Inbound Fatigue is a term I coined whilst talking to a recent prospect about conversational marketing. For the past decade and more, those in the know have used the “inbound content marketing” approach to generate leads. But is that now all too common as a digital marketing strategy?
Adapting the Hubspot driven strategy of "attract engage and delight", companies around the world focused on education rather than selling to meet their business goals. And therein lies the rub. Too much education and nurturing in your digital marketing campaigns and not enough upfront selling and qualification of your target audience with your marketing tactics.
This doesn’t mean I believe that inbound marketing has had its day, it's still one of the leading digital strategies along with social media marketing. But the world is now full of similar pieces of content. In fact, I honestly believe your online marketing efforts should be proportionately more sales and benefits led.
You may find that your own educational content may not drive the conversion in your sales pipeline long term. As we seek answers from search engines on the pain points in our businesses we will visit multiple websites. Natural research behaviour would ensure that we seek information from multiple sources to solve our pain points.
But education also helps us confirm what it is we wish to purchase.
Why do marketers get it wrong?
Personally and as a fellow professional marketer, I believe we get in our own way. We believe we can tell where a prospect is on the buying journey from the keywords they use. That is a little bit presumptuous of us if I am honest.
The individual’s own tone of voice will depict the terms that they use on search engines. We can misplace a person’s intent by not allowing immediate contact with a salesperson upon arrival on your website. As a marketer, our job is to facilitate exchange with the sales team from the website.
To do that we need content, such as personal details or the ability to communicate directly with our business or brand directly from digital channels. This is where conversational marketing and chat/live chat and chatbots come into their own.
Do you fill forms in on mobile devices?
Do you search for email addresses on websites to email companies?
I hate both experiences personally, so why force that on your own website traffic and potential customers?
This is also causing inbound fatigue!
People are tired of being nurtured. You really need to get your product or service doing the talking and use the inbound strategy to support the customers buying journey. Think product-led growth which we discuss in more detail here. Your real goal is to build great brand awareness and create the best customer experience across your channels possible.
Qualify in or out?
We often forget that there can be huge numbers of competitors in our niches. There are over 9,500 marketing platforms in the world for example. Surely there is enough overlap in content production that prospects should be qualified out than qualified in. And I will come back to this later in the post.
Lead qualification is an integral part of the lead generation process, but this is also what is causing inbound fatigue. There are far too many people offering similar content from similar software (marketing) platforms to really make a difference. So remember that paid advertising in addition to inbound is exactly what your go to market strategy should contain.
I no longer believe that your content alone will be what finally converts. In fact, I believe it’s something far more primal and basic than that. For me, it comes down to four things being in place at the right time:
- The buying intent - EMOTION
- Availability to consume in the heat of the moment - AVAILABILITY
- Business pedigree - QUALITY
- A clear value proposition - RELEVANCE
If all of these combine at the right time, then the sale will happen for you.
Therefore, how does lead nurturing play a part?
The role of lead nurturing
In order to qualify your website or landing page prospects, lead nurturing must play a part!
Lead nurturing describes the activity our prospects take during their activities in our sales funnels. That helps decide when our sales teams should pick up the phone and reach out.
Activities like the number of emails accessed and read from our email marketing or the number of thought leadership content types downloaded and interaction on paid ads and from your social media marketing efforts.
However, this process has been placed in the wrong part of the buyer’s journey. For me, nurturing should happen once you’ve qualified the prospect isn’t ready to buy, not the other way around.
Are you thinking, how do you get a prospect to your website if you aren’t using an inbound approach?
Well, the answer is simple. You do need an inbound approach, it's a great digital marketing plan, but you also need paid search advertisements too. Combine that with a well-optimised website and you can achieve good things.
Intent-led searches captured with paid activity shift the buyer down the funnel of their own accord. Whilst this isn’t the defining tip for success, we can logically assume the prospect is looking for a solution.
Send them to a landing page with a form?
ARE YOU CRAZY?
Landing page forms averagely convert at around 2.5%, this is not a good spend of marketing budget!
Enter Conversational Marketing
A business needs to qualify the prospect upfront and nurture second. In fact, I feel that the age-old problem of marketers versus salespeople still plays an underlying role. The sales process is at the end of the marketing process when it is actually one and the same thing. It’s this fundamental and detrimental approach to marketing and sales that is causing your inbound fatigue.
Inbound marketing gave the lead generation process to marketing who have now had a clear process of proof of necessity. No longer operating in the realm of advertising and PR to drive brand attention. Marketing has educated brand prospects through a clear funnel towards the sales team.
However, that process is far too prolonged. Your prospects could well be serviced by your rivals whilst still consuming your content. That is certainly something to consider in 2019.
Talk your way to success
If 4 key things need to align to ensure the sale happens, emotion, availability, quality and relevance. Then we should nurture only when you are clear that they do not. Once you have established what is missing for the candidate, you should nurture the conversation around that specific topic. This shouldn’t necessarily be handed off to email either.
If you can solve problems for your potential customer then do it immediately. Take that prospect into an online chat room and continue to be of service. Use a platform like a Zoom or Blab to continue helping.
So how do you do that?
Well, enter conversational marketing. No longer is the playbook attract, convert close and delight. It’s attract, engage, recommend.
Attract in conversational marketing
Attracting prospects to your website still follows the status quo:
- Paid marketing
- Calls to action
You need a combination of the above to attract your prospects for which you will have defined clear buyer personas. Well researched buyer personas will enable your marketing team to be clear on your company messaging. You can also be clear on the terminology your prospects anticipate upon engaging with your onsite chat solution.
By being clear in your content and distributing that in the correct channels you will attract more like-minded website traffic. The more like-minded traffic, the higher the rate of conversion.
Use paid search to drive traffic into your revenue-generating pages and use content to amplify that message. This way you optimise for both paid and organic traffic to your website.
But do you see where the conversation should start here?
Paid search - Revenue generating pages - chatbot - engage - recommend
It's talking that closes sale transactions. Especially where high-value purchases are involved. Historic answers to the challenges of closing that sale have all fallen way short of providing the right customer experience.
15 years ago when I was client-side in the financial services industry, everybody was offshoring. Call centres in India often being the first port of call. I don’t think there is a single brand trading today that can state without question, that experience helped grow revenue. Not unless it was by cutting costs. It most certainly because we were getting 10/10 on our customer experience.
In fact, we could say that customer experience was put second to profitability when it should have been the opposite. Great customer experience brings growth in profitability.
Then came the AI-led chat solutions. They also haven’t provided success, often the technology is too juvenile to be successful. Questions are asked that cannot be answered and again the customer experience suffers.
However, AI purists have a part to play and should shoulder some of the blame. Often denigrating chat tree solutions as being the juvenile and “poorer cousin”. To those less educated brands have been mis-sold chat solutions at the cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds. No wonder there is a hesitancy around using chat in marketing and sales.