Q & A with The Marketing Team
Occasionally we get asked about our experiences with inbound marketing. “Are you on Facebook? Really?” and “How do you know what to blog about?” and “Do your online efforts really impact sales and business growth?” etc. So, we’ve decided to sum up our answers and what we’ve learned over the past 21 months – that's how long it’s been at the time of this blog being published, since we hopped onto Hubspot.
Q: What’s the deal with Keywords?
A: As a company, you can’t be all things to all people. So in order to show and offer exactly what WE do we use the words that correspond to what we do – keywords. Keywords are the core of our SEO strategy, our content development, our posts and ads. For each of our lines of business there are words that resonate with the audience. The more precise and long tail the keywords are the better – they might not get much traffic but those who will truly benefit from our offer will find them. The closer the search between the audience and our precise keywords, the closer the match between what the visitor is looking for and what we can do for them.
For example, one of Hallam-ICS service lines is ENGINEERING and here is a sample list of keywords that would go along with engineering:
- MEP Engineering
- Building Information Modeling
- Sustainable Design
- Transformer Differential Protection
- Facilities Engineering
- Power Distribution
- Energy Modeling
- High voltage Electrical Design
- HVAC Load Calculation
- MEP Building Systems
- MEP Consultants
- Revit Engineer
- Electrical Distribution
- HVAC Design
- Sustainable Building Design
- Sustainable Engineering
- Lighting Engineer
The keywords are the topics which will guide you in content development that will support “what you do.” Same goes for the critical keywords about the company and its culture – the “who you are.” For example, Hallam-ICS does a great deal of community service and recognizes the charitable organizations. These topics lend themselves into keywords as well, such as Culturally Different and Social Mission.
Q: How to find what to blog about?
A: Our blogs cater relevant information based on what our audience is interested in and the keywords are the topics for blogs. So once again, it comes down to the keywords. When the list of keywords is determined, each one can serve as a possible topic for a blog to expand on, from Revit application to pump vibration isolators and from identifying a better way to budget for a project to what to look for when selecting a design professional.
Q: What does it mean to have “good content?”
A: Inbound is the engine – content is the fuel, we all get that. The value good content brings is not based on “us” but on “them, the audience” and what they can use in order to solve their problems. Understanding what the audience might be looking for, can depend on where they are in the marketing funnel and what their business needs might be. This is extremely helpful in producing good content. If a visitor happens to be a Health & Safety Official, responsible for the safety of a cleanroom lab at a research facility, he or she will be very knowledgeable about the topic, but might not be very familiar with our level of service offerings. In that scenario, education on our capabilities will be far more important than education on what it takes to maintain a safe facility. On the other hand, a manufacturing facility maintenance manager, being tasked with being OSHA compliant and needing an arc flash study conducted, might not know where to begin. Education on the importance of arc flash studies and how it relates to OSHA compliance will be the starting point. Going through the audience needs at any given level of being informed is a great starting point to figuring out what will “good content” mean to them.
It is also important to remember that the content has to live in various realms, such as the website pages, the blog, the social media channels, partner sites, etc. It has to be ready for mobile consumption and available when the visitor needs it. In other words, unlike the business hours of 9 to 5, a good content is on a 24/7 schedule.
Q: What platform is better for inbound?
A: Our tool of choice became Hubspot. We get calls from clients who perused the offered information and it helped them to make a decision to call us. And, with the help of Hubspot, we can tell how much of our information was viewed. It gives us an idea on what the client might be looking for and a better way for us to help them. Calls-to-Action or CTA’s, landing pages, forms, email interaction rates, CRM, are all included with Hubspot services and are very helpful with “What does it all mean?” answers.
Here is an example of the Hubspot email performance analysis.
When compared over time, you can zero in on where and why your content performs better. If you experience low open rate of your marketing emails however a good click through rate, it might suggest that your subject lines are not at their best, however, your content is right on target with what your audience would like to read. Conversely, when your open rate is good but the click rate is low, it could mean that you excel at creating killer subject lines but the content is not getting much action. The Hubspot analytics can help you see that as well.
Q: What does inbound do for branding?
