Solved: 4 Common HubSpot Onboarding Challenges

Solved: 4 Common HubSpot Onboarding Challenges

Solved: 4 Common HubSpot Onboarding Challenges

Investing in HubSpot is an exciting move for any team. You’ve got a full suite of robust marketing and sales tools, right at your fingertips! 

You have everything you need to start making marketing and sales changes that will deliver serious results in the form of more deals closed and overall company growth. 

But, before you can reap all of those benefits, you’ve got to get through the HubSpot onboarding process

Let’s first clarify by saying that the HubSpot onboarding process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. 

There is some upfront work, and for any team, a major change in the way you conduct business is going to take a bit of work. But, it doesn’t have to be headaches and stress. 

HubSpot onboarding can be a fun, exciting process, especially if you come into it with a positive attitude, and a plan to tackle some of the most common challenges teams run into. 

With that in mind, here are 4 of the HubSpot onboarding challenges we see the most often with our own clients, and the solutions we use to navigate these challenges efficiently, so our HubSpot services clients get up and running, and seeing benefits, improvements, and results as soon as possible: 

HubSpot Onboarding Challenge #1

Transitioning the Team

In nearly every onboarding we’ve facilitated with clients, transitioning the whole team onto HubSpot tends to be one of the greatest challenges. 

Your team is already busy. They’ve got sales calls to make, meetings to attend, quotes to write up, and more. Sales reps already have a full-time job (selling), and adding one more thing to the plate can feel overwhelming. They’ll get to HubSpot, but when they have time. 

The problem is that if it’s not a priority, they won’t ever have time. 

One of our HubSpot Certified Trainer’s favorite quotes is: 

It’s all well and good for your team to sit down together for one big onboarding meeting, but everyone has to commit to using the tool regularly if you want to see results. And that’s a challenge. 

It’s hard to get an entire team to do anything at once, much less learn a new tool and transition their sales process to a CRM they’re not familiar with. 

The Solution:

Make HubSpot onboarding a priority

It sounds simple, but I think we all know that in practice, it’s not. 

We’ve said this before, but it’s still a helpful tip: Get your team to commit to using HubSpot just 5 minutes a day. 

Have everyone set up a daily reminder for themselves to spend just 5 minutes a day entering new contacts into the CRM or assigning deal stages to each of their leads. 

This is fairly easy work to do, and even spending just 5 minutes a day in HubSpot will help them build a habit of logging into and working in the platform. 

Another solution?

Make HubSpot a Team Event

Everyone can meet up, either virtually or in person, and spend an hour organizing their contacts in the CRM. 

This is a great time for your team to collaborate — to talk about what tools they’re loving in the CRM, and what problems they may have come across. 

Not only will regular team meetings help enforce the importance of using HubSpot, but it provides an opportunity to get the team together to share helpful information and tips that will help everyone improve. 

HubSpot Onboarding Challenge #2

Making Sure Your Process is Compatible with HubSpot

For many companies, transitioning to HubSpot is a way to make the sales process easier. A tool like HubSpot gives you greater visibility and transparency into all the deals that everyone is working on, and it makes it so much easier to connect with the leads that can provide the greatest returns. 

The problem that often arises, though, is that in onboarding to HubSpot, many sales teams realize their process isn’t compatible with the HubSpot tool. Don’t panic, this is totally normal and can be fixed. 

Maybe your sales reps have all been using different sales processes. Maybe they all have their own literature they like to hand out. Maybe every sales rep has a different idea of what a qualified lead looks like. Maybe your sales process just isn’t standardized.

This is a challenge that can cause a little bit of paralysis by analysis for any sales team. “Great. We’ve got this new sales tool, and our sales process doesn’t fit into it at all.”

Take a deep breath, and keep on reading. There’s a solution here that will deliver serious results for your team.

The Solution:

Sit down as a team, and optimize your sales process.  

The HubSpot CRM is built to optimize sales processes. If yours doesn’t immediately fit into the HubSpot CRM, that just means there’s a bit of room for improvement. 

It’s good to know that HubSpot makes a lot of allowances for customizations all the way through the sales process, so you absolutely won’t be boxed in, but it does work to streamline your sales process by promoting standardization and repeatability. 

