Marketing: How Lead Generation Changes in an Inbound World?
by Andrew Millar
If marketing is essentially about helping sales acquire more customers, then prospective customers or leads are an essential step in the process. This is a truism whether you rely on traditional outbound techniques such as print ads and radio or you use the new inbound channels of blogs, search engine optimization and social media.
How does lead generation change in an inbound world? Let’s first start off on the same page with some definitions. HubSpot is an inbound marketing software platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. Many consider it the leader in the field. Here is how they characterize inbound marketing:
“Inbound marketing is a holistic, data driven strategy that involves attracting and converting visitors into customers through personalized, relevant information and content, not interruptive messages, and following them through the sales experience with ongoing engagement.”
Content marketing is oftentimes considered synonymous with inbound. Joe Pulizzi at the Content Marketing Institute defines it as “owning, as opposed to renting, media. It’s a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer behavior.”
Lead generation in this world is a result, therefore, of engaging the prospect through the educational process. Inbound occurs when the prospect approaches us after finding us through any of multiple channels. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the best known and, until recently, the most reliable channel because the prospect is entering the keywords or phrases into the search bar.
Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Google+) has rapidly come to the fore as one of the most effective channels for attracting prospective customers. Blogs posted on company websites, eNewsletters, webinars, videos, white papers, tip sheets and emails all are specific channels that effectively allow the prospect to interact with your company.
These visitors likely become leads if you offer them something of value for free. They have arrived at your website looking for information and now is the opportunity for you to educate them about your product and services. But do it in a general way. Be courteous and respectful. We all know when someone is trying to sell to us.
Now is when you can position your company as an authority in the field. Be willing to give away valuable information that your prospect can use. This is called lead nurturing. If you are the one who provides him the resources to make an informed decision, you have laid the groundwork for a trusting relationship. If your quality, terms and conditions are competitive, why would he go elsewhere?
This is a great time for marketing because this inbound model truly allows and encourages us to develop relationships based on being of service to our prospects. It is an axiom of human affairs that he, who assists others, assists himself. By sowing seeds of trust and service, we create a two-way path of loyalty going forward and our customers return because we have demonstrated that we have their best interest at heart.
Lead generation in an inbound world comes down to fostering authentic relationships for our customer’s highest good.