Last month, there was a brief but contentious marketing kerfluffle (markuffle?) about whether search engine optimization should become inbound marketing, as well as whether inbound marketing is really a separate discipline from good ol’ marketing. Good points were raised on both sides, but I found myself wondering: where is the customer in all of this discussion?
While this type of exchange can be really interesting and useful to professional marketers, it’s somewhat less so to business owners, whose goal is not to theorize about marketing, but to get customers, regardless of the technique(s) used toward that end. Poking around for some inbound marketing strategy, I found that one six-step inbound marketing process goes like this:
- 1. Strategy
- 2. Website
- 3. Traffic
- 4. Convert Traffic to Leads
- 5. Convert Leads to Sales
- 6. Measure Everything
Sounds great, right? But notice how there’s no customer (or customer retention plan) present anywhere in this process? I’d wager a guess that most businesses don’t want a marketing strategy, a website, traffic, or even leads, necessarily. Businesses just want customers. Even better would be ongoing, dependable customers, not just the one-time “sales” that their website “leads” may convert to.
If a website lead is the best way to get a customer, that’s fantastic, but it might not be the best solution for every business. And as the mobile web grows, the marketing value of a traditional website will change. People will search more on mobile and have less time to read blog posts or fill out contact forms. Marketers will need to know more about users from their devices, not just their search terms. They’ll need to provide brief, relevant snippets of information that meet customer needs. And they’ll need to know–immediately–if that information helps the customer. In other words, marketers need to look to customer needs–not the marketing tools available to them–to determine the best marketing strategy. (Note that, as we learned last week, what the customer needs is not the same as what the customer says.)
Bottom line: it’s not necessarily your content or your website or even your mobile website that needs to get found: it’s your product. And that product needs to meet customer needs. Mobile marketing is a great way to help figure out needs and help people find products. Have you tried it yet?
iPhone image from Yutaka Tsutano.