Inbound Marketing Strategy for the Legal and Home Services Industries

inbound marketing strategy

If you have a legal or home services business, you want leads. Not just any leads, though — you need to reach the people who want to buy your products and services.

You could spend lots of money on online or traditional media advertising… or, if you want to zero in on your target audience, you could develop an inbound marketing strategy, which is also known as content marketing

First, you need to understandthe differences between inbound and outbound marketing. The difference between the two marks a cultural shift in the way businesses market to consumers, and this article explains each method and how they each produce results.

Inbound Marketing

The inbound marketing approach draws consumers to you and then engages them by providing added value. It’s done with incentives that encourage people to engage with your business and, in many cases, ask for more information about your product or service.

 

How Inbound Marketing Brings in Consumers

Inbound Marketing for Law Firms and Home Services BusinessesInbound marketing concentrates on attracting new customers with relevant, useful content. The company creates blogs, social media posts, infographics, white papers, newsletters and other content people want to read. Once searchers arrive on your website, you engage them with emails, interactive content and chat, and you show them that you can provide continued value.

The goal is to be where potential clients can find you when they have questions or problems. People love to read, comment, share, and interact with useful content.

Successful inbound marketing uses search engine optimization, paid search and paid discovery to bring in traffic. 

The information and solutions you provide show readers that your company is reliable and trustworthy. It creates a positive impression on potential clients that influences their buying decisions. 

Inbound marketing is gentle compared to traditional advertising. The customer is nudged towards a sale with engagement and information. That’s a lot different than outbound marketing.

Outbound Marketing

We used to call outbound marketing plain old marketing. It’s TV and radio ads, billboards, newspaper and magazine advertisements, and telemarketing. Online, it includes banner and display ads, pop-ups, pop-unders and contextual ads.

But outbound marketing is an interruption, and it distracts people from what they really want to see. It throws itself at the audience to gain attention. Many ads are intrusive and repetitive, especially online, and they can annoy people to the point that they form a negative impression of your business.

Here’s what happened: Ads became noise instead of messaging. They started appearing everywhere — on TV, on your favorite news websites, and even in the games you play on your phone. They took over radio waves to the point that you can now buy subscriptions to ad-free music services for your car, your phone and your home. That over-saturation turned ads into something to ignore rather than something that could provide value. Online ad blockers and privacy settings let you reduce how often you see ads, and they’re working. In fact, clickthrough rates for online ads are at an all-time low of 0.05%.

Outbound marketing channels like print, outdoor and broadcast media just aren’t as effective as they were 10 years ago.

The Differences Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

There are dozens of major differences between inbound and outbound marketing, but this infographic lets you see the most important at a glance.

Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing - MarketCrestInbound marketing pulls in consumers with information written for their specific desires. Outbound marketing pushes the message out to everyone, whether or not they’re interested in what you have to offer.

Inbound marketing is interactive. It moves at the consumer’s pace. Outbound marketing is a one-way communication.

People discover inbound marketing content while researching a topic. Outbound marketing interrupts and disrupts the reader.

Inbound marketing uses blogs, social media, opt-in emails, search engine results, and influencer marketing. Outbound marketing includes display ads, billboards, telemarketing, print and broadcast ads. 

Let’s look at how each method sends messages.

Inbound Marketing Uses Owned and Earned Media

Inbound marketing engages potential customers through owned and earned media.

Owned media refers to channels the business controls, such as a company website, social media profiles, and YouTube channel. The company makes all decisions on what’s written, as well as when and where it’s published.

Earned media is coverage you receive in publications that aren’t company-owned. You earn this kind of coverage through networking, newsworthiness and public relations. Earned media can be online or offline. You don’t control the content the way you can with owned media. It’s the result of all the work you put into inbound marketing.

Earned media examples include:

  • Digital PR
  • Social media mentions
  • Campaign hashtags
  • Online conversations in forums
  • Online reviews
  • Newspapers and magazines

Outbound Marketing Uses Paid Media

Outbound media uses paid media, like traditional offline channels, online pay-per-click, display ads or paid emails. Social media advertising plays a major role in outbound marketing, such as promoted posts on Twitter, Facebook advertising, and paid Instagram ads.

