Like it or not, almost everyone knows that the introduction of the internet has had a dramatic impact on how people decide which items to purchase. This has had a major impact on how companies use traditional outbound selling. Less than 20 years ago it was possible to measure the success of a company by how many employees were available to cold call potential customers. Large corporations had a distinct advantage because they had name recognition, but more importantly they were able to pay many more people to perform outbound selling and marketing. Potential customers did not have the ability to easily compare their options and welcomed the information that a salesperson could provide them.
With information and comparison shopping now so easily accessible online, potential buyers view unsolicited calling as an annoyance at best. Caller screening and “do not call” lists make outbound marketing essentially useless on its own. Even if a seller was able to reach a client on the phone, there is still no guarantee of a sale or an appointment.
The question arises: How can companies leverage the marketing shift that has taken place to their advantage? The solution is known as Inbound Marketing.
At the most basic level, Inbound Marketing is an attempt to determine what buyers are be seeking and providing customized answers to their online search... before they actually search for it. Successful companies do this by leveraging web related analytics and existing customer information to predict exactly which items leads will be searching for. They then generate new content and optimize their current information to match the path that their successful sales and conversions took previously. The theory of course being that if a few people found and purchased from you after following a certain path or process, then it would make sense that optimizing that path and using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) related to their searches will bring in more business.
With a better understanding of inbound marketing, consider this audacious statement about taking business from large inbound marketers: these large companies are actually at a disadvantage when it comes to Inbound Marketing. No longer is success measured by how many people you can afford to hire, but it now relates to how specific your content is. Large, internet based companies carry such a wide selection of products that it is nearly impossible to optimize their information and focus on each product line that they carry. Instead they rely on the assumption that visitors will return simply because they are familiar with their name (and we all know who the biggest is!) A company with a much smaller line can focus on creating great content and provide much better customer service than large marketers can ever hope to give. (Don’t believe it? Try to find a number to call if you need service on some of these large internet giants, it’s nearly impossible.)
With a knowledgeable digital marketing team and relatively inexpensive software such as Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM) and Marketing Automation Software (MA,) small to medium sized businesses can not only compete online but instead can thrive.