Here’s how you adjust your sales process to ensure it’s compatible with HubSpot:

Define what a lead is:

Your team has to figure out what a lead looks like to them. Define each of these:

  • New leads
  • Warm leads
  • Hot leads
  • Cold leads
  • Customers

Define your deal stages:

Now that you know what your leads look like, what do you do with them? This is where your sales process comes in. What is the process your team uses to move a new, warm, or hot lead from an opportunity to a sale? 

Each step of that process is called a “Deal Stage”. Figure out what deal stages make up your whole sales process, and define them for your whole team. A few common deal stages might include:

  • Opportunity
  • Customer contacted
  • Proposal Sent
  • Followed-Up
  • Closed-Won
  • Closed-Lost

Set it up in HubSpot

Once you’ve defined what a lead is, and how your team will handle each of those leads as they move through your sales process, you’ve done it! You’ve made your sale process compatible with HubSpot in two steps. 

Now you can set all of that up in HubSpot. For help here, refer to the next challenge: Knocking Out the Upfront Workload. 

HubSpot Onboarding Challenge #3

Knocking Out the Upfront Workload

Transitioning to any new CRM is work. HubSpot is no different. It’s an awesome CRM, with wicked sales and marketing tools that can facilitate serious success. But, like any new tool, there’s some upfront work involved. 

Imagine you were painting a room in your house. You could just pick up the paintbrush and go to town, but without any prep work, you’re going to have a sloppy finished product. A quality paint job takes careful taping, prepping any rough surfaces with a bit of sanding and primer, and a little bit of thought into which paint color you’re going to go with. 

Onboarding to a CRM like HubSpot isn’t much different. You’re going to get out of it as much effort as you put in. 

There is some upfront effort that goes into onboarding — you have to bring contacts into the new system. You have to determine what your sales deal stages look like. You have to set up a sales process that works for you, and you have to lay it out in the CRM. 

This might feel like a lot of work. That makes it hard to even think about tackling, which halts your entire onboarding process. It’s a challenge that a lot of our clients run into. Here’s how we work to solve it. 

The Solution:

Assign one person to facilitate the upfront work

A great way to make sure that all the upfront, onboarding work gets done is to assign someone to own it. 

For our clients, that’s usually our HubSpot Certified Trainers. 

Our team handles a lot of the upfront work, like bringing all existing customers into the CRM, setting up deal stages, building out a pipeline, etc. It’s a big benefit of working with a HubSpot Partner Agency — some of that hard, tedious work is just handled for you. 

If you don’t have a HubSpot Partner or HubSpot Certified Trainer: 

Assign someone on your team to own your onboarding process. Make this their primary responsibility for right now, and give them the flexibility they need to really commit to it. 

They can do the work of figuring out:

  1. What your team needs to do to onboard successfully
  2. When it needs to happen
  3. Who can handle which tasks

Think of them as your HubSpot project manager. They take the full project, and break it down into individual tasks with deadlines according to when you want to be fully functional on the HubSpot platform. 

They can then assign individual tasks out to other team members, helping everyone stay accountable. 

With clear direction and leadership, all of that upfront work that seems hard and a lot to tackle is easily broken down into manageable pieces and completed on a timeline that works for your team. 

HubSpot Onboarding Challenge #4

Investing in a Long-Term Solution and Expecting Short-Term Results 

Another problem we see often when we’re bringing new teams onto HubSpot is the need for immediate results. 

But, making a transition to a brand new sales tool and CRM is a walk/run process. You probably won’t see your sales numbers increase exponentially in a week. But if your team really invests and does the work, you’ll start to see serious results the more you use the platform. 

Realistically, it’s going to take a month or two to get your team on board and using HubSpot daily (see challenge #1). Until that happens, you aren’t likely to see a massive upswing in sales. That said, you are going to see improvements. 

The Solution: 

Know what you’re looking at and identify the improvements that matter.

You’re probably not going to see immediate results, but you are going to see immediate improvements. 

The best way to beat the challenge of investing in a long-term solution and expecting short-term results, is making sure you’re looking at the results that matter right now.

