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Inbound Lead Generation: Quality vs. Quantity

Posted by John Beveridge

Nov 30, 2012, 1:29 PM

Inbound Lead Generation QualityAs a small business owner who uses his website and social media channel to generate leads, I'm faced with the question: Do I want more leads or do I want better leads?  My answer to the question is that I want more good leads. However, if I'm forced to choose between one or the other, I'll take quality over quantity.

Let's examine my preference for quality in more detail. My answer is based on the type of business I run - I sell professional services to other businesses. Hiring me is similar to hiring an employee. I work with businesses on a long-term basis to accelerate sales growth through inbound lead generation. Hiring me requires a fairly high level of commitment from a buyer, hence my preference for quality over quantity.

If I were running a different type of business, I might choose quanity over quality. For example, if I was running a heating and air-conditoning company, I would prefer to have quantity over quality. Most people have HVAC systems in their homes that need serviced and the level of commitment required for a maintenance contract is lower than that for a company to buy professional services. Not to say that I wouldn't want quality leads; it's just that the quantity of leads would be more important to me in that situation.

While we all want tons of high-quality leads, the emphasis on quanity or quality is dependent on the type of business we run.  With that said, let's review the process of inbound lead generation:

  • Inbound leads are generated when a web visitor exchanges contact information (usually an e-mail address) for an educational resource like an eBook.  Our heating company might offer an eBook titled, "Five Ways to Save Money With HVAC Maintenance Contracts."
  • The educational resource is promoted through blog articles and social media channels.  For example, our heating company might publish a blog article titled, "Lower Your Heating Bills With Maintenance Contracts."  The blog article will include an opportunity to download the eBook in exchange for contact information.  The heating company would promote both the blog article and eBook through their social media channels.

 

Let's take a look at the factors that impact both quality and quantity of leads.

Focus on Your Ideal Customer and Buyer Personas

Every business should focus on their ideal customers and buyer personas. By doing so, you'll increase both the quantity and quality of your leads. You can learn more about focusing on ideal customers and buyer personas in this blog article. Let's take the case of our heating company - they will likely want to focus their lead generation efforts on homeowners within a given geographical area.  They do this by creating eBooks and blog articles that answer the questions that interest the typical homeowner.  In the case of inbound lead generation, those questions are typically asked in Google searches.  For example, a homeowner might do a Google search on, "how can I save money on my heating bills?"

By creating blog articles and content offers that answer the questions that are being asked in search engine queries, you increase your chances of reaching the types of prospects that will buy from you.  There's a bit more to it than that (search engine optimization, for example), but I hope you see how focusing on your ideal customer's questions will help you increase the quality and quantity of your leads. It's like using a rifle instead of a shotgun.

Use "Friction" To Qualify Your Leads

In the case of inbound lead generation, the more information required to access a content offer like an eBook results in fewer people downloading the content. For example, if you ask for a name and email address, you will get more form completions than if you ask for that information and a phone number. Why? 90% of the people accessing the content offer are not ready to buy and don't want to talk to a salesperson. This concept is referred to as "friction."

Let's take a look at a company like mine that sells professional services. In addition to potential buyers, I have competitors, students and others that probably won't buy from me downloading my content. I would rather get 5 qualified leads per month than 50 unqualified leads.

I can use "friction" to qualify my leads. For example, I could ask qualifying questions in forms necessary to download my content.  Some of the form fields you could use to qualify your content include:

  • What is your industry?
  • What is the size of your company?
  • What is your job title?
  • Are you considering buying professional services?
  • Would you like to be contacted by a representative?

By asking these questions in your forms, you will likely get fewer leads than if you just ask for a name and email address.  However, the people that do fill out these more complicated forms are likely more qualified prospects. You also know much more about your lead, so you can nurture them in a manner that's relevant to them.

A common approach to inbound lead generation is to ask for more information as prospects engage more with your company. For example, when they download your educational eBook, you might ask for name, company name and email address. When they register for a free consultation, you might ask for more information like a phone number, industry, company size and job title. This approach ties in with the fact that most buyers aren't ready to buy when they first come to your website.

Summary

While we all want more high quality leads, your preference for quality or quantity is dependent on your industry. The more complex your buying process, the more likely it is that lead quality is more important. You can increase both lead quantity and quality by focusing your inbound lead generation efforts on ideal customer profiles and buyer personas. If your ideal customer is a CIO at a software company, create content that addresses their concerns. By asking qualifying questions on your download forms, you're likely to generate fewer leads that are more highly qualified.  You should strike a balance between quantity and quality that reflects your ideal customer's buying process.

So what's more important to you?  Quantity or quality?  Please share your thoughts by commenting.

High_Res_Portrait_for_NVTCJohn Beveridge is the President and Founder of Rapidan Strategies, an Inbound Marketing Agency and Certified HubSpot Partner located in Fairfax, VA. Prior to founding Rapidan Strategies, John spent 25 years as a management consultant and specializes in helping professional services and technology firms grow rapidly with inbound marketing strategies. John is a Social Media Today contributor and currently serves as the Vice Chair for the Northern Virginia Technology Council's Business Development, Marketing and Sales Committee

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