Pro Tip: You can use social media advertising to boost your inbound marketing campaign by pushing out owned content to your target audience.

The biggest difference is that with inbound marketing, the consumer is already interested. Outbound shouts a message at everyone and hopes it sticks. 

Benefits of an Inbound Marketing Strategy

Should You Use Inbound or Outbound Marketing - MarketCrestInbound marketing reaches the right audience at the right time. This generates quality leads. A focus on inbound marketing means you spend your advertising budget on attracting traffic from the people most likely to buy.

Some of inbound marketing’s benefits include:

  • Increased trust
  • Quality traffic from a variety of channels
  • Solid return on investment

Increased Trust

Inbound marketing is about serving potential customers. You create appealing messages that deliver the information they want and need — sometimes even when they don’t know they need it.

There’s no pushy sales pitch. Inbound marketing content presents your company, products and services in a positive way. You position your business as a reliable resource. When the consumer is ready to buy, you’ll be top of mind.

Quality Traffic From Many Channels

Inbound marketing traffic comes from a variety of places:

  • Organic search
  • Social media
  • Website referrals
  • Online reviews
  • Word of mouth

When you use many traffic sources you reduce the risk of not being found because you relied on one channel.

Return on Investment

When you plan your inbound marketing campaign, state your objectives. What do you hope to achieve? How will you measure success?

It can be tricky to measure inbound marketing. For example, you may not know how many leads were generated by a campaign without using special tools that provide you with deep-dive insights. However, even without special tools, you can measure how many people downloaded a resource, watched a video or visited a website. You can also track the number of followers and subscribers you gain.

The bottom line:

  • Outline your marketing goals
  • Decide how you’ll measure success
  • Make sure everyone involved understands the concept and the implementation

Adopt a Long-Term Inbound Marketing Strategy

Like any successful advertising plan, an inbound marketing strategy doesn’t fall into place overnight. It takes time to plan, produce and execute an effective campaign.

You may need to add content creators, designers, copywriters, social media marketers and website developers to your team. Once you’ve added everyone you need, you need to get your whole team on the same page.

Take your time and focus on a long-term campaign that provides leads for a long time. It’s hard work, but it definitely pays off.

Examples of Long-Term Inbound Marketing

Check out these examples of long-term inbound marketing:

  • Create content hubs. Feature how-to video guides and related product information that you can repeatedly link back to in future inbound marketing efforts.
  • Engage with consumers to produce user-generated content. Try social media campaigns and photography contests. Allow happy customers to tell their stories.
  • Collaborate with related businesses to create online content. This expands your audience and promotional opportunities, and it positions you as a company with connections.

Analyze which types of content, calls-to-action and images resonate with your audience and capitalize on it. The key with inbound marketing is to create lasting connections with your consumers, and the way to do that is to relate to them wherever they are.

Should You Use Inbound or Outbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is the more popular marketing choice. It provides a better return on investment — inbound leads are 62% less expensive than outbound leads. If you want to build a relationship rather than make a quick buck, inbound marketing works better than outbound.

Why Your Business Needs an Inbound Marketing Strategy - MarketCrestThe caveat: it can be hard to immediately measure how effective your inbound marketing strategy is. An inbound strategy isn’t a hard sell. It’s not a transaction. The focus is on raising brand awareness and providing value. These are harder to quantify.

But outbound marketing is expensive and non-responsive, and it isn’t usually targeted. A business that spends big money on a mass audience TV advertisement can only hope it works. There’s no guarantee. Some outbound strategies, like telemarketing, will never work for most companies, but other methods do — including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google ads, which can direct messages to specific audiences.

A Word on Targeted Online Ads

Unlike traditional outbound marketing, targeted online ads use an inbound strategy. They show viewers things they find useful.

Many businesses do well with a combination of inbound marketing and targeted online ads. 

There are advantages to both inbound and outbound methods for generating leads. The bottom line is you need to find the mix that works best with your potential clients.

Let’s Talk About Your New Marketing Strategy

Want to put an inbound marketing strategy in place for your company? Contact the digital marketing experts at MarketCrest, LLC for a free consultation. Our pros can test your current strategy and assess all your marketing options.

MarketCrest, LLC is an award-winning digital marketing consulting and services firm. We’re ready to put our expertise and resources to work to grow your revenue.

