Ah, September. The season of back-to-school sales, fall TV lineup previews, and fighting over whether it’s too early/warm to eat and drink pumpkin-flavored treats.
For a lot of companies, September also signals the end of Q3. Which signals the beginning of Q4. Which signals OH MY GOD WE DON’T HAVE A MARKETING PLAN FOR NEXT YEAR YET.
If you’ve been working with a digital or inbound marketing agency in 2018 and plan to continue that partnership in the new year, or if you’ve finally managed to set aside the budget to hire an agency to help out (your staff thanks you, trust me) here are a few things you should look for your agency to do and/or begin planning for as you look to 2019.
Create content clusters and pillar pages
If your inbound marketing agency is just spitting out 500-word blog posts without any sort of plan for linking them together as content clusters, you could be missing out on some serious search engine optimization opportunities.
Search engines are much smarter than they used to be, and rather than just turning up the result with the most relevant keywords stuffed into it, they’re trying to understand the searcher’s intent. When I search “best tacos in NH” my intent is to find and eat tacos. I didn’t search “where can I find and eat awesome tacos within driving distance of my house” but Google figures that’s what I mean, and doesn’t only provide me with a blog post about the “best tacos in NH.” My results also include restaurant listings, ratings, and a map of locations.
This isn’t a perfect example, because there are technical SEO tactics at play here as well as content-based tactics, but the theory is the same. Search engines are looking for higher quality content (which yes, sometimes means longer content) with relevant links to give searchers what they intended to find, instead of repeating back exactly what they searched for.
By creating a network of internal links—content clusters—that center around high-value pieces of content—pillar pages—you can show search engines that you are the best resource for your audience, and therefore move up in search result rankings. Your inbound marketing agency should know this, and should be helping you create a content plan based on it for the upcoming month, quarter, or year.
Figure out your flywheel
For those of you who weren’t either at INBOUND this year or religiously following the updates on HubSpot’s blog, we have some news: The marketing/sales funnel has retired. As we understand it he plans to move to a nice condo in Florida and take up shuffleboard.
In place of the traditional funnel model, CEO of HubSpot Brian Halligan recommends implementing a flywheel. For details on what that is and why Halligan’s so excited about it, click here. For the TL;DR version, read on.
Essentially, the flywheel takes the linear approach of the funnel—which focuses on one-way conversions—and wraps it around the most important asset to your business: your customers. In a flywheel, the customers aren’t just the end result of marketing and sales. They are your best tool for attracting new prospects, who will become new customers, who attract new prospects…you get the picture.
So why do we care that HubSpot’s reinventing the wheel (get it?) when the funnel has worked for you all this time? Well, the way people research and buy online is changing and inbound marketing is all about meeting your prospects where they are and providing value. A 2015 Nielsen study showed that the most trusted source of advertising was not, in fact, marketing or advertising, but people. And this trend has not slowed in the last few years. Your prospects trust people they know more than they trust you.
You know who else they trust more than you? Your customers. See, we’ve come full circle here (okay, I’m done with the wheel puns, I swear).
Your inbound marketing agency should help you stay ahead of trends in marketing that keep you in-line with what your audience wants and expects. The flywheel is one of those trends, and while it does have implications beyond just marketing plans, your agency should be able to help you define what your flywheel is and adjust your models to fit the new reality of lead generation.
Implement chat and other innovative conversion opportunities
While your agency is helping you define your flywheel and update your content plan, they should also be looking for new, innovative ways to generate leads.
Those changes in consumer trust we were just talking about aren’t just affecting purchasing trends. They’re affecting conversions as a whole, as well. Fewer people are willing to offer up their information for a content offer unless it is very valuable to them. You and your inbound marketing agency, need to be a little more creative when it comes to awareness- and consideration-stage conversion points.
Implementing a chat tool is one action you can take to address both prospects’ lack of interest in talking to a salesperson and your need to delight current customers to ensure a smoothly turning flywheel. Even if you don’t have the bandwidth to staff a 24/7 chat line, customizable bot tools have gotten significantly better in recent years and can fill the gap in a lot of cases—providing just enough information for basic questions from both prospects and customers and passing the conversation on to your team when necessary.
Consider asking your inbound marketing agency to research and recommend a chat tool, as well as any other creative ideas they may have for converting leads.
In need of some creative ideas?
You knew this was coming, so if you didn’t like what you just read you can continue your internet journey elsewhere now. If you did like what you read, give us a chance to provide you with some custom digital marketing suggestions for free. No strings attached. You can take our suggestions and ride off into the sunset with them if you like. We’re not crying! There’s just something in our eyes.