With a new year just around the corner, you may be among the small business owners who are taking this time to dive into your numbers.
Evaluating how business is going is never fun - unless it’s going really well. It can be an especially painful process if business is in the toilet or your sales pipeline has slowed to a trickle.
Inbound marketing can help your sales pipeline flow again and is a proven marketing methodology for today’s digital age. But how do you know when it’s time to redirect your marketing budget to include inbound marketing?
When Your Revenues Are Stuck In Neutral … Or Worse
It’s no longer “business as usual.” The internet, Google and social media have all rapidly shifted the playing field.
For those companies that have been slow to adjust to these new dynamics, it may seem like business has become difficult overnight.
And while it may be easier to blame business woes on macro-issues like taxes, healthcare costs and the economy, it’s possible there may be a simpler and more painful reality: You need a new marketing strategy.
Many businesses are stuck in an outdated mode of thinking when it comes to marketing their businesses, using traditional marketing techniques suited to a bygone era. Traditional marketing, otherwise known as outbound marketing, is comfortable because it’s conventional. You may recognize the use of these:
- Yellow Page ads
- Brochures and flyers
- Door knockers
- Cold calling
- Direct mail
- TV spots
While it’s possible to reach potential customers using one of these methods, chances AREN’T good that a random recipient of your marketing collateral is just sitting around waiting to purchase your product or service, particularly if that person wasn’t searching for it in the first place.
Instead, more companies are turning toward inbound marketing as a method of reaching potential customers since this methodology focuses on the development of quality content that pulls people toward your company and product.
Consider this: According to HubSpot’s 2019 marketing statistics:
- Compared to paid search advertising, content marketing results in three times more leads.
- Those who make blogging a priority are 13 times more likely to experience a positive return on investment.
- Only 18% of companies say outbound practices are responsible for providing the highest quality of leads.
For many businesses, good money is being thrown at ineffective strategies with little to no tangible results. If your revenues are stuck in neutral or are declining, your company may be one of them.
If Your Buying Behavior Has Shifted
While traditional marketing methods have remained the same for many companies, buying behavior has changed drastically over the last decade.
Cold calling is now perceived as a rude intrusion, and direct mail is often intercepted by gatekeepers and thrown away before it’s even opened.
Buyers now do their own research online prior to stepping foot in a store or seeking out a service. Rather rely on a sales person for information about your company or product, buyers are now educated more than ever on their own.
According to HubSpot, 47% of buyers view at least three to five pieces of content BEFORE they ever engage with a sales representative.
The internet is a “great equalizer” that has tilted the sales process in favor of the purchaser. If your website is not optimized to capitalize on this shift in buyer behavior, your business may be in serious trouble.
If Your Not Connecting With Your Ideal Customers
Inbound marketing allows you to connect with your ideal buyer persona, or a representation of your ideal customer.
In order to respond to the dynamic shift in behavioral patterns businesses are experiencing, inbound marketing has emerged as the new paradigm for savvy companies of all sizes to transact business in this digital age.
This strategy allows you to interact with businesses and consumers during the research and decision making process while capturing the attention of your most coveted prospects along their journey from problem identification through purchase - their “buyer’s journey.”
By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound marketing:
- Attracts qualified prospects to your business
- Nurtures them
- Helps turn them into customers
- If executed flawlessly, keeps customers coming back for more
If You Don’t Have Effective Content
Inbound marketing relies on high-quality content to attract the right potential customers and ignite lead generation.
It’s important that you not only have content, but have effective, high-quality content.
Some of the most important tools to attract your ideal customers to your site are:
- Blogging: A blog is a single best way to attract new visitors to your website. To get found by the right prospective customers, you must create educational content that speaks to them and answers their questions.
- Premium content: Premium content development includes eBooks, white papers, infographics, videos, podcasts and webinars. These items provide quality information that educate, inform and guide your prospects through their journeys.
- Social media engagement: You must share remarkable content and valuable information on the social web. Social media engagement, utilizing sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest have become the go-to methods of engaging with prospects. These tools allow you to put a human face on your brand, and it’s a must to interact with your prospects where they hang out online.
- Keywords: Your customers begin their buying process online, usually by using a search engine to find something they have questions about. To make sure you are appearing prominently when they search, you must carefully and analytically pick keywords, optimize your pages, create content and build links around the terms your ideal buyers are searching for.
- Pages: Your must optimize your website to appeal to and speak with your ideal buyers. Transform your website into a beacon of helpful content to entice the right strangers to visit your pages.
If It’s Time To Redirect Your Marketing Budget
The shift in consumer behavior is evident. Intuitively we know things are different than they were even just a few short years ago.
Understanding this trend is the easy part - doing something about it is an entirely different matter.
It’s a tall order for many business owners to shift away from marketing tactics that have provided great results in the past and move toward this unknown world. However, for those who wish to survive and thrive in the coming years, the move is necessary.
The good news is there is help available. An experienced inbound marketing agency can bring specialized knowledge to your business mission and are built with professionals who utilize specific creative and technical disciplines to produce high quality work and ultimately speed up lead generation to help your sales team.
Our article, 5 Reasons To Hire An Inbound Marketing Agency, further explores why you don’t want to be caught on the sidelines as other businesses pass you and your sales numbers by.
David, a HubSpot Certified Inbound Marketer is the Chief Content Creator for InTouch Marketing and its clients.