What do you do when your traditional marketing toolbox no longer cuts the mustard but you still need to bring home even more leads?
In recent years most marketing and business development managers will have experienced pressure to generate more leads whilst at the same time witnessing falling results from formerly effective tactics.
Where did all the leads go?
For B2B SME's it's more or less common knowledge that:
Print advertising is an expensive luxury
Online advertising gets miniscule click-throughs
Direct mail is increasingly left unopened
Mass-email open and click through rates have already hit rock bottom
Increasingly, these expensive methods are less and less effective at generating leads.
The common denominator with all these is that they fall into the category of outbound, or interruption, marketing; you push them out, they interrupt your prospect and, unless the prospect is in a position to buy, they are gone for ever.
If outbound no longer works, what can you do instead?
Look to the changes in buyer behaviour for the answers
Buyers have spent years being bombarded with unwanted sales messages and have learned to ignore them. They now use the power of search and the internet to identify the solutions to their problems and to select potential suppliers. They keep suppliers at arm's length, or further away if possible, until they are close to making a decision and only then might they make contact.
It is possible for you to reach out to a buyer before they have fully made up their mind, but this is only effective if your brand has earned the buyer's trust and they are suitably far through the decision making process.
Inbound marketing is the solution
With buyers behaving the way they do, you need to find new ways to:
Get found by potential buyers while they research
Educate them in order to build credibility and trust
Engage and nurture their interest to avoid being forgotten about
Change your message as they move though different stages of the buying process
Find the right moment to reach out, if they haven't called you
Inbound marketing, the foundation of which is the creation of online content that appeals to your target buyers at every stage of the buying process, is the way to achieve all these things.
Thanks to the rising effectiveness of inbound marketing, it's also cheaper to generate leads this way. Meaning that, in time, you will be able to generate more leads than ever before, for the same or less budget.
It's not enough to implement just one inbound tactic. To get results, you really need to fully commit to the whole methodology, from the top of the buying process right to the bottom and beyond. To do this really requires the use of a marketing automation platform that can aggregate management of blogging, social, email automation, analytics, CRM and more within one tool. Otherwise you will spend all your time trying to get different tools to talk to each other, trying to marry up data from each, and little time doing any inbound marketing. For SME's, HubSpot is the perfect choice for marketing automation.
Setting up and operating HubSpot isn't hard, but it calls for skills and knowledge you probably don’t keep in-house. This is where an inbound agency can really help.
Creating enough of the right sort of content is the number one challenge cited by those already doing inbound marketing. Even in an organisation with normally vocal, subject-matter experts, it can be excruciatingly hard to get their knowledge down onto paper, or the screen. Again, this is where in an inbound agency can help. Let them take the lead with generating ideas, researching topics and tapping into your company's expertise.