We get excited about inbound marketing for all sorts of reasons. It's better for your brand, it's better for your customers, it's better for your bottom line. Mostly though, it's exciting because we know it works.
It's not just keeping ahead of the changing data regulations that keeps us on side with inbound marketing, it's the cold hard data. The proof in the pudding. Delivering real results for growing businesses.
Content, social, search, done right it can all help a prospect through the buyers journey and straight into your loving arms. Better yet, a prospect treated with the nurturing love of a newborn's mother will run off into the hills singing your praises. One client becomes many, and all you did was help. Marketing. Holy. Grail.
Ready for a few fun marketing facts?
- 86% of people watching TV skip the ads - Although there are newer alternatives that do allow certain targeting options, mass media as a whole is a fairly scattergun approach. Targeting by shows and times of day is vague at best. It's also interruptive. People don't normally like ads interrupting their viewing, so you're already on the back foot. Couple that with the fact that, when possible, your audience will jump at the chance to fast forward through your ads, it's difficult to justify an ROI.
- 91% unsubscribe from emails - There will always be a place for email as part of a wider marketing strategy. Equally, there will always be a special place in hell for ill-placed, poorly-timed mass email sends to cold leads. When you look at the lowering engagement rates, changing data laws and the fact that people are now finely-tuned email-ignoring machines, it just doesn't yield the results it once did.
- 44% of direct mail is never opened - Direct mail can be very effective, if it's done right. Well-targeted, well-positioned and with that "mantlepiece" factor, it can be the perfect compliment to an account based marketing strategy. However, it's not always the most effective way to spend your time or budget. Most people resent the bombardment of circulars and "Dear Homeowner" letters, to the point they are bin-bound (that was actually an unintentional pun. I swear).
- 24 million people are on the TPS register - The Telephone Preference Service is a magical thing. In theory, it stops those nuisance cold calls. It's basically a list that says "Dear Sir/Madam, if we don't have an existing relationship, you are not allowed to call me." Better yet, there's some hefty fines in line for those who break the rules.
So, outbound is up sh*t creek... now what?
So, how do you, as a business, reliably get in front of the people you want to attract? And once you've attracted them, how do make sure they become one of your valued customers?
Think about the last time you made a considered purchase. Not your daily vanilla latte at the train station. That sugary delight before you board that overcrowded tube/tram/train/bus on your morning commute into the big smoke. Instead, something that took some real consideration.
Lets say you're looking for a new marketing agency tp partner with. How would you start that process? You'd hit the search engines right - 93% of all online experiences start with search, so it's a safe bet on my part.
You would, if you're anything like me, search for something generic like "lead generation" or "best way to market [insert your sector here]". You'll probably come across a blog on the best marketing practices in 2017. You'll do a bit of reading and start to see terms like "SEO", "content marketing", "social media marketing" and probably, I would hazard a guess, "inbound marketing". You may even find a blog similar to this one.
You do some more reading and start to find that, actually, inbound marketing is the way you want to go (just as an example, obviously). You've found that someone, somewhere has written a blog titled "what is inbound marketing?" and it starts to resonate with the problems you have as a business. We call this pattern of behaviours the 'attract' stage of the buyer's journey. So, let's assume it's our blog you've landed on.
On that blog, you see we offer some well-positioned and most importantly helpful content on creating an inbound marketing strategy. This is the 'convert' stage, as it presents a potential solution to your aforementioned problem.
So far, we've not said a single word about how great we are, why you should choose us or what services we offer, because frankly it's not important yet. You're probably not ready or interested in making a decision.
However, you are now engaged with us. We know, or at least presume to know you're "in market" - you're considering a purchase. Now we can start to nurture and nudge you towards a sale. We have content positioned to help you with all manner of questions. It forms part of our sales process, but again, it's all positioned to help, rather than just shout about how great we are.
Now we have brand awareness and we have intent. You are expecting to hear from us. And that's just the start. Inbound marketing is a keeper.
Surely you're biased about inbound marketing?
Admittedly, we are an inbound marketing agency, so you would expect the kind of fanfare lauded above. For this reason, we decided we would open up the floor to some of the most respected experts in marketing and sales. To be honest, there is a healthy amount of unashamed "fangirling" coming from us over this guestlist.
Each of the experts below were asked a very simple question: "what is it about inbound that excites you most?" Here's what they said:
1. Because it gets superior results
Dan Tyre, the pocket rocket wizard of sales, HubSpot employee number six and serial tech investor is inbound marketing's number one fan because:
"I am not a big believer in doing stuff because its fashionable. I am a big fan of getting sh*t done. The reason why inbound is superior is it gets better results. If you could get better results cold calling or spamming I would be very tempted to continue that process, but you can't. So inbound WINS. It's also nicer, better for your brand and more human. Bottom line is - results."
