If you’re in the marketing world at all, you know that these two terms are the heavyweight champs of modern marketing. But how do they fit together? There’s a lot of confusion out there about inbound marketing vs. content marketing. Are they the same thing? And if they’re different, how?
We’re going to break it all down for you in this marketing terminology matchup of inbound marketing vs. content marketing.
Inbound marketing is a big umbrella. A whole bunch of marketing tactics make up the umbrella’s individual components. SEO, social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and so many more tactics make up everything from the waterproof fabric to each little rib that forms the shape of the umbrella.
If inbound marketing is an umbrella, content marketing is the pole and handle that holds the umbrella up. Content marketing forms the base and the foundation for a quality inbound marketing strategy.
So to answer the questions posed in the intro: yes, content marketing and inbound marketing are different things.
Inbound marketing refers to the overarching marketing strategy that draws in qualified leads. Content marketing is a form of inbound marketing, but one of the most important inbound marketing tactics that lays the framework for the larger inbound marketing strategy as a whole.
Got it? Not quite?
No worries. We’re going to keep on rolling with some more information to make that distinction a little clearer for you. Let’s take a closer look at what inbound marketing is, what content marketing is, and how they work together to deliver you the leads you want when you want them.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is a marketing method that focuses on drawing in qualified leads and potential customers, rather than blasting information about your company to the general public.
Inbound marketing is specific and tactical.
The methodology requires that you know who you’re selling to, who you want to sell to, and that you market to those specific buyers in a way that is helpful to them.
Inbound marketing was born out of the modern consumer’s desire to discover solutions to their own problems. Today’s consumer despises telemarketers, spam emails, and other poorly targeted advertising techniques that don’t feel personal, relevant, or helpful.
Inbound marketing recognizes this consumer pain point, and works to find a solution.
Inbound marketing is successful when a consumer seeks a solution to a problem, navigates to a resource that answers their questions, and self-selects the product or service that ultimately resolves their pain point.
For the consumer, this is a seamless transition.
They search their problem, find the ideal solution, and make a purchasing decision. The trick of inbound marketing is offering up relevant content and improving your company’s visibility so that consumer gets their seamless transition from you. And this is where content marketing comes in.
What is Content Marketing?
Inbound marketing is built on content marketing. Though inbound marketing is made up of a variety of marketing tactics, like search engine optimization, email marketing, workflows, and so much more, content marketing is certainly the heavy lifter.
Think about it:
What would you promote in your email marketing campaigns if you didn’t have content written?
Where would you direct conversions from pay-per-click ads if not to a page of content?
How would you optimize your website for search engines without content?
Content marketing forms the backbone and the foundation of any inbound marketing strategy. It’s everything from the optimized content on your website to your weekly blog posts to your monthly email newsletters to that new vlog you’ve been trying out.
Content marketing is what creates value for your potential leads, and its what draws those qualified leads into your sales funnel.
If you want a more specific outline of the different types of content marketing and how to implement them, I suggest you check out our content marketing page. If you’re already familiar with content marketing, let’s move on to how inbound marketing and content marketing work together:
How These Strategies Work Together to Bring You Qualified Leads
As we mentioned earlier, inbound marketing functions on the premise that today’s consumer ignores disruptive, non-personal messages. Inbound marketing instead encourages consumers to self-qualify, and search for and find the information and the solutions that best fit their own problems and pain points. Content marketing is a major component of that inbound marketing methodology, especially in a consumer’s early stages of the buyer’s journey.
While your sales team might already have a great, inbound-focused method of converting leads into sales, content marketing is one of those key tools that brings those leads to your marketing and sales teams in the first place.
I like to think of content marketing as the fuel that feeds your inbound marketing funnel or flywheel.
Without content going out regularly, answering your ideal customer’s questions, solving their pain points, and nurturing them further down the buyer’s journey, your sales team might not get the chance to exercise their awesome, inbound-focused sales process in the first place.
While content marketing is also used extensively in the later stages of the buyer’s journey, it’s most commonly thought of as a way to draw in the right, qualified leads, so your marketing and sales team can apply the rest of your inbound marketing strategy to nurture and close those leads.
Inbound Marketing + Content Marketing = A Successful Growth Strategy
In the end, it’s best to think about inbound marketing and content marketing together, rather than inbound marketing vs. content marketing. Both tactics are useful methods to draw in and close qualified leads, and they work best when used in conjunction.
Content marketing forms the foundation of your inbound marketing strategy, drawing in the right leads with helpful, personalized content. Then, your inbound marketing strategy can do the rest of the work — taking the leads your content marketing strategy generated and converting them into customers and future promoters for your brand.
Still have questions? We’ve got answers. Check out our inbound marketing and content marketing pages for more specifics on both strategies, and always feel free to give us a call or drop a line — we’d love to chat. And if you’re just not sure what an inbound marketing strategy can do for you in real life, check out the case study below.
