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The Biggest Problem with Inbound Marketing

May 7, 2018
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While Inbound marketing has proven to be extremely effective in generating leads, it's not without its own set of problems. I've worked with a number of businesses who have seen success in the first two phases of Inbound, but struggle to turn those leads into business. Inbound sales is a very different process than traditional sales and in order to have success, you must take a new approach. 

The biggest problem facing companies that use Inbound as their marketing strategy is converting leads into sales. In the video below, I share insight into how to overcome this obstacle and improve your close rate.

 

 

Video Transcript

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So Inbound marketing has really seen a huge rise over the last few years. Companies like HubSpot, Pardot, Marketo, and a number of other softwares have built their platforms around this methodology, the marketing funnel. We talk about it quite a bit here on this channel.

And typically email marketing, it's just like a normal funnel, right? So if we look at it, we're going to have the top of the funnel. We're going to have different stages all the way down. And Inbound is really known for having these four main stages, attract, convert, close, and delight. And we talk about each and every one of these stages, attract, that's where we're attracting people to our websites. So using things like SEO, and social media marketing, blogging, content strategy, things of that nature to drive people to our site.

Convert, this is where we're going to build out landing pages and forms, give away free offers, things of that nature to generate leads. Close, is nurturing those leads that we've generated in this convert stage into paying customers. And finally, we want to end it with delight where our customers are so excited about the relationship that we've built and the problems that we solve for them that they didn't begin to feed people back into this funnel.

Now, this funnel works and it's a really great methodology but a lot of times, we expect this to just very easily work its way down and then kind of go, kind of expecting a percentage to drop off along the way which is absolutely, totally true and absolutely something that we see all the time. But I think the expectation that this is going to work smoothly every time is where a lot of people get frustrated, maybe end up quitting, or just kind of writing it off and just saying, "You know what? We've converted some people in the leads. But they're not closing into customers, this doesn't work."

Now, the problem is right here in this gap. It's really between the convert and the close. And so let's talk a little bit about why that happens and what we can do to solve this big problem. So there's a book and it's usually synonymous in the software industry. I'll show you. Let me grab it. It's right here. And it's called Crossing the Chasm. And Crossing the Chasm was written by Geoffrey Moore over 25 years ago. It's still extremely relevant today. This book gets updates. The guys at the Chasm Institute do an amazing job of giving powerful resources.

Now, the thing about this book is it talks about the gap that's usually faced in the technology lifecycle. Now, I think this gap also exists in the Inbound cycle, and here's where we really need to start to build a bridge so that we don't just start this process and then stop before we reap any benefit.

So when you look at a traditional bell curve where you start your business and you get some momentum. Eventually, you're going to reach a peak where you've maxed out and then you're going to start to see that drop off again. Every company goes through this. Sometimes it's actually probably more like this if you're a company that's building growth sustainably over time where you hit these peaks and valleys. But the reality is we all have these curves in our growth cycle. 

Now, as we talked about before with the funnel, inbound is all about tracking, converting, closing, delighting, right? And I actually like to look at it like this too where when you start early on, you're building your track space. Now, when you start out, people don't know who you are unless you're a giant company. Most of the time people just ... they don't know who you are so you've got to build that momentum. You've got to share your story. You've got to show them how you're solving problems. You've got to share your new solutions, but you've really got to focus on your customer and insert yourself into their story, not as their hero but as their guide, somebody that's going to walk through the process with them. And that's how you're going to convert them and that's this next phase.

Now, this is where you're building, again, momentum. You're heading up the curve right now. You're beginning to build that. And this is where a lot of businesses get super pumped, right? So they're super happy at this phase of the journey because they're like man, we're attracting leads. We're starting to convert some leads. We've got people in our database. This is exciting. Now we're going to start closing people automatically. This is just the next phase, right?

But see, there's a problem. There's actually a chasm here. This is where close happens. Now, as you see, this is not typically just a one-step process. You're actually going to have a little break here. And a lot of people are going to get pumped and then they're just going to fall into this chasm. They're going to allow themselves to generate leads and still have their forms out there. But because people aren't automatically closing and taking that next step, they get frustrated or they don't really know how to close this next step because Inbound sales is not the same as outbound sales, is not the same as traditional sales.

