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August 31, 2011

How to Crush the Competition With Inbound Marketing [#KillingIt]

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describe the imageThis is a guest blog post written David Kirkpatrick, B2B and consumer marketing beat reporter for MarketingSherpa. He is covering HubSpot's participation at Dreamforce '11 and offering insights on the various speakers and events.

I'm in San Francisco with 42,000+ attendees at Dreamforce '11 as a guest of HubSpot this week (thanks a million, guys!), and for some reason, I keep seeing unicorns everywhere. In fact, three are resting on the table in front of me right now as I type.

The first presentation I caught was HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan's "Killing It: How Inbound Marketing Can Help Your Company Crush the Competition." His opener? "The traditional marketing playbook is broken."

By that, he meant that you no longer need big money to be a successful marketer.

Brian said that at one point in time, you could buy your way to success with ads, lists, and more. Today, new marketing is about creativity and -- using a term Brian borrowed from Seth Godin -- "being remarkable."

The assets of new marketing are social assets such as Twitter followers and Facebook "Likes." The way to become successful is to increase those assets.

Top-of-the-Funnel Marketing

TOFU is Brian's term for top-of-the-funnel marketing activities, and TOFU can be broken down into three steps:

1. Create content. This includes blog posts, videos, and releasing presentation slide decks on SlideShare.

Brian pointed out that content can come from unexpected places. For example, at Dreamforce, HubSpot's event marketing team is using its free tool called Website Grader to provide competitive analyses of attendees' websites. Website Grader is actually a tiny snippet of HubSpot's paid software, and it's also part of HubSpot's content marketing.

"Each piece of content is a little mini magnet that draws people to you," Brian explained.

He added that inbound links are the currency of the internet.

2. Optimize content. SEO (search engine optimization) is of course important, but don't forget about SMO (social media optimization).

Brian offered two pieces of actionable advice: using great titles to drive social media sharing and adding "new blog post" and "please retweet" to Twitter posts to help drive viral tweets.

3. Promote content. Very simple actionable advice here: promote your original content across all social media platforms. Once that content is created, get the word out.

Middle-of-the-Funnel Marketing

As you might have guessed, this is middle-of-the-funnel activity. And as Brian put it, consumer marketers are MOFU geniuses. By that, he means B2C marketers do a great job of personalizing the online user experience, and he added that B2B marketers need to be more like consumer marketers in this regard.

He used Amazon and Netflix as examples of this personalization. For B2B marketers, the goal should be that the more often a visitor (or customer) comes to your website, the better their experience should become.

And increasing your total web users (and all that data that comes with them) should allow you to better refine the experience for each visitor. Essentially, your site should be collecting user data that allows you to continually optimize the overall user experience and personalize the visit for each individual visitor.

He presented a circular feedback loop to illustrate this point:

users > better personalization >

better value > better conversion >

back to users

Building a Killer Inbound Team

Don't hire by pedigree, particularly for those old marketing skills like experience in buying television ads, billboard ads, and even Google ads.

You want to hire people who are D.A.R.C.:

  • Digital - You want marketers who speak the digital language.
  • Analytical - There's a lot of data out there, and your marketers need to be able to make sense of that information.
  • Reach - Rolodexes are now for chumps. Social media reach is what's important.
  • Content - Hire stellar content creators.

Along with hiring content creators as marketers, allow your entire organization -- sales, IT, support, etc. -- to contribute to the company blog and be active in social networks.

Crushing the Competition

There are metrics to look at with new marketing:

For TOFU marketing activities, these metrics include number of web visitors and web traffic rank, number of Twitter followers, number of pages on your site, number of domains linking to your site, blog statistics, etc.

MOFU metrics include turning visitors into leads, conversion percentages, and the overall shape of your sales funnel. (Hint: trending up is good.)

Brian concluded his presentation by emphasizing that inbound marketing, social media reach, and incoming links help create a "moat" around your brand that makes you difficult to compete with. A killing inbound marketing strategy is a great way to create competitive advantage.

What do you think is needed to crush your competition?

Image credit: photosteve101

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Topics: Content Marketing

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