For as long as marketing has been around, advertisers have used outbound marketing to reach potential clients. But the old method of putting your brand out in the world— and being as in-your-face as possible about it so you can be heard over the competition—just doesn't work any more.
When nearly 40% of sales associates say that it's getting harder to get a response from prospects, according to HubSpot's State of Inbound 2016, it's clear that lead nurturing through inbound marketing is indispensible for a business who wants to generate quality leads, stop wasting money, and start seeing real ROI.
As many as 63% of marketers say that their greatest challenge is lead generation.
That's because, when used alone, outbound marketing doesn't work—and when inbound leads cost 60% less than the outbound leads you manage to pull in, it doesn't make any sense to keep using outbound strategies to pull in prospects who haven't first been nurtured by inbound strategies. But why is a strategy that worked well enough for decades suddenly so ineffective? Keep reading to find out.
1. People Tune Out Advertising
Unless you are marketing to a very specific older generation, a large portion of your consumer base is likely those troublesome Millennials—the first generation to grow up with social media. Social media has dramatically impacted the way that people buy, so they simply don't need to pay attention to your advertisements. Why would they, when they can just ask Google for recommendations when they are thinking about buying your product or service?
2. Buying Decisions are Mostly Made Before Your Customer Engages with You
Again with that social media thing: 60% of consumers and 55% of B2B prospects will have looked at online reviews, asked their Facebook friends about their experiences, and even watched YouTube videos about your product long before they shoot you an email or even visit your website. The power to act is in their hands; and if your television ad doesn't conveniently come on at just the moment they were thinking about the product or service that you offer, it's not going to change their behavior one drop.
3. Consumers of Every Kind Want Two Things: Entertainment and Information
By the time potential buyers make it to your website, they have made up their mind at least partly. But if your website isn't designed for inbound marketing, a decisive would-be buyer can quickly change their mind. When prospects check out your website, they want to find content that tells them exactly what they want to know—and furthermore, they want content that's timely, easy to find, and easy to digest. That means incorporating entertainment value in your marketing efforts, through video, audio, visual graphics, and blog posts that actually sound like they were written by a person instead of an insurance salesman.
4. Blogging Brings Information and Entertainment Together Quickly and Effectively
With all the talk about how important video is to your marketing efforts, it's easy to forget the power of a simple blog post. But while videos are an extremely valuable component to a content marketing strategy that works, they are also costly, time-consuming, and impractical as a means to engage your customers on a regular basis—and that kind of engagement is an essential part of the inbound lead-nurturing process. Statistics show that businesses who run a company blog receive 97% more inbound links than those who don't; and B2B blogging results in 67% more lead generation. A variety of content types is great, but the blog is still the king of content.
5. It's the Age of Informed Consent—Consensual Purchasing, That is
Now more than ever, consumers and B2B decision-makers expect—and even demand—as much information before buying as possible. And they don't expect to do a lot of heavy lifting to get it, either; if your website doesn't turn up in the first five organic search results, chances are, it won't get viewed. That makes the balance between quality content and SEO crucial for your content creators.
Customers want transparency, too—the first whiff of a potential scam sends a well-informed social Milliennial running in the other direction. Pushy advertising may be legitimate, but it often isn't authentic. Those Millennials are intuitive enough to tell when you really have something of value to offer, and when you're just trying to make a sale.
Inbound marketing addresses every fault that the Digital Age has uncovered with outbound marketing.
Without a dynamic inbound marketing strategy in place, your business is going to suffer. Inbound brings in quality leads, facilitates a smooth transition from curiosity to decision, and keeps working for you long after your content was published. To learn more about how to make this powerful marketing strategy work for you, download our eBook, "Cracking the Code to Business Growth."