Remember when marketing was a matter of contacting enough people, no matter how intrusively, or whether they were in your target audience, hoping that eventually some leads would come rolling in? Unfortunately for some marketers, the modern buyer is a lot more intelligent, and these once common practice marketing techniques will no longer cut it.
The buyer is constantly changing. Their journey and behaviour is influenced by advances in technology, cultural trends and rising demand for and availability of products and services. As a result, the way we do marketing has had to adapt as well.
B2B marketers have moved away from interruptive outbound tactics such as cold calling and mass email marketing and are now focusing on inbound techniques such as quality content, social media, SEO and marketing automation.
The inbound marketing methodology focuses on helping companies get found by prospects. It involves strategically positioning your content to earn a prospect’s attention and bring them into the conversation. Do this well, and you will see completely new prospects come out of the ether and announce themselves to your company.
9 out of 10 B2B buyers say that when they are ready to purchase, they will find you. (DemandGen) Have you positioned your business to be found by the right people when this time comes?
Inbound marketing is all about generating the best quality leads, by targeting your marketing activities at those particular prospects that are most suited to the product or service you are providing. By educating them and showing them you can solve their challenges and fulfil a particular need, you are building a relationship. This nurturing process ensures they come to you. This is worlds apart from the traditional method of outbound marketing which prioritises quantity over quality, attempting to reach as many different people as possible.
When using inbound marketing for lead generation there are 4 steps to focus on in order to ensure you are generating high quality leads.
Define Buyer Personas
The starting point for any inbound campaign is the creation of a series of detailed buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictionalised representation of your target buyer, detailing demographic and behavioural information about your buyer such as location, turnover, company size, interests, goals, pain points and motivations.
To create a highly accurate buyer persona you can use the information you already have to hand – from your existing customer relationships you can work out exactly what makes an ideal customer for your business. Once you have your buyer personas sorted you can begin examining the channels they use and determining what sort of content and engagement you should be leveraging in order to generate leads who meet the established criteria.
Implement a Content Marketing Strategy
Today, the vast majority of consumers begin their buying process online. Through search engines, social media and asking for references, buyers spend a lot of time wading through a variety of content in order to find a solution to their problems. This is where content marketing has become a key focus for impacting the buyer's decision-making process. Companies that create educational content to help their prospects are getting attention and earning the right to talk with their target customers.
A crucial part of your content marketing strategy is search engine optimisation (SEO). It is one thing to put out the content that your buyers need but if they can’t find it then it is not going to help anyone. Your prospects need to know you exist and are relevant to them. Mobile devices have put search tools at our fingertips and empowered people to search more frequently from any location. Google now processes an average of over 40,000 search queries every second, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. (Google)
The higher your content ranks in search results, the more likely your target audience are to view it. And the more content you create the easier it will be to build your online presence and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
Embrace Social Media
People are spending a large amount of time on social platforms, with the average user logging 1.72 hours a day. This represents about 28 percent of all online activity. (GlobalWebIndex)
If used correctly, social media sites can become a major source of new visitors, and for many companies matching or even surpassing search traffic. 84% of B2B marketers now use social media in some form (Aberdeen), but it is not always used effectively. More than half of social marketers do not measure their success with social media marketing (Awareness, Inc.), meaning it is impossible to know which areas are generating leads and which need improvement. Considering that 75% of B2B buyers use social media to support their purchase decisions (International Data Corporation), marketers should be devoting more time to using social platforms to start conversations, engage with prospects and promote content.
Deploy Marketing Automation and Lead Nurturing
Every buyer has his or her own personal journey, and you never know exactly when people are going to be ready to buy. It can take a long time and a lot of engagement before a prospect is ready to make a decision, and this is why marketing automation and lead nurturing are important in inbound lead generation. Once you set up the systems to continue to nurture prospects throughout their journey, you have the tools at hand to build a positive relationship with anyone who engages with your company.
Do this well, and you will see a steady stream of new leads each month from people who have moved down from the consideration stage into the decision stage and are ready to speak with you. All the hard work has paid off, and now your lead is ready to be handed over to sales to close as a customer.
It is evident that inbound is the way forward when it comes to generating leads for your business but it takes a lot of time and planning. This is why we have developed and successfully deployed our own methodology for inbound success.
For more information on how inbound marketing can generate high quality leads for your business, download our eBook 'The Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation using inbound marketing'