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$6.6m Seed Round led by Craft Ventures
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$6.6m Seed Round led by Craft Ventures
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How to Build an Automated Inbound GTM Engine

Stan Rymkiewicz
November 15, 2023
8 min
How to Build an Automated Inbound Go-to-Market Engine

If you want to accelerate your pipeline and avoid revenue leakage, your inbound go-to-market (GTM) engine can’t run manually. You can’t duct-tape a bunch of applications together, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. That approach will only fuel disappointment.

Instead, you need to mirror the vast majority of marketing & sales organizations and automate your inbound GTM engine. The right strategy and tools will:

  • Strategically attract high quality leads to your website
  • Determine which channels attract and engage the most (and best) leads
  • Enrich your inbound engine with data to account for unknown unknowns
  • Automatically engage and convert leads into pipeline

Ready to get started? Read on for our brief guide to building an automated inbound go-to-market engine. 

What is an inbound go-to-market (GTM) engine?

The process for building an inbound GTM engine involves the following stages:

  1. Strategy. The GTM engine is structured around strategic goals, including hypotheses concerning product-market fit, ideal customer profiles (ICPs), messaging and positioning, key performance indicators (KPIs) etc. 
  2. Implementation. The inbound GTM engine is then put out into the market, including landing pages, websites, email, social media, conversion funnels, routing, scheduling, qualification, etc. 
  3. Feedback and improvement. Once the inbound GTM engine has been in-market long enough, you’ll get a sense of how well it’s performing. You can then adjust your strategic objectives or tweak your tactics to better align with the real-time data your engine ingests. 

3 common inbound GTM engine mistakes

For your inbound GTM engine to work effectively in this way, you need three components in place:

  1. GTM strategy that identifies your ideal customer profile and the messages most likely to engage and convert them
  2. Technology and platforms that enable you to intake feedback from the market and track trends over time
  3. Integrated tech stack where you can quickly institute changes and adjustments 

Most of the time, when companies face problems with their GTM engine, it’s because of a mistake in one of these three core areas. Let’s dive into each in more detail. 

Not strategically mapping the customer journey

As we’ve mentioned before, there are three ways to get business: outbound (actively), referrals or network (passively), or inbound (a mix of active and passive). 

Your inbound GTM engine, then, isn’t just a trap you set for potential customers who just happen by your website. Instead, you should optimize your messaging, content value, and conversion funnels to drive good-fit, ready-to-buy leads into your sales funnel. 

This requires strategic insight into your ICP, their buying journey, and where you can add the most value every step of the way. And, especially in today’s economy, that journey is more complex than you’d think.

There are a lot of cogs in this machine. If you aren’t strategically considering where buyers are on their journey as you build your inbound GTM engine—and what they expect to happen once they convert—you’re going to risk dropoff and lost opportunities. 

What’s more, managing all of these various buyer “tracks” manually is a logistical nightmare. Only through use of automated, centralized systems can you dial in on prospect and customer value without inordinate expense. 

Not ingesting or responding to market feedback

A corollary to the previous section: don’t assume you know everything about your buyer when you launch. 

Sure, you need to start off with a coherent strategy that’s based on (some) real data. But as you engage with the market, you’ll inevitably learn new things that require to to adjust your GTM strategy:

  • Market segments/ICPs that you have the potential to engage with (or, conversely, you think are an ICP but really aren’t)
  • Specific ads or messaging statements that don’t engage your audience or convert them
  • Forms, automations, or routing processes that don’t properly connect leads to the person you think should be responding to them

One highly tactical example comes in lead qualification. With most lead qualification platforms, you set up your lead scoring system, and only the leads that meet certain criteria are counted as “qualified.”

The problem here is that there are certainly going to be outliers. You may only work with Series A startups or later, but what if a seed-level startup that works backed by a highly reputable VC firm comes to you? They may be a good fit, especially in the long term, so you don’t want to turn them away completely. 

If you aren’t listening to the market and adjusting in real time, you’ll miss out on insights that, if properly incorporated into your GTM strategy, could lead to more revenue.

Not using a centralized, automated platform

It’s really hard to avoid the mistakes mentioned above unless you have the proper tools and technology in place to do so. Specifically, centralization and automation are key to speeding up your engine and handling the complexities that come with scale—without slowdown or bottlenecks. 

The most common mistake companies make when building their inbound GTM engine is, hands-down, not building it on a single platform. Rather, they duct-tape together a patchwork of applications:

  • Lead conversion forms and landing pages
  • Marketing automation platforms
  • Calendar scheduling tools
  • Lead routing systems
  • CRM data for lead qualification

Unfortunately, when you rely on a number of platforms to achieve these outcomes, you end up with disparate data, a poor user experience (both on the front- and back-end), and bottlenecks caused by human errors and delays. 

