Making the Shift to Inbound Marketing

“Time and Tide Wait for No Man”… The origins of this phrase date back to at least 1225 AD (ref: The Phrase Finder []) yet what does it have to do with shifting your Digital Marketing mix and Lead Generation process toward Inbound Marketing?

Let’s jump in the time machine and go back to the year 2007 when online lead generation consisted of a company’s white paper hosted on a website with a prerequisite registration download form. The online form would gather 10-15 fields of data, which was then sent on to a salesperson for follow-up. It was a relatively simple system that allowed rankings to be assigned to indicate interest in order to prioritize follow-ups. Prospects were accustomed to waiting a day or more for a call back, and inside sales reps were accustomed to making ‘only’ 50-60 phone call attempts to reach a live person and continue the qualification process.

Now, jump back to 2014 where we live in a world of mobile devices, home offices and landline desk phones collecting dust on underutilized desks. The ‘I will call you back in a day or two’ strategy now takes more than double the number of call attempts to reach an actual live person, who by this time has most likely moved on to a competing product or solution.

Enter the “Time and Tide” concept for Inbound Lead Generation and the small tweaks that can be made to any existing website or lead process to significantly increase connection and conversion rates.

Here are three simple tricks to apply:

On your Website – Making small changes to any website can easily double conversions or generate better leads. Take a moment to ‘visit’ your own website and identify your current inbound channels. Many sites have wonderful content and great imagery but fall short when it comes to available engagement channels. For example is your Contact Us section buried in the page footer, or do you have specific calls to action like ‘Buy Now’ to identify highly qualified prospects who are ready to take immediate action? If not, adding these obvious yet effective ‘calls to action’ can change results in a very short period of time.

Lead Process – Look at your existing end-to-end lead process and identify the places where you can decrease the time it takes to respond to qualified inquiries. While many companies have implemented chat functionality or an online store, which have been proven to decrease engagement times to almost zero, even something as simple as re-committing to response times in your current process can be quite effective. Some studies show that setting a response time goal of 5 minutes can quickly separate your offerings from those of your competitors. While it does not have to be for every lead you generate, challenge your lead delivery system and your sales teams to hit this goal.

Create Traffic – Once you have updated your site to increase engagement and have shortened your response times, then you are ready to create the ‘tide’. There are so many ways to generate website traffic, but one of the best is to engage your technical experts in social networking forums. Getting even just one subject-matter expert to create or post content on a relevant forum, and include hyperlinks back to your products or offerings, is often simple and free. Just remember, creating this tide of interest should be done when you are ready and committed to be responsive to your prospective customers.

As you can see by applying a little elbow grease and making a few simple and inexpensive changes to your lead generation strategy, effective and measureable results are easily gained.

If you are interested in learning more about Inbound Marketing and these techniques, you can take the free on-demand “Introduction to Inbound Marketing” course, which is part of the EMC Marketing Academy. When you access the Business Partner Academy site, select ‘Solution Provider’, then Marketing. The Inbound Marketing course is available for all levels of marketing accreditation.

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Steve Gilbert (@stevegilbert4) is Director of Digital Marketing at EMC and spends his time developing and applying these concepts to EMC’s own Inbound Marketing ecosystem.

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