Throughout my career, I have always been interested in the way companies must adapt their marketing strategies to keep up with the latest B2B business and communication approaches. I've also paid close attention to how some companies choose not to make these critical adjustments—often at the expense of their bottom lines.

For some time now, trends in social media have remained on the mind and lips of most companies that think, "How do we capitalize on this opportunity? How do we insert ourselves into these conversations?" Yet sales and marketing teams at many companies still seem to fall behind on how to take full advantage of what is referred to as inbound marketing—such as blogging, contributed content, social media, and real-time media—as a means for increasing overall effectiveness.

Customer-relationship management (CRM) and software began to take off in the 1980s as a way to help connect companies with their customers. CRM industry leaders continue to impress the market with new ways of managing basic information and providing an increased understanding of a company's customers. Theoretically, that information should provide greater dashboards for customer insight to the management team. In many cases, however, inaccurate or incomplete data and poor adoption of regimented processes can limit the success of CRM technology and the ability of sales and marketing teams to stay on top of their best prospects. As a result, those teams suffer from a lack of knowledge regarding who their customers are and whom they should target.

Though marketing analytics and automation can prepare sales and marketing teams with the insight they need to engage potential prospects and existing customers, two issues can limit them.

First, those solutions are only powerful and successful to the extent that the underlying data is accurate and clean, and it provides the depth and breadth of information that can be used for increased deliverability and enhanced targeting.

Second, marketing analytics and automation alone takes an "inside/out" approach, as data is limited to the analysis of existing customers/prospects, which, in many cases, only provides a tiny view of the business opportunity.

Companies that analyze inbound marketing content—such as blogging, content publishing, social and real-time media—will ultimately come out on top. In the past, sales and marketing teams could rely on traditional outbound marketing—such as like direct mail, telemarketing, and tradeshows—as opportunities to collect information on prospects. In the mobile 21st century, where business is more commonly conducted online, new approaches that capitalize on this shift are often less expensive and provide more analytics and insights that go beyond the reach and scope of traditional means. Inbound marketing has also been found to cost up to 62% less than traditional means, providing even more incentive for potential prospects to engage in social activities. With the explosion of Big Data, there are deeper insights being gathered on digital and online interactions, and increased business signals that can listen and interpret them. Therefore, companies can capitalize on the wealth of information that inbound marketing provides by using the right triggers to alert their sales and marketing teams of what's relevant. Those triggers increase growth of B2B companies by emphasizing a consumer-centric model.

To enhance the CRM experience, companies must match and append rich and robust data to the CRM data, "de-dupe" and cleanse it then apply market insight and sales enablement solutions that can use real-time data sources, such as news, media, and social, along with real-time alerts, notifications, and triggers regarding when to prospect or engage. For example, if a company continues to rely on simple CRM platforms to reach out to new and existing prospects, it is at risk for several things: missing out on opportunities to engage its clients on a deeper level by calling upon recent information put out by that client themselves and limiting its prospecting to its known universe or at a basic level through traditional data targeting aspects.

By keeping the following tips in mind, companies can equip their sales and marketing teams with more tangible business insight and actionable information that leads to greater efficiency in prospecting and differentiation from competition:

  • Increase the quality of CRM data by applying an "outside/in" approach
  • Target beyond who your company knows or conducts business with
  • Aggregate real-time information and use it as leading indicators of change and opportunity

* * *

Staying in tune with the latest and greatest from your customer, prospect, or targeted prospect will benefit everyone. Companies are providing their customers with options that best fit their needs, and customers are engaging with a company that offers relevant solutions. In turn, marketing will not only become more efficient, but also turn into a revenue producer for the company.

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Why Companies Need to Analyze Inbound Marketing Content

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James Rogers is chief marketing officer at OneSource Information Services.

LinkedIn: James Rogers