If you’ve spent any amount of time reading marketing blogs or attending events in the last ten years or so, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard about inbound marketing. It’s a relatively simple concept that’s revolutionised the way that we look at marketing, providing a useful structure for companies to supercharge their campaigns.
The statistics bear this out, too. Business-to-business (B2B) companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t, and blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages on search engines and 97% more indexed links. As if that wasn’t convincing enough, Search Engine Journal found that inbound leads cost 60% less than outbound leads.
But what exactly is inbound marketing and how can it help you and your company? Let’s take a look and find out.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is a form of marketing which turns traditional marketing on its head, bringing people into your company through the creation of great content instead of the old-school approach of interrupting people through traditional advertisements.
Great content can take many forms, from blog posts and social media updates to ebooks, webinars and YouTube videos. The form that the content takes is less important than making sure that it offers some sort of value, and so inbound marketers need to have a thorough understanding of their target audience.
Done well, inbound marketing works for both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) companies. B2C companies typically focus on shorter form content, like social media updates and TikTok videos, while B2B companies usually create long form content like webinars and white papers. This long-form content allows them to capture contact data for leads that their sales team can then follow up with.
Inbound marketing was popularised by marketing automation company HubSpot, with the HubSpot inbound methodology taking the form of the following three interlinking stages:
Attract: Bringing people in by the creation of relevant and high quality content.
Engage: Taking part in relevant conversations to turn followers into fans and brand advocates.
Delight: Going above and beyond to give your customers the tools and information they need, providing more than they ever expected from you.
How to Build an Inbound Marketing Team
The structure of an inbound marketing team varies from company to company, and the structure that you’ll want to go for depends upon the kind of content that you want to create. If you want to focus on podcasting then you’ll need a different structure to if you plan to dominate on TikTok.
Written content is arguably the most common kind of content that we see inbound marketers using, and so it’s important to know how to hire a decent copywriter, whether you’re working with freelance resources and agencies or whether you’re bringing someone in-house.
You’ll likely want to build a marketing analytics team so that you can track the performance of your campaigns, and it’s also a good idea to invest in marketing operations so that you’ve got a decent backbone to build from.
On top of that, you’re going to want a head of content to oversee all of your content marketing, as well as a digital marketing or inbound marketing director to oversee the strategy as a whole.
Your Inbound Marketing Approach
Because inbound marketing strategies vary so widely depending upon the kind of company you are and the resources you have available, the structure of your team will be partly determined by the approach that you choose to take.
This comes down to the content creation specialists you’ll need, which will typically include a writer, a graphic designer and a web developer. They’re usually supported by an SEO/SEM specialist who can handle search engine optimisation and search engine advertising to help make sure that people see the content that you create.
Some of the more typical team setups that we see include:
- Blogging: Blogging and inbound marketing are a match made in heaven, because your blogs are what will help to bring people into your site. It’s a good idea to create blog content that caters to every point of the buying journey, from their very first contact with you to the informative stuff that’s going to encourage them to make a purchase. Oh, and don’t forget to include a call-to-action (CTA)!
Employees: Content strategist, copywriter, designer.
- Community Building: Community building is a longer-term approach to inbound marketing in which your company tries to create a community around its product, service or industry. If you’re a web hosting company, for example, then it could make sense to build a support forum or to bring together developers to talk servers and code.
Employees: Community manager, analyst, content strategist.
- Email Marketing: Companies with an email marketing focus go above and beyond to develop a highly targeted email list and to convert those subscribers into customers. On top of regular newsletters, email marketing teams are also responsible for segmentation and automation and typically share the data they have on customers with sales teams and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
Employees: Content strategist, email technician, copywriter, designer, analyst.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): SEO is the process of creating web-based content that will rank high on search engines. A huge number of factors go into this (over 200 are used for Google), and so it’s vital to work with an SEO strategist who has proven experience of carrying out successful SEO strategies. Most inbound marketing campaigns involve at least some SEO efforts.
Employees: SEO strategist, analyst, copywriter, designer, web developer.
- Social Media Marketing: Social media marketing is the process of using social networking sites to promote your business through the creation of high quality content. It’s typically a longer-term approach to marketing that can take time to show results, but it has additional benefits such as increasing engagement with your brand and helping your brand to participate in real-time conversations in your industry.
Employees: Social media marketer, analyst, designer.
- Webinars: Webinars are web-based seminars in which a company arranges for one or more speakers to deliver a live presentation over the internet. They’re more commonly used by B2B companies and those with complex offerings and long buying cycles, and they typically focus primarily on sharing information and best practices with a sales-based call-to-action at the end.
