Category: Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing

Prioritizing Your Inbound Marketing Strategies for 2021

Marketing is a continually evolving landscape. You know this. We know this. But 2020 presented a different challenge than previous years, leaving marketers to dig deep into what they need to do to attract and nurture leads and customers.

2021 will be no different – which shouldn’t make you panic! Part of marketing is doing your due diligence, and we’ve combined resources to come up with some powerful strategies to consider prioritizing in 2021.

SMS Marketing

The popularity of SMS was already accelerating pre-COVID, but the pandemic made the importance of quick, timely, relevant messages more necessary than ever. People needed fast updates on everything, from closures to switches to remote learning. And SMS marketing provided that, plus an average 98% read rate.

SMS marketing is also useful for both leads and customers in non-COVID-related campaigns, as you can implement various campaigns that are engaging to both audiences. For example, for current customers, you can send them text reminders of appointments or meetings. For leads, you may consider sending them branding awareness campaigns or coupons that may encourage them to buy from you.

The best part? With a platform like SMSZap, getting started with SMS marketing is a breeze. You can set up your account in a few minutes, link up with your contacts in HubSpot, and send personalized and engaging messages.

Content Marketing

COVID restrictions sent most people home at one point – to shop or work, or both. This made the demand for digital consumption skyrocket. What does that mean for your efforts in 2021? Your content needs to be high-caliber and plentiful, as well as:

  • Interactive
  • Emphatic
  • Engaging
  • Relevant to current events (2020 saw everything from social change, major elections, and COVID)
  • Made for the diverse crowds

That translates to creating and sharing educational, quality content about your products, services, and your company to your prospects and customers. You can use various resources like blogs, ebooks, infographics, social media, and videos to deliver your messages. No matter what type of content it is, it should address your target audiences’ specific pain points at every stage of their buyer’s journey, including the awareness, consideration, decision, and delight stages.

Video

Video can technically be considered a part of your content marketing – but its importance in our “new normal” isn’t something to shrug your shoulders. People longed for some human connection that they couldn’t get in person. Think about how you can use video in your previously “typical” marketing efforts. Are you switching to more online conferences, events, or webinars? These remote types of content are not going anywhere soon.

Similarly, video is just proven to be a useful tactic. In fact, 79% of consumers reported that a brand’s video convinced them to buy a piece of software or an app. A whopping 92% of those viewers also said they shared videos with others. That alone should help you realize the value of investing in video creation and distribution.

Chatbots and Customer Support Automation

When COVID initially hit, people scrambled to cancel flights, hotels, concerts, trips, appointments; you name it. The importance of a quick and solid customer support experience was integral. But customers weren’t the only ones dealing with the consequences of such an uncertain year. Support agents were hit with an influx of tickets to their helpdesk. Fortunately, chatbots and other customer support automation helped and will continue to in 2021.

Chatbots automate specific tasks and conversations by speaking with a customer or prospect through an easy-to-use interface. They lighten your teams’ workloads by tackling more straightforward conversational functions that are necessary but can eat up time. Advanced customer service automation can offload a large portion of support tickets with a high degree of accuracy. These resources also delight users because more and more people want information as quickly as possible and don’t mind speaking over a chat application.

Social Media

2020 certainly had a prevailing theme, and it was that a lot of people were at home for a good portion of it. Because of this, more people were also on their phones searching for news and updates from their favorite brands. One of the most common places to find this is generally a company’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

Brands recognized this too. In fact, social media budgets accounted for 24% of all marketing budgets during the second quarter of 2020. And the momentum kept. There’s tremendous opportunity to ride these coattails and continue engaging and re-engaging with new and existing customers through fun, engaging social media campaigns or advertising.

SEO

When the pandemic subsides, businesses with brick and mortar locations will likely want to send as many people as possible back into their stores. Local search engine optimization (SEO) can help. Try:

  • Optimizing your “Google My Business Page”
  • Including local keywords throughout your website content
  • Strengthening your social media presence and including location-specific content

Position Zero, or Google’s featured snippet, should also take precedence in 2021. As humans become more reliant on technology, they expect the best answer as fast as possible. Position Zero has the most relevant information that answers that user’s question without clicking on any link. Some advice on getting a featured snippet includes:

  • Figure out what your company can get a snippet for
  • Writing out the exact question you’re trying to answer in your website or blog content
  • Use lists or tables
  • Research related questions and answers – any question can lead to another!
  • Create high-quality content that isn’t stuffed with keywords .

