Your business leads are the fuel of your company. Without leads your company won't generate revenue. Many companies spend hours, resources and money pulling leads from anywhere they can: purchased lists, paid advertising, tradeshows, etc. Even when they get these leads in the door, it's a loooooooooong process of selling:
- Step One: Convince the lead that they have a problem that needs a solution.
- Step Two: Wait for the lead to convince all necessary parties that there is a problem that needs a solution.
- Step Three: Convince them that your solution is the best solution to the problem.
- Step Four: Wait and communicate through the decision making process.
- Step Five: Hopefully win the business and convert the lead to a customer.
Phew, I'm tired just writing about this kind of sales process, but it doesn't have to be like this. We encounter so many companies who are busy spending their time and resources pulling leads in anyway they can, but in today's connected economy, you just need to be where your potential clients are already searching.
"In today's connected economy, you just need to be where your potential clients are already searching."
It's important to note that inbound marketing is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme for marketing, it's an investment process that has results that will compound over time. It's a complex machine that can help you generate revenue, shorten your sales cycle, communicate with your database and get found on Google.
Here is a blueprint that shows how to use inbound marketing to generate revenue in the new year:
1. Cast a Specific Net
A lot of companies believe that in order to get the most business possible, you need to cast a broad net. However, marketing can be one of those cases where bigger is not always better.
Let's take your home furnace, for example. While every homeowner is a potential client for a new furnace, they have a lifetime of about 20 years. So spending time convincing every single person that they need a new furnace right now is a waste of time/resources and, frankly, it causes the consumer to distrust you.
But if you narrow your net to a more specific group, you can provide value, help the customer get the answers they were already looking for and ultimately, find the products and services they need!
Here are a few ideas of very specific audiences that would be prime targets for inbound marketing:
- Homeowners with a recently broken furnace, looking to replace ASAP
- Homeowners with a furnace that is 18-20 years old, looking to proactively replace within the next 6 months
- Homeowners looking to increase efficiency, looking to do research and find the best product and replace in the next 6-8 months
As you can see, these targets are much more specific than just "any homeowner with a furnace." Honing in on these specific targets helps to not only focus content, but also understand what the buyer cycle will be.
2. Write Content, Get Found
It's an awesome first step to identify the specific audience that you want to target, but they are not going to find you by the sheer force of will. It's important to write targeted, keyword-focused content (blog posts, eBooks, etc.) that will resonate with your target audience.
Without content, search engines have no way to know that your website is an authority on "Tips for Creating an Energy Efficient Home." Blogging is your direct gateway to communication to potential customers through Google, and more importantly, potential customers who may be unaware of your brand at this point, because, we can't all be Apple, Google or Facebook.
3. Answer Questions, Be Transparent, Solve Problems
In today's buying landscape, consumers are used to having access to information all the time.
- "What is this song?"
- "What is the average cost of a new laptop?"
- "What is the best closet storage solution?"
- "How do I improve my putting game?"
- "How can I increase revenue for my business in 2016?"
From pop culture to health, business to our golf game, if we have a problem, we turn to Dr. Google for a diagnosis. And do you want to know who shows up on those results? Companies that spend time creating great content that answer questions and solve problems for their potential customers.
4. Develop a Relationship
Developing a personal, valuable, ongoing relationship with your customers is key for staying top-of-mind. Let's say you run a closet storage company and someone finds your website by searching "What is the best closet storage solution?" They love what they see, but they aren't quite ready to make a purchasing decision. So they decide to sign up for your email list, which promises a "10% off your first purchase coupon," too!
Now is your prime opportunity to develop trust, add value, get to know your customer, and even suggest other products that might be relevant. With your newly developed content strategy, you now have great content that aligns with your buyer persona!
Using a marketing automation platform like HubSpot or Marketo, you can communicate with your clients in a relevant, timely, friendly and helpful way so that you keep your company top-of-mind!
Pro Tip: When developing lead nurturing campaigns, take the buying frequency and urgency into account. Use qualifying questions to help determine how often you can communicate with your potential customers without overwhelming them.
5. Shorten the Sales Cycle
By spending more time educating your prospects through your blogs and lead nurturing emails, you should start to see that when potential customers reach out to you, they are further through the sales process. This will help cut down on the amount of time that your sales team needs to spend with each lead before they become a customer, freeing them up for other conversations!
If you find that your sales process is getting hung up in one particular spot of the buyer's journey, do what you can to help lower the friction with your buyers at that point. Create an eBook that addresses common barriers, answers FAQs and ultimately helps free up the valuable time of your sales team.
6. Inspire Cold Leads to Action
It's easy to let leads get cold in the pipeline and the forget to communicate with them ever again, but creating one workflow can keep your products and solutions top-of-mind for your prospects and customers.
Create a nurturing workflow that automatically targets users who have not visited your website in over 90 days. This simple solution will help ensure that there are no stagnant leads in your system, but it will also guarantee that prospects that are coming back to your website regularly aren't getting barraged with emails that aren't relevant to them.
Pro Tip: If you are able to separate your leads based on timeline, need, etc., use that information to create truly compelling messaging that show your prospects that you care about their specific needs.
7. Hire an Experienced Pilot
Here at StoryTeller, we often say that your inbound marketing engine is a lot like a 747. It takes skill, experience and a lot of power to run an effective inbound marketing campaign. Our team is made up of people who understand SEO, writing, copy editing, marketing automation, demand generation, audience alignment and analytics.
If you find that whole inbound marketing machine to be more than your company is able to handle, hiring an inbound marketing agency might be the right step for you. At StoryTeller, we work hard to help create an inbound marketing process that contributes to the bottom line for our clients. Don't hesitate to contact us to chat more about how we can help you drive more revenue next year.
Remember that inbound marketing is an investment and while it might seem easier to stick with the sales-driven process of dragging your leads along with you in the sales cycle, it's important to remember that all that work and effort only goes to converting one new lead.
With a strategic inbound marketing process you can repurpose all of that great information to help convert leads in the short-term AND the long-term.