Mastering inbound marketing – wrangling data for your strategy’s success

Blog published by KISS, under Business Development, Marketing, PR, Social Media

Capturing potential leads through timely, engaging content is an increasingly high-ROI marketing investment – but to make sure you implement inbound marketing effectively, you need top data wranglers, or you risk wasting your efforts.

When and where are prospects seeing you?

Prospects typically don’t engage with sales until they’re almost 60% of the way through their buying cycle, according to Gartner research. What are they doing? Most of this time is spent consuming content online: becoming aware of a particular opportunity or problem, researching how to take the next step with it, making product comparisons, looking at user forums and pricing, then probably writing their short list of preferred options. So… as always you have to define your ideal lead as tightly as you can, then you need to sift through masses of options to find that specific person at the right time, on the right channel and device and serve up the right content. For this, you need very carefully curated data – you can’t do inbound well if your content plans (mapping your content assets, to ensure they’re found at those magic moments, hitting the right need, time and channel) are theoretical and not grounded in the best data available.

Prospect makes contact. What now?

Once they contact you – any part of your organisation, at any time and on any channel – you need to appear joined-up. It’s crucial you minimise the time customers spend waiting, or the time they spend consuming repeated information. They need to be met with a helpful response from empowered people who understand their needs. That takes a commitment both to the ‘help first’ ethos and to making it happen by giving your front-line teams great, easy-to use CRM and any wider support they need.

Clearly this piece is not a marketing or sales role, but it’s hugely important in determining whether you see recommendations and repeat business. This must include post-sale support and queries. McKinsey’s circular buying cycle reflects today’s reality, and shows how brands can join and leave the consideration set at any point in it. If you accept this, and many do, then inbound makes complete sense and huge internal efforts at superior, joined-up customer experience are vital.

Inbound marketing – what’s in it for you?

The prize here is of course huge. Typically, around half of companies ‘plan to be top in their sector for customer service in the next three years’, but a recent survey revealed that, on average, organisations are at least two years or more away from being able to deliver individualised, one-to-one customer experiences, often because of challenges ranging from CRM systems to being stuck with ‘silo’ thinking. More than one in three said achieving this is at least three years away. So, in other words, your competition can see the value of superior CX and are marching towards it, but they may be hampered so far by incomplete or incompatible data. That is a huge opportunity – and one your trusty data wranglers will be able to focus on!

KPIs and dashboards

At KISS we’re big on KPIs and dashboards to prove all these inbound marketing efforts are paying off, tweaking as we see which channels are the most effective. That means we generate even more data, but it’s invaluable and ready to be acted upon.

All in all, inbound marketing seems to be more and more about combining a ‘feeling’ with hard data. Gone are the days where it’s either/or – as humans we remember people who selflessly help us, make our jobs easier and our days better, so that emotional connection is the very essence of content marketing.

But numbers matter too – where exactly are our prospects spending time, what content works best in which channel, where are the highest-value leads coming from? Our data wranglers can make or break your inbound strategy by working out where exactly you should combine the two.

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