Our Getting Started with HubSpot Series is written to help you understand what to expect when you sign on with a HubSpot Partner Agency. Over the next few months, we’ll work to cover everything from HubSpot onboarding to sales enablement and marketing and sales alignment. If you like these posts, and there’s a certain topic you’d like us to talk about, just let us know!
In the sales and marketing world, the term “sales enablement” is one that’s getting thrown around a lot lately. Sales Enablement is the process of empowering your sales team to sell better. When you enter into a sales enablement service with a HubSpot partner, they give your sales team the tools, technology, training, and content they need to nurture and close deals with the best prospects, faster.
Typically, the sales enablement process happens after your HubSpot Onboarding session. If your company is already using HubSpot, you can jump right into a sales enablement training service.
Either way, most sales enablement training services happen in an ongoing way. Many HubSpot Partner Agencies offer intensive training sessions, too, to jumpstart your company to sales success, but we’ll get to that in another blog in this series.
Today, we’re talking about what you can expect from an ongoing sales enablement training service.
What Does Sales Enablement Training Look Like?
Like we mentioned in our last installment of the Getting Started With HubSpot Series, every agency works a little differently. The process we’re about to describe is specific to us, and while most agencies will have some similar offerings, you’ll want to speak with any prospective agency directly before you sign on for a sales enablement training service, to make sure they’re a good fit for you. With that said, here’s a deep dive into our sales enablement training process:
Meet Brooke, our HubSpot Project Manager! She’s our Sales Enablement expert, and we’re relying on her expertise to inform this post.
All of our services start with a kickoff call. It’s important to understand exactly where you are before we start any training. We want to make sure that every aspect of our training sessions are geared specifically to your company and your unique sales team. So, our HubSpot Project Manager, Brooke, will start by giving you a call.
On the kickoff call, Brooke is looking to see where your sales process is at. Maybe your sales team is all on the same page, or maybe they each have a unique process that works for them. Wherever you’re at is great. This call just gives us an idea of where you are, so we can better tailor our training session to you.
After the kickoff call, we get to work.
What does that look like?
When you’re first getting started with the Sales Enablement process, Brooke will meet with your team for weekly training sessions. She’ll explain HubSpot tools you might not be familiar with yet, help your team learn how to use them, and answer any questions you might have. Here, she’ll also teach you how to organize contacts, how to make sure that you’re tracking every contact’s actions within the HubSpot platform, and more.
Essentially, what Brooke is helping you do during these weekly meetings is to mimic your existing sales process in the HubSpot platform.
When you’re done with the weekly meetings, and Brooke has helped you recreate your sales process in the platform, your team will be able to pick up right where they left off. The difference is that now they’ll have better contact organization and better tracking of all of their efforts. HubSpot will keep data that tells them which of their sales efforts are most successful, and which don’t seem to be moving the needle.
This service is part of what makes partnering with a HubSpot Partner Agency so useful. We’re really working to make your transition to the new software as seamless as possible.
Individual Team Member Meetings
One great part of our sales enablement training service is that your team members can meet with Brooke individually if they’re looking for a little more guidance. Working with a new tool is really exciting, but it can also present challenges. Whether your sales team members are looking to extend their HubSpot capabilities, or want a little bit more help learning how to use HubSpot’s tools every day, these individual team member meetings go a long way to ensure your entire team is working for overall company growth.
As you start to get more comfortable with HubSpot and all of the tools they offer, Brooke will continue to meet with your sales team bi-weekly, to see how everything is going, and to answer any questions that might come up as your team progresses further with the platform.
Regular Monthly Meetings
Once your sales team feels confident using the platform in their daily operations, we’ll scale back our meetings to once a month. Though you can always call with any questions, these meetings are typically used to review your progress over the past month, and see what’s working, and what’s not.
At these meetings, Brooke might suggest new tools to try out that can help your sales team provide even better service to your prospects, and ultimately help boost business growth. She’ll also help you set new growth and sales goals once you achieve old ones.
Ongoing Sales Enablement Support
We like to think that ongoing support is one of the best features of our sales enablement training. For as long as your team wants, we’ll keep helping you optimize your sales process to shorten the sales cycle, and to close more leads, faster. Every month, you get personalized reports on how your team is doing, along with training on the new tools and technology that can help your team do better business. If you’re looking to foster continuous growth in your company, ongoing sales enablement is one great tool for your toolbox.
How Much Work Will This Be For My Team?
Sales enablement provides an awesome opportunity to improve the way you sell, with the tools, technology, and training your team needs to see what’s working, and where they can improve. But, they do have to do a little work to reap the rewards. Here’s what’s expected of the sales team through sales enablement training:
They show up to sales enablement meetings. We schedule these whenever is convenient for you, and we also work with team members individually, so there are plenty of opportunities, even for the busiest schedules.
They start using the platform. Brooke recommends starting with just five minutes a day. If your sales team can commit to just entering their contacts into HubSpot, they’ll start to feel more comfortable using the platform consistently.
