Will Inbound Marketing “Obliterate” Industrial Marketing as Brian Halligan Suggests?

inbound marketing a magnet that attracts customersA lifetime ago, in March 2012, Forbes published an article and interview with Brian Halligan, the CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, the leader in marketing automation software. HubSpot’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) helps the right-brain crowd manage all the content a company deploys on the web.  Once HubSpot’s snippet of code is installed on a web page its “all-in-one” dashboard quickly identifies content that works and content that does not work…then helps marketing personnel make adjustments to improve traffic to their web site and lead generation.

Imagine creating a display ad for an industrial trade journal. You buy the space, you insert the ad and find out the ad was a flop…no readership, no interest, no phone calls, no leads. For inbound marketing we call that “no-conversion”.

Now imagine creating 2 or 3 of the same ads with different graphics, different copy and different emphasis. You deploy the first ad, once again it flops.  Now you try the second ad and the “conversion rate” is significantly improved and the phone rings as a result of your adjustment…on the fly.

No more wondering which half of the marketing budget worked and which half did not.

That’s the power of inbound marketing, except the ads (i.e. content such e-books, blog posts, white papers, etc.) are in the digital space instead of traditional media. As Halligan says, “The Millennial generation has permanently changed the way they interact with companies and brands.”

And I do believe it will “obliterate” industrial marketing as we know it.

Brian’s entire software platform is based on well-known data that says customers are sick of being interrupted and simply want to search for their own solutions. Of course, this includes industrial buyers as well. HubSpot’s software provides a methodology that puts answers (i.e. web pages) in front of buyers and helps create thought leadership and top-of-mind awareness for an industrial company’s brand and products.

Halligan’s grim prediction, “Traditional marketing is going to get obliterated in the next ten years. (8 years now!) The whole industry is going to get ripped apart.”  The article in Forbes goes on to say Halligan is so convinced that he compares the magnitude of this shift to the decimation of the horse-carriage industry100 years ago.  Maybe a little hyperbole. We will see in about 8 years.

Again…for the record, I agree with Brian. Clearly the old channels to market will not go away, but the balance of power will shift from the sales departments to the marketing departments in the digital age as quality lead generation shifts to inbound marketing.

I think these trends will be especially harsh on industrial marketers simply because they lack many of the skill sets required to do inbound marketing and, by nature, tend to be a little behind when it comes to spiffy new marketing concepts and tactics.  I certainly don’t blame them, I tend to look at new & shinny with healthy skepticism as well.

However my skepticism turned to high-voltage enthusiasm once I saw the benefits using HubSpot’s inbound marketing methodology.

Keep in mind the web development company I founded in 2005 is an SEO (search engine optimization) specialist and we did good work to ensure that our customer’s keywords were highly visible to Google.

But then Google moved our cheese…and yours also. Google changed the rules and said, “Mr. Marketer you must now earn your placement with content that your audience loves.”   In classic GBM, Google Behavior Modification, searchers began to find answers quickly.  Now an industrial buyer does not want to be interrupted by phone calls, trade journal ads, or trade shows, thanks to Google’s efficiency… he  just wants to search.

So it was with our industrial customers as well.

We started with HubSpot this past summer and then installed all the HubSpot components in October 2013, including calls-to-action, keyword-specific landing pages, e-mail blasts and most importantly my blog with HubSpot’s tracking code installed.

I am not going to tell you it was easy. It has been a ton of work. With the help of our staff, it has been a labor of love. I love how digital can change traditional, ineffective sales & marketing processes.

As SEO specialists we always had good visibility for many of our critical keywords but real lead generation was always difficult.  We found industrial lead generation a bit easier for our customers because their keywords were not nearly as competitive as “web development” or “search engine optimization”.

Since deploying HubSpot and also improving frequency of our blog posts we have doubled our web traffic and consistently gathered 20 leads per month.  Of those 20 leads per month, 25% are highly qualified leads that were in our “power alley”.

We focused on industrial internet marketing since its inception.  We thought we were doing pretty well, but the new ways of the digital world have “obliterated” our old tactics.

Keep in mind inbound marketing is in its early stages, yet in a recent study done at MIT in January 2014 found, “Regardless of the starting volume of visitors or leads, this study indicates that customers across various segments experience a fairly significant increase in not only these upstream metrics, but also sales conversion and sales revenue. HubSpot’s products have consistently provided a quick and high return on investment for a large majority of its customers”.

By the way, our “visits conversion rate” was consistent with HubSpot’s published visits conversion rate for the top 50% of HubSpot’s 7,000 customers they surveyed last year, which is 1.9%. We are very proud of that.

The MIT Study goes on to demonstrate significant improvement in the quality and quantity of leads after the first and second years, as long as the inbound methodology continues.

In the Forbes article Halligan goes on to say, “Human beings are sick and tired of being marketed to. This is just the first inning of that massive shift.” I could not agree more and I believe your industrial buyers agree.

Do you think inbound marketing tactics will “obliterate” your industrial marketing strategy?

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“By Tom Repp”