GDPR COVID-19

Say goodbye to Data Protection during the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Scientists, politicians, tech firms…organisations everywhere are joining forces to combat the Covid-19 Pandemic around the world. Funds are being released in a seemingly endless nature and the majority of the world’s population is being asked to stay home, lockdown and self-isolate. But how has this impacted GDPR and digital marketing?

It’s completely unprecedented and unlike any other global crisis we have dealt with in our modern, digital era. So, what does this mean for data? Data governance and data protection are key guides to how our tech responses navigate through the unchartered territory that is this Pandemic. Under usual circumstances, it is data privacy law that guides how and when organisations can contact people.

Well what about GDPR now? Do Data Protection laws go lax during a pandemic?

With specialist units being set up across the country, and between five to ten different incidents of privacy violations online being tackled daily, we wonder how GDPR is managing data protection during such an unparalleled time. 

The UK government has announced that it’s cracking down on misinformation being spread about Coronavirus online. In a recent article, the government noted that specialist units are operating to combat misinformation about coronavirus and five to ten incidents are being identified and tackled each day. 

This includes phishing emails being sent asking for personal details and payment for police “fines” for going outside during lockdown. The question is, as a result of the overload, how many GDPR violations will also be taking place? Or perhaps more of a concern, have the appropriate government bodies and the NHS been able to reach people when they needed to?

The Information Commissioner’s Office has released the following statement in support of digital outreach during the Coronavirus Pandemic: 

“Data protection and electronic communication laws do not stop Government, the NHS or any other health professionals from sending public health messages to people, either by phone, text or email as these messages are not direct marketing. Nor does it stop them using the latest technology to facilitate safe and speedy consultations and diagnoses. Public bodies may require additional collection and sharing of personal data to protect against serious threats to public health.” – ICO

We all can appreciate that the above does mean that the appropriate government bodies will be able to reach people regardless of the GDPR restrictions. Yet, it’s slightly unnerving for many people who will see this as a lax on the law – for example, could private health firms use this argument? Although they are not in the public sector, might we see a time when private sector firms are acting within the best interest of the public sector?

Letting go of data privacy and GDPR for health support

An example of this comes from the US. California has only recently implemented it’s CCPA data governance law in January. However, details of the law are still being finalised. Last week, 33 different organisations approached the State of California to delay the implementation of the CCPA data law as the pandemic is such a shock to every area of the economy. The implementation of this law is causing an overwhelming concern from businesses about the sustainability of such strict data governance rolling out during this crisis. 

Who cares about relaxing this law for a few months in the face of a global pandemic? Well, interestingly, we all should. Tech giant, Google and its sister company, Verily, have launched a new Coronavirus testing capability in the state of California. The process is fairly straightforward: The site runs users through a series of screening questions via the company’s Project Baseline health data collection platform. Depending on if the system deems them eligible, they’re allowed to make an appointment for a much-coveted coronavirus test.

What’s the catch? Well in order to use the screening tool, users must have a Google account. And they must agree to a number of data privacy clauses. Ultimately users are exchanging their health information for a potentially life-saving test. Who would say no? Should we be worried? Whether you should or shouldn’t be worried, you are officially sharing your personal data with Google, Verily and anyone else you’ve agreed can know about you. Google is effectively forcing you to share data for a test that you may or may not need. 

Data governance becomes data coercion. And in this case, it’s also extremely experimental. Rolled out with very little testing, we are unsure how successful the Verily system will be. As Foreign Policy magazine putis it, ‘The coronavirus pandemic may—if tech companies and surveillance-curious governments get their way—extend this type of tech-driven experimentation to just about everyone.’

Getting back to normal: Looking beyond the Pandemic

Of course, any type of government-approved surveillance program, however well-intentioned, raises serious questions. For most of us the question is: how is our sensitive data being used? And how do we go back to not providing it after the pandemic is over? 

If these were ordinary circumstances, data protection laws such as GDPR and CCPA would protect people from data governance violations. And one would hope that these laws are still in practice for most organisations. Taking our private health data and exposing it to private companies, even in the interest of public health, is a source of concern because these records hold significant commercial value (Weforum.org). 

Only time will tell how our data is used beyond this pandemic. There are simply no rules on how the current situation will pan out as it’s so unprecedented. But data protection must be protected. We should hold the government accountable as to how it’s planning on using data, who will ultimately have access to our health information and for how long. We will see the end of this pandemic crisis. The questions will remain around data governance. We should continue to question information required during the pandemic and challenge it’s usage in the days, months and years to come. 

