Throughout my years in the workforce, I've always been one of those people who could be considered overly passionate about my career. Early on, just out of college, I remember being signficantly driven by the desire to grow within a company, to climb the ladder, make more money, and to prove to myself that I could reach my next goal. I'd be lying if I said that none of those things drive to me today. But while my perspective has changed with experience, my passion and determination have only grown stronger. This love could be considered a blessing and a curse all at once. The blessing: I enjoy going to work everyday and doing something that I am passionate about. The curse: I do find it hard to disconnect and catch a few good hours of sleep.
Because of this crazy passion, I also get pretty pumped when good things happen such as signing a new client, exceeding a client's expectations on a logo design, or seeing a team member crush it. And...what I've been excited about here lately is seeing our own inbound marketing generate leads that convert to clients. I know that sounds crazy - we're a marketing agency - of course our marketing should work. But as any entrepreneur or leader of a new business knows, building awareness, creating revenue, and putting a stake in the ground is flat out hard work, so I'm not ashamed to get excited about it!
What I also love about seeing our own marketing produce results is that it allows me to authentically relate to and talk with other entrepreneurs and business leaders who are new to inbound marketing and are unsure how it's going to work. I've placed a lot of faith in sticking to the strategy and trusting the experts on my team over the past year as we've built and executed our plan. I'm glad that we stayed true to the course because Inbound marketing works! And another great thing about it is that we own 100% of our investment. We didn't spend money on television, radio or other forms of paid media that vanish after the ad runs. (I'm not knocking these channels, they have a place), but I like that all of our investment in Inbound marketing is digital content that is living online and gaining value day by day.
I'm writing this blog to share with you 5 ways that I've used Inbound marketing to generate leads and that you can too! It's not an exhaustive list, but it's a good start:
1. Write A Blog
Blogs are a fantastic way (debatably the best way) to be found online and to win the love of Google. One of Google's rules is simple - keep your website fresh with new and relevant content. A website that isn't updated weekly or bi-weekly is kind of like a retail store without signage that is hidden in an alley. You'll get visitors from those who know about you, but it's pretty dang hard for others to find you. What better way to add fresh content to your website than through a blog?
Blogs are also a great way to build and execute a keyword strategy. In today's world, it's almost a given that your target buyers are online searching for products and services that you offer. In fact, the count is over 3.5 billion Google searches per day. When they search, they're typing keywords into the search engine - words and phrases like "best CRM for start-ups" or "tips for hiring an engineering firm for my business" or "HR outsourcing for small businesses." In order for your website to show up on page one in search results for the keywords you want to be found on, your website must tell Google that you are the best match for that search. Blogs help you do this! A well written blog, optimized for SEO, targeting one specific keyword or phrase, such as "HR outsourcing for small businesses" boosts your SEO ranking for that keyword and helps move you up in ranking.
Once a prospect clicks on your blog, they should find highly relevant, engaging content delivered at their finger tips at the precise moment they were looking for it and on the device of their choice. No more 8:00 - 5:00 customer service limitations. Your blog serves as a 24/7 sales & marketing team, customer service department and technical support staff working around the clock to deliver the information your prospects are seeking.
Make sure your blogs offers your reader a path forward. Perhaps it's a call to action to download a free Checklist of the Top 10 Services HR Firms Provide to Small Businesses. With the click of a button, your blog reader can fill out a brief form on your site providing some basic contact information about herself in exchange for the checklist. She's happy to receive great content for free and you're happy to collect a lead that you can nurture with marketing campaigns or deliver to your Sales team if they are qualified. Here's an example of our own Call-To-Action that we sometimes use in a blog post. If interested, you can click below to download a free Guide to Understanding the Customer Journey.
2. Email Drip Campaigns
So you've just collected a new lead from the gated content (Top 10 Checklist) mentioned above. If you're using some sort of marketing automation system (and you should be if your sales process requires any type of nurturing or follow-up), you can tell right away if the lead is qualified and ready for your Sales team. This can be based on a combination of lead scoring data including their demographics and online engagement with your brand. It's common for B2B prospects in a long sales cycle to not yet be qualified for sales the first time they hit your database. That's where drip email campaigns work like magic, taking the manual effort out of the process and ensuring that every lead gets nurtured in a personalized, yet consistent and effective way. How do you know it's effective? Because if you're doing it right you've A/B tested the process multiple times to know exactly what works in lead conversion and qualification. Your email drip campaigns will help keep your brand top of mind for your prospect, and lure them back to you when they are ready to purchase.
3. Commit to Mastering Social Media
I realize there are a lot of social media platforms and not all are necessary for every business. I'm not suggesting that you become an expert at Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Tumbler, LinkedIn...for the love of social, you have a job to do! In fact, my advice to companies who are trying to figure out the social media game is that it's better to focused and to be great on a few social media channels, than to poke around on several and look like an armature trying to compete in the Olympics. Please, don't embarrass yourself!
But if you are serious about online lead generation you need to figure out your social media strategy, create native content for the platforms you're on, engage with influencers, be social, and remember to always give, give, give, ask. I'm currently reading the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk, which is the same concept. Gary talks about 'jabbing' in social media before throwing the right hook. In his analogy, the jabs are the give - you give your audience something of value multiple times before you throw the right hook, which is making the 'ask' or trying to sell. It's a great book so far, and if you want to really dig into social media, I highly recommend it. I'll also be blogging about the best parts of the book, so stay tuned.
4. Create Content Offers At Least Quarterly
The term content offer often confuses people when I use it, and I realize why. It's not a common term that the every day Joe talks about at dinner. "Honey, what type of content offer do you think we should look for tonight?" Yeah - that doesn't happen. So let me explain and share an example. A content offer can be an eBook, a white paper, a case study, a checklist, a webinar, a training video, a product demo...any free content that has enough value that your target buyer is willing to give you some information about themselves in exchange for your offer. The higher the perceived value of your offer, the more information you can require they provide. If you offer a Top 10 Checklist, you may only ask for name and email address, whereas an offer for a free 30 day trial of your software, may justify asking for their job title, company name, budget and time line to purchase. We have several content offers on the Resources page of our website. You can check them out and hopefully you'll find them useful in your own marketing.
The primary purpose of a content offer is to turn anonymous prospects into leads, building up your marketing and sales funnel. Since B2B buyers generally go through 75% - 90% of the buyer's journey before they ever reach out to a sales rep, having content offers to capture and convert leads is critical. Another great thing about content offers is that they really help you with the jab, jab, jab, right hook concept of social media (and sales in general) that I mentioned above. Your jab's must be creative and it can be hard to find valuable content and entertainment to share. Content offers provide relevant, valuable 'jabs', helping set you up for that eventual right hook.
How many content offers do you need? It depends on your business, your goals and a lot of other factors - but if you don't know where to start, I recommend setting a goal of creating one new content offer each quarter to get started.
5. Send an E-Newsletter
E-newsletters are an effective, generally easy and low cost way of regularly engaging with your customers and others who have signed up to receive your newsletter. They also create another medium to share all of the great content that we've discussed above - your blog posts, content offers and links to social media. If you are investing in the time and resource to create the content, make sure you spend an equal or greater amount of effort publishing and sharing the content. A newsletter is one way of doing that. In addition to sharing your own content, you can share curated content using relevant articles or videos that resonate with your target market. If you sell equipment to high school Athletic Directors, you could share an article on the trends in high school sports over the past decade. It's great to promote your brand, but your audience will also appreciate your effort to find and share other interesting content.
I invite you to subscribe to our LimeLight monthly e-newsletter. Just click below and you'll receive an email once a month with more blogs like this one, content offers and other marketing related content month.