As marketers, we’ve had a front row seat to the rapidly changing B2B and B2C buying landscape in the last five years. The old staple marketing tactics like direct mail, radio, and TV ads aren’t working anymore.
The batch and blast email campaigns that you use to send out every week have lost their effectiveness, and the only metric trending up is opt-outs.
You know that something has to change because your marketing performance statistics have been trending down for the last 18 months.
I am here to share with you the way to reverse these trends with inbound marketing. In this post I’ll explain why you can’t afford putting off inbound marketing any longer—not just because it’s becoming more mainstream, but because of what you could be missing. Lets look at four things that can happen if you continue to put off Inbound:
1) You’ll Miss Out on Leads. Lots of Leads
If you're like most marketing directors that I know you are getting pressure from the executive team to increase the number of monthly leads that you generate for sales. As if that is not enough, you’re being asked to do this with a reduced budget. This is a tall order for any marketing executive, and you know that it is not going to be possible to achieve these goals following “business as usual marketing strategies and tactics.”
This is where adding inbound marketing to the equation can really help you ramp up your lead generation activities. As both B2B and B2C consumers start ignoring traditional marketing tactics, marketers need to alter their communication methods accordingly. So start by shifting your staff’s time, your marketing budget and your creative resources to inbound tactics like search engine optimization, social media promotion and content creation. This will help you attract curious strangers (leads) from across the Internet to your website, landing pages and blogs.
Additionally, there is a sense of urgency here. The “first mover advantage” is definitely at work when it comes to search engine dominance, social media visibility and blog subscribers. The companies and organizations that understand the power of content and who can move quickly are the ones who will solidify an elevated position against lagging competitors. This position will help your organization garner a significant number of monthly new leads.
2) You’ll Miss Out on Improving Your Lead Quality
The second reason that you can’t put off implementing inbound marketing is because you’ll miss out on improving the quality of the leads you generate. Need convincing? Let’s take a quick look at the difference between the quality of a lead that is generated from traditional marketing versus inbound marketing.
Traditional marketing tactics depend on interrupting our day: TV commercials interrupt our favorite program, radio ads interrupt a string a great songs, and worst of all cold callers interrupt us at dinnertime. Inbound marketing on the other hand is all about attraction, and the leads that come in are from individuals that are actively looking for a solution to a problem. So the quality of an inbound lead is, by definition, higher and more qualified because the person is proactively looking for a solution.
By implementing inbound marketing tactics like content creation. You develop marketing assets like: industry ebooks, customer success stories, infographics, and videos. These items inform your prospects, attract them to you business, and bring value to their lives. This predisposes them to utilize your products and services when they are ready to make a purchase decision.
Organizations that delay the move to inbound marketing put themselves at a severe disadvantage. Primarily because traditional marketing is more expensive and generates lower lower quantity and quality leads. These lower quality leads take longer for sales reps to close versus inbound leads. So delaying the move to inbound marketing can hurt overall company revenue performance—and nobody wants that, right
3) You’ll Miss Out on a Shorter Sales Cycle
You may read the headline sales cycle times and say “what does that have to do with marketing”? Well I am about to tell you, as products become more and more complex it’s possible that sales cycle times increase proportionally. This has the potential to hurt company revenue performance and bog down sales with a more laborious process. However, a well honed inbound marketing department can reverse this trend by creating content that allows consumers to deeply self educate on: features, benefits and pricing before ever engaging with sales.
Creating this product content will have a two pronged effect:
- Elevated Conversation Quality: It will drastically increase the quality of the conversation that sales is with having with prospects. Primarily because these leads will be much further down the “product knowledge road” than others who don’t have a access to this educational information.
- Shorten Sales Cycle Times: Additionally, publishing this information will decrease the average sales cycle times. Primarily because this educational content will move prospects from the top of the funnel with content like industry ebooks, to the middle of the funnel with content like comparison guides, to the bottom of the funnel with content like customer success stories.
So start publishing content that will help educate your target buyers and move them through the stages of the sales funnel efficiently. The alternative is having your sales reps move your prospects through each stage, which is time consuming, expensive and laborious.
4) You’ll Miss Out on Decreasing Cost Per Lead
On this final point I want to start with a quote from Guy Kawasaki about marketing. He states: “If you have more money than brains you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing”. So the final reason that it is imperative to start implementing inbound marketing tactics is because you can drastically decrease the cost per lead. I would like to pause for a little story from my own life:
I started out my marketing career for in an organization that loved to send out direct mail. I didn’t really know why either, it was incredibly expensive and the response rate was abysmal. The only thing that I could think of when I was stuffing envelopes in the mailroom was all the deforestation that was happening in Washington State to send everyone in America one of these marketing mailers. It broke my heart, and it broke the company's bank account. Additionally, it generated almost no leads.
The point of this story is that traditional marketing tactics are incredibly expensive and very ineffective. Direct mail has to be close to 85 cents per piece now, and tv and radio ads aren’t getting any cheaper. So what is the alternative?
The alternative is inbound marketing and content creation, instead of running an ad on the radio, or publishing a full page spread in Fast Company magazine start writing about your business and industry. As marketers we must become educators and teachers, not just promoters. So start blogging 3 times a week, create product content, and write industry resources. The great thing is that these inbound marketing tactics are significantly cheaper to produce and are way more effective than their more traditional counterparts. As you create this content you will see your cost per lead decrease, and your search engine visibility and lead generation increase.
Finally, the more industry ebooks that you right, blog posts that you get published, and videos that you create the more visibility you will attain within your industry. This visibility is directly correlated to your thought leadership position and your ability to generate low cost leads for your organization. So move away from a “promote” only strategy and start creating educational content that will add value to your prospects lives.
When push comes to shove, traditional marketing tactics are more expensive while simultaneously less effective. As a marketer or small business owner it’s imperative to be shifting staff, budget and creative resources away from these tactics toward inbound marketing initiatives. Things like: search engine optimization, website and landing page development, social media promotion, and educational content creation. By shifting course you will see: increased lead generation, elevated lead quality, decreased cost per lead and shorter sales cycle times.
However, by delaying you allow for fast moving competitors to entrench themselves into an elevated position that is difficult for you to dismantle. So don’t delay any longer, create an inbound marketing strategy for your organization!
Originally published Mar 24, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016