They ask questions. HubSpot can be a big change for a sales team. If they’re open to the process and willing to ask questions so they can improve, we’re here to offer them all the support they need.
We know it’s not easy for an entire sales team to make the switch to a new CRM and a new method of selling. That’s why we’re here to work as your partner in this process. After the initial weekly meetings are complete, the majority of the work will be out of the way, and your sales team will be able to start selling even better, and more efficiently than before.
The Benefits of Partnering With A HubSpot Partner Agency
The biggest benefit of partnering with a HubSpot Partner Agency for sales enablement training?
We’ve done it before.
This is a service we offer to a number of our clients, and it’s something we’re really good at. We know this is a big shift for your team, and we know that one of the biggest challenges is encouraging everyone to use the HubSpot platform consistently to get the most accurate reporting.
We’ve said this before, but we approach our HubSpot training services with a walk/run mentality.
First, we’ll teach your team what they need to know to start using the HubSpot platform, and your newly optimized sales process, casually. We’ll work hard to bring everyone on board, and make sure each member of your sales team feels empowered to use the tools and technology HubSpot offers to best compliment their sales style.
When everyone is familiar with the platform and using it regularly, we’ll get into the “run” phase. We’ll introduce new tools, and show your team how to use them for better, faster sales.
As HubSpot Agency Partners, we know and use HubSpot’s full suite of tools every day.
Our HubSpot Project Managers, like Brooke, are training masters. They have what it takes to get your entire team using, and loving the HubSpot platform.
And when your entire sales team is on the same page, your company is going to start serious results. And serious results are what we’re here for.
Interested in taking the HubSpot plunge? Evenbound is a HubSpot Gold Agency Partner, and we’re also a HubSpot Certified Trainer. That means we’ve helped tons of clients just like you learn everything there is to know about sales enablement, and the HubSpot tools that support it. We can help your team learn how to use those tools to legitimately grow your company.
If you’d like to know more, just get in touch. Brooke, or our president, John, would be happy to talk to you more about your specific goals for HubSpot. And if you’d like to learn more about how HubSpot training can work for companies like you, check out the case study below.
Buyer personas are a major component of any effective inbound marketing strategy. The truth is, you have to know who you’re marketing and selling to before you can make a sale. Today’s consumers only pay attention to marketing messages that are personalized, and highly relevant to their unique experiences. Buyer personas are a key way to address that consumer need, while streamlining your marketing and sales process so you’re only spending time on the leads most likely to convert.
We can say the word “buyer persona” as many times as we want, but they’re not going to do much for you if you don’t know how to create or define one. That’s why we’ve put together this Step-by-Step Guide to Defining your Buyer Persona. Here, you’ll learn what exactly a buyer persona is, and how to define your own buyer personas in a clear, manageable (we hope) step-by-step way. Let’s get started.
Just looking for some hot tips? Use this menu to skip to the step you’re most interested in.
The first part of any great guide to defining your buyer persona should be a definition of what a buyer persona actually is. Buyer personas are an integral part of any quality marketing or sales plan. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal client or target audience. With a clear picture of who you’re marketing to, it’s much easier to develop effective, targeted content that speaks to your ideal buyer’s goals and challenges.
Think of your buyer personas as a personal narrative. You’re developing a story for and context around the people who are most interested in your product or service. You want to know as much about them as possible, so you can provide personalized service, relevant content, and helpful sales information. Your buyer personas are the best place to organize all of that information into a story that will resonate with you, and with the rest of your team.
Creating Your Buyer Personas in 5 Steps
Defining your buyer personas might seem like a big, unwieldy task. But, if we break the process down into manageable steps, you can move through them one-by-one to develop thorough, thoughtful buyer personas that will genuinely improve the way you market and sell. And don’t feel like you have to create all of your buyer personas at once — taking it step-by-step is a great way to make sure you’ve got all of your bases covered, without feeling too overwhelmed. This guide to defining your buyer persona is set up so you can leave and come back whenever is most convenient for you. With that in mind, let’s get into Step 1.
Step 1: Research Your Buyer Personas
All great personas start with a little bit of research. Even if you feel like you already have a pretty good grasp on who most of your clients are, it’s worth it to take a hard look, not just at who you’re already working with, but who you’d like to work with in the future.
It’s always easiest to start with what you know. Begin your research by taking a look at your existing clients. Here are a few questions to get you started:
Who at their company contacted you first?
Were they the final decision maker?
What does their job look like?
Are they your company’s primary point of contact?
What are their roles at work?
Do they manage people or processes?
Do they have to answer to a boss or supervisor, or do they make most decisions?
What does their home life look like?
Do they have any hobbies?
How old are they?
Are they married or single? Kids or no kids?
These questions will get you started, but there are a few other tactics you might consider when doing buyer persona research:
Talk to Customer-Facing Employees
Your account managers are going to have the best insight into the lives of your clients, since they’re the ones in direct contact with them. Talk to the customer-facing employees at your own company to get a better sense of the people your company is already working with.
