Inbound Marketing

Is Demand Generation Different from Inbound Marketing?

If you’ve ever had trouble keeping marketing terms and concepts straight, you’re not alone. Many professionals use demand generation and inbound marketing interchangeably. Although these two concepts are similar, they are not identical. In this blog post, we’ll define both concepts, explain how they fit together, and teach you how to maintain a balance between the two strategies.
Inbound Marketing vs. Demand Generation
What is the difference between inbound marketing and demand generation?
Demand Generation
Demand generation is the process of driving awareness and interest in a product or service. It is a long-term strategy businesses use to secure loyal customers. Demand generation encompasses a variety of activities, including sales enablement, PR, paid media, and a variety of other marketing or advertising tactics—including inbound marketing.
Demand generation has two primary goals:

Get people excited and aware of your product or service offering.
Cultivate long-term relationships with key prospects and customers that can help you grow.

Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is one type of demand generation strategy. It is the process of attracting, engaging, and delighting website visitors and leads with relevant, helpful, and engaging content. Inbound marketing has one overarching goal:

Convert strangers into customers and brand advocates by delivering the right content in the right place at the right time.

Because the goals of demand generation and inbound marketing are similar, it’s easy to mistake one for the other. However, treating these two concepts as one can hamper your marketing and sales efforts. If you forget that there are a variety of demand generation methods you can use besides inbound marketing, you’ll miss opportunities to accelerate your growth.
The Relationship Between Inbound Marketing and Demand Generation
If inbound marketing is only a single cog of the massive demand generation machine, why do people confuse them? It could be because all of the pieces of an inbound marketing machine impact how effectively you generate demand.
Inbound Marketing Directly Influences Demand Generation
The quality of your website content, how well you optimize it for search, and the way you promote it through email, marketing automation, and paid advertising directly affects how many website visitors, leads and customers you convert.
Using inbound methodology to direct your digital efforts allows you to focus on capturing your target audience’s attention in an engaging, rather than disruptive way. When executed successfully, inbound marketing activities accomplish the number one goal of demand generation: pulling people into your brand.
Inbound Marketing is Often the Most High-Performing Demand Generation Strategy Companies Use
Inbound marketing is all about nurturing leads into sales opportunities with relevant, helpful content. Studies show that warming up leads for your sales team with inbound content helps generate and, more importantly, sustain demand.
Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost. In other words, most demand generation programs need inbound to be successful.
When you use inbound marketing for lead generation, you can leave outdated, less effective methods at the door and focus on bringing in new buyers naturally.
Maintaining Balance Between Demand Generation Activities
Although inbound marketing is a proven, successful demand generation strategy, that doesn’t mean you should forgo tactics like sales enablement, referral marketing, and PR. All of these forms of demand generation serve a purpose.

Sales enablement gets your marketing and sales teams working together and reduces friction in the buying process. A sales team armed with the right inbound content will serve prospects and customers better and bring in more revenue.

Referral marketing can harness the power of positive word of mouth to speed up the sales cycle and generate qualified leads quickly. Incentivizing your successful customers to tell others about you is an opportunity many companies miss, but one that can generate demand faster than inbound.

Intelligent PR elevates your brand, reaches more people in a short period, and helps build trust. Good press is especially helpful if you need to grow rapidly or impress investors.

Knowing when to use inbound marketing versus other demand generation efforts is the key to developing a successful marketing and sales engine that builds long-term customer relationships.
Why You Need a Healthy Mix of Activities in Your Demand Generation Program
Inbound marketing is the most organic way to generate demand for your product or service, but if you rely too heavily on this tactic, you risk underpromoting your brand and slowing growth.
On the other hand, if you forget about inbound marketing and only use PR, traditional ads, or referral marketing to create awareness, you’ll burn through your budget quickly without producing the quality and quantity of customers you need to grow.
How do you strike a balance? Let’s take a look at a realistic example.
An Example of a Diversified Demand Generation Campaign
Let’s say your team creates a video addressing a specific pain point for your leads.
Instead of only blasting the video to relevant publications and magazines in your industry, you assess which mediums would be best for your audience.
You end up deciding to send the video with a press release to local publications but also use the video as a call-to-action in a follow-up email for a relevant content offer. Additionally, you promote the video on social media and add it to a few related blog posts that have seen a traffic dip.
This scenario demonstrates a situation where many demand generation activities come together to drive awareness and engage your audience.
In a perfect world, it would be easy for an organization to always have the right amount of inbound content for their demand generation efforts. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, so it is up to you to determine the best way to leverage inbound marketing in your demand generation program.