Focus on the improvements you have made:

  • Is your sales process a little easier to understand?
  • Does your sales team feel more cohesive?
  • Can you easily visualize all of the deals you have in your sales pipeline?  
  • Does your sales team feel like they’re spending less time on admin work, and more time on selling? 

Those are all major wins, especially if you’re moving over from a CRM that wasn’t working for you, or from no CRM at all. 

Though initial wins might not look like a bump to your bottom line right now, these are all real-time results that will matter in the future.

Keeping the right perspective is the key to keeping your team invested in this new transition, and realizing how much positive change this new investment is making for your company. 

Yes, HubSpot onboarding will eventually deliver huge dividends in terms of increased sales numbers and closed deals, but before that happens, you have to get the actual work and training under your team first. 

HubSpot onboarding might sound like a long process, but with the right attitude, and a dedicated team, you can have everyone up and running in the CRM in less time than you think! Whether you’re considering making the switch to HubSpot, or you’ve hit a roadblock in your HubSpot onboarding process, we hope these solutions help. 

If you’ve got more questions about the HubSpot CRM, HubSpot Sales tools, or HubSpot Onboarding, our team is here to help. With a full suite of HubSpot Services and HubSpot Certified Trainers on staff, we’re happy to answer any question you might have.

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5 Ways a CRM Helps Streamline Your Sales Process

5 Ways a CRM Helps Streamline Your Sales Process

5 Ways a CRM Helps Streamline Your Sales Process

Looking to streamline your sales process? It is an integral component of your business’ success. If your sales team has trouble selling efficiently, you’re going to see your company growth drop, which isn’t good for anyone. 

In general, sales reps spend a significant amount of time on admin work — scheduling meetings, setting up reminders, sending emails, and other small tasks that take serious time out of their day that they could be spending closing deals. 

So, how can you streamline your sales process in a way that all of that admin work still gets done, but your sales team has the time they need to close deals? For many companies, a CRM, or Customer Relationship Management software, is the answer. 

Here at Evenbound, we’re big fans of HubSpot, but you might also have heard of other popular options like Pardot and Salesforce. While some options are better than others, the general purpose of a CRM is to make it easier for your sales team to foster positive relationships with all of the leads who come into your sales cycle and eliminate a lot of the busywork that keeps them from closing.

Here are just 5 of the top ways a CRM helps streamline your sales process. 

#1 Streamline Marketing to Sales Handoff Process

For most companies, the handoff from marketing to sales is where leads fall through the cracks. Whether your sales and marketing teams aren’t communicating or your sales team is just too busy to follow up on all the leads marketing sends over, it’s easy, and common for leads to fall out of the sales funnel during the handoff from marketing to sales. 

A CRM can solve the majority of these sales dropoff problems. 

The first fix is to notify your sales team. When the marketing team decides a lead is ready to move up to sales, a CRM can automatically alert your sales team of the move. This is a great way to eliminate lost leads who drop out of the cycle because no one contacts them.

The next fix is to help your sales team see immediately if that lead is actually ready for your sales team or not. A CRM shows your sales team exactly where a lead is in the buying process. The CRM will track every contact marketing has with that lead, giving the sales team a good idea of how warm the lead is, and how ready they are to buy. 

This makes it easy for your sales reps to see at a glance whether a lead is ready for them, or if they’d rather send them back down to marketing. 

And with a quality CRM, transferring that lead back down to marketing is a snap. Your sales rep just reassigns or recategorizes the lead, and they’re back in marketing’s “to nurture” bucket. 

For many companies, a significant percentage of marketing leads do not convert to sales. This is partially handled with sales and marketing alignment, but a CRM is also a very useful tool to make no one is losing track of those leads. 

Implementing a quality CRM not only helps make sure those leads get through the sales process, but it helps bring your sales and marketing teams together, and understand better what both teams need to effectively reach their goals.

#2 CRMs Increase Prospect Visibility in the Sales Funnel

Your sales team is busy. There’s no getting around it. As long as your marketing team is delivering leads, your sales team is busy contacting them all, establishing which of your products or service is the best fit for each and then getting through the actual nurturing and closing process. A CRM streamlines your sales process by offering greater visibility on all of those prospects in the sales funnel. 

