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Is Inbound Marketing the Key to Predictable Lead Generation?

You’re the person in charge on increasing revenue and for the last 2 quarters, your high-priced sales team has failed to hit their numbers.

The board and your CEO are less than impressed and you’ve been told you’d better fix the problem fast.

Sound familiar?

Marketing and Sales Don’t Work Like They Used To

When I started my career in sales, my job was pretty simple. All I had to do was dial the phone 100 times a day. If I did that, I’d get through to about 30 people, 10 of whom would agree to receive my stuff in the mail.

Of these 10, when I followed up, 3 or 4 would take a face to face meeting with me, and of these meetings I’d close one deal.

The math was pretty simple: 100 dials = 30 contacts = 10 prospects = 3 meetings = 1 client.

That was back in in 1992.

Before voicemail, the Internet, email, and social media.

In 2001, I started my first company. We sold IT services to SMEs and the business was launched using this very same approach.

We made lots of cold calls, got meetings, wrote proposals, and closed deals. As the business grew, referrals came in and everything was peachy.

In 2007, I decided that I was no longer happy relying on referrals alone, so I spooled up the cold call machine again.

This time, it flat out didn’t work.

hate cold calling

Technology Has Changed The Game of Selling Forever

With the advent of automated attendants and voice mail, people have stopped answering their phones. Now they just listen to voice mails and selectively return calls.

Dialing for dollars just doesn’t work anymore.

Cold email, works moderately well, if done correctly, but it still is seen as an interruption.

With all the voicemails, emails, texts, Facebook updates, and tweets people receive each day, trying to interrupt your prospect with your sales message is nearly futile.

To succeed today, you need a new system for prospecting.

Become What People Are Interested In

Become Interesting

If you are still trying to interrupt people from what they are interested in, you probably aren’t very happy with your results.

To succeed today, you need to become what people are interested in.

In 2006, two entrepreneurs joined forces to start a company called HubSpot. HubSpot is an inbound marketing software company that has gone from zero, to over $100M in sales in just 8 years.

How did they do it?

Did they build a huge sales force and go knocking on doors? Did they spend millions on advertising?

No on both counts.

Instead, they started a blog and began publishing articles that helped readers to get better at inbound marketing.

HubSpot’s blog, now one of the highly trafficked websites in the world, has become such a huge success because HubSpot focused on one thing: writing about topics that people are interested in. By doing so, they completely eliminated the need to interrupt their prospects in the way that traditional sales people have done for years.

Instead, they focused on the inbound methodology.

inbound methodology

Their blog now generates over 50,000 leads a month and HubSpot is one of the fastest growing software companies on the planet. Traffic in the month of March 2014 was nearly 300,000 visitors according to Compete.com.

HubSpotTraffic

The type of marketing that HubSpot is doing is called Inbound Marketing, and they aren’t the only company doing it. In fact, inbound marketing, due to its effectiveness, is rapidly becoming the most popular form of marketing around.

Inbound Marketing Focuses on Helping, Not Selling

The reason that inbound marketing works so well is that people hate to be sold, and they love to learn.

When you write articles that are targeted to a specific audience and are written in such a way as to be genuinely helpful, people want to read them. And now, thanks to the power of social media, they also want to share them with others.

When done correctly, inbound marketing results in significant increases in website traffic.

When done correctly, inbound marketing results in a significant increase in the number of leads generated, while simultaneously lowering the cost of each lead.

Below are two charts from a report that HubSpot produced to show marketing benchmarks from 7,000 of their customers.

In this first chart, you can see that companies that publish at between 9 to 15 blog posts per month start to see a huge increase in inbound leads.

impact_of_monthly_blog_articles_on_inbound_leads

In this second chart, you can see that as soon as companies reach a total of at least 51 blog posts, the volume of inbound leads goes up considerably.

impact_of_total_posts_on_leads

 

You can download the full report here.

Is Inbound the New Prospecting System?

Any sales veteran will tell you the sales is just a game of numbers. Make more calls, get more meetings, make more sales.

It’s all just a math equation.

Well, guess what?

Inbound Marketing is exactly the same math equations, except, instead of making calls to generate leads, your goal is to generate page views to generate leads.

57% of companies with a blog have generated a lead from it. @HubSpot

When a website is designed to capture leads, as opposed to being just an online brochure, it’s quite reasonable to expect 1-3% of total traffic to convert to leads. Depending on how well you’ve targeted your content, and what you sell, it’s also pretty reasonable to expect 15-20% of those website leads to become “sales qualified leads”.

The math is still pretty simple: 1000 unique visitors = 30 new contacts = 5 leads = 1 customer

When a website captures leads by giving value, and then nurtures these leads, with more valuable content, until they are sales qualified, the output is this: a list of qualified prospects who actually want to talk to your sales team.

Another significant benefit of inbound marketing is that the cost per lead is 61% less than the cost to generate leads using outbound marketing.

Cost of inbound leads

Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

What happens to your close ratio when your prospects want to talk to your sales team?

What happens to sales team morale when they are given a steady flow of qualified leads?

What happens to revenue when your enthusiastic sales team spend all their time talking to qualified leads?

I think you already know the answer, don’t you?

Potential Benefits

Ask most any sales rep or sales manager what the hardest part of their job is and they will tell you it’s lead generation.

“Give me a qualified lead, and I’ll get the sale!” your sales reps will say.

Increase Sales with Inbound Marketing

When a company adopts the inbound marketing methodology, as HubSpot has done from day one, amazing things become possible:

  • Traffic to your website increases
  • Lead generation become automatic
  • The cost of generating each lead decreases by 51%
  • Your company starts to be seen as a thought leader
  • Your executives are invited to speak at industry conferences
  • Your sales team closes more sales
  • You have less turnover in your sales team
  • You gain pricing power because you have positioned your company in a way that your ‘old school’ competitors have not

Will Inbound Marketing Work for You?

As good as it is, inbound marketing doesn’t work for everyone and prior to charging ahead with this approach in your company, it’s critical for you to do enough research to understand if investing in inbound will actually produce the results you are looking for.

Here are a few signs that inbound isn’t likely to be a good fit for your company:

  • Your product or service is relatively simple with a very short sales cycle (shoes, flowers, haircut, clothing, etc…)
  • The only market you are interested in is right in your back yard (there are exceptions to this one)
  • The average lifetime value of a customer is measured in hundreds of dollars instead of thousands or millions of dollars
  • You are in need of a ‘quick fix’ marketing program that delivers instant results
  • You don’t have the time (or the budget) to create high quality content on an ongoing basis

Let’s Recap: Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing requires that you successfully interrupt people from what they are interested in, and thanks to huge changes in the technology used in business, getting people’s attention has never been more difficult.

Even if you do manage to get their attention for a moment, the fact remains that people hate to be sold to.

Inbound marketing requires a shift in thinking. Instead of trying to interrupt people from what they are interested in, the inbound marketer focuses instead on becoming what people are interested in.

This is why blogging has become a mainstream business activity. When done correctly, like HubSpot does, blogging works extremely well.

Additional Resources

Want to learn more about inbound marketing? Check out some additional articles we’ve written.

Hiring_an_inbound_agency

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