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When marketing executives consider inbound marketing, they typically focus on pre-sales ways to attract customers, primarily using digital channels.

Marketing departments spend time and money to attract potential customers to their websites by using content, social media, or other inbound tactics. The hope is to fill the sales funnel and to generate real-time engagement between brands and consumers.

The ultimate goal is to build brand affinity and—eventually—loyalty. However, the post-purchase, or "loyalty" element, often falls by the wayside.

Where can brands invest in loyalty, and even identify upsell opportunities, through constant customer monitoring and interaction?

The contact center. It's a continuation of an organization's inbound marketing strategies. You may be skeptical about that fact, but the data backs me up.

In the 12 months ending in August 2015, my company Calabrio recorded more than one billion inbound calls. One billion. That means companies had one billion inbound opportunities to promote the brand, offer solutions, resolve issues, and recommend additional products and services. Those were one billion ways to make or break the customer experience.

A skeptic might say that those calls are just customer complaints and product problems, neither of which constitutes inbound marketing—but that's not quite right.

The Power of the Contact Center

The contact center is a wealth of data and undiscovered revenue.

In fact, the contact center provides a massive opportunity to use technology, data, and training to produce quantifiable results—just like any other inbound marketing channel. The barrier to generating top-line revenue has traditionally been the stigma that the contact center is only a reactive arm of the organization where complaints go to die. In addition, organizations often fail to implement the technology to analyze the data they gather.

However, when companies start treating the contact center as a revenue opportunity by implementing the right technology and rolling contact center data up to broader marketing strategies, programs can be monitored and adjusted to net positive results.

Brands already analyze data on social and digital channels to see whether they are connecting with their customers in a way that propels them to action. Now, brands should be looking to the call center to do the same.

Ultimately, the goal should be for the contact center to become a proactive, revenue-generating division by treating every inbound call like a warm lead.

Just as creating great content will attract consumers to a brand's social channels or website, giving your contact center great content to use while interacting with customers will keep them coming back. A well-equipped contact center can reduce pressure on the sales team to handle smaller, post-sale transactions through training and strategy, all while identifying opportunities to reduce churn.

Inbound marketing strategies are often nimble, given that adjustments must constantly be made to content based on data and results. In the same way, contact center strategies should be adjusted and analyzed to determine what is—or is not—working. Questions can be asked to get authentic customer feedback and scripts can be adjusted to discuss solutions as well as product and service enhancements.

Referral Opportunities and Increased Loyalty

Marketers are constantly looking to identify referral opportunities, so why not use the contact center as a way to generate referrals through satisfied customers? With the right content and delivery, generating referrals is entirely possible. Given that analytical data is available almost immediately, brands can make those quick adjustments that can lead to better results.

As contact center service is improved through a solutions-driven approach and employees are empowered to make the right decision for the customer, that service will lead to increased brand loyalty and, ultimately, additional revenue.

Given that many companies field thousands of calls, chats, and emails per month—if not more—the opportunity to facilitate positive interactions with customers is already there. Generating revenue and increasing loyalty becomes possible by simply looking at the data.

Inbound marketing is all about producing great content to drive customers in the doors—and there is no better way to keep customers on board than to implement a solid content strategy that focuses on the contact center.

Though the contact center may not be on most executives' radars as it relates to inbound marketing, it should be. The wealth of information and data there can be used to implement and adjust inbound marketing strategies.

Once organizations roll the contact center up to overarching inbound marketing strategies, it will open up countless opportunities to generate revenue and reduce churn. Implementing this type of program within the call center will require a change of mentality, but you'll become a believer once you see the results.

Continue reading "The Inbound Marketing Channel That Most Executives Are Missing" ... Read the full article

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image of Tom Goodmanson

Tom Goodmanson is president and CEO of Calabrio, a workforce optimization suite.

LinkedIn: Thomas Goodmanson

Twitter: @tomgoodmanson

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