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HOW TO GENERATE LEADS THAT CLOSE covers the core areas of an effective inbound marketing strategy to help you start generating leads that close.

Generate Leads That Close
  • 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

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A phenomenal opportunity to grow better

95% of the UK is now online, representing a phenomenal opportunity for a modern, customer-focused marketing strategy

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. It’s likely that greater connectivity has upturned the conventional seller/buyer focus. At the same time, there's been a substantial increase in the quantity and quality of 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 At best, this means people’s understanding of marketing, from the underlying principles to the day to day tactics, is out of date.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.

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 problem 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. In the same way that an inbound marketing approach is transforming the way businesses help their prospects to become well qualified and excited leads, a more customer-centric sales process is going to transform your business from hoping to sell to helping to buy.

Changing your business processes to become buyer focused is a transformative step, but it’s absolutely crucial if you want to generate leads that close.

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Example: inbound marketing case story

Inbound marketing strategy example: £7m pipeline and 5 x ROI

Leading secure infrastructure providers LAN3 had 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 business with sales enablement.

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Buyer personas

Are you buyer personas aligned with your inbound marketing strategy?

You probably have an idea of who your leads that close are. But how much of this is based on assumptions and how much is based on actual research into your customer data?

You’re trying to start a conversation with your target buyer. And while you focus your time on the broader themes of increasing web presence, your consumers are becoming more and more discerning about the type of content they engage with. Before you even think about starting to create that content, you need to understand who it is you’re creating it for. The first step to generating leads that close is paying attention to your audiences.

Imagine how much a persona could inform the content you’re creating for your prospects and the conversations you are having with your customers. It’s common for brands to assume that they're the main character in their stories, but this is incorrect. The brand is the enabler, the wise man, Rowling’s sparkly-eyed Dumbledore. You bring the knowledge, the expertise, the magic. The IT manager you're hoping to engage? He’s the small boy trapped in the cupboard under the stairs, wishing for more.

Everything starts with the person you're targeting, and this means understanding how to create a customer persona checklist. Only by knowing your personas and looking at current trends for consumption will you be able to target your approach and resonate with today’s time-sensitive buyers.

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Take the guesswork out of customer-centric marketing

And discover how to generate leads that actually close

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Buyer's journey

Mapping the buyer's journey to your inbound marketing strategy

You’ve identified your target personas, but to generate leads that close, you need to understand how ready they are to buy.

We believe what really matters when looking to attract, engage, and delight your customers is understanding the journey they take when making a purchase.

If you start by understanding your buyers, instead of by trying to decide what kind of marketing services they need, you'll end up with a very different answer to the question ‘what do I need to do in order to get more customers?’

A straightforward way to understand your buyers is to use the buyer’s journey — a simple framework that helps you to get inside your customers' heads and map their progression through the research and decision process of making a purchase. When you combine this with a deep understanding of who that prospect is, you create a process during which the lead never actually feels ‘sold to’, and is therefore much more likely to want to start a conversation.

Consider each stage of the buyer’s journey — awareness, consideration, and decision — and set out what you can do to keep your prospects moving through that journey until they become customers.

Read this article to discover exactly what the buyer's journey framework looks like and how you can use it to better reach and engage your customers.

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Value proposition

Promote a proposition your prospects recognise and connect with

An inability to communicate what your business does and where it sits in the market could be limiting your ability to attract, engage, and retain customers.

Digital is a crowded room full of noise.

Your prospects are mingling. You want to join in the conversation—but where to start? How to introduce yourself, and what to say?

  • A tech business sidles up to chat about software and solutions. Everyone smiles, nods, pops olives like Tic-Tacs, fiddles with their empties, but nobody’s listening. They’ve been hearing the same pitch all evening.

  • Outside, a group forms around a stylish multinational enterprise. He talks a good talk but the conversation dries. His proposition is outdated. No one can see the value in what he says he does.

  • Near the bar, an SME excitedly relates the story around her rapid growth. She’s engaging, magnetic, so passionate her bubbly’s almost flat (the waiter’s hovering), but there’s a disconnect between what she says she does and the markets into which she’s expanding.

In this scenario, all these businesses find themselves faced with one of two key challenges: they don’t know how to define their unique value proposition or they don’t know how to communicate it in a way that's aligned with their target buyers. It’s a problem they didn’t realise they had, and it’s ubiquitous in this day and age when the pressure is on to deliver activity rapidly, compliantly, and at scale.

