The only way to generate leads sustainably is to have a balanced outbound, inbound and retention strategy. But before examining what this looks like it is important to first address what is meant by lead generation.
What is Inbound Lead Generation?
Lead Generation is the crossover between sales and marketing. It is what connects your product or service to the targeted portion of the population that you want to engage with it. Inbound Lead Generation is however more than just the creation of demand or interest through targeted advertising. It is the process of putting systems in place to generate customer interest, nurture it and sustain in past the point of first purchase. Because of this lead generation systems typically require some combination of people, processes and technology. At the base of an inbound lead generation approach to marketing is content. Content is used to:
1) Target Customers
2) Aquire Customers
3) Retain Customers
Side Note: Content is Only King Becouse of Analytics
Most inbound marketing agencies put click steam data (bounce rates, click through rates, session duration) at the forfront of any decision to design or improve content used to target, aquire and retain customers online. Becouse of this analytics, both on and offline, play a key role in measuring the conversion rates of content and return on investment of a content focused approach to inbound lead generation.
Outbound versus Inbound Lead Generation Systems
While companies generate leads is host of different ways increasingly people are turning online to find new customers and using cloud SASS solutions to nurture and automate their engagement with customers.
While tools are great they typically are in place to meansure or optimize traffic. So what actually generates it?
Online lead generation systems typically utilize search, social or PPC channels to generate traffic by creating highly relevant content optimized for search or recommendation engines such as Google or AirBnb. It is this content that is ultimately responsible for any results.
How content is created entirely depends on its end goal.
Typically the end goal is to either rank organically or to pay as little as possible for top position on search or recomendation engines. Ranking is best understood when one thinks about relevance. The more relevent a results the more likely an engine will show your result, ad or listing.
When people typically talk about Content they are typically implying the content living on your brands or companies website. This “keyword targeted content” typically lives on keyword targeted landing pages on your website. Keyword targeted landing pages are designed to rank for a particular search inquiry or several inquires (ie. a topic) and are designed to create excitement and urgency to take a particular action (ie. click on a particular CTA). These pages have to:
- connect with a perspective customers interest or search query (what),
- addresses their “so what” (your differentiating value proposition)
- and “now what” (next action)
This “inbound lead generation” approach differs from outbound lead generation which conveys or pushes information, typically in the form of a direct message or call, at unexpected targets. When done online over channels like linkedin this is called Account Based Marketing.
Once landing on a keyword targeted landing pages customers are typically incentivized or prompted to click on a call to action which leads them to a “squeeze” page or funnel. Typically something of value (a white paper, a calculation, a call back from a representative) is offered in exchange for contact information and particulars about what the client is looking for. Becouse squeeze pages fit into the aquisition rather than targeting stage of the customer buying cycle they are designed considerably differently.
Other Common Aspects of Inbound Lead Generation Systems;
- A site and page structure that drives customer engagement with clear call to actions (call or fill out a form) which collects and segments contact based on their place in your sales cycle
- A attribution system that monitors the individual customers journey (heat mapping and page flow) and the overall performance of lead sources (call and form tracking) so that you can reduce barriers to purchase and increase spending on performing channels.
- A system that automatically delivers the information requested by a customer and pre-frames them to be closed by a sales representative.
- A system to retarget an engaged user that leverages email, social & professional networks to solidify the relationship and sustain contact past first purchase.
Content is King if your Strategy is Inbound
“You need to become a topic authority by creating keyword targeted landing pages.” David Bussell
While these elements are essential the most successful leaders in the space have one special ingredient that increasingly is at the core of any inbound lead generation strategy. This is:
6) An understanding of the general problems or interests your customers face in advance of them facing the particular problem or having the particular need that makes them a perspective customer.
The last is the most critical because it what allows companies to interrupt the research or buying patterns that are part of their perspective customers journey where the competition is the least. This typically means providing content for broad range of issues loosely related to your company idetity. The broad based success of this approach has resulted in most marketing companies adopting mantra’s like “content is king”.
Picking a Strategy to Convey Your Value Proposition
“Relevance is the key to keyword targeted content that converts – beyond keeping your keywords, ads and contents directly related to each other you need to speak to your client, their pain points and provide them with particular use cases and client success stories.” – David Bussell
While this inbound content based approach to lead generation is useful it increasingly becoming the norm. This of course raises the question – what to do if everyone starts prolifically producing content on topics. The answer is to differentiate your offering at a more fundamental level. This often means adapting a companies core offering to reflect a position that allows them to interrupt a customers buying pattern.
5 Inbound Lead Generation Approaches
So How Are Companies Actually Doing this Generate Leads?
The best lead generation strategies are more reflective of the customer base and their engagement patterns than the particular offer or service being promoted. For instance if your customer journey does not typically start with research then this is not a buying pattern that can be interrupted. That is to say you won’t see success if a campaign leads source is people searching for the solution or product you offer. While there are countless ways to break buyers patterns below are some of my favourites.
1) By Leveraging Your Customers Networks
Some companies pay to have you leverage your network by having customers sell to their friends in exchange for rewards of some sort. This often turns people off. The best brands get people to leverage their networks simply because they believe in the brand. Brands that pursue this strategy build it into the fabric of the companies differentiating value proposition. You know you have encountered a campaign of this sort when you friends or family are selling your on a cause, position or product using the language of a campaign.
A campaign is something that is by its very nature is for a limited time. That is to say, the offer at hand, the ad produced or the product created is available for a limited time. This is a brilliant strategy because people feed on novelty and scarcity. Brands that pursue this strategy create a sense of scarcity, controversy or concern. The most successful examples of it are companies that build the hook into the fabric of the company’s campaign. The motivation for this is media. Companies pursuing this are looking to create buzz that ultimately turns into demand.
3) By Creating Content that Connects with a Keywords Intention
Companies that pursue this strategy establish their authority by creating keyword driven content that connect with your target audience’s want-to-know, want –to-go, want-to-do and want-to-visit. Brands that pursue this strategy do not build their presence around their identify. The build their presence around
4) By Targeting a Particular Product or Service Application
This is simply another way of saying niche marketing. Companies that pursue this strategy frame their product narrowly in terms of a single solution. Companies that pursue this strategy try to answer with their product a particular problem it addresses rather than all of it’s potential uses. This strategy normally works best when it leverages needs based on industry jargon.
5) By Establishing Topic Authority
Companies that pursue this strategy focus on framing the conversation about the product around the companies thought leaders use of them. This strategy bets on you taking these thought leaders advice. Typically leaders weave the need to use their tools into the broader framework they advocate for.
Talk to our team today about how we can help you generate more leads online. Click Shift Inbound Marketing and Lead generation is based in Prince Edward County Ontario and serves Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, Belleville and Prince Edward County. We help customers create content and designs that convert impressions into click and clicks into lifetime customers.
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