Jean-Marie Bonthous, Seamless Social
Inbound marketing is an effective way for marketers to help prospects find their company, starting at the earliest stage in the funnel: when the prospect does not even know he is looking for a solution. Inbound marketing creates early awareness that can later convert into brand preference, leads and revenues.
Inbound marketing engages prospects when their defenses are down
• They are just browsing. Their “Don’t try to sell to me” guard is down. When done right, inbound marketing serves content that is useful, informative, educational, and even at times entertaining. Inbound marketing in the early stages of the funnel tends, if done skillfully, to produce results that are far superior to traditional marketing.
Content is the fuel of inbound marketing
• Because content is the currency of engagement with prospects, its quality needs to be high. It muse inform, educate, inspire, entertain, depending on what the particular prospects in the ecosystem need to become interested. The format in which this content is delivered can and needs to take many forms, depending on what the topic is, and what stage of the funnel the prospect is at.
Content needs to be delivered in a variety of media
• These include, blog posts, e-Books and books, brochures, case studies, demos, emails, free trials, images, information guides, live streamed events, manuals, media releases, micro-sites and web pages, online courses, podcasts and videocasts, presentations, product data sheets, reference guides, resource libraries, RSS/XML feeds, surveys, radio, TV and web TV, videos (including interviews, animated video explainers and more). Webinars and webcasts, white papers, widgets and workbooks. Since you likely neither the time, budget nor manpower to create unique elements of contents for several or all of these media, you will need to learn how to repurpose this content rapidly and effectively.
Content needs to travel far and have visibility
• By optimizing the ability of your web site to get found and to serve as a sharing platform, you will enable your content to travel further. If your web site ranks high in search engines, your content will be exposed to many people.
• And if your content is well optimized with the right keywords, keyword density, etc.. you will make it even more findable. “Sharing” is the magic wand of social media: if people find your content interesting and valuable, they will “Like” it or share it, whether its on LinkedIn, Stumble Upon, Digg, Delicious, or Twitter. This will introduce this content to their friends and networks with potentially exponential increases in reach.
9 reasons why inbound marketing is not enough
• 1) Inbound marketing casts a very wide net, hoping that you will find some edible fishes in the net. While you may catch some large fishes, the net may also get filled with many undersized fishes, i.e. “tire kickers”, or low-level leads. To mitigate your risk, you need, in parallel, to have a more focused marketing approach where you engage people in a targeted away using media like direct mail, email and phone.
• 2) People that don’t know of you may not find you. They may not know that you exist. And even if they feel the pain to which you have a solution, you may not register or you may not rank high enough on the keywords that they are using to search. If you talk about a solution, and they search about issues (as they usually do in the early stages of the funnel), their path and your path may not cross online.
• 3) Your content may be great, but it may not appear in the right format or location where the prospects hang out online at each step if the funnel.
• 4) Prospects may have misconceptions about you. They may have heard unfounded rumors or misinformation.
• 5) Those reading your content may not be the decision makers. Few CMOs or CEOs spend time online doing research. Make sure that you reach not just that like to read your content, but also those that authorize purchases.
• 6) Inbound marketing competes with ambient noise. I’m writing this post from the NAB, with 100,000 attendees tweeting. You can’t rely on your content getting noticed between as thousands of tweets fly by every hour. All you may be doing is adding to the noise. This may be a perfect moment to NOT engage in inbound marketing, and to use a radically contrasting medium.
• 7) Some communities are inbound-deaf. Some verticals are just not online. At the most the people there have a dead LinkedIn page. Creating a content engine for them may be a waste of resources.
• 8) Inbound marketing does not scale well, in terms of ROI. Going from 2 to 6 blog posts a week will likely not triple your leads. You need to carefully measure correlation between greater investment in content and greater ROI.
• 9) Inbound takes time. You may not have the time to wait. With outbound you take action quickly, With PPC you can get results in hours.
To complement inbound, leverage outbound marketing, marketing automation and corporate communications
• Outbound, both online and offline, is about paying to acquire new leads, whether it’s Google AdWords, Facebook ads, or having a booth at a trade show.
These outbound promotional tactics are a nice complement to the education- and thought leadership-focused tactics of inbound. And through outbound marketing you are sure to reach your target. You don’t wait for them to find you, which may never happen.
• Corporate communications brings a wide array of valuable tools: analysts reports, media releases, loyalty and upsell programs,
• Marketing automation allows you manage and automate the conversion of prospects into buyers and evangelists. As you automate the processes of generating demand, managing leads and align sales with marketing, you not only increase revenue generation but you can now score and nurture leads 24/7. You can track email open and click. Implement A/B testing, create landing pages on the fly, focus on the most promising leads, and deliver better leads to sales faster. And you can save resources by automating the scoring/nurturing cycle.
What has been your experience complementing inbound with outbound, marketing automation and corporate communications? I would love to hear from you.
I would like to thank HubSpot for their wonderful webinars, education and coaching about inbound marketing over the years, and Marketo for their great e-Books, in particular “Amplify Your Impact”, which inspired this post.
Photo courtesy of yann.co.nz via Flickr Creative Commons