When it comes to finding, and more importantly converting, quality leads from inbound marketing, attracting them with helpful content is only half the battle.
Yes, it's a great start that they've found you and given you some type of contact information, which means they've hopefully come with a problem or need you can solve.
But, what's next?
How do you convert them from a name in a database to a paying client?
The trick with ensuring quality inbound leads is not to just amass a list of possible customers and pass it off to sales, but to create and follow through with a holistic inbound strategy.
First of all, it's important to understand that inbound leads are not the same as outbound leads. In fact, they are fundamentally different, and must be treated as such.
Outbound leads come from a list generated to identify clients which meet certain requirements, and therefore might be a good fit for services. From this list, marketing teams launch direct mail, email, telemarketing or paid advertising campaigns to try to reach these targets.
However, the problem here is that there is no certainty that these leads actually have pain, or a problem that it isn't already being taken care of by someone else.
What sets inbound leads apart, is that they come in through search engines or social media, so the criteria of pain, or at least inquiry, is already met.
These information seekers definitely have questions, and they likely need service of some kind, if not immediately, in the near future.
The idea here is to nurture these qualified leads to eventual fruition, meaning marketing and sales need to work closely together to realise the best outcome and the highest rate of conversion.
Here are three components of successful inbound strategies to take into account when designing your own unique process.
Keep lead nurturing simple
Have rules in place for when to pass leads onto the sales team. This means taking into account where the lead currently falls in the buyer journey, and which buyer persona your dealing with.
Simply put, buyers typically go through three stages before purchase.
First, the problem education or awareness stage, where they might be looking for white papers or eBooks.
Second, the solution research or consideration stage, where they are checking out case studies and ROI tools.
And third, the solution selection or decision stage, where they sign up for a free trial, consultation or demonstration.
Decide at what stage it makes the most sense to turn the lead over to sales, also taking into consideration who the priority buyer persona is within the company and who initiated the search.
Research before pitching
Once an inbound lead is generated, it's important to find out more context about who requested the content, and their position or role in the organisation, so sales representatives can better tailor pitches to show potential benefit. LinkedIn is a good place to start to get more information about contacts.
After doing some research, reps should carefully plan out a pitch based on what content was searched or downloaded, factoring in also the individual they'll be dealing with. Even if they are lower down on the totem pole, perhaps their boss requested the search and asked them to report back the findings. Get a feel for the hierarchy before starting the conversation.
No elevator pitching allowed.
Don't rush it
It's all in the approach. People are very wary of sales pitches, schemes and cons online. When downloading content, they're not really looking for the hard sell, or to deal with pushy salespeople. They're simply seeking help to a problem or an answer to a question. This doesn't mean they're not a quality lead; it just means it might take some time to prepare them for the sale.
A good way to nurture this type of lead is to go slow and take baby steps. For example, say a potential lead shows interest by downloading an eBook, instead of contacting them immediately with your eye on a direct sale, ask a simple question first, just confirming if they received the content okay.
Open the dialogue slowly, be personable and curious, and let it build to genuine interest in a non-threatening way.
Be careful not to scare off leads by being too eager.
When utilised correctly, inbound marketing is a win-win for all involved. It's more cost-effective and less time-consuming than outbound marketing, with a higher success rate.
But it takes is strategy, dedication, patience and a little trial and error to get down the rhythm.