A central tenet of inbound is putting the customer experience first. For years, this meant no advertising.
Apart from being annoying and intrusive, the tools available to a marketer to reach their target audience were extremely limited. As a result, audiences were broad, targeting was poor, and marketers were left creating eye-popping banner ads, hoping they hijacked the attention of their intended audience.
Things have changed.
Today, there is more information available to your customers than there ever has been. It seems like just about everyone has adopted the fundamentals of inbound marketing. We’re all creating blogs, emails, and social content to inform prospects about what we’re selling. Ads have become essential in cutting through the noise of a crowded information marketplace.
Along with this shift toward information abundance, we’ve seen advertising tools improve dramatically, becoming targeted, educational, often humorous, and (dare I say it?) even helpful. Well-done advertising today has fewer of the qualities associated with aggressive outbound marketing, and more of the helpful qualities of inbound marketing.
So, where do you start? With such conflicting narratives, varying best practices, and different platforms to juggle, it can be difficult to know up from down when it comes to advertising.
Over the next few weeks, I will be partnering with external contributors and subject matter experts to share our thoughts on advertising with you! Join us in this thread to receive biweekly updates, discuss the content of the series, and share your favorite tips, tricks, and resources. Telling the story of digital advertising is going to be all about teamwork.
So let’s get started! Sound off below and tell me how your company is currently using advertising.
What are the burning questions about digital advertising?
Happy New Year to all of you Gregorian calendar fans!
Here's my article tackling Ads and Funnels in a Flywheel World. It will likely be the last article tackling inbound theory for a bit (unless there's any burning questions that remain — just let me know!).
From now until March we tackle the practical side of ads — how-tos, tips, and trick oh my! Stay tuned 🙂
I have been a HubSpot and inbound believer for quite some time. I am working with a company at the moment that is small, about 20 employees, and they're in a B2C environment.
They don't have much budget for advertising, but what they do have they put towards offline ads.
What advice do you have in regards to migrating their mindset into the 21st century, specifically how should I be working with them to make them see the light that Ads are Inbound-y, and how can I utilize Ads in their portal?
Thank you for your patience! This is a really great question.
My advice would be to start with what you know. And by that, I mean, start by reviewing the data. What is the current return on investment of your offline advertising strategy? This can be an important first step because it gives you a starting point, a benchmark to measure progress against. On this flipside, if you can't directly measure your return (it can vary depending on what medium you're using for your offline advertising), this gives you another talking point to address with decision makers.
In terms of addressing the need to go digital, this, like all good inbound discussions, needs to center on your buyer persona. Where are they looking for information when they have a goal? Or when they face a roadblock? Chances are, they are turning to the internet. Your marketing efforts should always aim to meet the buyer where they are.
That's not to say you should up and quit traditional advertising immediately. That could be an uphill battle and I've rarely seen small to medium businesses make that transition well without the right amount of preparation. Work on a plan to slowly work online advertising into your campaigns. This initial split (maybe start 80/20 and work from there) between offline and digital can help ease the transition and give your online ads enough time to really start to perform.
As you do this, make sure you are using your buyer persona to start to develop a sense of which platforms you should start with. One of the major characteristics of traditional advertising is that it casts the widest net possible in the hopes of getting a small amount of interest. But, you don't want to use the same tactic when it comes to your online advertising. At best, you'll get low conversion rates. At worst, platforms like Facebook will start to penalize you.
When starting out, start with the platform(s) you know your buyers are on (if you don't know, make an educated guess), rather than trying to advertise on all of them at once.
Inbound today is about being in the right place at the right— when your prospect needs you the most. It's about anticipating their questions before they need to ask. Online advertising can meet them where they love to consume content while the targeting capabilities of platforms like Facebook or Google can help ensure you're reaching the most relevant potential prospects.
The change in mindset won't necessarily happen overnight for the decision makers at your company. Be patient. Even HubSpot decision makes took some time 🙂 . Your inbound ads start to speak louder than words.