If you’ve been looking into inbound marketing, you may have heard the term “buyer persona” bandied about. Buyer personas are critical for inbound and digital strategy, because they define your audience, allowing you to create content and deploy marketing techniques that will reach your ideal buyers, convert them to clients, and provide an exceptional ROI on your marketing efforts.
Buyer persona definition
A buyer persona is a fictionalized version of your ideal client types. The persona defines what these clients are like: demographic information like age and gender, job title, job responsibilities, purchasing power, and more. Creating a persona allows you to visualize and understand your audience better, which allows you to hone your content and marketing efforts to be highly effective.
How to create buyer personas
You probably have a good idea already of what your typical client is like. If you create plastic injection moldings of automotive components, you know that your ideal client is a sourcing specialist or product engineer for an automotive OEM, and that this client is usually male, in his late twenties to early forties, and is under extreme time pressure to source components. From your work experience, you probably have this same background information on your other client types (e.g. a Tier II supplier who makes automotive assemblies) as well.
Use the information you have, but don’t just rely on your assumptions. One effective method for understanding your ideal buyer is to interview your best clients. Find out about their job responsibilities, the challenges they face in their work, and how your company can help them and meet their needs. This information can help you
Simple example persona:
Sourcing Specialist/Product Engineer
Late 20s–early 40s
Sourcing components for vehicles
Working under extreme time pressure
Needs quick turnarounds, on-time delivery, products that can meet OEM specs
Needs suppliers with capability to produce high volume of moldings
To source quality components quickly, at the best possible price, from a reliable supplier
Your buyer personas can be as simple (like the example above) or as detailed as you like, and as works for your application. Once you’ve written buyer personas for your major client types (probably two or three different personas) you’ll better understand your buyers and your audience, and better be able to market to them.
Creating content for your buyer personas
The way that you take advantage of the personas that you’ve created is through creating targeted content that addresses those specific personas. You’ll need to create content—blog posts, infographics, social posts, ebooks, white papers, videos, etc.—specifically geared toward the goals and challenges of your buyer persona. Returning to our previous example, if you are creating content for OEM Oliver, you might write a blog post about how to select a plastic injection molding supplier, create an infographic about the plastic injection molding process from design to receipt by the customer, or publish an ebook about maximizing your plastic molding’s design to reduce structural and cosmetic imperfections. These pieces of content address the needs of OEM Oliver, which include finding suppliers (blog on selecting injection molders), quick turnaround times (process timeline infographic), and high-quality, spec-meeting components (ebook on minimizing defects). This content is useful and interesting to OEM Oliver, which may prompt him to read it, convert from a site visitor to a lead by providing contact information, or reach out for more information or even a quote.
Buyer personas are a useful and under-utilized tool for understanding the prospective customers you want to target with your marketing efforts. By researching and creating buyer personas and then creating content that addresses the needs of those personas, you can become visible to the type of person you want as a client and peak their interest about your company’s offerings.
Inbound marketing has recently made a serious jump in popularity. As consumer preferences began to shift in the last decade, it’s become clear that inbound marketing techniques are the most effective way to generate warm leads and close sales. And when you talk about inbound marketing, you have to talk about HubSpot. They are at the very forefront of this marketing renaissance, and have been for quite some time. They offer quality tools and education that help businesses and sales teams improve their marketing tactics, and they do so quite effectively. One of HubSpot’s most popular tools is called HubSpot Sales, and in case you hadn’t heard about it, or aren’t quite sure what it does, we thought we’d break it down a bit:
What is it?
Formerly known as Sidekick, HubSpot sales is a new and improved version of their original CRM (Customer Relations Management) tool. It comes in two forms: HubSpot Sales free, and HubSpot Sales Professional. HubSpot Sales Free is, as you might imagine, free, while HubSpot Sales Professional costs $50, but gives you full access to the HubSpot suite of CRM tools.
What does it do?
Now that you know what it is, you’re probably wondering what exactly HubSpot Sales does, and why it’s such a big deal. And the answer to that is: HubSpot Sales is one of the most comprehensive, affordable CRMs out there. When you install HubSpot Sales Free alone, you’ll get email open and click tracking, email scheduling, contact profiles, and a taste of more advanced tools like email templates and meetings. Broken down, these tools can do a lot to help manage your time and nurture qualified leads:
You’ll get a desktop notification the second your emails are opened, and you’ll get another notification if a prospect follows any of the links within your email. This feature takes a lot of the guesswork out of your emailing process. It’s easy to figure out who is a warm lead, who’s gone cold, and where you should spend the majority of your time nurturing email leads.
