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HOW TO GENERATE LEADS THAT CLOSE covers all the core areas of an effective inbound marketing strategy to help you generate leads that actually close into business.
Evaluate any missing elements in your current inbound marketing activities.
Get ideas for improving ROI by generating more leads that close.
Get a fresh perspective on the relationship between inbound marketing and lead generation.
1. How inbound marketing can grow your business
Today, sustainable business growth depends on an inbound approach to your sales and marketing.
Surveys have the remarkable ability to tell stories.
So when an industry-wide survey by Adobe revealed that marketing has changed more in the last two years than in the previous 50, we had to ask ourselves ‘why? Look at your own market for the evidence around you:
1. It’s likely that greater connectivity has upturned the conventional seller/buyer focus
2. At the same time, there's been a substantial increase in opportunities for you to connect with prospects
The setting has changed and the story has progressed, but the characters haven’t developed with it. At best, this means people’s understanding of marketing, from the underlying principles to the day-to-day tactics, is out of date. At worst, everyone is working from a different page.
Almost every purchasing decision now starts with buyers doing their own research online and making decisions based on what they find, not on what they're told via sales calls, promotional events, and advertising. Because of this, it doesn’t make sense just to stick to those marketing techniques anymore.
On average, sales give up after two unsuccessful attempts to connect. When it’s brought up, marketing blame sales for being lazy. Sales blame marketing because ‘the leads are weak’. Blame gets you nowhere, and the rivalry between sales and marketing remains. Unfortunately, it means that for all your marketing's success, it can only ever achieve a small percentage of its potential.
It’s time to fix all of these problems from the ground up.
An inbound approach to your marketing aligns your operations to this change in buyer behaviour by positioning your business in such a way that it helps, supports, and provides value to your prospects.
Find out more about how inbound marketing drives business growth.
2. What is inbound marketing?
What is inbound marketing, and how can it help you drive predictable, repeatable, scalable business growth?
Triaster implemented inbound marketing just over a year ago; the results have been amazing. We didn’t use an agency, but did invest in significant training about how to do inbound right. My view is, invest the time and the results will come.
An inbound approach to your marketing complements this change in buyer behaviour by providing useful content (articles, survey reports, white papers etc.) that people find when they research a purchase or problem online.
Notably, inbound leads are often of a higher quality than those generated through traditional 'outbound' marketing as the buyer has already decided to come to you to help them with their problem.
'Given that 70% of the buying decision is made before a prospect contacts you, creating standout content that answers their research questions makes so much sense', operations director Emma Harris of Triaster Ltd reports. 'If the content is good, they will contact you when they're ready. Without that content, they may never hear of you.'
If your business goal is to generate leads that close and build meaningful, lifelong relationships with your customers, an inbound approach represents a phenomenal opportunity to drive predictable, repeatable, and scalable business growth in the years to come.
3. Inbound marketing vs. outbound
The trick is in creating a marketing campaign that provides value and is designed to help — not sell.
Hands up if you’re using an adblocker. You’re not alone.
Last year, it was reported that around 1 in 10 of us are using some sort of adblocking extension on our web browsers, and that’s a steadily increasing number. With 615 million devices (and counting) now use
75% of us have started to avoid websites with adblock walls.
We skip adverts whenever possible, and if we’re forced to actually sit through one, we often disengage. It’s the same with outbound marketing. In a digital world where advertising and marketing are constant, we’ve lost our tolerance.
Traditional outbound methods are focused, for the most part, on catching a customer’s attention. Like Blade Runner’s blinding neon billboards, they demand to be noticed, and savvy consumers simply aren’t willing to negotiate anymore. We know too much. We’re too aware of what it is that companies want — our attention and eventually our money. Fine, but what’s in it for us?
With your most recent marketing strategy in mind, consider the following:
Searching for solutions to our problems using the computers most of us carry in our pockets is second nature. Today’s consumers have all the tools they need to actively seek out information for ourselves. We’re looking for content deliberately and easily, while algorithms that learn from our interests and needs are curating it for us.