To navigate this challenge, we always work with our clients to develop a communication strategy. (See below.) Defining this framework enables you to create compelling, relevant messages that run through every piece of communication about your business.

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Communication strategy

Build trust with new prospects and foster existing client relationships through consistent messaging

The importance of consistent messaging across channels can't be overstated, giving prospects a clear picture of who you are and why you're relevant to them.

First impressions count.

In today’s world, your content is your brand for prospects and new customers. People who’ve yet to do business with you form their perceptions about your company through reading your articles, browsing your website, and downloading your offers. And their first impressions come from your online presence — mainly from reading your content.

No one ever willingly bought something from someone they didn’t trust. Hopefully, you're already working hard to build trust by showcasing your satisfied clients, making your website smart and contemporary, and by providing valuable content that establishes your credibility.

But all of that good work can be undone if what you say is not uniform. You’ve defined your buyer personas and clarified your value proposition. Now you're in a position to bring these things together in a communication strategy that bridges who you are and the people you want to be starting conversations with.

Discover how to write simple yet effective tone of voice guidelines.

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Core activity

Create and implement a sustainable, repeatable inbound marketing strategy around your core activity

An effective inbound marketing strategy that drives predictable, long-term growth depends on you completing core sales and marketing activities each month.

If you’re looking to grow your business by generating leads that actually close, you’d better believe there’s some fundamental core activity you need to have in place first. Imagine you’re building a house; without solid foundations, anything you put together will fall down pretty fast. Set those foundations in place, however, and you have the groundwork on which to build predictable, scalable, and repeatable business growth.

By now you’ve recognised the necessity for a customer-centric approach, and with your buyer personas in tow, you know your leads that close inside out.

But how much is this reflected in your sales and marketing activity, and can you confidently say you’re delivering a consistent output of effective, relevant core tasks each month?

To break down and identify this core activity across your own business, download our free ebook.

Are you struggling to prioritise or complete essential marketing activity every month? Discover how an inbound marketing agency can help.

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Topic clusters

To strike a chord, write on the topics your buyers care about

An effective inbound marketing plan depends on an interconnected web of detailed, informative content on the topics your buyers are searching for.

The content on your website can (and should!) be used to help support your visitors throughout their buying journey. This means it’s incredibly important that you master search trends to rank higher on Google and ensure that your content can be found quickly.

Inbound marketing strategy topic cluster

Google's latest shift in their algorithms is towards topic-based content. This means Google rewards websites that are content-focused around specific subjects (or 'topics'.)

Linking the content together shows the search engine you have authority on a topic. Over time, you should rank higher and higher for the topic it covers. It effectively weaves your content together and creates a site architecture that is easy to crawl.

So how can you ensure that your content is fully aligned to the buyer’s journey and presented in a logical, topic-based structure?

Discover how to create topic clusters that actually boost your organic ranking.

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Content audit

Identify the content already generating leads that close

There’s a strong chance your content is already generating leads that close. A content audit will highlight this, giving you visibility over your most valuable assets.

 You may have created some articles, white papers, or case studies already, and that’s only looking at the online content. What about the brochures and collateral being used by the sales team?

Doing a content audit will help you to:

1. Get clear visibility of the content already in your business to understand what is missing, what should be binned and what could be repurposed.

2. Ultimately, save time and resources by not having to start from scratch.

The prospect of reviewing all of your content can seem like a challenging task, particularly when some of that content might be hidden in the inbox of the sales department, but honestly, it will be worth the time when your content starts delivering leads that actually close.

Not sure where to start? Find out how to do a content audit for your business.

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Sharing and promotion

Share across your buyers’ favourite platforms for bigger reach

Look for the social media sites and forums where your target buyers spend their time and set about sharing useful, relevant content with them there.

Social Media Distribution 2

The way we see it, the secret of worthwhile social media distribution is to make sure you take the time to understand where your target buyers are spending their time and what works best on the various platforms. You could just share all your content across all channels, but you’ll get better results (and save a lot of time) if you take a more strategic approach.

