Gone are the days that a marketer only relied on outbound techniques like trade shows, cold calling, and advertisements to get leads. Today’s buyer is in control. According to Forrester, buyers seek out three pieces of content about a vendor for every one piece sent by a marketer, and for every one piece sent by sales. Because of buyer self-education, your job as a marketer is to be heard through the noise and come up with new ways for leads to find you. To be a marketer in today’s world, you need a solid grasp of inbound in order to truly amplify your lead generation impact.
Because prospective buyers won’t always end up at your website as they start their purchase journey, it’s important that you establish a presence where they may show up. A great way to deliver high-value content to the correct prospects is through content syndication – a content sharing strategy that can be used to promote your whitepapers, articles, news releases, etc. on other websites for greater reach and engagement. Through content syndication, your content appears on third-party sites and newsletters. And because most content syndicators deliver leads directly to your inbox, it’s a great way to keep leads coming in the door.
Advertising should be nothing less than ”salesmanship in print,” i.e. it should do the same job that a top sales person would do face to face. If you approach advertising in a scientific manner, following proven principles and facts, it no longer has to be a gamble. There are many extremely effective ways of using advertising in a highly targeted manner, that can’t help but grow your business. This includes 1) advertising only in media that reaches a sufficiently large number of the kind of people you’re trying to reach 2) focusing the entire thrust of your communication on your prospect’s interests, not your own 3) giving your prospects enough information and education and 4) offering them something appealing that’ll get them to respond now.
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A sales qualified lead is nearly ready to make a purchase, but may have more specific questions or needs to be addressed by the sales team. At this stage, sales staff continues nurturing the relationship that marketing initiated. Because these leads have already been qualified, they are more likely to turn into sales, and the latter part of the sales cycle tends to move more quickly. Strong marketing-sales alignment can result in more effective lead generation and higher conversion rates.
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.
The content marketing technique, though well known, is not used by many companies because it is not as easy as it seems. Creating content that solves the problems of potential customers, is targeted for a specific audience and is interesting and visually appealing is difficult and outsourcing the content or creating an automated system doesn’t seem to do the job. This can also be very time-consuming. There is no quick guide to achieve success in this but a series of trials and errors can help you do the required analysis and do the task of content marketing adequately.
A powerful technique for building your reputation with a defined audience over a period of time is to regularly send them a newsletter, which can either be free or paid subscription. Newsletters can be used to position you as an authority in your marketplace, to build closer relationships with clients. You can use them to educate your target market so they can make more informed and more frequent buying decisions or educate them to the full extent of your services and how you can add value through those services.
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Because search engines equate high-quality content with a high-quality website, creating content with value is very important. Conduct a content audit to see how many of your assets fall into the thought leadership vs. promotional category. That means making sure that your thought leadership content has substance to it. Lots of companies are jumping on the content bandwagon, so do it right: focus on quality over quantity, and on providing useful – not promotional – information.
Chadwick Martin Bailey, another expert market research firm, reported that up to 51 percent of Facebook users and 67 percent of Twitter fanatics will most like purchase recommendations from brands they are a fan or a follower of. Such is the impact of Social Media on lead generation and sales that revenues are expected to go up exponentially in the coming years according to experts like eMarketer in their report on the US Social Network Ad Revenues 2012-2015.
A highly effective step by step strategy that deals with the single most common and frustrating problem for anyone in business: the problem of gaining access to the correct audience. No other skill is as directly connected to your ability to achieve success as the skill of getting in to see the right people. This approach will help you cut through bureaucracy, identify the people you most need to see. You’ll find that you can get in front of your desired prospects–regardless of their position or level of experience–faster, more effectively, and with less expense. It represents a new way of thinking about gaining access and overcomes the problem of getting through to the right people.
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.
Another way to generate leads from social media is to run a contest. Contests are fun and engaging for your followers, and they can also teach you a ton about your audience. It's a win-win. Read our step-by-step guide for growing your email list using social media contests, which covers everything from choosing a platform, to picking a winner, all the way to analyzing your results.
Clearly, there has been a huge change in the traditional buying process. In fact, according to Forrester, buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their buying journey before they even reach the vendor. The reason this is happening more and more is because buyers have so much access to information that they can delay talking to sales until they are experts themselves.
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