7 Marketing Terms You Better Know as a Modern Marketer

The evolution of marketing has grown beyond “The 4 Ps” and ad buys on local TV and radio stations. If you’re a modern marketer, you’re inundated with terms from SEO to ROI… from A/B testing to closed loop marketing… and more.
So if you’re in the marketing profession right now, which terms should you know? The list is nearly endless. But we wanted to bring you a few of those terms to get you started. This isn’t a “Marketing 101” piece. It’s not a deep dive, either. We just wanted to share seven marketing terms you better know as a modern marketer, with a look at some middle of the road terms you may or may not know. The bonus? Each term below has a video with George B. Thomas breaking it down for you.

Closed Loop Marketing
Marketing Automation
Account Based Marketing
Business Intelligence
Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing
Inbound Sales

First, let’s look at what marketing looks like in the modern age. The relationship economy. The information age. Modern Marketing is a holistic, adaptive methodology that connects brands with real customers and drives business results by blending strategy, creative, technology, and analysis.
Whether you’re looking for a modern marketing agency, a marketing professional to hire, or a career in marketing, these terms will help you in your modern marketing journey.
1 Closed Loop Marketing
A closed loop marketing strategy relies on data and insights from closed-loop reporting. “Closing the loop” essentially means your sales teams report back to marketing about what happened to the leads they got from marketing, so everyone is on the same page.
Closed-loop marketing is important for your company because it means no more guessing! It helps you focus on the channels and campaigns that matter most. Plus it minimizes the cost-per-lead. When you know what channels and campaigns close the most sales, you can stop wasting efforts on those that don’t. Of course you can find many more reasons… but those alone make it clear that closing the loop is good for business.
How can you use closed-loop marketing for your company?
With good communication between sales and marketing, and with someone taking ownership of the process, your marketing will improve.
Here are three ways closed-loop marketing can impact your business.

You can use closed-loop marketing to make sure your buyer personas are locked in. The insights you gain from closing your loop between marketing and sales will give you the most comprehensive view of your leads and customers. Most companies assume they know their audience. With closed-loop marketing, you’ll really know them by dashing assumptions and using data!
You can use closed-loop marketing to shorten the sales cycle. Identify the pivotal touchpoints along your buyer’s journey. Lean into those, improve them, put resources like automation into play and help shorten the sales cycle. You’ll remove the noise that may distract or slow down the funnel.
Leadership will see tangible results of marketing efforts. This new way helps to see how marketing’s efforts truly impact the company because it shows which channels help make the most profit.

2 Marketing Automation
The term marketing automation essentially covers any software with the goal of automating marketing actions. Simple enough. Marketing departments everywhere want to automate repetitive tasks. With marketing automation platforms, businesses can target customers with automated messages across email, web, social, and text. But it’s so much more than that.
Automation in any capacity allows humans to be more efficient. When we can automate repetitive tasks, we get to put machines to work and free to do more. In marketing, scheduling emails, setting workflows to handle messages, using artificial intelligence (AI) to get more done means we get to find better ways to market. So it stand to reason that marketing automation platforms allow your business to use humans better and make better marketing!
How can you use it for your company?
In short, you can use marketing automation to increase efficiency, make better marketing and drive more revenue. Here are three ways you can use marketing automation to impact your business.

