01:13 What is digital marketing?
03:20 What is inbound marketing?
07:15 Driving ROI through digital marketing
14:40 What is HubSpot?
22:05 Embracing digital change
Our top recommended resources for learning more about digital marketing and the inbound methodology.
Rob: Good afternoon and welcome to the Engine Room Podcast and our first ever episode! I’m going to be talking to Matt from our team at FINALLY, where he works as the Inbound Marketing Manager. We’re going to be diving deep and understanding about what digital marketing actually is. It’s a great place for us to fundamentally start on this journey, so let’s dive in and welcome along Matt!
Matt: Thanks Rob!
What is digital marketing?
Rob: We live and breathe digital marketing, right? We get it, we understand it. But for those people who maybe question it, it’s quite a big band of words and sounds really scary. But if we break it down, what is digital marketing?
Matt: It is a pretty broad subject, but if you had to boil it down to a few areas you’d consider things like your website, your emails, your online sales process, social media.
Rob: It’s interesting you picked up on the sales process as I think most people would disregard that. But actually, for your role and my role, the digital transformation of companies and bringing the sales process into that digital age is a huge, current topic and I’m certainly having those conversations with people. Your average person maybe wouldn’t include the sales process as digital marketing, but I think you and I would both heavily disagree with that statement because it is - or has to be!
Matt: Yeah definitely. I think there is a common misconception that there is this line between sales and marketing. But in the digital side of things, at some point a sales person is going to do some marketing activity, be that sending an email that links to a blog post, or something like that. That’s not really sales, it’s marketing. You’re pushing someone to your helpful, educational content.
Matt: Yes! And at the same time, a marketing person will do something traditionally sales-based such as lead scoring, or putting a deal through a pipeline. There is crossover in the digital world more so than ever before. The separation is a common misconception.
What is inbound marketing?
Rob: Let’s explain what it is that you get up to as Inbound Marketing Manager - what does inbound marketing mean?
Matt: My role as Inbound Marketing Manager is basically to help people understand how to improve their lead generation, nurturing, and ultimately drive their bottom line and grow a little bit better as a business. How that translates to day-to-day work is things like improving conversion rates through lead nurturing and emails, monitoring social media clicks, and automating processes off the back of certain actions. Inbound is about highlighting when high quality leads reach a certain threshold of criteria, and making sure the sales team are aware of people who, ultimately, are ready to sell too. It’s highlighting people who are ready to be sold too and not sending through the people who are never going to buy.
Rob: Gone are the days of pop-ups galore. Well actually they’re not!
Matt: Not quite - that’s the problem!
Rob: Inbound marketing is an approach and a strategy more than anything. It’s one we obviously believe in here is the right approach, and you can read great books like Marcus Sheridan’s They Ask You Answer to learn more. Essentially, the internet is huge, it’s full of information and all of that information is available instantly. The mystery art forms or supposed belief that there's some sort of magical button that you can press is long-since gone. If someone wants to find something out, within reason, they are going to find the answer. As marketers, our role now is to provide that information really easily. Let them have that information, because by building trust with these people they're hopefully going to go along the sales process - the funnel, journey, flywheel - however you want to describe it. Ultimately, the days of hopefully pushing messages on to people who have no interest or need - it just doesn't work does it?
Matt: No. That’s the problem isn’t it. Historically, sales has always been about numbers and getting volume. You know, pour more in the top and eventually a few more might come out the bottom. With inbound marketing, the process is entirely different. It’s about considering everybody equally as kind of a viable sales prospect, and until you know otherwise you treat them that way. You educate, nurture and develop people throughout their lifecycle from prospect. You give them information, you help them understand what their pain points are and how to fix things themselves. You highlight what you do as a business, and over time (it’s not a quick process by any means) you develop a rapport, you build trust in your brand and you get people on board, right the way through from that prospect stage to being a customer and beyond. It’s taking that funnel approach and turning it into a cycle. You attract people to the business, you engage them with some kind of content or activity, then you delight them in some way, offering more than they might expect. You do this all the way through, at the prospect stage, lead stage, and customer stage - making sure your customers stay with you and are loyal to you because people aren’t going to go anywhere if you are treating them right.
