Inbound marketing is gaining popularity, and with good reason.
Leads gained from inbound marketing cost 62% less on average than those gained from outbound marketing, making this strategy the clear choice for cost-conscious marketers.
However, long lists of leads will only take you so far; it’s what you do with them that really counts.
In this post, we'll talk about some essential principles that will help you nurture those initial leads into full-blown conversions using the strengths of inbound marketing as your guide.
What Is Inbound Marketing Best At?
Source: State of Inbound 2018, HubSpot Research
Inbound marketing might be the industry gold standard now, but it's important to know why this is the case.
The most significant difference between it and the old standard of outbound marketing is the approach you need to take concerning your customers' attention.
Mike Volpe, CMO of HubSpot, once said: “Don’t interrupt what your buyers want to consume – BE what they want to consume.”
In other words, what's important about marketing today is to recognize that you no longer have a captive audience. If your leads become uninterested in your content and campaigns, they won't hesitate to turn away from them.
You need to be able to create marketing materials that are enjoyable or useful on their own merits in order to keep their eyes on your brand.
Inbound marketing does exactly that, and this is the quality you want to capitalize on when bringing leads closer to conversion.
Now that we understand the general direction in which we are going, it's time to integrate some lead nurturing tactics into that starting framework.
Some of the things that should be made a priority during lead nurturing efforts are:
The most important part of lead nurturing in the context of inbound marketing is providing value to keep people engaged.
Instead of trying to sell product directly, you should be trying to sell the idea that the company you represent is competent, authoritative, and the place to go to solve a relevant problem.
Because your leads have necessarily taken the time to seek you out, you know that there's something you offer that's been on their mind regardless of their willingness to buy in the moment.
Therefore, you can count on the fact that almost every one of them will likely be open to purchasing from your product category at some point. Whether you sell business advice, new laptops or some tasty crackers for their pantry, you need to aim to have your company present in their thoughts when the need to buy does come up.
This is the most basic step to a successful inbound marketing campaign, but if you fail to master it, nothing else you do will make much of an impact at all.
With that in mind, give your current materials a long, hard look:
Do these things make your company look like a leader in their field and a brand that can be trusted?
Do they give leads a reason to come back to you?
A good way to find out is to investigate what competitors are doing, especially those with a large market share. They must be doing something right, and if you read some of their content and find yourself deferring to their expertise, you'll have a better idea of what you should be aiming for.
Using Different Mediums
Variety is the spice of life, and it will serve you well in lead nurturing efforts as well.
The more pathways you use to put out your high-quality materials, the better the chance that there will be something available that speaks to one of your leads and keeps them engaged.
Don't spread your efforts too thin, of course - you can't possibly cover every base and there's no sense in trying.
Most companies do well with email marketing, blog, video and social media posts, with a few select higher-investment mediums mixed in. The specifics of your lead demographics will help you determine which ones are right for you.
Take a look at this real case where the medium chosen by marketers was perfectly aligned with what their leads wanted
When IEEE GlobalSpec wanted to achieve greater engagement rates for their email campaigns, they noticed that their audience of primarily young engineers showed a preference for content with multimedia elements like GIFs and pictures. They also noted that this demographic was driven by curiosity and a desire to figure out how things worked with resources they could find themselves. With this information, they determined that focusing their email campaigns around short videos would be a good investment, and they were able to boost engagement rates for that campaign up to 80%.
If you know your audience, changing things up in this way can really help to hold their attention.
Providing Enough Content
If someone can read one of your opt-in emails or spend 15 minutes on your website and be up to date on all the content you're going to be providing for the month, they're going to forget about you pretty quickly.
In order to stay at the top of their minds, you'll need to give them more to think about - and to do this, you'll need to give them a lot to read, watch and enjoy.
Marketing researchers have determined that there is an optimal number of posts per day for most social media sites; more individualized channels like emails and company blogs must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
As always, quality should still be considered more important than quantity.
Set a modest goal of content per month and see if you can reliably generate enough ideas to hit it, then consider increasing it.
You certainly don't have to publish something substantial every day, but putting out new content once or twice a week - maybe three times in some cases - helps you to keep laying out the metaphorical breadcrumbs that will lure your leads in closer to a sale.
It's like a little reminder that you're still there and can be counted on to solve their problems at any time.
Making Sure Everything's Loading Properly
It might sound strange to be worrying about something that has nothing to do with the creative process of marketing or the product itself, but broken pages and poor load times can cause you to lose a lot of leads well before you get the chance to convert them.
You're trying to take them on a journey, not try their patience.
Unfortunately, many marketers struggle to perform as well as they need to in this department in order to keep their leads with them.
Regardless of what method you use to get them there (an email, a social media push, or just a plain old search result), inbound marketing usually aims to get leads to view the company's website at some point. Since this is where a lot of product information is found, it's a critical site for completing conversions and must be functioning properly in order for you to have the best chance at making a sale.
Do you know how fast your website is currently loading on average?
If you're not already familiar, PageSpeed Insights is a Google free tool that help you find out and optimize your website's performance for both, desktop and mobile visitors.
40% of web users will give up on a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load - that's not a lot of time!
The same thing applies to emails themselves - all those flashy videos and eye-catching banners take time to load, and each one adds to the overall strain on bandwidth.
These extra may look great, but if they come at the cost of inflating load times so much that recipients hit the backspace button, you're better off with something much simpler that will probably manage to load up before your leads check out.
You should also pay special attention to mobile load times, since mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic in 2018 and shows no signs of slowing down.
Following Up Appropriately
Just because inbound marketing depends on leads initiating the first instance of contact doesn't mean that you shouldn't reach out at any point in the process.
A strong follow-up strategy is what allows you to influence the direction of your leads instead of leaving it up to chance, and there's nothing wrong with gently herding them back onto the path you've envisioned for them when they stray.
In fact, campaigns which include specific follow-up actions that are both timely and well-suited to each lead's specific point in their journey with your brand have been shown to result in 73% higher conversion rates than campaigns that forgo this step.
This can be as simple as drafting an email that you send out after a lead has had no recorded contact with your brand in several days, or as intensive as a one-on-one phone call discussion; which is most appropriate for your efforts depends on what you have the resources to accomplish and what is common in your industry.
These extra steps reinforce the groundwork you've laid out and bring your leads closer to your brand; with luck, they may even prompt a sale.
Take Your Inbound Marketing to the Next Level
Without a solid plan for lead generation behind your inbound marketing, you'll miss out on a lot of potential revenue.
You can't afford to leave lead generation and conversion to chance - step in and make them happen!
We leave you with one last thought.
Make sure your lead data is valid, accurate and complete, in order for you to be able to maximize on your inbound marketing activities and get the return you want.
This is one of a series of blogs on how to attract, convert and nurture your leads with marketing.
Join the series to learn on how inbound, email, digital and other aspects of marketing will help you achieve the growth you seek.