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Inbound Marketing Age

Grow better by growing bolder: 5 fears you need to overcome

Written by Nicola Risi  |  9, October, 2019  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Following on from my commentary of Brian Halligan's keynote presentation at Inbound 2019, let's reflect on key insights from fellow Hubspot co-founder Dharmesh Shah's presentation.

Dharmesh took a very different focus: 5 business fears you need to over come to grow bolder and better

He started off his keynote with some light-hearted anecdotes introducing us to his biggest fears: low phone battery, eye contact and water. He went on to explain that while we all have fears, it's overcoming them that defines our business' future. Which, according to Dharmesh, is more important than ever.

Dharmesh talks about the 5 fears both he and co-founder Brian Halligan needed to overcome in order to grow bolder and better, resulting in the renowned, international success of the HubSpot platform and brand.

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How to become an experience disruptor

Written by Nicola Risi  |  26, September, 2019  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Early September saw the annual Inbound conference in Boston, MA, and with our very own Eric Swain in attendance, the Equinet office is now teaming with new insights, ideas and observations.

There were two particular stand out keynotes from Hubspot Co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.

Brian focused on the experience disruptors of the moment, using a few familiar names to illustrate his point: Netflix, Spotify, Slack, for example. 

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5 questions you need to ask about your marketing data

Written by Keith Errington  |  15, August, 2019  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Editors note: This blog post was originally published in January 2016 and has since been updated for optimal relevance and accuracy.

Digital marketing can produce lots of data – but what does the data really mean?

Is it really helpful?

This post will give you five questions to ask about your marketing data to ensure it’s of value to you.

But first, what are the most important questions you need answering?

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How to develop meaningful buyer personas that go beyond demographics

Written by Katie Hughes  |  31, May, 2019  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

When done well, buyer personas help you understand your ideal customers better. This makes it easier to tailor your content messaging, product development, and services to their specific needs.

But too often, companies make the mistake of thinking about buyer personas in terms of demographics; only looking as far as their age, gender, and job role.

To define truly meaningful buyer personas, you need to look beyond the demographics of your ideal customers. You need to understand their interests, fears, and aspirations. You need the full story on how and why they make a buying decision.

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The importance of events to your B2B marketing strategy

Written by Keith Errington  |  2, May, 2019  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Editor's note: This post was originally written in 2016 and has since been updated for relevance and accuracy.

There have been plenty of articles written on the importance of using inbound marketing, including social media, to publicise events - but very little on the importance of events to inbound marketing and your overall B2B marketing strategy.

Inbound marketing content thrives on stories, but sometimes they can be a bit thin on the ground. So what can you do? Well, you can create your own story, and that’s essentially what creating an event is all about.

Here are just four reasons why events make for great content, and how to maximise their benefit.

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Is there still a need for marketing personalisation?

Written by Keith Errington  |  4, April, 2019  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

There is a wealth of opinions about the essential need to personalise your marketing efforts – not only in the world of B2C but also for B2B.

Endless articles have been written about the drivers for personalisation – arguing that customers want more personalisation.

Yet at the same time, there is a massive kickback against the intrusiveness of modern marketing with personal privacy a key issue for many customers. News stories about the unwanted and unprompted violations of people’s privacy by some of the top social media companies such as Facebook, and the search engine giant Google are not helping the case for personalisation.

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Blog writer's tip: keep your blog on target with a brief

Written by Keith Errington  |  4, February, 2019  |  1 Comment  Subscribe

Editor's note: This post was originally written in 2014 and has since been updated for maximum relevance. 

I like to think of blog posts as arrows – powerful, accurate and effective – but only if they are targeted. In fact any weapon is only effective if properly targeted – and can cause huge damage if it’s pointing the wrong way.

Whilst forgiving the somewhat campaign/war like bent of this view, applying this analogy to a blog – you have to identify the overall nature of your enemy and then hit specific targets with your posts. So what you need is a brief and a targeting system.

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How to create smart content for your manufacturing personas

Written by Andrea Blades  |  7, November, 2018  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

As the customer preference for sourcing information moves from face to face contact to search engines and digital resources, the time is ripe to re-imagine how you communicate with your manufacturing prospects.

And as we move into an increasingly connected and switched-on digital age, personalisation is becoming one of the more powerful tools at our disposal.