 

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Free Tips From a Digital Marketing Consultant

Free Tips From a Digital Marketing Consultant

Best Digital Marketing Techniques: Free Tips From a Digital Marketing Consultant

Learning about the best online marketing techniques doesn’t have to be expensive. These free tips from a professional consultant can help you get started.

In today’s digital world, you have to keep on top of different digital marketing techniques to stay relevant and reach out to your target audience.

Expert digital marketing consultants project Google to have a 32.4% market share of the net digital ad revenue worldwide in 2018. It remains the biggest search engine in the industry. With the digital age, it’s important to always be refining your marketing strategy to fit the internet landscape.

The majority of consumers today spend a lot of time online. It’s important to use digital marketing techniques that drive more people to your website and convert this traffic into qualified leads. 

The best way to grow your business is to hire an SEO agency. These digital marketing consultants have the know-how when it comes to digital marketing techniques. There are some things you can do on your own, especially if you’re starting to apply digital marketing techniques to your strategies.

Here are some tips to get you operating like a professional digital marketing consultant:

Keep Up With the Upcoming Digital Marketing Trends

Of all the techniques you can use for digital marketing, “trend hijacking” is useful and proves successful when content marketing. It’s best if you put your brand out there, especially on the World Wide Web. There are likely a number of trends going on in the digital world related to your brand that can help you gain a massive number of online audiences.

The best marketing techniques you can use to capitalize on this is to use tools like Google Trends to help identify ongoing trends. If you have the right set of tools and the passion to stay ahead, you can strive and gain knowledge about your customer base. This can help you surpass your competitors and make your way to the top.

Use Marketing Automation

The digital marketing world is fast-paced and ever-changing. If you want to stay on top of your competitors, one of the best marketing techniques is to get into marketing automation. It’s the best method if your marketing strategy involves result-driven approaches.

Market automation apps can help fill up knowledge gaps your business might have. There are a lot of apps out there that automate the promotion of your business. Some of these apps can do:

  • Automated e-mail marketing
  • Automatic Twitter tweet posting
  • Automatic Facebook feed posting

To test its degree of success, you need to observe the engagement and responses from your target audience. Some people prefer “real people” engaging them in your social media channels. However, there are chatbots out there that can simulate an almost human-like conversation, so you can look for that if you want to get the very most out of automation.

Optimize Your Marketing Techniques for Mobile Devices

A mobile-optimized strategy delivers tons of value for businesses, especially local ones. This is because mobile-responsive websites convert more people on higher resolution screens compared to the lower ones.

Google still keeps its mobile-first stance on the situation, but it’s undeniable that a large chunk of people online use desktops, laptops, and tablets for their online business transactions. If you want to optimize your marketing strategy for mobile, keep these factors in mind. Build mobile-responsive websites that have relevant and engaging content, call-to-actions, and faster load times.

Use Social Media Marketing More

This marketing strategy is one of the newest approaches you can use to gain a massive audience for your brand. With large subscriber base, social media networks like Facebook serve as one of your primary channels for brand promotion. Facebook, for example, influences 52% of consumers’ online and offline purchases.

You can use social media trends to position your brand for all subscribers to see. Recent changes to social network policies now make them more viable advertising platforms. 

Social media marketing does come with a price, since you need to pay these platforms to advertise. The price is worth paying if your target audience is online. SImply target your ads to specific audiences that are more likely to support your brand.

Optimize Your Conversion Rate Through Your Website

When talking about Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), it involves steps that help make your brand more attractive to your audience. It’s a systematic way of expanding your customer base, helps you get found online, increases your conversion rate and helps to reduce the bounce rate of your website pages.

The simple things like filling out forms, subscribing to your blog, clicking on a call to action, and other similar tactics can help convert your site visitors by steering them into performing a specific action. Testing CRO can help you get more understanding about your website visitors’ behaviors and how to best adapt to it.

Make Your Brand Appear in Search Engine Results with SEO

You can use SEO marketing services to focus on expanding your brand’s visibility on the search engine results without paying for the ads. This is called organic traffic.

You need to have an effective SEO strategy and take technical steps to help boost your rankings, drive more website traffic, and increase the search engines’ recognition for your brand. There are a lot of aspects you need to consider when it comes to SEO, from the optimal word count to how other websites link to you online.

