Definition B2B Marketing

Marketing Automation Or Inbound Marketing – Which Is Right for You?

If you believe everything you read (and lately there's been a lot) about marketing automation, you'd think it is the killer app to solve all your lead generation problems.

Then there are scores of B2B marketers who swear by inbound marketing as the path to lead generation nirvana.

How do you separate hype from reality, especially when it comes to industrial marketing? Are we comparing apples to oranges when we talk about marketing automation versus inbound marketing?

Let's take a closer look at both.

How manufacturers are marketing today.

"Quality of leads delivered" was considered as most important by 464 respondents from the manufacturing sector as reported in Trends in Industrial Marketing 2010 released by GlobalSpec. It scored 8.6 on a scale of one to ten. This was way ahead of quantity of leads and number of click-throughs to a company's Web site.

Industrial marketers seem to face the same challenges year after year. For the past three years, marketers have listed too few marketing resources, not enough high-quality leads and a need to improve ROI as their top three challenges.

Despite all the promises of online marketing tactics, industrial marketers are still wrestling with the same lead generation problem year after year. 48% of respondents still said they are not generating enough high quality leads for their sales teams.

Notice how marketers are now talking about quantity of quality leads and not just filling the top of the funnel.

Is this a case of the age-old disconnect between sales and marketing or is something else at play here?

Reasons to use marketing automation.

I've read quite a bit about marketing automation and do firmly believe in its benefits. The three key benefits in my opinion are:

Making a strong case for inbound marketing.

Proponents of inbound marketing argue that marketing automation fails to address the problem of filling the top of the marketing funnel with a large quantity of high-quality leads.

In case you are not familiar with the term inbound marketing, it refers to marketing tactics that focus on helping your prospects and customers find and contact you as opposed to interruptive outbound marketing such as telemarketing, direct mail, radio and TV advertisements. Some marketers also refer to it as content marketing.

Content is the heart and soul of inbound marketing because that's how your prospects and customers will find and engage with you. It helps you with:

Bottom line: Think carefully about your business objectives and analyze where you are today before jumping into either marketing automation or inbound marketing.

Focus first on attracting a steady stream of quality traffic, establish an agreed upon definition of a sales qualified lead, score prospects objectively before handing them off to sales and produce valuable content to nurture those that are not sales ready yet.

It is not an either-or proposition. I recommend starting with inbound or content marketing and then moving on to marketing automation to make the entire lead generation process smooth and efficient.

Achinta Mitra is the founder of Tiecas, Inc., a Houston-based industrial and B2B marketing communications company. Over the past 23 years, he has helped many engineering companies and manufacturers improve their lead generation, conversions, and marketing communications to increase sales. He writes regularly about industrial marketing on his blog at Industrial Marketing Today.

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