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Building relationships to sell
The Hindu Business Line - 06 Sep 2013


New-age marketing has to convert visitors into customers and loyalists while being less intrusive.

Outbound marketing, with diminishing returns, is on its way out   today. Customers have become smarter over the years and no longer value, or   trust, the pushy and intrusive ways of traditional marketing. Marketing has   evolved into helping potential buyers find products and services as well as   creating a demand for those products and services. Marketing is now about   addressing customer needs on multiple levels.  

Aptly called ‘inbound marketing’, the focus is on converting   casual visitors into prospects, and then into loyal customers using less   interruptive and more personalised messages. Inbound marketing nurtures and   engages customers throughout the sales cycle by supplying relevant information   and targeted messaging. This means replacing television ads with videos that   prospective customers are looking for, replacing display ads with business blogs   that people would yearn to read, and replacing cold calling with useful content   so that potential customers can get in touch for more information.

By automating and customising lead nurturing, giving rich and   instant insights into a prospect’s preferences and needs, and by cutting down   significantly on the expenses involved, inbound marketing has transformed the   spray and pray of traditional marketing into more successes for each campaign,   reduced cost per lead, and improved ROMI (Return On Marketing Investment).

In B2B Enterprises

With inbound marketing, B2B enterprises can increase brand   awareness organically, build preference by engaging with buyers who self-qualify   (buyers seeking sellers), convert them into leads over a period of time, convert   leads into revenue-generating customers and then eventually lead to   post-purchase engagement.

The 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report by HubSpot   throws light on how inbound marketing is gaining traction with enterprises.   According to the report, 58 per cent of companies will implement inbound   marketing strategies in 2013 and about 48 per cent of marketers are geared up to   spend more on inbound marketing this year. The report also finds that inbound   marketing is estimated to deliver 54 per cent more leads into the marketing   funnel than traditional outbound methods. When viewed from the cost perspective,   twice as many marketers believe the average cost per lead generated by inbound   marketing is less when compared to outbound marketing.

A major IT company based in the US uses its Web site extensively   to generate quality leads. The content and design of the Web site is innovative.   There are multiple calls-to-action (CTAs) placed across the Web site, inviting   visitors to experience the company’s solutions. The messaging is conveyed   through rich media content, social media content and a multitude of content that   supplies them with relevant information and aids the purchase decision process.

Best Practices for Enterprises

The ideal way for enterprises to enhance lead quality and improve   conversion rates is to create buyer profiles or personae, and then build   different campaigns that are tailored to each buyer category. A key pillar of   effective inbound marketing is creating and distributing relevant and shareable   content. The messaging must resonate well with customer needs. A good way to   start is to build a messaging matrix that is mapped to the needs and decision   drivers of the target audience.

Targeted messaging includes providing a piece of content, service   or incentive that entices Web site traffic to become a lead or customer. Lead   nurturing strategies such as targeted email campaigns, blog campaigns and   engagement through social media help generate interest about the enterprise and   build relationships with prospects.

The next important aspect of inbound marketing is analysing the   results. The top metrics used for measuring success include analysing organic   traffic on the Web site, tracking leads, measuring social media engagement   scores, lead generation by content asset and source, and conversion through each   marketing channel.

Inbound Marketing KPIs

Though unique to a plan, KPIs (key performance indicators) are   based on factors such as tools leveraged, time and money invested and the stage   of the marketing cycle. (See chart on left listing KPIs for the four primary   types of inbound marketing techniques.)

Inbound marketing strategy is the future of marketing. To   formulate an effective strategy for a B2B enterprise, it is important to master   the basics of inbound marketing. A thorough understanding makes it easier to   push a lead further into the sales funnel and eventually convert it into a   customer.

Shivani Kapoor is Head of Marketing, ITC Infotech

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