A: In a word – plenty. With the multitude of touch points available through inbound strategy, one can paint and exhibit a very large picture of what the company and the brand are about – culture, people, social mission, technical expertise. We believe that our clients and our employees are interested in working with firms that have strong technical expertise, but also a commitment to building a culture that includes a focus on their employees and communities. In other words, for us, even though we are a highly technical B2B company our branding is not based on technical all the time. The human element is crucial for a technical company. Our clients and visitors need to know who’s going to work on their project. Knowing more about our employees makes it easier for clients to connect, to set expectations and to be sure their project will be a success. We posted all of our employees’ photos on our website and we added a My Hallam Story element. Everyone wrote a short story about themselves, how they got to working at Hallam or some type of experience they wanted to share. These web pages are very heavily trafficked.
We did a comparison between one of our annual campaigns for 2016 and 2017.
Over the year we got better and better at utilizing Hubspot as a tool and it resulted in a better campaign performance.
Q: How does social media marketing apply to B2B?
A: We have seen how social media marketing can increase traffic and sales in a B2C (Business to Consumer) setting. With B2C one typically has a tangible product to sell to the end user. The performance of social marketing is easy to quantify with increased direct sales. Social media marketing for a B2B (Business to Business) such as Hallam-ICS is a bit different- there isn’t a tangible product. What we have learned really matters is letting people know WHO we are. By using social media to do this we are creating a trust factor which helps form relationships with the people we work with or want to work with.
Q: What social media platforms do you use?
A: Our clients do their homework! They want to know what we’ve done, where we’ve done it and how. We chose multiple social media channels to focus on: blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Our business is technical based and we find these platforms are valuable outlets our clients and potential clients use to gather knowledge about our company, learn about third party data, hear about seminars, read white pages, see customer feedback and build peer to peer relationships. These social media outlets provide a way to share valuable and technical information in a friendly and more relaxed manner.
Q: How Do You Know What To Post?
A: When getting started with B2B social media marketing, you might worry, as we did, that each day requires creating all new, unique social media content. What we quickly learned is that with B2B social marketing, for a technical company, consistency and quality are important. Much of our social media content is the re-use of assets we already have. We have a collection of blogs, white papers and documented experience to draw from. The key is finding ways to share that information that is interesting and relevant to our readers. We have learned that social media creates opportunities for us to collaborate with folks in similar industries by co-promoting each other’s services/products. We also found that social media is an outlet where we can share WHO the folks at Hallam-ICS are by posting our social involvement, community awareness and personal character. Right on the home page of our website it says, “What’s important to you becomes everything to us” and a key component to making sure that happens is sharing a bit of who we are with you.
Q: Does inbound really add to the bottom line?
A: We started down the inbound path after talking with a similar company who shared that one third of their new business comes through on-line leads. We were a bit skeptical at first, wondering if someone would really hire a control system engineer from a Google search “Allen-Bradley PLC Programmer” or a mechanical engineer from “HVAC Expert.” The more we thought about it, the more we realized that, even B2B firms do online research. Our inbound marketing consultant, TREW Marketing, believes that engineers can complete up to 60% of their research into a company online before wanting to meet with a salesperson!
Q: What results have we seen?
A: 2017 represented our first full calendar year of inbound and we can attribute over $400k in new projects from leads where the initial contact came from online sources. This does not take into account clients who researched us online, yet reached out to us directly or existing contacts who learned more about us online through our enewsletters, blogs or whitepapers and engaged us in new projects. So, yes inbound does really add to the bottom line. Just as we see Cyber Monday growing while Black Friday declines, so will a strong online presence for B2B firms continue to increase in importance in the future.
A New Visitor Session is one of many metrics you can apply to measure your inbound results.
This graph shows a significant increase between Jan. 2016 and Dec. 2017. The new visitors are the people who have not been to our website before, people we didn’t talk to or even know. The power of inbound helped bring them to the site.
About the Author
Natasha has been with Hallam-ICS since 1995. She holds an M.S. Degree in Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University. From wordsmithing and color splashing to goofing off on social media she strives to add a human element to the highly technical world of engineering and controls.
Read My Hallam Story
Hallam-ICS is an engineering and automation company that designs MEP systems for facilities and plants, engineers control and automation solutions, and ensures safety and regulatory compliance through arc flash studies, commissioning, and validation. Our offices are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and North Carolina and our projects take us world-wide.