The lifeblood of any business is its contacts, leads and customers. Keeping the steady flow of people to buy its goods and services requires a non-stop lead generation process sourced from several different lead streams. But not all leads are created equal.
To some salespeople, a lead is simply someone who might be a good fit to buy their product. Perhaps the lead fits a certain demographic, works in a particular type of business or has a job title that typically uses a similar product. So, these sales reps spend their days making cold calls and sending emails to find leads who might want to buy their product. But these cold leads are not expecting a sales message and they’re good at ignoring messages that interrupt their day. So, the result, more times than not, is a lot of time spent leaving voicemails and following up on unresponsive emails.
What is an inbound lead?
An inbound lead is a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service in some way, shape or form.
In this article, we’ll describe what makes an inbound lead different, how you can use your website to generate inbound leads and explain why inbound lead generation is more effective than buying leads.
Download our free guide, “30 Proven Tips to Generate Leads,” for insights on how to make your website a "lead magnet.”
What makes an inbound lead different?
If you were an inbound lead, you would hear from a business or organization with which you’ve already opened communication instead of getting a random cold call from a sales rep who purchased your contact information.
For example, maybe you took an online survey to learn more about how to take care of your car. If you got an email from the auto company that hosted the survey on their website about how they could help you take care of your car, it’d be far less intrusive and irrelevant than if they’d just called you out of the blue to sell you and extended automobile warranty with no knowledge of whether you even care about car maintenance, right?
And from a business perspective, the information the auto company collected about you from your survey responses helps it personalize that opening communication to specifically address your existing problems.
What is inbound lead generation?
Inbound lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers into prospects who have indicated interest in your company’s product or service. Some examples of inbound lead generators are blog posts, coupons, webinars and online content.
Search engine results pages are full of company websites that offer unique ways to attract people to their businesses with content that addresses precisely what the lead is searching for. These companies recognize the key to inbound lead generation is to offer enough helpful resources and goodies to get website visitors interested in what they have to offer so they eventually warm up to their brand enough to want to hear more from them.
That usually resonates better, and that’s exactly what inbound lead generation is – a way of warming up potential customers to your business and putting them on the path to buying eventually.
How to generate leads from your website
After attracting visitors to your website, converting those anonymous visitors into leads is the goal of an inbound marketing strategy. Here is an example of the process a visitor might take.
- First, a visitor discovers your business through one of your inbound marketing channels, such as your website, blog or social media page.
- That visitor then clicks on your call-to-action (CTA) — an image, button or message that encourages website visitors to take some sort of action.
- The CTA takes your visitor to a landing page. A landing page is a web page that is designed to capture lead information in exchange for an offer, usually via a form.
- An offer is the content or something of value that’s being “offered” on the landing page. This could be a downloadable eBook, course registration or a template. The offer must have enough perceived value to visitors to merit providing their personal information in exchange for access to it.
- The form on your landing page presents a series of fields that collect information from the visitor in exchange for the offer. Forms are typically hosted on landing pages, although they can technically be embedded anywhere on your site. Once the visitor fills this out and submits the form, his or her contact information gets stored in your customer relationship management (CRM) database and — presto! — you have a new lead!
Once you put all these elements together, you can use your various promotional channels to drive traffic to your landing page to start generating leads.
But what channels should you use to promote your landing page? Driving website traffic is the front-end of lead generation — inbound marketing.
This chart illustrates the flow from inbound marketing channels to a generated lead.
There are countless channels you can use to get website visitors to become leads. Here are a few common inbound marketing strategies.
Online content, such as blogs, specialized web pages and social media posts, are great ways to guide users to a landing page. Typically, your content offers visitors useful, free information. You can include CTAs anywhere in your content — links within your articles, graphics at the bottom of a post, a linked hero image, or a button in the side panel. The more delighted a visitor is with your content, the more likely they will be to click your call-to-action and move onto your landing page.
Email works well to reach the people who already know your brand and product or service. It’s much easier to ask them to take an action since they’ve previously subscribed to your list. But people’s inboxes tend to be a bit cluttered, so be sure to use compelling subject lines and CTAs.
Digital ads and retargeting
The goal of an ad for the purposes of lead generation is to get people to take an action. Otherwise, why spend the money? If you want people to convert, be sure that your ad links to the landing page that presents your offer (not your home page) and that your offer matches exactly what the ad promises to make it clear what action you want users to take.
Why not just buy leads?
Marketers and salespeople alike want to fill the sales funnel — and they want to fill it quickly. This prompts the temptation to buy leads.
You might think that buying leads, as opposed to organically generating them through inbound marketing, is easier and requires less time and effort. Truth is, it’s a shortcut that often backfires on the marketer.
First, any leads you’ve purchased don’t actually know you. Typically, they've “opted in” at some other site when signing up for something and didn't actually opt in to receiving anything from your company. The messages you send them are unexpected and likely unwanted. As a result, these unwanted marketing messages may create a negative perception of your brand.
If the prospect has never been to your website and opted in to receive messages from you, then there’s a high chance they could flag your message as spam, which is bad for business. It’s always better to generate leads organically than to buy them.
Heinzeroth Marketing Group can help you generate more leads using an inbound marketing approach. Contact us for a complimentary inbound marketing consultation.