Always full of good intentions
Marketers have always wanted to do one thing, the right thing, deliver a targeted and personalised message to the right recipient, at the right time. Such that they were persuaded, without any feelings of resistance, to visit something, buys something, or engage in services that met their needs. Until recently this has been difficult to do cost effectively, however a new world has arrived and for those who put their minds to it it’s time to do the right thing.
A recent history of terrible profligacy
The arrival of digital technology and the early iterations of the Internet were manner from heaven for marketers, comparatively cheap digital media, automated tools and a relatively naive customer, seemed like a great opportunity to accelerate activity. However in many ways marketers have been their own worst enemies. Fuelled by a desire to succeed, they pursued any opportunity to contact their target audiences and in many cases, over exploited their chosen channels making the overall experience for the customer, at best cajoling and sometimes downright annoying. This led to some of the worst excesses of untargeted, non-personalised, interruptive, spamming that enabled the marketing industry to do exactly what they set out not to do.
This was the first changing face of marketing and frankly not one for the better. It established an understanding in buyers minds, that the vast majority of marketing communications they received were unhelpful, irrelevant and often time wasting. Added to the mountains of unsolicited emails were the excesses of keyword cramming for SEO rankings (when Google was less sophisticated than today) and the wholesale generation of inbound links that had no real meaning but could trick search engines into believing that your website was popular.
A new dawn
Fortunately two things happened to put an end to these unpopular and increasingly ineffective marketing practices:
1. The development of internet technology (Web 2.0) and social media facilitating a genuine two-way dialogue between buyers and sellers
2. The realisation by buyers, that they were empowered by this technology and could manage their information flows to what they found helpful relevant and informative, particularly in the process of buying something.
What is surprising is that many marketers, particularly in B2B marketing, have not realised how things have changed and how they now need to react to be successful in attracting customers and growing their businesses.
The second changing face of marketing
If only they did, they would realise they can now have what they have wanted all along.
Almost all (90%+) buying processes now start with an online search with buyers at an early stage in the process looking to solve a business problem.
The response to those searches needs to be insightful, contextual and relevant to the buyer’s needs. Simply thrusting product and sales information at them at this stage is not going work.
Here is the opportunity marketers have been waiting for, understand from the search what a buyer is looking for and deliver the right compelling content that captivates the reader and makes them willing to enter a dialogue with you. This often leads to an act of good faith by the buyer passing over an email address so that you can keep in touch. So what happens now?
An old school outbound profligate marketer would send an e-mail with product details and pricing and demand to know when they could follow up.
An inbound marketer, enjoying doing the right thing, will wait, interpret what is the next most helpful thing to do based on the buyers expressed needs and send some targeted, relevant, tailored content to nurture the buyer along the way. In this way having a conversation that helps the buyer through their buying process, whilst positioning your offer in the best light to give the best chance of a sale.
Using marketing automation software all these conversations can be tracked and managed automatically, leading to measurable outcomes and constant improvement in ROI.
Inbound marketing allows B2B marketers to do what they always wanted to do - listen to and understand their buyers. Establish a relationship which is sensitive to their needs. Win their trust and their business time and time again. In short woO them.