Last month I had the privilege to join the "Social Brands & Influencers with Wright and Wong" podcast. It was a long interview but an awesome experience. I truly appreciated them giving me a forum to air some of the ideas surrounding how inbound marketing and ecommerce -- two of the greatest disruptive innovations driving change in today's marketplace that have traditionally been separate -- work together with a synergy that creates an end-to-end experience that consumers love. For those that don't want to listen to the hour-plus interview, I've summarized the key points the hosts and I discovered in our chat.
You can listen to the podcast in its entirety here:
They asked a lot of interesting and challenging questions in the interview, most of which I couldn't fit into a managebly-sized summary here, so I hope you'll listen when you've got some time. In the meantime, here are the basics (written is free-flow as I listened to the podcast):
Experimental marketing focuses on buyer personas, which focuses less on age, income, and other factors often used for interruption marketing to determine target audience and instead focuses on psychographic targeting. Inbound marketing is attraction based instead of interruption based, and attraction is a psychographic characteristic that inbound marketers have to invest in understanding. Understanding the buyer persona’s story makes reaching them on a personal level much easier.
Social Brands & Influencers
Though the concept of inbound marketing is turning companies around, many still miss some of the key benefits. Tracking metrics has improved, as well as closed-loop analytics, but people still use blogging as a tactic. The goal isn’t to stuff keywords for search engine optimization but to build an audience through expertise. The goal is to unify those tactics into a methodology.
Importance of LTV
Some tips for unifying the methodology include reimagining the math to include LTV instead of just income and expenses. Concentration on customer acquisition and retention helps to unify the tactics. RJ Metrics supplies a useful calculator to determine LTV. When considering buyer personas, we want to determine how much acquiring those customers costs, and then how much we must spend to retain them.
LTV for consumable goods tends to be higher, while LTV for other goods relies on cross-marketing, remarketing, and upselling. Amazon does a great job of these things, which is why selling on Amazon isn’t a great idea. Instead of acquiring a lifetime customer for your business after they make a purchase from your company through Amazon, you instead essentially hand that customer to Amazon. You can only count the one sale through Amazon as that customer’s LTV, while Amazon will begin to nurture that customer to grow that customer's long-term value to them.
How B2B Is Ahead of the Curve
B2B has a greater sense of urgency to innovate than their B2C counterparts. B2B sales have grown by 16.3% over the last ten years, while B2C sales grow by 16% each quarter. B2C focuses on email marketing, discounts, coupons, etc. and experiences huge growth, so urgency isn’t there. B2B has to focus on overall growth through inbound marketing, which has put these businesses ahead of B2C by about five years.
“I make money every time I help someone make a purchasing decision.” - Jeff Bezos
Inbound marketing relies on building an audience and educating that audience. Ecommerce relies more on customers who are already planning to make a purchase, while B2B concentrates on convincing potential customers to make a purchase.
B2B marketers are far ahead of the curve in adopting inbound marketing methodologies because they've had to innovate, they couldn't just rely on PPC, SEO, and primitive email blasts to drive their growth. Because of this, the B2B marketers are creating content that empowers consumer research and heavily investing in customized user experiences while B2C marketers are lagging far behind with a 2006 mentality of how internet marketing works.
Silent Buying Process
The B2B world exists in a buying scenario where most consumers interact with a real, live, thinking human being who can create a highly customized buying experience around the pain points and use cases of a few hundred leads a month. The ecommerce world, on the other hand, has just one sales rep -- their shopping cart -- that's expected to serve tens of thousands of buyers every month and we don't empower it with anywhere near the amount of information that B2B marketers are feeding to human sales reps who could do most of that qualifying work manually.
Ecommerce is a nearly silent buying process, with shopping carts as the only sales rep. Without forms and offers in place to gather pre-transactional information about the buyer, ecommerce companies can’t begin to build a relationship with that customer. Everything an ecommerce company can learn about a customer helps to make each subsequent experience more relevant, which then entices customers back for future purchases. Creating a user experience where maintaining a long-term relationship with your company is more valuable than going somewhere else is how you create a valuable ecommerce business model.
There is a difference between inbound marketing and inbound sales. Once someone buys, leveraging the inbound sales process to improve LTV is important. Email is one of the most important tools for inbound sales, regardless of how many people think the method is dead. Unfortunately, many abuse email marketing by sending coupons and discounts instead of creating content that’s of value to the customer. Spamming your whole list three times a week with a coupon is not email marketing.
Future of Mobile Ecommerce
Mobile is a huge opportunity and challenge for ecommerce marketers. Responsive design isn’t so much a problem as discovery via mobile. Using mobile for curation all the way to shopping cart is the future of ecommerce, though no one’s mastered this yet. So many people are tied to mobile -- it's the most ubiquitous component of the modern consumer's life -- but we haven’t yet discovered a way to leverage the amount of time people spend on smartphones and tablets and turn that into sales that's better than just replicating our catalogs optimized for that screen resolution.
One of the coolest things HubSpot is doing right now is the Social Inbox tool. This tool allows ecommerce sites to connect with customers through social media based on the context of who they are. The most important thing to remember when using social media for customer acquisition and retention is personalization to inspire brand loyalty. Customer service is also an important aspect of social media marketing and sales.
The most under-leveraged tactic in the ecommerce world is the concept of the pre-transactional conversion. Each buyer goes through the same cycle, no matter what the purchase: relevance, awareness, research, comparison, intent, and purchasing. Instead of focusing only on the transaction, a great ecommerce site focuses on every phase of the buying cycle while also capturing information to personalize the experience.
Originally published Nov 13, 2013 10:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016