Talk to Your Clients
If it’s feasible, it’s also a great idea to talk to some of your existing clients. Consider sending out a short survey to your main points of contact, asking them a little about themselves. You might have to send along a small incentive to get them to fill it out, but their answers will be worth their weight in gold. After all, the people who have already invested in your product or service are your ideal audience.
Who Would You Like to Buy From You?
Once you’ve pulled together as much information as possible on your existing clients, think about who you’d like to sell to in the future.
Is there an ideal prospect that your marketing and sales team just can’t get to convert? Maybe your competition has had a lot of success in a certain segment of the market that you’d like to break into, too.
To narrow down who you’d like to buy from you, we suggest starting by taking a look at your competition.
Where is Your Competition Seeing Success?
Are your competitors seeing a lot of success in a certain segment of the market you’d like to break into? Check out their website!
They’re probably developing content and sales offers that speak directly to that market. You can learn a lot about those ideal buyer personas you’re not quite hitting yet by seeing how your competition is successful.
Where Do You Want Your Company to Grow?
Another great way to identify buyer personas for clients you haven’t quite snagged yet is to think hard about where you want your company to grow.
For example, we often work with home builders, many of whom are working to break into higher markets. Even if they don’t yet have clients in that higher market, we still work to do as much research on those buyers as possible. We look at our clients’ competition to see what they’re doing to draw that market in, and we look at those buyers specifically to see what they’re most interested in, and what their greatest pain points are.
You can do the same thing for your company. Look at the clients you’d like to get in the future, and do the same research to see what they’re interested in, what their lives are like, and what challenges they face that your company can solve.
Check Out Your Own Analytics
Our third and final suggestion for the research phase of defining your buyer personas is to look at your analytics. You’ll find no better, more concrete data on your ideal buyers than through the analytics on your own website, social media ads, and pay-per-click advertising campaigns.
Take a look at the reports from each, and pay specific attention to the demographics of the people clicking your ads. When you’re looking at your website analytics, see what pages your visitors view the most, and the longest.
Are there content offers that are downloaded more often than others? Who is downloading those offers? Answers to all of these questions provide you with useful information and data you need to compile relevant, effective buyer personas.
Step 2: Segment Your Buyer Personas
I’ll be honest, the research step is the most time-consuming. Once you have that out of the way, feel free to step back and take a break. Leave that research alone, and let it marinate for a while. When you come back, you’ll have everything you need to actually start writing your buyer personas.
Organize Your Information
Alright, now that you’re back refreshed and ready to continue work on those buyer personas, it’s time to organize all of the research you collected. You probably learned a lot about a variety of your clients. Start looking for similarities in the goals and challenges you’ve uncovered in your research. These similarities — in what clients and prospects are looking for from your company or your product — will help you group all of the many potential clients into distinct sets of buyer personas.
Decide How Many Buyer Personas You’ll Have
Now that you’ve reviewed and organized your research, you can start to determine how many buyer personas you’ll actually define. It’s good to remember that you don’t have to cover everyone right now.
If you’re just starting the inbound marketing process and are new to buyer personas as a whole, it might make the most sense to create buyer personas just for the market segments you sell to the most. You can always add or change buyer personas as you learn more about your marketing strategy, and as you gather more data on your leads and prospects.
The way you segment your buyer personas is totally up to you and to your company. You know best who you’re in contact with most. But, if you’re not quite sure where to start, here are two very common ways to segment your buyer personas:
Segment Buyer Personas By Industry
Some companies work with clients in a variety of industries. In a situation where you sell a variety of products, each corresponding to a different industry, it might make sense to dedicate one buyer persona to each industry you serve. It’s good to remember that this is only worthwhile if clients in each industry have different goals or pain points. For example, let’s say you manufacture a product that’s useful for both the automotive and marine manufacturing industries.
If your clients in the marine industry have different goals than the clients in the automotive industry, it makes sense to have two buyer personas.
But, if your product helps both marine and automotive manufacturers in the same way — by helping them streamline processes, manufacture more efficiently, and develop a better product, then it probably won’t make as much sense to segment your buyer personas by industry. In that case, let’s look at the second way we often see clients segmenting their buyer personas.
Buyer Personas By Job Title
For many companies, their sales process remains the same regardless of the industry they’re working with. Here at Evenbound, we work primarily with manufacturers, home builders, and construction professionals. Even though clients in each of those industries are fundamentally different, they approach finding a marketing partner in the same way. So, we’ve segmented our buyer personas to align with the job titles our sales process touches.
This often works similarly for manufacturers. Let’s say you manufacture a product that is useful in a variety of industries, but that is most often used by a lead engineer at any company, regardless of industry. In this situation, it doesn’t make sense to have a buyer persona for each engineer in each industry, because they have the same goals and pain points. Instead, you can write one buyer persona, and then use that buyer persona as a guide when you write content that’s specific to each industry later on.
