Performance Marketing Blog

Cold Calling vs. Inbound Marketing

Posted by Natalie Young

Feb 14, 2013 1:17:00 PM

cold calling vs inbound marketingIn this day and age, many unsolicited business calls go unanswered. Modern sales and marketing professionals are up against savvy buyers that are more empowered than ever by easy access to detailed product information on the Web.

Everyone is connected to the latest information. And if buyers don’t want to hear from marketers, they have a variety of technologies (e.g. Caller ID, email spam filters, etc.) to block out marketing attempts to get in touch. But surely some people are able to get through all these defense mechanisms and land that one magical deal. Or are they?

That was the subject of the latest Google+ Debate from Software Advice -- a website that reviews marketing automation technologies -- titled, “Does Cold Calling Still Work?” The panel, moderated by Derek Singleton, brought together inbound marketing and inside sales experts to debate three questions:

  • Given how the Web has empowered B2B buyers, is cold calling still relevant in the Internet Age -- and are companies still generating a return on investment (ROI) on it?
  • With other lead generation activities on the rise, like paid search and content marketing, can cold calling help marketers stand out from the noise?
  • Can inbound marketing and analytics help us better decide who to cold call and when?

Here are the takeaways from the debate.

Cold Calling is Shifting to Warm Calling
Understandably, every panelist agreed that cold calling (in it’s original form) is decreasing significantly in effectiveness. Furthermore, there is no excuse for business calls to be random and unsolicited anymore. In the words of Anneke Seley, Founder and CEO of Reality Works Group, “in this day and age, there’s no excuse for a call to be cold anymore.”

That is, with so many options for connecting with people on the Web (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook) it’s very easy to find out information about your prospect before you pick up a phone. And they, in turn, can learn a little about you before you commit to a call. The group called this “warm calling.”

Only Call the People that Come to You
But Mike Volpe, CMO of HubSpot, thinks that marketers can take it one step further and not even waste time reaching out in this manner. Volpe believes that the world is shifting away from any type of outbound marketing and that your inside sales team should only reply to inbound inquiries because you already they’re interested in your product or service.

Meanwhile, Volpe explains that inbound marketing tactics like SEO and PPC that are significantly cheaper that doing things like employing a great sales rep to make outbound calls. And he says it’s also a much less invasive approach to contacting buyers.

Find a Happy Medium by Employing Both Tactics
Of course, there’s usually room for middle ground. And that’s where Ken Krogue, President of InsideSales.com, sided on the debate. According to Krogue, InsideSales.com relies very heavily on inbound marketing tactics but the leads they generate by purely inbound means just aren’t high enough value. So he turns to very targeted outbound calling after warming up contacts. To quote Krogue:

If we [at InsideSales.com] just rely on the Internet to bring us leads, it’s like a fish sitting in a pond waiting for the river to bring whatever it brings them. What we’ve found is that if you look at a typical bell curve, 70 percent of all the leads that come in are small. For example, we’re moving up to enterprise class companies and we have to forget about the Web bringing us those leads and have to reach out to initialize the conversation (usually through calling), then we move to a Web-based type of nurturing.”

In any Case, Marketing is Becoming Permission-Based
One point each panelist could agree on was that lead generation is shifting toward a permission-based model of marketing. This means marketing will need to evolve into being about showing buyers how valuable you are, and ultimately getting them to come to you. If you aren’t demonstrating your value in a tangible way, then buyers will increasingly look over your company and not engage with your marketing efforts.

What are your thoughts on the evolution of outbound and inbound marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments below. To read the full article, visit the B2B Marketing Mentor.

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Topics: Hubspot, Inbound Marketing, internet marketing, sales development, marketing tactics

Marketing Today: What Do You Know?

Posted by Natalie Young

Dec 11, 2012 1:01:00 PM

marketing today orange county caYears ago, Lord Leverhulme, the founder of Unilever, famously quipped,  “I know that half of my advertising budget is wasted, but I'm not sure which half.” Sadly, things haven’t changed all that much for many businesses today. And sometimes the picture is even less clear.

Today’s businesses are using marketing tools that didn’t even exist a few years ago and they’re often not sure how to measure the impact or the effectiveness of these new tools.

A few years ago, marketing gurus told businesses that if they didn’t have a website they wouldn’t be able to do business in the future. It turns out that those gurus were pretty much right because  more than 90 percent of purchases today begin with an online search for information. Businesses took heed and spent money to create websites. The problem is that many businesses have no idea whether their websites are producing any results. They face the same dilemma that plagued Lord Leverhulme. Maybe you’re one of those businesses that spent money on a website but don’t know what it’s giving you in return.

What should you know about your website? And how should you measure it? Here are three questions you can ask in order to begin understanding how your site is performing.