Increase customer lifetime value – automate communications to stay top of mind with your customers, add personalization and do it all with fewer people – increasing the value while lowering the cost. If that doesn’t increase C-L-T-V I don’t know what does! That’s definitely better marketing and more revenue!
Increase efficiency by reducing admin costs – From automatically sending late-payment reminders to consulting clients who are late on paying an invoice, to automatically setting up reporting & project planning accounts when a client accepts a proposal, use automation software to reduce the amount of repetitive admin work.
Finally, put marketing automation software to work for your brand and improve engagement. Whether you’re upping open rates, getting a higher click-through-rate or simply getting prospects to reply and schedule a chat, marketing automation makes it easier to analyze your efforts and double down on what works.

3 Account Based Marketing (ABM)
Account based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach to marketing based on account awareness. A business development team in an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one. ABM is a very popular marketing strategy among B2B marketers. Through research you essentially decide which businesses, or accounts, you want to do business with and you laser-focus your marketing on the decision makers in those companies.
An account based marketing strategy really complements the traditional, short-term marketing goal of generating leads with efforts aimed at driving long-term revenue growth.
Account based marketing tactics can help your marketing team laser-focus on the best potential clients. For example, instead of a blanket approach like going after small businesses, SMBs, and enterprises – you might start by focusing on those accounts that have the highest need and the required budget.
How can you use it for your company?
Account based marketing is a win-win-win for sales, marketing, and customers. Here’s a look at what ABM can do for your business.

The whole strategy perfectly complements the account-based approach sales teams have embraced for years. When marketing buys-in and dedicates its resources to an account based marketing strategy, sales teams can better personalize their outreach. Nurturing targeted members of the buying committee with appropriate marketing messages helps speed up the sales process, allowing sales to achieve better close rates while closing bigger deals… faster. So get your marketing team to put A-B-M into play.
You can deliver better return on effort in the B2B world with account based marketing. When you implement A-B-M, marketing benefits because sales sees the marketing team as a trusted ally on a strategic mission. It brings the two teams together, creating a defined list that both teams agree make the most promising targets. Did you know that 84-percent of businesses using A-B-M say it delivers higher ROI than other marketing campaigns? BOOM.
A third way you can use account based marketing at your company is to enrich the marketing team with a much deeper understanding of the company’s overall target audience. Marketing can then apply their insight into what content and messages resonate to amp up the results of their efforts.
Finally, leverage account based marketing to better serve your customers. Buyers prefer personalized interactions, and A-B-M delivers just that. Serving targeted content and messages that resonate does take up-front work… but customers will recognize and appreciate this – and the fact that you don’t waste their time with ones that are off the mark will turn buyers into ambassadors.

4 Business Intelligence
What is business intelligence? It’s the strategies and technologies companies use for the data analysis of business information. At a basic level, it leverages software and services to transform data into actionable intelligence that informs an organization’s strategic and tactical business decisions.
What gets measured gets improved. We know that in marketing. It’s true at all levels of a company. Business intelligence is important for your company because people need data to do their jobs better.
Some companies have a business intelligence analyst on staff. Others use business intelligence tools and have teams put them to work. Either way, leveraging data to make decisions will help take your business to new levels.
How can you use it for your marketing, sales, and service teams at your company?
Business intelligence tools will help you better manage big data, make better decisions and move faster.

For instance, the first way you can leverage business intelligence is for better supply chain management. A company that wants to better manage its supply chain needs business intelligence capabilities to determine where delays are happening and where variabilities exist within the shipping process. This could be physical supply chain as well as digital supply chain. Think SaaS as well as manufacturing.
Another way you can put this all to work is to better understand the big data (and dark data!) in your business. Many organizations still struggle with how to wrangle their data, so you’re not alone. What if you could have an executive dashboard that gives prices by region and another dashboard that showcases vendor performance.
A third use of business intelligence is simply better planning. From marketing to sales to procurement, you can look at reports from the previous year’s numbers – that’s business intelligence – then create forecasts for the following year – that’s business analytics. Add to that the human creative factor of asking “what if,” and you’re putting business intelligence to work for your company.