CRMs make it easy to see where every prospect is in the sales funnel, at any given time. If your sales team is managing their leads with a post-it note system, a notebook, or any other method, they’re probably letting leads drop out of the sales funnel. And it’s not their fault — we’re all only human! 

But, a CRM can help resolve this problem, and make it easy for your sales team to prioritize the warmest leads above leads who still need a bit of nurturing. 

  • Organize leads by priority. Most quality CRMs allow you to segment leads based on how qualified they are, and where they are in the sales funnel. When your top-priority leads are listed right at the top of the page, your sales team doesn’t even have to think about who to call first. 
  • See at a glance which leads have been contacted, by who, and when. Another key visibility benefit that comes with a quality CRM is that your sales reps can see at a glance who has contacted what lead, and when. They’ll be able to see which of your resources a lead has already received, and what information they might still need to make a final decision. 

Increased visibility thanks to a quality CRM leads to a more effective, efficient sales process. When your leads are automatically organized by industry, job title, interest level, and more, your sales team can spend more time on what they’re best at — closing deals. 

#3 Automated Tasks Help Streamline Your Sales Process

Even though it’s necessary, sending out product catalogs, brochures, and pricing guides is repetitive and time-consuming. Your sales team already knows that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every email, but they do have to take the time to copy-paste their text, change the names, attach the documents, and then finally send the email. A CRM can automate these repetitive tasks so your sales team has more time to actually sell. 

Quality CRMs offer tools like automated workflows, follow-up emails, chatbots, and more, so your leads still get the quality service they need to feel nurtured and supported through the sales process, but your sales team is freed up to use their time for more important tasks. 

And for tasks that CRMs can’t automate, they can send automated reminders. Your sales reps have to talk to any contact multiple times before they close a deal. Your CRM can automatically remind sales reps when to make those calls so that no leads fall through the cracks. 

#4 Easy Reporting

No one likes to make reports. What if they didn’t have to? 

Quality CRMs can generate sales reports at the click of a button, so your team can easily see what’s working, and what’s not.

One of the greatest benefits of a CRM for any sales team is the data it has to offer. In addition to supporting your sales team, your CRM is constantly collecting data. Data about your clients, how long they take to close, what content offer brings in the leads most likely to close, and what sales tools are most effective at closing those sales.

All of that data, combined and compiled for you by the CRM, helps you interpret your sales team’s success, and further streamline your sales process for even better results. 

#5 Sales Leaderboards and Productivity Reports

We’re a big proponent of teamwork. As a growth agency, we’ve seen that companies who encourage their sales reps to work together tend to do significantly better than companies with sales reps who are all using different sales tactics, and even different sales processes. 

Advanced CRMs, like HubSpot, are designed to give you and your sales team all of the data you need to optimize and streamline your sales process as a team. Sales leaderboards and productivity reports are one great way to do that.

They show you which of your team members are doing great, and which might be struggling with your new sales process or CRM. You can use these stats to bring your whole team up, by asking those at the top of the leaderboard to share what they’re doing to close so many deals. 

Generating a sales leaderboard and a productivity report also helps give you a better picture of where your reps are spending their time.

Maybe one rep has been spending a ton of time in your CRM, and is super productive, but is low on the leaderboard. This might be an opportunity to show them some more of those automation tools, so they can get out of their inbox, and back on the phone with clients. 

A CRM is designed to organize and store all of your sales team’s information and data in one easy-to-access location. In addition to providing exceptional visibility, a CRM helps streamline your sales process by handling the repetitive tasks that take time out of your team’s day of selling. The goal is to enable your sales team with all the tools they need to be able to sell better, and more efficiently, and when implemented properly, that’s exactly what a CRM does. 

If you’re thinking about a CRM, but aren’t sure how to get started, or are afraid of a lengthy learning curve, get in touch with the Evenbound team. We have team members dedicated to onboarding and training sales reps and marketing teams on how to use the HubSpot CRM effectively, and we’re confident we can help you too. Just take a look at the results we provided for this company in the case study below!

