It's tempting to believe that choosing the right marketing software platform or creating a brand new website will be enough to solve the problem of lead generation in today's increasingly digital world.
- A great looking website will not attract online visitors by itself
- The most sophisticated marketing automation platform is useless without skilled practitioners to operate it.
There are no shortcuts! Effective online lead generation means having a strategic plan and the right team to deliver it.
Many businesses and individuals offer expertise in a variety of digital skills that, on their own, result in small gains but nothing tangible or remarkable. For example, an SEO expert who delivers more traffic to a website that fails to convert visitors into leads, is simply wasting your money. Seth Godin has an interesting take on the limitations of SEO, but even he fails to address the fundamental issue that traffic without conversion is wasted effort.
Take the broad view
Getting real traction in your digital marketing means having a holistic view of every element and then integrating the pieces to maximise the effectiveness.
If you're thinking about a change in your lead generation strategy and are being sold on the merits of platforms like HubSpot, Marketo, SharpSpring, Infusionsoft and Pardot, then it is essential to understand what's required to make them work.
Choose people with the right skills and put them in the right seat
Whether it's an internal marketing team or an agency, the people in place to deliver success will need to have the right skills and those skills must be applied in the right area:
Responsible for understanding the goals and then creating an environment that enables you to reach them. The skills of a good strategist will encompass SEO, excellent copywriting, overarching knowledge of marketing automation and a hunger to measure and improve on an ongoing basis. The strategist is able to adopt a holistic approach and can determine the weight of reliance from a broad list of activities:
- Paid advertising: PPC, Social, content amplification
- Social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest...
- Content marketing: blogs, infographics, whitepapers, eBooks, press releases, video, case studies...
- Email marketing, automated emails
Great strategists get better results more quickly, and that's essential for lead generation, lead nurturing and the engagement of prospects.
2. Front-end developer
There's no getting away from it, customers are now looking online for solutions, products, services and advice. Confront them with a poorly built and slow website; they won't stick around long enough to find out what you do!
The internet can be complex with a multitude of browsers, devices and operating systems to contend with. What works well on your desktop may not be so pretty on a mobile device. A front-end developer should build web pages, landing pages, email templates and other digital materials to look amazing, however they're viewed.
3. Digital designer
Note the digital before designer! They must have great design skills but should be more interested in their application online than in print. The digital designer will need to work closely with the developer and copywriter to maintain continuity of style. From banner ads, marketing emails, digital brochures, landing pages and website pages; the best in the business will be able to create designs that can be translated by a developer and viewed, whatever the resolution, across every medium.
4. Digital copywriter
Finding someone who can write well but also write for online consumption is the key here. Brilliant writing that can't be found online is essentially useless. Your copywriter will need a good understanding of SEO and knowledge about how information is consumed in the digital environment. Writing for pages on a website will be very different from the construction of a blog and so your writer must have the experience to manage their approach accordingly.
The copywriter will spend a lot of time working with the strategist to understand keywords in play and the personas they're trying to reach. They will also be working closely with the developer and designer to ensure that the key points are communicated visually and technically.
5. Social media guru
It is inevitable that those you're targeting will spend some time on social media. While direct sales on these platforms are unlikely for B2B brands, it is a place where your company can raise its profile including its people, culture and position in the market.
The person in charge of social media will be making sure that your ideal customers see information about the company. In collaboration with the strategist, they will create the link between your business and the chosen social platforms, driving engaged website visitors to you.
Having a team that works closely together and takes joint responsibility for outcomes will always deliver better results that using disparate providers of key services. Build your team or employ an agency that has one in place already.
When it comes to conversion content, focus on quality first
The most important aspect of inbound marketing is the conversion of an unknown website visitor into a known lead. Once a lead's details are captured, their future activity, such as site revisits, will become trackable. It gives invaluable information to Sales about a lead's appetite to do business. This benefits the potential customer and the business too, because a sales person can spend less time on those who aren't ready to buy and more time with those who are.
Good quality downloadable content improves click-through rates (CTR) and generates higher volumes of leads, opportunities and eventually, customers.
However, while there is an argument that creating more conversion content leads to increased lead generation, this is a misconception. Consider the following:
# of blog posts driving traffic X content conversion rate = leads
However many content pieces you create, the average conversion rate is unlikely to change. You only need the really essential conversion content pieces; there is little value in high volumes of similar content. What is important is the volume of blog posts designed to drive your personas to content pieces; blogs can be more specific to your target clients' particular issue while the content can help a variety of personas understand your solution.
So, concentrate on high quality conversion pieces first (but not too many) followed by a growing arsenal of blog content to drive visitors.
Measure and improve
Measure your results to find out what's working and what isn't. Produce more of the former and less of the latter, and see better results over time.
Set goals and share them with the team
Sharing company goals is motivational for your team. It also means that team members will take collective responsibility for reaching those goals. And when you do, celebrate as a team too.
Online lead generation is not easy but with the right approach, the right team and the right enthusiasm, your business can create an inbound marketing machine that reliably delivers good quality leads into your sales funnel for less than traditional, hard-to-measure marketing of old.