With such a wealth of content being generated every day, we’ve all become a lot more discerning about what we choose to engage with. Content that doesn’t offer value simply gets trampled under a seething mass of clickbait, but content that answers a question or solves a problem could be shared with countless people. Thanks to social media, the crowd decides what’s worthy of everybody’s attention.
We expect convenience and flawless service from the businesses we choose to interact with, and if we don’t get it, we’re more than happy to look elsewhere. Clever UX teams have whittled down our tolerance for pain points to such an extent that it really doesn’t take much for a prospect to lose faith — and for you to lose a customer as a result.
We want personalised experiences and marketing that speaks to us. As a result, we’re leaning more heavily on companies who take the time to listen, understand and address customer pain points. The companies who do this successfully are capable of raising an army of customer advocates. According to marketing automation software giant HubSpot’s 2018 global report, word of mouth is currently the most popular source of information for people making purchase decisions, so if your marketing campaign is irritating or alienating people, it’s definitely time for a rethink.
This shifting landscape means that traditional marketing campaigns aren’t getting the results they used to. They’re failing to get traction, and it’s difficult to figure out which tactics still work for boosting performance.
Dig deeper into inbound marketing vs outbound and why it's time to stop shouting.
4. Ways to align paid marketing with inbound
Inbound marketing doesn't mean you can't still implement paid marketing tactics.
Before you rush to pause your paid social and AdWords activity, stop.
Let’s take a little step back and look at the core fundamentals of inbound marketing: a customer-centric strategy that focuses on customer personas and the buyer’s journey as a way to start helping our customers rather than hard selling them. Surely the concept of paid advertising instantly disregards itself as something entirely at odds with this methodology?
HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2015 report found that paid advertising is currently viewed as the most overrated form of marketing. You can see why, when blocking out unwanted interruptions has become second nature to consumers. A pop up instantly closed, a cold call politely (or not so politely) ended within a few seconds, and television ad breaks swiftly fast forwarded through are all classic examples of things we do every day to avoid these tactics.
But paid advertising and inbound methods can be used alongside one another to deliver powerful results.
If implemented using this same inbound logic, paid advertising can be a valuable asset, particularly to the attract stage of the buyer’s journey.
There are two forms of paid advertising that lend themselves particularly well to this: paid search, where you boost your ranking in search results, and sponsored posts, which sit natively within social media feeds alongside content viewers have already chosen to see.
With both of these forms of advertising, the paid element is simply expanding the reach of your content in a targeted way that makes sense for the customer, rather than just those footing the bill.
Discover 5 ways to align paid marketing with inbound and see results.
5. The future of inbound marketing
Inbound is the future for marketing successfully, but what is the future of inbound marketing?
The answer can be predicted by looking backwards, not forwards, to inbound marketing's roots.
Today's buyers can smell sales and marketing tactics a digital mile off. And they don't smell good. To put this another way, your consumer base doesn't trust your corporate messaging. If they think you're trying to promote or sell a product to them, they will disengage. But this doesn't mean they can't still be reached.
Instead of trusting in marketing collateral and sales pitches, we look to our friends and colleagues for advice and recommendations.
The same technology that has driven connectivity and enabled inbound marketing methods has also made it easier than ever to communicate with one another. Across B2B and B2C, we're doing exactly that to find reviews we trust and companies our inner circle recommends to us. Customer satisfaction is key to generating more business.
Forming a relationship between your organisation and the person you’re dealing with is essential as you want them to feel special, not just one of the many customers you may deal with.
Read the rest of our article on the future of inbound marketing.
6. How much does inbound marketing cost?
Let's look at all the various components of inbound so you get a better understanding of your marketing costs.
Fully migrating and integrating with an inbound platform, such as HubSpot, is required in order to track, monitor and iterate — all essential components of your ability to grow using inbound. Depending on the size of your organisation, this can be anywhere between £140 — £1,680 a month.