Here are five ways you can manage your own personal data and cultivate data during the pandemic:

  1. This is not a time to panic – the law exists for a reason. Use the guidance outlined by the ICO to determine your eligibility for collecting information (from a business perspective) and be diligent with your own. 
  2. Health information is sensitive data:  Ask yourself why are you are collecting it and for how long you will require it. Be transparent in your privacy policy and terms and conditions.  
  3. Keep your information accurate. Data quality is absolutely king during a time such as this. Work with a third-party to ensure data quality is maintained, especially if you are scaling data requests globally.
  4. Delete what you don’t need. This isn’t a time to hoard information. If you can’t justify why you are collecting it, just don’t.
  5. Does this mean that I can’t collect information about coronavirus to help guide my business through the crisis? Not at all, just be sure to use these tips to make sure you are in keeping with the law. 

Ultimately businesses should have the correct policies in place for collecting data. Data governance may be flexing slightly in the face of this global pandemic but as businesses, we can do everything we can to ensure we are supporting laws and applying the necessary compliance. Only time will tell if other businesses and government bodies are maintaining data integrity in the same fashion.

Get in touch with GatedContent.com if you have specific queries about data collection and data governance. 

Useful Tip: If you are planning on collecting data as a result of Covid-19, The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”), has also reported its own FAQs for handling personal information. 

Stay well during these unique and unparalleled times.

zero party data

Zero Party Data is more than a new marketing buzzword

Zero Party: Strategy, Implementation and Benefits

Zero Party data may sound like the next big thing in a long line of “must haves” when it comes to marketing buzzwords. The recently coined phrase, was first seen in a Forrester report, last year. What is it exactly? Do you really need to be thinking about it? And, if so, how quickly can you start capturing ZPD? This article looks at Zero Party data and how it fits within your data strategy. The good news is, you might already be gathering it.

What is Zero Party data?

Let’s start with the basics. Buyers hold more and more control when it comes to the types of data we hold. Privacy concerns are growing daily and restrictions like GDPR are increasingly limiting. Enter Zero Party Data (ZPD), which builds trust with your buyers and creates a certain level of emotional connection. Thus encouraging your leads to part with more of their data voluntarily.

Think about First Party data. It used to be defined as preference data, as it’s down to your lead or buyer to provide this information. Different from third party data, which is provided as a purchased list or as data that has been approved for distribution by a “third party”. First Party data used to be the big player – in order to gain it, organizations usually need a content value exchange. In the world of data, people rarely give it away for free.

ZPD is closely linked to first party data, but more personal, more preference-driven and obtained in a voluntary way. In a recent Forrester report, zero-party data (ZPD) is data a customer shares with a brand in an intentional and proactive manner. It might include first party data but it also includes purchase intentions and ultimately how a person wants to be recognized by a brand.

The difference between first party and zero party data is that first party data is closely linked to inferred purchase intention based on behavioural data (like number of clicks through from an email campaign) and ZPD is linked to direct intentions as it comes from a customer’s willingness to share data as a result of company interest.

Tim Bohn, Head of Product at GatedContent.com, states “ZPD is the type of data that a brand asks customers for – and that customers feel they want to share with the brand.”

How to gather Zero Party Data

To put ZPD into context, think about types of data that organisations directly request through content gating. customer surveys, competitions and questionnaires, for example. The feedback received by customer surveys is data that a customer wants to share. By using this data appropriately, companies can tailor their products and services to the wants and needs of consumers.

Although ZPD as a phrase was only coined in 2018, it’s application is not necessarily new. What ZPD is, is personal. It’s a quirky poll, a social media quiz, an interactive ad. It speaks directly to your customer and asks them to share their information by offering a high value exchange: a piece of content, a chance to win a prize or even recognition on a social channel.

Our customers want to be engaged, dazzled and enticed to share their data. With this in mind, innovative uses of ZPD include digital experiences with the option to opt-in, conduct market research and create unique user experiences which encourage people to act and engage with your brand.

ZPD is best suited to marketers who aim to be digital disruptors. Gaining traction through social channels by offering a unique experience will only help encourage more activity from audiences. However, this is not the only way to gain traction. Companies are gathering ZPD through a question in an Ad campaign or even through a gated content form on their website. The idea behind ZPD is to be personal, direct and open about your clients needs. The way you interact with your potential customers should be personal but not invasive.

