As someone who’s pre-university CV includes an outbound call centre, I can say with some experience – nobody likes unsolicited sales calls.
“How can I get more sales leads for my business, then?” – I hear you cry.
While some companies are working themselves to the bone and spending a fortune on disturbing people trying to have their dinner, more savvy businesses know the key to success is through a robust inbound marketing strategy.
(Image source: stateofinbound.com)
Outbound marketing is overwhelmingly cited by experts in the field as overrated. This is further evidenced by 38% of salespeople who say getting a response from prospects is getting more difficult. Combine this with the fact those same marketers rate generating website traffic and leads as their biggest day-to-day challenge, and the message is clear.
Inbound marketing generates leads and drives sales.
Leads, You Say?
Lead generation is one of those terms which gets thrown around in business circles, with few people having a good handle on how to properly define the term.
Many times, companies like to cast as wide a net as possible with their marketing. This is precisely the reason advertising space during television programs such as The X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, or sporting events such as the F.A. Cup final is so expensive. Television producers know millions of people will be watching these programs, and any advertisements shown during their airing will have a high rate of exposure – thus justifying a premium rate.
This logic is if millions of people are exposed to an advert, a reasonably significant proportion of those people are likely to be interested in the product or service on offer.
Lead generation via inbound marketing works differently, however.
Generating leads involves throwing out a much smaller but more keenly focussed net. The idea is to target specific demographics who are likely to be interested in your product or service and incentivise them to hand over their contact details. The marketer can then vet the much smaller batch of contacts and get in touch with the ones who are in industries which would benefit from their service.
(Image source: stateofinbound.com)
As you can see, 70% of marketers rate converting leads into customers as their top marketing priority for the next 12 months. This is because they recognise the shift in attitudes away from outbound marketing and towards inbound. But why?
The Modern Consumer
Customers today are savvier than ever before. They aren’t as easily swayed by television adverts, and they aren’t impressed by unsolicited sales pitches asking about their “recent accident.” If potential customers are going to be contacted by a sales team, they want to know straight away whether the product or service is appropriate and desirable to them.
Modern consumers also have access to significantly more choice than ever before. Long behind us are the days when people would have one or two stores from which to buy the things they want – they now have the entire globe. This means that if they see an advertisement for a product they like the look of, there is no guarantee they’ll purchase it in the way the advertiser intended. They may purchase from the vendor who has the best price, or buy an alternative brand – both easily achieved with a little research online.
Lead generation therefore aims to create and maintain a relationship with the customer from the first contact, all the way down the sales funnel, until the customer is ready to make a purchase.
Drive Traffic to Your Website
The first objective of any successful marketing campaign is to get prospective clients to visit your website. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process by which a website makes sure it appears in the first couple of pages on Google. Think about the last time you searched for something on the internet – did you look beyond the first two or three pages?
There used to be a lot of sneaky ways websites could trick Google into ranking them highly, but those days are thankfully behind us. Google’s algorithms are now very good at spotting these techniques and moving them to the bottom of the pile.
And you may be interested to know – most people skim over the first four paid-for listings at the top of the results page. The best way to get noticed on Google is with quality content.
Google can now tell if website copy and blog content is well written and contains good grammar and spelling. It can also tell if the links used are relevant, and if keywords are appropriate. This means it really pays to make sure the content being created for your website is of a high quality, and written with the goals of your company in mind.
However, content should not be overly self-promotional. People search for questions which you can provide answers or guidance for – if the only answer you can come up with is “Buy our product”, chances are they’ll look elsewhere.
The whole idea of producing fantastic content – aside from the SEO benefits – is so, when the person reading it is looking to buy the thing you’re selling, they think, “The people who write those blogs really know what they’re talking about. I’ll get in touch with them.”
Get Their Contact Details
Once you have prospects visiting your website – having Googled a query relevant to your business – it’s time to get their contact details.
Obviously, people are unlikely to just hand over their details and receive nothing in return, so you need to give them an incentive. The traditional method of achieving this is to offer a subscription to your company newsletter. However, while newsletters can be a great way to tempt existing customers to make further purchases and keep them coming back to your blog, there is a much better method of drawing in new leads – gated content.
(Image source: stateofinbound.com)
Gated content should be something more in-depth than the standard blogs you publish for general consumption. White papers and eBooks can offer great value for potential customers who are searching for advice in your field of expertise, and who should be more than happy to provide a few basic details to access it.
Get in Touch
Once you have the prospect’s contact details, you can get in touch with them and begin the conversation. Don’t dive straight in with the sales pitch, but instead try and get to know them a little. People are busy, so don’t be too impatient or pushy, just stay in touch and eventually you will be able to tell if they are ready for the sales pitch.
If managing this journey through the sales funnel sounds simple, it’s not. A lot of this process will rely on experience, so expect to make some mistakes. However, once you’ve done it a few times, you should become quite accomplished at telling if/when a customer is ready to buy.
Get the Full Package
If you are reading this and thinking this sounds like a full-time job, you are not far from the truth. If you feel you lack the time and expertise to really immerse yourself in your inbound marketing then you may wish to employ the services of dedicated marketing experts to do it for you.