Employees: Presenter, content strategist, analyst.
- White Papers/Ebooks: White papers and ebooks are basically blog posts on steroids, often containing original research and consisting of at least 5,000 words or so. The goal is to address one or more of your customers’ pain points and to hit them with a call-to-action at the end, a little like a written version of a webinar. Like webinars, they’re usually placed behind a data capture form so that you can gather leads for your sales team to follow up with.
Employees: Content strategist, copywriter, designer, researcher, editor.
Deciding the right setup for you and your team takes time, effort and a whole heap of insights. On top of that, these team structures are just suggestions, and you’re free to create a team structure that works for you. If you’re struggling with this (or if you just want an extra pair of eyes), feel free to reach out to us at CJAM so that we can pair you with the inbound marketing specialist that’s right for you and your company.
Remember that some people are multi-talented and can cover more than one area, and that the most important part of building an inbound marketing team is making sure that you’re also keeping an eye on the metrics so you know whether your campaigns are delivering a return on investment (ROI).
The Step-By-Step Process of Building an Inbound Marketing Team
1. Identify your goals
The first step towards building an inbound marketing team is to identify the goals that you’re hoping to accomplish with your campaign. This goes back to “attract, engage, delight”. Ideally, your campaign will deliver on all three, but most companies have a particular priority. For example, if a substantial part of your business comes from retaining and upselling to existing clients, you’re going to want to focus on the delight stage.
As part of identifying your goals, you should also set key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can measure to determine whether your campaigns have been successful.
2. List the kinds of content you’ll require
Now that you know what your goals are, you can start to think about the kinds of content that you’ll need to create. This will also be influenced by the kind of company you are, with B2Cs typically creating shorter form content like social media updates and short videos and B2Bs opting for longer blog posts, webinars and white papers.
3. Determine the employees you’ll need
With your goals and your content types in hand, you can cross reference that with the information we shared above to create a list of the different employees that you’re likely to need. Bear in mind that these employees can be shared across disciplines, so if you’re doing email marketing and social media marketing, you may only need one designer. Some people also have multiple skillsets, so it’s not uncommon for an SEO strategist to be able to double up as an analyst.
4. Start hiring
With your list of employees and required content types in hand, you’re ready to start hiring. Bear in mind that your inbound marketing campaigns will need to be supervised by someone, typically a marketing director, and so if you already have one then they should be involved throughout the hiring process. If you don’t, hire one of them as the first person you bring on board and then empower them to build the team they need as they see fit.
5. Deploy your campaigns
With your team built, you’re ready to start strategising and deploying campaigns. That’s what you hired them for in the first place, after all! Don’t be afraid if you don’t see results straight away, because it takes time for your campaigns to gather momentum. Email lists and social media followings don’t spring up overnight, and it takes a while for search engines to crawl your website and to update its rankings.
6. Measure the results
This builds on from the last point and goes back to the KPIs that you set. You should measure the results of all of your campaigns, both overall and on a rolling monthly basis. Ideally, each month will outperform the last one, as that will show a constant trajectory of growth. Be sure to look for what works as well as what doesn’t, because it’s all valuable information. This is the stage at which having a decent analyst is vital.
7. Iterate and improve
Now you’re ready to take the results that you measured in the last stage and to look for ways to iterate and improve. Try to give any campaign at least six months to get a more realistic feel for whether or not they’re achieving what you hoped they’d achieve, but don’t be afraid to cancel them after that if they’re just not working. You should also look for ways to improve what you currently have and test out new iterations to see what difference that makes.
8. Review your structure and employees
After six months or a year or so, you’ll be ready to review the structure of your inbound marketing team and to determine whether you made the right choices when you hired them. You can evaluate each employee individually as well as your team as a whole. You may decide to make a major change to your strategy, such as by switching from white papers to webinars or moving from social media marketing to email marketing. When that’s the case, you might need to let some employees go and hire some new ones with different specialisms to make sure that you have the skills you need to get your campaigns done.
What Tools Do You Need?
There are a ton of tools out there that can help you to develop and deliver an inbound marketing campaign, from Slack for communication to Dropbox and Google Drive for sharing files. Many of these tools vary from team to team and you’ll already be familiar with them, and so we’re going to focus on the two main tools that you might not be using already.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are basically powerful databases that enable you to track every interaction that you have with a lead or a customer. Done well, you’ll be able to track customers across every touchpoint.
This means that you’ll be able to see if a social media follower downloads an e-book and, if so, whether they open the emails that you send as a follow-up. You’ll also be able to track whether they go on to become a customer and which of your products or services they purchase.
