Why Printers Should Care About InBound Marketing

We’re hearing a lot about inbound marketing these days, or the use of online content (blogs, social media, SEO) to generate leads. According to HubSpot’s “State of Inbound Marketing Report,” marketers allocate 34% of their overall budgets to inbound tactics. This is 11% more than they dedicate to outbound strategies like direct mail.

Inbound marketing is a trend printers should be paying attention to, and not just because it’s competing for their print business.

Here are three reasons to pay attention to inbound marketing:

1. Inbound marketing is something printers should be doing to market their own businesses.

Prospects garnered through inbound marketing techniques are more likely to convert to sales than those garnered through outbound techniques. They have pre-qualified themselves as being interested in your services—they found you. HubSpot also found that inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound leads.

2. Inbound marketing needs to be supported by outbound marketing.  That means print.

You’ve got the leads. What are you going to do with them? Prospects find your clients’ companies based on inbound techniques, but those leads need to be followed up and nurtured along the sales cycle. Inbound marketing tends to draw people who are researching higher value products that require more follow-up and support throughout the prospect’s decision-making process. This opens tremendous opportunities for print.

3. Inbound marketing needs to be coordinated with outbound marketing.

To keep print in the mix, you need to know what’s happening on the inbound side so your client’s inbound activities are adequately supported. The more you know about their inbound marketing activities, the more involved you can be in helping them develop outbound products (direct mail, letters, posters, point-of-sale) they need.

To access HubSpot’s free report, click here.

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7 thoughts on “Why Printers Should Care About InBound Marketing

  1. Patrick Whelan

    Great article Heidi. And of course at the end of the day, it comes down to having content that presents value. Happy to help any company regarding this.

  2. Chris Lau

    Heidi – great points! It is very important for companies to follow up and nurture the needs of leads that have already come through. We have found that once the lead is in, that’s what the actual marketing begins. Great article!

  3. Katherine

    Love this post! Inbound marketing is the best kind because as you mentioned, incoming leads are the hottest kind. One thing about inbound marketing, though…it only works when you implement a strategy. I see a lot of printing companies making a good effort, but their campaigns appear to lack direction. It’s best to start out by defining your goals and building your strategy around existing data. I personally get tons of ideas through Google Analytics. Organic search is our #1 source of leads and conversions.

  4. Joe Manos

    Heidi, Great post as always and one of my favorite topics. I agree inbound is important but equally important is regular self-promotion of their business to both prospects and customers.

    Once they have mastered outbound marketing activities then they will be better positioned to address inbound marketing.

    Sadly most printers are too busy to make the time to develop an ongoing program in either area. Those that do…are rewarded with a regular infusion of new opportunities that result in new revenue.

    One of our customers that ran a 60 day program generated 31 new projects and $331,000 in new revenue. Do you think that business would have walked in the door without their self-promotion campaign?

  5. Rob Trube

    Heidi, this is a great post! Print, especially variable POD should have a direct connection with every inbound program. Most printers, print distributors and even the agencies they support should be utilizing Inbound Marketing to generate their list of interested and (more importantly) qualified prospects. If you want to see a pURL campaign with response rates that will blow your mind – use your qualified inbound leads.

    Most organizations (printers and non-printers) are missing a great opportunity to bridge the digital to offline world. Inbound Marketing and digital print are the keys to that bridge…

  6. Steven Amiel

    Most important reason for printers to become skilled at inbound marketing-

    Inbound marketing is now the biggest focus in b2b marketing and growing to be the best lead generation strategy around.

    The reasons are simple and the first one is strong enough for every printer to think about:
    Your customers are researching and using the internet to research and get information more and more. That means to just try to reach a prospect with just one direct mail piece without any other trackable links and touch points over time will be less effective than incorporating an integrated approach using blogs, social, webinars to support the mail piece.
    1. Business people are going on line to research. And, they are researching earlier in the buy cycle than they would by calling a sales rep to present. Todays inbound marketing and reporting technology captures the links, form fills and activity of the prospect and provides that “digital dna” back to marketing or sales stakeholders.
    2. Content is so critically important to inbound marketing because it must be relevant to their search, located in places they consume information and lastly, rewarded for getting and sharing information. This is the reason everyone in b2b has seen this enormous migration to providing white papers, ebooks, webinars etc on line. This is no different than what bait you use on a hook to catch a fish. Fish with the wrong bait, you loose. Fish with the right bait in the wrong pond, you still loose. Content must be relevant to be responded to.
    3. Unlike a direct mail campaign that has a discrete life time to it, inbound marketing remains on the web and has no campaign life per say (other than the content). As a matter of fact, the benefit is that based on the responses, you are able to balance and manage various aspects of your campaign like keywords, offers, subject lines and where you place content to lower your cost per lead and focus in on better qualified prospects. A perfect example is when we here at Easypurl started our inbound campaigns, we used keywords with the word, “purl” in it. All of a sudden we were spending 20 bucks a lead to get prospects who are knitters, not direct mailers.

    But success requires patience, knowledge, content, perseverance and time. All the inbound marketing will fail without a sales follow up strategy in place. It will fail without clearly identifying the specific targets and messaging.

    However, make a consistent effort, and you will capture and create opportunities that will convert quicker and for more money without the reliance on “hunters” to generate new revenue.

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