Inbound beats outbound hands down

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What’s not to like about inbound marketing?  The cost per lead is lower and lead-to-sale conversion rates are higher and faster.

Well, the thing is, it can be difficult to transition from a pure outbound mind-set to one that naturally thinks inbound.  Currently, for example, 90% of the marketing activities that Cisco does on behalf of partners or with partners use traditional marketing methods such as events and telemarketing according to this recent Tech Target article.  This is going to be a slow ship to turn around!

The outbound routes of email and telemarketing that the IT sector has been in the habit of using for some time now all start with the assumption that we know who we’re talking to, because we already have data about them.  With inbound, we design content to appeal to imaginary personas, based on the customers we already know, and then we place that content where we hope our desired audience will find it and engage with it – largely online.

Online generation

The Google/Millward Brown Digital, B2B Path to Purchase Study, 2014 found that in 2014, 18-34 year olds accounted for almost half of all business-to-business purchase researchers.  This segment has influence over the purchase decision, even if they’re not the final “c-suite” decision maker.  This generation of potential customers are digital natives, naturally turning to generic online searches as the first step in their research, as often on a mobile device as not.

According to Michelle Chiantera, senior director of partner marketing at Cisco “customers make a lot of decisions and they’re doing a lot of self diagnosis in digital social forums and this is extremely influential to their purchases.” Which is why Cisco are making digital experts available to help partners with this transition in marketing approach.

Invariably, the hooks that were built into outbound campaigns were designed for those at the buying stage.  But now, we need to offer value all the way along the purchase path to help nurture a prospect who isn’t necessarily at the buying stage yet – who might not be for another year or more.  This needs us to be always on – adding, refreshing, updating and reinforcing our value propositions, our offers and our brand identity.

Ticking all the boxes

Content needs to have a long shelf life, provide value to prospects and insight to us.  More importantly, it needs to be able to differentiate the source organisation from all the other organisations competing in a particular market.

Matching the value proposition to the customer need is what it’s all about.  Automated primary research is a great way to achieve this – essentially replacing the old telesales profiling technique with a tool that enables prospects to assess themselves.  Intelligent surveys have the simultaneous potential to:

  • Gather profiling information
  • Offer a value exchange
  • Deliver value propositions
  • Build market research intelligence

 

Initially published in July 2015.  Updated in May 2016.

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