Step 3: Create a Name and a Story
You’ve completed your research, and you’ve decided which buyer personas to start with. Pick one, and let’s get writing. Everyone writes differently, so do what works for you. I always find it’s easiest to paint a full picture of your buyer persona and then pull out the most important segments for the final persona you share with the rest of your team. Here’s what that process might look like:
Who Is Your Buyer Persona?
Start by giving your buyer persona a name. The point of defining buyer personas at all is to help you market and sell more personally. Giving your buyer personas names makes it personal. Once you’ve got a name in mind, start writing down everything you discovered in your research.
How old is your persona?
What job titles might they hold?
Where do they live?
What hobbies do they have, and what do they like to do outside of work?
What are their career goals? Are they looking to move up, or just hoping to cruise through to retirement?
Answers to all of these questions, and any more that you can think of, help provide context for your buyer persona’s goals and motivations. The better you understand what they want, and why they want it, the better you’ll be able to interact with them in the future.
Give Yourself a Full Profile to Work With
When it comes to buyer personas, more information is always better. Challenge yourself to a free-write. Set a timer for 15-20 minutes, and write down everything you know about this buyer persona. And don’t be afraid to get a little creative!
So, get to writing, and see what you can do to make it fun. You can always take content out, but it’s good to let yourself get creative, and paint a full picture of this buyer persona. The more content you have at this step, the easier the next step will be.
Step 4: Focus on Roles, Goals, and Challenges
Take a break for a second. You’ve just written a full, creative narrative about one of your company’s ideal buyers. Pat yourself on the back and grab a coffee — you’ve earned it.
Back from that coffee break? Awesome. We’re going to take a close look at the narrative you’ve just created, and pull out the most relevant parts for your sales and marketing teams going forwards. That info falls into three categories: roles, goals, and challenges.
You have a full written picture of who your buyer persona is, what they do, and what they want. Take a look at that narrative, and pull out the information that’s related to their “roles”. This is going to be content that’s relevant to their job title and their role at work, certainly, but it can also speak to their role at home our outside of work.
Are they regular volunteers? A parent? Do they manage people at work? All of this information gives you context about what they’re really great at.
What’s more, it tells your marketing and sales teams what they do. When you know what a person does, and what roles they play in their life, you can create content that speaks to those specific roles.
Understanding what your buyer personas want is the key to offering them the marketing content and sales service that will genuinely help them.
Maybe your buyer persona is looking for ways to improve their business’s profitability. Maybe they have a goal to move up in the company and are looking to spearhead initiatives that exemplify their leadership qualities. Conversely, maybe your buyer persona is nearing retirement and wants to do their job well without making any waves until they can retire safely.
Pull out all of the goals you identified in your buyer persona free-write, and organize them into a goals section. Understanding a buyer persona’s goals is key to offering them personalized, helpful service.
When your team understands what a persona is trying to achieve, even if it’s not directly related to what your company offers, they’ll be able to better tailor their methods and strategies in a way that resonates with that persona.
The challenges section of a buyer persona is the most important. This is where you identify the pain points of each buyer persona. And when you understand your buyer’s pain points, you can work to solve them.
Take a look at that long narrative you wrote for your buyer persona. What is keeping them from reaching their goals? What parts of their job are difficult? Do they have trouble selling initiatives up to their boss? Are they worried about making big investments? Are they so busy that they don’t have a chance to even consider how their business could improve?
Whatever their challenges, this is the place to call them out.
Take the time to get specific, too. The more challenges you can identify for each persona, the more opportunities you have to deliver solutions. And the more solutions you deliver, the more attractive and helpful your company is to those qualified leads.
Step 5: Use Your Buyer Personas to Craft Tailored Sales and Marketing Strategies
When you know who your buyer personas are, and are familiar with their roles, goals, and challenges, you can develop sales and marketing strategies tailored to just those people who you know are excellent fits for your company.
You’ve gone to all the trouble to make these buyer personas, now is the time to use them!
Help familiarize your sales and marketing teams with each persona
Create ad campaigns that correspond to each persona’s favorite platform
Develop content that speaks to the specific pain points and challenges identified in your buyer personas.
Take stock of your existing content — does it speak to one or more of your personas? If not, make some changes.
Optimize your landing pages to speak to buyer personas, and in their language.
Buyer personas help give you inside knowledge into the ways your most qualified prospects function. From their favorite social media platforms to the way they talk to their career goals, you know a lot about these personas, and you can use that information to your benefit, and to theirs.
Work to create content that those personas want to read, and develop sales and marketing strategies that put your buyer personas’ goals and challenges at front and center.
When you’re writing, marketing, and selling with real people — your most qualified leads — in mind, you’re going to start to see some serious growth.
Designing a new website can be a time- and money-intensive process, so naturally, when you do decide to redesign your site, you want to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth and creating a beautiful and functional site that helps drive business growth. If you’re designing a new website, here is a comprehensive website design checklist to help you see if your site has what it takes to attract visitors, convert leads, and foster growth.