Data Governance

ZPD is collected using social surveys, ad campaigns and gated website content (including questionnaires and competitions). Large global companies will have a multitude of languages, privacy policies and data quality guidelines to conform to. It can become extremely difficult and costly to manage and scale this level of gated content.

GatedContent.com is able to discuss your company’s data governance and gated content requirements on a small, medium or global scale. Zero Party data is a direct conversation with your potential customers. Don’t lose a precious opportunity to find out more about your users. Speak with us today to find out how you can benefit from a Zero Party data strategy.

Content Marketing

Content Marketing 101: When to use a content gating strategy

Most senior marketers agree that the key to successful customer engagement is getting the customer experience right. Understanding customer touch points, when to offer content for free, when to exchange it for contact details and when to turn a lead into a sale all blend together to create your new customer experience and a solid content marketing strategy.

But at what touch point in the buyer journey does it actually begin?  Those top of the funnel, initial conversations with leads are actually the start of the customer experience. And to get this right, marketing teams need to blend technology and content. From your inbound efforts to that first form fill for a high value asset, like a white paper, these touch points are key in building the foundation for good customer experience.

What’s more, the decision of when to obtain that first data capture is the key, defining aspect of your marketing strategy. We look at the why, what and when of gating content or using dynamic web forms as a lead capture strategy.

Why - It's still the strongest driver of lead generation

Content gates are a staple in the world of content marketing. You will have no doubt heard of content gating techniques and when you should apply them to your assets (which could be white papers, guides, webinars, etc.). A good content gating strategy does ultimately depend on how valuable your asset is, and whether or not your audience is willing to part with their details for it. In a recent report, Starfleet Media say that nearly 80% of b2b content marketing assets are gated. 

Marketing technology changes constantly yet content gating remains one of the strongest forms of data capture available. Apart from surveys, on-site forms are the best way to obtain valuable information from potential leads.

What and When - an exchange of lead information for a high value asset

As we said above, routes to engage with your audience seem to change almost daily. Which social channel, which landing page, when to use dynamic web forms…The question is what’s best for you? Does your organization gate content (or use dynamic web forms) on your website and on landing pages? Do you look at your analytics reports to see which types of content are the most successful? 

Because of the varying range of assets, from infographics to 1:1 consultations, content marketing strategies need to know which types of content that leads are willing to exchange their details for. Looking at those consideration stage touchpoints, guides and webinars usually prove the most successful when it comes to content gating.

However, that’s not always the case as some industries might find that case studies drive initial leads…In fact, according to Instapage, across the buyer journey, there are different assets that are “usually” most successful as gated content. Have a look at these suggestions – how well do you know your buyer personas? Do they follow a similar pattern to these suggestions?

  1. Awareness stage – infographics, podcasts, e-books, white papers
  2. Consideration stage – webinars, trial downloads,  case studies
  3. Decision stage – these offers need to be the most powerful, 1:1 consultations, free trials and product demos work best

In terms of value, you can see from the above that the higher the value the more likely your audience will exchange their details. Using techniques such as progressive profiling, Starfleet Media show that infographics and case studies are less likely to be gated yet content marketers find them useful branding tools and therefore still invest in them. Because these assets are strong tools for keeping leads that are further into the buyer journey warm.

How - The best ways to deploy a content gate

Your content marketing team might not be involved heavily with your marketing operations team. You may simply hand over your asset – whichever it is – and your marketing technology team deploy the web forms through your marketing automation platform, like Eloqua or Marketo. 

Even if this isn’t an area for your department, it’s useful to know that how you gate content is incredibly important. Doing this cost effectively, with one system in place, reduces scaling time and synchronizes data capture for cleaner data. 

To get to grips with how on-site forms are deployed on your business websites and landing pages, speak with your marketing technology team.

Getting the balance right

Many businesses struggle to decide which content to gate. But using the logic above, you can break it down with a few easy questions:

  1. At what stage are your buyers when they find this piece of content?
  2. What level of value exchange is the content worth?
  3. Do your competitors offer a similar exchange?

Reviewing your content in this way ensures your content is relevant with your key messages at the forefront of your buyer journey. 

GatedContent.com are specialists in web conversion forms helping global enterprises roll out content gating strategies efficiently at scale. If you’d like to discuss advanced web form management with GatedContent.com, please get in touch!

