The inbound method attracts leads using online content. You create a website, or you write a blog, and you optimize it for online search through SEO (search engine optimization) techniques. This means the content has the appropriate keywords and answers the questions your target audience is asking. When your content is easily discoverable and begins to engage your readers, they become your leads. Depending on how you interact with them from then on, they can become your customers too.
With the growth of the internet, the world has changed from one of information scarcity to one of information abundance. In fact, according to Google chairman Eric Schmidt “there was 5 Exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization and 2003, but that much information is now created every two days and the pace is rapidly increasing”.
Writing articles and news stories for publication in the media that your prospects and customers would find interesting and would like to know about is the quickest, easiest way, and usually the first step, in building your reputation. You need to know how to come up with article ideas, research and write successful articles, get them published, use the reprints in self-promotion, and get people to respond to you and buy your products or services.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to generate leads online. Available through popular programs like Google AdWords, Microsoft’s Bing Ads, and Facebook Ads, PPC is exactly what it sounds like: an advertising program in which you pay for each click. Depending on the keywords or phrases targeted, you may pay anywhere from pennies to hundreds of dollars for a single click.
Lead management is a combination of several things. First you need the right tool to store your leads. There’s no point generating a torrent of leads if you can’t view them all, with context, in one place. And then you need to nurture every lead before they can be convinced about doing business with you. Finally, you’ve got to be able to rank your leads—based on how much (or how little) they engage with your business—so you can reach out to the hottest leads first.
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For example, if your company offers business-grade networking systems, you may know that it takes an average of six months for an IT administrator to research solutions, seek approval, and have a final budget granted for a purchase. You would be wasting time—and probably annoying a potential customer—if you sent a "buy now!" message at the end of their first month on the list. Instead, start them off with what they’re likely to need the most: product information. Then, move into messages about special features, or anything that might convince them that your solution is the best on the market. Finally, when you’re nearing that six month mark, offer them a way to get in touch with you. Timely emails like this are a great way to give potential customers what they need exactly when they need it.
You may think direct mail is a thing of the past. But it’s still effective for targeted communications. Consider a content asset developed for high-level executives. Executives don’t usually browse the web for information. And it can be hard to get through to them via email. That means they may not come across the content you’ve developed with them in mind. This is where direct mail can prove powerful. You could send a direct mail piece to this audience to make them aware of your new, targeted content asset. Direct mail also gives you a chance to grab the attention of a hot prospect by being creative and interesting with your message and presentation.
The outbound method involves a proactive attempt to reach out to your audience. This usually begins with purchasing lead lists. You then contact these leads by calling them directly (cold calling) or sending them physical mails (direct mail). For a wider reach, businesses look beyond lead lists and use billboards, print ads, television ads, and radio ads. The emphasis here is on budget, media connections, and how much marketing muscle you can flex.
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The task of content marketing doesn’t end with just writing the content and posting it on your website, you must be able to draw readers to it. Some ways to draw traffic on your content is by distributing your content to the influencers of your company who have the large social following. Podcasting, guest blogging and social groups on Facebook or LinkedIn can be other mediums you can adopt.
To create leads with social media, you should have a good idea of which channels to use. Depending on your business, you may not need a presence for every network out there. For example, if you sell software, Facebook and Twitter are a must for customer feedback, starting conversations, and answering questions – but you may not have any use for Pinterest or Instagram.
Leads may come from various sources or activities, for example, digitally via the Internet, through personal referrals, through telephone calls either by the company or telemarketers, through advertisements, and events. A 2015 study found that 89% of respondents cited email as the most-used channel for generating leads, followed by content marketing, search engine, and finally events. A study from 2014 found that direct traffic, search engines, and web referrals were the three most popular online channels for lead generation, accounting for 93% of leads.