✔️ Calls to Action (CTAs)
No website is going to convert visitors into leads without calls to action (CTAs). If you want your website visitors to do something, like enter their contact information into a form or to give you a call or to request a quote, you need to ask them to do that, and you need to make it an easy process.
CTAs are generally clickable buttons with text prompting a specific action, and they should appear in intuitive places on your site, like the top right corner, across your banner image on the homepage, or after useful blog content.
✔️ Landing Pages
A landing page is a page a website visitor lands on when they visit your site from a specific place or link. Landing pages are useful for directing visitors to content or actions that are relevant to them and that you want them to see, based on their behaviors and interests.
If you don’t have landing pages, your PPC ads are not going to get great results. If you just direct people who click on your ad to your homepage, they aren’t going to know what to do next, and they’re probably not going to do what you want them to do, which is likely to give you their contact information or get in touch with your company. A landing page limits visitors’ options and presents them with exactly the content and calls to action that are relevant to them and are therefore more likely to convert.
✔️ Great Images
So much of what we respond to is image-based (insert cliche about how 1 picture = 1000 words), that a site needs great images to compete. Gone are the days of irrelevant stock photos of people in business suits and pixelated images from a digital camera that someone in HR took at the company picnic. High quality, professional images of your facilities, products, processes, or people are going to be attractive to website visitors.
This is especially true if you’re in a B2C industry where they way your products or the results of your services look matter. For example, custom home builders need to have images of the gorgeous homes they build, because that’s what their website visitors want to see. These kinds of images are also perfect for social sharing across a variety of platforms, from Facebook to Instagram to Pinterest.
Mobile-responsive design isn’t difficult to accomplish, either. Selecting a template for your design that is mobile-responsive will ensure that your content is readable on the tiniest of phone screens and the biggest tablet and that nothing is cut off or hidden to the far right where no one will scroll.
In order to do that, search engines need to crawl your content and find keywords in your content. Search engines rank sites with more unique instances of a keyword and more regularly updated content higher, meaning those sites are more likely to be seen by searchers in the search results for that term and are more likely to get clicked on.
Besides that, a blog is an important way of marketing to your clients and establishing brand awareness and authority. Your blog content shouldn’t just be company updates (though you can include some company updates if you want!). It should address the specific problems, challenges, and stages in the buyer’s journey that your ideal clients are experiencing.
If you can provide content that answers their questions about your industry, product, or service, you’re more likely to show up in their searches, and when they do read your content, they’re more likely to find it useful and even convert.
A custom web design that was hard-coded by a web designer or someone in IT is a bad idea for a lot of reasons. It’s difficult to maintain custom code, it requires a lot of skill and time to produce, and if the developer leaves the company on bad terms, your site could go with them.
That’s why every website should operate on a reliable CMS (content management system), such as WordPress or Joomla. (We use WordPress.) A CMS allows for multi-user access, a user-friendly interface for making changes and updates, design templates that are optimized for mobile, and a content publishing platform that is easy to use.
*Our Getting Started with HubSpot Series is written to help you understand what to expect when you sign on with a HubSpot Partner Agency. Over the next few months, we’ll work to cover everything from HubSpot onboarding to sales enablement and marketing and sales alignment. If you like these posts, and there’s a certain topic you’d like us to talk about, just let us know!
These days, it seems like everyone is talking about HubSpot. If your business is interested in making the switch to inbound marketing, and is looking for new ways to streamline marketing and sales efforts to promote overall growth, you might be looking at the HubSpot platform to help you do it.
But how to get started?
At this point, you already know what HubSpot is, and what — for the most part — it does. (If not, check out our Plain English Guide to HubSpot’s Software. That should help you understand the platform’s basics.)
The harder question is: how can you get your entire team set up on this software, and how can you get them to buy into actually using it every day?
Meet Brooke, our HubSpot Project Manager! She’s our HubSpot Onboarding expert, and we’re relying on her expertise to inform this post.
We call that process onboarding, and we’ve helped walk plenty of clients through exactly those challenges. As a HubSpot Gold Partner Agency and a HubSpot Certified Trainer, those are questions we’re qualified to answer.
In fact, we’ve talked to our HubSpot Project Manager, Brooke, who does the actual work of onboarding our clients onto the HubSpot platform, to tell us all about the HubSpot onboarding process.
Here’s what you can expect:
What Does the HubSpot Onboarding Process Look Like?
Before we get too far into this, it’s good to know that every agency works a little differently. We’re going to tell you how we onboard our clients, and what that process typically looks like for them. It should be similar to most other HubSpot Partner Agencies’ onboarding process, but it might not be exactly the same.
With that in mind, let’s go.
No matter which HubSpot service you’re looking for (their CRM, their Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, or Customer Service Hub), the onboarding process is much the same.