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Classic strategies for growing your business

Written by Keith Errington  |  6, June, 2018  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

When it comes to developing a strategy for growing a business, we still refer to a model that is over sixty years old. It’s a testament to its worth that the basics have stood the test of time.

Developed in 1957 by Igor Ansoff (known as the father of strategic management), the Ansoff Matrix looks at two possible directions for growth strategy – products and markets.

Although the model traditionally speaks of products, you can substitute services for products and it works equally well. It’s also a model that is relevant to both B2C and B2B.

As well as the four possible strategies, the matrix also suggests a risk factor, with the top left being the least risky strategy and bottom right – diversification – being the riskiest.

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How to use social listening to shape your B2B buyer personas

Written by Nicola Risi  |  13, March, 2018  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Social listening is the act of analysing conversations that take place on social platforms involving a specific brand or industry.

Not to be confused with social media monitoring, social listening allows brands to hone in on their target audience’s most common frustrations, challenges and values, extracting key insights that help design a more appealing content offering.

Perfectly described by Dan Neely, CEO of Networked Insights, “Monitoring sees trees; listening sees the forest.”

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6 conversion rate optimisation tips to embrace in 2018

Written by Katie Hughes  |  28, February, 2018  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Traffic and leads. The two are intrinsically linked. You can’t generate leads without traffic. And traffic means nothing if you can’t convert visitors to leads.

But just one in five companies are satisfied with their conversions, according to Hubspot.

If your company is invested in inbound marketing, optimising your website to maximise conversions should be a necessity. But with conversion rate optimisation such a changing landscape, what are the best practices you should be embracing in 2018?

Here are our top tips for increasing your conversions this year.

1. Prioritise personalisation

Personalisation is no longer a novelty - it’s expected. But how can B2B companies use personalisation to convert visitors to leads when at this stage, they know little about them?

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How to analyse a competitor's website, and what you can learn

Written by Keith Errington  |  20, February, 2018  |  1 Comment  Subscribe

Before the digital age, it was tough to get an idea of what your competitors were up to. You might be able to glean some facts from their brochures, press releases, seminars, shareholder briefings, or by posing as a customer and get a handle on their pricing structure.

But if a company played its cards close to its chest, then their marketing strategy, strengths and weaknesses and business intentions would have been hard to fathom. This often meant that you could find yourself rapidly outmanoeuvred by their product launches and better pricing.

Planning your marketing strategy when you don’t have all the facts is, at best risky, and at worst disastrous.

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Why content writing works for B2B lead generation

Written by Nicola Risi  |  8, February, 2018  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

In an age of content fatigue, we’re becoming less tolerant of intrusive and interruptive marketing.

Cold calls, spam emails and TV ads can all be blocked at the click of a button, and the power is truly back in the hands of the consumer.

When we have a problem or a question, we set up our chosen device and begin the quest for content.

We flick from article to article, blog to blog, white paper to ebook, trying to find the answer we’re looking for.

We choose where to go next, and who to give our precious information to in exchange for more content. We're completely in control.

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Why your inbound strategy should start with brand development

Written by Katie Hughes  |  31, January, 2018  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Making the switch from traditional marketing methods to an inbound marketing approach isn’t easy. There is a lot of work that needs to happen upfront to build your inbound strategy so you get the most from your investment.

As with any major organisational change or adoption of new ways of working, it’s always worthwhile going back to basics: your brand.

The best brands represent everything the company stands for. Your brand is central to your value proposition. And to differentiate yourself from competitors, you need to build a strong consensus around your brand expression.

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Winning business by getting thought leadership right

Written by Keith Errington  |  19, January, 2018  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

A comprehensive study by Edelman in association with LinkedIn has revealed the importance of thought leadership to B2B demand generation.

The research discovered that it actually has an impact on every stage of the buying process.

Significantly, they also found that creating poor thought leadership content has a negative impact.

The definition of thought leadership

What defines thought leadership content?

It’s generally considered to be writing about the bigger issues facing your audience. It could be forward-looking, or research-based. It looks beyond the day-to-day issues and considers the impact of the longer term, or the wider environment.

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5 ways to avoid content shock

Written by Nicola Risi  |  1, December, 2017  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

‘Content shock’ is real. And it’s happening faster than we think.

We’re reaching a point where the volume of online content is outweighing our human capacity to consume it. The rate at which content is being produced and published is doubling every nine to 24 months. And as a result, organic visibility is suffering.

