You are probably wondering “what’s in it for me” when it comes to inbound marketing. It seems like a lot of work. Does it really work for lead generation?
The answer is definitely yes – inbound marketing does generate leads. In addition, there are many benefits to implementing inbound marketing as one of your primary marketing strategies. Inbound marketing:
- Increases visibility and brand awareness for your business
- Attracts better quality leads that are interesting in your offerings
- Demonstrates your knowledge of your industry by educating your prospects
- Provides long-term visibility unlike paid advertising which disappears when you stop paying
- Increases trust and credibility
- Is cost-effective.
The ultimate goal of inbound marketing is to help people find your business when in need of what you offer. Many buyers research solutions before they contact a business. If you provide quality, educational content that helps them move through the buyer’s journey, you are probably one of the solutions they will consider when they are ready to buy.
So add inbound marketing to your marketing plan. But like everything in marketing, lead generation using inbound marketing is a process. It only works when all the pieces come together and deliver a clear, compelling message.
Six step process to generate leads using inbound marketing
1. Develop your inbound marketing strategy
As always, you need a strategy. Developing your strategy helps you focus on the right things needed to consistently drive inbound traffic. Your strategy should incorporate:
- An in-depth understanding of your audience so you understand what content they need to solve their biggest challenges
- Knowledge of our top keywords and how to optimize our content for better visibility
- The right social media channels to build communities and develop relationships.
- An action plan to successfully execute your strategy
2. Create your content strategy
If you understand your audience, you know what type of content they need. From this, you can create the right content strategy to attract them to you and satisfy their needs.
To plan out your content, create an editorial calendar that includes:
- What content you plan to create
- What format you will use – blog post, podcast, YouTube videos, presentations and webinars
- Who will create it
- The style to be used across all media channels to project a consistent brand image
- Your schedule for sharing your content across all of your social media channels.
Don’t worry about the exact dates for each piece of content. Create the list and arrange as you go, selecting those pieces that you feel compelled to work on.
3. Develop your offer
Great content that attracts visitors to your website is the first step. But what do you want your visitors to do now that they have found you? Create an offer that will have them take some action, which will generate a lead.
What can you provide that has so much value to them that they will trade their email address for your offer so you can nurture them through the buyer’s journey? Creating the right lead magnet is important to attracting the right audience.
- Will an eBook on the top 10 questions in your industry be something of value?
- Is your audience in need of useful templates, checklists and free tools to simplify a process?
- Can a free webinar covering a hot topic draw your audience in? Include a free recording of the event so those who can’t make it will still sign up.
- Could it be a free trial of your product? Or a free estimate for your home service?
As you can see, the type of lead magnet you choose to create depends on your business. Plus whether the lead needs to be nurtured or is ready to buy is also dependent on the type of business. Someone who is attracted to a free trial or estimate is further down the path to purchase than someone who signs up for your email list to get a template or checklist.
Those who want the checklist or template will sign up for your email list using a signup form from your email marketing company. But those who may want more information on your products and services will need a lead generation form. Therefore you need to …
4. Create the right lead generation forms
Once people are ready to pursue an engagement with your business, how do people contact you? You must have web forms to generate leads. Many people conduct searches for products and services at night, after dinner and after their children have gone to bed. If you don’t have a form that makes it easy for them to contact you when it is convenient for them, you are missing a huge opportunity to get qualified leads.
A well placed lead conversion form with a compelling offer is an important component of your website. Keep the form short and only ask for as much information as you really need. Also, respond to an inbound request as quickly as you can. If you wait, the lead may go to your competitor instead.
If you have all the above pieces in place, you have the foundation. Now our task is to implement the strategy in order to begin gaining visibility with your ideal client.
5. Implement inbound marketing action plan
How do you incorporate inbound marketing into your daily schedule while still working in your business?
An inbound marketing action plan creates a system that enables you to consistently execute your activities and see the results. Without a system, you will find yourself in one of two places:
- Doing nothing because you don’t know where to start
- Overwhelmed and ineffective because there’s too much to do while still servicing clients
As with setting any goals, if you write them down you will be more likely to achieve them. Put your system in writing and make sure that it will work for you. Start simple and expand if you find that you can do more:
- Start with an activity plan for when you will do certain inbound marketing activities such as create content for the blog, curate content to share and post to social media.
- Book time in your calendar to make it part of your schedule and stick with it. Your goal is to stay active and visible in order to continue to attract those that may want to form a trusted relationship.
- Be realistic about how much you can invest in time and money on marketing your business. If you only have 30 minutes each morning or at lunchtime, schedule it to do some inbound marketing activity that will benefit your business.
6. Make use of the right tools
To collect ideas and content to share, you can either use Evernote or the OneTab extension.
Evernote can be used to save content ideas and posts to share. Install the Evernote Clipper extension to make it easy to clip content and save it in specific notebooks.
OneTab extension to Chrome and Firefox can also be used to save content to read and share later. If I open the post and see that it is worth reading and sharing later, I save it using OneTab and organize it into a group.
Either of these will enable you to save content to read and schedule for posting at a later time. This way you can set aside some time every week to fill the posting schedule of one of the following products so you remain visible.
Buffer or Hootsuite makes it very easy to schedule posts to Facebook, LinkedIn (both personal and company profiles), Twitter and Pinterest. They offer a different experience so check them both out to see which one you prefer. I use Buffer because the Buffer extension makes it easy for me to put content into the queue for all of my supported social media channels.
Both products offer a free limited version that gives you 3 social media channels, 10 scheduled posts per channel and 1 user. Start with the free version to decide which one you like best.
Now that you have your inbound marketing system in place, you can create and share content to start gaining visibility within your target audience. Stay consistent with your efforts and you can drive new visitors to your website that are likely to become leads.