Since the boom of content marketing, we’ve seen claims that lead generation is dead and marketers need new tactics for increasing revenue and boosting sales. That’s only half true.
Lead generation isn’t dead, but it has changed and you do need to adapt your tactics in order to succeed.
For a long time, B2B marketing strategy relied heavily on meeting specific lead generation quotas through outbound marketing tactics such as cold calling or email and direct mail blasts to purchased lists. It hardly needs to be said, but we’ll say it anyway: These tactics are outdated.
In the past, lead generation was a marketing goal in and of itself. The idea was to make contact with as many people as possible in the hopes that some of those people would become customers. It was a very in-your-face, shouty approach that was entirely self-promotional and cared very little about the needs or desires of the consumer.
Today, consumers have become utterly jaded and inured to old-school outbound marketing tactics. With the aid of technological tools like caller ID, online ad-blockers, and email spam filters, an unreceptive prospect is an almost impenetrable conquest.
Enter: Inbound Marketing.
The basic premise of inbound strategy is that rather than you blitzing consumers with sales-speak and promotional messaging until they relent, consumers come to you.
Sounds great, right? And it is—when it works. But in order for inbound strategy to work, you have to let go of the outdated outbound mentalities that are repelling your prospects before they ever enter your sales funnel.
The first thing to go is the concept of lead generation goals. Successful inbound marketing isn’t about generating a certain quantity of leads, but rather generating leads of a certain quality.
How do you do that? By employing consumer-oriented marketing tactics. The more attuned your marketing efforts are to your audience, the more successful they will be. Focus on solving consumer problems rather than selling products and you will, in fact, sell more products.
Put the cork on the sales-speak and listen to your target audience.
Adjust traditional marketing tactics to reflect the principles of inbound strategy.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Email and Direct Mail
If you’re still sending mass emails and direct mailings to purchased lists, you’re doing it wrong. Everyone has a spam filters on their email, and if you get blacklisted, it’s a chore to reverse. As for direct mail, with many important things like bill payment going electronic, many people assume most things in their mailbox can go straight in the recycling.
Instead, inbound marketing tactics build your contact lists organically. If prospects exchange their contact information for something of value—such as a newsletter or a downloadable white paper—they will be much more receptive to your content. To take it a step further, segment your contact list according to sales funnel stages so your messaging can be even more targeted.
Remember: You want to earn leads, not buy them.
We don’t like to use the word “never,” but…never cold call a prospect. You’re either going to be met with a voicemail message when they don’t pick up or a dial tone when they hang up on you.
We don’t mean never call prospects ever. We just mean wait to call a prospect until there’s ample groundwork.
Allow your inbound strategy to do the prospecting for you. After a prospect has made initial contact with you, then you can follow up qualified leads with a personalized phone call. Do your research first. The more you and the prospect know about each other before you get on the phone, the more valuable your conversation will be—and the greater chance you have of making a sale.
A common shortfall of digital inbound tactics is a misunderstanding and misapplication of SEO. Falling victim to the same mentality of view quantity over quality, they practice what’s known as “keyword stuffing” and overload blog posts with keyword phrases in the hopes of improving their search rankings. The result is blog posts that are so awkward and choppy that they verge into complete gibberish and provide no value to the reader. Search engines no longer reward straight-up keyword repetition anyway, so this is a waste of both your and your reader’s energy.
Focus instead on creating useful, engaging content structured around one or two core keywords. When keywords are used organically and in context, you end up with content that provides value to your readers and signals to search engines that you have authority on a particular topic.
Social media is not a digital megaphone for sales pitches; it’s a platform for customer service and relationships. When brands first join social media, they treat it like a soapbox for spreading the word about their awesome product or service. The trick to successful social media marketing is not to promote yourself, but to find and attract an audience that will do the promoting for you.
How? By sharing interesting, engaging and valuable content that’s relevant to your audience. Whatever you do, give them plenty of reasons to believe what you say and come back for more.
Lead generation is still an important component of the sales cycle, but generating massive quantities of leads shouldn’t be your goal. Lead generation is a means, not an end.
Collecting leads for the sake of leads will not grow your business. Building long-term brand value with an engaged audience of targeted and qualified contacts will. Take your time, do it right, and the leads will come.
Feeling intimidated by the transition from outbound to inbound strategy?
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