Whether you’re a seasoned inbound marketer or a curious inquisitor, Hubspot’s APAC Director of Marketing, Ryan Bonnici, is here to help improve your customer acquisition strategy.

M What is inbound marketing and how can it be used to build relationships with potential customers?

RB When I talk with most marketers today about how they generate leads and fill the top of their sales funnel, most say trade shows, seminar series, email blasts to purchased lists, internal cold calling, outsourced telemarketing, and advertising. I call these methods ‘outbound marketing’ where a marketer pushes his message out far and wide hoping that it resonates with that needle in the haystack.

Rather than doing outbound marketing to the masses of people who are trying to block you out, I advocate doing inbound marketing where you help yourself ‘get found’ by people already learning about and shopping in your industry. In order to do this, you need to set your website up like a “hub” for your industry that attracts visitors naturally through search engines, blogging, and social media. I believe most marketers today spend 90 per cent of their efforts on outbound marketing and 10 per cent on inbound marketing – I advocate that those ratios flip.

M What constitutes a fair exchange (content for information) in people’s minds and what kind of data can a business collate as a result?

RB To gate or not to gate is a tricky question. Bloggers have looked at the topic through various lenses – from SEO to lead generation to channel-specific implications – yet nobody appears to have written a simple ‘gate this, don’t gate that’ prescription.

In my opinion, this is because the decision always comes down to a single question: is the viewer’s identity a fair price to pay for this content? That’s difficult to answer universally.

At the end of the day it comes down to elements like content quality, objectivity, utility, and format that can help marketers make a more informed decision and avoid awkward choices like asking someone to fill out a form to see their own name on a list.

We created a flow chart on this for marketers.

M How then can this data be used to convert people from prospects to customers?

RB Content in all of its forms – ebooks, whitepapers, blogs, case studies, videos and infographics – is how organisations are capturing attention, building credibility, and eventually closing sales.

So, to move people through the funnel, it’s about leveraging content at the right time, and with the right person, based on what you know about them.

We map our content at HubSpot to the buyer’s journey:

  1. Awareness stage: the prospect realises they have an issue that needs to be resolved. So they start researching to better understand and frame their problem.
  2. Consideration stage: the prospect has a clearly defined idea of the problem. Additionally, they have researched all of the potential solutions to the problem that they are facing.
  3. Decision stage: this is where the buyer has evaluated all of the different solutions and now has to choose a vendor to help them solve their problem.

Here’s a flow chart for this.

M Is there still a place for the tried-and-tested methods of data collection (trade shows, email blasts and cold calling)?

RB Yes, definitely there is a place. It all comes down to your objectives, and having a good mix of strategies. For example, while we don’t really ever sponsor tradeshows, we do some of our own events, such as Grow with HubSpot. These events are not to source leads but to move leads through the funnel by connecting leads with their marketing consultants, to further the discussion. So, they work for us to move people through the funnel, but not in terms of sourcing new people for our database.

M How prevalent is the concept of inbound marketing? Who is doing it well?

RB I think inbound marketing is picking up across the Asia Pacific. We have hundreds of customers across the region that are leading the way in generating traffic, leads and customers through remarkable content and inbound tactics.

Some companies doing it well are YourTutor, Telstra Business, GetTimely, Canva. There are a heap of great companies on the journey to becoming effective inbound marketing brands. (You can follow me on Twitter if you’re after more examples: @ryanbonnici)

M How did Hubspot come into existence?

RB Our founders Dharmesh and Brian had a realisation – who actually loves getting cold calls from eager sales people during dinner. Or spam emails with irrelevant offers in your inbox. How about pop-up ads when you’re trying to read an article on the Internet? No one.

They realised there was a fundamental mismatch between how organisations are marketing and selling their offerings – and the way that people actually want to shop and buy.

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