How we increased revenue from inbound marketing by 30%

Data’s great. You can’t argue with data, and in marketing you get lots of it – web traffic, click-through rates, leads…it’s all trackable and measurable. But how do you tie it all together to benefit your business? Rewind to nine months ago. We started working with an IT cloud provider on their inbound marketing strategy. They were an early adopter of true inbound marketing and were starting to get results, but wanted to achieve more, and knew that if they got it really right, it could transform their business. Fast forward to now and the data does the job of showing how their business is growing:

  • 41% of marketing-qualified leads became sales-qualified ones
  • That led to 60 new customers
  • Creating a 30% growth in revenue from inbound

In this blog we outline some of the simple (yet vital) inbound marketing steps we took to harness our client’s data to accelerate their pipeline growth. 

Before we start…we’d best define inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a method of marketing that involves creating content specifically designed to appeal to your ideal customers depending on their needs at the different stages of their buying journey. It draws on the customer trend of researching extensively online before deciding to buy – something that’s particularly common in B2B where the order values tend to be high and often involve long, research-based sales cycles. That content could be a blog, eBook, email, video, podcast, infographic, social media post, website or one of many other evolving formats. The idea is that it will catch audiences’ attention by being useful to them in a way that’s related to what your business does, allowing you to gradually nurture them through the B2B marketing funnel, from initial brand awareness to the first sale. As it’s all online, it’s all measurable so marketers get plenty of metrics to work out what is and isn’t working.

Revisiting who your audience is

Understanding your audience and what they want is at the core of inbound marketing. We call them ‘buyer personas’ and they are semi-fictional representations of who your ideal customer is, based on a mix of data, field and desk research, and experience.
With this particular campaign, our client had already worked on this but wanted to revisit the personas and develop them further. Getting this right required us to challenge what was already assumed about persona behaviour based on the data generated by existing campaigns.  We deconstructed the buyers and built them back up better and stronger…like the $6million dollar man.

Matching up the content and the persona

Rebuilding the personas allowed us to get some quick wins in re-designing some existing content to connect better with prospects.   It’s important to review assets in this way.  It improves the ROI on any content library you have. The blogs, eGuide, email, and social media posts were all tagged with a buyer persona type via HubSpot’s inbound marketing software, meaning that when the online metrics were coming through we knew what kind of content was resonating with which persona and what could be improved. Similarly, we also planned future content ideas around the particular needs of each of the three personas, each time asking: how does this piece of content help our persona?  What is the sales action we want them to make based on this content?

Simplifying the automation process

Once the content was done, we looked at the critical issue of content workflows (a series of actions that can be triggered by a person’s online behaviour or contact information) and lead scoring. Simply put, the existing set-up was too complex.  There is a risk when creating multiple personas and options or conditions in a prospect journey that you end-up with spaghetti.  This can make a mess of your data and stop people consuming content.  Most of the time, less is more. The data insight from matching up content and persona meant we could tell something about the leads that were coming through. They weren’t just ‘leads’, they were one of our three buyer personas – people who we knew something about. Through HubSpot we also assigned ‘points’ to different actions. For example, if somebody read a blog or clicked a link in an email that might be worth five points, but filling in an online form to download a detailed eGuide about our client’s industry might be worth 10 points.

Strategically nurturing leads with workflows

Applying a scoring system to the leads meant we could measure how high the interest level was of those who were engaging with the content – were they a lead, marketing-qualified lead, or a sales-qualified one? This approach meant it was easy to spot the hot leads and feed them into the lead gen/CRM system that the business used across its marketing operations. At the same time it meant that we could tell which leads weren’t ready to speak to sales yet, and instead needed to find out more about our client’s industry and product. For these leads we set up different workflows (a series of actions that can be triggered by a person’s online behaviour or contact information) of nurturing emails, depending on what they’d already showed interest in. For example, if a person had read a blog on a particular topic, then the next email we sent them would have a call-to-action to download an eGuide that expanded on the blog’s themes. The next email continued this progression by giving more detail on the topic and nurturing them through the B2B marketing funnel. So the workflow emails were mirroring, and answering, the buyer persona’s needs at each stage from awareness to consideration to decision (as shown in the diagram earlier).

What does inbound success look like?

Here’s the thing about the inbound method: every step is connected. Not just from a data point of view with everything being trackable, but from a strategic point of view too. Every step has the same goal: to increase revenue from inbound activity. Plus the same strategy for achieving it: by listening and reacting to what the audience wanted. It meant there was no conflict between the ends and the means to achieve it. That, coupled with the fully-integrated digital parts of the campaign, meant the data was always going to be good, and reveal a highly-targeted approach at each stage of the marketing funnel:

  • Awareness: 23.5% of visitors becoming known prospects (in this case, people filling in a form once they arrive on a landing page)
  • Consideration: 10.8% of those leads being marketing –qualified leads (those engaging with content more closely-aligned to the product)
  • Decision: 41% of those leads becoming sales-qualified leads (ie. their actions suggest they’re close to making a buying decision and are ready to speak to someone from the sales team)

And what of those leads? 60 became customers, creating a 30% increase in revenue from inbound. That’s data that you can’t argue with. Those numbers show it’s worth investing the time in an integrated approach – your content becomes more relevant to your audience, your data becomes more meaningful, your sales leads become more qualified, and, ultimately, your revenue becomes larger.