- Build it and they will come.
- Inbound marketing eliminates the need for outbound marketing.
- Inbound marketing’s raison d’être is lead generation.
- Hiring B2C social media experts will do the trick.
- Inbound marketing is the new sales.
When The Marketing Id quoted the movie, “Field of Dreams,” in a previous post “Hello Sales, the Cold Call Just Got Warmer!” the reference was to the new marketing paradigm that has evolved over the past few years. If a B2B company “builds” various digital sites and populates them with remarkable content, there is no guarantee that they will draw visitors, especially ones that might turn into prospects.
There is a concurrent Search Engine Optimization (SEO) exercise that is required to be performed on these blogs and web sites, which will catapult them into the top of search engine rankings. So when visitors, nay, future prospects, use their magic keywords to find what they are looking for, your digital sites should pointedly appear in the sweet spot of their organic search results. It is also good to remember that the more inbound links to your digital sites from relevant and worthy sources, the better they will be ranked by search engines.
The bottom line is that “If you build it, they will come,” but the building requires a more qualified effort, as outlined above, to truly reflect the “character of your content” – reversing terminology that Dr. Martin Luther King made famous, to emphasize the point. When the character of a B2B company’s digital content is enhanced through the use of SEO/SEM techniques, they will come – relevant visitors, real prospects, et al!
Would that it were true! A trade show association grunt guffawed recently, “The rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. As long as buyer and seller continue to want to get out of their respective comfort zones and display their wares, we will continue to have these events. Even as technology has advanced, the good old fairground has survived. Hey, outdoor billboards have gone digital–we adapt!”
She could have been referring to trade shows in the B2C realm, but her point has some validity on the B2B side as well. In any case, The Marketing Id’s inaugural post, “Integrated Marketing Value Chain,” made a case for “a clear value-add in an integrated campaign, in that, your company will generate qualified leads using this approach.” Clearly outbound direct mail campaigns, which deliver “the right messages to the right people at the right time” based on an analysis of their inbound activity, are more effective in generating such qualified leads. Digital signage has given a new lease of life to outbound marketing and, in fact, through SaaS-based offerings even made outdoor advertising more affordable to SMBs, including those serving B2B markets.
So it’s time to put this myth to rest, marketing is most effective when inbound techniques are used to drive outbound efforts. More importantly, an integrated marketing effort helps drive down the cost per lead and results in a better ROI for a B2B company’s marketing dollars.
It might seem disingenuous to suggest that inbound marketing’s reason for being is not lead generation, since by definition these visitors choose to click on a link to “see what you got?” If they were drawn in, they must want something that you have to offer, right? It’s not that cut and dried in the B2B world, and especially ones that have long sales cycles.
So in the B2B space, a lot of SMBs are not really using social media to generate leads per se, they are using these tools to inexpensively promote their brand, inform their followers, and establish a broader market presence in their market segment. Twitter is often used as a trigger to drive followers to a specific link related to a company event, which could be as simple as a new press release that the SMB just put out on the wire.
The end result of inbound marketing activities could very well be the generation of qualified leads. However, most B2B social media sites, by definition, focus on networking with their followers. As this networking activity blossoms, the SMB would need to deploy an automated marketing platform that integrates with its CRM system, to successfully nurture relevant followers with a view to convert them into actual leads.
Caveat emptor – buyer beware is as true in today’s highly networked social media world, as it was prior to the sanction provided by the “do not call” list against yesteryear’s aggressive B2C telemarketers. One of the key mistakes that a B2B can make is expect a B2C social media expert to transform its marketing. Also, if your B2B does not have an e-commerce component and this is the primary marketing expertise that a B2C social media expert brings to the table, then it’s headed towards a “Houston, we have a problem” situation – mercifully, sooner than later.
B2B social media practices are in a different genre altogether from those that are prevalent in B2C circles. The concept of long sales cycle nurturing probably does not exist to the same degree in B2C marketing, except in case of high-ticket items, as it does for B2B marketing. More importantly, in the high-technology B2B world, the “product” increasingly incorporates a “value-added service” or a more complex “end-to-end solution.” The social media model for such B2B offerings is still evolving, so hiring a B2C social media expert will not do the trick. Additionally, your B2B will need a social media expert with the appropriate subject matter expertise to be really effective in this domain.
Nothing can be further from the truth – although this is a likely sentiment emanating from the B2C/e-commerce space. In the B2B space, inbound marketing can be viewed as a new form of business development, in that, it can uncover stealth and non-obvious prospects; and can also be seen as the new pre-sales, in that, it generates, manages and qualifies leads before handing them off to sales – probably in a far more intelligent and sophisticated way than was possible prior to the advent of social media, inbound marketing and marketing automation platforms.
Nonetheless, the old demarcation is still valid in the B2B world; marketing is still tasked with bringing in qualified leads, which still need to be converted into deals by sales. The new methodology only ensures that marketing is stuffing the pipeline with more valid prospects, but without sales to capitalize on the corresponding opportunities, the funnel is still going to backup. The big difference is with an automated marketing platform that integrates into the sales force automation system, it is easy to see where the bottlenecks lie and even determine what the marketing ROI actually is!