The complex nature of CRM systems means that they’re able to provide personalisation at such a massive scale that no human being could ever keep up with it. They can even bring together information from different sources, so perhaps you get an email address from a landing page and then add a birthdate and a telephone number to that contact after they make a purchase.
You can think of CRM systems as being the technological, 21st century equivalent of how shopkeepers used to remember the names of their customers and their regular orders. They allow business owners to provide that level of personalisation and custom service even when they’re selling to millions of people.
There are a number of different CRM systems on the market, and so you’ll want to do your research so that you can figure out which platform is best for you. HubSpot is one of the best-known, in part because they’ve done so much to popularise this style of marketing, and competing vendors include Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, Zendesk and Qualtrics.
Email Marketing Tools
Email marketing tools vary widely in scope and complexity, but you’ll want to find one that you can attach to your CRM system because that’s going to make your life a heck of a lot easier.
A good email marketing strategy means segmenting your list so that you can send emails to more targeted subsections of your subscriber-base, rather than hitting everyone all at once. You can combine this with your CRM so that these segments are automatically created for groups like “previous customers” and “people who added a product to their cart but didn’t check out”.
You can also set up automation, which will allow you to create pre-written emails that are sent whenever a trigger is activated. For example, you could send a reminder to people to download their free e-book if a week passes without them accessing it.
These two techniques are arguably the most powerful that you have access to with email marketing, but there’s plenty more that you can do if you put your mind to it. It’s also a good idea to send out a weekly or monthly newsletter so that you can keep people up-to-date with company news and special offers.
There are a ton of email marketing tools out there for you to choose from, with some of the market leaders including Mailer Lite, MailChimp, Constant Contact, ConvertKit and AWeber. As with anything, you should go ahead and do your research to identify which provider is right for you.
Social Media Tools
The latest statistics show that 58% of the world’s population (or over 4.5 billion people) use social media on a daily basis, spending an average of 2.5 hours per day on social networking and instant messaging. It’s no surprise that marketers are so keen to tap into social networking, but you might not be aware that 73% of marketers rate social media as either “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their business.
All of these statistics go to show that social media marketing is a powerful tool for building a community and growing your business, but be warned that it can take a while to reach that point of critical mass. Once you get there, though, social media can become one of the most powerful marketing tools that your business has access to.
B2C companies typically focus on lifestyle-based social networks like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, where they can post more entertainment-focused content that’s designed to boost interaction. B2B companies are more likely to use LinkedIn, whether they’re managing groups and company pages or whether they’re sending out connections and using their employees as their greatest marketing asset.
Either way, it’s all about building a following over time and nurturing that following by creating high quality content. If content creation isn’t your forte then consider reaching out to us at CJAM so that we can match you up with some consultants and agencies that can get the job done for you.
As for tools, you’ll want to take a look at all of the tools that the sites themselves provide and then to look at third-party tools to help you to create content and manage your campaigns. TweetDeck and Hootsuite both offer free dashboards for Twitter that can help you to schedule posts and monitor saved searches and multiple accounts. Buffer is great for scheduling too, and it supports the majority of social networks.
Canva is great for creating visual content, especially when you don’t have any designers, and Google Docs and Dropbox are ideal for saving files to the cloud and sharing them across a wider team. You’ll also want to use a tool like Trello or Basecamp for project management.
Of course, there are plenty of other tools out there, so it falls to you to experiment and to figure out which ones work best for your business. The chances are that if you fill your inbound marketing team with people who have prior experience in the industry, they’ll let you know which tools they need and why they need them.
Now that you know the basics of inbound marketing and the structure and the tools that you’ll need to use, you’re ready to put what you’ve learned into practice and to start building out your inbound marketing team.
Remember that it’s better to start small than to not start at all, and it also takes time for you to start seeing results from your inbound marketing campaign. Be sure to set some key performance indicators (KPIs) and to track your performance over time so you determine whether you’re getting the job done.
Now that you’ve heard from us, we want to hear from you. Are you carrying out inbound marketing campaigns and, if so, what kind of results have you experienced? Be sure to let us know in the comments.
Get Some Help
Building an inbound marketing team takes time, effort and resources, and it can also take a lot of trial and error if this is your first time doing it. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to work with a trusted partner who has the experience that’s needed to get the job done on time and on budget the first time round.
If you don’t want to do the hard work of finding and vetting potential partners, don’t worry because we’ve done the hard work for you. At CJAM, we have hundreds of top quality consultants, freelancers and marketing agencies that are ready to help out. Get in touch with us today to find out more!
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