lead-gen-successWith the close of Q1 2015, companies are busy reviewing the numbers and evaluating their sales and marketing goals. If your marketing plan consists mostly of advertising, like billboards, broadcast and print, it’s hard to tell which of these activities really contribute to business growth. I mean, can you point to your billboard and say with certainty exactly how many new customers it produced?

The fact is, the way that people shop is different today than it was even just a few years ago. This is especially true for large business purchases, like banking or fiduciary services, that typically have a higher price point or require a long-term commitment. These sorts of business purchases often produce many questions to be considered. In the past, when considering switching to a new business bank, a business owner or CFO might ask their colleagues for recommendations, then call a few financial service providers to get information and answers from the vendor’s sales reps.

Today, the Internet makes it possible and far easier for that business owner to do his own research online about the products and services he wants. A quick Google search will turn up informative articles, helpful blogs, useful videos and detailed eBooks that answer any questions he may have. He can compare products and even competing suppliers, from the comfort of his office, home or mobile phone, without feeling pressured to buy.

A recent study by Google and the CEB found that prospects have already completed nearly 70% of their decision-making process before ever contacting a vendor and visit more than 10 sources before making the decision to buy. This wealth of information online is great for consumers, but for a sales manager, it means fewer prospects and lost leads.

Inbound Marketing is Consumer Driven

Inbound marketing is a strategy designed specifically for the way people shop today by connecting with prospects who are already searching online, then converts website visitors into leads to help sales people reach their lead gen goals.

This practice differs from traditional, “outbound” marketing, where businesses interrupt target prospects in the hopes of “getting their message out.” This shift – from company focused to consumer focused marketing – presents a challenge for businesses that are reluctant to change from the traditional marketing methods they’ve always used. These companies are forced to rely on incomplete and often, meaningless metrics, such as “impressions” and “brand awareness,” that are ineffective measures the marketing objectives.

Instead, inbound marketing actually produces the content that shows up in the shopper’s search queries that they find during their online research and decision process. This improves search engine presence, resulting in more website traffic from qualified prospects. And because it’s content that visitors actually want, it improves lead conversions and, therefore more opportunities for the sales team.

Not only does this useful content make the customer feel helped and valued, advances in online marketing technology enable virtually everything the website visitor does to be monitored, tracked and measured. This improves content quality and lead data, so the sales team can be even more effective by following up on only the best-qualified leads.

Inbound marketing uses this data to offer many opportunities and advantages for sales people to connect with prospects earlier in their buying cycle in order to have greater influence over the sale. The result is improved website traffic, sales leads and business results, with marketing metrics that prove exactly which marketing campaigns produced new leads and more closed business.