Another vital thing to consider when tackling SEO is to remember that people are searching for things differently now. People are asking more questions or phrases rather than just words. They’re also using devices like Alexa or Google Home. Search engines recognize this more nuanced context, meaning, and intent to deliver results, so keep it in mind for 2021. 

Need Help?

You still have time to consider implementing any of these essential tactics to your inbound marketing strategy. If you feel like you could use some guidance, reach out to our team today.

Inbound Marketing

The Ultimate 2021 Inbound Marketing Template

While we’re happy 2020 is over and 2021 is here, we still can’t believe how quickly it flew by. It went so fast it felt like our team was planning for 2021 before we knew it. What about your team? Have you thought about your inbound marketing efforts for 2021?

If you haven’t, there’s no need to stress. Being agile is key to strong marketing campaigns and results, but it also helps to have a general idea of what you want to do each month or quarter. If we somehow made you feel overwhelmed, we have a gift to help you get ready to tackle the new year.

The Ultimate 2021 Inbound Marketing Template!

So, What Is the Template?

At its most basic level, it’s a guide (on an easy to edit spreadsheet) to your 2021 inbound marketing efforts and activities. It may be perfect for you, you may want to modify it, or maybe you’ll use it as a jumping-off point to create your own 2021 template. Whichever way you see fit to use it (or not use it) is A-OK.

What’s Included?

Our sample template has several sections you can use to build out your complete inbound marketing plan for next year. It includes:

SMART Goals

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, and Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based goals. You use SMART goals to establish a set of criteria that makes sure your marketing goals are attainable. Our template offers ideas of SMART goals like “website visitors.” Then you can choose the amount, the time frame, and how you plan to get to that number.

Marketing Roadmap

We love a good roadmap at Lynton. Without one, how would we get to where we want to go? Our example roadmap is a month-by-month plan on how you’ll launch your marketing initiatives. For example, if you’re going to deploy your first SMS campaign in February, you’ll mark that goal in the month with notes, the project’s status, the expected launch date, and any results. You can do the same for things like reports, content marketing, and sales efforts.

Content Matrix

The content matrix within the template is a repository for you to keep track of your initiatives and any keywords and CTAs you are linking to those initiatives. The matrix is also meant for you to link initiatives to your personas and stage in the funnel.

Think: You want to write and design a checklist. The content matrix will have that content type, keywords, CTAs, persona, stage in buyer’s journey, content title, and status. You can fill this out for every month starting with January.

Idea Bank

Have an idea that needs fleshing out? Put in the templates idea bank or a section dedicated to upcoming initiatives that need to be worked into the roadmap or content matrix.

Download the Ultimate 2021 Inbound Marketing Template Today!

You may not use this template precisely as we do, which, as we noted, is fine. You need to be agile. You also need a plan you can update and tweak throughout the year. You also need a single point of truth for marketing activities and metrics, and maybe this template will be the start of it. The only way to know for sure is to download it and give it a try!

Inbound Marketing

Our Favorite Virtual Conference Trends in 2020

Chances are a conference you planned on attending this year looked a little different in light of COVID-19. Some organizations canceled their events entirely to keep attendees safe. Other businesses pivoted. They took their events online, supercharging a trend of completely virtual or remote conferences.

They faced some successes, like saving budget, and some drawbacks like technical errors. But, in a year that’s been difficult, let’s focus on the positives. Here are some favorable outcomes and trends in virtual conferences in 2020.

Increased Diversity and Attendance

Some companies have noted that moving to a virtual setting increased their number of attendees. With an online format, people are no longer limited by travel restrictions, budget, or other responsibilities like parenting. Even better? With state-of-the-art event technology, presentations can be translated into different languages, making these conferences available to anyone with a Wi-Fi-enabled device.