How to build an automated inbound GTM engine

So how do you use technology and automation to avoid the problems listed above? Here are five steps you can take to build an automated inbound go-to-market engine that delivers the speed and 

1. Understand your target market 

Let’s face it: converting website visitors into pipeline is difficult. Just getting their attention is difficult, let alone driving meaningful engagement. Consider the following data: 

  • It only takes 50 milliseconds (!!) for a user to form an impression of your website
  • 46% of users report “lack of message” as the reason they leave a website
  • Users spend an average of 5.59 seconds looking at your website’s written content

So what does this all mean? It means that if you’re going to get your message across, it needs to be clear, concise, and your website visitors should “get it” without much effort. 

That last part—the “getting it”—is where many companies struggle. A report from HubSpot in December 2022 showed that most marketers don’t understand their customers. This applies not only to surface-level demographics, but learnings that are critical for effective marketing messaging & engagement:

  • 71% don’t understand their audience’s pain points or challenges
  • 76% don’t understand the social causes audiences care about
  • 59% don’t understand where their audience consumes media
  • 58% don’t understand the products they’re interested in purchasing

If you don’t understand your buyers, you won’t capture or keep their attention, drive them to meaningful engagement, or convert them into leads or closed deals. Starting with your GTM strategy—messaging, value props, audience personas, etc.—is key to website conversion. Without it, visitors won’t stay on your website long enough to convert. 

2. Identify where leads are coming from

Key to inbound marketing success is understanding the source of your leads. However, many marketers only look at surface-level metrics—leads sourced by channel, conversion rate by channel, close rate by channel—without diving deeper.

For instance, just knowing a lead comes in from organic search doesn’t really tell you all that much. You also need to know:

  • Which search-optimized page attracted them to your website?
  • How long did they remain on that page?
  • Did they convert on that first page, or view other pages on your website? If the latter, which pages did they view?

By looking not only at channel source, but also the specific content the lead viewed, you can figure out which pieces of content drive the most conversions and closes.

But here’s the catch—while it’s great to have all that information in hindsight, it’s even better to have it at your fingertips in the moment. When a lead converts, your sales team should know exactly what drew them in, where they converted, and any other information that could easily provide context that could make the selling process easier. 

Default leverages UTM parameters to connect inbound conversions to pipeline. Once you specify these parameters, Default can then set up automatic lead routing. For instance, if you have industry-specific pages, it can route leads converted from those pages to salespeople with matching territories. 

3. Avoid unknown unknowns through data enrichment

The more you know about an inbound lead, the more personalized and relevant you can make their experience with your organization. The problem is most companies rely solely on data captured through inbound forms. 

There are several problems with this approach. First, there’s a ceiling on how many fields you can include in a form without seriously hurting your conversion rates

What’s more, self-reported lead data can often be dubious. Especially if you have an incentive or lead magnet on the other side of the form, leads may provide false information with the hopes of getting the freebie but have no intention of engaging in a sales conversation.

As such, you can’t only rely on data captured from your inbound forms. You need to enrich your contact records with third-party data. This information can provide greater context and insight into lead intent. 

Default provides automatic data enrichment directly to your CRM with every form submission, in real-time. Then, we can route your leads based on the data provided in that enrichment. 

4. Automatically engage leads post-conversion

Lead conversion doesn’t mean the deal will close—in fact, 80% of those leads likely will not. So you can’t afford to leave the handling of those leads to human error. Automated inbound systems will help you keep those leads engaged from initial engagement to a closed deal. 

Capture leads using smart forms

Smart forms help ensure that you aren’t capturing the same information twice. Plus, automated data enrichment helps you gain the full context on the lead’s intent, helping you better identify and engage with their needs.

Automated workflows post-submission

Within seconds of submitting a form, you should automate instant action on that lead. This can include scheduling, routing, adding to a marketing drip campaign, or any combination of the above. 

Automatically schedule time on their calendar

Skip the back and forth trying to find a time on the lead’s calendar. Grab a meeting slot in the moment, when they’re most engaged and likely to say yes. 

Route to the best person

Whether you differentiate by lifecycle stage, sales territory, likelihood to buy, or other factors, make sure the lead ends up with the right person. That way, your AEs aren’t wasting time qualifying leads, and sales isn’t talking with people who can’t or won’t buy. 

Follow up with leads that abandon your workflow

You’re going to have leads who abandon your workflows, whether they skip the meeting or ignore your emails. This is to be expected—it can take as many as 14 touches to make a sale. As such, the more you can automate follow-up outreach, the less likely it is to fall by the wayside. This can end up saving you some deals!

5. Ingest feedback and continuously improve

Although much of your inbound GTM engine will be automated, you can’t set it and forget it. When you get feedback from the market, you should be willing to adjust your strategy accordingly:

  • Change your market segmentation based on insights from inbound leads, including enrichment data demographics
  • Adjust your messaging based on sales conversations
  • Invest in other channels based on conversion and close rates 

As your inbound GTM engine continues working, you’ll capture more insights from leads. If you use this feedback to improve your processes, you’ll zero in on providing the best, most personalized experience to your prospects. This means your inbound GTM engine will be an active revenue generator.

Ready to get started building your automated inbound GTM engine? Default features all the necessary capabilities in one centralized location. Click here to get started.

Inbound Basics
Stan Rymkiewicz
November 15, 2023
8 min

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