Inbound marketing is not about the sell; it’s about the solve. There’s a lot of power in knowing that efforts made to connect individuals looking for their own solutions can happen for clients who use inbound marketing as part of their strategy. In the instance of Next Monday, a leadership and business consulting company, connecting people looked a lot like inviting a friend to coffee and less like a marketing strategy. Here’s how inbound marketing made Next Monday the hero for thousands of people … and how this is just the beginning.
Life Coaches Need Coaching, Too
The hallmark of a great relationship is sharing a mutual goal and agreeing upon the terms it requires to arrive at that result together. Leighton Interactive utilized Next Monday for individual and professional coaching separate from any business relationship. Through this initial partnership, the two entities realized the potential they could have on everyone else.
Next Monday is passionate and committed and goes to whatever level it takes to find the individuals who are seeking their solution(s). And that was part of the challenge. You can’t seek out individuals you think or hope are interested or ready for life coaching. It just doesn't work that way. Your network can be massive, but that still won’t change the fact that people will seek your company or solution out only when they are ready, and on their terms. Next Monday needed a way to do that. Less outbound; more inbound. Its website was beautiful (maybe we're biased, because we created their old site and their new site). It was warm and welcoming, and told both its creation story, plus included the why – sharing with users just who Next Monday is.
While beautiful is nice regarding website design, inbound requires more than a beautiful backdrop on which to do work. Also, there is more to inbound than a great website. In the case of Next Monday, there could be a lot more.
For the Ladies, By the Ladies
When Leighton Interactive and Next Monday decided to partner, there were planning sessions and kickoffs between the two entities. We wanted to play to their strengths, their connections, their engaging personalities, and their fiery passion. How could we include who they are as women and work with them simultaneously? We knew our approach was going to have to be different; we had a limited budget, so we could only do so much - we had to figure out what the most effective way to reach to biggest audience would be. So what did we do? We flipped our strategy on its head. We decided that rather than starting with emails and copy and necessary CTA placement, we would start with a podcast.
But ... where would we start with a podcast? This was uncharted territory for Leighton Interactive. We started with the basics, the same way we start each campaign, strategy, and inbound plan we execute. We started with goals. We gave shape to the podcast idea, by giving it an ultimate function - to attract listeners and build a brand. We hammered out a theme and suggested topics, a name, and a purpose.
Together, Next Monday and Leighton Interactive went back and forth with the details of the podcast project, ensuring every minute detail was fully appreciated and thought through. We conducted due diligence on the world of podcasting and recording studios (we have access to all the necessary equipment thanks to Leighton Broadcasting) and how to navigate data in iTunes and blubrry - a podcasting community, directory, and media interface.
Next Monday has the perfect persona(s) to build an audience of podcast listeners. On top of that, we knew how robust Next Monday's network was - and we knew with their personalities and relentless connecting, this could be dynamite. Plus, as Bill Macaitis, Slack CEO reminded us,“Podcasts are one of the most effective top-of-the-funnel content offers.”
The Next Monday Podcast
Aptly named White Gloves Off, this bi-monthly podcast featured leading women engaged in conversation with Next Monday host Kelly Sayre. The premise of the podcast was to celebrate brave women, expose their inner fight, and encourage imperfection. White Gloves Off meant pioneering some uncharted territory for both Leighton Interactive and Next Monday, but that notion is so easily supported by inbound marketing. One of Next Monday’s anti-themes is fear, and at Leighton Interactive, we're true believers in Edwin Land's idea that, “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” So we jumped ... well, canon-balled in.
The purpose and theme of the podcast helped guide the Next Monday's topics and drive engage with speakers and their audience. But we had another trick up our sleeve. Nothing about this inbound marketing strategy was random; see, podcasts were instant content. Original content. From these podcasts came blog posts, emails, and an expansive audience visiting Next Monday's website. The podcasts were at the helm of the inbound marketing efforts.
By it's sixth month, White Gloves Off had 11 live podcasts to its name and 4,094 downloads – and School of Podcasting reports that podcasts with more than 3,400 downloads are in the top 10 percent. Last year alone, 5,000 new podcasts were added to iTunes. There has been a lot of clutter to cut through, but White Gloves Off did it.
Next Monday shared recaps and summaries of its recorded podcasts as part of the content plan including blog, social media, and email marketing. This additional value stream has proved momentous in increasing brand interaction and website engagement.
A Platform for Thought Leadership
Next Monday’s new website went live December 29, 2015. In the following six months, Next Monday has published 18 blogs in six months, which account for 4,224 blog views - that's all on top of 11 podcasts. In case math isn't your jam (it's not mine) - that’s an average of 253 views per blog. Their blog has made a huge difference in how Next Monday connects with its audience. The leadership team and podcast guests author the blogs, and it’s a testament of raw and real stories. Even the concept of a blog that shares and divulges some pretty personal things in regards to coaching is unique. But, that’s inbound marketing. Offering value in the form of content that benefits the user.
In that same time frame, the Next Monday website has had 6,348 visits total. In November of 2015, prior to the re-launch containing Leighton Interactive’s suggestions built for inbound, Next Monday’s site had 185 visits (#humbling, because as a reminder - we built this site, too.) But by March of 2016, the website received 3,030 visits in a single month. That's a 1,538% (I triple-checked my math) increase in web traffic in those first three months. Next Monday’s content established their website as a source for inspiration, solution, and connection – 3,000 times over.
Connecting + Consuming
Next Monday isn’t just an organization offering personal and professional coaches; they host regular events including women’s luncheons and monthly happy hours. This is significant to note because users on their site don’t all fit into the same check box. Just like all personas are in differing stages of their buyer’s journey, Next Monday offers solutions that vary based on need or interest.
A great way to denote where a persona is in their journey toward connection and support relating to Next Monday was to create landing pages tailored by growth opportunity. Knowing not every user was ready to submit a “Connect with a Coach” form, Next Monday included forms to get “micro-yeses”, including an eNewsletter sign-up, an events landing page, and a blog subscription.
Because there is often a stigma associated with coaching – whether personal or professional – and how asking for help can be misconstrued as a sign of weakness, Leighton Interactive created a content plan to address this particular pain point for potential customers. The website copy and landing page language reflected that.
In just six months, 189 people, both male and female, submitted forms to be contacted in some capacity by Next Monday. The landing pages, tailored to different parts of the funnel, have received 973 views. Without adding inbound marketing, users wouldn’t have been able to take their time garnering information about leadership and business development or connect when – and only when – they are personally ready. It’s less of a risk, which is so important to Next Monday’s strategy for connecting and affecting people. That's impact.
There isn’t a secret or steadfast way to be a successful brand. Mostly, it takes a lot of different ways that all make sense together, and an unwavering commitment to continually be open to change, and willing to be just a little disruptive. Next Monday as an organization focused on changing and impacting lives, one at a time. Inbound marketing methods help them achieve that.
As Director of Inbound Marketing I get to explore all areas of marketing including writing, brainstorming, strategizing, analyzing, and thinking big. My enthusiasm for people and creativity fuels my commitment to creating inbound content that produces positive results for our clients. I love writing, talking, learning, laughing, doodling, and finding a great quote. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, all things musical, and being crafty.