Networking Opportunities and “In-Person” Experiences

One of the best parts of any conference is the networking. It’s also the reason some attendees choose to go. Platforms like Accelevents, Brandlive, Boomset, and others come with robust features to mimic in-person interactions like this at home. Event organizers can use them for everything from registration, user-profiles, chat tools, polling, virtual exhibitor management, 1-1 video calls, gamification, Q&A, and more. A favorite of virtual attendees, though? The virtual “meet-up” or an online event where you can help segment users based on interest, allowing them to interact with like-minded participants.

Transformed Content

Not every brand has a conference or large-scale event, but many still jumped on the opportunity to turn their in-person content into a virtual setting. For example, at Lynton, many of our clients began hosting more webinars. Some took the content they would typically talk about during in-person meetings and recorded it so everyone could access it. In some ways, these recorded events are similar to breakout sessions at a conference but available on-demand.

Extended Q&A

People love talking to their favorite speakers and asking them questions at live events (or at least, some do). Virtual events can still do this by utilizing tools like Zoom and other event platform technology as mentioned. The difference here is that users could submit their questions in advance, instead of worrying if they’ll be picked on. Events were also able to dedicate a time slot to just Q&As versus having five minutes left after a session. That results in no question being left unanswered!

Virtual Emcees

The virtual event market is already competitive and will only continue to become more cutthroat. Organizations looking to emulate in-person events have started hiring “virtual emcees.” These emcees can help guide your event and help keep attendees engaged – which could be hard in a virtual setting!

“Swag Bags”

Sponsorships are another critical element of conferences. Companies have their logo branded on banners, pamphlets, and giveaways across the event space in an ordinary event. These organizations still managed to get brand recognition in a virtual event with digital ads and a new trend – “virtual swag bags.” Instead of a standard gift bag of a shirt and button, companies gifted access to premium content or free trials. However, it still may be worth it to send a goodie bag to their addresses in advance for some businesses!

Delivered Lunch

Conferences of all sizes typically offer some food incentive, like free coffee or lunch, which is still possible virtually through Postmates or UberEats. Use a branded code to keep up the recognition!

What Are the Benefits of Virtual Conferences?

A lot of what came of the increase in virtual conferences was good, but for some businesses, it’s still all so new. If you’re hesitant to make the switch to a remote setting, here are some ways your company can benefit:

  • Avoid travel costs – and cut back on carbon emissions caused by air travel
  • Save money in your budget or put more budget into making your event personalized and great
  • More time to test presentations
  • Record presentations to eliminate any mistakes
  • Users can attend their preferred sessions in real-time and watch every presentation (if you offer them on-demand). This way, they get to experience the total event rather than a small selection
  • Company branding recognition goes on longer if you offer things on-demand
  • More people can attend – it’s more convenient
  • More diversity – you can open your event up to the entire world if you want (as noted, many platform systems have language translations)

 

With benefits like these, it’s safe to assume virtual events will stick around even as in-person conferences become safe again. If you want to discuss how to put on a successful remote event, reach out.

 

Editor's Pick

ICP vs. Buyer Personas- Why Both are Important for…

Ideal client profiles. Buyer personas. If you’re in marketing, you’ve heard both terms. You know they sound similar, and you recognize they’re both critical to your marketing strategy. But they are indeed different, and understanding the two’s subtleties can accelerate your account-based marketing growth.

What is an Ideal Client Profile?

An ideal client profile, or ICP, is the “perfect” customer for your organization’s solution. It’s not necessarily one person, but rather, a semi-fictitious company that embodies all the qualities that you believe make them a good fit for your services. For instance, do you enjoy diving headfirst into a complex challenge? If so, a business with pressing, unique challenges may be a part of your ICP.

ICPs help you develop target accounts based on specific characteristics (like the made-up scenario above), so you can focus on actual, individual companies in your marketing campaigns. That is, in essence, ABM, after all!

The characteristics that help carve out an ICP can include:

  • Budget
  • Company size
  • Industry
  • Geography
  • Legality
  • Service limitations
  • Their customer bases
  • Their annual revenue
  • Their technology stacks
  • And more

What is a Buyer Persona?

