Forty-one percent of CMOs and CEOs report inbound marketing produced a measurable ROI in 2013, with half indicating an increased spend this year, according to HubSpot's 5th Annual State of Inbound Marketing Report.
Wondering how inbound and outbound marketing are different?
Cold calling, networking, and mass media advertising are common outbound strategies. This is also known as push marketing because you're pushing your message to the marketplace. In contrast, inbound marketing uses a pull technique by leveraging social media marketing, blogging, and search engine optimization to pull prospects toward your brand for that all-important first point of contact. The idea is to develop high-quality content that attracts prospective buyers in the early stages of the buying lifecycle. It's commonly called content marketing.
Consider how buyers shop for your products or services to determine how much outbound vs. inbound marketing is in order.
Do they predominantly ask friends, or do they search online? If the former, allocate more resources to outbound marketing, emphasizing direct sales to both consumers and industry influencers. If the latter, focus more on inbound strategies. Most companies find the strongest ROI through a combination of approaches, where inbound leads are fed to the sales team, which then makes contact with the more qualified of those prospects.
To win at inbound marketing, you must have patience. It may take 50 blog posts to drive enough traffic to your site to generate sufficient qualified leads to justify the time investment. Eventually, a snowball effect can occur, where each blog post creates infinitely more leads than could have ever been generated through direct sales alone.
So begin by asking yourself if your team is committed to developing enough quality content to make a difference. It requires more than simply regurgitating brochure copy. Be a thought leader, pushing out relevant, non-promotional content with the subtlest of connections to what you sell, or it will likely be dismissed by buyers as biased or inauthentic.
Next, create a content calendar for the year with assignments for your internal subject matter experts. Consider involving vendors and strategic partners in the content creation process.
Lastly, give thought to how you will qualify inbound leads. If a site visitor clicks to download a white paper, what information will you ask of them in exchange? While you'll get more takers the fewer fields there are to complete, there is value in having enough information to allow your sales team to properly qualify leads.
So ask what's necessary to narrow the field of prospects, including title, company, business category and company size. Consider including a multiple-choice question related to what drove them to your site -- or their need -- to give the sales team a leg up when calling.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing in Memphis, TN, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).