by Marcus Ledbetter
Published on 24 June 2016
In its seventh annual " State of Inbound" report, HubSpot, the arguable leader in the marketing approach shift from outbound to "inbound marketing," found that 84 percent of small businesses are predominantly using inbound marketing.
These SMB marketers are focused on nurturing their prospects into customers, increasing the overall number of leads they generate, and improving the efficiency of their sales funnel.
While the value of inbound marketing practices has become well documented, shifting to and implementing an inbound approach can be too much to do in-house. An organization's staff may not have the core skills necessary to execute inbound marketing the right way. Successful inbound marketing requires disciplines like website and landing page design and development, regular content creation, social media distribution and engagement, and email marketing.
Producing volumes of quality content is imperative as well. Lots of companies simply do not have the staff available to produce the volume of quality, well-thought, well-researched, well-written content necessary to keep prospects and customers interested. It's difficult to find these skills in an in-house marketing team, and shifting around job expectations can distract an existing team from their core responsibilities.
In these cases, an external agency can manage an organization's marketing program, so teams can maintain focus on their core work. Inbound agencies have become easy to find. Marketing and advertising agencies have shifted their offerings to inbound marketing, citing the more genuine, and less intrusive appeal to consumers. The marketing shift has even made its way to Indonesia, too, with the country's first inbound marketing agency.
Many of the top inbound marketing agencies use Hubspot's inbound marketing suite to manage their client's marketing activities. The all-in-one platform increases traffic, grows contacts, and helps develop and deliver marketing content. Core to their platform is a customer relationship management (CRM) software that details every touchpoint between an organization and its contacts. There's a strong correlation between running a solid CRM solution and overall organizational success. Unsuccessful sales teams are 2x more likely to use Excel, Outlook or physical files to store lead and customer data.
But not all agency clients need an extensive CRM solution. For some smaller clients a full-blown CRM solution may not only be overkill, but too complicated. In fact, a smaller, more simplified but scalable CRM can work better for small businesses.
Pair a small business CRM with a marketing automation solution, a social media management tool like Hootsuite, and a web analytics suite like Moz, and you've got much of CRM core functionality covered. Small businesses can use WordPress.org and a landing page solution like Leadpages to manage their forward-facing look. These systems are simple to learn and use.
They're much more affordable, as well. A properly configured small business CRM can cost one-tenth the price of more small-to-medium enterprise solutions.
In fact, we used Hubspot at our agency, ITD Interactive, and we learned that, being a WordPress user, we weren't taking advantage of a lot of Hubspot features - but we were sure paying for them. As much as we loved the CRM, we decided to take the time to find alternatives that would cost much less, while offering the same results. Now, we use Hatchbuck, a small business CRM, for marketing automation.
Partnering with a lower-cost CRM means that agencies like ours can provide small businesses with affordable marketing solutions-providing smaller clients competitively priced service offerings so agencies can add value and maintain high profit margins.
About the author:
Marcus Ledbetter has been in the Web Design and Internet Marketing field for over 15 years, and founded ITD Interactive in the spring of 2010 in partnership with ITdecisions of Johnson City, TN. Marcus specialized in web marketing and communication strategies to help ITD Interactive's clients grow their businesses through their websites.