Driving ROI through digital marketing
Rob: 100%! I want to pick up on one thing that you mentioned there about how it’s not the quickest process. Certainly, I get asked a lot of questions about digital marketing from people considering it, or considering investing in marketing for their business. The questions are often from people who are used to the more traditional methods, such as placing ads in magazines or trade flyers. They think people will see it and pick up the phone.
The difference with the inbound marketing approach is that it needs to be seen as an investment into your business. There needs to be an ROI right, if we didn’t produce an ROI in digital marketing, we wouldn’t have any clients! So let’s get that clear. We get ROI and that is our job. It’s a longer perspective of how an element of the spend needs to be deemed as investment into your business, as brand awareness and about reaching people. The pandemic has accelerated a lot of this digital change for many people. It has opened up the world to remote working and zoom meetings, which is an amazing thing but also we have to remember we are still humans and people don’t make instant decisions. Particularly where we focus. We’re engineering and manufacturing specialists in a B2B world. Some of the people in the sales teams are trying to sell £1.2million machines, you don’t generally wake up one morning and think “I’ll take two!”. These are considered decisions.
It’s the same with our services, people consider them for many months, actually, I have noticed the cycle of time from prospect in our own journey has increased. It’s maybe about 3-4 months now. That’s because again, we do our own inbound work through providing useful information, sending them to relevant blog articles, educational pieces, videos we have created and podcasts like this. It's about showing our expertise, showing how we care about what we do and that we want to help people understand how it will maximise their return. That is because they also have to come along on this journey. Inbound marketing cannot be an approach that is led by an agency or just 2 people in your business.s its an approach you have to encapsulate in your whole business.
Matt: Yeah absolutely. The point on ROI you raise is an interesting one, especially in light of traditional marketing methods. If you think about sticking an ad in a magazine and thinking that the publication has 200,000 readers, then by point of distribution you can consider that 200,000 eyes on. Well, actually, is that realistic? Not really. And how do you track that from putting an ad in a magazine to becoming a deal? People have done it, but traditionally and realistically SME’s aren’t tying print ads back to investment.
On the flip side, everything in digital is trackable. Everything we do, we can see if people click on it, we can see how many people go through to a website, we can see their journey right from where they clicked first to becoming a customer and beyond. You can actually say this blog post, email or social post has led to - or influenced at least - £X in recurring revenue or sales. Actually being able to show ROI is far easier with digital marketing than it has ever been for traditional marketing methods.
When it comes to justifying digital marketing, it’s interesting that ROI becomes a sticking point. People are so wary of changing their approach to sales and marketing on the basis of cost. Things like HubSpot can be expensive to get up and running and getting results, but the results you do get are trackable, and the results are far greater than results you get from any traditional marketing processes.
Rob: It’s also a mindset approach isn’t it. People will go to exhibitions, and by the time they have spent £4,000-5,000 on a stand, sent a couple of members of staff for three days, got them a hotel and fed them, it’s a £10,000-£12,000+ investment for a two or three day event.
Now, we do exhibitions and I’m not knocking them at all because I think the whole point of any form of marketing strategy there should be complete channel attribution, be that digital and offline channels. For some people TV and radio ads are going to work. We have run bus campaigns for previous clients, you know, you’re there and in people’s minds. But traditionally, it seems to go out the window.
HubSpot is an investment, of course it is. At the pro level, you’re looking at £5,000-£6,000 in the first year with some onboarding. But as you’re saying, that’s going to give you a true picture of what is going on. Based on an inbound approach nothing is going to be quick. You need to think of this as a 12-24 month investment. This is not to say you’re not going to see any benefit. Certainly within the first 90 days, often we start to see really great results for clients. This might be more enquiries, or traffic to the website is certainly on the up, which is showing it’s beginning to work. You have got to trust in what you are going to do.
A lot of people we work with are slightly more traditional. Their sales processes have been having a team of salespeople that would travel around and build those relationships which sadly, the world has stopped much of that. But it is about how do we bring that same kind of approach, how do we make that company deal with those kinds of customers, digitally. It’s certainly something that can be done. That is where people go wrong, they think digital is voodoo technology that can’t be humanised. But you can be really human. You can record personalised videos with tools like Vidyard. You can record audio clips, send things to customers and still be that same human person. Don’t change your approach just because you’re behind a screen. Still do what you would have done or say what you were going to say.
