How to Choose a Michigan Inbound Marketing Agency

How to Choose a Michigan Inbound Marketing Agency

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.

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Online Research – The Undeniable Reason That Inbound Marketing Works for B2B

Online Research – The Undeniable Reason That Inbound Marketing Works for B2B

Online Research – The Undeniable Reason That Inbound Marketing Works for B2B

As an inbound marketing company with expertise in B2B manufacturing, there are a few things we’ve come to recognize as absolute truths with B2B sales and marketing. One of these absolute truths is that everyone does online research before making decisions. By everyone, I mean everyone in the world. We all do it. We’ve heard time and time again from manufacturing companies their customers “aren’t online.” That’s complete bull-sugar.

The fact of the matter is that while you may be likely to retain your current customers, you’re not going to get new ones (or better ones) by just sitting around. And telling your sales team to “hit the ground running” and “pound some pavement” isn’t going to get you the results you want either. Why?

Because your new clients aren’t out on the road, or a phone call away. They’re online. Doing research.

But, you don’t have to take our word for it:

According to a 2014 study done by the State of B2B Procurements, 94% of business buyers conduct some sort of online research before they make a purchase. That’s irrefutable evidence that your customers are in fact, online. The study also showed that:

  1. 77% of those B2B buyers use Google for their research
  2. 84% of them check out business websites before buying
  3. 34% visit 3rd party websites for unbiased information
  4. 41% read the user reviews

These stats make it pretty clear that people want to gather all the information they possibly can before they call your sales team. They know that they need your general product, that’s not the issue, they just need to know specifically which one they need, and from what company. A B2B manufacturing purchase is no small investment, and people are taking the time to make educated decisions based on the information that is available to them.  And that information is sought after on the internet.

Your best potential clients are Googling whatever product they need, figuring out everything they can about it, and then, as the last two statistics show, comparing prices and quality before making their final decision. They want to know they’re getting the best product for the best price, and they’ll do extensive research (at least 79 days worth of it according to this study) to ensure they’ve made the right decision before they finally make a purchase.

What these stats are telling us is this: Your buyers are empowered. They know what they need, they just want the information to help them make the best educated decision for a solution. Your buyers don’t want to be sold on anything, they want the information to make their own decision.

That means they don’t want blogs or posts that tell them how great your company’s product is and how well it will work; that’s amateur infomercial content that won’t get you anywhere. Instead, they want the facts. They want complete, unbiased information that tells them how to troubleshoot their machine, what size machine they need for their factory, or what product will function best for their operations.

But why the different marketing stance? And when did your buyers become so empowered?

Consider who is making these purchasing decisions today. True, it used to be old, senior executives of the company who had the power and the ability to say “I want that product, and I want it in x amount of time, no matter the cost.” Then they grabbed their Rolodex and started making calls. But what you need to know, as a B2B manufacturer in 2016, is that your target market isn’t middle-aged men with business cards on a Rolodex anymore.

Who are they then?

Google conducted a study with Millward Brown Digital in 2014 that focused just on B2B buyers. They wanted to know who was buying, how they bought things, and what their buying process was.

One of the most relevant discoveries to you, is that nearly half of the people responsible for the B2B buying decisions were millennials. And what do we know about millennials?

They’re digital natives.

They grew up with technology in their hands. By the time they made it into the workforce, they already had Blackberrys and were firing off emails like they were born to do it. And let’s face it, they were.

Millennials are the most tech savvy generation in the workforce, and they’re taking over as B2B buyers. Google’s study shows that they research, research, research, do some price comparison, and then research some more, before they even consider making a call to a sales person.

So, what we’re trying to get at here, is yes, your customers are online. In fact, they’re all over the internet. The Millennial generation now makes up the largest percentage of B2B buyers, which means they deserve your attention. And if you don’t have useful digital content for them, they’re not going to come to you.

The old marketing plan used to be, “get your name out there, make sure people are aware of your brand, and hope they call you.” We suggest that you don’t hope. Although we do appreciate the positive mental attitude, you can’t build a business on hope alone. Don’t hope that someone will call you. Know it.

And how do you know that people are going to call you?

By generating compelling content that is useful to your buyers.

The research shows that people don’t want to be sold to anymore. Your buyers are empowered business men and women, who want to come to their own conclusions with the help of great, informational content.  

That’s why content marketing works.

People are doing online research, and when you come up with all kinds of great content that helps them decide what products are right for their company, then you become a trusted authority.  