1. Who’s There? How many visitors are coming to your site every day? How are they finding you? What pages are they visiting, and how long are they staying there?

2. Are Visitors Engaging? Having potential customers visit your site is a good thing, but that’s not the end goal. How many of your visitors are engaging with you (downloading information or asking for additional information)? Are you converting visitors into real leads?

3. What Are You Learning? Are you keeping track of which offers are getting the most response so that you can repeat them (maybe in a slightly different form) later? What kind of information is the most popular? What questions are visitors most frequently asking? These things will help you shape your marketing messages for the future.

Knowledge is power. The more you know about how your site is performing, the more you can leverage that power to better communicate with your target audience. If you’re interested in understanding how to measure these three things, let’s talk about how we can do that for your business.

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Topics: website marketing, Inbound Marketing, internet marketing

Marketing for Lighting and Energy Control: Is Price Your Most Important Positioning Tool?

Posted by Natalie Young

Oct 2, 2012 2:46:00 PM

penny resized 600There are a lot of lighting and energy control companies competing for customers on the Internet. As a matter of fact, if you type “lighting control companies” into a Google search, it turns up about 39,500,000 results. If you try “energy control companies” you end up with some 371,000,000 results. How can your company stand out in a crowd like that?

The first thing many companies do in an attempt to stand out from their competitors is to cut prices. It’s relatively easy to do. It doesn’t take a lot of thought. And—after all—who doesn’t like to save money. Companies scream it from TV screens all the time. Newspaper ads tout “Low Prices!” all over the place. But it’s a slippery slope. Once you start, where do you stop? And if it’s easy for you to do, it’s easy for your competitors to do as well. They don’t have to cut by much, either—their prices just have to be lower than yours. Plus, price-cutting doesn’t generate loyalty. If you gained customers by offering low prices, you’ll lose them if someone else offers a lower price.

What will bring people back—especially in industries such as lighting and energy control systems—is knowledge and expertise. If potential clients get the picture that you know what you’re talking about and that you can help them solve those difficult specification or installation problems, they’ll come looking for you—even if you’re a few pennies more expensive than someone else. Saving money on the wrong solution is no bargain.

So how do you let potential customers know that you have the knowledge and expertise to help them solve their problems? That’s one of the beautiful things about blogging. It’s not really about telling the world how wonderful you are. It’s about helping potential customers find solutions to questions they have or problems they face. And if you help someone find a solution, they’ll at least give you a look when it’s time to purchase.

You may think you’re not a writer. Maybe not, but don’t sell yourself short. If you know your subject matter, we can help you get your expertise out there in a way that positions you as an industry expert. And that’s just one step in using your website to generate leads for your business.

generate leads

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Topics: lead generation, website marketing, energy control, electrical marketing, internet marketing, B2B, blogging

Marketing Today: Can You Really Outsmart Google?

Posted by Natalie Young

Sep 14, 2012 3:22:00 PM

outsmart googleBusiness doesn’t happen without the Internet today. Not every transaction takes place online, of course, but consider that (according to brafton.com) 89 percent of consumers use search engines for purchase decisions. People go to the Web for information before they buy—regardless of where they actually end up buying. And the good folks over at Google account for more than 66 percent of all online searches.

It’s no wonder that businesses care about Google. But if you look at the approach some businesses take to marketing, you might come away with the impression that some marketing firms and companies think they can outsmart Google. They know that the higher they rank with Google, the better their chances of being seen by consumers. So they try to come up with ways to “beat the system” and outsmart Google so that their name will end up at the top of the list.

There are a couple of problems with that approach, however. First of all, the people at Google are really, really smart! Nobody has ever really cracked the algorithm Google uses to rank websites—although people have certainly tried. Chances are that nobody is going to crack that any time soon.

More importantly, however, is that “cracking the code” is the wrong way to think about Google. What makes Google so successful is that they help people find what they’re really looking for—rather than ending up on the page of a company that’s trying to trick them.

Think about how you use the Internet. If you’re trying to do a bit of research on a product or a service, do you want to end up with helpful information that will enable you to make a good, informed decision? Or do you want to end up reading something from a company that is trying to sell you something—whether it’s right for you or not?

That—in a nutshell—is the difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing. Inbound marketing helps businesses and individuals find information that helps them make decisions that are right for them. Outbound marketing assumes that what the company is selling is right for the prospective buyer. Which do you prefer when you’re the one who is thinking about making a purchase?

If you’d like help pursuing this kind of a marketing approach, let’s talk about how we can make that happen for you.  Or you can keep trying to outsmart the geniuses at Google!

inbound marketing

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Topics: SEO, website marketing, internet marketing, Google ranking

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