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Why The Customer Should Be Central to Inbound Efforts

By May 07, 2013

Chief Marketer recently talked with Mike Volpe, CMO of inbound marketing software at HubSpot, to get his take on trends in the inbound space. HubSpot’s annual event Inbound13 will take place August 19-22 in Boston.

CHIEF MARKETER: What are the most important inbound marketing trends, and how should marketers react to them?

VOLPE: It sounds intuitive to say that marketers should be focused on a customer-centric experience, but with all the channels we now have access to to convey our message, somehow we’ve lost our focus. In the upcoming year, we’ll see more and more companies putting the customer at the center of their efforts—and companies that don’t will get left behind. Foretelling this shift, 50% of respondents to our recent “State of Inbound Marketing Survey” indicated they consider their companies to be primarily customer focused, and nearly 25% cited reaching the right audience as their top priority for 2013.

Another important trend is personalization. Customers expect a company’s interactions to be personalized and lovable. As a result, tailoring email, social media interactions and content based on individual interests and previous interactions with your brand will be paramount.

CM: What has been the impact of mobile and social on inbound?

VOLPE: This trend is universal, not just for marketers—the world’s attention span is getting shorter, we are consuming massive amounts of media each day, and we have an increasing number of channels through in which we interact. On one hand, it’s tempting to say more mediums for advertising means more spammy behavior and more ads, but in reality, consumers have more tools than ever to ignore or fast-forward through your ads. As a result, mobile and social just makes inbound marketing both more necessary and valuable.

CM: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in inbound marketing over the last year?

CM: Inbound marketing gained a lot of traction over the past year. While traditional marketing models have not completely dried up, we found they are dramatically devalued by all marketers in 2013. Seventeen percent of marketers say both traditional advertising and direct mail have become less important in the past six months. Traditional advertising and PPC will deliver the least amount of leads for marketers this year, with just six percent originating from each of these categories. More and more of marketing budgets will be allocated toward inbound efforts as outbound fights to prove ROI promise.

CM: What are the biggest challenges?

VOLPE: Our recent report showed that a whopping 34% of businesses cannot or do not calculate overall inbound ROI. Among executives, tracking the ROI in analytics becomes even more important, with 20% of these executives pointing to the need to develop analytics further. The challenge is that many marketers simply don’t know how to measure inbound marketing; inbound isn’t as cut and dry as buying a billboard, estimating impressions and assessing revenue afterward.

CM: What part of the corporate team has the most untapped inbound marketing potential?

VOLPE: There’s a huge opportunity for companies not using inbound to give their sales team more qualified leads to work with, and for the sales reps to know exactly what a lead’s biggest challenges are and how your product or service will meet their specific needs. Consider that, on average, a customer’s decision is nearly 60% complete before they even talk to a sales rep.