Allegedly, 60% of content is dull and irrelevant to readers. And every content marketer is at risk of suffering from content fatigue if they fail to produce sturdy, sustainable content.

So what can you do to future-proof your content?

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What you need to know about Account Based Marketing

Written by Keith Errington  |  30, November, 2017  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Marketing is often seen as getting your message out to the maximum number of people, which seems logical. Surely, it follows that the more people you reach, the more prospects you should get, and therefore the more sales you will make?

Certainly in the B2C arena, this strategy can pay dividends with mass market products.

But there are a number of reasons why a different approach needs to be taken for B2B marketing. Products are more niche, so mass broadcast is not practical or cost effective. And the truth is, that in order for many small to mid-sized B2B companies to succeed, they don’t actually need thousands of leads; what they really need is a reasonable number of high value clients.

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How to master content creation in 4 simple steps

Written by Katie Hughes  |  5, October, 2017  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Effective content is the key to inbound marketing, and crafting effective content relies on creativity. 

Creativity can transform a piece of writing into compelling content that captures people's hearts and minds; content that has the power to sway the decisions of prospects.

But equally important is having a solid structure in place for producing content.

In fact, structure enables creativity. Structure creates opportunities. Creativity allows those opportunities to evolve, and thrive.

A structured content creation process is the backbone of a successful content marketing strategy

Content creation should involve four distinct stages, according to HubSpot.

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What is the SaaS approach to buyer persona development?

Written by Keith Errington  |  24, July, 2017  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

We know that the key to success as a SaaS business is to reduce churn by retaining existing customers. SaaS is different to many other products and services in that it has a closer relationship with its users, over a longer period of time. So, more so than for many companies, whose marketing revolves around understanding new customers in order to serve appropriate content and gain leads, SaaS is also about understanding existing customers.

This duality makes the job of the SaaS marketer both more difficult and yet at the same easier. More difficult, because there are potentially two sets of people to understand and market to. Easier, because the level of contact with customers/users over a period of time means there is more data on existing customers. This should allow for a greater understanding of their needs and therefore, by extension, potentially make it easier to predict what new customers are looking for too.

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7 steps to online survey success for B2B research

Written by Katie Hughes  |  13, June, 2017  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Online surveys are a form of quantitative research and are used to collect data to measure trends in behaviours, attitudes, or preferences. In B2B research, online surveys can have a multitude of uses. They may be used to measure customer satisfaction, understand buyer’s purchasing behaviours, identify the ideal target market for a new product or service, or explore industry trends – just to name a few.

In this blog post we highlight seven things to think about when running an online survey for B2B.

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11 ways to make the most of qualitative research for B2B marketing

Written by Katie Hughes  |  6, June, 2017  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Qualitative research is used to gain insights into people’s attitudes and opinions and understand the reasons behind them. In other words, it’s about exploring not just what people think but why they think it.

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How to deliver successful inbound marketing with agile scrum

Written by Jeremy Knight  |  5, June, 2017  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Inbound marketing is a labour-intensive exercise. When done well that is. Success or failure lies in the marketing mix and your ability to pull the right levers at the right time. And the levers and the pressure you apply will always differ dependent on your particular circumstance. And, of course, the situations impacting your customers.

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The value of a research-based content strategy and 4 great examples

Written by Katie Hughes  |  18, May, 2017  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

“Content comes in all shapes and sizes. Helpful how-tos, news, guides, opinions, roundups and rants. But there is one type of content that stands above them all. Research.” (Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media Studios)

When done well, research-based content garners more shares and links than almost any other form of content. It is regularly hailed as the most effective form of content marketing, as proven in studies by CMI, Clutch and Ascend2, just to name a few.

It’s no surprise really. Research that provides answers to unanswered questions makes for a compelling story and attention grabbing headlines.

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How to avoid common pitfalls when defining your buyer personas

Written by Jeremy Knight  |  10, May, 2017  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

In modern marketing, buyer personas are integral to everything you create as a content marketer. Buyer personas are representations of your target customers based on real-world information and educated guesses. Their likes, dislikes, habits, behaviours, motivations and concerns, as well as their job function, where they spend time online, decision criteria, and more.

The trouble is, as with so many recent marketing developments, the subtler ideas around personas are often not fully understood. Getting your personas right, and keeping them current is not as easy as it sounds. Here are some tips to avoid some of the common pitfalls when defining your buyer personas.

