So you have an inbound marketing plan in place. You now need to find a way to deliver on that plan. What will you need in your inbound marketing toolbox? There are many elements to consider, all of them interconnected in some way.
The Content Marketing Website
The most important element in the inbound marketing toolbox is the website. This should be the information hub and the point prospects are guided back to learn more.
A prospect should progress through information pages to conversion pages (and convert to a lead). The reality is rarely that simple so there should be enough information of interest and value to persuade the prospect to return.
Search Engine Optimisation
There is little point in a website if it is not found when a prospect types in a relevant search phrase. One option is to use paid advertising to drive traffic the other is to drive organic traffic.
Search engine optimisation skills are required to maximise organic traffic to the website. These include technical SEO, on-page SEO and offsite (link building) skills
Content To Fuel The Process
The website is the information hub so it must be populated with relevant, useful information (content). Without content search engine optimisation is near impossible. Without content, it is difficult to progress a prospect to the point of conversion.
Content Delivery Channels
A prospect could use a search engine to seek out information but there are many other possibilities. They could use social media, they could use review sites or relevant industry news sites.
The sales team can help identify the channels used by prospects and customers. The challenge is to deliver relevant content into those channels.
The Conversion Process
Every piece of content should have a purpose. There are many possibilities from link building content (for SEO) at one extreme to long-form thought leadership pieces at the other. Some content pieces should convert, others will progress a prospect along a path to conversion.
Building traffic to a website is a time consuming and resource-intensive task. It is important to maximise the conversion rate and that is a specific skill.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tools
A conversion could be recorded when a prospect provides their email address and/or contact details. This information is of real potential value over the medium to long term. It can be added to over time to build a complete picture of a prospect and their potential interests. A CRM tool extracts maximum value from this information. There are many options available including Hubspot and Marketo.
Any B2B marketing toolbox must include a range of analysis and reporting tools. This is particularly important for inbound marketing. Measurement of the success (or not) of a wide range of elements is required to understand the inbound process return on investment.
Integrating Tools – Platform Or Stack?
Inbound marketing tools must be integrated in some way to seamlessly pass information from one tool to the next. This saves on the resources required but choosing each element and interconnecting them into a ‘stack’ can be difficult.
Platforms such as Hubspot or Aritic PinPoint deliver a fully integrated solution. The choice between a platform or a stack depends on business needs. The trade-off is potentially higher-end functionality versus ease of integration.
An inbound marketing process has many parts. If one or more elements fails to deliver then the entire process can be a waste of time and effort. Each part must be seamlessly interfaced with the next or more time can be spent on working the ‘stack’ than actually delivering the process.