You might be working at 1AM, but chances are your prospects are not. With email scheduling, you can write up your message at any time, and then set it to go out at a time you know your prospect will be at their desk.
Each time you send out an email, or someone looks at content from your email or website, HubSpot Sales will collect their information, putting it all into one place so you can see who is looking at your website, and where they’re spending the most time.
HubSpot Sales makes it easy to remember where you are with each client. They organize every lead’s history into a built-in activity stream, which will tell you which emails you’ve sent, which emails they’ve opened, and what links and documents they downloaded. This makes it easy to personalize your future approach with that warm lead. If they’ve been looking at a lot of your how to’s, you can easily send them another you know they’ll be interested in. If they’re snooping around looking at pricing, it might be the right time to hook them up with a salesperson who can close.
Once you’ve figured out who your contact is, and what they’re likely looking for, you can drop them into an email sequence. Email sequences essentially put lead-nurturing on autopilot, making it easy to pull leads through the sales funnel without a lot of effort or time on your behalf. Sequences will send out emails you’ve created, at times you set, so you can continue to nudge that prospect through the sales funnel, without even having to think about it. This frees you up to focus on closing other warm leads.
Meetings and Calling
You can easily share a link with everyone you want involved in a meeting, that allows them to choose a time for the meeting that works for everyone. Because HubSpot Sales links up with Google Calendar, Office 365, and HubSpot CRM, their meetings feature makes it very easy to see where scheduling conflicts exist, and how to avoid them. Once you get that meeting set up, easily record the call with the click of a single button. HubSpot Sales will automatically log them to your CRM.
Why do you need it?
So now that you know exactly what HubSpot Sales will do for you, it’s pretty clear to see that it takes out a lot of the guesswork and potential for human error that go along with the sales process. By installing HubSpot Sales, either the free or the business version, you’re working to ensure that no one slips through the cracks, and that you’re doing everything you can to pull those qualified leads through the sales funnel.
Best of all, HubSpot Sales is compatible with third party emailing systems, like Gmail, Outlook, and what have you. That means that you get all of these benefits through your existing email setup, so there’s no learning curve.
When you use HubSpot Sales, it’s easy to see who’s spending the most time on your website, and who’s opening your emails. From there, you can identify the qualified leads, and allocate your time wisely based on those warm leads. With real-time notifications that let you know when someone’s reading your email, it’s simple to send follow up content seconds later. By reaching out a just the right time, you’ll get more answered calls, more meetings booked, and as a result, more sales. HubSpot Sales offers an easy, affordable CRM that helps you smartly manage your time, and put effort into the leads you know will count.
HubSpot Sales is a handy tool that we use every day here at HA, so we can speak for its benefits ourselves. If you’ve been thinking about some of HubSpot’s tools, but aren’t sure they’re right for you, feel free to get in touch. We’d be more than happy to answer any questions, or explain a bit more about HubSpot CRM.
If you’re a company out of West Michigan looking to up your inbound marketing game, you’re probably looking for an agency to help you develop the right strategy. The problem is that with all of the agencies out there all promising the best results, it’s hard to know who can actually deliver, and who’s just trying to take your money. You need an agency that can actually perform, deliver results, and put your company at the top. So here’s 9 tips to help you cut through the smoke and mirrors, and find the right West Michigan inbound marketing agency for you:
1) Hire an Inbound Agency that focuses on your industry or field.
You wouldn’t have a general practitioner to perform a highly specialized surgery on your spine, would you? Probably not. You’d find a spinal surgeon who specialized in that specific surgery. The same principle applies for your website and inbound marketing strategy.
Your website is the backbone of your company, and your inbound marketing strategy is what draws people there, so you shouldn’t trust any agency that doesn’t have experience in your industry. If you’re a large B2B manufacturer, you should choose an agency that specifically works with B2B manufacturers: one that understands the B2B process, knows how your industry works, and understands your goals as a manufacturer. While there are probably plenty of general agencies out there that will take on your project, you’re better off with an agency that’s familiar with your industry.
2) Hire an inbound agency that understands your goals & objectives and has a plan to achieve them.
This one goes along with the previous point in the sense that to understand your goals and objectives, a good West Michigan inbound marketing agency should also understand your industry. From there, they should be able to sit down with you and talk about what you’re looking to achieve, and they should outline exactly how they’ll go about it. If you’re not sure what goals you’re looking to achieve, they should help you determine that before the commencement of any project.
3) Hire an inbound agency that practices what they preach.
The first thing you should look at when choosing a West Michigan inbound marketing agency is their website. Is it optimized for inbound marketing? Does it rank well on search engines? Does it look professional and showcase helpful content that targets their ideal client? Did it draw you in? Since you are in fact, one of their target clients, you’re a great example of the effectiveness of their strategy.
