Timing in Lead Generation Part 3: Inbound Alone is Like Having One Gear

Margery Murphy by Margery Murphy on February 3, 2020
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5 minute read

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In part two of this series we looked at outbound activities and the time it takes to create, train, and deploy a consistent outreach campaign. It’s not as easy as picking up the phone and closing a deal. It seems simple enough- but if it was easy, everyone would be doing it successfully. The world of sales and marketing – inbound (pulling prospects to you via digital strategies) and outbound (reaching out to engage new opportunities) -- is complex and as a result requires planning and patience. These two activities are interdependent. Consider how gears in synch run smoothly while gears with broken teeth grind and choke. Our two gears, inbound and outbound, need to be tooled well and working in concert. This blog takes a deeper dive into inbound.

Flash back to 1990: email was JUST coming of age and there was no digital marketing. We are still struggling today to really move forward.

When it comes to B2B organizations, 64% say they have a formal marketing plan, helping to shape and give direction to the marketing activities. However, this means that over a third (36%) still don’t have a formal plan, which can result in missing opportunities and marketing activities that aren’t integrated.

The reason lies in the fact that there is more complexity and longer sales cycles in Business to Business (B2B) as opposed to Business to Consumer (B2C). In addition, B2B organizations are less apt to make large infrastructure changes without fully understanding the return on investment.

The reason lies in the fact that there is more complexity and longer sales cycles in Business to Business (B2B) as opposed to Business to Consumer (B2C). In addition, B2B organizations are less apt to make large infrastructure changes without fully understanding the return on investment.

Taking a closer look at digital strategy, there are two significant outcomes:

  1. Improving efficiency and streamlining process (Internal teams)
  2. Improving the buyer experience so they find you: buy from you and recommend you (External Buyers)

The focus of this blog will be on result 2, which we refer to as inbound. Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. Inbound marketing forms connections they’re looking for and solves problems they already have.

The Devil is in the Details

Let’s break down the definition of inbound to see what we need to consider and plan for

1. What do you want to achieve?

You cannot just jump into digital marketing without a plan of action to accomplish a specific goal. Many organizations overlook this, or if they do recognize it, they don’t spend enough time really doing the required research. Think of it like taking a trip without a map or GPS. The journey will take detours, waste time and money, and be extremely frustrating because it took way TOO LONG to reach the destination.

So, you must define where you want to go. Do you want more OEM customers this year? Do you want to have a better client retention rate? Do you want to attract more interest from a specific industry sector? Do you want to increase the number of quote requests in general? WHAT is the goal? Start with end in sight and it will guide the actions required to get there.

2. Attraction and Content

Suppose you want to attract more potential customers to ask you for a quote. They first need to understand that you exist and then how you can help them solve a problem. This is not accomplished by throwing up a huge RFQ button on your website! That approach is fine for current clients - because they are ready to buy. But 80% of the people looking for you don’t know you. So, you need a strategy for getting those folks to trust you and feeling that you would be a good organization to engage with. You can only do this well by looking from the outside in, from their perspective. Instead of focusing on your products, you need to provide the service of educating them about why your product is superior to that of others. There is a lot competition and potential buyers are searching for the vendors who can educate them and help them make the right decision, so speak to that need.

If your goal is to increase valid Request for Quotes (RFQs) that come direct to your website, you need to ask several questions: Where are they coming from now? What are they searching for? Are there other referral sources that could point to our website? How do we create content to attract more inquiries? What are the questions we get most about our quotes? Would an FAQ page provide a good learning portal for fast responses? How do we build on FAQs to create educational content that is attractive to potential buyers?

3. Valuable Experience

Not only should content be clear and educational it also needs to be found easily. Have you ever gone to a disorganized website and felt like you were in the wrong place? What did you do? You hit the “back” button and got out of there. It is essential to organize content in a way that brings a potential buyer easily to the information they are looking for. The way you present corresponding information is via well designed pillar page content. In short, this is a tool for organizing your information (e.g. blog posts, ebooks, online tools) so a visitor is easily connected to additional LIKE information.

For example, suppose you manufacture enclosures. Your visitor may look at images and specs on the enclosure body, and then you may present more enclosure options for different environments or industries. The visitor thinks, “yes! They understand me and the application.” Then you may present info on different door options or gasketing. All the while, the meaningful and educational information your site presents is making the visitor think and understand what you can provide. Guess what? You’ve just become their go-to resource. It is not just content; it’s how you organize it to guide and influence your visitors.

4. Specific and Tailored

To take this one more step, remember not all visitors have the same interests/goals. An engineer and a procurement agent/buyer are looking for different information based on their roles and expectations. Therefore, you must address different buying journeys based on what each type of visitor, or persona, is looking for. This requires strong knowledge of our clients and the decision making involved in order to speak to their unique needs.

5. Problem Solving and Forming connections

By getting your content and flow right you have become a trusted advisor and begin to form a very early relationship with your web visitors. This sets up the queues for your salespeople. They are no longer COLD CALLING; they are reaching out to people who already feel comfort with you. Think back to 1990 … your salespeople were doing this initial contact work, but now your marketing people are doing it. And your sales people further that work once visitors have already decided that you are worth reaching out to!

Now that potential customers know you and are engaging with you online, it’s time to further the relationship by reaching out. This is where a well-orchestrated sales and marketing team comes into play. Everyone needs to be on the same page, with agreement about things like What is a marketing lead that still needs to be warmed up? What is a sales lead that is ready for an outreach? How do we do this handoff? Can we automate this at some point? Do we have A-, B-, and C-level leads? They don’t have equal value, but they all need some form of acknowledgment. Define your priorities and corresponding actions and the outbound/inbound gear system will engage and propel you forward.

In part 4 of this series, we’ll look in detail at how to integrate inbound and outbound effectively for the best results. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you!

 

Topics: Inbound marketing

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This blog exists to educate manufacturers, engineers and technical minds on the wonders of inbound marketing, sales enablement and more.

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