As you begin looking at the disturbing gap between your 2015 business goals and current plans, which Frank discussed in the second post of our 2015 Sales and Marketing Planning series, you’re also most likely contemplating what can successfully get you to the other side. And if you’re not, it’s time.
You’ve heard about inbound marketing being a possible approach that could close the gap, but there’s a nagging little voice in your head questioning whether it’s just a fad or truly something that could work for your business. To help you quiet that little voice, here are 7 reasons your company should consider implementing an inbound marketing methodology.
1. Your traditional, outbound strategy is sputtering
You’ve been using traditional, “interruption” marketing vehicles like print ads in trade publications and directories, attending trade shows and using direct mail, but aren’t seeing these methods pull in the leads like you need them to — and they are expensive. You have a website, but it’s just been static for quite a while, and the online ads you’ve bought aren’t converting. Unlike these traditional marketing methods, inbound marketing is about attracting customers who choose where, when and how they want to receive information about the types of things your company offers or who need answers to problems you can help them solve.
2. Your leads are cold and expensive
You’ve probably experienced it. The leads that came from traditional marketing methods weren't really leads as much as cold names on lists, they cost more than they're worth and were ultimately of discouraging quality and value. No big surprise, sales then misses their numbers and blames marketing for a lack of good leads. Inbound marketing, however, attracts the most qualified prospects and helps nurture them toward a warm relationship with you. In fact, inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound methods, according to the 2013 HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing Report. Plus, such leads cost less: U.S. inbound marketers spending more than $25K per year save an average of 13% in overall cost per lead and more than $14 dollars for every new customer acquired versus those relying on outbound strategies.
3. Your company is essentially invisible in search
When considering a purchase, whether it’s a B2C or B2B product or service, the vast majority of buyers turn to Google to begin the process of learning more about the specific product and who may offer it. According to HubSpot, 81% of B2B buyers use search to identify potential vendors, and 59% look online for peer recommendations. In addition, people research and digest 10.4 unique pieces of content before making a purchasing decision. So, if you don’t show up in the search results – particularly on the first page of results – for all intents and purposes, you don’t exist and, obviously, you can’t be considered. Utilizing an inbound methodology will help you refine and improve your website’s content to increase the chances of being found when someone is searching for reviews and product comparisons and specifications during a search.
4. You need more credibility with prospects and customers
Customers not being able to find you is one thing (see #3), but if and when they do find you, what will they find out? If your website is essentially the same as the printed brochures that have been on the shelf for the past five years, the likelihood potential customers will discover relevant content to help them make decisions is slim. Using inbound tactics, inclusive of blogs, social media and relevant content offers, will help you connect and build credibility with your prospective customers. Over time these folks will begin to know and trust you because you’re providing relevant information, answering questions, and guiding them toward the solutions they need.
Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter should be used to connect with your targeted audience. This is a great place to engage your community with questions and understand their pain points, making it easier to help solve them. Even just monitoring trending topics can give you insights into your customer base.
5. You seriously crave hard data
With tight budgets, you’re under the gun to demonstrate the ROI on your marketing expenditures. And let’s face it, documenting the return on those old-time print ads is extremely difficult and may force you to use the WAG (Wild A** Guess) method. Inbound marketing, however can provide a wealth of metrics about the effectiveness of specific tactics, in real-time, allowing you to test, adjust and respond to what you learn. Plus, you can get real-time leads to which sales reps can respond almost immediately.
6. Long-term commitments don’t frighten you
Unlike traditional efforts, where you invest in a little creative and space placement and you’re done, inbound is a long-term strategy that takes consistent effort over time. Think of it like constructing a large building; it doesn’t take a day. You have to build a foundation of content that will generate site traffic, leads and customers and keep adding to it over time and make updates over time. Depending on your starting point, inbound can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months to start showing results.
7. You want to reach across the distance
If your company can serve customers wherever they are located, but you’ve historically limited yourself to those you can physically reach, inbound marketing can quickly improve your visibility globally and help eliminate the perceived barrier of distance.
If you still need some additional information to chew on, consider the following facts about inbound:
- Do Not Call Lists, email spam filters and DVR devices all mean that customers are much better at tuning out messages they don’t want to hear. As a result, traditional methods to source leads and customers have all but dried up, generating just 22% of all leads in 2013.
- Inbound concepts boost website conversions: Inbound marketing doubles the average site conversion rate of non-inbound marketing, from 6% to 12% total. Marketers see an average website conversion rate of 10% industry-wide.
- Companies that blog 15 or more times per month get 5 times more traffic than companies that don’t blog.
- The average company with 100 or more total blog articles is more likely to experience continued lead growth.
- Companies with 51 to 100 Twitter followers generate 106% more traffic than those with 25 or fewer.
- The average company saw a 185% increase in traffic after crossing 1,000 Facebook likes.
It’s pretty clear at this point that inbound marketing isn’t the latest fad. If you haven’t seriously thought about inbound methodology within the scope of your 2015 planning, now’s the time to figure out how you can implement this methodology and start down the road to logically and effectively reach prospects and build long-term relationships with your customers.