When people trust you to provide decent, helpful, informational content, they’re more likely to purchase your product, because you’ve nurtured that relationship. They know you have their best interest at heart, and are working to sell them a quality product that will improve and make their lives easier, not just for your own personal gain.  

Sound too touchy-feely for a B2B manufacturer?  

That’s okay, we’ve got examples.

You’ve heard of John Deere, right?

Perhaps the largest manufacturer of farming and agricultural equipment, John Deere makes just about every kind of large machine that works outdoors: from tractors to combines to lawn mowers. But the real question is, why have you heard of them?

(If you’re guessing we might be hinting towards content and inbound marketing, you’re right)

Believe it or not, John Deere started content marketing over 100 years ago. John Deere’s son, Charles, started a 14049575075_f81e3d6de8_bmagazine called The Furrow back in 1895, not as a catalogue to sell their equipment, but as a genuine farming magazine, dedicated to helping other farmers better their business.  The magazine had tips and articles on farming, like how to grow your farm, and how to make a larger profit in the agricultural industry. Now, more than 100 years later, The Furrow is still circulated to millions of customers on six continents, and is translated into more than 30 languages.  And without even so much as mentioning themselves in their magazine, John Deere has become the leader of the agricultural industry.

And honestly, that’s the trick.  In all of their magazines, through hundreds of years of publications, John Deere has probably mentioned their own equipment a handful of times. Because endless self-promotion doesn’t do anything for your customers. The Furrow educates and informs its readers in an unbiased way, and those millions of customers respect John Deere for that. Though John Deere foots the bill for the magazine, it is completely independent of the publication itself, and yet one third of all of the millions of readers of The Furrow buy John Deere.

If that’s not a testament to content marketing, we don’t know what is.  

John Deere published the best, most informative content that was relevant to their target market. Readers appreciated the honesty, and really appreciated the lack of selfish product placement. And because John Deere had the best unbiased content that spoke to their potential clients, they got the business anyway. No hard-selling techniques, no cold calling, just proven content marketing.

And this business model works across the board.

We’ve proven to you by now that your customers are researching online voraciously. With 94% of your potential customers searching for information about you and your product on the internet, you’ve got a massive opportunity to target customers through content creation. You know they’re doing the research, you just have to provide the information that fuels that research process.

The facts is, your best potential buyers are online. They’re tech-savvy, and they’ll put in the time and the effort to do months of online research deciding which big-ticket item they want from your B2B. To reach those buyers, you need to develop quality content that addresses their pain points and feeds them the information they’re looking for. When buyers keep coming back to your content for reference in their research, and to help them make major purchasing decisions, you become their adviser and the company they trust to purchase the product they need.

Inbound marketing works. And if you’re looking to make it work for your B2B manufacturer, we can help

6 Easy Ways to Make LinkedIn Work For Your B2B Marketing Strategy

6 Easy Ways to Make LinkedIn Work For Your B2B Marketing Strategy

Linkedin is the ultimate social media platform in terms of generating leads for B2B companies.  Though Linkedin started just as a way for people to get their resumés out there, it’s evolved into something much larger, and has become a must-have tool for any B2B marketing strategy. Marketing on Linkedin is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel. Everyone in the network is a professional, so once you figure out how to market directly to your target customers, you’ll be generating leads in no time. Here are our top 6 tips to get Linkedin to work for your B2B company:

1) Join Discussion Groups

A great way to get your company’s name out there and develop authority is to join discussion groups. Do other professionals have questions that you can answer? Can your company provide knowledge and insight to a certain group?

Since you can only join about 50 groups on Linkedin, make sure you choose groups that are highly active, directly related to your company, and medium-sized. A group that’s too small won’t generate many leads, and in a group that’s too large, your comments and posts are likely to get lost in the shuffle. You can search groups on Linkedin and check them out before you join, so use this tool to make sure every group you join is highly relevant to your B2B company.

Also remember that this is not the place to directly solicit your B2B company. Rather, you’re gaining trust and authority by posting relevant and insightful comments that address the questions of the group.

 

2) Share Content

You know all of that optimized content you’ve been working on for your blog and social posts? Well, Linkedin is an excellent platform to publish that informational, interesting content.

You’ll be publishing to other industry professionals who know exactly what you’re talking about, and are likely to fit your target audience. Linkedin is a great place to share your B2B company’s targeted content, both on corporate and personal pages.

3) Connect with decision makers

Linkedin was originally created so that business professionals could connect with other business professionals, so use that to your advantage. You can easily determine who company decision makers are by looking at their job titles and description.