Oracle OpenWorld

Top 5 tempting reasons to come to Oracle Openworld Europe

This February, Oracle opens its arms once more and welcomes delegates from across sales and marketing fields to join them for two days of knowledge sharing. They invite you to ‘join the brilliant, hard-driving, stubborn, inspired, passionate people redefining what’s achievable, and the technology empowering them, at Oracle OpenWorld’.

Well, we couldn’t agree more. Here are 5 reasons we hope to see you at Oracle OpenWorld.

1. Knowledge sharing and the future of Oracle Marketing Cloud

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the job – everyone needs to refresh their knowledge base every now and then.  No matter what size your team, no matter how global your role, sometimes coming together under one shared space can give you exposure to a variety of points of view. It can highlight new trends and ideas that can impact your company’s future. If you plan your days properly, Oracle OpenWorld can give you insight into technological advancements in marketing.

Oracle’s Marketing Cloud Suite of products is industry leading. In the “Evolving Customer” sessions we should be hearing some awesome success stories and new product developments.

2. Get hands-on with marketing technology tools and solutions...

Do you look at the exhibition hall and groan when you go to big events? Salespeople waiting for you to make eye contact as we quickly scan the room for the best swag. It can be a bit painful. But it’s the best way to access industry suppliers and speak to the experts. If you want to know more about the current business atmosphere, keep up with new solutions and understand your competition, invest in time with event sponsors (like GatedContent.com!) and get ahead of the game. 

Oracle and Oracle partners will be demonstrating a host of sales and marketing tech in the vendor lounge. Don’t forget your swag bag!

3. Meet other marketing pros and share ideas…

Connect with your peers and hear from marketing innovators. Hear how thought leaders are using data and AI to enhance their marketing. Network, network and network a bit more. It’s a great way to collaborate with people that you don’t often come in contact with. Who knows what new ideas and inspiration can stem from a conversation with a new acquaintance? Get to know the people around you. Take notes and speak with presenters if you can. Oracle OpenWorld has a wide range of talks and presentations for audiences from sales systems to tech databases.

4. Keynote speakers...

Big events like Oracle OpenWorld bring amazing industry experts to speak at the keynote events…but they also get a huge range of overall inspiring humans too. This year does not disappoint. With an astronaut, sailor, comedian and an AI expert, there really will be something for everyone. Human experience, fuelled by digital advancements and technological ecosystems. We look forward to hearing their stories.

5. Come and see GatedContent.com...

Okay, okay. Time for our shameless plug. But if all of the above doesn’t get you to Oracle OpenWorld, maybe learning more about ways to improve your lead generation efforts will. 

If you use Oracle Eloqua for lead generation you need to see GatedContent.com in action. You might just find a way of improving lead numbers, lead quality and the speed of building out your campaigns. We’ll be talking about ways we help our customers scale dynamic web forms, reducing costs and increasing leads. 

We’d love to learn more about the challenges your organisation faces so stop by and say hello. 

Progressive Profiling blog

Progressive Profiling: Capturing Leads Using Dynamic Web Forms

Progressive profiling is the practice of gradually building data on a lead through multiple dynamic web form submissions. It enables this by utilizing the exchange on a website for something of value (i.e. contact details) for something that a prospect is interested in, like a guide or webinar. Using dynamic web form questions that become more in-depth each time a lead visits a site allows marketing teams to gain incremental information on their prospects and customers.

A more technical definition of progressive profiling is the process for cumulatively gaining additional data on a contact through additional form submissions. So ultimately, the more often a prospect accesses your site, the more data you build on them – in this case it’s through web forms. 

This functionality isn’t new and marketing automation platforms have had the ability to carry out this function for a while. However progressive profiling isn’t always a straightforward solution. Requiring a heavy amount of input initially from both marketing teams and tech teams, it should be integral to your gating strategy. Yet due to the wide range of options and varying opinions across marketing teams, deployment isn’t always easy or effective.
This article aims to clarify the various ways progressive profiling can improve conversion rates, enhance user-experience and save valuable time. We also discuss some common issues that can arise when implementing progressive profiling and how to avoid them.

An example of progressive profiling in action

In the illustration below, the web forms ask for the important data to build up a lead’s profile. Step 1 starts with the broad but critical fields, Name and Email. The second step then asks for more details with an increase in fields, including company and phone number. Finally, Step 3 elaborates even further, asking for company size and address and capturing even more data on the visitor. As the user gives this information over time and for the exchange of several assets on the website, they do not feel the pressure of giving too much information too soon.