5 Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing
First, let’s define each term separately. Content marketing involves the creation and sharing of online content like videos, blogs, and social media posts. It does NOT explicitly promote a brand but aims to generate interest in its products or services.
Meanwhile inbound marketing is the technique for drawing customers to products and services via content creation, social media engagement, search engine optimization and branding. Think of it like a magnet for customers.
You know this fact: The world has changed. The consumer now holds the power in their interactions with brands, because they have the internet. Stats show that buyers are much further down their decision path now than any other time in history. They’re going to the web for answers.
We’ve also all become very good at tuning out advertising. We stream TV and skip commercials. We have ad blockers on our browsers. We change the channel on the radio – or go to streaming music. So ads aren’t as effective as they used to be.
Which means… If you aren’t using content marketing or inbound marketing to reach them, you’re missing out.
The question now becomes – which is better? Inbound marketing or content marketing? And how can you use the winner for your marketing?
Here’s the thing… It’s not an either-or situation! Basically, you can’t do inbound without content. And content without inbound is just traditional advertising. Think of like this. Inbound marketing is the vehicle that gets you to your customers. Content marketing is the fuel!
Now that we have that down… Here are three inbound marketing examples using content marketing… to help you grow your business!

Maybe you have some deep insight into your industry, data points and examples that tell a story… Create an infographic! Then you can take that content marketing and then put inbound marketing to work in the form of a guest blog post, snippets of the infographic for social media posts like Instagram and include an announcement in your company’s email signatures.
Got something to say? Create a video! Then you can optimize it for search, share it in social media, and email your supporters/fans/customers. You could even ask people to share if they find value in it. Having others share your content is a great measurement of quality content.
Finally… since you’re an expert in your niche, create an industry report. Then you can break up the content into smaller pieces and blog about it. You can also take the information to other sites and guest blog. You can also take the information on the digital road and go on podcasts as a subject matter expert. Of course, make sure the report is available as a download on your site, too! This could even help in the P-R world and bring the media to you!

6 Gatekeeper
A gatekeeper, or more specifically a business gatekeeper, is a person who controls access to something – in a literal sense they might be a gate attendant like a security guard… but in this context we’re talking about the person who controls your access to a person, or people. A gatekeeper stands between you and the decision makers in a buying decision. Most often this happens in a B2B situation. You don’t get access to the C-Suite without going through a gatekeeper.
And research shows that you have to convince seven people to do business with you in the B2B world. So it may not even be one gatekeeper… it may be several of them!
With this in mind, it’s easy to see if you don’t explain yourself in the right way, your message will never be delivered. So you need to know who the gatekeepers are, what speaks to them and how to turn them into ambassadors for you.
How does the gatekeeper affect your marketing and sales and what can you do about it?

Understand the gatekeeper. Maybe you can make this a buyer persona so you can understand their pain points and speak their language. Understanding the gatekeeper will help you focus your marketing efforts on them first, then the ultimate decision maker. In fact, you might even be able to empower the gatekeeper to bring their boss the idea and make them the hero.
Which brings us to point number two… Earn the gatekeeper’s trust. Whether it’s the “Executive Assistant’s Guide to Corporate Travel” or the “Marketing Manager’s Checklist to Wow the CMO” … creating the right content to earn their trust is critical. A second part to this point to consider is this: connect with them on social media like LinkedIn. If business comes down to relationships, you want to cultivate one with the gatekeeper in a professional manner.

