How to choose the right inbound marketing software - for the right reasons
We've been singing the praises of inbound marketing for years. But that's only because we think that there's no better way to scale up your marketing efforts. To be truly successful however, you need to make sure you have the right tool in place to support you.
And that's where choosing the right inbound marketing software becomes critical. In this article, we look at inbound marketing and what makes it different from other marketing strategies. What specific things do you need to think about? What key things do you need to do? And which marketing campaigns require the use of software? Just read our guide below!
1. Inbound marketing is a long-term strategy
Inbound marketing helps attract prospects to your offering by providing them with content that addresses the specific challenges and problems they face.
In inbound marketing, your content can, among other things:
- attract prospects and introduce them to your brand,
- help prospects form an opinion about certain aspects of your industry
- convince prospects to do business with you
It's a marketing strategy that has a whole lot of advantages when you know how to use it well. And while you can certainly start seeing results quickly, it's also a strategy that really starts to come into its own over the long term.
This long-term impact isn't solely due to the nature of inbound marketing itself but has more to do with the different activities that this marketing strategy involves.
1.2 Marketing actions start to have a real impact after 2-3 months
Paid marketing campaigns let you immediately see the results of a marketing investment. But just how good are these results if they stop as soon as we turn off the money tap? In almost any other situation, it always takes a bit of time before you start seeing results from your marketing efforts.
Growth marketing techniques might well promise that your KPIs will take off, but to really measure the impact of your marketing actions and make this even bigger, you have to start by taking a step back.
This is the principle behind the well-known Deming wheel: plan, do, check, and continuously adjust all your actions to take away positive things from these.
In practical terms, this means you have to learn as you go along!
1.2 Everything depends on your sales cycle
Of course, if you really want to measure the impact of a marketing strategy on your sales figures, you have to wait until you've signed up some customers.
And if your sales cycle is 4 months, for example, you'll have to wait until you have your first customers before you can analyse their buyer's journey. Then you can ask yourself:
- Where have the strategies we have put in place been useful?
- Which channels were most useful in convincing a prospect to become a customer?
- Above all, can we use the model we have put in place to win other potential customers?
1.3 Inbound marketing is about increasing your visibility on all platforms:
Whether you want to see results quickly with paid advertising, use social networks like LinkedIn, or try and win search engine results pages, you're going to have to learn how algorithms work. Did you know that a web page takes an average of 3 months to reach its full potential on Google?
It's no different on social media. It's extremely unlikely that you're going to go viral in one day. But the more you know about algorithms and how to use them to your advantage, the more you can use them to increase your visibility. And that can take a number of months!
But it's worth it because once you've done the hard work, it will continue to grow.
2. The key components of an inbound marketing strategy
Inbound marketing essentially involves dividing up the buyer's journey of a prospect into different stages so that you can provide them with content that is tailored to their needs at each stage of that journey.
There are 4 main steps involved:
- Attract, to turn someone you don't know into a visitor to your website;
- Convert, to turn this visitor into a prospect, interested in your offering and your message;
- Sell, to turn a prospect into a customer;
- Delight, to ensure that customers who are pleased with their experience recommend you to others and continue to choose you over the long term.
In practice, the first two steps are the ones that really matter for a marketer. First, attract previously unknown people to your website and turn them into visitors. Then, ensure that these visitors become prospects.
At Plezi, our customers can choose what step they want to focus on. They can start slowly with a more affordable version of our platform which lets them generate high-quality leads or jump right in with software that lets them support prospects up until purchase. But neither of these two steps should be neglected: each has unique challenges and will require different software features.
2.1 Generate more leads
One of the main objectives of an inbound marketing strategy is to generate leads. To do this, you need to convert existing visitors to your website and then ideally increase this conversion rate over time.
To achieve both of these things, it's a good idea to have software that will enable you to:
- create and manage online forms to increase your touchpoints with visitors;
- create and publish calls to action and landing pages that encourage visitors to download "premium" content (e.g. white books, webinars).
The best solution is software that helps you to create specific content for each stage of the buyer's journey, or which can analyse the content you've already created and make personalized recommendations.
To improve your conversion rate even further, you'll need to improve how your content is distributed. To do this, look at software that can help you implement strategies for:
- social media marketing campaigns;
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization);
- paid advertising campaigns;
- email marketing campaigns and newsletters.
You can easily use these to increase your web traffic. And, if your conversion rate stays relatively stable, this will automatically increase the number of leads you generate.
2.2 Turn leads into customers
A visitor that fills out an online contact form is not yet a qualified lead. The process of qualifying leads often physically requires someone to do this, but it can also be one of the most time-consuming aspects of our job.
It's here that the ability of inbound marketing software to create workflows becomes appealing. But workflows can quickly become difficult to manage if you have a lot of content.
We also use them at Plezi, but we prefer our Smart Campaign feature. This uses algorithms and tracking of prospects to both observe their behaviour on our website and to make personalized content recommendations to them. It's a bit like giving each lead their personal marketer.
The only thing we have to do is correctly classify content when we publish it online: who is it targeted at, what interests or problems does it address, and what stage of the buying cycle is it designed for?
Once you've created a few different variations of emails, Plezi then handles sending content to each prospect in the target group.
2.3 How to choose the inbound marketing software that's right for you
Inbound marketing is more than just marketing automation. It's a marketing strategy that is based on the content you create. The more relevant this is to prospects and the better you promote it, the more this content will enable you to convert leads into customers.
Each marketing automation platform has its own unique features, so spend some time looking at the differences between them before making a decision.
Above all, you need to be familiar with your process and choose software that both suits your company, and which can be adapted to how you work. We recommend that you carry out a formal evaluation of available software which will let you review:
- your needs and processes;
- the features that you really need;
- your decision-making criteria.
Choosing the right inbound marketing software isn't something that can be rushed. More than just a piece of software, it's a real business partner which you need to spend some time with if you want to ensure your marketing strategy is successful.