If their content offers drew you in, made you want to download more content, and eventually convinced you to contact them, then it’s a good sign that they’re following their own rules. A company that doesn’t produce results for their own website can’t be expected to produce results for you.
4) Choose an inbound agency with a proven & documented strategy.
Any agency will tell you how great their strategy is and how well it works, but do not trust anyone without legitimate proof. A good West Michigan inbound marketing agency should have a strategy that is documented and proven to deliver results for companies like yours, in the West Michigan area. Whether they provide case studies that showcase results they delivered for previous clients, or they have a written-out strategy that they’ve proven themselves, you should see some sort of evidence before you enter into any kind of business relationship with the agency.
5) Choose an inbound agency that publishes case studies with compelling results.
Like we mentioned previously, case studies are easily one of the best ways to tell if an inbound marketing agency is a good fit. First of all, the agency should have case studies. Second of all, those case studies should contain pretty compelling results. You need to be sure that this inbound marketing agency has produced actual results for other companies in West Michigan. If they don’t have tangible proof, you’ll want to keep looking.
6) Hire a true agency with a team that can keep up with demand.
Solo agencies may have their benefits in terms of price, but you still need an agency that’s big enough to handle the demands of a full inbound marketing overhaul. We’re not saying stay away from solo agencies, but you will need an agency team that’s got more than one or two people, because they just won’t be able to get the job done for you. There’s a lot that goes into a complete inbound marketing strategy, and you’ll need a team that’s big enough to handle the initial work, as well as the ongoing maintenance that occurs once everything is set in place.
7) Choose a team with a dedicated project manager.
We’ve found that one of the key components to success with an inbound marketing agency is a dedicated project manager. If you’ve had bad experiences before with agencies handling your website and inbound marketing strategy, this is even more important. You need a specific point of contact: a person that will keep you up-to-date with your project, and tell you exactly what is happening when. A West Michigan inbound marketing agency that has a dedicated project manager will be able to keep you in the loop at all times, so you know what the agency is working on, and when you can expect project advancements.
8) Hire an inbound agency shows you transparency and results.
The only way to know that an agency is actually doing their due diligence is to see their results. Measurement is key. And you can measure results by having access to their regular reports. A good West Michigan inbound marketing agency should keep things transparent, allowing you to see actual results, so that you’re aware of the benefits of the agency and their strategy. An agency that agrees to keep you in the loop is trustworthy, and certain to be working in your best interest.
9) Hire an inbound agency with friendly, responsive and communicative staff.
There are all kinds of inbound marketing agencies in West Michigan that will tell you they’re the best, they have the only true, proven strategy, and that they’re better than everyone else. It’s best not to take a bunch of blustering and shameless self-promotion at face value. Recognize that whoever you hire will be who you’re working with throughout the entirety of your project.
If you don’t like the agencies employees, or if the agency can’t deliver on their promises, it’s going to be a long road. Make sure the agency you hire is one you can get along with, and one that truly generates results. Their team should be responsive, friendly, and readily willing to communicate with you. The agency itself should be capable of providing what they say they will. Big egos need not apply.
“Inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in, rather than marketers having to go out to get prospects’ attention. Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found, and draws customers to the website by producing interesting content.” Source: Inbound Marketing
Simply put, Inbound Marketing brings your customers to you. Inbound Marketing references many types of content marketing including podcasting, blogging, SEO, and, of course, social media. When you plan, develop, and execute your content plan, you will attract traffic. With some keyword research and buyer persona research, that traffic will be qualified as potential prospects. Once you have qualified traffic, you can use offers and lead magnets to convert your visitors into leads. Once those leads are in your marketing automation system, you can convert those leads into sales and delight them as customers. This is the essence of the Inbound Marketing strategy: ATTRACT > CONVERT > CLOSE > DELIGHT.
A sound Inbound Marketing strategy is focused on using your website and online presence to bring new prospects into your sales cycle. HADM has had a tremendous amount of success using the Inbound Methodology to generate leads and grow our B2B Manufacturing, E-Commerce, and Real Estate clients. Inbound Marketing has also been instrumental in our own growth. As a Certified Hubspot Partner, HADM is positioned at the top of West Michigan Inbound Marketing providers. We provide a fully-integrated solution to Inbound Marketing, lead generation, and customer acquisition.
Would you like to learn more about Inbound Marketing and what it can do for your business?
We are Inbound Methodology evangelists. It has grown and transformed our business and has been a crucial part of our success. If you think Inbound Marketing might be a good fit for your business and you would like to learn more from an expert, reach out to us and schedule a consultation.