Progressive profiling blog example

Each time the user visits the site, we are able to increase our profile insight in increments. It’s far less intimidating than using the long form first – requesting all that information on the first visit may cause friction resulting in them not submitting the form at all.

Building data should not only useful for your lead gen tactics, it should benefit your website users first and foremost. Because your users need to be a reason to keep returning to your site and using your assets. The key is also in having enough valuable assets on your site that encourages your leads to return again and again. By using progressive profiling, helping your customers to solve their business queries goes hand in hand with your marketing strategy.

Here are FOUR ways that progressive profiling benefits your user

Get to know your customer

Progressive profiling is the easiest way to get to know your buyers and understand their wants and needs. It helps you to identify what types of asset that they find high value and what information they are willing to exchange for it. It also helps identify which issues drive your users.

Lead generation and improved conversion rate

The more data you have, the more ways you can increase segmentation of your marketing campaigns and target your leads in a systematic way. And while sophisticated marketing automation platforms can enable this (outlined below), the more bespoke this journey can be, the more likely your leads are to convert.  As you can imagine, asking for a lot of information at once can put your lead off, whereas the main benefit of progressive profiling is the ability to spread your questions out over time, building trust and gaining valuable data. 

Enhanced UX

Asking critical questions progressively builds trust with your lead as well. This improves your website’s user experience as users see your site as a trusted information source and encourages them to return for new information. 

Apart from avoiding query repetition, which affects user experience negatively, progressive profiling technology can save you time. By using form templates, you are able to re-use the same form for a multitude of assets rather than having to create separate forms for each landing page.

Comparing Progressive Profiling between marketing automation platforms

If your enterprise company already uses a marketing automation platform like Eloqua or Marketo, you might find the standard progressive profiling options acceptable to use. Below, we describe how to implement Progressive Profiling on four key marketing automation platforms as well as some limitations you may face. 

Eloqua

Marketo

Pardot

Hubspot

Progressive profiling is added in the form editor.

 

Fields are grouped or a specific amount are shown each new form submission.

 

Must be deployed to Eloqua landing page or website running Eloqua tracking script.

Progressive profiling is activated in Form Settings.

 

You specify the number of blank (non-prefilled) fields shown each time.

 

Only works on Marketo landing pages using Insert Element option.

 

Progressive profiling is added to individual fields when creating a form.

 

Fields can show only if there are pre-filled values in other fields.

 

Only works with Pardot Forms not Form Handlers

Progressive profiling is added when editing a form.

 

Fields are placed in a queue below the main form editor.

 

Fields in the main form are selected to be replaced by queued fields when pre-filled.

Common challenges in Progressive Profiling deployment

Challenges that arise around implementing progressive profiling usually have to do with similar factors across businesses. 

Aligning the business (by business unit or region) to agree varying requirements can increase the complexity of implementation. For example, the enterprise solutions team can choose to add a custom question on the standard ‘medium’ gate form. It only shows on forms related to them. 

Take a company with both US and German sites for example. Americans need a zip code for postal routing. Germany does not require it. So if the user is from Germany, the standard fields on the form need to change to remove the zip code (or regional code) field. In an ideal world, the company’s progressive profiling solution is flexible enough to handle regional requirements such as these.

Innovative uses of Progressive Profiling

Progressive profiling can give you valuable insight if you follow some basic best practices, such as:

  1. Ask the most critical questions first. Start with your broad requirements and become more specific on each return. You can build trust with your forms and you will be able to send more relevant content to the leads as you segment them later in their journey. 
  2. The sales cycle will help you align the questions. Keep the information relevant to the stage of conversion your lead is in. As you plan your strategy, it’s a good idea to review your buyer journey and life cycle of a client to hit those conversion points.
  3. Utilize conditional form fields, meaning that you can change the rest of the form to coincide with the new information you gain. For example, if you learn the job title of a user in Step 1, ask what their biggest challenge is in Step 2. This gives you key insights into what the buyer’s challenges are and at what stage they may start needing support from your organisation.

Thinking outside of the box with progressive profiling can yield impressive results. You might find that the standardized version of progressive profiling offered through your marketing automation platform limits what you can do and how quickly you can implement your forms. 

GatedContent.com offers solutions that are bespoke and work with your marketing automation platform to simplify progressive profiling. Get in touch to find out how we can help your team implement progressive profiling and give your lead generation efforts a boost!

