Inbound Lead Generation
While it certainly can’t be called ‘innovative’ at this point, an inbound lead generation model is highly efficient. If you haven’t already, your business needs to create a web presence that allows you to attract visitors and capture the names and email addresses of those interested in your products or services — even if it’s as simple as a “Contact Us” form or newsletter subscription.
If you’re used to pursuing customers, the beauty of an inbound lead generation model is that customers come to you. There’s no cold-calling, cold emailing, or even much advertising involved for most inbound campaigns. The key with inbound lead gen is the opt-in: everyone you speak with has indicated their interest and given permission for a follow-up. Talk about a time saver.
Closely related to inbound lead generation, content marketing uses articles, videos, info-graphics, or other content that fulfills the educational needs of your buyers. For example, a landscaping business might create content about caring for popular plants and companion planting. An accounting firm might create videos about tax reporting and compliance.
Content marketing accomplishes two things:
After prospects discover and visit your site through content, and once they’ve given their name and email address, you can start sending marketing emails, assuming they opted in. You did ask on your form, right?
The rise of marketing automation software means that most if not all of the email marketing process can be automated, and at a relatively low price per lead (see the infographic linked below for more information). Of course, no one likes getting spam mail, so make sure you send relevant content at the right stage of the buying process. Our email marketing research has shown that 43 percent of subscribers want fewer emails, and 48 percent want the content to be more informative.
Video content is the future of the Internet. According to YouTube, hundreds of millions of hours of content are consumed each day, and that’s just on their platform. Creating good video content can net your business lots of new customers. Just ask Mirabeau Wines, whose video on how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew has seen over 10 million views and helped catapult their brand from obscurity to internet marketing legend. While this particular video isn’t technically a lead generation play, Mirabeau could have used a call-to-action directing viewers to sign-up for a newsletter, visit an about page, or some other conversion tool.
Direct Mail/Print Marketing
Direct mail is an established marketing play that many small businesses forget about, but shouldn’t. Unlike the 80s and 90s, when the Internet was new, email accounts are now overflowing with spam, and cutting through all the noise can be a challenge. Traditional mail has dropped significantly in volume as companies move towards digital communication channels (click to tweet), which means there’s less competition in the traditional mailbox than there used to be.
Despite the cost, direct mail is an underutilized and highly effective way to market. You can either provide the prospect with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to reply, or if you want to connect your direct mail campaign with your digital campaigns, the URL to a unique landing page (e.g. free industry tool, free e-book, subscription opt-in). Take, for example, the Content Marketing Institute, which publishes and distributes a bi-monthly print newsletter called Chief Content Officer. Founder Joe Pulizzi explains why: “The printed word is still perceived as more credible than anything on the web. . . If someone invested enough to print and mail it, it must be important.”
Lots of businesses, big and small, use events to generate leads. B2B conferences have long been a place to form close connections and make deals.Micro-events, however, are underutilized. Micro-events are basically small, exclusive networking opportunities surrounding or within larger events.
Can’t afford a $2,000 ticket to a B2B conference? Host a small, off-site event in the evening after the exposition and keynotes have finished. Maybe even use direct mail to invite a small, select group, keeping costs down and the exclusivity factor up, which means you’ll be able to spend more time focusing on the best business opportunities. If you convert leads from micro-events at a higher percentage than other channels, it will be worth the investment.
Account-based marketing (ABM) rising in popularity among businesses of every size. Instead of a traditional or inbound lead generation model that relies on a reductive approach — the old funnel model — the account-based marketing approach is additive. Once you capture information about a prospect at a particular business, you work to capture the information and attention of other decision-makers at the same company.
With ABM, you target the entire account as a market of one. Since you’re customizing your communications for individual companies (or even individuals themselves), you can run any number of the previously described strategies more efficiently. Just as with micro-events, an ABM lead generation strategy allows you to focus more of your time on those opportunities which best fit your business, hopefully resulting in more conversions and higher ROI.
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