Wikipedia describes Inbound marketing as “a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimisation.” True enough and accurate, but what does this mean in practice? Well, in practice, I’m doing one of the core disciplines of inbound marketing writing this post. The world of marketing has changed and customers now are in the driver’s seat. If you are like me, you have probably begun to zoned out on paid advertising and product placement. Although both of these are still big business, their effects are waning on consumers who are now able to choose when and where they get their information.

Although the term Inbound Marketing was coined by the co-founder and CEO of Hubspot, Brian Halligan, the technique of using content to shift consumers along a sales pipeline is not new. Marketers have used the idea of giving content away in exchange for customer information for some decades. Of course with the advent of the modern internet, it is easier to publish content, attract attention and analyse the results of your efforts using any number of platforms, including Hubspot (which I am using right now). Which is why I was surprised at the results of an experiment I conducted on a high profile campaign that has been running in New Zealand over the last few months.

GJ Gardener Homes is easily considered a well known brand. They advertise consistently across all the traditional media and I expect their annual spend is in the millions of dollars. So when they started a new campaign using media personality Simon Barnett, I was interested to see how they executed what seems like a pretty well thought out strategy. Simon is the guy you want as your neighbour – personable, funny, good dancer – you get the picture. So using him as the face of a campaign to change perceptions around the process of building a new home makes good sense.

I had heard the radio spot a few times and was following a bus with Simon’s likeable face and the campaign message – go to the website and get the content giveaway. This is a basic tenant of content marketing; produce useful content that engages potential prospects and in return for some personal details, share it for free. I got home, went to the website and easily found my way to the promotion. The first surprise was that along with the printed book that was being advertised, there was a downloadable version. The surprise was that there was no information collection on the downloadable version, it was just a simple click and download option. Given that I was testing another marketing agency’s work, I elected to fill in the form and receive the printed book. I got the email confirmation within a minute or so of filling in the form, that was on April 7. The book eventually turned up on May 15, well over a month later. Now I’m no stranger to the house building process, I grew up in the builder’s house, but I am in marketing and I understand that time is your best friend, if you treat her well and your worst enemy if you don’t.

For me, more than the tardy delivery of the book, my biggest surprise is that the downloadable version was truly given away – there was no requirement to fill in a form capturing at least an email address. In modern marketing, data is possibly your best friend. There are some very smart platforms that are designed for making the job of filling and nurturing your sales pipeline a data driven dream and the next wave in marketing is already being driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning. This only works if you collect data. At Netbyte // Digital Agency, we start by asking “How are we going to measure if this is successful?” If we cannot answer this question well, it’s probably not worth spending the money doing it. That simple.

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