Some people believe that the Internet offers too much of a good thing, in this case, sales success. If you have a working sales funnel, know what you sell, can produce high quality content and have plenty of inventory, they may be right. You may experience sales that wildly exceed your expectations. But first you need a working sales funnel.
Start by Designing Working Sales Funnels
All successful Inbound Marketing campaigns depend upon having a defined sales funnel. Ideally, you will have defined various actions that customers take, that take them from MQL->SQL->Opportunity->Deal.
Inbound Sales Strategy
The simple and transparent Inbound Sales strategy sees strangers attracted to your brand with useful, appealing content, aimed at building brand awareness and reaching new audiences. This content first strategy is part of a wider Inbound Marketing, content driven, growth driven design process.
Marketing Automation Platform is Key to Your Success
Your inbound marketing strategy all comes together when you're using the right marketing automation platform, which in our case, is Hubspot.
Custom Buyer's Journey
Your marketing automation platform helps you design and execute an inbound marketing and sales strategy that is dynamically customized to each buyer's journey.
Inbound Marketing Strategy Success
As someone who has built a massively successful website that draws thousands of organic visitors a month, and generates far more highly qualified leads than my company can possibly cope with, I can attest to the fact that the internet, more specifically, the internet using the proven techniques of Inbound Marketing, can indeed lead to some very nasty outcomes.
How can that be, you may ask?
What is Inbound Marketing
Before I do a deeper dive on Inbound Marketing, it is best to understand what is meant by traditional marketing.
Brief Explanation of Traditional Marketing
When we think about traditional marketing methods, we typically think about outbound marketing… buying radio and TV ads, running print ads, buying email lists, cold-calling, advertising on billboards, or sponsoring a booth at a tradeshow. We are pushing our marketing message OUT to a given audience hoping for a response, a lead, and new customer.
How do you do inbound marketing?
There are different techniques for doing inbound marketing. One of the first things to consider is understanding your target audience and what they want from you as a brand. Once you've established this through data and research, you can work out how to engage and build relationships with them through inbound marketing. This could be launching a blog, creating an email strategy or speaking to your customers via social.
That's a short introduction to Inbound Marketing. Now let's dive in to what can happen when it works too well.
Intersection of Big Data and Marketing
Key Inbound Marketing Tools and Outcomes
As someone with a supply chain background and deep interest in the intersection of big data and marketing, I have wondered how companies will deal with the following signs of way too much success:
- If your supply chain is based on demand planning approaches, how will your Inbound Marketing activities, which work to continuously stoke demand, work well together?
As volumes increase and product variety increases, how will your content marketing efforts be impacted?
Mastering search engines with a content marketing strategy, using up-to-date content such as ebooks, checklist, webinars, analyst reports, thought leadership pieces such as white papers, press releases, calculators and scoping tools, and even social media posts, will require greater investment than you've ever made in the past.
- If your Inbound Marketing is for an e-commerce website, and is highly successful, meaning you have far more demand than you do units of stock available for sale, will not your forecasting accuracy be severely negatively affected?
Answering questions from customers, especially for high-demand items that are out-of-stock, becomes of critical importance with regards to managing customer loyalty and achieving repeat sales.
If your ecommerce website business model also includes a subscription component, you will need to be able to answer these questions via multiple channels, including email, onsite chat and via social media channels.
- If your Inbound Marketing results, coupled with a Real Time Offer Management system works too well, won’t you be putting your supply chain at extreme risk of being unable to deliver the products, or worse, won’t you be running promotions when you really didn’t too?
How are you likely to hit your Inbound Marketing Goals? Most likely by achieving first page seo rankings for a wide variety long tail keywords, using a focused content plan.
That's why it's imperative to produce content to a published content calendar that integrates with your offer management system.
It's also the best approach for building trust with your target audience. You'll be producing content that is both relevant to them, and is timely to them on their own personal buyer's journey.
- How will you tie your Inbound Marketing driven excess demand to your demand sensing system?
The secret weapon of Inbound Marketing is being able to delight customers. One way to do that is to ensure your sales process is closely tied to your ability to deliver. Nothing will destroy a customer relationship, usually built over long periods of time at great cost and effort, than not having the right product available when they're ready to buy.
- If you eventually have massive numbers of website visitors and highly qualified prospects, will your business units actually be able to use this in their annual sales and operations forecast? If so, how?
For small businesses, planning is often a major challenge. Nevertheless, if you want to achieve success, you plan for it.
- If your Inbound Marketing efforts also include some of the 17% of annual new product introductions made across industry, will you understand how much it affects or could affect your forecast bias?
While most products and services are released to address perceived pain points, there is always the possibility that what the marketing team thought was a pain point isn't enough of one as perceived by the customer, to warrant searching for a solution. This will definitely throw your sales forecast off.