The main objective of an SEO strategy is to make search engines prioritize your site over your competitors. That way, you can get more customers and let your business flourish in this digital landscape.

It is recommended to hire an expert digital marketing consultant to assist you with this, as SEO is complicated and needs to be managed correctly. 

Don’t be Afraid to Use Paid Marketing and Campaigns

Despite having an attached price tag, paid marketing (PPC) is one of the most effective means for you to use search engines for paid ads. When you pay for Google or Yahoo advertisements, your website becomes visible at the top of the search results with the “Ad” label. There is a lot of research supporting the fact that online users click more on paid search results than other forms of online advertisements.

Paid advertisements also add another layer of legitimacy to your website, since people will acknowledge the money you shell out to advertise your brand. It’s one of the better marketing techniques to partner with your SEO efforts.

Familiarize Yourself with Influencer Marketing for PR

Another marketing technique you should capitalize on is influencer marketing. It’s one of the most recent and distinct digital marketing strategies that has its own set of benefits for your brand. You can link it to your content strategy, SEO efforts, and social marketing techniques.

Influencer marketing means that you promote your brand with the use of experts, influencers, popular figures, and other celebrities. These people have followers that can change what people consider for buying. It’s categorized under word-of-mouth marketing, which has the potential to spread faster, especially when your influencer has at least a million followers.

Reveal the Power of Partnership with Affiliate Marketing

This is another of the many great digital marketing techniques you can use to market your brand online. This type of marketing has a lot of similarities with commission-based marketing, where you pay your affiliate based on how they perform. When you engage in affiliate marketing, you only pay your affiliate if they’re successful at selling your brand to people.

There are a lot of companies that use affiliate marketing today, like:

  • Banks
  • Finance Companies
  • Travel agencies

Most of these companies report a successful campaign through this strategy. You can try it out and see if it works out for you.

Identify Your Goals to Know the Tools You’ll Need

Your marketing strategy should always tie in with your business goals. No matter what kind of goal your company has, you need to know the methods necessary to measure it. The method you’ll use to measure success depends on the kind of business you have, as well as the goals you set for yourself.

The metrics that you use can help you adjust the strategy based on whether goals are being met. Knowing the areas where improvements are needed can help ensure that your business strategy is sound and adaptable as the digital marketing landscape continues to change.

Get More Digital Marketing Help Today

There are a ton of great marketing strategies out there that you can use depending on the type of business you have. Knowing what works can take a lot of trial and error on your part, especially if you’re doing it on your own. If you want a more efficient way to implement your online marketing strategy, hiring a digital marketing consultant is the best way to go.

If you need assistance with your marketing strategy, MarketCrest can help. We have years of experience working with various brands across many industries. We can determine the right tools to use to ensure that your business thrives in the digital landscape.

Do you have more questions? We offer free consultations and services that can boost your company to the top of the search engine results. Contact us today to get you started on your journey to success.

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What’s The Buzz About Content Marketing?

Content Marketing Buzz MarketCrest

Content marketing is a hot buzzword these days – and perhaps it should be. It has become one of the most effective ways for brands to connect and build credibility with prospects and customers. There’s no debating the fact that content is becoming an essential online marketing strategies… and there’s no end in sight to that trend.

Research is clear that:

Nine in 10 organizations report that they are currently marketing with content

 Source: Content Marketing Institute

B2B buyers say that 70% of the content they read and study before making a purchase decision… is found on their own.

Source: Forrester

So 90% of organizations surveyed, are marketing with content and the vast majority of customers making purchasing decisions are using that content to make informed buying decisions! These statistics should be are a bit of a wake up call for business owners who don’t have Content Marketing at the top of their Online Marketing and Sales priorities.

What is Content Marketing and it’s purpose?

So, What Exactly Is Content Marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute defines it as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience…and ultimately, to drive profitable customers.

In other words… communicating with potential customers to have an influence on their buying behavior.  Sounds easy, but proper execution can be harder than companies think… and it does take time.

