While it is most definitely cliche, I’m often caught out using sport to make a point. With good reason – sport and business are both about performance, there are those who defeat the enemy, get the girl and win the keys to the nation then there are the others…..I saw a classic tail of exactly that on the weekend –  Chasing Great. It starts with the horrible failure in Cardiff in 07. While the All Blacks had suffered similar defeats in both 99 and 03, Richie recalled a failure to take any of those learnings into the World Cup Quarter Final, yet pre-tournament, they claimed to be the most prepared team in All Black history.

“If Richie changed one thing in his leadership following that failed campaign it was to learn the lessons of the past and adapt them to the future. Watching the All Blacks dominate the Wallabies, and more recently a second half gear shift under pressure against Argentina, it is clear that learning from the past and adopting an agile game plan is now deeply engendered in the All Blacks culture.”
The connection to inbound marketing and lead conversion is interesting. When it comes to inbound marketing, as with the All Blacks you can easily find yourself getting lost in the delivery.  What I mean by this is once you start executing the execution itself as opposed to the results delivery can become the core of your focus.
With inbound marketing the end game is not about blog articles, e-books, webpages, videos, infographics, or social posts as many agencies will have you believe.  The end game is  more quality leads and new customers.   By continuously benchmarking goals vs results you keep your focus on the right end of the game, allowing you to adjust quickly to deliver properly.

Tactics become secondary when it comes to results

Inbound marketing should have a single minded focus on results.  Results will mean different things to different organisations, they could be more web visitors, leads, sales ready leads, new customers or whatever you deem will get you closer to achieving your organisational goals.  Regardless of what you end up selecting, this has to be the core focus for your team, not delivering beautiful web design, not writing more blogs, whitepapers and emails.
For the majority of us that’s a pretty big shift right?  For years agencies have working with marketing teams to produce beautiful creative that wins more awards than it wins new customers.  It has always been based on the art that delivers campaigns in the hope that it will find it’s way into the hopes and minds of potential customers.  Bull-shit!  Excuse the French but we know that doesn’t work.
Inbound is the first methodology that puts quantitative results front and centre.  Coming from both a sales and marketing background, I know that it doesn’t matter who you are and what you sell if you want to grow aggressively then you need to feed your sales team more qualified leads and you need a bigger inbound programme.

Results and data fuel your decision making

Setting up your marketing automation platform, you will have data on almost every tactic in your arsenal, with real-time information to work out what success really looks like to you and how to measure it.  Last time you did a three-month flight of ads, how did you know it was working?  You didn’t right.  Well today, with the data available in marketing automation immediately their is no excuse for your not knowing what worked and what didn’t.
The data has to be mined from your automation platform, and feed back to the team, reviewed daily and used to create new action plans.  Are those blog topics working?  How well?  What webpages are ranking?  Why?  What can you do to get them to rank higher?  Are these pages converting visitors into leads?  How can you get more visitors to those pages?  Are you closing leads?  What do you need to do to the sales process to make it easier for your sales team to close leads?
Data answers these questions, and in doing so marketing has become as much science as it is art.  Ultimately, optimise what works and kill what doesn’t, and report on campaign ROI to those stakeholders in your business who really matter.

Software underpins your program

If I had a dollar for every organisation I’ve heard tell me they already use content and data marketing programme I’d be writing this blog from my super yacht.  And, yes while I agree it is possible to execute an agile lead strategy without software it’s a big ask of you and your team!
You use Marketing Automation technology to nurture and convert the traffic you’re attracting, it also helps deliver on the promise of results.  At a high level, Automation allows you to deliver the right content, to the right customer at the right time so they convert to a paying customer, transact longer, and spend more.
With Marketing Automation, inbound marketing can not only deliver bottom-line results, it can also scale to meet the needs of the business.  And deliver the return on investment that agencies should have always sought to prove.
Like Richie and the AB’s, learn from your previous failings, get the right processes in place to become the leader in your industry.  Optimise to stretch your advantage, and dominate your market for many years to come.