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PSA: Free HubSpot CRM Now Includes Email + Ad Management Tools

PSA: Free HubSpot CRM Now Includes Email + Ad Management Tools

PSA: Free HubSpot CRM Now Includes Email + Ad Management Tools

We’ve got big news to share here in the inbound marketing community:

HubSpot has just announced that they are now expanding their free CRM to include email marketing tools and expanded ad management tools.  

Wait, one more time?

  • HubSpot CRM = Free
  • 2,000 emails/month + post-send analytics = Free
  • $1,000 of managed ads on Facebook, Linkedin, and Google = Free

What Does This Mean For You?

Well, if you were on the fence about the HubSpot platform (learn more about HubSpot’s software here), it means you get to try a whole host of some of their very best inbound marketing tools for free. 

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?

 

Email Marketing

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.

 

Ad Management

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. 

Like email marketing, connecting your ad accounts to your CRM helps you better understand your consumers. These new tools allow you to see exactly which contacts are interacting with your ads, and offer performance metrics to let you know which ads are bringing in the most qualified leads. Click To Tweet

What’s the Bottom Line?

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. 

As a HubSpot Gold Agency Partner, we live and breathe this software, and would be happy to help answer any questions you might have or help smooth out any growing pains as your team transitions over to HubSpot’s tools. Just let us know how we can help

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What’s the Difference Between Sales and Marketing Strategies?

What’s the Difference Between Sales and Marketing Strategies?

What’s the Difference Between Sales and Marketing Strategies?

The goal of every business is to sell something to someone. Whether it’s a product, service, or information, the business has something that it provides to its customers, for a price. For that reason, it seems like the point of sales strategies and marketing strategies are the same—to sell that thing. But in reality, the purposes, goals, and methods of sales and marketing strategies differ, by necessity.   What is the difference between sales and marketing strategies, and why does that matter to your company? 

What is the purpose of marketing strategies?

Marketing is what you do to reach potential future customers. It can be outbound marketing, which entails pushing your product/service/message to your audience through things like advertising, or inbound marketing, which includes bringing people in through content strategy and search engine ranking. At any rate, marketing’s purpose is to get your information in front of possible clients. To accomplish those things, marketing teams strive to:

  • Reach target audiences through various forms of marketing, including social media, PPC, content, and more, tailored to those audiences’ unique needs.
  • Provide visitors and prospects with information about your company’s products and services that is tailored to their stage of the buyer’s journey, their goals and challenges, and their specific pain points.
  • Provide the sales team with marketing qualified leads (MQLs).
  • Analyze and evaluate marketing efforts for effectiveness and return on investment (ROI).
  • Provide reports and analytics on the ROI of marketing efforts to relevant stakeholders.

What are the goals of marketing strategies?

As you can see, the goal of the marketing strategy isn’t to make sales. Particularly in the B2B world, there aren’t many cases of a person seeing an ad and deciding then and there to buy. Instead, it’s to reach potential customers and raise their awareness of your products, services, and company, and the benefits of all of those to them.

Marketing practices are designed to support sales, but not make them, necessarily. This is because not every visitor to your website or company in your target market is a good fit for your company/product/service. This could be true for a variety of reasons, such as they’re not far enough along the buyer’s journey to make a decision, their budget, or their pain points.  Leads that aren’t a good fit, for whatever reason, aren’t leads—they’re a waste of your sales team’s time. Click To Tweet

They’re not going to answer calls or email, and they’re going to (pun very much intended) lead you on. Good marketing filters out those bad prospects and provides the sales team with leads that are vetted, a.k.a, MQLs.

What is the purpose of sales strategies?

It seems like the goal of any sales strategy is pretty straightforward: make sales. While that is a goal, sales strategies are so much more complicated than that. Sales teams are tasked with managing relationships with prospective customers and guiding them to a purchase decision. In order to do that, sales teams must:

  • Connect with leads and prospects through various sales practices, including quote requests, pitches, demos, etc.
  • Provide prospects and leads with information relevant to their pain points and needs that helps them make a decision about purchasing your company’s products or services.
  • Determine whether marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are ready or eligible to become sales qualified leads (SQLs).
  • Guide new clients through the purchase process.

Why do sales and marketing strategies need to align?

Because if they don’t, you’re wasting time, money, and resources. You’re going to have a low ROI on both your sales and marketing efforts, and you’re going to be missing out on potential leads, sales, and revenue.

Your company needs alignment of its sales and marketing strategies to be truly effective. In fact, according to Hubspot, misalignment between marketing and sales can cost companies 10 percent of revenue per year, or more If you consider the goals of marketing and sales strategies, even though they’re different, they’re in support of a bigger, common goal: increasing revenue. Click To Tweet   Aligning sales and marketing strategies can result in 36 percent higher customer retention, 38 percent higher sales win rates, and up to 208 percent more revenue from marketing efforts.

How do sales and marketing strategies work together?

How exactly your sales and marketing teams begin working together and collaborating on strategy is going to be unique to your situation. 

Sales and marketing alignment looks different for a company with already established in-house sales and marketing teams than for a company with no marketing team at all (or no marketing team, yet—we can help with that!) or for a company with sales and marketing teams spread out across various locations.

To align your sales and marketing efforts, communication between your sales and marketing teams is crucial. This ensures that sales has input on the kinds of marketing content that will be useful, that common goals are created, and that everyone is speaking the same language and understanding each other’s terminology. 

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Inbound Marketing Automation [How to Generate Leads in Your Sleep]

Inbound Marketing Automation [How to Generate Leads in Your Sleep]

Inbound Marketing Automation [How to Generate Leads in Your Sleep]

Imagine a world where you were generating leads, even while you were offline, away from your desk, and yes, even sleeping.

Believe it or not, it really is possible to generate leads without lifting so much as a finger.

Seriously. No more cold calls. No more knocking on doors. No more elevator pitches. When done properly, you can delegate most of that awkward, uncomfortable and usually frustrating outreach work to your website and your marketing strategy. The solution is marketing automation.

What is Marketing Automation?

Neil Patel says, 'Marketing automation is the process of using software and technology to optimize, automate and measure repetitive online marketing tasks.' Click To Tweet

Basically, it’s the process of using technology to automate marketing tasks that you would otherwise want to do yourself. The computer does it, so you don’t have to.

Most often, we think of marketing automation in the form of email workflows — you have a prospect’s contact information, and they’re sent a series of emails based on the landing pages they’ve viewed and forms they’ve submitted on your website.

Hot Tip: While there are tons of other forms of marketing automation, we’re going to stick with email workflows as our example for this blog, because they’re easy to conceptualize, and because most companies, even SMBs, use some form of email marketing.

While you do have to set up those workflows and optimize them occasionally, once they’re working it’s a set and forget tactic that allows you to generate and nurture leads whenever your leads are cruising your site.

It’s important to note that In the past, there’s been some really terrible marketing automation.

One look at the inbox of your junk email is the perfect example of marketing automation gone wrong. Hundreds of emails shouting at you about sales, last-minute deals, and “just for you” promotions that you really just don’t care about. It’s a nightmare.

While this is an example of marketing automation, it’s not good marketing automation. Tactics like this favor a quantity over quality approach that doesn’t deliver the “qualified leads in your sleep” results you’re looking for.

This is where inbound marketing automation comes in.

What is Inbound Marketing Automation?

Inbound marketing automation is any type of marketing automation tool that is applied with the inbound marketing methodology in mind.

It’s important to remember that inbound is a methodology. It’s a practice and a way of marketing that is actually helpful to your potential clients. The inbound methodology is not a tool.

Marketing automation, however, is a tool you can use to make the inbound marketing methodology come to life.

For example: Inbound methodology tells us that we need to deliver highly relevant, personalized content that answers the questions our leads are asking, even before they ask them. That’s what you’re supposed to do, what inbound methodology dictates.

Inbound marketing automation is the tool that makes that action happen.

Inbound marketing automation allows you to deliver personalized emails to individual leads with content they are likely to be interested in, based on all of their previous interactions with your website and your marketing/sales team.

This ensures the delivery of content with context, fulfilling the inbound consumer’s need for relevant content that answers their questions and solves their challenges. Best of all, it does it while you’re at home still brushing your teeth.

Check out this HubSpot video for a really clear explanation of what inbound marketing automation is, and why it is so effective for today’s consumers.

hubspot-inbound-approach-to-marketing-automation

The Inbound Approach to Marketing Automation

Why Use Inbound Marketing Automation?

