In many B2B service markets, the quantity vs quality lead generation challenges still persist. Interestingly, most of the people facing these challenges do not know how inbound marketing works.
Hence, they stay busy filling their pipeline with low quality leads.
‘For us the problem is not about generating enough leads. Our major problem is the quality of leads that don’t convert as much as we want. Unfortunately, this traps us in low ROI at the end of every accounting month. While we have the will and budget to make improvement, we don’t know where to start.’
This was what Allen Hull told me in our first interaction. He is a staffing business owner in Florida, USA.
Through further analysis, I discovered that all their marketing efforts are based on demographic variables only.
Based on this fact, their outbound marketing strategies reaches out to a lot of prospects who are demographically qualified but not interested or can’t afford their services.
The low conversion rate tells the full story. Then they were barely breaking even.
While major outbound marketing strategies still work to some extent in different settings, 100% dependence on them is not a smart competitive strategy. Let’s look at some of the key reasons below.
Disadvantages Of Unsolicited Outbound Marketing
- Annoyingly Intrusive
This is one of the biggest disadvantages of outbound marketing. It is practically intrusive.
It breaks patterns of the target audience attention. Intrudes into their moments of personal engagement and ultimately annoys them.
In reality, you are actually pushing your own interest and forcing messages on people exactly the time they may not be open for such.
This is why it is often called ‘spray and pray marketing’; kind of trial and error luck thing.
- Low Response Rate
The fact is that everybody is busy.
You are busy. I am busy. So no one enjoys wasting their time and attention on messages judged to be self promotional.
Depending on the power of your advert copies and contextual relevance, it feels like pouring water on stones to break them most of the times.
Study the buying patterns and cycles in your niche. Then decide if it’s time to make some desirable alterations. Stop doing the same thing over and over again.
- Vague Performance Metrics
Now think about the last purchase you made and at the end of the day, you got nothing in exchange for the money spent.
Most outbound marketing services are just like that. In effect you are paying for visibility and trivial brand impressions only.
Obviously, this alone cannot solve all your lead generation and revenue problems.
Take television, newspaper, radio and trade show ads for example, how do you actually measure the outcome of your marketing spend?
Beside these ones, there are many other disadvantages of unsolicited outbound marketing. But because it still works to some extent as noted earlier, many people think it is the only way.
Thus, they continue to operate out of the old scripts that exist in their heads.
At a stretched level, this should make you begin to think about how inbound marketing works and the benefits that can be experienced from it.
Maybe you already know a little bit about it. However, let’s explore the fundamentals.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
This is an interactive marketing strategy that engages prospects’ attention based on proven need, interest and purchase intent.
In most cases it has to do with defined audience, medium and message. With business blogging or content marketing for example, the medium and message are hardly separable.
The main goal is to influence and attract prospects to visit your business website or offline office voluntarily when they have the need for your services.
From the foregoing definition, it becomes obvious that a certain customer segment or demographic could be qualified for your services, but at the same time not interested or can’t afford it.
According Brian Halligan of Hubspot,
‘Understanding your buyer persona is half the battle’.
So when the majority of the leads you generate currently are qualified but not interested, you need to think above luck (spray and pray marketing) and begin to take progressive actions.
Your current conversion rate could just be enough proof already.
Below here we’ll be exploring the best channels that will help you make some desirable improvements in all the performance metrics that matters most to you.
Best Inbound Marketing Channels
#1: Business Blogs
I bet that before now, you must have heard or read about the benefits of starting a business blog. Probably, your company already has one.
But like many others, you are not generating considerable volume of quality leads from it.
Here is one fact you have to take away from this post: all business blogging strategies are not created equal.
In practical terms, it has to do with the topics you choose to write about, how you write the contents and who you are writing for, conversion funnel and blog promotion strategies.
If you think this is not a challenge to many, just do a search for ‘business blog topic ideas’. And then observe other search terms related to it.
Here are some practical tips on how to write high conversion blog posts that generate quality traffic, leads and sales.
