On an Inbound Journey (OIJ 1/3)

Over the past 2 years, I’ve learned a lot about inbound marketing and have become a real advocate for it. With a solid background in the subject, getting certified as an InBound Marketer through HubSpot’s Academy, implementing a marketing automation system, and creating a plethora of content, I feel equipped to teach it…or at least preach it.

Before I dive in, let’s define Inbound Marketing (as I see it):

Creating valuable and helpful content about the industry your company works within to inform and educate the industry experts, the buyers, and the end-users about your solution as well as establish yourself as a thought leader within the industry.

TANGENT TIME: History of the changing (software) buyer

(If you haven’t heard this before, you must have been living with your head stuck in the ground and I’m happy I can fill you in) With the dawn of the internet, came the development of a new buyer — an educated, scrutinizing, and empowered buyer. For those companies that have a great product, advocates that will speak in their favor, and are genuinely delighting their customers, this new buyer is great. They don’t have to spend as much time selling because the buyer already has a pretty good idea about their product and that it’s best in class.

We are now so far progressed in this space, that we have companies like G2 Crowd, a yelp for enterprise software, be a major player in the buying decision. And other companies that are designed specifically to help you make sense of the abundance of solutions to help you find the best product for your company. Companies that aren’t focused on the customer but instead rely solely on their sales & marketing people to push buyers to pick their product are missing the opportunity and quite frankly are living in an outdated business environment.

Why Inbound?

In this world of accessible information & empowered buyers, it is a marketer’s role to further empower the buyer to make the right decision by a. being readily accessible, b. creating helpful content c. providing thought leadership and, d. positioning their brand as a trusted, forward-thinking solution that will make the buyer be successful as well.

It is not to invade the buyer’s space with pop-up ads, unwanted email blasts or cold calls. Here’s an oversimplified depiction for ya:

Inbound vs Outbound Image via Optimed

So that’s the theory behind inbound, but there’s a lot of tactics that help marketers execute on this.

Since inbound is all about empowering the buyer and having the buyer come to you, having a great website is key. At the top of the funnel, you want SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to be top notch so that your awareness funnel is super wide. On the other end, you want CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) to be amazing so that you have a chance to follow up with all those potential buyers that visited your website and convert them.

Don’t get me wrong, inbound is not about being completely hands off as a marketer or seller. Yes, we want buyers to feel empowered to educate themselves and want them to come to us. But, with any software business, competition is fierce and being top of mind is important during the buying cycle. I don’t believe inbound means there’s no need for sales people and I don’t believe in the trend that the profession will ‘die’ (like this article!).

In sum, I have developed some marketing principles.

This is the first iteration, don’t hold me to it in the future…

Now that we’ve discussed the definition, history and importance of inbound, it’s time to move to implementing inbound. My next post will dive into the details of a full-fledged inbound marketing plan.