Would you rather buy an apple on your own in a grocery store or from a street peddler pushing his best produce into your personal bubble? Have you ever asked a cold-call salesman to remove you from his list or actively put your name on the Do Not Call Registry? Very few people enjoy being “sold to” these days, or at least they prefer to do their homework and buy something in a way they’re most comfortable with.
Inbound marketing shortens the top of the sales funnel. It’s a practice that aims to educate leads and potentials so they are qualified, informed and ready to buy before speaking to a representative. A company can go about this by capturing lead contact information and nurturing that lead by targeting blog posts, landing pages, e-books and more content to each buyer persona. To echo one of Cinda’s recent posts, the average B2B customer moves nearly 60 percent of the way through the buying decision-making process before they engage a sales representative.1 Giving your potential customers easy access to valuable information can help them reach the level of understanding they need to initiate a conversation with you.
Inbound marketing can be defined as creating interesting and informative content on your website that will draw inherently qualified and educated leads into your sales funnel through marketing automation. Marketing automation utilizes precisely staged workflows to deliver content at the right moment to keep leads coming back.
A number of tools are available to help execute automated inbound processes, notably HubSpot and Marketo.
HubSpot provides marketing automation that allows a company to manage leads, buyer personas, blog posts, email marketing, landing pages, social messaging, forms, calls-to-action, competitors and analytics all in one interface.
Marketo is very similar to Hubspot, while also offering up-sell, cross-sell, loyalty marketing and event marketing add-ons.
WordPress can also be built to assist with inbound automation tasks. All of these inbound services cost money, so how does one justify spending precious marketing dollars on a seemingly simple tool? The answer is ROI. Every marketer wants to improve ROI, and inbound marketing increases ROI in a big way. Inbound automation increases traffic to your website and blog and helps you capture qualified lead information. With the right handling once leads enter your sales pipeline, inbound traffic should translate into increased sales.
At SCORR, we’ve had an increasing number of new clients approach us with HubSpot or other automated inbound marketing tools somewhat integrated into their mix. While it’s something we welcome with open arms, it should be noted that inbound marketing tools are not replacements for your current marketing activities, but rather a way to better accommodate your content to your audience. Content and sales strategy are still the drivers behind lead conversion.
1The Corporate Leadership Board (CEB), and Marketing Leadership Council®. “The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing.” (2012): P. 2 (link)