Choose Customer Focused Topics: Do not write about general industry trends, events or your services only.
Focus on contents that relates to your ideal customer’s pain points, current needs, interest, fears, hopes and aspirations.
What are those outcomes they are craving to experience in their business or job?
Use keywords they are searching for as well as mirroring the purchase related questions in their minds.
There is a whole lot of expertise around this, that’s why many business owners are now actively searching for content writing services. Perhaps, not everyone knows how inbound marketing works in the context of defined business blogging strategy.
Write Attractive Headlines: This is the very first place you connect your prospects’ needs, interest and purchase intent with your content.
By using relevant search terms, questions, outcomes and pain points in your headline, you’ll have better click through rate.
Learn how to leverage buyer keywords or commercial intent search terms in your headline.
In an ideal sense, attractive headlines define the audience and exclude irrelevant prospects.
Optimize Your Target Keywords: Besides your headline, try to use your target keywords within the first 100 words, in your sub headings, internal links and few (1 – 5) times within the post.
This last point should be determined by the length of your post.
This on page SEO strategy will make your blog posts to rank higher for those targeted keywords. So that that when people search for those terms, your posts will be visible in search results page (SERP).
Note, you may have to build some quality backlinks to boost your ranking for those targeted keywords.
#2: Paid Search Advertising
If you really understand how inbound marketing works, you’ll know that it is not all online advertisements are outbound.
This is why I used the term ‘interactive’ in that definition of what is inbound marketing.
Paid search advertising with Google adwords or Bing are usually triggered by an action of using a particular long tail keyword or head terms.
Such action follows an interest or intent to find information, identify business address, confirm availability, make comparison, buy something or others.
For example if I did a search for ‘google adwords expert in Oakland California’ and your advert shows up, the contextual relevance makes it attractive.
To start generating leads with proven need and interest in your services, consider taking the following actions.
Promote Your Blog Posts: Having no promotion strategy is one of the business blogging mistakes I see a lot of people make every other day.
Some experts like Derek Halpern of Social Triggers states that your business blogging strategy should be like 80% promotion and 20% writing. Mind you, sharing your posts in free social media business pages isn’t just enough. Maybe the results you already get tell the full story.
The benefits of using Google adwords in this case is that it gives you opportunities to attract people actively searching for many different keywords.
Moreover, beside your blog posts you can as well promote your core services page with paid search advertising. This blog post promotion case study will expand your insight on this.
Leverage Google Adwords Extensions: These are special features of Google search advertisements that extend the points of attraction within the ad.
Without these extensions, you can still create standard advertisements.
But the real benefit is that it helps to improve relevance and conversion rate. With location extension, you’ll have the opportunity to add business address within your ads. Letting people know where they can find you.
Combine this with local search terms and you could be growing offline traffic to your physical office or store from paid search advertising.
Call extension on the other hand adds phone number or click to call button within the ads. Obviously, the purpose is to get inbound sales calls from prospects actively searching for your services.
The third one is site link. This one links people to specific pages on your website. Think about your pricing or testimonial pages for instance.
So the benefit is exposing your target audience to multiple page links, instead of one. Below is an example of google adwords site links extension. Do a search for a high value keyword in your niche and you could see it in action.
Create Call Only Ads: In most high ticket niche markets, a lot of people prefer phone calls for lead generation and nurturing.
This is the reason why many people still depend largely on outbound cold calls.
Within the paid search advertising spectrum, call only ads generates no other outcome except inbound phone calls. Now this is how call only ads work.
You create your search ads with selected high value keywords. But instead of seeing links to website pages, your target audience sees click to call button. In other words, a click on the call button is the only way your audience engages with the ad.
In essence, you are paying for every phone call triggered by inbound search for what you are selling.
Now let me ask you this, if you can close a single sale through 100 inbound sales calls from qualified prospects exactly the time they are searching for your services, how much would you pay per call?
Do the math to find out the potential profit based on how much a single sale is worth in your business.