HubSpot Project Manager, Brooke, mentions, “the toughest part of onboarding is that people tend to get nervous about the change.”
And that makes sense. If your company’s been working one way for years, it’s tough to imagine doing business another way. But, if you’re committed to switching over to HubSpot, it’s worth it to put the work in now.
Plus, if you’re working with a HubSpot Certified Trainer, you’re going to have all the help you and your team need to make the move.
Here at HA Digital Marketing, the HubSpot onboarding process starts with a kickoff call.
Once you’ve decided that HubSpot is right for you, and you’d like to use some or all of their tools, we arrange a kickoff call. Here at HA Digital Marketing, you’ll talk to Brooke during your kickoff call. She’ll ask you questions about what your goals are for the platform, what your sales process looks like, and more.
During this call or face-to-face meeting, we’re looking to get an idea of what HubSpot tools will be most helpful to your team. We’re also going to help you set up your portal, and import in all of your existing contacts, so we want to know:
What are your goals?
This includes your sales goals
Overall goals for the HubSpot platform — what do you hope it will help you do?
What is your process?
Take us through your sales process. What happens after you identify a lead? Do you send them information, visit their site, just send a quote, or more?
Do you have a marketing process? If so, what does it look like?
If you don’t have a marketing process, that’s okay too. We’re always happy to work with you to develop one, or we can work as your own bolt-on marketing team.
Do your marketing and sales teams work together at any part of this process? Where are some touchpoints that might be beneficial to have your sales and marketing teams communicate?
While this might seem like a lot of questions, your answers give us the information we need to more effectively set up your HubSpot account in a way that will actually be useful to your company. We take all of the information gathered in this meeting, and we move onto the next step of the onboarding process.
Technical Setup (We Handle This Part)
After your initial kickoff call, Brooke, or one of our other HubSpot specialists, will get you all set up in the HubSpot platform. This part of the process can take about two weeks.
During this phase, Brooke handles all of the technical aspects of onboarding your company onto the HubSpot Platform. She’ll do everything from making sure your website pages are tracking in HubSpot to linking your social media accounts, blogs, and entire teams’ email accounts with your new HubSpot portal. Most importantly, Brooke will import all of your contacts into the platform. She’ll organize each of those contacts based on what she’s learned in your kickoff call.
HubSpot allows for custom contact fields. That means, if your sales team addresses leads in one industry differently than leads in another industry, Brooke will make sure each contact in HubSpot says what industry they work in. She can also include additional custom fields like:
This information helps her categorize all of your contacts into segmented lists based on their industry, their potential value to your company, and more. This way, you can easily and efficiently provide relevant marketing and sales content to every potential lead that comes in. It’s also the first step to automating some of your more repetitive marketing and sales tasks.
Integrate Your Existing CRM
Many of our clients who sign up for HubSpot marketing or sales tools are already using another CRM. That’s totally cool.
Your team will still be able to enter in and track leads as they have with their previous CRM, they’ll just have the added benefit of these new HubSpot Marketing and Sales tools.
What If I Don’t Have a CRM?
That’s totally fine, too. If you don’t have an existing CRM, we’ll still upload all of your existing contacts into the HubSpot platform, and we’ll organize them for you using HubSpot’s CRM (which is free). Still not sure about all of that?
Here’s what Brooke says to clients who don’t have a CRM:
“Think about if you were going to a conference. You meet tons of people and collect their business cards, but then what? Your CRM is a way to organize those people. You can make sure you have their names, their job titles, contact information, and you can put in notes to remind yourself about what you talked about at the conference, what they’re interested in, and more.”
The HubSpot CRM, as a whole, offers a simple way to organize all of your customers and contacts. From there, it’s easy to build and sustain the best possible relationship with each of them using tools offered by the HubSpot Marketing and Sales Hubs.
Once your contacts are imported and organized in the CRM, Brooke will also help you to define a sales process that makes sense for your team, too. We’re always looking to help our clients do business better. If there’s a tool or process your team is missing that we think you might be able to benefit from, we’ll let you know.
How Much Work Will This Be for My Team?
One of the most common questions we get about the HubSpot onboarding process is “how much work will my team need to do to make this happen?”
The truth is, your team is going to have to do some work. That said, they won’t be alone, and to be honest, our team will help do most of the heavy lifting as your team figures out how the platform works.
Brooke typically handles the lion’s share of moving your information over to HubSpot. She will:
Input your contacts
Customize lists of contacts
Help create reports until your team knows how to do it themselves
Teach every team member, step-by-step, how to use all of HubSpot’s relevant tools
Continue meeting with your team on a monthly basis to analyze your current efforts, and optimize them for future goals
Complete any necessary ongoing training as new tools and features are released to HubSpot
As for your team? Brooke reminds us of a commonly understood learning statistic:
“I usually recommend that team members just start using HubSpot for 5 minutes a day. Even just inputting contacts, and making sure you’re assigning the right qualities to each contact helps you remember everything that you’ve learned.”
