How to do better inbound marketing in a tough economy

Posted by Darren Leishman

In a tough economy, it’s difficult to keep your business profitable. In this blog, we explore how using your tools, trusting your data, and testing more can keep you and your business afloat.

In tough economic times the first thing that businesses do is look to cut spend – and marketing is often one of the first casualties. But inbound marketers know that the very tools they use can help them and their companies get more bang for their buck.

How do you do more efficient, more profitable work in a tough economy? The answer, in a nutshell, is to use your tools, trust your data, test more, and prove how much revenue is really attributable to marketing spend. We explain how inbound marketers have an advantage in a tough economy. Read on…

 

Measurable campaigns deliver better results

Do you know if the marketing you are doing right now is effective? Once upon a time, marketers could afford to take the approach of ‘let’s try that and see what happens’ or wait until sales results trickled in to retrospectively apply ROI. Now, the days of trial and error are over.

Today, since every type of marketing is attributable (yes, even offline advertising!) in addition to all the online activity already being tracked, marketers are simply not being efficient if they don’t know how their events, TV, radio and print ads are delivering revenue to their business. Marketers need to know what channels they are using that do bring business, where leads come from, how they close, what the cost per acquisition is and so on.

To meet this goal, savvy marketers regularly look at their performance data to make more informed and more cost-effective decisions - decisions that are more cost-effective, not because they’re cheaper, but because they deliver better results.

This applies regardless of whether marketers are operating in a boom or a bust economy. However, in a recessionary economy it becomes even more important, because as leadership puts more frequent and more robust scrutiny on spending, not only are marketing budgets generally smaller, but marketers are also more answerable for the results.

In a recessionary economy marketers tend to be expected to do more with less. As a result, marketers become more and more stretched. However, savvy marketers can provide results which show real traction and more accurate attribution of marketing spend than ever before – but only if they’re using the right tools.

 

Inbound marketing and cost-savings

Efficient marketers use the right technology and user-friendly marketing platforms that integrate data from multiple sources, and provide for easy reporting, are the savvy inbound marketer’s friend. So if you’re not getting the data you need from your digital tools it may be time to change.

In a way, the tough economy has done marketers a favour: companies who may have gone for high-ticket tools in the past now have multiple options available to them. They can cobble together a combination of free and freemium tools, or use the right technology and use it to the full extent of its capabilities.

While inbound marketing tools like HubSpot aren’t cheap (free versions of HubSpot CRM are available, though) – their power lies in the integration of multiple technologies on a single platform which provides better insights that, in turn, lead to better results. Using tools to their full extent also gives marketers better value from that product. But to get the most out of the technology they choose, the tool has to be fit for purpose.

 

Not using the right tools: a case study example with 57 technologies!

Recently we did a tech stack audit with a multinational company – they had 57 different marketing technologies deployed within the organisation. Darren Leishman, MD at Spitfire Inbound says, “I challenge any data scientist to make sense of that! It’s impossible.” With this many data sources results can be skewed to suit the agenda of the reporter and companies can’t get a single source of the truth in their data.

On the other hand, an integrated, consistent approach allows you to benchmark, test actions, assume they will give you the results you seek and check whether they did or not. If it worked, great, if not, you can test and make adjustments, and then see if that creates the right level of improvement.

Nicole Sengers, Senior Inbound Marketing Strategist and HubSpot Specialist at Spitfire Inbound, says: “With inbound marketing tools like HubSpot, the effective marketer can see how all their efforts are working together to create a positive impression for a prospect, and all in one single location”. Commercial Director at Spitfire Inbound, Trevor van Rensburg agrees: “Life is much easier if you can pull those reports from a single source and save yourself time in the process.”

 

But how do you make your tools serve your purposes? The answer lies in this analogy…

In a tough economy, it’s important to listen to your instruments, and apply your spending accordingly. Darren is a flight fanatic, and uses this analogy to explain why:

Before pilots take off, they file a flight plan. If they don’t follow that to the letter they don’t get to their destination. “If you’re 5 degrees off on a 10,000km flight, you’ll end up on the wrong continent!” says Darren. And while flying, pilots need to regularly consult the control panel in front of them to stay on course – you have to learn to fly by the instruments. But, while pilots use radar, an altimeter, and a compass, marketers also need the tools to help them steer the course of their marketing. Darren continues, “As marketers we have data: CRM data, industry data, product data, benchmarks – the forces that act on our industry, and allow us to predict and navigate a course that will get us to our destination.”

better inbound marketing

It’s always important to listen to your instruments and apply your spending accordingly, but even more important in challenging economic times. With an integrated approach you know you can trust the instruments – you have one dashboard to rule them all – to help you plot a course and stick to it.

This is why Spitfire Inbound is doing more and more ‘pre-flight inspections’ of companies’ marketing efforts. A HubSpot portal health check helps marketers answer questions like: 

  • Do we have the right data in the right place?
  • Can we trust the data?
  • Are our tools calibrated correctly – will using these instruments steer us on the right course, and get us to our desired destination?

actionable tip-inbound marketing in a tough economy

 

The HubSpot Portal Audit: helping you ensure your business is flying in the right direction

What is a HubSpot portal audit? Nicole Sengers says, “A HubSpot portal audit is just that.   An audit of your HubSpot account to see whether it is set up correctly, and what opportunities there are to get more out of your technology. It’s an in depth look at how effectively you’re using your tool, and where the missed opportunities are.”

The results of these audits are both diverse and remarkable:

1. New product development

One Spitfire Inbound customer who sold training certifications was able to create an entirely new product set and sell it to their existing clients thanks to the proper assessment of their data using the inbound methodology. None of this would have been possible without the advanced marketing technology and integrated reporting available at their fingertips.

2. Identifying dark spots to save money and improve results

While tracking their offline activity (which they were finally able to do, thanks to their new, inbound-integrated approach), another Spitfire Inbound customer noticed that some of their TV advertising wasn’t delivering results. They course-corrected by moving this advertising to a different TV channel, and their results improved exponentially; they saw a massive, 37% increase in sales year-on-year!

3. From despising online leads to fighting over them

A third Spitfire Inbound client had a very low lead-win ratio for online leads, compared with internal referral leads. By putting accurate tracking and measurement of the sales team’s activity in place; the close rate, and therefore the value of an online lead, increased dramatically. Thanks to the inbound marketing technology that helped sales people nurture and close these deals the team went from saying: “We don’t believe that online leads will close,” to fighting over online leads.

4. Fixing an internal issue and saving massive SEO costs

Yet another Spitfire Inbound customer noticed that the organic website traffic for their brand terms had dropped significantly, thanks to their HubSpot reporting. Their interrogation revealed that someone in their organisation had turned on paid search for the same branding terms; unnecessarily competing (and paying) for organic traffic for these terms, which were already number one on Google. As a result, they re-deployed the paid advertising, spending money more wisely, and improving search results overall.

 

In conclusion

How confident are you that you are using your technology stack to its full potential? And could you be using your tools more effectively, to help you save money? With inbound marketing tools like HubSpot, the answer is that even if you aren’t confident, there are ways of getting more value for your money, to ensure that you, as a marketer, are able to stand up to even the most intense scrutiny that comes with being in a recessionary economy.

In conclusion, if you’re already an inbound marketer – make sure you do an audit of all your marketing platforms– if you’re not, what’s stopping you from embracing the full power of inbound marketing? Get started now.

Are you a HubSpot customer and keen to find out how well your HubSpot portal is performing? Request a free Portal Health Check to find out.

 

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