here).

9. Inbound Makes You Cutting Edge

Inbound makes you a modern marketer, a data driven marketer, and a marketing technologist. The methodology encourages you to understand and employ search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), UTM codes, landing pages, forms, content repurposing, blogging, keyword research and tracking, smart calls-to-action CTAs, slide-in CTAs, pop-up CTAs, workflows, lead nurturing, lead scoring and more. This was not the case 12 months ago. Our web properties reflect this improvement and our data and understanding of visitor behavior is exponentially deeper. We are cutting edge. We are modern marketers.

10. Becoming Accountable to Sales

Inbound marketing makes you more accountable to sales. For example, in the past (with outbound marketing) we sent emails and hoped exhibit sales would follow. Now we focus on creating content, attracting leads, and nurturing them through the buyers journey (which may include a series of emails). There is a major difference though. Before it was spray and pray. Now, if there are only 45 leads in the “Why Exhibit” workflow (and I know that one-in-five leads becomes an exhibitor), I need to review the performance of each email in the nurturing workflow as well as the conversion rate of the landing page. Additionally, I may create more content (more helpful blog posts) or review my keyword ranking to pull more prospects into the funnel. With all of this I am more accountable to the sales team. I am more responsible for providing qualified leads to ensure their ultimate success.

D2C 2015 - Why Exhibit Workflow

11. TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU

Becoming accountable to sales means better understanding the buyer’s journey and mapping relevant content to it. That is, creating content for Top of the Funnel (TOFU), Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) and Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) leads. TOFU content may include more general information whereas BOFU content may be a sales consultation or a membership application. In the past, some of this content was located on separate web pages requiring the prospect to piece it together. Now, based on the actions the prospect takes, you can deliver (by email) the right content at the right time and guide the prospect to the sale.

12. Blog as Email Newsletter

When your blog is your content engine it becomes core to your communications. If you create regular blog posts, and summaries are sent automatically by email to your subscribers (who have opted-in to receive periodic notifications), then your blog content becomes your e-newsletter. There is no need for a separate e-newsletter blast to your members and prospects. This reinforces the goal to create problem-solving content that is delivered to the people who asked for it. It also means that one of your main strategies must be driving new subscribers to your blog. This is all mind blowing once it sinks in!

ERA Blog as Email

13. Always be Subscribing (ABS)

Ann Handley reminded us to always be subscribing (ABS) in her keynote at ASAE’s MMC Conference earlier this month. She’s 100% right. You need to make blog subscribing top of mind and as easy as possible. At ERA we use banner ads, slide-in CTAs, post content download CTAs, and subscription forms embedded in blog posts to drive subscribers. We even A/B test the color of “subscribe now” buttons to see which one works best. In the end, more subscribers means more people consuming your content. This leads to more prospects, more leads in your sales funnel and more revenue. So ABS must be a primary marketing strategy.


14. Build your Team

Embracing inbound marketing forces you to re-think your marketing team. At ERA we have a marketing manager, a content manager, and a database administrator on the Marketing Team. This summer we even have a marketing intern that’s focused on content development! We also outsource some web development to a high-end techie in India and rely heavily on member generated content. We have a Blog Editorial Team meeting every Friday and include our VP of Advocacy and Director of Membership – who also blog regularly. So content development becomes an association-wide activity, but it starts with the right team and a re-think of your strategies and responsibilities.

15. Data Cleaning Automation

Wait, did I just say data cleaning and automation in the same sentence? Well, yes. Through automated workflows, Hubspot helps you find the disengaged. That is, create lists of individuals that haven’t opened an email, attended an event, visited a website, or watched a video. You can then include that list in a workflow that deletes contacts or puts them in a re-engagement campaign. Yeah, that’s pretty slick. Why have a database full of disengaged people? It’s ok to remove them if your engagement efforts haven’t succeeded.

16. The Hubspot Ecosystem is Easy to Build

Hubspot, like many marketing automation platforms such as Marketo, Eloqua, or Act-On, is super easy to integrate with other platforms. Within minutes we integrated WordPress, Survey Monkey, and our video platform (Wistia), all of which have native integrations with Hubspot. Thanks to the efforts of Hubspot partner HighRoad Solution, within a few weeks we integrated our event registration platform (eShow) and after about five months we integrated our AMS (Abila netFORUM). We’re currently looking at GoToWebinar as our webinar platform which also has a native integration with Hubspot. Did this last point make you raise your eyebrows? It should have. There are new solutions, like Hubspot, that make it easy to create your marketing ecosystem.

I plan to elaborate further on the 16 revelations in future posts. What do you think? Did I miss anything?

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