Once you figure out who’s calling the shots you can connect with them and set up a meeting to explain the connection. Before you approach them, however, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with their profile and page so you can provide a pitch that is personal and relevant. Showing that you’ve done your research, and are legitimately interested in their business’s needs and pain points is the best way to make a good impression.

 

4) Make your company page work for you

Your company’s page is the first thing that people look at when they hear about you, or are considering your product. Often before contacting you, potential clients will check your social media pages, and the best way to ensure they do contact you is to make sure your Linkedin page is compelling.

Your page should include your logo and a visually interesting picture that captures your business well. You should also have a concise, clear description of what your B2B company is, and what it can do for your clients. Think of your company’s page as a way to generate leads. If you can get them to click through to your site from your Linkedin page, you’re doing it right.

For more information about optimizing your company page, check out our free visual guide on creating the perfect B2B Linkedin page!

 

5) Use the Advanced Search

A really handy tool that Linkedin provides to help enhance your marketing strategy is their advanced search. You can use it to find professionals that are good potential leads by selecting filters relevant to your B2B company. You can filter your search by industry, location, current company, and past company, to ensure that you’re finding people who are viable leads.

Another great aspect of the Linkedin Advanced Search is that you’re able to save searches, even if you don’t have a Premium account. Once you’ve saved your search, Linkedin will periodically send you emails with people who fit your search qualifications.

 

6) Consider upgrading to a premium account

Finally, it could be worth the investment to upgrade to a Linkedin Premium account. A premium account means Linkedin will send you more-targeted recommendations, will let you view unlimited profiles, and will also let you see, in more detail, who’s visited your page in the past 90 days.

You’ll also be able to send InMail, a handy email marketing tool, if used correctly. Linkedin offers a 30 day free trial, so you can test to see if Linkedin Premium is something that’s truly beneficial to your company. After the trial period, plans start at $59.99 a month.

We can’t emphasize enough how integral Linkedin is to any B2B marketing strategy. It’s proven to be the top lead-generating social network for B2B companies, and it only continues to expand. If you have any questions about optimizing your business’ Linkedin account to generate more leads, or want help developing your B2B company’s digital marketing strategy, let’s talk.

Inbound Marketing on The West Michigan Lakeshore

Inbound Marketing on The West Michigan Lakeshore

What is Inbound Marketing?

“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.

inbound marketing hubspot certified

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.

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Digital Marketing Strategy That Delivered 3761 Leads

Digital Marketing Strategy That Delivered 3761 Leads

Here we are at the end of November. With the end of the calendar year quickly approaching, marketing decision makers are assessing how well they did in 2015 and starting the plan for 2016. At HADM, we’re analyzing how we provided value to our clients in 2015. We focus heavily on ROI for our digital and inbound marketing clients. That means delivering qualified traffic, engagement, conversions, leads and sales. So how did we do in 2015? Here is our tally of measured and converted leads so far:

Real Estate Development Leads: 2783

Professional Service Leads: 879

B2B Manufacturing Leads: 213

Total Leads Generated in 2015: 3761

*We still have a little over a month to go. Internet leads come in every day.

What is a lead?

In the B2B world, a lead can be defined as web form submissions. When a visitor asks a question or downloads a content offer, they are entering your sales process or “funnel.” If a visitor opts-in to your email news or likes your company page on Facebook or LinkedIn, they are opting-in to your marketing process. Each stage is extremely valuable. A sales lead may opt-in to your marketing and remain a prospect even if they don’t convert on the original cycle. And a prospect may graduate into a sales lead once they have found a trigger through email and social media.

How to plan and budget

How do you plan and budget to do more of this in 2016? The first place you should start is with goals and objectives. What is your sales goal? What is your revenue goal? When we look at where we’re going first, we can then draw a map and mission plan of how we will get there. Typically, businesses can plan on spending about 7% to 10% of their revenue on marketing. So, if you want to reach a sales goal of $1MM, you should be budgeting around $70,000 to $100,000 to get to that goal. While this isn’t always a hard, fast rule, it can be useful when planning.

Here is the essential point that most marketers don’t understand: What else are you going to spend your marketing dollars on that will place your product or service directly in front of an audience who is actively searching for it?  Tradeshows? Print? Direct Mail? None of these even come close. Digital and Inbound Marketing is the most efficient way to generate qualified traffic, prospects and leads.

So you want to implement Inbound Marketing to generate more prospects and leads in 2016? Awesome. Get in touch to have us help you with that. If you want to run some of your own calculations in order to determine your marketing budget, we can offer you our Digital Marketing Budget that produced all of the leads we generated in 2015.


2015 Marketing Budget that Produced 3761 leads