Intrigue, Empathy, Humanity. What Comes After Inbound Marketing?

Do you take inbound marketing for granted? More and more marketers start to question that paradigm. Inbound, founded on Seth Godin’s idea of permission marketing, promises that marketers don’t have to interrupt consumers, but deliver them useful information when needed. Such approach entails switching attention from aggressive push methods (telemarketing, banners, popups) to content, SEO, and social media. In theory, it looks idyllic. But what about practice?

The criticism towards inbound

Idealism and poor efficiency (namely, sales): these are the two most raised accusations against inbound. One group of opponents argue that the mobile revolution will change the way we use the web; in the consequence of the global appification, the Internet will become push-based. That’s how, i.e., Dries Buytaert envisions its future.

⇨ Read more about the death of inbound and new push-based marketing of tomorrow

Not to mention that in practice declared inbound marketers combine inbound with push solutions, they just brag about it and say that “The ebook produced x leads.”

The second critical option puts emphasis on lack oh human contact. As Neil St. Clair points out, inbound often encourages marketers to overdo automation, especially after the lead is acquired. Marketers educate and nurture so hard that the contact with a real human, a salesperson, is delayed until all fancy drip campaigns will end. It affects sales because selling is human — people close deals when they feel safe. Even the most precisely crafted and customized drip message is still automated, robotic, non-interactive.

Marketers searching for a human

Marketers talk a lot about humanity lately, have you noticed? Let’s mention only a couple of publications:
– “Welcome to human era” manifesto (2013),
– “Human to Human” by Bryan Kramer (2014). The book discusses the end of a strict separation between b2b and b2c. The reason? All customers expect one thing and thing only: to be treated like humans. With empathy and care, like partners.
– “To Sell is Human” by Daniel Pink. Sales also get re-humanized lately. Firstly, because consumers developed allergy to pushy salespeople who recite scripts, new methodologies (like agile) appeared. Secondly, as Pink says, selling is one of our most universal qualities. We do it all the time. When we try to make our kids go to sleep, when we convince our friends to go fishing, when we go for an interview, we sell our ideas or ourselves. If you agree with Pink that sales (and marketing, too) are innate to us, you would also want them to become human back, and be based on empathy, emotions, and trust.

What is a human

Let’s go back to Neil St. Clair and his criticism towards inbound. He remarks that too much automation and lack of personal approach results in lower sales. They don’t resonate with real people! And to appeal to homo sapiens, one must address two qualities:
– sociability: we want to belong and feel a part of a community
– curiosity: we search for intriguing experiences that surprise and amaze us.

Intrigue marketing: great content, targeting + human contact

The conclusion? Intrigue marketing, Neil St. Clair says, which modifies inbound slightly. How does it look like in practice?

Put a lot of emphasis on the quality content.Nothing changes here, it’s still the king! After production, distribute it in all channels, targeting the message. Focus on social media to find new leads. In other words, identify and attract prospects. Then start a human-to-human conversation as soon as possible. Instead of starting a drip campaign automatically, write an email manually. It surprises recipients (“Wow! Does anyone still do it in person?”) and makes them feel special.

That emphasis on human contact distinguishes that attitude from others. Lead is quickly passed to sales reps, who don’t jump into selling, but rather educate and build trust first.

Marketing Automation remains vital

Of course in such methodology, you still need Marketing Automation, but we use the platform slightly differ:
– fewer drip campaigns (such as welcome messages, Lead Nurturing, win back emails)
– more emphasis on contact segmentation, integration with social media, strengthening the cooperation between sales and marketing

Intrigue marketing and H2H provoke to question

These are just buzzwords, but they indicate a significant problem: inbound is not always the best solution. Intrigue approach might work better some companies and worse for others (if you have fewer leads, you might try that option), but above all, it shows that inbound — like any general concept — must be treated critically and customized to each company individually. Don’t trust any methodology blindly, but modify it to suit your business and combine many tactics.

Disclaimer: the post appeared originally on Marketing Automation blog