If you spend 30% of your content budget on creation, we recommend spending the remaining 70% on its promotion. As long as your content is strong, this is when you will really start to climb above your competitors and engage relevant traffic, which is essential if you’re generating leads that actually close.

When promoting your content to the prospects you haven't met yet, you need to make sure you're promoting in the right place. You can find these places by searching for them (not just via Google, but also through Reddit, Google+, Facebook, Quora and LinkedIn). 

If implemented using the same inbound marketing logic, paid advertising can also be a valuable asset, especially to the attract stage of the buyer’s journey.

There are three forms of paid advertising that lend themselves particularly well to this: paid search, sponsored posts, and retargeting. At its simplest, paid search enables you to advertise your pages to users actively searching for your keywords, sponsored posts sit natively within social media feeds alongside content viewers have already chosen to see, and retargeting shows your products or services to users who have already visited those pages.

Across all 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.

Here are five ways to align paid advertising with inbound and see results.

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Content offers

Convert buyers with personalised offers

Increase the number of leads that close with content offers and engaging downloads tailored to your target buyers

The concept’s as simple as it is familiar: you offer the reader a valuable piece of downloadable content in exchange for their contact details.

To engage the right kinds of prospects and generate leads that close, you therefore need to give real thought to the kinds of offers and resources available on your site. Content offers are gateways to leads, so they need to appeal to your buyer personas.

There’s another step to the process that is often overlooked. If the content offer is the what, then the conversion path is the how you convert website visitors to leads. The conversion path works behind the scenes, leading the prospect logically from the call-to-action on which they convert to a landing page and form, and then the thank you page and follow-up offer.

Remember, don't just leave it at setting up the offer. Conversion rate optimisation is a crucial element of generating leads that close and bring you ROI.

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Website design

Design the website around your target buyers

Turning your website into an effective lead generation tool requires a combination of data-driven insights and human-centred design

It’s not just your content offers that can improve the relevance of your website to your target buyers. By designing the layout and navigation of the website itself around the buyer personas, you make it as easy as possible for your most valuable visitors to move around your content and engage with your messaging.

When you turn your eye to optimising your website for your target buyer, you’ll find yourself faced with a multitude of questions and considerations:

  • If your most valuable traffic comes from mobile, is your site mobile first?

  • Is your buyer-centric marketing strategy reflected in the website?

  • How fast is the page speed?

  • Can you guarantee security?

  • Does your website promote a personalised experience for your prospects, facilitating the idea that it is the often the first step in an ongoing conversation with each visitor?

Time, budget, and internal resources typically limit a company’s ability to address all of these points simultaneously, making it important for you to list and prioritise the factors that will have the biggest impact on the experience your site offers.

Check out our page on HubSpot COS website design and discover how a growth-driven approach to website design will help you align the look and feel of your website with the preferences and challenges of your target buyers.

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Test, optimise, and iterate

Using HubSpot to test, optimise, and iterate your inbound marketing strategy

The only way to optimise your marketing and sales to speak to the right kind of leads? Testing and iteration.

Back in 2015, HubSpot carried out a test revealing that 92% of their monthly blog leads were coming from historic posts. Even more interesting, they found that 46% of their monthly leads came from just 30 individual posts. For a company that was, at the time, publishing nearly 200 new posts every month, this must have been quite an eye-opener.

By taking time to step back and look at the figures, HubSpot identified areas of focus, like improving the conversion point on high-traffic, low converting posts and increasing traffic to posts which were already converting well. By adding the schedule for updating posts to their editorial calendar they were still creating new, timely articles but were also able to improve the overall performance of the blog.

If you’re a HubSpot user, there really is no reason why you shouldn’t already be testing.

Take a look at some of the key tips for making use of your data to start optimising today.

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Smart content

Improve relevance with smart content

If someone hits your homepage and can’t figure out if you’re going to answer their question or be relevant to them, they'll go back and find someone that does.

Think about it. Someone who's going to close as a customer in the next few days is going to be looking at your site in a very different way to someone who's just found it through organic search. The hot prospect may be very interested in case studies and the ins and outs of your product, while the first-time visitor is more likely to want to find out how to fix a specific problem.

By using contextual marketing and smart content tailored to those varying needs, you can really boost your conversion rates and stop losing visitors who don't feel like your content addresses them.

(Note this section is very specific to HubSpot, as this is the platform we work with and encourage our clients to use.)