Like an ICP, a buyer persona is another semi-fictional representation. Yet, instead of a company, a buyer persona is a generalized representation of your customer(s) that account for personal demographics, career goals, motivators, needs, and challenges they’re facing in their roles and companies. If an ICP is a target account, then a buyer persona would be a target audience member.

You create buyer personas based on real research and interviews with your current customers. The characteristics you should look for to develop a buyer persona are:

  • Age
  • Income
  • Education
  • Hobbies or interests
  • Home and work location
  • Job title and function
  • Challenges at work
  • Frustrations and successes at work
  • Decision-making status
  • And more

How Do They Correlate?

ICPs and buyer personas are linked, and having both in place can help flesh out the other and move your ABM campaigns forward. You’ll want to ensure your ICP informs your marketing and sales teams on the accounts they should be targeting. Your buyer personas should advise you on the type of individuals that they’re creating content for – whether they work in one of your target accounts or not. By doing this, you can also help your sales team better prospect and prepare for consultations and demos.

Your ICP can also help your sales executives initially qualify leads. With a type of account they should focus on, they’ll know not to waste their time on an organization that’s too small or too big or another precipitating factor.  You can then look at your buyer personas to see if there is an individual within your ICP that you should sell or market to. An ICP is vital for company and customer happiness – but an actual person within a business will eventually sign off on buying your service!

Other Notes

It’s always important to remember that neither your ICP nor your buyer personas are set in stone. They’ll grow alongside you, and it’s frankly best to revisit them from time to time. You may discover that a piece of your ICP no longer makes sense and uncover a new target account that has a buyer persona you’ve actively been creating material for. Or, you may discover that your buyer personas are too broad and could use some optimizing. No matter the case, always make an effort to revise because when you have solid ICP and buyer personas in hand, you can narrow down exact accounts and wow specific users with great content and more.

Need help building out either? We’re here! Reach out for a consultation.

Inbound Marketing

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family…

When Thanksgiving rolls around, there are a few questions that we don’t exactly look forward to hearing: “When are you getting married?” “When am I getting grandchildren?” “Have you been moisturizing?”

And yet, none of those oh-so-polite questions even come close to the complexity of explaining what, as an inbound marketer, you actually do for a living.

It’s not that inbound marketing requires a long, drawn-out answer — after all, it can easily be described in 44 words. But explaining it requires some fundamental knowledge of how technology, marketing, and the internet work. You know, the things that your grandparents might not fully grasp in one fell swoop.

Good news — all you really need are a few storytelling strategies. We found five ways you can explain inbound marketing to your family. And sure, some of these are useful, and some are just sarcastic. But hey, family is family, right? They’ll still love you.

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family This Thanksgiving

1. The Food Analogy

Pumpkin Pie

Source: Giphy

In the U.S., Thanksgiving typically consists of a few staples: turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, to name a few. And while it might sound strange, you can use that knowledge to your advantage by using food preparation as an analogy for different aspects of inbound marketing.

To explain lead nurturing, you can use the pumpkin pie. Sending unnurtured leads to sales is like giving an unbaked pumpkin pie to your guests. I suppose the pumpkin pie could be eaten raw, but … gross. Instead, you should bake the pumpkin pie — that ultimately makes it richer and more palatable.

Nurturing leads before sales contacts them works in the same way. It warms them up to your brand, and starts to qualify them with better information on what they might need. “Warm” leads, like the cooked pie, are already familiar with your business, and will close at a much higher rate than those that are “cold.”

Use whatever analogy you like to describe inbound marketing — it clarifies confusing issues by comparing them to something that, quite literally, is right in front of everyone.

2. The Real-Life Scenario

Telemarketers

Source: Giphy

When I’m asked about inbound marketing, I like to use real-life examples of interruptions that they’ll likely recognize, and explain how the inbound methodology pertains to it. It usually sounds something like this:

Amanda: Hey, Dad. You know how much you hate telemarketers calling you in the middle of dinner?

Dad: Yes. Hate it. Why? Is that what you do for work?

Amanda: No, actually. Inbound marketing is the exact opposite. That’s interruptive marketing. They literally interrupt you. So annoying, right?

Dad: Yes. I’m surprised they’re not interrupting us right now.

Amanda: Well, in my job, I create marketing that doesn’t interrupt what people are doing. In fact, I create content that people are actively looking for, because it’s helpful, entertaining, or informative. Instead of a telemarketer who is calling to sell you spoons, I create stuff that someone looking for information about spoons might be searching for on the internet.

Dad: So I would find you, instead of you calling to bother me?

Amanda: Yes! I provide you with actual value from my company, which makes you more interested in what my company sells.

The keys here: 1) Identify which interruptive media your dinner guests are familiar with, and 2) play into their pain points when dealing with that media. Inbound marketing is much more logical when you explain it that way — even if your family doesn’t work in marketing or communications.

3. The Theatrics

Thanksgiving theatrics

Source: Giphy

If you’re feeling especially creative — and you have at least one Thanksgiving guest who is willing to participate — you could set up a role play. There are lots of scenarios you can act out, but a classic one would be the telemarketer/dinner guest scenario.

Let’s use the telemarketing example above — and be warned, it might require a few minutes of planning before everyone sits down to dinner. You play the role of the telemarketer, and your dinner guest can be, well, the dinner guest. First, put his or her phone’s ringer on the highest volume possible. Then, as soon as someone asks you about your job, excuse yourself and duck out to a quiet area with your own phone.

Next, call the dinner guest, and have him or her answer the call on speaker while you pretend to be a telemarketer selling something completely unnecessary at that point: Halloween costumes.

Be sure your dinner guest uses key phrases like “You’re interrupting me in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner with this irrelevant call,” or, “Don’t you think it’s a little late to be calling me about Halloween?” or, if you really want to go nuts, “I wish you had sent me a targeted, personalized email in October about those costumes — I would have bought them.”

Then, have them slam down the phone on the table. You can return from your “bathroom break” and say, “See? Telemarketing, or any type of interruptive marketing like that, is profoundly annoying. In my job, I create marketing that helps people — not annoy them.”

End scene.

Depending on the talent of your guest, you might be able to improv the entire thing. Otherwise, you might want to type a script out and email it to the guest beforehand. And if you really want to go overboard, stay in character the entire dinner. The sight of you dressed up as a skeezy telemarketer with a headset will be just too intense to forget … that is, at least until your mother requests, “Please remove your headset from the table.”

4. The Puzzle Pieces

Puzzles

Source: Webnode

This technique boils down to an age-old philosophical question: Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? Aristotle thought so, but when you’re describing inbound marketing to an unfamiliar audience, it’s probably okay to explain the three ways you might apply inbound marketing specifically: attract, engage, and delight. 

Try explaining inbound marketing by breaking it up into those three aspects, and explaining each one individually.

For instance, you might say to grandma: “Attract means drawing in the right people with valuable content and conversations that establish you as a trusted advisor with whom they want to engage. Engage means presenting insights and solutions that align with their pain points and goals so they are more likely to buy from you. And delight means providing help and support to empower your customers to find success with their purchase.”

Of course, it’s easier said than done. And I’m willing to bet diving into how the inbound methodology serves as a strong foundation for the flywheel, which creates momentum and eliminates friction in your organization, is another feat entirely. 

5. The “I Write Articles on the Internet”

Writing on internet

Source: imoviequotes

If the previous four have all failed, you can always say, “I write articles on the internet for a living.” I mean, it’s somewhat accurate — you drive real business results with inbound marketing, and you don’t just spew out nonsense blogs about your feelings to get paid — but it can get your family off your back, especially if you’re not sure they’d be interested in hearing the whole shebang. If you choose this path, be prepared to hear how easy it is to blog, and how many of your family members wish they could get paid to do it.

Then, try to switch the subject quickly to something everyone can relate to. “Hey, Uncle Eddie, I’d love to get your amazing stuffing recipe.” Trust us … It works every time.

We’re Grateful for You

Good luck out there. And remember: There are so many people who want to know what you do — which, admittedly, is why we love writing about it every day.

We always give thanks for you, our amazing readers. And to express our gratitude, we put together what we hope is a hilarious video of what our families think we do. Happy Thanksgiving!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2013 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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