#3: Search Engine Optimization
In many different circles, a whole lot of people still see search engine optimization and inbound marketing as different strategies.
But in practice, these two are strategically inseparable. One cannot effectively exist without the other.
Just as the term sound, inbound marketing include all the strategies that maximize opportunities for qualified prospects to find you and your services voluntarily when they need to.
It doesn’t have to be forceful and intrusive.
From the above point, it becomes very obvious that SEO is a sub set of inbound marketing strategies.
In fact, it seems to be the biggest and most profitable part of it because of the direct impact on traffic quality, lead generation and financially beneficial conversion rate.
Basically, search engine optimization is the technical and creative processes of making your web pages eligible for high ranking within search engine result pages.
It positions your brand for higher visibility when qualified prospects are in active search for solution to their problems.
To understand more of the contextual practicality, let’s look at how SEO relates to other parts of inbound marketing.
SEO And Business Blogging: The contents consumed within the business blogs we read today are made of written texts.
And for all intents, the majority of all searches performed today starts with written words and phrases.
Thus, if you are still writing blog posts without an effective SEO strategy, the ROI on the time or money spent putting them out will remain below average if any at all. If no one finds your blog posts, no one will read them. And without readers, there will be no conversions.
Think beyond visibility and brand impressions only. Refer to the section on business blogging for more details about the basics.
This SEO course could help increase your results and ROI from it.
SEO And Content Marketing: Content marketing goes beyond writing and publishing great, unique contents.
Without being told, you should know that writing is somehow different from the old concept of marketing.
However, in this modern information age, creative people across different industries and niche markets are finding ways to combine the two at the same time.
Search engine optimization is just one part of combining content and marketing.
By doing the basic SEO as at the point of writing your contents, you’ll also be aligning your marketing objectives effectively.
However, beyond attractive blog posts, content in this context includes custom images, infographics, videos, webinars and ebooks.
During and after the content creation, active optimization increases findability, visibility, search traffic potential and even conversion rate by voluntary search.
This is what inbound marketing is all about.
SEO And Social Media: Social media content share count is one of the user experience signals that search engines take into account. But in this case, it has to do with the sharing of contents within your website.
Unfortunately, if all your websites contents are meant to convert first time visitors into customers, then you are not leveraging the full potential.
A considerable volume of contents on your site should be helpful, entertaining and influential.
Learn to create attractive contents first before putting some promotional efforts in social media. To extend things further and reach precisely targeted audience, consider Facebook advertising or LinkedIn Ads.
All of these things contribute to an integrated inbound marketing strategy. And within them, lots of competitive advantages abound.
See this social media marketing case study on how and why Robbie Richards got 19,000 shares on a single blog post.
For a whole lot of people in business development, marketing and CEO roles, their problem isn’t generation of website traffic and leads. The real problem is the low conversion rate on the leads they spend huge amount of resources to generate.
Even though outbound still works for many, nothing stops you to invest a part of your budget in data driven inbound marketing strategies.
Invest in starting a business blog if you have not done so. Learn how to write high conversion blog post, not aimless shit that merely fills web spaces. Consider paid search advertising.
And then start an active SEO campaign.
By growing your search engine traffic and adding some integrated tracking systems, you may be surprised to find out that a sub set of your audience is ready to convert into paying customer within 24 hours to 30 days.
With integrated call tracking systems for instance, you will be able to identify which marketing channels, web pages and keywords are bringing the most valuable leads and customers.
Note, all traffic and leads are not created equal.
Unfortunately, you won’t know the difference and how best to allocate your resources unless you are actively leveraging competitive insights.
At the end, being demographically qualified is one thing. Having interest in your services and the purchasing power is another different thing.
Hence, timing makes a lot of difference in B2B lead generation strategies, just as the sources of the leads flowing into your pipeline. Question; have you tried inbound marketing before?
What was your experience like? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
You can as well join our Facebook group – The Search Tribe to discuss, discover and leverage working strategies to attract only the people in need of your products/services – Now.