What is Inbound Lead Generation & How it Works
by Joseph Freeman | Updated Nov 4, 2021
There’s no magic formula or snake oil with Inbound Marketing, but there is a simple routine that works—as long as it’s followed and repeated.
Chances are a great deal of your marketing strategy and, ultimately, your company’s success hinges on driving relevant traffic to your website. Just how you grow that traffic and convert visitors to leads is probably a point of constant focus for you and your marketing team . . . and a little heartburn.
Don’t let the stress of generating leads put a damper on your content marketing engine. There is a proven process to fill your leads pipeline and keep it filled, and it’s amazingly simple.
If it’s so simple, you might be wondering, why doesn’t everyone do it? The process may be simple, but achieving success with it takes commitment, and not everyone has the resolve necessary to make it work. Here are several examples of businesses that committed to the inbound marketing process and gained traction within their pipeline.
Grow Your Traffic
If you want to turn your website into a lead generation machine, you first have to drive traffic there . . . and lots of it. Website traffic, unlike freeway congestion, is good traffic, the kind of traffic you want—as long as the right audience is stopping by for a visit, of course.
One way to attract this audience is to provide visitors with information that’s educational, informative, and that they can’t get elsewhere.
If you don’t have a blog, start one. If you do have a blog, but it’s filled with thinly-veiled promotional announcements and company news, start writing about what your customers really want to know. Strive to be the helpful resource in your industry.
Add Value Through Education
Survey your sales team, customer service staff, and/or anyone that’s on the front line of dealing with your customers. Find out what customers ask about most often. You might even survey your customers or hold a focus group. What are their top issues or pain points? What problem (or problems) do they need you to solve? It's important to take a strategic approach to your content - don't just throw something at the wall and hope it sticks.
Use your findings to create a series of informational blog posts. Content marketing is not a one-and-done proposition, so commit to a regular schedule, posting at least once or twice a week. Readers will find your articles through searches and through social media.
Remember to keep the promotional language out of it. At this stage, your goal is to educate, not sell. You want to come across as the industry expert—the source for information about your particular industry or field.
Make Offers to Generate Leads
Now that you have a steady flow of traffic to your website, it’s time to convert your visitors into leads. Here’s where you make an offer—something that’s free and has legitimate value, such as an eBook, podcast, video, white paper, or even a sample of your product.
Your goal is to get visitors to fill out a form to give you their contact information. In return, they’ll be able to access your offer (such as a free download).
Your offer must have genuine value so that visitors will be willing to give you their information to get it. Tell them how to do something, or show them how with a do-it-yourself demonstration. Your deliverable needs to be worthy of your leads!
Designate a spot on your blog or website that highlights your offer (or offers). This could be a graphic in the blog post itself or near the end of the article. It could be a call-out box, a widget in a sidebar, or some other highlighted text that presents the offer and directs visitors to a landing page where they can learn more about it, fill out a short form, and get the deliverable.
Make sure your readers understand that your deliverable is designed to go deeper in answering the question or issue addressed in the blog post (as we’ve done below).
Maintain momentum by keeping at it
Now that your lead generation machine is in working order, you can sit back and relax, right? You could, but you probably won’t enjoy much long-term success that way.
You can’t just post a series of blogs, generate some leads, and call it a day. To be successful, it’s a process you must stick with and make a part of your regular marketing routine so that it becomes as common and as natural to you as getting your morning cup of coffee.
- Generate content ideas based on customer questions and pain points.
- Create offers with real value for your target buyers.
- Write and post informative blogs that address these pain points.
- Make your offers and deliver them in return for visitor contact information.
- Build your leads list and follow-up accordingly (by phone, email, etc.) to convert leads into sales.
There are always new customer questions that need answering, new pain points to address . . . and there are always offers to be made. The work of keeping your lead generation pipeline filled is never over.
Make sure you've got a strong foundation
Don't forget that proper lead generation needs a strong strategic foundation first. Make sure you know who your ideal customer is, what their pain points are, and what their complete buyers' journey will be. If you haven't already, be sure to fill out your Digital Utopia Blueprint to help you architect your strategic digital marketing funnel.