Are you satisfied with the leads generated from your inbound marketing program? Are they converting to customers? For companies starting inbound marketing, there is a predictable pattern of progress. Most companies start inbound marketing by writing SEO-optimized blog articles and promoting them on their social media networks. The first stage of progress is an increase in website traffic. The increase becomes noticeable in months 2-4 of your inbound marketing efforts and really picks up steam in months 9-12.
The second stage of progress is an increase in leads. As more people come to your website and read your blog articles, they begin to convert to leads by exchanging contact information for your premium download offers (eBooks, whitepapers, webinars, etc.) The increase in leads becomes noticeable in months 3-5 of your inbound marketing and picks up steam in months 9-12. This is the point where many companies see their inbound marketing stop progressing. They see the leads, but they don't see the resulting customers and are disappointed with their return on investment.
My suggestion to companies who hit this plateau is to start focusing more on the quality of leads they are producing. Like most things, this is easier said than done. Inbound marketing is a tool and like any tool, the results it produces depends on how it is used. Here are 3 tactics for improving your inbound marketing leads and closing more sales.
Tactic 1: Know your target audience and tailor content to it
The foundation of any marketing program is to understand the target audience you're trying to reach. For B2B companies, the first step in this process is to identify the types of companies that are most likely to buy from you and become long-term, profitable customers. Typical criteria for determining your ideal customer profile include industry, company size and location.
Once you've identified your ideal customer profile, the next step is to develop buyer personas for the individuals within those companies that buy and influence the buying decision for what you sell. Internet marketing software provider HubSpot defines buyer personas as: "fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns."
Once you've developed buyer personas, target the content you create to resonate with them and answer the questions they have. Use the words they use to describe your industry and the problems they face. Be active in the social media networks that they use. When you start focusing your inbound marketing efforts around your buyer personas, the quality of your leads will improve.
Tactic 2: Segment your leads and tailor your approach to each segment
Another way to communicate with your leads in a way that connects with their wants and needs is to segment them into groups with common demographics and tailor communications for each segment. For example, an email marketing approach that has different copy for insurance agencies and technology companies will be more successful than one that tries to thread the needle for both industries in the same email.
The best way to collect that information is to ask for it in lead conversion forms. For example, if you want to segment by industry, create a question on the form that asks for the lead's industry and create a drop-down response that includes the industries your targeting. Always include an "other" category so that leads falling outside your target industry can access the content offer.
You may see some drop-off in the quantity of your leads when you start asking for more information, but remember, we're looking to improve the quality of the leads. In my case, I didn't notice a drop-off in lead quantity when I started asking for more information on my forms.
Tactic 3: Use marketing analytics to focus your efforts to produce high-quality leads
Every company using inbound marketing should create a dashboard of marketing analytics and review it monthly to foster an environment of continuous improvement. Inbound marketing analytics platforms include the free Google Analytics and paid inbound marketing software like HubSpot.
Analyze the data to see which elements of your inbound marketing are producing quality leads that convert to customers. Review the data to learn things like:
- which blog articles are converting the most quality leads?
- which email campaigns produce the most opens and click-throughs from quality leads?
- which social media channels are producing the most quality leads?
- review landing pages, calls-to-action and other elements of your inbound marketing to see which are producing quality leads and which are not.
Armed with answers to these questions, your response is simple: do more of what's working and improve or jettison things that aren't producing the desired results. This is an iterative process - don't think it's one and done.
Hitting a plateau in your inbound marketing with respect to lead quality is common to most companies. Use the three tactics mentioned above to break through the wall and start producing revenue from your inbound marketing leads. Keep in mind that inbound marketing success is the consequence of a learning process that builds upon experience. Learn from your successes and failures to hit the quality level you're seeking.