What does Mary Berry know about inbound marketing? More than you might think...
The Great British Bake Off is over for another year, and in between drooling over cake and guffawing at double entendres, we’ve been thinking about the very serious, heartfelt lessons it can teach us inbound marketers. Here are five of our favourites…
1. If you don’t know what you want, you can’t tell if you’re doing it right
It’s week seven of the Bake Off and the bakers are tasked with creating twelve kouign-amanns for their technical challenge. The only difficulty? Not a single contestant has heard of, seen or eaten one of these Breton pastries before. Cue a tent full of very confused cooks with a pile of ingredients, a list of instructions, and no idea what the end result is supposed to look or taste like.
Without clear objectives, it’s very difficult to tell if your marketing activity is delivering results. Does this situation sound familiar? Lots of marketers we talk to have a really good sense of where they should be investing their efforts - social media, content marketing, email workflows - but don’t always have a clear picture of how their activity will contribute to overall business objectives.
Understanding what results you want to see from your marketing activity and developing clear, concise objectives is the first step towards delivering marketing ROI. Once you know where you are going, it is much easier to work out how to get there, and make sure you are on the right track.
2. Only having half the instructions makes life very difficult
Even when contestants do have an idea of what they are supposed to be making, the technical challenge is far from easy. Bakers are given a list of ingredients, and the most basic of instructions, with key details such as baking time, exact measurements for ingredients, and extra details such as whether dough needs to be proved, kindly omitted. This makes otherwise straightforward bakes incredibly tricky, as contestants have to take an educated guess on what to do at each stage.
We see this all the time in the world of inbound marketing; businesses have the right technology - a marketing automation platform, such as Hubspot or Eloqua - and they know what they want to achieve: more leads for the sales team. However, there is essential information in between those stages that is missing, preventing them from driving results. Knowing which ingredients to use when - deciding whether an email workflow should come before a sales call, or which calls to action work on which landing pages, for example - can leave marketers with an end result that is far from what they had expected.
The secret to oven-ready leads is to make sure you have a tried and tested recipe to work from. Compare headlines and calls to action, A/B test imagery and form fields, work out what is successful, and dispose of anything that isn’t, in order to create your own killer formula for inbound marketing, with clear steps for how to use your marketing automation software at each stage in your buying journey.
3. Looks are just as important as taste
It’s not just about taste when it comes to winning Star Baker - presentation is just as important in the Bake Off tent. You can have the best flavour combinations, the silkiest ganache, the flakiest pastry, but if your showstopper looks more like something from Ramsey’s Kitchen NIghtmares, Paul and Mary won’t be impressed.
Your inbound content should look inviting and delicious to your audience, pulling them into your website and driving them to engage. Ensuring you are delivering the right content, in the right format, on the right channel is key to this - your audience on Twitter has different needs and desires to your email subscribers, so don’t just hit them with the same content.
Understanding what works with your audience and feeding that into a strategic content plan is the best method of creating content that resonates. Embrace the power of rich media - visual content such as infographics and animations are hugely popular on social - and don’t be afraid to tweak your content to suit each channel.
4. Nobody likes a soggy bottom
The recurring nightmare of the Great British Baker - Paul Hollywood inspects your pie, lets out a deathly sigh, glares stonily at you with those big blue eyes and softly declares… “soggy bottom”. You’ve let yourself down, you’ve let your family down, you’ve let your country down.
When it comes to inbound marketing, the disappointment of a soggy bottom is not unlike that of the leaky funnel. You’ve spent hours creating content, setting up landing pages and creating workflows only to find - shock, horror - that leads are leaking out of your funnel faster than you can say Mary Berry.
Getting traffic to your website is great, but unless that traffic is converting into sales, you aren’t getting any ROI. The good news is, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your funnel, the most important of which is ensuring your sales and marketing teams are aligned and working closely together. Get them to agree on who you are targeting, how leads will be delivered and what the nurturing process is, and with a bit of work you can avoid the Hollywood death stare.
5. Don’t just throw it all in the bin…
If you missed the #Bingate saga that rocked the nation, as presumably you were living in a hole somewhere, Buzzfeed has a handy summary of what went down. Poor Iain let a few setbacks get on top of him, and gave up the ghost by emphatically disposing of his Baked Alaska. In a bin.
One of the most common enquiries when businesses are looking at inbound marketing is, “how soon will we see results?”, and according to research we carried out recently, less than 8% of companies are completely satisfied with their level of inbound marketing ROI. However, like Iain’s Baked Alaska, just because you can’t see instant results doesn’t mean your inbound programme isn’t working.
Inbound marketing is a long play, and it can take 6-12 months to transform your business into a lead generation machine. Don’t throw everything away without dedicating the time and investment needed to make it work. And there is always something to be saved - learn from failures and use them to make your marketing better.