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June 06, 2018

Lead generation & inbound marketing

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What lead generation means in an inbound marketing context

Lead generation – the lifeblood of a business’ health and success. Without it, how do you generate the customers that’ll create revenue and profits? In the past, marketing techniques relied on interruptive and aggressive campaigns to force people into buying their products. And it sort of worked, simply because the customer of yesterday didn’t have the Internet or know any better. But, at what cost to the company? A one size fits all approach to attracting business is costly and, back in the days before big data, often immeasurable too. Things have changed since the emergence of inbound marketing: lead generation is now an entirely new game with the potential to yield far greater results than before.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is more targeted, cost effective and is also measurable –no wonder it trumps outbound marketing for lead generation

The marketing of the past relied on outbound methods of attracting customers to products. Brands went out looking for prospects – that they rarely knew anything about – instead of drawing them in with relevant and interesting content and marketing messages (as is the case with inbound marketing). While outbound, or traditional, marketing still forms a part of marketing activities today, inbound marketing has become a more targeted, measurable and cost effective way of attracting your ideal customers to your business. It’s little wonder that so many businesses have begun investing in it.

A lead is only a lead once they’ve made the first move and shown genuine interest in your business

One of inbound marketing’s main goals is to generate leads. A lead is not someone whose contact details you’ve bought, but someone who has made the first move and shown genuine interest in your business. This could be through an interaction on social media, signing up to your newsletter or downloading a content offer from your website. This action marks the first step in the lead generation process that eventually results in them becoming a customer.

To attract the right leads to your business, you need to know who those leads are in the first place

So how do you get people to show interest in your business? Isn’t this where outbound marketing tactics come in to kick start the whole process? No. To generate the right leads, you need to know what your ideal leads look like. These personas form the basis of an inbound marketing lead generation strategy. Sit down and devise personas based on data you have about your current customers, as well as market research about your customers’ demographic groups. You need a solid picture of your personas’ pain points, buying habits, needs, desires – even details about their daily routine, which TV shows they enjoy and what social networks they hang out on are important.

Personas influence both your keyword and content strategies

Once you’ve formed personas, you can build the keyword-based SEO strategy that will help your audience find your business when they take to search engines to look for a solutions to their problems. For example, if you’re a cleaning business based in Cape Town targeting the office manager in a corporate office, you might include the key phrase ‘office cleaning in cape town’ in your keyword mix. You’d then create content (blogs, guides, landing page copy, social copy) around each keyword.

Through content, you attract the visitors you want to your website

Content serves the purpose of both attracting and converting leads to your website and business. But it achieves this in stages through the buying funnel. The chances of a first time visitor to your website becoming a customer on the same day are slim – especially if you operate in the B2B sector where buying cycles are longer. Once you’ve attracted a lead to your business, you need to ensure they don’t leave your website. This is where calls to action are important – they encourage website visitors to take an action, such as filling out a form, downloading an eBook or requesting a quote. They receive something of value in exchange for their contact details.

Content also serves to convert visitors into leads, and then to customers

Once you’ve got their contact details, they graduate from visitor to lead. Next, it’s time to nurture these leads down the buying funnel through more informative, relevant content. Your content should offer practical information that speaks to the pain points of your leads, and should ultimately help them come to a buying decision. Content also includes communication such as lead nurturing emails that aim to start the conversation that will build a relationship of trust between your prospect and business. Remember: lead generation in an inbound marketing context is all about the customer – not your brand.

Inbound marketing is a powerful tool for lead generation in the digital age. If you’d like to find out how it can help your business generate more leads and become more profitable, download our guide:

Inbound Marketing