Dan is right (and that's not the first time that's been said). Inbound is more than a marketing tactic, it's a movement with an awful lot of evangelical support behind it, but for very good reason - it works. Inbound marketing is results-driven and really delivers.
2. It's about solving problems
David Weinhaus is one half of the sales genius duo in the HubSpot partner training program. He teaches agencies the inbound sales way, day in and day out, for one very good reason. It's about helping:
"I'd say I never thought of myself as a natural sales guy before. One of the things I love about inbound is that to be good at inbound selling, you have to be good at helping, including surfacing and solving problems. Those are things I have always been good at. Inbound allows me to use my natural helping and problem solving abilities to be good at sales."
Solving problems for the people you're selling to is a crucial part of both inbound sales and inbound marketing. You get to that by identifying a problem and finding ways to solve those problems with the solutions you offer.
Getting back to our hypothetical search for a marketing agency, we normally help our clients solve one of a handful of problems. Lead generation, as an example, is something most businesses have a problem with on some level. The content on our site, and the processes that support that content, all aim to solve that problem.
Once we've identified the problem, our sales process aims to help, not bombard leads with messages of how great we are (that should be implicit anyway...)
Read more - The 4 problems we fix with growth marketing
3. It's about personalisation
Paul Earnden, Head of Consultancy at Prodo Digital, believes inbound marketing is the way forward because it gives:
"The chance to make marketing decisions based on absolutely anything you know about a contact. If you only want to market to Manchester United fans who typically purchase Adidas trainers in a size 12 - great - providing you’ve collected that data, you can personalise your marketing message."
Nurturing, personalisation and insight, three things inbound delivers in droves. When combined with the tools now at our disposal as marketers (did we mention we're a HubSpot partner...?) the insight we have is incredible. When we can personalise and adapt messaging based on that data, we create something that becomes truly tailored to the individual. Hopefully, our marketing then resonates far more effectively than a blanket catch all.
Your website is your most far reaching sales executive. Imagine it as a bricks and mortar store. You wouldn't expect your salespeople in a physical store to approach every customer in the same way, would you? Same applies to the digital world.
4. It's not about pushing your agenda
Robbie McFarlane, HubSpot's favorite son (well ours anyway) and Principal Channel Consultant says:
"Inbound marketing provides a framework for companies to help their prospects and customers. It’s a departure from the old school, traditional agenda-pushing and moves from ‘what value can I get’ to ‘what value can I give’. You can’t fake it either so it allows the genuine businesses who care about their customers to rise to the top."
David vs Golliath. If you can provide great content that hits the niche you serve with some real value, you can beat the big boys and girls. It doesn't have to be about huge ad budgets.
5. It's selling, without selling
When asked what excites her about inbound, Joy Clarke, the creative brains behind Quattro Digital said:
"What excites me about inbound as a concept, is that it's selling without selling. It attracts customers to us who have a genuine want and need. There's no sales patter, no continuous paid advertising draining our or our customer's funds. Just people who are interested in our services getting in touch; it couldn't be simpler. I love the fact that the inbound methodology doesn't stop at marketing either, it can be used throughout the business in operations and sales too."
Joy's point is key. Inbound connects in-market prospects who are actively searching for a product or service with those able to deliver for them. There's no heavy sale, just a genuine need meeting a genuine solution.
Inbound isn't just limited to marketing, either. It filters out across sales, customer support, product teams... It's a proper game changer.
6. Education, excitement, loyalty
Luke Summerfield, Founder and evangelist in chief of Growth-Driven Design, believes that:
"When done right, every action you take from blogs, to email, to video, to consultations are all to help another human make progress in their life. In business we call this "create value", but the bottom line is that you're helping the world be a better place. The best part is that as you're helping others, you create an excited, educated, and loyal group of fans who are banging at your door for your products or services. When done right, inbound is both personally and financially rewarding."
I couldn't agree more. One of the things that I think makes inbound truly unique is its ability to deliver a narrative and understanding over time, rather than just ramming your message down your prospect's throat. David said it, Luke reiterated it, it's about helping. And that's what makes it so successful as a marketing movement.
7. Inbound sales is efficient and effective
Lars Hansen, Sales Manager for Norway's MarkedsPartner, a Diamond HubSpot Partner Agency says that:
"As Sales Manager I will say that inbound has changed the entire sales strategy. Talking to those who have shown interest in what we offer, gives incredible valuable conversations. Additionally, it's inspirational to drop push sales, and rather be the one that helps leads through their buyer`s journey. By concentrating on those who are interested in what we offer, we simply work much more efficiently. Fewer meetings but higher quality of them."
The alignment between sales and marketing that inbound affords allows businesses to entirely re-imagine, and perfect their entire process. Moving from interruption to helpfulness. It can reduce the wastage in time spent chasing poor fit leads and open up conversations much more conducive to generating real client relationships.