What is HubSpot?
Matt: What is HubSpot?! It’s a beast. HubSpot is a sales and marketing software that can basically act as the CRM and data centre where you keep all your contacts. Rather than keeping everything in a spreadsheet or a little black book, HubSpot is a central place, digitally, where the entire sales team can log on and see all the leads, prospects and customers in one place.
On top of that, they have built the sales pipelines and sales tools, marketing tools like emails and automations, and now there’s support for websites and customer service. It’s a massive piece of software that covers every part of a business's operations.
Rob: Let’s break that into smaller parts.
The HubSpot CRM
Often people are still running their contact databases in excel or even multiple places.
If you start to digitise your contact records and use data to understand who your customers are, that’s a really good starting point. And HubSpot actually lets you have this for free. For no cost, you get up to 1 million contact records or something crazy like that! So by having that and installing the cookie code and tracking software on your website you will instantly get some feedback. That feedback will be that when any of your customers, prospects or leads in your database visit your website, you will be made aware of it.
At the most basic free level of HubSpot, it’s a great tip and tool for a salesperson to have an understanding of “hey, this contact has visited our pricing page 5 times in the last two weeks.” Your sales team can go into calls with much more confidence and understand prospects' needs. And signing up to the free HubSpot is so easy to do online.
Matt: Yes, it’s so easy to do. And if you’re already using something like Excel, it’s simply the click of a button to import your existing contact records there. Pasting the cookie code, as we call it, which is a tracking code on your website - it lets you see who is visiting pages, submitting forms and really engaging with content. At a base level, surfacing those people for your sales team will have great results. It means you can stop wasting time on people that haven’t actually ever heard of your business or been to your website. Being able to fundamentally determine whether a person knows who you are - if they don’t, why would you call them? Go and spend time on the people who have!
Rob: That’s essentially the inbound approach. When people are ready, they will make themselves aware. They will make themselves aware by interacting with what you’re producing and that’s the time to engage with them. What you don’t want to do is bombard people constantly with things they have no interest in.
We all do it. If I am making a purchase of a TV, I might spend a few months looking at reviews and looking at different companies' websites before I am ready to purchase. I might then, when I am ready, and in a decision making stage, start a live chat or reach out and make contact. And this will be on a website I have previously visited, that has earned my trust and allowed me to go on my own journey.
Matt: Certainly. Take buying a car for example. If you go to a car showroom, you want to be left alone to look at the cars, then when you’re ready you will go to the salesperson and ask for help. If you go in and are bombarded by the salesperson, it really puts you off. As a sales person, why would you call up someone randomly and ask if they want to come and buy a car, when they have given you no indication of wanting to make a purchase. It’s nothing new, this waiting for someone to be ready to sell too and self qualification. As we have moved to digital, once data became readily available, sales and marketing went crazy and contacted people just because they could. Now, what works is waiting for the customer to approach you when they’re ready, but help them along by building trust in the brand and providing them with answers they’re looking for.
Embracing digital change
Rob: Exactly. And there’s lots of questions around tracking and cookies, but actually around 90% of people accept tracking updates because they want to share their information, because they want relevant ads. For me it’s a no brainer, of course I want relevant ads!
Fundamentally, good quality, genuine, relevant content will see reactions. Our role as marketers is to create this quality content and valuable offers that people want to interact with when they are ready. That, in a nutshell, is the inbound approach to digital marketing.
Matt: Exactly. The thing to take away is that there are always going to be companies in every industry doing amazing things with digital marketing. That shouldn’t stop people from jumping on. If you’re stuck doing things the way you have always done them, and you’re thinking it’s going to come back to the traditional methods like landline calls and face to face meetings.... There is a place for that stuff, but digital is here to stay and it’s not going anywhere. The ones who will suffer are the ones who aren’t embracing the digital world. You have got to move, because the ones who will win are the ones who are adapting to the changes. There will always be something different, you have to embrace change and move on.
Rob: Exactly, we will all be in the metaverse soon….
Matt: Here we go!