- If you are the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), and you go the Inbound Marketing route, will you have enough trained marketing analytics specialist who also can talk with and work with the planners?
While marketing analytics can be intense, with a system like Hubspot, with its extensive native analytics, and integration capabilities with platforms like SAP, it is certainly doable.
As demand planning is a dynamic process, for many companies, analytics will be a constant activity, just part of using the system, on a daily basis. It is one of the key ways everyone on the marketing team will gain insights on what is working and what isn't.
- As an Inbound Marketing campaign runs 24X7X365, and thus generates constant demand at an ever decreasing cost, will your sales team actually be able to pursue the leads, or will it lead to cherry picking?
While the right inbound marketing strategies can indeed be a great way to help you with lead generation, leads need sales follow-up if you are to grow business.
- Inbound Marketing generates BIG DATA. Will you truly have the capacity to analyze it, work with your sales team and customers, to make sense of it?
You will need the time and patience to not only come up with a content plan that supports your Inbound Marketing efforts, you will need to perform in-depth analysis on how each piece performs singularly and as a whole.
This analysis will help you and your team to write content that better addresses the information needs of the members of your target market.
- Inbound Marketing in a multi-channel context requires integration across multiple, disparate systems to avoid Excel hell. Are you truly ready to work with your partners to optimize your supply chain based on real-time demand signals coming from your Inbound Marketing efforts?
Customer relationships often involve touch points from multiple players both within your own four walls as well as many business partners.
New business opportunities often come from these partners. You must be prepared to pursue them.
Inbound Marketing Will Affect Your Supply Chain!
Dealing with Big Data
Aside from these challenging but dangerous outcomes from your Inbound Marketing success, one major challenge will remain, how to deal with bad data.
Balancing Search Engine Optimization with Internal Information Requirements
This truly is one of the dangerous outcomes, though more one of too much success to be sure.
You see, no matter how much you try, successful Inbound Marketing requires a delicate balance of asking for just enough information to move the prospect along and yet not so much as to scare them away.
One near constant problem then becomes the generation of bad data, in the form of bad names, email addresses, etc., which is understandable if you consider all the lead generation forms people are asked to fill out.
Bad Data Makes Cold Calling 'Challenging'
While we are specialized in the art and science of Inbound Marketing, most if not all of customers still carry out a great deal of cold calling activities.
When they have good data, i.e., they know what content someone consumed, plus all the other activities they performed on the website, cold calling is actually 'warm' if not 'warmed up' calling.
Drive Inbound Calls From Target Audiences
While high quality data, such as accurate contact data, makes cold calling work better, for many of our clients, getting potential customers to call in, which is an inbound call, is the goal.
To get prospective customers to make that call, it is very effective to combine content marketing, with highly personalized email marketing.
Email continues to be the most effective marketing channel in terms of ROI. However, when you combine the power of the Hubspot Inbound Marketing Platform, with the power of both manual and predictive lead scoring, you can send out highly contextualized emails at the right time, to the right person, at the right stage in their buyer's journey.
Social Channels Generate Bad Data
Another source of bad data is social media, specifically, lead generation forms used by Google, Facebook, LinkedIN and others. People don't typically provide accurate information on these channels, and those lead generation forms will be pulling in inaccurate information to your marketing automation platform.
This bad data can wreak havoc on your on your inbound and outbound marketing efforts. It can dramatically, negatively affect your efforts at building brand awareness.
People Buy Differently Today
Nevertheless, it is clear that the way people want to buy, and thus, the way marketers have to market, is changing rapidly, and your systems will have to be upgraded, from finance to logistics to human resources, to deal with this brave new world.
Marketing Efforts are Long Term Investments
Because marketing, sales and logistics are constantly changing, it is always tempting to skimp on the labor intensive activities required to successfully make your marketing efforts pay off. However, when it comes to successful Inbound Marketing, creating content is a major long term investment that must be made.
Put Your Thought Leader to Work
If you're an Inbound Marketer working for a company that is led by a well known expert, you're going to want to pick their brain and put them to work. It is never easy to get someone in a senior leadership position to create a thought leader piece of content. But, you can always record an interview with them, have it transcribed and create various types of content pieces, which you can use 'front and center' on your website. One key type of content you'll be creating is the blog post. In fact, blogging will prove to be an ongoing major activity you'll have to invest in to show up in search results.
That's just a hint of what advice you'll find in our Guide to Internet Marketing, a bible for the Inbound Marketer.
Guide to Internet Inbound Marketing
That is why we are offering this guide to Internet Inbound Marketing; after all, some people might actually see massive numbers of highly qualified leads delivered to your doorstep as a good thing, though we advise caution…