And it's not working the way they expect it to work. So they actually never really see this jump. Maybe every once in a while somebody comes through and it's just so exciting. Maybe they're an early adopter and they buy into the process. But the reality is, this is where the majority of growth is and they never get here because of this gap.

And what we need to start understanding is that one, this gap exists. And then two, how do we close this gap? So now we know the gap exists, right? And we know that this is where real business growth is on the other side of this chasm. We need to start really investing our time and energy into creating a bridge, in closing this gap, in helping those who have converted become paying customers.

So it's actually in this gap that we need to begin to work on our brand's story. Now, most business, once they get somebody to convert, they begin to spit features at them. Here's a feature, here's a feature, here's a feature, here's a feature. Features are great but most people aren't going to buy because of a feature that a product has. They're going to buy a product because it solves a problem and they're only going to buy a product from somebody who solves their problem if they actually trust that person.

Now, when I talk about the story, I'm not talking about this is how awesome our company is. I'm actually talking about laying out the story of how your company is going to walk with them to an ultimate solution for their business. So in order to cross this gap, you have to insert yourself into the story of how that customer is going to have success.

So let's look at this, this element of the story and this element of the sales story. We have problems, right, in your customer. Maybe they have an issue and they need your widget to solve that issue. They just don't know it yet. So they're walking along and now there's a gap in there. So they're stuck here and they want to get here because this is where success is for them, this is where they're going to get all their hopes and dreams. But right now, there's a giant gap. Just like we've got a gap in the sales process, they've got a gap in their solution here solving their problem.

Now, a lot of times, businesses come in and they just say I'm Superman. I'm the answer to solve all your problems because I'm super awesome. And this guy is like, "Yeah, whatever man." I don't need Superman, I just need to find a way to get from here to here. I don't really think you're that awesome anyways. I think you're just wearing a shiny cape and you really can't solve my problems.

Because the reality is, you've probably bought products too that promised something that never actually delivered it. So we're very adverse to that. We're very adverse to saying feature, feature, feature, feature, and we just go, "No, that's not what I want," when I need somebody to help me build this bridge.

And so instead of coming up here and saying, "Look how awesome I am," you have to identify the pain. And then we need to use that pain as a leaver and that is a leaver to begin to build this bridge. Because people only change their minds once they have enough leverage in that pain. And you begin to empathize with them and say I understand that you've got a problem. I understand that this is frustrating you and that you need a solution so that you can find the success that you need.

We need to flip our story about ourselves and back to the clients and begin to say here's how we can help you succeed. This is how we can walk with you on your journey. That's the power of a real story because it puts your customer at the center, it puts your clients at the center, it allows them to be the hero of their own story, and it's our job to walk with them and begin to build this bridge using empathy and leveraging pain to get them to success. 

So what happens I think a lot in the Inbound process is we focus a lot on the top of the funnel, and we focus a lot on creating a ton of value up here where we attract them with content that's very focused on big ideas. And then we attract them with a powerful offer that helps them convert.

But if we want to get people to take that next step in the gap and actually close in the customers, we have to create content stories that position them at the center of the solution and allow us to be their guide in the process. If you begin to structure your sales content, if you begin to structure your sales emails, sales calls by putting the customer at the center, by putting the prospect at the center, and align yourself to what they need, help them see things a little bit differently and a different perspective, and then allow them to walk on this path, you're going to see a much higher close rate because you're building a relationship with them.

Now, you can do this through email, you can do this through blog content. And yeah, you probably should use the telephone, especially if it's a higher ticket item, and you want to be able to build relationships in rooms to this bridge all the way through that process.

Email nurturing isn't about blasting somebody and annoying them with stuff they don't need. It's all about walking with them through the journey, positioning your client, your prospect at the center and then that allows them to close. If you do that, you're actually going to see these leads that you're attracting and that are converting on your site turn into customers. We're just going to see your business go up and it's going to give you a happier customer who want to feed people at the top of your funnel again. 

There is a chasm, there is a gap. That's the biggest problem with Inbound marketing. It's getting people from converting to closing. The first step and the biggest thing you need to do is to understand the story between the gap, and then insert yourself as the guide to your leads and the guide to the solutions for your customers. If you do that, you're going to build relationships, which will build lasting sales which is really going to grow your business.

Hope you guys learned something today. If you've got any questions, please comment below. And again, subscribe if you liked this video. We post new stuff each and every week. And until next time, Happy Marketing.

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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