OK, hands up, who has enough sales and doesn’t want any more?
There are many articles that (quite rightly) proclaim that the internet has levelled the commercial playing field and that nowadays it’s possible for any company to compete with the big boys.
Well, to a certain extent, yes.
Of course we now have at our disposal technology and tools like never before and, yes, it is possible for a small start up to out-rank a large established competitor and beat them at their own game.
The thing is, as anyone who has ever started their own website will tell you, whilst it is possible to grow a million £ business through clever inbound customer lead generation strategies, it’s really not as easy as the airport bookstore contents suggest.
This is largely because on the other side of the internet equation is the fact that there are so many websites out there. getting noticed is quite an art.
Even if you do feature well on search engine listings, the rise of smartphones and tablets has had a mixed effect on internet consumption.
On one hand it has put the web in your pocket but, on the other, it seems to be spawning some kind of electronic attention-deficit disorder (eADD). Getting found is not the only battleground, getting found and getting attention is the task nowadays.
The task at hand then, is to stand out, to gain attention and interest, to generate inbound customer leads and to make your site so engaging that friction is reduced - i.e. people not only come, they stay and engage.
Inbound customer lead generation, your lead generation strategies and engagement require a long-term strategic commitment by your company.
Here are 10 things that you can start doing right now to help the process along.
Inbound Lead Generation Strategies
There really is no excuse for not doing this. If your website is not search engine optimised, if you don’t know what your keywords are, then stop everything else and do it now. The intelligent use of the correct long and short-tailed keywords in your content will perhaps do more than any one other thing to help you generate new customer leads.
Do you have something to say? Do prospective customers have problems they want to solve? The answer is a resounding yes to both questions. If you’re not blogging regular interesting, informative, high-value content, then you’re getting left behind.
3. Social Media
There are some ‘commentators’ who say that Social Media is dead. They say the number of people starting up with Facebook or LinkedIn is falling. Do not, DO NOT believe a word of it. If you are not social, you are sat in the corner all alone. Make sure your organisation and your products have well-crafted, attractive, interesting and relevant pages on Social Media sites.
Webinars tick many boxes for online marketers. They show your expertise and allow you to demonstrate to people actively looking for solutions (such as those you can provide), that you’re capable and worth hiring/buying from. Additionally, webinars enable you to (literally) engage and have conversations with prospective leads. Blogs are very good and of course, people can comment on them, but nothing beats a good webinar Q&A for active dialogue between a supplier and a set of highly qualified inbound customer leads.
5. Pay per Click (PPC)
Like social media, there are many people queuing up to say that pay-per-click is dead or ineffective. The fact is that Google makes more money from advertising than just about any TV channel on the planet. The conclusion we draw from this is that either companies are stupid and gullible and like to waste their promotional budgets or, PPC works.
6. Offer 'Goodies'
As we said earlier, blogs are very important and people can leave comments on them. But one way to really engage with your customers and drive inbound customer leads and to start an ongoing dialogue, is to offer free downloads, white papers, tools etc., on your blog. This ups the engagement ante and differentiates you from your competition.
Whilst we will always advocate inbound lead generation strategies, outbound does also play a part as marketing will always be a blend of both. The internet age has not made all forms of traditional marketing redundant and you should also consider the following outbound strategies.
7. Trade Shows
The merit of trade shows varies from industry to industry and it very much depends on how easy it is for you to reach out to leads and prospective customers during the normal course of events. In many industries however, trade shows represent a great, and sometimes the only way to get in front of key leads and contacts.
8. Personal Calling
In many cases it’s not as easy as it used to be (and it used to be hard!) There’s no substitute for getting in front of key leads and `’looking them straight in the eye”. Despite all the tech innovations, people still like to do business face-to-face and there’s no better way to propagate a business relationship. Blend your inbound and outbound lead generation strategies by generating your customer leads through inbound and then engage through outbound calling.
The most powerful marketing programme on Planet Earth is a recommendation from someone whose judgement you trust. The very success of consumer websites like tripadvisor.com shows that referrals and recommendations are hugely influential in determining purchase decisions.
10. Direct Mail
‘Snail mail’ has been rather forgotten in recent times. The amount of physical mail we all get has been in inverse proportion to the amount of electronic mail sent and received. It may well be that, used cleverly, direct mail offers canny marketers an opportunity, again by blending your inbound and outbound strategies.
Whilst a lead might not be influenced by obvious junk mail, a personal letter, carefully written and with a personal touch, is probably a huge novelty in most companies nowadays. It might just be the edge you need, especially when combined with your inbound customer lead generation strategies.