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    Is putting more content in inboxes really such a great idea?

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    Nearly every business today engages in some form of marketing automation. We create content, pay for ads or organic search to drive viewers, get people on the website, and then demand their email address in exchange for the content.

    We use automation software to nurture (spam?) these people with additional pieces of content we hope they will enjoy. Then we hope for them to buy from.

    Or, we hand these lists of contacts off to the sales team and hope the salespeople can get the people on the other end of that contact information to spend money.

    The prevalence of this approach is obvious in your inbox. Over the past five to ten years, there’s been a steady and heavy inflation of emails from virtual strangers. Emails from vendors we bought something from; emails from vendors we downloaded one piece of content from; emails from vendors who bought lists of contacts from that one online calculator we used that one time.

    Marketing automation is popular because it’s been effective, but as buyers and customers continue to be inundated with content, its effectiveness has dropped off. How many of those emails do you even open, if you’re being honest?

    I barely open any of them.

    And, meanwhile, the companies pay their automation platform per contact - and they have no idea which of their contacts are worth having.

    The problem with marketing automation

    There’s nothing wrong with marketing automation per se. We use it at Membrain and most of our customers do as well, along with Membrain's integrations..

    The problem is, if you’re the vendor sending these emails, oftentimes you don’t even know who you’re emailing and they don’t know who you are. You may have some data about how many items they’ve downloaded, how they’ve engaged with your site, and whether they’ve ever purchased from you.

    Sending more content won’t help you sell more.

    But you don’t know why they’re downloading, what specific problems they’re trying to solve, what their role in their organization is, or what motivates them to make change. You don’t know how far along in their process they are or even if they have a problem worth solving.

    And they have no idea whether you actually care, or whether you just want to sell them stuff that they don’t need. They won’t trust you with more information until they trust you - and spamming their inboxes with more content is not building trust.

    There’s a gap that we haven’t fully acknowledged, between “send more content” and “demonstrate that we can actually help them.”

    And in this gap is a lot of waste.

    Is there a better way to demonstrate how we can help?

    If you’re doing it right, your sales team is a reservoir of knowledge and expertise about how your company can help customers. They know how to help customers understand the problems they might be having, and how to go about solving them.

    But customers coming to your website don’t know that, and, traditionally, many companies have done a poor job of proving it.

    There’s a gap between the customer’s consumption of your content and their understanding that you can actually help them, or that your sales team can be a resource to them.

    At Membrain, we think there has to be a way to close this gap. What if, instead of simply consuming content, your buyers came to your website and found resources that help them collaborate within their company to understand and prioritize their problems?

    What if you, in turn, could gain better insight into what your customers are facing, what problems they’re trying to solve, and where their priorities are?

    What if you had a real window into what they’re thinking?

    I think it’s time.

    What we’re working on at Membrain

    We’re still in the early stages of planning, but we’re developing a tool to execute on this idea.

    We think you should be able to host a tool on your site that enables customers to collaborate across their team to understand and prioritize their problems. Such a tool might enable them to co-create lists of problems and collaboratively prioritize them. It might allow them to visualize the results of internal surveys so they can see how the different units within their organization are thinking about the problems.

    It might help them easily see where there is consensus and where more discussion is required. It might help them build the consensus they need in order to move forward.

    Such a tool could also help them see that your organization has the resources and the knowledge to help them actually understand and solve their problems.

    And because they are using the tool on your website, it would give you insight into their process, their organizational structure, and the conversations that they’re having - if they allow you to. This, in turn, would help you to customize your approach.

    You could find out what problems your visitors are actually having and tailor your offerings accordingly.

    You could provide more appropriate and helpful content to those that might be a good fit.

    You could offer sales resources to customers who need a little more help defining problems and who might be good candidates for your offerings.

    You could build trust in a new way, without spamming inboxes.

    Are you curious about this tool? Want to be involved in its development?

    We’re currently soliciting ideas and input from sales professionals and decision-making teams about what you might like to see in such a tool. Bring your big ideas.

    Or, send me a note and I’ll add you to our early adopters list. If you’re a good fit, we may invite you to try out early versions of the tool. Let me know if you’d want to be included.

    I’m excited to move into this new tool development process and excited to hear what you think about it.

    George Brontén
    Published May 18, 2022
    By George Brontén

    George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.

    Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn