Building an Inbound Marketing strategy in 2023 with Sarah McConnell

Our VP of Demand Gen, Sarah McConnell, breaks down her framework for building a strong Inbound Marketing strategy in 2023.

Building an Inbound Marketing strategy in 2023 with Sarah McConnell
Shelly Weaver
Shelly Weaver
February 1, 2023
min read
Apple Podcast LinkGoogle Podcast LinkSpotify Podcast Link
Apple Podcast LinkGoogle Podcast LinkSpotify Podcast Link

Inbound Marketing attracts customers by tailoring your website content to provide the most value possible. Instead of focusing on getting your content in front of customers out in the wild like with Outbound Marketing, Inbound Marketing relies on capturing traffic that comes to your site with engaging and meaningful content that keeps you top of mind as an authority in your chosen market segment. 

Drawing in the right people at the right time is key to a successful Inbound Marketing strategy. Steal Sarah McConnell’s (VP of Demand Gen right here at Qualified) framework for building a successful Inbound Marketing strategy below ⏬

1. Define and refine your ICP

When a company is just starting out, it can be easy to get locked into an ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) because you have such a small sample size. While you should be taking whatever business you can get at first, as you grow and evolve your ICP, it’s important to revisit and refine who your buyers actually are. 

You can do this a few ways: 

  • Look at the titles of your champions within your buying cycles and link commonalities between them to build a more accurate target customer and inform your personas. 
  • Identify trends within your customers by tracking deal cycle velocity. Which personas move the fastest through your deals? Which ones struggle to close–these factors can identify whether someone is the right ICP or if it’s too much of a stretch to sell on their end. 
  • Think deeper within your broad targets for your ICP. “Fortune 500” or “US High Tech 5000” and other global mechanisms are helpful, but they also exclude other factors that you might want to consider. Applying more specific attributes can help highlight customers to target, IE: companies that just announced their Series-C funding. 

2. Practice good data hygiene

It doesn’t matter how spot-on your ICP is if you can’t fill in the gaps with your data. As buying committees get bigger, prioritizing data hygiene within your marketing and selling orgs can help you stay on top of the personas you really need to speak to. 

If you aren’t able to identify exactly who your buyers are, you miss out on the opportunity to deliver tailor-made messaging to them and run the risk of getting personalization wrong. You need to know who your buying committees are made up of and what roles they play in your deal cycles to craft better experiences for them.

Get clean data by doing the following: 

  • Clearly outline who is responsible for data hygiene. This position on your team needs to be able to commit to regularly auditing your data, scrubbing contacts, and managing data cleansing tools. 
  • Create best practice guidelines for your sales reps when working with buyers to fill in gaps in data and ensure the team knows exactly who they're interacting with.
  • Leverage tools to help you fill in the gaps in your data. We use Leadspace and custom flows in Salesforce. 

3. Rethink what personalization looks like

Personalization mattering to your buyer isn’t news to anyone at this point–it’s not only important but it’s also expected by your customers. Because your buyers are landing on your site and expecting a personalized experience, you have to think beyond what’s become table stakes and deliver a custom, memorable experience. 

At Qualified, we lean on our own product to generate custom experiences that speak to buyers right where they are in the buying journey. We monitor digital body language, website engagement, and intent data to engage buyers when we think they’re ready, and provide content we know they need.

The last thing you want is to do is rely on personalization that isn’t all that personal–dynamic fields and custom greetings have their place but they aren’t leaving a lasting impression on your buyers. Personalization is bigger than that–it’s about crafting content that meets your buyer where they are and gives them something tangible to take away that they can really use.

4. Create content just for your buyer

Creating content for the sake of creating content leaves you with generic materials that don’t speak to anyone directly. Instead, focus on creating edutaining content that speaks to specific personas you know your product serves. This requires deeply understanding your buyers and getting ahold of their pain points and struggles before you start pumping out content. 

Shift your mindset from creating content that sells to content that serves–your readers might not be in market at the time, but they’ll remember the brands that made an impact on their day-to-day work when they are in market. 

What does this look like? Check out our Original Content page here. We’ve created three different original podcasts that speak to three audiences no matter where they are in the buying cycle–we focus on interviews that provide actionable insights and valuable plays for marketing leaders, revops leaders, and Salesforce alumn because we know that’s who our product helps the most. 

5. Remove friction and ungate your content

When building your Inbound Marketing strategy, consider taking a mroe radical approach to your website and dropping gated content altogether. Buyers don’t have long attention spans or much time on their hands to give you, so your job is to remove as many hoops as possible to get them the content they need to continue down the sales funnel. 

The second you throw up a form in front of a book or make them fill out seventeen questions to book a demo, you’ve lost. 

If a buyer is interested in you enough to get them to your website, do them and yourself a favor and make it a frictionless buying experience. You’ll see the impact of ungating your website in your revenue and pipeline, the less friction, the faster the deal cycle. 

Read how to successfully ungate your website in our book UNGATE. 

6. Capture buyer traffic with conversational marketing

Don’t waste all that traffic you’re working so hard to get to your website on forms and generic bots–engage buyers proactively and in a more human-centric way with conversational marketing. 

Buyers expect direct communication from brands now, but they don’t have time for automated bots playing twenty questions. Focus your strategy instead on getting visitors in front of your salespeople as quickly as possible, with quick and efficient qualifying questions that make sure no one’s time is wasted. 

From there, your sales team’s job is to understand digital body language, buyer intent, and proactively reach out to buyers on your site to have meaningful, human interactions as soon as possible. 

Read more about using chatbots to scale your buyer experience in our book Bots Scale, Humans Sell. 

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