We often find ourselves in conversations with senior marketers and leadership teams of industrial and supply chain companies considering taking the plunge into inbound marketing. These are people who accept the basic premise of inbound but are struggling to envision successfully implementing an effort that might seem too ambitious for their internal team’s capabilities.
To launch and sustain an inbound program, you'll need help with:
You can see by this list, inbound marketing can be a huge undertaking. And it has to be done well by a skilled team to be effective.
Before we talk about which team members are going to do what to support inbound, let’s get clear on how to define the goals an inbound program can help you achieve.
Surprising as it sounds, many industrial and professional service businesses aren’t guided by well-articulated growth goals. Decision makers know they want to grow revenue and improve profitability, but by how much, how fast, and how will the goals be achieved? Marketing goals are even less likely to be well-defined. Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation.
Business and marketing goals should be objectively connected in a way that provides everyone involved with a good view of the importance of their contributions. You can play with the math around growth percentages and revenue streams to arrive at multiple combinations of growth in each area that will get you to your target. However, defining meaningful marketing goals that can be monitored on a weekly basis for progress is far more productive.
The key is breaking goals down into the number of new customers needed based on your pipeline conversion rates, the number of leads needed to close the projected number of new customers, and how much inbound traffic you'll need to attract to deliver the leads needed.
Since top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) inbound marketing focuses on attracting the best prospects through authentic content, you have to truly know your target so your content and context speaks directly to them. That means first getting specific with your ideal buyer profile, outlining the industries, company types, size, and geographies.
Then, dig a layer deeper to the people within those companies who are decision-makers or key influencers: job titles, functional areas, responsibilities, and most importantly their needs and pain points. If you can define your target with that level of detail, you're 70% of the way to a completed persona, turning the description of your target into a “living” prototype of the perfect customer.
An effective inbound approach will dramatically change your sales pipeline, but not all leads are equal… or worth pursuing. Industrial marketers and salespeople have to prioritize leads based on conversion potential. Some leads can be immediately disqualified. Others can be categorized as marketing qualified leads (MQL) because they fit your ideal buyer profile and target requirements, and have shown interest in your product or service.
Segmenting MQLs based on what you know about them — their company information, their role, and their demonstrated intent — may reveal a perfect fit that is ready to purchase your products or engage with your services, which transitions them to sales qualified leads (SQLs).
Align expectations with your sales team by creating a service level agreement in advance that defines what constitutes an MQL or SQL, how those will be assigned to sales team members, and what they are responsible to do to close the lead. Never forget that these prospects found you, told you they need what you sell, and weren't shy about signaling that they're ready to buy.
Do you know what's your best source of traffic? Where are the highest quality referrals coming from? What blog topics and headlines seem to get the most click throughs? Which landing pages have the highest conversion rates? Answering these questions as fast as data is available means you can increase the velocity of your inbound marketing and business results.
Inbound marketing provides a rich assortment of real-time data every day that details what's working, what's not, and what could be adjusted to improve performance and results.
Now that your business growth initiatives are clearly defined, a leads management strategy in place, and your sales and marketing teams aligned, you’re ready to identify the team members and capabilities that will be key to achieving your inbound goals.
These are the distinct skill areas needed within your inbound marketing team structure:
It’s typically most effective for companies, at least when first setting out on their inbound journey, to take advantage of the expertise of an agency dedicated to inbound marketing for complex industries. Here are a few reasons why:
The biggest mistake a company can make when diving into inbound marketing is to underestimate the amount and quality of work that needs to be done. We've seen too many organizations short-change their program by assigning critical responsibilities to someone who's not skilled to fulfill them. Not doing the work necessary in terms of creating and publishing content, promoting that content, and putting smart nurturing elements in place to keep prospects engaged can be detrimental — and it can also be avoided by working with an experienced inbound agency partner.
Learn more about the power and potential that inbound marketing and an inbound agency partner can cultivate for your company in our Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing.