Knowing how to execute Inbound marketing, and where it can help you grow, is the key value of a consultant for inbound marketing.
Like the experts you use in other areas of your business, a consultant for inbound marketing can help you establish and fine-tune how you grow using the inbound methodology. When looking for an inbound consultant for marketing you may already be familiar with inbound because you’ve used this powerful strategy before, or you may have just heard or read that inbound is effective and want to find someone that can help you put it into practice.
Let's start by defining what inbound marketing actually is. Inbound marketing is a business approach that attracts and wins customers by giving them valuable content and experiences online that are tailored for their specific needs challenges and goals.
Outbound marketing and advertising, which is the opposite of inbound, interrupting people by serving up ads that stop them from doing the things they were trying to do with the hope that the ad will offer something even more valuable. Of course, usually, it doesn’t even with predictive software and retargeting. Inbound marketing creates a connection with people around what they are looking for and it solves the problem that they are trying to solve.
Inbound marketing puts you in the position of aligning with your buyer on their problem first and offering a solution.
The place to start with an inbound consultant
The heart of inbound marketing is the ability to speak to buyers about the challenges and goals that they have. It always begins by understanding the buyer. An effective consultant for inbound marketing will always start with this focus.
The traditional way of understanding buyers has always revolved around the use of a persona. The persona is a fictional character that you create based on your research, demographics, and personal preferences. The persona represents the different user types that you may encounter as you provide value for them online.
The challenge with personas is that they focus on personal characteristics rather than decision-making. For example, just because someone loves to read a specific magazine or participate in a hobby that you’ve identified, doesn’t give you much to work with when it comes to helping them find you and trust you online. Delivering value to your online visitors requires you to understand the challenges and problems that they are facing. That goes far beyond what a persona can offer.
One clue that your inbound consultant might be slightly out of date is a focus on personas instead of decision drivers. Decision drivers identify the specific issues that are causing a person to search for solutions online - what brings them to your website.
It's the job of your inbound consultant to help you to define what is moving the buyer forward and what can be holding them back. That should include both marketing and sales insights. This should result in a documented buyer journey that details the step-by-step decision process that your buyers go through beginning with their first encounter, followed by their consideration of the options, and finally in a decision. Your inbound strategy has to address all three phases.
How Inbound Consultants help create value online
Since the focus of inbound marketing is to meet the buyer where they are to help them make a great decision, the development of online content is the key way that a website provides that value. That content can take the form of articles, videos, infographics, or both long- and short-form pages.
Here's a big mistake that a lot of people make when they think about inbound marketing: just because you're delivering content as the primary value does not mean it's going to be free or cheap. If you've ever spent time developing content you know the amount of work that goes into crafting value. With today's highly networked consumer, the competition for quality content is very high. Your buyers have been conditioned to expect best-of-Internet content when they visit your website.
That's what your consultant for inbound marketing should be recommending. If they suggest that that's going to be free, cheap, or easy, they are misleading you.
Content creation should form a second core activity in which your inbound consultant is involved. They should be experts at the process and the qualities that make best-of-Internet content. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a tertiary skill because quality content will drive traffic. A good content strategy will address many of the concerns that SEO might raise, and great content should always precede SEO.
Where to find an inbound consultant
Since HubSpot is the one that invented the term inbound, it is a great place to find the kind of consulting that you need for growth. HubSpot operates a partner ecosystem, that has certified, trained, and experienced consultants. As an example, below is Story Collaborative's partner profile in the HubSpot ecosystem.
HubSpot partners understand a lot more than just how to use a particular kind of software. They understand how to execute this value-building relationship with your online visitors. They are inbound experts.
What kind of help can you expect from an inbound consultant?
- When you bring in an inbound marketing consultant from the outside, they have the ability to view your company as an outsider. They should be able to quickly identify specific areas where there are great opportunities for growth. They should be offering some quick wins, but you should also expect some of the inbound process to take time to create results. It takes time because when new content is posted it has to be indexed by Google and visited by customers, then the value of that content is measured by Google's algorithm based on the way the visitor interacts. It might take 3 to 6 months for a body of content to begin having a positive impact. However when it begins to rank, you'll reap those benefits for a long period of time. That's unlike what happens when you run digital ads which expire as soon as you stop paying.
- Your inbound consultant should also provide ongoing support related to the strategy you're using for your campaigns. This should include the kind of assets that you'll need, how to boost and amplify your content, ways you can distribute that content, and the tracking that will tell you how well it's performing.
- One of the significant ways that inbound consultants help is through their ability to analyze how your inbound marketing is performing. Knowing the right KPIs to review and where the next growth opportunity is found is part of what makes them the most valuable.
- You should expect your inbound consultant to help you save money, provided implementation, and to speed up the impact of your inbound efforts. The role of the inbound consultant is to help you avoid costly pitfalls and to fill in the gaps that will cost you new customers. Your inbound consultant should be helping you to avoid some of these pitfalls:
- Lack of visibility online
- Poor visitor flow with bloated navigation
- Using a Brochure website
- Failure to capture leads through blogs and pages
- Failure to follow up effectively once a lead has been identified
- Manual marketing efforts that can easily be automated
- A disconnect between marketing technology and sales interactions
- Cobbling together software instead of using SaaS products that save time and money
- Working on SEO before working on quality content
How should your inbound consultant spend their time?
The development of inbound marketing requires the coordination of a number of different specific skill sets. It always involves written content, graphic design, web development, technical implementation, and strategy. A good consultant is going to coordinate and collaborate with the talent you have in-house and supplement that with talent that comes from outside. A big part of their job is helping you to maximize the impact of the strategy.
They should be involved in these specific elements:
- Coordination and strategy for content, campaigns, and lead-to-customer flows
- Project management
- Copywriting, editing, or supervising content creation
- Updating content, navigation, and response mechanism on the website
- Reporting to you about the outcomes.
- Using data to improve the user experience
- Collecting feedback about lead quality and adjusting the marketing approach
Probably the most important thing your inbound consultant will do is to build the capacity of your team to understand and implement a value-first approach. That is, delivering to buyers what they need at each phase of their journey. We suggest that one key outcome of your inbound consulting relationship is to bring in-house those activities that are a good fit for your business while shifting areas that you don’t want to execute to the consultant’s team.