The basic premise of inbound marketing is that consumers come to you rather than blitzing with sales-speak and spray-and-pray promotions. So how do you go about incorporating lead-generating inbound strategies into your marketing? Here are a few places to start.
In the past, B2B marketing strategy relied heavily on meeting specific lead generation quotas through tactics such as cold calling or email and direct mail blasts to purchased lists. But as old-school outbound marketing has given way to inbound marketing, more businesses have realized that the quality of leads matter more than the quantity.
By employing more consumer-oriented marketing tactics that solve problems and prove relevant content (rather than screaming your sales pitch), you increase your opportunities to not only reach more qualified leads, but also keep them engaged with your brand for longer periods—even when they’re not in purchase mode. Do that, and when they ARE ready to buy, they’ll more likely buy from you—the brand they’ve come to trust.
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 But in order for inbound strategy to work, you have to let go of the outdated mentalities that are repelling your prospects before they ever enter your sales funnel. Use these 4 tactics as the foundation of your inbound strategy.
1. Email and Direct Mail
As mentioned above, the old spray-and-pray strategy of sending mass emails and direct mailings to purchased lists is dead. Everyone has spam filters on their email, and if you get blacklisted, it’s a chore to reverse.
Instead, inbound marketing tactics build your contact lists organically. If prospects exchange their contact information for something of value—such as 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.
2. Phone Calls
We don’t like to use the word “never,” but…never cold call a prospect. We don’t mean never call prospects ever. We just mean wait to call a prospect until ample groundwork has been done.
Allow your inbound strategy to do the prospecting for you. After a prospect has made initial contact with you, then 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 many digital inbound strategies is a misunderstanding and misapplication of SEO. Once again falling victim to the “quantity over quality” trap, these strategies practice what’s known as “keyword stuffing” and overload content with keyword phrases in the hopes of improving search rankings. This results in awkward and choppy content that provides no value to the reader.
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.
4. Social Media
Social media is not a digital megaphone for sales pitches; it’s a platform for customer service and relationships. Too often 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.
Collecting leads for the sake of pure quantity 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.
Wondering how to transition from outbound to inbound strategy?
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Editor’s note: this blog post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated to include additional information.