7 Inbound Sales
Inbound sales is a personalized, helpful, modern sales methodology. It complements inbound marketing. Inbound salespeople focus on their prospect’s pain points, act as a trusted consultant, and adapt their sales process to the buyer journey.
The opposite would outbound sales, which mostly involves cold outreach like unsolicited emails, cold calls, surprise office visits and other interruptive sales and business development techniques.
It all comes back to the fact that the world has changed. We talk about it marketing. It’s so hard to get peoples’ attention today with ad blockers, commercial skipping devices and no-ad-streaming services. It’s the same in sales.
We’ve become very good at ignoring cold calls from sales reps, ignoring emails – especially from people we’ve never met who talk to us like they know us!
So if we ignore these outbound sales techniques ourselves, why haven’t more businesses adopted an inbound sales strategy?
If you’re convinced… then let’s look at how can you use inbound sales for your company!

Identify the right buyers. In the B2B space, this is called account based marketing. Whether you’re in sales to other businesses or directly to consumers, identifying the right buyers from the start (working with marketing most likely – and teaching them about your ideal buyer) will get you off on the right inbound sales journey.
Next, connect. Anyone focused on inbound sales will connect with leads to help them decide how to progress through the buyer’s journey. This should include the communication tools they choose – it might be texting, social messaging, email… be ready to communicate in the way your prospects do.
Also, explore. Inbound salespeople explore their qualified leads’ goals or challenges to see whether their offering is a good fit for them, the customer. Focus on their challenges, not your product or service. Show empathy and connect over those challenges, then share how your business can help.
Which brings us to our last point… advise. Inbound salespeople advise prospects on why their solution is uniquely positioned to address the buyer’s needs. Skip the script and position your product or service in a way that highlights how it solves their unique needs.

Flexibility…Not Just For Yogis

As I am sure you’ve noticed from our posts, Pat and I are rather active, and glean a lot of our material from our adventures in sport or training for various events and this post is no different.
Laying The Scene
I have the most daunting athletic feat of my adult life facing me this weekend: a 208-mile relay through the Blue Ridge Mountains. I grew up a sprinter and have only in the last few years begun to transition to distance running with mixed results. I participated in a 70-mile relay in the spring and ran twice, totaling 14 miles, so I signed up for 3-legs totaling 16 miles for this race, thinking it was a small enough step to push myself, but not exceed the limits of my abilities.
Enter The Hiccup
As I’m sure you realize, relays are team events, and I have 9 other gals relying on me to be at my best this weekend, so when the call came in to “step up my game” my team playing inner self jumped at the opportunity. Then reality set in! A teammate suffered a personal loss and I needed to step into her shoes for the weekend…4 legs totaling 22 miles (yes, 6 additional miles and one extra turn up/down the mountain).
Decision Time
I could very easily let the settling and comforting blanket of fear keep me at 3 legs and ask that someone else step up to the challenge, but I’m stubborn and I am an extreme team player, so here we go. I am going to push my somewhat broken body beyond any limits it’s ever endured all for the name of team (with a splash of personal accomplishment thrown in).
Learn From The Best
As noted above, I started out as a sprinter, so I spent time with experts learning how to be a distance runner. Many times, we hear “I was thrown into this marketing role” from clients and are empathetic to their plight (Pat played baseball, so had a lot to learn about proper running form as well), so we sit down with them, explain the basics of inbound marketing and how to get started, then work with them to carve out a plan for implementation. After you kick off the marketing plan, though, it is KEY to check back in with the experts to review progress, results and adjustments to the plan going forward.
Apply Your Knowledge
Having scheduled check-ins with the experts helps, but we all know change is inevitable and you must be ready to adapt to that change, while not losing your pace or dropping the baton. For example, if you have a plan to blog about auto insurance but a hurricane is en route, you must shift your topic to reach your clients at the right time, instead of waiting until after it passes over head. Don’t let yourself get complacent or feel like you can just let marketing run itself!
Stay Positive
I never start a long race with the expectation of victory like I used to, but I seek small victories for myself and those I’m running with, so keep that mentality with your marketing plan. Start small with goals you can accomplish, then set larger stretch goals to work towards and continuously focus on the victories, no matter how small, and learn where you can make adjustments in the future.
Don’t worry…I wouldn’t let you head out on your first run by yourself, so take advantage of our free Inbound Marketing checklist today to start your own plan.