For more information, read our guide to contextual marketing and smart content in HubSpot.

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Take the guesswork out of your marketing strategy

To grow in a predictable and scalable way, make sure your entire sales and marketing process is operating more intelligently

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Lead nurturing

Nurture leads with relevant content

Keep the conversation going between you and your leads with helpful emails containing links to interesting stories and valuable content.

Just because your prospects have signed up to your blog or downloaded a guide, it doesn’t mean they're ready to hit 'go' yet. Even more qualified leads, like those who've downloaded a pricing list or spoken to one of the sales team, may well decide to try solving the challenge they are facing themselves first.

At this stage, the lead is still little more than engaged traffic. You need to respect that and be on hand to offer advice if (or when) they find the DIY approach too difficult.

We’ve already covered why you need to be customer-centric at all stages of the buyer’s journey and appreciate that a prospect is likely to move back and forth through the stages. This means you need to be visible throughout that journey.

If you're still wondering why lead nurturing is so important, look at it this way: forming meaningful relationships with your customers and your prospects should be an integral part of your business, helping you to not only close leads but earn those prized referrals we all yearn for.

To learn more, watch this website on getting lead nurturing right for your business

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Chat messaging automation

Think outside the (in)box with automated chatbots

An inbound approach means speaking one-to-one with your prospects at their convenience. When time or scale limits this, the technology now exists to enable those conversations.

Creating relationships with prospects needs to be an all-round effort, not just a single email sequence. Your leads expect to be able to reach you at any time. They want your help. They’re starting to trust you, even depend on you for the information and advice you’ve dispensed up until now. You’re their Dumbledore, remember?

But you can’t predict what they’re going to ask and you can’t predict when. Email automation serves its purpose well, but leads expect immediacy and open channels of communication at all times. How, then, can you keep your presence going outside of their inbox and your website?

Think back to the section on distribution, and you’re almost there: you take the conversation to their favourite platforms. By definition, social media platforms are the places your leads go to ask questions and engage in conversation. According to HubSpot research, ‘71% of people are willing to use messaging apps to get help’.

A chat presence on your prospects’ platforms of preference shows that you are at their disposal, making it as simple as possible for them to engage with you at their convenience.

Learn how HubSpot's principal marketing manager for sales enablement Ben Cotton used automated chatbots to help his reps find the answers they needed — and save himself hours every week.

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Sales and marketing alignment

Ensure a smooth marketing to sales handover

A marketing-qualified lead is more likely to close, but 90% of them are never connected with by sales. A smooth handover is key.

It’s a familiar story: the marketing team will say they are effectively generating leads, but ask sales and they 'll say those leads aren’t worth looking at. The real problem? A breakdown of communication.

Aside from hindering revenue goals, this disconnect can also impact internal resourcing. One big example of this is that the average salesperson spends 30 hours a month customising content for their prospects and uses less than 10% of the deliverables that marketing provides them with. Imagine how much more time your sales team could spend helping to answer prospects' questions if they were using some of the content that marketing had spent time creating.

To explain the relationship between sales and marketing in another way, getting the two teams to work together is fundamental to any business seeking sustainable growth. Whilst many of us will readily admit that our main goal is revenue generation, it’s still a rarity to see full alignment in businesses. Sales creating their own content and ignoring the website, varying messages being delivered from the two departments confusing prospects, and a lack of agreement on lead quality are certain challenges faced by many of the businesses we speak with.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s not that the C-suite are indifferent to these challenges. (Is this why your B2B marketing strategy isn't performing?) The real problem lies with implementation and the bringing together of two departments that have a traditional rivalry going back decades. 

If only both teams could work together, the name-calling would stop. And as they begin to achieve this, you’ll find you have a stronger, more revenue-oriented business focused on (yes, you guessed it) generating leads that close.

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Inbound marketing strategy template

‘How to Generate Leads That Close’

Most business owners wised up to the notion that site traffic and views are metrics a few years ago now, but really, without qualification, how is a lead any different?

Can you confidently say who the person behind the lead is, and 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 Generate Leads That Close Ebook 2018 Cover

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Now leads that close, there’s an appealing phrase.

So how do you generate them?

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. Dive in.

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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

     
How to Generate Leads That Close
DOWNLOAD THE EBOOK

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