When it comes to building a customer base, businesses are presented with several options. They can advertise, hire salespeople, locate their business in a high-traffic area, go to trade shows, and use inbound lead generation.
If you were with me up until the last point, I understand. We have all known about and employed other ways to find customers, but you may not have tried inbound lead generation. Yet.
A not-so-well-kept secret is…inbound lead generation is AWESOME.
Inbound marketing is a powerful tool you can use to drive leads and conversions for your company. Let’s look at lead generation as an objective, strategies for generating leads, reviving cold leads, and how to keep your sales funnel flowing.
Companies can use inbound lead generation to help accomplish several goals. Here are four of the most common ones.
Generating leads, driving conversion rates, and ultimately bringing on new customers is one of the best ways businesses can take advantage of lead gen’s offerings. By designing a robust process, marketers are able to identify and qualify high-quality leads before sales even speaks to or emails them. By nurturing prospects this way, the leads are warm, and the sales cycle is shorter. This means the company gets to enjoy more customers, and more revenue, sooner than with a traditional, lengthier, sales cycle. Insert high-five here.
It benefits a company if a wide audience knows who they are and recognizes their brand. Marketers can use inbound campaigns to drive branding initiatives. By being able to target your audience, you can share messaging and engage with them more easily than you could by using traditional branding channels. Another benefit of this is that it’s far less expensive than old-school branding campaigns.
Another objective of lead gen is gathering intelligence that’s valuable to the way you gain customers and do business. When potential clients respond to your inbound lead marketing efforts on your website or via social media, it gives you significant insight into what your buyer wants. The more respondents you get, the easier it is to spot trends that can drive your marketing decisions.
If you commit to an inbound lead strategy, there are five key pieces you need to fit into it to make certain it thrives.
Opted-in audiences use well-designed emails to get to know your brand and start building a relationship with your company. Informative newsletters, blog posts, eBooks, and webinar invitations are smart pieces of content to share via email. Nurturing leads by engaging them with cleverly crafted email campaigns (which means leaving the hard sell out of them) warms them up, builds trust, and helps them start seeing your company as the industry thought leader.
By finding out which social media channels your targeted buyers use, you can reach them in ways you can’t with any other marketing effort. How? Social media channels reach far beyond your usual, known audience. Just one post with an enticing piece of valuable content can travel to thousands of people who never heard of your brand before. Social media posts can drive traffic to your website, to your content, to your landing pages, and be the catalyst that turns prospects into leads. Then you can start marketing in other ways.
It’s been said a million times, but it’s still true: Content is king. Helpful content that solves your buyer persona’s pain points and addresses questions that plague them is worth its weight in gold. Relevant, consistent content like blogs helps your audience learn more about your brand, your company’s knowledge, and what you can do for them. All without the hard sell. Building the relationship through content marketing is critical in driving conversions and moving leads through your sales funnel.
All that good content you’re creating needs to be optimized. This means that you need to use keywords in the content that search engines pick up. When they “crawl” your website, search engines use the words in your content to index your website. Then, when someone runs a search for those words, your website will come up, hopefully toward the top. While content marketing is effective, SEO makes it a complete powerhouse that increases leads and conversions.
A clunky, slow-to-load, text-heavy website will have your prospects clicking away faster than you can say “where’d everybody go?” Just like your content, your website should be optimized with keywords that make it easy to find during an online search. Using graphics and clear headers to tell your story, along with clear calls-to-action (CTAs) to help them know which step to take next, are all parts of a website that converts visitors into leads.
Even with a high-performing inbound marketing strategy, there will be some leads that “go cold”. This refers to those leads that stop moving toward doing business with you. Yes, it’s frustrating. The good news is, there are actions you can take to draw them back into your funnel. You need to have focus, patience, and creativity.
When you’re looking at your cold leads list, that you can pull from your customer relationship management software (CRM), review each one individually. As you review, see if you can start seeing trends. Segment them into sections based on what you see.
Where were they in your sales pipeline when they went cold? Do most of the leads you lose go cold at the beginning of the process? Or do they make it to the decision stage? Once you identify “where”, you can start looking for the “why”. Is your content weak at the point they’re going cold? Were they contacted by a salesperson when they should have been? Was there no clear path to the next action you wanted them to take? When you figure it out, address it immediately to prevent future leads from suffering the same fate.
Saving cold leads isn’t as difficult as you think when you use inbound lead marketing. Create a rich, compelling piece of content like an eBook or a case study and try re-engaging them through email marketing. Also, work with the sales team to make sure they’re following up on requests for demos and consultations quickly and effectively. Even if you only save a small percentage of your cold leads, it’s worth the effort to put in this work, because it helps you avoid losing future leads.
If you’re noticing that your inbound leads seem hot until they get to a certain stage of the buyer’s journey, and then they screech to a halt, you’re not alone. Many companies across various industries, especially the ones with long sales cycles, struggle with clogs in their sales funnels, too. As with cold leads, you need to identify exactly where the clogs are happening before you can fix it. Employ one or more of these remedies.
If you’re handling your inbound lead marketing solely in-house, it may be time to bring in some marketing professionals. They handle sales pipelines daily, which makes them adept at identifying where your clogs are located and why they’re there. If you’re struggling with your leads slowing down in your pipeline, hiring a marketing company to find the issue is a time-saving, cost-effective solution to get it flowing again.
You might think you’ve nailed the content and branding message that will reach and engage your audience, but the slowdowns within your funnel may be telling you different. Look at your entire content marketing plan to make sure you’re giving your prospects enough content to nurture them and help build trust. Also, look at the type of information you’re sending. Is every piece well-timed to where the leads are at each stage of the buyer’s journey? For example, if you only have top-of-the-funnel content, your leads may not understand what step they need to take next. On the other hand, if you’re short on middle-of-the-funnel content, you may be turning the leads off by moving to end-of-funnel messaging too soon. By taking stock of your messaging, you can see if there’s a content breakdown causing the clog and make revisions to correct it.
Problems with your funnel can be addressed by going to the source of your company’s success…your happy customers. The term “straight from the horse’s mouth” applies here. Survey and interview several of your clients to see why they do business with your company. What pain points do you solve for them? What need does your product or service address? Maybe, over time, your lead marketing has drifted away from these, or maybe the reasons your customers do business with you has changed over time. By getting back to the basics of what is already working, you will be able to correct the problems hindering your funnel from flowing freely.
This sounds counter-intuitive, because shouldn’t you want all the leads and conversions you can get? Not always. Not if they aren’t true high-quality leads. Allowing leads into your funnel who aren’t ready to buy can clog your funnel. As much as it may pain you, set up your marketing initiative to weed these non-leads out. If you’ve been sharing all of your content with barely there forms, add more required fields. This empowers you to identify true leads that need nurturing and to filter out ones that aren’t viable earlier in the process. By increasing the required form fields that must be filled in before accessing your content, you cut down on the number of contacts that can end up clogging your funnel.
Inbound lead marketing is a powerful tool that can increase leads and conversions, decrease the sales cycle, and directly impact your company’s bottom line. For it to be successful, you need to set your objective, decide on your lead generation strategy, commit to using content to nurture your leads, attempt to save cold leads, and watch out for clogs in your sales funnel. This is a big undertaking, but it returns tremendous rewards in the long run.
If you want help getting started with your inbound lead marketing, or you need assistance identifying what is clogging up your funnel, contact Adroit today for a free marketing strategy session.