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Are you putting your B2B buyer personas first?

Written by Antonia Molloy  |  7, March, 2017  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Inbound marketing is customer-centric: your target audience is at the heart of everything you do. Therefore, you need to understand that audience – and one of the best ways to do that is to create B2B buyer personas.

Buyer personas represent the people that matter to your business. HubSpot defines them as "fictional, generalised characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behaviour patterns among your real and potential customers". 

Your buyer personas should inform your entire inbound marketing strategy. Without them, your campaigns and messaging could be completely missing the mark. So, how can you make certain that you're effectively prioritising your B2B buyer personas?

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Why are your B2B marketing tactics not working?

Written by Keith Errington  |  16, February, 2017  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Are you struggling to maintain previous levels of sales, or having issues generating leads? If you are simply doing more of the same, it could be that your whole approach is the problem. The entire marketing and buyer landscape has changed – old methods no longer work. Unless you recognise this and change your strategy, your sales will suffer and problems will follow.

The evidence for the revolution

You may have heard the saying: "If you have been doing something the same way for a long period of time – it's probably wrong."

When Adobe carried out a survey in 2013, they found that 76 per cent of people felt that marketing had changed more in the past two years than in the previous 50, with a similar number saying that the old marketing model is no longer sufficient. There are a whole host of factors – technological, social, and more that are accelerating this rate of change.

So, if you haven't changed your B2B marketing tactics in the past few years, you need to rethink - or lose potential sales.

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Why you should focus on B2B marketing fundamentals in 2017

Written by Keith Errington  |  12, January, 2017  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

January is traditionally a time when companies look to the year ahead, so what are the main B2B marketing issues they should be addressing in 2017?

Well, despite the many new technologies being bandied about and the cloud of hype surrounding them, it will be a focus on the fundamentals that will allow B2B businesses to succeed this year.

Integrated approach to business

Managing a business used to be easy – each function of the business – manufacturing, sales, marketing, customer service and management had their own departments – their own boxes if you like. Each reported to the board through a more-or-less vertical reporting and controlling system. It was always very clear what each area did, what is was responsible for and what their territory was.

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Inbound marketing and sales and the need for an SLA

Written by Jeremy Knight  |  16, June, 2016  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

The old sales playbook would likely quote "always be closing" or "it’s a numbers game". The sales team would be "calling to touch base" or overheard, for the 50th time that day, saying "if I could show you a way…"

Essentially, if a sales rep wasn’t spending the larger portion of their day hustling prospects, trying every trick in the traditional sales playbook to get that deal signed, sealed and delivered, they were likely not long for the role.

The sales manager didn’t care if the solution they were selling benefited the potential customer or not. Their world was driven by the numbers, and "the numbers don’t lie". Unlike the buyer because "buyers are liars" (sic) so, get your foot in that door and show me the money.

But the world around us has changed. Customers are empowered by technology, the internet and the social web. Today, they want to inform and educate themselves long before they are ready to speak with someone in sales.

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Why your inbound marketing agency bangs on about buyer personas

Written by Keith Errington  |  8, June, 2016  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

If you have done any reading at all on inbound or content marketing, you will probably have been struck by how often agencies emphasise the use of buyer personas. You may even be slightly bored with the constant urging to define and use these personas when developing your marketing strategy. But if you want to succeed in business, personas are pretty much essential. So if you want to understand the obsession with buyer personas, then read on, as I’m going to explain why they are so important and why successful modern marketing depends on them.

The importance of attracting and engaging prospects

Let’s start by going over some obvious business basics. Customers are the lifeblood of any business. But no customer, no matter how loyal they are to your brand and no matter how well you treat them, will stay with you forever. There is a constant need to attract new customers just to stay in business. And if you want to grow, then there is no denying that new business must become your driving force.

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How the sales funnel has changed for professional services marketing

Written by Keith Errington  |  2, March, 2016  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Anyone familiar with sales or marketing will recognise the traditional model of the sales funnel. It can also be represented by the acronym AIDA: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.

As a model, it was developed in principle in 1898 by American advertising advocate E. St. Elmo Lewis - in the days before the Internet, before television and even before radio. So it’s hardly surprising that this century-old model may need re-thinking.

In professional services marketing, the funnel was traditionally "fed" with leads from networking and referrals from clients. While business is still generated using this approach, the funnel has changed radically - with some even saying that the sales funnel is dead.

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