26 Feb

Creating Inbound Sales Leads

Increasing inbound sales leads can minimize Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC). Inbound Sales leads are generated by referrals, organic site traffic, strategic press, word of mouth, white papers, networking, infographics, and the like. Creating a healthy inbound marketing channel will result in a reduced customer acquisition cost and more qualified prospects.

Recent shifts in advertising technology and consumer behavior have resulted in parallel shifts in inbound marketing strategies. The advent of TiVo, caller ID, spam filter (and the CAN Spam Act), and similar innovations have caused marketers to readdress their methods of projecting marketing messages on their audience members’ daily lives.

Secondly, the internet – especially mobile – has leveled the playing field between buyer and seller – from caveat emptor to caveat venditor, where the buyer educates the seller. There is no longer information asymmetry in sales.

Whereas sales relies on interruptions, inbound marketing focuses on establishing yourself as an educational resource within the industry. As a result of your reputation as an industry thought leader, potential clients will look towards you and your resources when conducting research and contemplating a purchase decision.

However, similar to sales, your tactics for creating leads are highly dependent upon industry and audience. For example, just because you offer a new mobile application doesn’t mean you should target the tech blogs during a press release.

Who are your potential customers? Who is the end user?

If the mentioned mobile application is for pet owners, then where do they spend their time online? Sure, a few may split time between TechCrunch.com and LifeWithDogs.tv, but the majority are probably avid readers of Petco, DogChannel, VetStreet, and DogSpired. Your press on TechCrunch, interview on Mashable, and product demo at the local Tech Meetup aren’t going to generate new users – and certainly won’t build up sustained traction.

Targeting your inbound marketing efforts and press will ensure continued inbound leads and increase conversion and retention rates.

On the contrary, while not all press produces quality leads, and not all networking events are populated with members of your target audience, these tactics still get your name out there and result in increased traffic to your website and brand recognition in the future.

So, what can you do to ensure you are i) generating inbound sales leads, and ii) targeting potential customers?

Branded Material
Branding yourself as a thought-leader within the industry will ensure that potential customers look to you when making their purchase decisions. A company blog is a great place to start, but branded materials can extend to white papers available for download, infographics shared on industry sites, and even free webinars for those who subscribe to your Newsletter. Securing multiple touch points creates trust and a sense of reliance for the potential customer, which minimizes the barrier to purchase.

Producing and publishing branded materials is time consuming and requires a significant investment prior to reaping the returns. A great way to start building a network and establishing a name for a new business is through networking at industry events, attending trade shows, and securing strategic partnerships. Ensuring you have a good rapport with complementing businesses will generate referrals for work.

Social Media
Engaging with online communities is a necessity, regardless of your company’s industry. As mentioned previously, determine where your target audience is most active and participate on those channels. Depending on the industry, conversations, reviews, news, etc. will be shared on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or countless other social channels. The conversation will take place with or without your involvement – interject by listening and providing value.

Paid Inbound Leads
Online advertising is poised to increase online ad spend by 18.1% in 2013 to $36.2 billion (including mobile, social, display, and search). A nominal investment of $200 per month can result in nearly 300 qualified leads after initial keyword optimization, landing page improvements, and bid adjustment. Research, analyze, and select the best keywords to target your audience.

Once you have successfully built inbound traffic to your website it is essential to capture potential leads. Do not rely on visitors contacting you via the online form or your phone number. Provide an incentive that will allow you to capture their contact information. A proven method is to offer a free webinar or white paper, but do not allow for an RSVP or download without capturing contact information and other relevant sales insights (i.e. industry, company, position, responsibility, etc.).

Be strategic and focus on growing your inbound sales leads. Dedicate time each week to growing one channel – whether it be an infographic, blog post, attendance at an industry event, or optimizing an online ad buy. The results are not immediate, but will greatly influence your sales cost and overall bottom line in the long run.