The concept behind content marketing is fairly simple — consistently create helpful, interesting and relevant content and make it available to your target audience. Digital content can come in the form of:

  • webpages
  • articles
  • ebooks,
  • check lists
  • case studies
  • infographics
  • podcasts
  • webinars
  • slideshows
  • videos
  • images

On a similar note, offline content tends to come in the form of printed books, brochures, samples, sell sheets, proposals, presentations, papers, manuals or “how to” guides. With digital content being less expensive to create and easier to distribute and update, the use of offline content is still important… but less so than ever before.

Currently, when it comes to sharing content, in most cases online marketers share it for free. Other times they “gate” content, which is to share it in exchange for something of non monetary value, such as contact information. This allows the marketer to play the long game of capturing a lead that can be nurtured.

The nurturing of the relationship continues via email marketing and often marketing automation, until the lead becomes an opportunity that can be closed during the customer’s buying cycle. Understanding the buyer’s cycle is another article entirely, but it suffice to say it is perhaps the most critical time for content and digital marketers.

42% of B2B content marketers report that they segment content by stage in the buying cycle

Source: Top Rank Blog

Content marketing is often used to:                

Achieve website traffic goals

60% of B2B marketers use content marketing to achieve website traffic goals.

Source: Marketing Profs

Generate additional sales

 43% of B2B marketers use content marketing to achieve sales goals.

 Source: Content Marketing Institute

Get a greater return on marketing dollars spent (ROI)

Per dollar spent, content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing.

 Source: Leaders West

The ultimate goal for a content marketer is to become better than their competition at solving people’s problems. Once a company is considered a source for valuable information, and a thought leader… brand trust and sales are next to arrive.

“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust.

Trust drives revenue.” – Andrew Davis

Content marketers remember to treat their communication with customers like they would any relationship… they nurture the relationship. The relationship was built on sharing quality content, which is why they take the content their business is putting out there, very seriously.

Statistics tell us that even small companies have turned to content marketing.

Companies with fewer than 10 employees typically allocate

42% of their marketing budget to content.

 Source: Marketing Profs

Remember that content marketing is used to build significance and impact over time. Marketers are building relationships and trust by becoming someone that people turn to for quality information and assistance.

What fueled the rise in content marketing?

The Decline in Traditional Content Marketing

Robert Rose explains content marketing this way:

“If traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star.

Content marketing is showing the world that you are one.”

It is no secret that traditional advertising effectiveness is on the decline. It is a trend fueled by a myriad of factors ranging from consumers having more control than ever before (and a subsequent unwillingness to be interrupted) and consumers having TIVO, email spam folders, caller ID, national do not call lists, ad blocking software, satellite radio and other technology to lesson the likelihood they will be bombarded with advertising and interrupted.

They are canceling print newspapers and magazine subscriptions. Traditional advertising, and outbound selling, is working less and less… so marketers have been forced to identify new ways to connect with customers.

70% of consumers say they prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads

 Source: News Cred

Content marketing is becoming a great equalizer. It evens the playing field against a myriad of claims and interruptions. It’s no longer enough for business to say they’re the best… they have to show it through the quality of the content they’re sharing.

As it is, content marketing is still advertising, just… modernized to convert casual readers, into paying customers, create fans, followers and loyalty. In this way, content marketing is demonstrating the ability to be more powerful than traditional advertising, and provide a greater return on marketing dollars invested.

Is Content Marketing right for you and your business?

If you are a company that relies on the arrival of new leads to maintain and grow your business, Content Marketing may be for you.

Content must be relevant, valuable and of high quality if you want to impact buyer’s behavior in your favor. Buyers have access to the widest range of information and services ever collected thanks to the internet. Google and search has changed how buyers shop and how companies market.

The entire Search Engine Marketing (think SEO and PPC) industry exists because buyers relentlessly search for quality content on the internet. Buyers will complete a great portion of the buying cycle long before actually contacting a company. As a result, having your content and company “found” on the internet, has quickly become a necessity to many businesses.

So you know what the buzz is all about and that content has quickly become one of the most effective ways for brands to connect and build credibility with prospects and customers. Content and online search go hand in hand.

You see that statistics of the large number of brands using content marketing to drive website traffic, leads and new sales. …and there’s no end in sight.

If you want to explore how content marketing would do the same for your company…contact us for a free, 1 hour strategy session to outline your plan.

