Why Marketing now shoulders the burden of winning today's buyers
The digital revolution has not only altered the way in which buyers make purchases, it has also permanently changed the entire sales process. In a world of smartphone and tablet enabled 24/7 online access, consumers no longer begin their buying journey by calling or meeting a salesperson – those days are long gone. Indeed, nobody today wants to be approached by a sales rep if they haven’t had a chance to do their own homework first.
Therefore, the job of winning over consumers now starts with marketers, and the key to successful lead nurturing is good content. This information-driven approach has become essential to addressing the modern consumer’s expectations and method of buying. Today’s connected consumers rely on web search, email-fed links, blogs, social media and mobile apps to point them in the right direction and provide solid research, allowing the consumer to educate themselves before they even consider speaking directly to a sales rep.
Forrester research indicates that buyers are two-thirds to 90% of the way through the buying journey before they are willing to talk to a sales rep. Figures collected by marketing software company HubSpot, show that the traditional ‘outbound’ marketing approach, whereby a business goes to a potential customer with a sales pitch and takes control of the process, is fading.
- 44% of direct mail is never opened;
- 200 million individuals have registered their numbers on national ‘Do Not Call’ lists;
- 86% of people skip television ads;
- Technology trade show spending is down 46%.
The reality is the proliferation of digital channels and online content has led to a fundamental power shift when it comes to the information gathering phase of purchasing. To engage potential buyers, as well as existing customers who might purchase again, companies must take an ‘inbound’ approach to marketing. You need to attract buyers to your business – hence the term ‘inbound’ – with enticing content that informs and entertains your target audience and plays a crucial role in establishing longer and stronger relationships.
Therefore, rather than having sales reps annoy prospects by hounding them before they’ve had a chance to seriously think about purchasing, companies need to offer compelling online marketing content that engages new and existing customers alike – positioning the business as an expert in its field and a source of valuable information. Then, when ready, potential buyers will welcome an approach by your organisation – or even come to you themselves.
Increasingly, marketers are recognising that inbound represents the future of marketing and customer engagement. A survey by Crain Communications (publisher of Advertising Age) revealed that 60% of B2B marketers said inbound marketing was more effective than outbound, while 63% reported that the growing use of digital channels was firing their interest in an inbound approach. The research also showed that 34% of the marketers surveyed said the ineffectiveness of outbound techniques was directly driving a shift to real-time inbound marketing. The implications are clear: for many businesses, inbound B2B marketing is not just the approach of the future, it is already here.
Essential to the success of an inbound-led selling process is having the right tools in place: marketing automation that paves the way for consumer trust and intimacy; and an effectively configured Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution that is scalable and secure. These elements ensure that the new content-driven lead engine maximizes its engagement of prospects and sales teams are in a position to follow-up the leads more effectively and close the deals, by having a structured selling process in place, along with access to detailed business intelligence.
Content is the fuel that powers the inbound engine, especially when it is tailored to the individual, and it has been shown to work:
- 82% of consumers like reading content from brands when it’s relevant, research by the Content Marketing Association shows;
- 61% of consumers feel better about a company that delivers custom content and are more likely to buy from that business, Custom Content Council findings reveal.
The creation and steady flow of content that draws prospect interest – giving them the information they need, when they want it, without a hard sell – is critical to nurturing leads until they are ready for a buying conversation. Forrester Research has found that that companies focussed on lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads, while Annuitas Group figures show nurtured leads make 47% more purchases than those that are not.
The Financial Reality
Finally a shift to an inbound strategy makes financial sense, as an MIT Sloan School of Management graduate’s study into its impact shows: 69% of 5,000 companies surveyed saw an increase in sales revenue when they made the change. As a result, a business risks losing ground and profits to competitors if it does not begin to implement an inbound strategy, particularly if the company has a B2B focus. For a more comprehensive look at this trend, download this whitepaper: The changing role of marketing in driving sales revenues.
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Joining Maximizer Software in May 2012, Anita lends her expertise to the delivery of all marketing communications and PR. With a Diploma in Direct Marketing and more than 14 years marketing and commercial experience, Anita is responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of a diverse portfolio of marketing tactics, specialising in...