Inbound marketing blog

Inbound Marketing: The Changing Landscape​

The definition of a successful inbound marketing strategy focuses on ways to entice target audiences to a website. It refers to the social and web methods of capturing the interest of buyers at the top of the funnel by addressing issues they may have. Ideally, inbound marketing helps address issues before a potential customer even knows they have a problem. Thus planting the seed for your brand very early in the buyer cycle. 

According to SparkToro’s founder, Rand Fishkin, since around 2009 to 2016, Inbound Marketing had a very standard playbook that was easy to measure from an ROI point of view. Measuring ROI on inbound marketing tactics has traditionally been tied to analytics linked to those marketing efforts, like Click-through-rates (CTR), impressions, engagements and followers…you get the idea. But, as Fishkin states in The Next Era of Web Marketing, this has changed in the last three years. And it will continue to change because of major shifts occurring in inbound marketing.

inbound marketing

Actually, we think in the last three years, more than just inbound marketing has changed. One might argue that buyer behaviour and internet behavior has changed as well.  These changes are affecting marketing on multiple levels.

And, although one might argue that the principals haven’t changed that much, there are several ways web marketing just isn’t delivering like it used to. From SEO to Data Capture, the old landscape has morphed…the following five reasons outline the ways in which it has changed.

1. SEO isn’t what it used to be

We all know Google has done its best to keep a veil over how its algorithms affect content. In its latest release, the newest algorithm, BERT, will impact at least 10% of all searches because it assesses the way search terms relate to each other. Google claims that BERT will help it to understand searchers intent. Whilst Google claims the algorithms are constantly changing in order to improve UX as an SEO specialist, it’s a constant challenge.  
What’s more, Google has become your competitor in many instances. Google now solves more queries without clicks – which means your company information may appear on the top of a Search Engine Results Page (SERP), but because the user gets all the info from Google’s own information provision (location, phone number, flight search – you name it!), it’s impossible to measure.  
Just look at this slide from SparkToro and note that over 50% of mobile searches now result in zero-click. This is a huge change and one that affects your CTR (click-through-rate) measurables massively. 
mobile click web marketing

2. Ad prices are rising

The above slide also highlights this: Zero-Click Searches are rising, with organic search as an alarming second. This leaves Paid Search as a sad third and an expensive option which provides little yield. People aren’t clicking on organic searches and they are even more dubious of Ads.  Because its popularity is dropping, AdStage have noticed a rise in Ad prices as well as a massive reduction in ROI. 

More often than not, Ad ROI isn’t even measured or challenged in a systematic way. Many companies just feel that “doing” Ads is enough. Leaving both Facebook and Google Ads with increased costs with decreased results. 

3. Social reach means less and less

Speaking of Facebook, not too long ago  every inbound marketer wanted to show an increase their followers and subscribers. The problem with this was that it showed virtually no correlation to referral traffic. Social channels like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, all encourage users to stay on site rather than click through to page links. YouTube even removed the description text box making it impossible to make links visible to viewers. 

The sad truth is that all the top traffic referrers are no longer delivering at the same level as they were in 2016. It’s a very similar scenario to that which we see with Google – with less movement from social channels to your site. Traffic referrals are on the decline as this slide from SparkToro illustrates:

web traffic referrers blog

Without the drive through referrals, Social Media Strategy needs a revamp. Social is here to stay, so it requires some clever thinking to make it work for your brand.

4. Influencers fail to influence

Influencers’ roles are clear, right? For your brand, influencers should highlight the benefits of using your products or services. In many B2B cases this means referencing on Podcasts, Email Newsletters, Social Media, and more. A couple of years ago, having a key person in your field discussing your product could increase brand awareness and subscribers. However, nowadays, everyone’s an influencer. It has changed so much and many people now think of influencers as scantily clad Instagram posters who are only effective at highlighting product placement.

Marketers seem to have forgotten that influencer strategy should be defined as all the sources that influence one’s audience. We need to re-focus on how to approach “influencers”, making sure the effort we put in to get their attention actually yields results with target audiences.

5. People want more info for less

The landscape of B2B communications is changing. Ten years ago, the notion of giving out their email details didn’t feel the average person with angst. Before the days of spamming and excessive email newsletters, it wasn’t seen as something to be wary of. Changing attitudes towards exchanging details for content is limiting lead generation tactics. It’s led to a rapid change in how marketers approach online marketing. 