About MarketCrest:

MarketCrest is a Marketing & Consulting Services firm focused exclusively on strategies that drive revenue growth. Simply put, we exist to help you compete and grow and we expect to be held accountable for your improved performance.

MarketCrest also provides Marketing Automation and CRM solutions, and services for clients. Learn more, and receive a free 1-hour consult with a marketing strategist.

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5 Signs Your Business Is Ready For Marketing Automation

5 Signs Marketing Automation

 

Many businesses find the concept of marketing automation appealing and want to jump right in with an improved strategy. However, a number of these companies don’t fully understand the financial implications — dedicating someone to the project full-time, or even just three-quarters of the time, is a big investment, not even considering the expenses for paying for software and development of content.

Although it is undeniable that marketing automation has significant advantages, it can also be a waste of money if you are not yet in the position to benefit.

1. You Have Enough Content to Automate

First of all, it is important to understand just how much content you will require for marketing automation. Ideally, you will have content for every persona at every stage of the buying cycle and in a range of formats (blog posts, videos, and podcasts, for instance).

This is a huge amount to plan, design, and create, and you should already have at least half this content to make marketing automation worthwhile.

2. You Have an Allocated Budget

You must be able to afford the costs of software, a dedicated team of staff, and content creation tasks. The exact amount you can expect to spend will depend according to the number of contacts in your database and the number of emails you intend to send per month.

It is important to note that trying to cut costs in any aspect will most likely result in lower quality content and less conversions, which can end up costing you more due to a reduced ROI.

3. You Are Unable to Reach Your Revenue Number

You should have already completed the analytics and determined the number of inbound visits, conversions, nurtured leads, and wins you need to reach your revenue. If you are currently falling short, marketing automation is the right solution, as it will allow you to deliver the right type of content to different groups of prospects at specific points in the buying cycle.

4. You Are Already Investing in SEO

SEO is essential for continually gaining qualified leads and a constant flow of traffic to your website, as marketing automation cannot work if you lack leads and prospects whom you will convert. Plus, connecting the content you create for email campaigns, newsletters, and articles to your website adds to optimization efforts, further improving search engine rankings to send you yet more visitors.

5. You Have CRM Software

CRM software is a much smaller investment and a precursor to the more complicated marketing automation. You can think of skipping CRM to dive straight into marketing automation as like trying to learn to ride a bike without training wheels. Before you even consider marketing automation, you should have set up CRM software with all the details about your customers and prospects.

Once you have fulfilled all the above criteria, you are ready to benefit from marketing automation. However, if you fall short in any point, you should first focus your attention on solving this shortcoming before employing marketing automation software.

Do Your Research

SharpSpring, a marketing automation services company, and Acend2 collaborated to conduct interviews with over 300 small-midsize businesses to benchmark their automation strategy and expectations.

MarketCrest has presented the results in a free ebook to help CEOs determine if they are ready for the investments and if so, provide benchmarks on strategy. The research results are available on our free Resources page.

MC MAS-Research Reports

 

About MarketCrest:

MarketCrest is a Marketing & Consulting Services firm focused exclusively on strategies that drive revenue growth. Simply put, we exist to help you compete and grow and we expect to be held accountable for your improved performance.

MarketCrest also provides Marketing Automation and CRM solutions, and services for clients. Learn more, and receive a free 1-hour consult with a marketing strategist.

 

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Why Inbound Marketing? What exactly is it, and what is the ROI?

Inbound Marketing With MarketCrest

It’s Time To Talk Inbound Marketing

We think it is time to dedicate a few posts to Inbound and Marketing Automation as MarketCrest is involved in an increasingly large amount of conversations about the purpose and value of modern marketing. For many companies, Inbound/Content Marketing and tools like HubSpot, Pardot, Marketo and SharpSpring are becoming the Go To Marketing strategy for B2B marketers.

In this post, we peek in on a article by Mike Volpe, of Hubspot, where he interviews his own CFO about the relationship between Inbound and a typical CFO.

Be a fly on the wall, and then contact us at sales@marketcrest.com for a Free Consult to see if Inbound Marketing might be right for your firm. Enjoy!

