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  • Writer's pictureDali Ma

Marketing in 2020: The Inbound, the Outbound, the Results-Driven

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Gone are the days when marketing was justifiably considered a cost or write-off, in the format of spray and pray. In this day and age, marketing should be just as, if not more, results-driven as sales. Improved marketing technology has contributed to the transparency and effectiveness of results-driven marketing. In this blog, we'll be talking about a few key elements you, your marketing team, and your marketing agency should be focusing on to improve the effectiveness and results of your marketing efforts.

Data is key to successful results-driven campaigns

To a lot of people, marketing has always been mysterious and unpredictable, in other words, high-ups do not believe marketing works. And if it does work, what kind of results should be expected from marketing?

With AB testing, heatmaps, Google Analytics and other data-driven platforms playing major roles nowadays, I can say with full confidence that not only marketing should be accountable for results, moreover, results and data should be the major factors that guide and evaluate your marketing campaigns and strategies.

2020 (and beyond) is about taking the mystery out of marketing. No longer should your marketing team be acting upon common sense, or merely hoping for the best.

You should have KPIs in every step of your marketing funnel

In every step of your marketing funnel, from demand/lead generation, to lead nurturing, and sales enablement, there should be data monitoring all your marketing efforts and activities in these steps, to give you enough information to filter out bad or even mediocre behavior or campaigns. A/B testing is a focused effort to select a winning strategy based on data, and also a good example of why and how to have data in every step, also known as data driven decision making.

Have data in every step also helps with your buyer persona development, and consequently help you build much more focused, efficient and effective campaigns. Each buyer persona should and will have their own defined behavior, discovered by campaign launching, testing, filtering, rinse and repeat. Over time we'll find demand generation campaigns D1 work for Persona P1 perfectly, and D2 for P2; nurturing campaign N1 work for P1, and N2 for P2; closing campaign C1 for P1, and C2 for P2. Therefore it's easy to see that a perfect campaign structure for us will be:

P1: D1+N1+C1

P2: D2+N2+C2

An overly simplified structure for illustration purposes, but this is just a start, the immediate next step would be (taking the Persona 1 branch for example)

P1a: D1a+N1a+C1a

P1b: D1b+N1b+C1b

P1c: D1a+N1b+C1a


You get the idea. This is an extremely simplified mathematical model, and in reality, one will need a lot of creative and analytical skills to get able to have on-going testings. Why on-going? Culture, technology and social environment are changing, and so should your marketing campaigns.

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Personalization Based On Buyer Persona

In 2020, if you are still calling your email blast your email strategy (or vice versa), something's not right. And yet, some companies are still utilizing email blasts as their main digital marketing strategy, and hoping that someday someone from the right department in the right company will open the email and click on the CTA - although it wasn’t specifically meant for him/her in the first place.

A lot of people think, that if instead of saying "hello there", they begin their emails with "hello (name)", they've mastered email marketing, but in reality, it's just like one thinks he's got his driver's test handled when they know what a steering wheel is. It's definitely necessary, but who else doesn't know it?

Personalization should be about creating customized buyer's journey and buyer's experience through Buyer Persona segmentation, personal-specific campaigns, contextual marketing.

Personalizing your marketing campaigns

Your campaigns should be based on what your customers are looking for, who do they trust as influencers, where do they typically go for information. There will be a lot of hypothesis in the beginning, but over time, with more and more data gathered, campaigns should be more customized and focus on each group (buyer persona)'s typical behavior.

Certain people don't like to be taught things, they like to discover on their own; others like to be shown how your products/services work; some prefer to see first-party videos, others may like influencer reviews, etc.

Your email marketing and content marketing should be centred around each buyer persona, delivering at the right time, on the right platform, the right content that will move the buyers down your marketing funnel.

There are tools like Sparktoro to help you understand buyer's interests and online activities.

SEO-driven Content

“According to recent research, 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, and 75% of users never scroll to page 2.” (Neil Patel)

Everybody wants to be on the first page of google. There are close to 20 million companies in the US, and only 10 spots on Google's home page. You can imagine the competition in SEO. Many people know SEO as keywords, but it's much more than that. There are two sides of SEO - on-page SEO and performance SEO.

