How Halligan & Shah Use Websites as Marketing Hubs
By Bob Ruffolo
Who better to write the book on Inbound Marketing than the team who coined the term in 2005?
Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, co-founders of HubSpot, teamed up to write Inbound Marketing: Attract, Engage, and Delight Customers Online.
HubSpot is widely considered the best resource for all things Inbound and I have to agree with that notion, so even though I happen to know a thing or two myself, I’ll always read any book that these two put out.
Once again, they didn’t disappoint with the revised version of their 2009 book.
Unlike most marketing books on bookshelves today, Inbound Marketing is actionable and backed by data. The authors aren’t business professors from an ivy league school that spend all of their time studying marketing instead of doing it.
Halligan and Shah are at the forefront of Inbound Marketing and they actually practice what they preach. This book is a must-read for anyone considering an Inbound approach for their business or anyone who wants a career in Inbound Marketing.
Inbound Marketing vs Traditional Outbound Marketing
Traditional outbound marketing techniques include:
- direct mail
- email blasts to rented or bought lists
- TV commercials
- radio ads
- print advertising
- trade shows
For decades, companies relied on these techniques to reach their potential buyers.
After years of this interruption style marketing, people have found more and more ways to avoid these marketing messages.
We throw away junk mail without looking at it, we keep our email spam filters on a short leash, and we use DVRs so we don’t have to sit through commercials. Instead of having companies beg for our attention, we’d rather find them when we’re ready to buy.
The way that we shop has changed dramatically, but there are still a lot of companies who haven’t changed the way they approach marketing.
Inbound Marketing is all about attracting your ideal customer, not seeking them out and shouting for their attention.
Search engines, blogs, and social media are the three primary forms of interaction that people are involved in when shopping.
Marketers need to match the way their prospects shop for products to have a greater chance of success.
Your Website is a Marketing Hub
Your goal isn’t to get people to visit your website one time and hopefully purchase. You want to create a collaborative hub that gives people a reason to stick around for a while and keep coming back.
The amount of traffic you get to your website will be determined by what people think of it.
Halligan and Shah stress the point that your web design isn’t near as important as your content. People are willing to forgive mediocre web design if your content is great, but the most beautiful websites won’t see any traffic if they publish low-quality content.
Making the transition from outbound marketing to inbound is all about “getting found” online by your customers -- that’s the goal.
You get found by having a unique value proposition and by creating remarkable content that your persona enjoys.
Help Your Persona Discover Your Brand
When you publish great content, you attract more links from other websites and you get more shares on social media. Remarkable content accomplishes the same goals that paid advertising does, with significantly less cost involved.
Experiment with different types of content, from blog articles, to white papers, videos to webinars, and podcasts to webcasts. Figure out what works for you, what your persona enjoys the most, and keep going with that medium.
It’s normal to feel like you should withhold information, either because you want to hide it from competitors or you want to save it for premium content. However, doing so will limit your content marketing success. It’s better to offer all of it upfront.
Your value to your persona won’t be measured by how much you sell, it’s measured by how much information you give away. Publish content regularly and frequently.
Publishing valuable content on your blog and other blogs establishes your company as a thought leader in your industry.
Rather than looking like a marketing brochure, a blog transforms your website into a living hub where you can engage and interact with your persona before they decide to become a customer. It starts the process of building a relationship and creates brand loyalty.
Make sure you own the domain for the platform you create content on. Encourage your persona to leave comments and subscribe to your blog posts by email.
Create content that they will look forward to reading and share links to other relevant articles that you know they’ll enjoy.
No time to read the full book?
No problem. In our full synopsis of Inbound Marketing, I'll dive into Halligan and Shah's advice on using your website as your marketing hub, how to introduce people to your brand, getting found on Google and social media, and more!
To view the full summary, click "keep reading" below.
Wondering where to begin?