From Mike Volpe of HubSpot

“If you’ve ever wanted to get inside the head of a CFO, now’s your chance. I, (Mike Volpe of HubSpot), sat down with John to talk about the CFO perspective on marketing — from the approval process for an inbound marketing program to how the marketing budget is decided. Below are some excerpts from our conversation, which you can use as guidance for building a better working relationship with your own CFO.

An Interview with HubSpot CFO John Kinzer
Q: How effective do you think inbound marketing is, from your own experience?
From my own experience, I do think it’s effective. I’ve seen it’s success firsthand. For one, I personally don’t respond to cold calls or anything like that. And I always try to research things before I buy anything.

Here’s a great example. Last year, I bought a zipline for my three daughters. Literally, I searched the internet for “zipline” and I found this company called Zipline Gear. They had a great blog and YouTube videos that I learned a lot from. I’m not sure they were the least expensive, but they sounded like they knew what they were doing — so I ended up buying a zipline from them. That’s just a small example of how inbound marketing has worked on me.

Q: Do you think most CFOs think that marketing drives value?
To some extent, I’m sure we all do — but we also tend to view marketing as a black hole of expenses. We’re more apt to quote the classic line, “50% of my marketing is working, I just don’t know which 50%.” As a CFO, you’re always trying to get better metrics around marketing.

Fortunately, inbound marketing can give us those metrics. When I came to HubSpot, I saw that the marketing team does an amazing job of tracking what works. They track MQLs, SQLs, and marketing CAC across all markets. Knowing these metrics makes investing in marketing far more palatable for a CFO. I can see how marketing drives leads and produces customers. I can connect the dots and see that the marketing team really is driving value. So from that standpoint, marketing doesn’t seem like a black hole.

Q: CMOs often say their CFOs love PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising because it’s predictable and measurable. But they also say it’s hard to get their CFO’s buy-in to reallocate dollars from PPC to inbound marketing. What are your thoughts on PPC?
At previous companies, we didn’t use PPC that much because we had a clearly defined market. And, personally, I’ve never really clicked on PPC ads.

The way I think of PPC (and hope other CFOs would as well) is that PPC is like renting space on somebody else’s site. Blogs and other content you create, on the other hand, are assets you own that have a long shelf life. I know because at HubSpot, we get leads from blog posts written four to five years ago!

I think that the concept of renting versus owning really resonates with CFOs. If you’re doing inbound and building assets your company owns, you know that if you stopped doing any more blog posts, you’d still be generating leads for the foreseeable future. Whereas, once you stop funding PPC advertising, leads stop. Inbound marketing is also sort of like creating an annuity. It returns interest or leads ongoing without putting in more investment.

Q: Is it fair to say that inbound marketing has a compound interest effect?
Yes, especially because it brings in other people from social media. When that happens, new leads and markets can be discovered that we would never have encountered otherwise. A blog can be spread out all across the web and bring in referral links from all kinds of blogs, publications, and social media sites. That’s an amazing potential impact and a cost-effective way to attract qualified leads.

Q: In what ways do CFOs participate in marketing planning?
From a planning process, we do both bottom-up and top-down analysis. From the top-down perspective, we look at what comparable companies are spending on sales and marketing.

From a bottom-up perspective, we look at metrics such as CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost), which we separate between sales and marketing. We then compare that to the LTV (Lifetime Value of a customer). The higher the LTV to CAC ratio, the better return we’re getting on our investment.

When we start planning, as long as we can keep marketing CAC in a range that leads to these returns, then we’re comfortable. We’re especially lucky to have a financially savvy CMO like you, who’s very bottom-line driven. So, as long as you stay in that range, we know you’re making good one-off decisions and we don’t need to micromanage how you’re spending that money.

We also look at MQLs and SQLs. As long as our Senior VP of Global Sales, Hunter Madeley, is getting enough leads for his team to hit their sales targets, we know the process is working and the company is doing well. In summary, I look at high-level metrics and then let you (the CMO) manage how you spend the budget.

Q: How do you decide what budget to approve for marketing?
First of all, we come up with sales goals and customers necessary to hit our growth goals. We then back into the marketing budget necessary to drive those customers using the historical CAC. It’s then up to you as the CMO to put together a budget that fits into that framework and we iterate from there.”

We will revisit Inbound again on our next post. Until then, read the remainder here at HubSpot:  or reach us here: Contact MarketCrest

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