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How to Design an Inbound Campaign That Converts Leads

178418429As we all know, the heavy-handed marketing tactics of old have been replaced by inbound marketing. Inbound is a marketing philosophy of attracting prospects versus interrupting them.

This worldview affects everything that we do as marketers, from the strategies that we put in place to the tactics that we use to execute these strategies.

However, are there specific inbound techniques that should be used for different audiences? In the first installment of this three-part series, I will be looking at specific inbound marketing campaigns and tactics that are best suited for leads. The next two entries will focus on campaigns designed to drive prospects and engage customers, respectively.

Before I go to much further, I should probably explain how I am defining leads, prospects and customers. Below is a quick overview definition of each.

  • A lead is an individual who clearly fits the buyer persona that your company is targeting. You might have some initial pieces of information on this person such as his/her phone number, email address, job title and company name. However, this person has not shown any interest in your business, your products or your services. Think of a lead as a name in your CRM system that has not yet been engaged.
  • Prospects, on the other hand, are people who have shown some level of interest in your product or service. Prospects have either responded to a campaign, found your company through search, subscribed to your blog, followed you on Twitter, downloaded your content or attended a webinar.
  • Finally, customers are individuals who have purchased something from your organization.

Now that we have clearly articulated definitions for leads, prospects and customers, we can explore the best inbound marketing tactics to use to structure a campaign for leads.

Using Inbound To Engage Leads

As I stated earlier, leads are individuals who fit your company’s buyer persona but don’t yet have any connection to your business, products, or services. So how do you non-invasively gain visibility with these people, pique their interest, and do this on their timeframe?

This might sound like a tall order, and it is. However, using the right inbound marketing tactics, you can launch a campaign that achieves all three of these goals.

Tactics to Utilize

1) SEO

The first and most important tactic in structuring an inbound marketing campaign and attracting the right buyer persona is making sure that your company is very findable in all of the major search engines. Today people’s first instinct is to search Google for everything they need, whether that be a local restaurant, how to deal with the flu, or researching a product they need for work.

What this means for B2B marketers is that our ability to be found through the major search engines directly correlates to the amount of business that we can generate and the number of new leads we can engage. So take some focused time to work on your search engine optimization.

While acknowledging the risk of drastic oversimplification, here are a couple of high level things on which to focus initially. First, address your on-page search engine optimization by focusing each page on your website and landing pages around one specific keyword. Then get that keyword into the right place on the page, such as in the header tags, the image alt tags, the page url, the page title and through the body copy. This will make your pages easy to understand for readers and for search engines.

Second, you also want to make sure that you are simultaneously advancing your off-page search engine optimization. The best way to do this is through building quality inbound links to your page. Do this through blogging for your site and guest blogging for thought leadership websites in your industry. This will really positively affect your search engine optimization.

2) Social

An additional tactic that should be utilized for building a comprehensive inbound marketing campaign is social media. When trying to attract strangers, it is important to be on the platforms where they are spending their time. So invest time into understanding what platforms your leads are using to connect with friends, family and work colleagues, then make sure you are present on these networks.

Once you have decided what social networks you are going to be present on, you need to start posting engaging and original content to each network. By posting exclusive content to each network, you build in an incentive to have leads engage with you on each platform.

Additionally, take time to understand each network’s culture and let this culture influence the type of content that you post. For instance, Facebook has a more casual culture; people spend their time on Facebook looking at pictures of family, friends and watching funny videos. In contrast, Linkedin has a more professional culture where individuals are going to connect with work colleagues, look for jobs, and learn about new industry practices.

Make sure that when you are engaging on social networks, you are posting a variety of different content. Use pictures, videos, blog posts, infographics, slideshares, articles, and links to websites to interact with followers. This variety of content will do a great job of keeping your audience engaged, as they will never know what is coming next.

3) Blogging

The final inbound marketing tactic that should be utilized is blogging, both on your own business’s website and via guest blogging for other websites in your industry. I touched on this earlier; however, it needs to be re-addressed because of its power.

When trying to attract leads to your organization, you need to establish credibility, trust and comfort with each lead. The question becomes, how do you do this with someone that you have never met? By blogging about industry trends, issues, problems, and new technologies, you establish yourself as a thought leader. This more than any other tactic can help establish the trust needed for getting a lead engaged with your company.

Company Example

One company that I think does an excellent job of putting together inbound marketing campaigns and attracting leads to their business is Salesforce.com. CEO Marc Benioff does a magnificent job of establishing his organization as the industry expert in everything CRM related.

If we look at how Salesforce.com performs from an organic search standpoint, you notice that they not only own all brand-related keywords but also very broad industry keywords like customer relationship management, software as a service and CRM. These high search engine rankings undoubtedly drive thousands of new leads to Salesforce.com every month.

Additionally, if we examine Salesforce.com’s social presence, you see the same attention to detail and excellence. To zero in on one network, the company’s Facebook page has just under 310,000 Facebook likes and is buzzing with images, videos, blog posts, infographics and links to webinars and company-sponsored landing pages. There are tons of ways for Salesforce.com’s fans, followers and leads to engage with the company. This makes the experience all that more meaningful for a new individual that is just learning about the company or software category.

Finally, if we look at Salesforce.com’s blogging presence (blog.salesforce.com), we will see a organization that puts a significant amount of time, effort, energy and money into this channel. Salesforce.com maintaines eight different blogs on the following topics: sales, marketing, collaboration, customer service, work, cloud, mobile and social. This massive amount of content builds thousands of quality inbound links into the Salesforce.com site, increases the companies search rank, and establishes the company as a thought leader in all these different categories.  

When it comes to inbound lead generation marketing campaigns, Salesforce.com takes the cake. The company is very visible in all aspects of search marketing, social media, the blogosphere, and content generation. By following their lead, we can effectively attract strangers to our company when the timing is right for them.

What other tactics would you use for lead generation?

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