People feel they should be able to find answers to their problems without giving away many details. GDPR rules also restrict direct contact with leads. More than ever, inbound marketers need to drive conversions through great content and brand engagement. 

With all these limitations to your inbound marketing strategy, the question is what to do about it?

How to combat the changing landscape: Enter the new inbound marketing strategy

Okay, so the above might feel a bit more doom and gloom than you’d like. In this fast changing climate, as a marketer, what are you supposed to aim for? From the sales team’s point of view, the requirement for data and lead generation is the same. You just have to go about it slightly differently. We think the key is in the following five areas of your web marketing playbook:

1. Make your website the centre of your digital campaigns

This isn’t new or groundbreaking stuff. Of course the website is key. For a while, there were rumblings on the marketing scene that websites were a thing of the past. However for inbound marketing strategies to really work – they need to drive all traffic to the website and ultimately to a web form to get that all important data capture. Retargeting efforts are lost too, without those initial visits to your site. Without an effective website, you’re massively restricted in ways to engage with your leads. 

2. Focus on true fans of your brand

Social media marketers are now able to see that engaged fans of a brand are much higher value than an increase in followers. It’s more important to be a true source of influence through your engaging content. In this instance, social listening is extremely important. Where are your target audience spending their time and getting their answers? Understanding the best channels to reach your audience is key. But Rand Fishkin from SparkToro offers a different take on it. “If your competition ignores a channel, you get higher content engagement if you focus on that channel.” 

web marketing

3. Charge your marketing flywheel with a new approach

Maintain a constantly engaged audience by shifting your funnel approach.  Think of a marketing flywheel – which is Hubspot’s response to a marketing funnel. As you can see below, a flywheel is more focused on customer retention and re-sale. It’s about reducing friction points that cause customer inconvenience that reduces their experience.

funnel flywheel

The Hubspot flywheel helps break the customer journey down into manageable pieces that reduce friction points because the customer is never left behind. It is in a continuous cycle.  

The flywheel helps create customer advocates. And this steady focus on customer need means you can  address niche questions that can’t be answered in a few sentences on your website. 

Think in three succinct steps: 1) understand and address complicated client queries, 2) create high value content pages as solutions and then 3) put a conversion form/point on that page. Again, this is about doing a bit of leg work first. What are the struggles that your customers face? Where do they look for answers? Is there a channel that has been ignored by your competitors where you could establish a strong presence? 

4. Change approach to SEO

As we discussed above, the approach to organic SEO has changed drastically over the past few years. Google algorithms aim to provide results based on natural language searches which means that keywords should be less important than key phrases. Geo-location should help with this as well, by focusing the keyword search to a specific region.

Gaining one click to your site by a potential brand ambassador is more valuable because the audience is already primed. It’s almost a case of potential customers knowing your brand before they see it on their SERP. Some 88% say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 39% read reviews on a regular basis. Utilise a range of approaches to building brand awareness. Crowds lead to buyer awareness, so get yourself in front of the crowd!

5. Grow your audience through data capture

50% of marketers say inbound marketing strategies, such as onsite forms, are their primary source of leads. This final point is a core goal of Inbound Marketing – data capture. Content gating forms allow you to build a thorough picture of your buyer personas and build email lists. 

However, this stretches beyond gaining email addresses. Other valuable information includes job function, geo-location, company size…anything that will guide your understanding of the types of pressures your buyer faces. It feeds the content creation and it drives the flywheel. 

Marketing automation platforms like Eloqua or Marketo have functionality that can help you with data capture and lead generation. Progressive profiling, for example, allows you to build your subscribers’ information by asking a new question each time they fill out a smart form. This way, you can avoid form abandonment.

Web conversion is about making every step on your site as simple and easy to follow as possible. The way products are described, the way services are offered, people just want basic instructions that require little thinking.  Form filling and data exchanges follow a similar theory. If people have to think about why you want their email, if they have to wait (even 1-2 seconds) for a page to load, they may lose interest.

Ultimately, emotions like patience rule buyer behaviour and decision making. That much hasn’t changed since Inbound Marketing strategies began. However, the route to your buyer is changing. It’s up to you to keep growing and changing just as channels to your audience change as well.

Are your Inbound Marketing efforts are supported by your current technology stack? We provide a range of useful guides on the topics of Content Gating and Progressive Profiling.  Have a browse in our resources area and kickstart your new approach to Inbound Marketing.