Then there's strategy and analysis to consider. Your marketing's performance depends on you continually monitoring, testing, and optimising your content and designing conversion paths to ensure the optimum results. You need to have a clear annual plan that aligns all your inbound activity around your business goals. This is the most valuable part of any inbound plan and the key to achieving your goal. How much this costs you will depend on your team's salaries and how long the activity takes you.
Have you considered the cost of weekly blogging and social distribution?
Regular blogging is an essential part of any inbound campaign. Quality always trumps quantity but regularly providing educational and informative articles is a necessity. Do you have quality copywriters in your business that have the capacity to regularly produce this content? Don't forget visual content. Videos, call-to-action images, and infographics are required to help convey your business.
You should be constantly reviewing content on your website, landing pages, forms, and writing premium content such as white papers, ebooks, guides that help your prospects through the nurture sequence, and workflow emails.
Overall, businesses that are serious about increasing their online marketing and sales should commit a considerable portion of their budget towards inbound. If your business has a revenue of £2M, for example, you may well have a marketing budget of around £160,000.
To effectively do inbound, you should be aiming to spend at least £36,000 on inbound activity — whether that is outsourced, delivered in-house, or a mixture.
Find out more about other pricing factors and variables when assessing inbound marketing costs.
7. Inbound marketing ROMI
Many organisations are seeing a significant return on marketing investments (ROMI).
Yet other companies are still making the mistake of investing in marketing strategies without taking the time to understand how they can demonstrate a wider impact on the business — never mind a return.
The cost of a marketing strategy that doesn’t deliver can be crippling. If you already have a strategy in place and you still missed your target this year, this will ring especially true. Here’s the thing: your marketing team might argue that it contributed to leads closed, but without the data to back it up, they can’t prove or disprove this either way — and neither can you.
To calculate the return on your marketing investment:
- Calculate the cost of customer acquisition (COCA)
- Calculate the lifetime value of a customer (LTV)
- Your marketing ROI is COCA
:LTV. Good ROI is essentially a low cost of acquisition and a high lifetime value
If you’re looking at this equation and wondering how you can be expected to calculate ROI when you’re not sure how to work out COCA, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
Unless you can see a lead all the way through from the first marketing touchpoint to the moment they close, you can’t accurately state how much it has cost your organisation to acquire that customer. And without COCA, you have no way of accurately tracking the effectiveness of your sales and marketing machine.
Discover how to align your sales and marketing activities, reduce COCA, and see predictable, demonstrable ROMI.
8. Inbound marketing example
Inbound marketing example: £7m pipeline and 5 x ROI.
Secure infrastructure providers LAN3 challenged themselves with an ambitious growth target of 30% YoY for the next two years.
But the traditional marketing methods they were using (including telemarketing, trade shows, and email) weren't generating enough leads and sales to meet this target. In addition, they couldn’t identify any deals that had happened as a result of an enquiry coming through their website. Not one.
Recognising a shift in buyer behaviour, and that LAN3’s website and digital marketing had not adapted to it, managing director Martin Jones and sales director Steve Thompson made the strategic decision to move towards a customer-centric strategy.
The first step was to hire an experienced inbound marketing manager (Paul Sweeney) to implement the change in direction. The next was to get some expert help from a leading marketing agency to implement HubSpot, provide guidance on inbound marketing strategy, deliver marketing activity, and engage with the sales team.
Get the full story from the video above or read how they transformed their sales and marketing operations.
9. Can you do inbound marketing in-house?
Can you honestly say your marketing team has the skills, the capacity, and the passion to plan and launch an inbound marketing strategy?
Your in-house marketing team knows your business from the inside out. They are well positioned to promote your company. You can see them and talk to them about their activities every day, face to face.
But could your team develop and execute a fully functioning inbound marketing strategy? Do you have a team of inbound marketing experts, designers, copywriters, editors, web developers, digital strategists, social media managers, and data analysts? If you hire for these roles specifically, do you have the budget and the time it takes to manage an in-house team?
