The world of sales and marketing has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. The advent of inbound lead generation has proven to be a critical component of a robust sales and marketing plan for businesses. Outbound sales teams and processes will always have an important role in acquiring prospects and closing sales. However, the integration of inbound lead generation is now an equal partner in the sales mix and in many cases, it is the most effective marketing tool we have.
One of my coaching clients is Walnut Street Finance. Early on they embraced the idea of incorporating inbound marketing and have created a powerful lead machine that is generating significant interest from their prospects and producing astounding results. Here are 7 insightful inbound lead generation tips from the leadership team at Walnut Street Finance.
1. Partner closely with your Sales or Business Development team
No one knows the target audience, characteristics, and personas of the prospective customer better than the sales team. They are out there fielding calls, answering questions, negotiating with prospects. Have frequent conversations with the sales department to understand what the prospects’ pain points are and the main challenges that are faced. You will find great material for content. Write blogs, produce infographics and customize email campaigns to address and educate the audience. Not only are you staying current and addressing real-time concerns, but you are positioning yourself as a thought leader and encouraging leads to stay close to you so that they can turn to you the next time they have an issue or concern. The lead may not be in a position to convert into a customer just yet, but the more you educate them and help them along the buyer’s journey, chances are you will be first on the list to call when they are indeed ready.
2. Carefully identify your buyer personas and develop solutions for them
What is the demographic of your audience(s)? What are their concerns and the current problem that they are seeking a solution? How can your organization stand out from the competition to be the one the prospect selects to address their needs? Carving out and specifying the buyer’s challenges and identifying what’s unique about your company that positions you as the right solution will help you craft your message and determine how you will reach your audience. For example, your message, marketing strategy and the delivery channel will be vastly different when targeting a 30-year-old single male vs. a 70-year-old female with three grandchildren.
3. Courageously go outside of the norm
If all your competitors are writing about the same topic, sharing the same news, and using the same keywords – how can you stand out? The internet is buzzing with noise, and your company’s viability lies in standing out in an informative, educational and engaging way. Don’t be afraid to step outside of the norm and be incredibly creative. Use funny memes, quirky and thought-provoking titles, and offer a unique take on popular topics in your industry. If you were looking for a Project Management Solutions company, which blog would you click on first to read: “Project Management Essentials, What You Need to Know” or “The World’s Ending in 48 Hours! Where’s our Project Manager?”
4. Aggressively learn and be adaptable
SEO and inbound lead generation methodologies are a dynamic art. There are all sorts of theories, strategies, best practices that do and continually change. Although it may sometimes be hard to find the time, it’s crucial to carve out a certain amount of time on a weekly basis to read articles, blogs and stay current on trends in digital and inbound marketing. In addition to learning and staying abreast of what’s relevant in the field, you need to be adaptable and willing to change how you work or what you’re designing. It’s the customers and prospects that are driving the inbound sales train, and you need to keep an ear close to the track to keep on top of trends that are resonating and modify your campaign accordingly.
5. Be patient
Inbound lead generation is a marathon, not a sprint. Organic traction, reach, and results take time and diligent effort. Day by day, brick by brick, a digital marketer needs to lay the foundation for a successful campaign. No matter how busy or hectic the day or week gets, do not skimp on producing inbound sales content. If you don’t have time to write a blog one week, find a relevant news article and share it with your following or refine a previous piece and recirculate. Keep touching your circle and produce factual and compelling content that will engage the user and entice them to share it with their network. Although results might not occur overnight, consistent effort and quality content will result in more website hits, blog subscriptions and form submissions which in the end will manifest in qualified inbound leads and ultimately, customers.
6. Test, test, and then test again
Play with Call-to-Action buttons, colors, landing page designs, form fields, the tone of voice in content and topics. Throw a large net, monitor metrics such as impressions, clicks, conversions, etc. and then dial it in. You might be surprised that individual lead generation campaigns you thought would be a smashing success had tepid results and others that you threw together in a hasty effort are resulting in off-the-chart readings. It’s a matter of trying new things, seeing what works and building off of that.
7. Surround yourself with A-Players
It’s cliche but you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Whether you are a one-person marketing machine that hires freelancers or are lucky enough to have a robust marketing team in-house, you need to make sure that everyone involved in your inbound lead generation marketing efforts is a key player. Quality, efficiency, and creativity are vital components of a successful inbound sales campaign and can mean the difference between getting the phone to ring off the hook or hearing crickets. When hiring freelancers or building out your team, don’t rush. Make sure you get a good vibe from them, your motivation and visions align, and everyone produces quality work. Test writers and graphic designers and surround yourself with 2-3 “rock stars” that can push out inbound sales content with minimal to no editing needed on your end. Streamlining the process will keep you ahead of the curve instead of being bogged down playing with fonts, colors, or tone of written content that you are less than happy with.
If you are ready to turn your business into an inbound lead generation machine, please complete my contact form for a complimentary coaching session.