The days of Mad Men marketing are long over. Whether you are ready to admit it or not, very few consumers want to listen to your marketing messages when you are ready to sell. These days, active consumers have taken the buying process into their hands, using search engines, peer review sites, blogs and social networking sites to create their own buying experience based on what they need when they want it. When you want to sell doesn’t really matter, it only matters when they are ready to buy. That is why it is so important to maintain a consistent online brand presence; you never know when someone might be looking for your company/products.
Inbound Marketing in consumer centric.
Consumers are looking for a more personalized buying process. Think about it—let’s say someone fills out a lead form on your site because they want to download a white paper. What kind of follow-up email are you sending them? Are you thanking them for downloading the white paper and suggesting additional resources they might be interested in? Or is your email focused on setting up a meeting with a sales rep? If you had downloaded a white paper would you be interested in talking with a sales guy? Probably not. If you wanted the demo meeting you would have set that up instead of downloading the paper.
Inbound marketing focuses on the needs/wants of the consumer, not your business. You want your marketing messages to reach individuals at the right point in the buying cycle, urging them along to the next step. The five stages of the buying process are awareness, consideration, preference, purchase and (hopefully) repurchase. Inbound marketing focuses on making your website appealing during each stage of this process. The whitepaper is perfect for awareness, while a product demo is better for a consumer in the consideration stage. If you try to get someone to buy when they are just beginning to research their options you’re likely to turn them off from your brand. Being too pushy too soon isn’t going to get you new business.
When someone arrives on your site, that doesn’t automatically mean they are ready to convert. Based on what source brought them to your site and how they act while on your site, try to determine what their end goal is. Are they just looking for general information? Do they need a specific product? Are they ready to buy? If they fill out a lead form for more information what does that tell you about them? If they connect with your company on Facebook or Twitter how can you gain a better insight into their buying process?
Inbound marketing is all about making your brand/company appealing to an audience as they need it, not about forcing your brand into their daily lives. While it is by no means a “build it and they will come” marketing campaign, it has shown to be much more effective for many websites that trying to fight the ever increasing clutter of online marketing.