Over the past five years, outbound marketing has become the red-headed stepchild of the marketing industry. It seems like every conference that you go to; every book that you read; every consultant that you talk to will give you the speech on how you should go inbound. There are good reasons for bashing outbound. Buyers are sick of being sold to. No one wants to take a cold call with the pushy sales guy. And caller ID is making it easier than ever to avoid these conversations. The traditional, interrupt-driven, marketing approaches such as advertising and direct mail typically result in low conversion rates or unmeasurable results.
Some of the most powerful features of marketing automation software are in the category of lead nurturing. To give a simple example – once you download a white paper (or register for an online event) marketing automation software can be configured to recommend another piece of related content. By encouraging the user to take the next step you can nurture the prospect, cultivating a relationship with them until they are ready to engage in a buying cycle. The challenge is that today’s marketing automation software makes it difficult for administrators to optimize these personalized recommendations.
A few years ago I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book the Tipping Point. One of the most fascination chapters in the book focused on the Broken Windows Theory of criminal psychology. The theory espouses that the probability that a crime will occur in a given area is proportional to the number of broken windows on its blocks. If a broken window goes unrepaired then people will conclude that no one is in charge and no one cares. In time, more windows will be broken. A regular pattern of minor crimes such as burglary and purse snatching will emerge. Soon the crimes will escalate to drug dealing and murder. Crime is contagious. It starts with a broken window and spreads to the entire community.
In the traditional technology sale, customers were dependent upon the vendors to move through a sales cycle. Vendors were engaged early in the process to provide much of the information about a particular technology. Much of the education process occurred face-to-face as the vendor talked prospective buyers through the features and benefits of their offerings. Additionally, vendors shared documentation such as technology primers, product data sheets, white papers and technical specifications with customers.
I fly between 50,000 and 100,000 air miles per year on average. So I have the opportunity to listen to at least one hundred of those pre-takeoff, air safety instruction announcements from various flight attendants on different airlines. Sadly, most of these speeches are uninspired, monotone recitals of the legally-engineered scripts produced at headquarters. Sometimes I wonder whether anyone at the airline has actually listened to these announcements in the past five years when phrases like please put away all portable CD and DVD players are included. Seriously, does anyone really carry a CD player on a plane any longer?
In my last post I made the case for why your company should consider building a visual content factory to support your content marketing strategy. To stand out from the noise these days, you need not only an attention-grabbing headline, but also an eye-catching visual. Readers can infer a lot about the content behind a link from the associated photo. Remember the old saying that a picture is word one thousand words. Here are ten outputs that your visual content factory needs to produce.
We live in the age of Pinterest, of Instagram, of Snapchat and of Vine. Nearly every post on Facebook now contains a photo. And there are thousands of followers on Twitter uploading images on trending topics. Nearly all hyperlinked content, whether displayed in mobile apps like Flipboard or in a newstream on Google+ display images pulled from RSS feeds. Consumers are walking around with 41MegaPixel cameras and 1080p HD video cameras on their phones. More and more people are shelling out the extra few hundred dollars to get the MacBook with the Retina Display.