It is no secret that the Internet has forever altered the traditional buyer/seller relationship. The "good old days," when customers were dependent on your company's sales people for all their product information, are gone. In fact, because so much product information is easily obtainable online these days, it has been estimated that 70% of the business-to-business buying cycle is now completed before a supplier’s sales people are contacted.* This means that customers are now doing the large majority of product evaluations on their own, before your sales people ever become involved in the process.
This is not good news for marketers because this pre-contact evaluation time is critical to a sale. However, the advantage of inbound marketing is that it establishes contact with potential customers during this time frame. Here’s how it works: Inbound marketing programs offer helpful content that attracts potential customers as they begin the product evaluation process, and brings them to your website. Once there, they are offered the opportunity to receive additional premium content, in exchange for registering, thus identifying themselves-- and their buying intentions.
Inbound marketing programs have another huge advantage: Offering helpful content raises your search ranking so that your products also appear higher on search rankings. This means that they will be seen with greater frequency by potential customers on web searches. But, there's even more: Inbound marketing programs deliver the following additional benefits:
- They generate sales leads
- They alert you to potential sales before your competition knows about them
- They build a customer database that enables you to develop targeted marketing programs
The critical key to success is having a good understanding of your customers' information needs during the time before they are in contact with your salespeople. This is harder than it sounds. Because all companies receive far more feedback after salespeople are engaged, customers' needs during this earlier time frame are often misunderstood. That is why our research-based approach is so effective. By researching customer information needs before the point of sales contact, we get the details right -- and your inbound marketing improves.
Inbound marketing has recently become far easier to implement with the introduction of software that collects and manages data across many marketing functions. This next generation of software compiles data collected from all online interactions that a potential customer may have with your company -- from your company website, blog, newsletter, and social media of all kinds. By gathering data and records of interactions across all digital media and platforms your company is engaged with into one central database, you gain an understanding of what is actually impacting your customers, and what is not. Even more, you gain insight into their buying behavior. But the best part is that it turns every digital customer contact into a potential way to connect, and possibly create a sales lead.
Another big benefit is that you can view all of these interactions simultaneously and in real time. You don't have to check your blog software to see how your blog is doing, and then check your newsletter software to see how your last newsletter did. When all digital functions are integrated together, it is possible to know that an individual who read your last blog post also viewed two articles on your newsletter and downloaded a whitepaper from your website. When all interactions and collected data are centrally managed, you gain an understanding of how your digital media, across all platforms, are affecting individual customers. We can help you achieve this kind of digital platform integration, as we are affiliated with HubSpot, the leading supplier of inbound marketing software.
* according to Forrester Research