Did we mention generating leads in your sleep? Hello, longer lunches and going home on time.

But in all seriousness, marketing automation is a key tool for inbound marketing because the inbound methodology is so customer-focused. Here are a few key ways inbound marketing automation makes your life easier.

 

Inbound Leads Aren’t Always Ready To Buy

Inbound marketing does a great job of drawing in qualified leads who are a perfect fit for your product or service. But, they’re not always ready to buy.

The inbound methodology puts a heavy focus on developing content that’s suited to leads in all stages of the buyer’s journey, which means you’re going to get a lot of leads in the awareness and consideration phases who will likely need/want your product, but who aren’t ready to buy yet.

Instead of having your sales team hound them with calls and emails, inbound marketing automation offers a simple, effective tool to keep those leads moving through the buyer’s journey.

Your automated workflows can send them relevant, interesting content that speaks to their stage of the buyer’s journey, as well as their particular industry or position, keeping them from dropping out of your sales funnel and moving them closer to a sale.

 

Inbound Leads Have Diverse Interests and Needs

If you’re one marketing or salesperson, you probably don’t have time to analyze the unique interests of every lead that comes in on your own. This is where technology comes in handy.

With a quality CRM, you can set up workflows and content delivery systems that automatically send the right content to the right leads, at the right time.

You still have to lay a little bit of the groundwork, by telling your CRM which leads fit into which personas, and where they are in the buyer’s journey, but after that, the system can manage that lead on its own.

That saves you thousands of emails, and it provides the leads with a better experience. They’re getting information and content that’s relevant to their experience and their challenges, and you don’t have to work as hard to make it happen.

 

Inbound Leads are Content Hungry

We’ve talked a lot about the modern consumer. The short version is that today’s consumers are content hungry. They want to watch videos, read reviews, analyze comparison blogs, and truly learn about every product and service they think about buying.

As a sales or marketing person, you don’t have the time to have all of those conversations, and more importantly, your leads don’t want to talk to you yet. The modern consumer wants to do their own research before they’ll even consider giving a company a call or letting them know they’re interested.

Inbound marketing automation solves this dilemma.

You can still deliver great content about your product or service to those qualified leads, without scaring them away or making them feel like you’re being too pushy by using marketing automation.

With inbound marketing automation, your leads are getting the content they need to complete their research, and you don’t have to lift a finger. Even better, by simply handing over the content that your leads want without a whole lot of trouble, you’re earning their trust.

And when you have a lead's trust, and they're ready to buy, they're going to buy from you. Click To Tweet

How You Can Implement Inbound Marketing Automation

Inbound marketing automation has some pretty attractive benefits. But how do you get it, and how do you set it up so you can roll into work at 10 with Starbucks in hand?

The best way to implement inbound marketing automation is to get a CRM. If you don’t have one, check out our blog about what to look for in a CRM, and choose your favorite.

We like HubSpot because it’s really easy to use, it’s less expensive (read: they have a version of the software that is totally free) than many more traditional platforms, like Salesforce, and it’s got all of the tools we like, plus they regularly add new tools when they see a need.

It’s possible to do a bit of marketing automation with an email service, like MailChimp, for example, but if you’re looking for legitimate results, you should really go with a CRM.

If you’re not sure about the process yet, we really recommend the free version of HubSpot. It’s a great way to learn how to implement a little marketing automation, and it’s always free — so you don’t have to worry about spending a lot of money learning a tactic you’re not sure you’ll use.

Once you have your CRM, you can get started with inbound marketing automation.

We’ll explain how to to that in-depth in another blog, but if you’re looking for a how-to right now, check out this page from Neil Patel, this guide from Moz, go back and click on that video we linked above, or just give us a call. We’re always happy to walk you through it.

And if you know you want to use inbound marketing automation, but you don’t want to fiddle with it yourself, we’d love to help.

We use inbound marketing automation every day for ourselves and for our clients, so we’ve gotten pretty good. Whether you’re looking for a little content, a completely new campaign, or even help getting set up in HubSpot, we’ve got the resources to help you. Get in touch.

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