5 minutes a day doesn’t sound too bad! On the whole, it’s a pretty small time investment, and once your team gets the hang of HubSpot, they’ll be so glad they used those 5 minutes.
The Benefits of Partnering With A HubSpot Partner Agency
When you partner with Evenbound to onboard your team onto the HubSpot platform, you really don’t have to worry that your team won’t understand the tool, or won’t end up using it.
We approach onboarding with a “walk/run” perspective.
First, we’ll teach you what you need to know, and we encourage your team to learn at their own pace (walking).
Once they start to get the hang of the tools, though, all of our clients pick HubSpot up pretty quickly (running).
The bottom line is, the tools that HubSpot provides are seriously useful, and they really do work to support the great work that your sales team is already doing. With HubSpot’s tools and metrics, and your sales team’s excellent effort, you’ll start to see some serious growth success in no time.
And best of all, if you’re working with a HubSpot Agency Partner, you’ll have a Certified Trainer like Brooke to help walk you through the entire process.
Interested in taking the HubSpot plunge? Evenbound is a HubSpot Gold Agency Partner, and we’re also a HubSpot Certified Trainer. That means we’ve helped tons of clients just like you learn everything there is to know about the sales and marketing tools HubSpot offers, and we’ve helped them use those tools to legitimately grow their company.
If you’d like to know more, just get in touch. Brooke, or our president, John, would be happy to talk to you more about your specific goals for HubSpot.
It also means that if you’ve been using four or five platforms to manage your email, your ad campaigns, and your contacts, you now have one, free solution to handle them all.
For small to mid-size businesses, this is a huge deal.
Constantly navigating between MailChimp, Salesforce, and whatever other tools you’ve been using to keep costs low, still costs you time. Your team has to log in to many different platforms, and they have to reconcile information from one platform to the next, which is frustrating, and can hog up precious work hours.
With these new extensions to the HubSpot CRM, you get some of the most important tools to grow your business, all in one platform, and all for free.
What’s the Catch?
Obviously, HubSpot is hoping that when you see how great their tools are, you might be interested to upgrade as your company grows. But, there’s no pressure to do so, especially if your company is small and just not quite ready to upgrade.
The HubSpot CRM is always offered for free, for the lifetime of your subscription. There’s no free trial or expiration date on the CRM or any of the tools that HubSpot offers for free along with it.
Okay, So How Does it Work?
Whether you have the HubSpot CRM already or not, you’re probably wondering about the specifics of these new tools. So, what exactly do you get with their new email marketing and ad management tools?
HubSpot has long been known for its intuitive email marketing platform. In the email editor, you can easily make edits right in the email template, changing text, adding images, buttons, and CTAs.
It also gives you the opportunity to preview your email on a variety of different devices, and lets you send unlimited test emails to yourself and your team before you’re really ready to schedule out the post.
There are a ton of features to take advantage of just in the email editor, from their handy optimization guide to their A/B testing tool. But what’s really key about this new, free offering from HubSpot is the post-send analytics.
Now, once you send an email, you can see who opened it, how many people clicked through to your website, and much, much more. These metrics are what make this free tool such a boon to companies starting to grow.
With the email editor and post-send analytics, you can easily see which messages are resonating with your audience, and which aren’t quite hitting the mark, yet. You can also see which contacts continue to engage with your content as the move further down the buyer’s journey, closer to a sale.
Best of all, every contact’s interactions with your emails are saved in the CRM, on the same platform. There’s no jumping back and forth between your email manager and your contact list; everything you need to know about every contact, whether it’s related to email or an ad they clicked on is saved and logged in the CRM for you, and updated in real-time.
In the past, the free HubSpot CRM has only included support for Facebook lead ads. With this new upgrade, the CRM comes free with ad management and tracking tools for up to $1,000 per month of ad spend across Facebook, Google, and Linkedin. Users are able to connect a maximum of two accounts, so you can measure performance across platforms to see which channel is best for your message.
The bottom-line benefit of these new additions to the free HubSpot CRM is that you can have all data from your email and ad campaigns filter through one central system. This allows you to track the long-term performance of your ads and email marketing campaigns, showing you the concrete ROI you’re seeing from both efforts, right from your CRM.
The HubSpot CRM is helping eliminate the hassle that comes with using multiple tools from multiple providers.
They’re offering a full suite of seriously powerful marketing tools plus a CRM that helps you track the results of your efforts in real-time, and makes it easy to reach out to those contacts who are responding best to your marketing campaigns.
In the end, the HubSpot CRM, with these new free email marketing and ad management tools, are great for any company who is looking to expand their marketing and growth capabilities but doesn’t yet have the trust or the budget to go all-in on an expensive platform.
This expansion of the HubSpot CRM is big news for us in the inbound and growth marketing community, and for any small businesses out there who are working hard to get ahead. If you’re interested in learning more about HubSpot’s free tools, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.