Generating qualified sales leads can be one of the most challenging jobs of any sales or executive team, and almost always the most important. Historically, filling the sales funnel required either a lot of cold-calling, or a lot of dollars spent on advertising, i.e. outbound marketing. That doesn't have to be the case today, as so much has changed with the way consumers buy. Today, with inbound marketing and content marketing, you can see a great return on investment, as inbound leads cost dramatically less than outbound leads. Here are eleven ideas on how to generate more leads with inbound marketing:
- Identify specifically who your target is with buyer personas. Then, target your offer to a specific buyer. While outbound marketing should also take advantage of buyer personas, the effectiveness of inbound marketing is in large part a reflection of how well you've targeted your ideal customers through personas.
- Make sure your offers are straightforward and compelling. Before you start producing content, or launch your first campaign, make sure your offer is something that will compel prospective customers to engage with you. If your offer lacks appeal, your results will be depressing no matter how many other things you do right.
- Understand what problems your target personas have. Then, share your ideas and solutions to those problems via your blog. Roughly a fourth of all online activity is time spent on social and blogs. Take advantage of that by producing amazing content that specficially addresses the needs and pain-points of your desired customers. If you are offering a unique product or service that solves their problems, you will be amazed at the impact on SEO you will experience when you blog frequently on those topics.
- Utilize social media to share those ideas and solutions. I hardly go through a week without having to explain to an entrepreneur or traditional marketer the benefits of social media. It's often not what they think—or they think it's just responding to comments. Social media is a powerful tool for distributing the content that you are creating in your content marketing efforts. Use it daily and see an increase in traffic and engagement with your brand. Social media activity and engagement can also have a distinctive impact on your search engine rankings.
- Create visually-compelling content and images that clearly communicate what you're offering. Interestingly, while the statistics show that text-only emails can perform better than HTML, graphically-rich emails, a landing page should graphically appeal to your target prospect. And graphical content that tells the story simply can help your offer convert at high levels.
- Produce high-contrast, visually-compelling, properly-located, and smartly-labeled calls-to-action (CTAs). Make sure every blog post has one. The data shows that a bright-colored (red/orange/yellow) call-to-action can have a dramatically higher click-thru rate. Remember, button text that compels the user to click will out-perform basic "Submit" CTAs many times over.
- Keep forms simple and in the right position on your landing page. If you ask for too much information (or ask too soon), you will have a poor performing landing page. Ask for the bare minimum information you can live with, e.g. email address maybe. Different buying cycles can also have an impact on the proper placement of forms, i.e. if you haven't made the case to buy from you before you ask for their info, you may lose them before they even get started.
- Emphasize the benefits of your offer, and keep the offer simple and scannable. Sometimes old advice is still good advice and this is one of those times. You MUST demonstrate that you understand their pain, and offer—in extremely simple, easy to scan, and concise terms—what the benefits of your offer are.
- Remove links and navigation from your landing pages to prevent distraction. When creating a landing page, you should avoid the temptation to have the main navigation of your website or other hyperlinks that take them away from your offer or that can distract them. While it's usually important to have a link to your website, make every effort to remove anything that can lead them away.
- Utilize marketing automation software (like HubSpot) and a CRM (HubSpot has a great free one) so that you can manage the entire process, and measure your results. We talk about it often, but it always stands repeating: marketing automation software and CRMs make management of content and measurement of the progress of your efforts a breeze. And if you aren't managing and measuring, well... what's the point?
- Test, test, TEST. One of the most common traps to fall into is thinking your ideas are great, your content is amazing, your landing pages are awesome, your CTAs are spot-on, and your offer is compelling. But if you don't test, you're almost certainly fooling yourself—and missing out on the opportunity to see huge improvements in conversions.
While traditional advertising and cold-calling still have their benefits, and in some cases may be important components of your marketing and sales efforts, oftentimes inbound marketing can have a profound impact on the number of qualified leads you've got in your pipeline. If you'd like help in developing a content marketing strategy or inbound marketing strategy, or if you'd like some help implementing a marketing automation solution like HubSpot, please don't hesitate to contact us. If you live in Colorado, we are happy to sit down with you as part of a no-obligation, free consultation to see how we can serve you. If you're elsewhere, heck, we can do an online conference just as easily!