The question of whether government buyers use inbound marketing content in their buying process has been settled. Market Connections 2015 Federal Content Marketing Review answered that question by going to source and found that federal buyers are accessing webinars, whitepapers and other content in their buying process. So if you're a government contractor and you're not using inbound marketing to fill your pipeline, you should give it serious consideration.
Many government contractors find the process of establishing an inbound marketing strategy confusing. Most of the iinformation on establishing an inbound marketing strategy is focused on business to business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations. Let's face it, implementating Instagram and Pinterest marketing isn't going to move the needle with federal buyers. The good news is that there is a middle ground, and it starts with understanding that your B2G audience is also made up of consumers (i.e. - people!)
“Consumers, you say? That doesn’t sound right.” The thing is, though, that as long as you’re selling to a human being, that person also has everyday wants and needs. They may be speaking on behalf of a federal agency, but the very things that persuade all buyers also drive them. Here are 4 B2G inbound marketing essentials for government contractors.
1. A Customer Relations Management System (CRM)
Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM’s) are important because they help you track and analyze data, deliver consistent content to your audience, and organize and analyze the massive amounts of information you’ll be gathering and creating for your current and future customers.
We use the HubSpot CRM to manage our sales process - it's free and integrates nicely with HubSpot's marketing automation software. However, there are other choices out there such as Salesforce, Insightly, or Zoho. The fact of the matter is that, although we all have our preferences, it’s really up to you which one you choose. But the bottom line is that you need a CRM to manage a modern sales process. Not only will it make your life easier, a CRM is also essential to helping you determine what leads are converting into customers.
2. An Opt-In Email Newsletter
Something you may hear over and over again is that there is nothing more valuable than an opt-in community of e-newsletter subscribers. It’s true – a list of people who have voluntarily chosen to be a part of your community, who have invited you into the sacred space that is their inbox and who trust your expertise enough to (hopefully) open what you send is incredibly important. In fact, it may be the defining factor between success and, well, the opposite of success.
These are the people who are actually interested in what you have to say, and you need to treat them as VIP’s. How do you build this opt-in community? It starts with your website through calls to action, e-book downloads and other deliverables you can create as incentives for people to sign up to your mailing system. All of this is tracked through that handy dandy CRM we’ve talked so much about.
A graphical depiction of the inbound lead generation process
Image courtesy of HubSpot
3. Valuable Marketing Content
You may be hitting your hand on your forehead with the simplicity of this important tool, but it’s important to talk about. There's a reason they also call inbound marketing content marketing. Providing value in an area in which your expertise lies may seem so easy to you, but it can be gold to your audience. It’s a no brainer that you want to provide value, but it’s often hard to figure out what that actually means.
Make sure that you’re anticipating questions your B2B audience may have on certain subjects. How can you help them reach their goals more efficiently? How does your organization differ from your competitors? What kind of questions are your sales representatives getting on the phone or in person? These are all very useful pieces of information to take into consideration when you’re creating content. This is the bread and butter of your inbound marketing, and it’s what going to help you eventually turn your leads into paying customers.
4. SMART Calls-to-Action
Calls-to-Action (CTAs) play a big role in prompting your audience to become opt-in readers and helps keep them coming back. If you refer to the graphic of the lead generation process shown above, you will note that the CTA is the element that starts the lead conversion process.
The Hubspot marketing automation software has a resource called a smart Call-to-Action, which is particularly useful if your company has multiple target audiences. It populates a specific CTA according to the viewers demographic, so no set of viewers will see the same CTA. This is wonderful, but even if you don’t use Hubspot you can definitely be smart about your CTA’s.
There are few things to consider when it comes to CTA’s that work. Of course, you’ll need them to be aesthetically pleasing; they should be interesting to the eye and their function should be very clear. If you’re offering a free e-book download, for example, clearly state what it’s about and what the viewer will be receiving. What happens when the viewer clicks on the CTA? Will they be directed to a separate landing page, or will they receive an e-mail? Whatever the next destination is, make sure it's consistent with your call-to-action.
Think about where you’ve placed these calls to action. Some experts say that it’s important for a CTA to be above the fold of a website, and others strongly oppose this opinion. What you do need to know is that they should be brief an action-oriented.
Goverment contractors have a long horizon in which future opportunities develop. A good inbound marketing effort will get you on the radar screen of buyers looking out 18-24 months and complement your other marketing efforts nicely. Want to learn how you can use inbound marketing in your revenue generation process? Schedule a free consultation with us.