Today’s buyers and consumers are increasingly avoiding branded outbound promotions and ads. We skip TV commercials with our DVRs or streaming services. We block digital ads with “Ad blocking” software, or we just ignore them altogether. We delete unwanted promotional emails. We ignore “cold calls” from unknown numbers. And we define anything that looks like promotional mail as “junk” because we throw it all away.
This is why many businesses have focused their marketing budget and investments on attracting customers instead of trying to interrupt them. This practice is commonly referred to as “Inbound marketing.”
According to Wikipedia,
“Inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in, rather than marketers having to go out to get prospects’ attention. Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found, and draws customers to the website by producing interesting content.”Source: Wikipedia
The main objective of inbound marketing is to attract visitors to your brand
To achieve this, you build an audience through the delivery of effective content marketing strategies. You create the kind of content that attracts the right buyers and answers their top questions at each stage of the buying journey.
Inbound Marketing is a process that requires a company to have the courage to resist the natural instinct of the business to want to promote itself. It demands a customer-centric focus strong enough to resist that natural tendency to sell the world on who you are, what you sell, and why you are better.
But at some point, someone is going to ask you to demonstrate the return on investment from an Inbound Marketing approach. And how do you convert those inbound visitors into leads and paying customers? The answer is Marketing Automation.
Read more: Marketing Automation Basics
Marketing automation is the technology that not only allows you to nurture and convert the traffic you’re attracting. It also helps you to deliver on the promise of Inbound Marketing. Marketing Automation helps you deliver the right content, to the right customer, at the right time so they convert to a paying customer, stay longer, and spend more.
With Marketing Automation, Inbound Marketing can not only deliver bottom-line results, it can also scale to meet the needs of any business. And deliver the return on investment that marketing programs should have always sought to prove.
How Marketing Automation Helps Inbound Marketing
Inquiries, event attendees, whitepaper registrants and website visitors are not leads. In some cases, they are tire-kickers, consultants, and competitors. they may be interested inquirers, maybe even decision-making influencers. In other cases, they are exactly who you have been trying to target. The budget-holder with an urgent need to buy. Marketing automation helps you separate the wheat from the shaft to know which leads are hot and which leads are not.
Marketing automation can help you match the right demographics to your ideal buyer profile. It can also utilize the data from your inbound marketing activities to determine which behaviors lead to the highest conversion rates. By combining demographic and behavioral analysis, marketing automation turns inbound marketing into a lead conversion machine.
Nurture leads to convert
Buyers engage with multiple pieces of content in their journey. And that’s just considering one prospect from a company. In complex B2B sales cycles, there can be 7, 9, maybe even 20 or more people involved in the buyer journey. Each has their own stages. Start to do the math and you can quickly become overwhelmed with the amount of content each prospect needs.
Marketing automation helps you identify which stage of the buyer journey your buyers are in, what content they might need next, what content can help them convince a skeptical manager or peer, and how to get them to the next stage in their own personal journey.
Inbound marketing is a great way to attract prospects based on their interest in category or solution you sell. But at some point, you need them to convert. And nothing works better at conversion than targeted offers.
I’m a business owner living in Philadelphia. If you send me a discount code to use at a conference I really want to attend, headlined by a super famous business author or influencer, my chances of going are much higher than if I loved in Des Moines, Iowa. Targeted offers, based on the demographics and behavioral clues mentioned above, are the best way to design offers that convert interested parties to prospects, prospects to customers, and customers, to advocates.
If you can attract prospects instead of buying them with Inbound Marketing, and you can convert those prospects into customers, you will be able to take that marketing ROI number to the bank.
Not only will you deliver marketing ROI, with Marketing Automation you can report on it. You can create reports and dashboards to show what you spent, on which programs, and how many conversions each activity delivered.
Realizing The Promise of Marketing
The dawn of the web, social and mobile technologies put the power of most forms of media into the hands of consumers. This has had a dramatic impact on the function of marketing, over almost any other in the business world.
People, processes, and technologies have all had to adapt to meet the ever-changing world. As the buyer landscape has changed, Inbound Marketing evolved to define the process and customer-centric culture required to meet the needs of today’s consumers. And marketing automation is right there with it to deliver the business results that today’s organizations demand.
Marketing is a service-oriented function, delivering the right content, to the right buyer, at the right time, so they can make the best purchase decision. Marketing serves the customer first. And the insights from the marketing function drive innovation and ROI back to the business.
Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation provides the necessary people, processes, and tools to help marketing realize that promise.