There’s no reason why your on-page SEO shouldn’t be on point. On-page SEO includes things like page titles, duplicate pages, meta-tags, etc., all of which should be taken care of at the time your site was built, and if not, shortly after.

On-page SEO usually requires more technical skills than strategy. The other side of the equation, however, takes more strategy, including keyword strategy, content strategy, pillar content strategy, etc. With the many updates Google has made, keyword stuffing no longer works.

Google's recent updates have been focusing on how people search, and what answers their queries best. Google is, after all, a search engine COMPANY, that relies on providing great experiences to acquire and retain users.

Performance SEO is typically implemented in a few ways

Keywords and Keyword Research

Many people are familiar with the concept of keyword research. You search for words and phrases that you want to rank for in one or more keyword tools, and then find out the volume, and your ranking. Some tools, like Moz or SEMrush, gives your more information like difficulty (how difficult it is to rank for a certain keyword) and click through rate (once your appear in the search result for this keyword, how likely are people to actually click on it, which is the goal). Some tools, like Ubersuggest also give you the keywords your competitors are ranking for, which not only helps you with competitive advantage analytics

, but also gives you more ideas which lead to more areas you can adventure into.

Internal, Inbound and Outbound Links

Internal links are the easiest to build, as easy as outbound links, simply because you have you have full and complete control over your site (if not, something isn't right). These links tell Google how your site is structured, how your information architecture guides your audience. A well linked website tells Google that visitors may get a lot of useful information from your site, furthermore, it decreases your bounce rate, which is another good signal to Google.

Inbound links are the most difficult to build. To be more specific, quality inbound links are the most difficult to build. Sure, you can build hundreds of websites and have links on them pointing to you. But in Google's eyes, these links are more spammy than useful. You want quality websites to link back to you, especially relevant websites. Much like in real life, quality links are like celebrity endorsements, the more famous and reputable the celebrity is, the higher quality the link is.

Pillar Content

Pillar content goes together with your internal linking strategy, you wanna make sure your are building a few key focal points/pages, supported by other pages and/or materials on your site.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a huge topic, which deserves a blog by itself, and I will write one in the near future.

Content marketing typically takes the form of blogs, ebooks, white paper, etc.. Usually the very top of the (marketing) funnel content strategy focuses on blogging, which can be, and should be, produced frequently, with the right and targeted SEO strategy.

Content marketing also helps address queries, questions, which is the most popular form of search on Google. Over the past several updates, Google is moving away from the repetition of keywords on webpages to favoring pages and websites that directly answer the questions or queries well.

Content Marketing Done Right

Sales Enablement

Sales Enablement is a bottom of the funnel activity. Many companies handle marketing leads by handing them over to sales right after they have been generated. Since leads came in different ways, some through a white paper download, some through a quote request, they are on very different stages of their (buyer's) lifecycle. Therefore handling them exactly the same way may not be the most effective or optimized way.

Sales Enablement includes:

  1. Strategy development

  2. Sales materials and assets creation

  3. Systems and support (including marketing automation platforms and CMS)

  4. Sales training

  5. Performance analysis

  6. Cross-selling opportunity discovery

  7. New channels integration

  8. Sales team coaching (marketing and nurturing methodology)

  9. Sales staff on-boarding

Many years ago, HubSpot defined the buyer’s journey with a unique funnel analogy as “Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.” Even back then, the funnel didn’t end until a transaction happened, and in many cases until a promoter was born.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound Marketing is a proven way of generating marketing results. The difficulty is that most of it cannot be properly tracked, so you can only have a very high-level idea of your Marketing ROI (Return On Investment). With new marketing technology and platforms, Outbound marketing has evolved as well. Trade shows now have lead tracking systems, which gather leads for you to put through your marketing funnel; PR releases are mostly online now and some of the platforms provide transparency in their reaches and conversions. PPC (Pay Per Click) is also a more and more important marketing channel now, especially for eCommerce companies.

Outbound Marketing also helps your inbound/digital marketing efforts, in that it gives people repeat, endorsed impressions of your company, so more people are likely to search you on Google, and when they see you being referenced elsewhere, they are more likely to clickthrough, etc., these are all factors contributing to your inbound/digital marketing growth.

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