The right agency will have access to all the skills and technology you need to make your inbound campaign a success.
Such an agency will acclimatise to your world and bring valuable external experience and a fresh perspective to the table
Make sure that any agency you approach understands your unique value proposition and objectives well enough to build a campaign around them. Will they communicate regularly? How can you be sure they know what they are doing?
Here are four more questions to consider when asking yourself if you can do inbound marketing in-house.
10. How to implement an inbound marketing strategy
And generate predictable, repeatable, scalable revenue growth, month on month.
An agency can bring substantial learning, best practice, and expertise into your business from the outside, but you can still implement inbound marketing yourself.
Grow your revenue by aligning your sales and marketing activities and generating leads that actually close into business.
To help you get your head around this, we’ve developed a detailed, 80-page ebook for the sales and marketing chiefs among you with a willingness to learn and a genuine passion to grow your business.
No guesswork and no gaps in your customer
Download our inbound marketing ebook, 'How to Generate Leads That Close' and start learning.
Follow the inbound marketing strategy template in our ebook
Can you confidently say who the person behind the lead is? Do you understand what they want and does their contact record support this? Are you even tracking the way they move around your site?
BabelQuest was formed as we believed that businesses need to focus on generating leads that close if they want to grow in a predictable, scalable, and repeatable way. Sometimes that involves creating free resources to educate the directors and marketing heads among you with a willingness to learn and a genuine passion to grow your business.
This is one of those free resources. In fact, it’s a compilation of several intended to guide you step-by-step along the process of generating leads that close.
- Use the book as an inbound marketing strategy template to evaluate missing elements in your current activities
- Discover ideas for improving ROI by generating leads that close
- Get a fresh perspective on the relationship between marketing and lead generation
11. What is an inbound marketing agency?
Learning to ride a bike is easier and safer if you've got help. An inbound marketing agency provides you with the same kind of support.
You're excited to implement inbound marketing, but you've also identified a skills or resources gap between your company's capabilities and the requirements for an inbound marketing strategy that performs. This is where agency help comes in. An inbound marketing agency acts like your stabilisers, keeping you aloft while you learn your way around the gears (never mind the road ahead).
Typically, an agency will start by getting to know you and your business. This should involve a dedicated strategy phase that the agency can use to build up a picture of your business, your customers, the space in which you operate — and your goals.
An agency will then use these insights to create an inbound marketing strategy and plan that fits your business, and help you get it moving.
This usually involves filling the gaps between your sales, marketing and customer service processes, improve your content marketing processes, and get clarity over the full spectrum of customer data.
Depending on your goals and the inbound marketing services involved, a partner agency should also be optimising your SEO, your website, email, blog, landing pages, effective content strategy, social media and anything else that has a role to play in turning strangers into happy customers. You might ask them to replace the whole lot, or just improve what you have already.
However, the real value an agency should bring is building a process into your business that attracts, engages, and delights your customers consistently, a process that is measurable and constantly reviewed and iterated for constant improvement.
Find out more about what an inbound marketing agency is and how partnering with one could benefit your business.
12. 31 questions to ask before hiring an inbound marketing agency
Questions open our eyes to who we are and where we want to be. That’s incredibly valuable — especially when what you’re looking at is your company’s future.
You really need to delve into the core of what you do and the challenges you're facing and the goals you're aiming for before you can even think about figuring out what a relationship with an inbound marketing agency would look like.
Questions like this can change someone’s mind about what they thought they needed. You could have been saying you want
Questions test us. They encourage us to think around a subject more deeply.
The right questions, asked in the right way, can even lead us to see something from a different perspective.
It helps us
In the spirit of good conversation (and considered answers), we’re sharing these questions with you.
If you’re thinking about hiring an inbound marketing agency and you'd like to have a conversation with us around the way your business is growing, have a go at answering the questions then get in touch. We’ll quickly be able to assess where you’re starting from—and how we could help.