So you’ve most likely heard of this term by now, inbound marketing. It’s been kind of a buzzword in the marketing arena the last few years.
So in this blog, we will try and cover what it means, how it differs from traditional marketing, and how businesses are using it to enhance their online business.
History Lesson: Let’s rewind a bit – Traditional Marketing
Back 20 or so years ago, there was no internet, email, mobiles or even voicemail. If you remember those days. Sales & Marketing were as you can imagine a different ball game.
So the process was something like this.
You had your salesperson make 80 calls a day to the decision-makers of the business you wanted to sell to. Out of that 320 calls, he might get say 5 meetings (to be generous) and if he’s good he might secure 1 customer and that’s how it worked.
Well, that seems to work well right?
It was a numbers game, and it depended on you getting your product in front of enough people, if you did, you would make sales.
This worked for all styles of marketing too, direct mail, cold calling, advertising in print, it didn’t matter as it was all about the numbers.
So let’s look at what else changed
What changed? A whole lot changed, and it was practically overnight. They didn’t realise it at first, but the biggest change was the Salesperson lost control of the buying process.
It started off slowly with voicemail & mobile phone, cutting into cold calling. People now had the ability to screen calls. This meant fewer meetings could be booked.
In the past a salesperson would get a meeting or a call and actually “sold” to another person who had to make a decision based upon what he knew, how he felt about the salesperson and what they believed said product or service would do for their business.
That’s all he had to go off. These days we can literally Google for reviews while talking to a salesman. We can read noticeboards, forums, support forums, and conduct simultaneous research on the similar offerings by multiple companies and we can do it anywhere… well, anywhere we have a mobile connection.
This changed not only the playing field but also the game.
The Buyers are now in control
Marketers as well as traditional sales roles have changed and are still changing and evolving, constantly adapting to this changing landscape.
The salesperson has lost such a vast area of effect in the sales process, they were once there from the inception. From the awareness, stage to help with the information gathering or educate the client, through the evaluation process, all the way up to help the consumer select the correct offering to make the sale. Now they don’t come into the picture until the final set in the buyer’s journey.
The consumer can search the internet for products or services they think they may need to fill a problem or opportunity. They may engage with peers on social media, like Facebook and LinkedIn, to seek reviews or advice. They will also narrow down their list of possible suppliers until they have 2 or 3 then they may engage a salesperson.
So as you can see, what was once a process dominated by a salesperson is more or less a random chance they might get a call if their product or service seems like a good deal for the buyer.
Mind you that’s after they have gathered all their own information, researched, and possibly evaluated similar offerings to your own.
Inbound marketing – How it works
Inbound Marketing takes on a different view of how to engage with customers and has also learned from past mistakes whereby people vainly tried to apply traditional marketing and sales to a new landscape. Don’t get me wrong, traditional Marketing and Sales do still work, in some situations. But if we relied solely on this we could alienate most of our potentials buyers or future customers.
So we can see that with the current technology and resources available to them, the buyer has all the control. So how can inbound marketing allow us to align ourselves with the “buyer’s journey” from the awareness stage once more?
Re-learn what you have learnt
We need to be able to align our efforts with that of the buyer to make sure we are part of the discovery, education, research, consideration and decision process. We want to be with them from the top of the sales funnel through to the bottom.
How this is done is by following the Inbound methodology or Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight.
We need to re-realign our efforts to coincide with the user’s awareness stage!
We write blogs and create content based upon issues or perhaps a pain point that our ideal customer would be looking for, we try and educate the visitor about options related to a problem or an opportunity they might be currently facing.
Regular blogging is one of the most important parts as it will allow us to align ourselves with visitors asking different questions, remember educational content is the best, make sure they leave having learnt something new.
Once we have educated them through content, using blogs, social media, or other platforms.
We now have their attention, at some level a little bit of trust that we actually know what we are writing about. We want to stay in touch with them, so we need their contact information. This is done by offering premium content, like Guides and Whitepapers, content that will introduce solutions to more complex scenarios and options.
These are available for download behind forms, why do we use forms? We can collect the user’s contact information. It can be as simple as just an email address. From this we can see what content the visitor is interested in and then we can cherry-pick the correct educational material to help them along the journey.
The more relatable, reliable and useful content we can offer the visitor, the more they will trust your brand and there is a much higher chance they will choose your business over of your competitor.
Let’s wrap it up
Through constant blogging, email nurturing and premium content offers you have by now shown your prospect that you are the best option. As you have been there helping them in their research and consideration stages, this allows the sales side to come in at the end of the process with a fully qualified lead.
How is this you may ask, well during the Attract and Convert stage, you will have shed a lot of the time-wasters and leads that were not right for your product, leaving you with the cream of the crop.
Your qualified leads with be educated and fully informed and ready to make that final purchase.
Inbound Marketing does many things well.
- Allows the buyers to buy the way they want to buy – and remain in control.
- Generates more leads – Offering content and premium content attracts more visitors.
- Generates more qualified leads – reduces salespersons time spent on unqualified leads.
- Improves your close rates – as the buyer is educated and has formed a level of trust with your brand.
Inbound is selling without the sales pitch, it’s about educating the buyer, providing a solution, and delighting them with the results.
Want to get started learning about how creating a buyer persona for your ideal client will help you focus your marketing no matter what platform you’re using to target them on? Read our recent blog on Buyer Persona: What They Are and Why You Need Them or learn how to Create your Buyer Persona, all part of our Inbound marketing essentials series!