Inbound & Digital Marketing Blog

5 Ways to Optimize Your Site for Lead Generation

Posted by Michael Karp

June 30, 2015

Lead generation is a crucial part of any business’s success. Those leads turn into customers, clients, and brand ambassadors.

But too many businesses make one fatal mistake in their lead generation efforts:

They don’t optimize their website to capture leads before driving traffic.

They create content, promote it around the web, and drum up some buzz, but that traffic comes and goes. Those visitors don’t stay long enough to check out their products/services (let alone buy them).

The fact of the matter is most people who visit a website aren’t ready to buy yet, but they might be in the future. That’s why you need a way to contact them, stay in touch, and remain a part of their lives.

5-Ways-to-Optimize-Your-Site-for-Lead-Generation-InboundTeam 

Amazon does this by making you create an account. This is how they email you deals and promotions.

Software companies usually offer a free trial. They collect an email address or phone number when you download, so they can follow up with you later.

Countless other businesses find ways to get that contact info and generate leads. Now you’re going to learn how to do the same thing.

Here are the five tactics you will learn to optimize your site for lead generation:

  1. Lead magnets

  2. Landing pages

  3. Pop-up forms

  4. Content upgrades

  5. Sidebar and end-of-post opt-in forms

Let’s get started:

1. How to Create Lead Magnets that Convert Prospects

Lead magnets are free gifts that are given away in exchange for contact info. They could be ebooks, checklists, free trials, quizzes, mindmaps, videos -- anything prospects would find valuable.

Before creating these lead magnets, you need to know who your ideal prospects are and what they will find valuable. Use our Precise Prospect Profile Kit to help discover who your ideal prospects are.

Precise Prospect Profile Kit

Lead magnets are targeted to your ideal customer/client. Here are a few examples:

Their value should be high enough so prospects are willing to exchange their contact information, but not so high that they take away from the value of your paid products and services.

Lead magnets should follow a few criteria:

  1. They’re quick to consume and attain value from. 10 minutes or less.

  2. They can be delivered online automatically (usually through an email service or redirection).

  3. They naturally lead into your products and services.

With each of the following four tactics, you will be offering a lead magnet to your prospects. Let’s check them out:

2. Use Landing Pages to Hyper-Optimize Lead Generation

Landing pages have one goal: Convert prospects into leads.

Landing pages are designed so that every aspect compels a visitor to opt in and download the free resource (or lead magnet).

A well-optimized website has landing pages sprinkled all over. According to a HubSpot study, businesses with between 31 and 40 landing pages got 7x more leads than those with only 1 to 5 landing pages.

Here are some landing page best practices to follow:

  1. Remove site navigation from the page. You only want your prospects to be faced with one decision: Whether or not to opt in.

  2. Include a prominent call to action button.

  3. Use bullet points to outline the main benefits of opting in and downloading the free resource.

  4. Split test including/excluding certain elements, like testimonials, trust symbols, security symbols, certifications, and other aspects that can improve your credibility.

Once you have your landing pages set up, it’s time to spread them around your site. Link to them in your navigation bar, footer, and sidebar.

You might also want to share your landing pages on social media and generate leads that way.

3. Harness the Conversion Power of Pop-Up Forms

Many people despise pop-up forms.

  • They think they’re annoying.

  • They think pop-up forms diminish user experience.

  • They associate them with spam ads.

In some cases, these feelings are understandable. However, in terms of capturing email addresses, lots of case studies show that they can do wonders for your lead generation efforts.

Take a look at these numbers:

  • Visual Website Optimizer got a 50% increase in free trial sign ups by using a pop-up form on their home page. (case study)

  • WPBeginner increased email signups from 70-80/day to 445-470/day with pop-up forms (a 600% increase). (case study)

Those increases in sign ups (especially with WPBeginner) mean massive changes in their lead generation from that day forward.

Depending on your content management system and how your site is set up, the installation process of a pop-up form will differ. But due to the results other people are getting, it’s well worth testing on your site.

Analyze your sign ups for 30 days without a pop up form, and analyze them for 30 days with one. Then take a look at your user experience metrics in relation to the leads you’ve generated.

This will help you decide whether a pop-up is right for your business.

4. Upgrade Your Content to Capture Even More Leads

Content upgrades are powerful lead generation tools. Bloggers and solopreneurs have been using them with great success to build their email lists, but bigger businesses haven’t caught on yet.

This is where you can get a leg up on your competition.

Content upgrades are lead magnets that are targeted to a specific piece of content. Just like regular lead magnets, they can be checklists, mindmaps, videos, etc.

However, they help the reader get even more value out of the specific article they’re reading. So instead of a site-wide lead magnet, content upgrades are article-specific.

Why are they so effective?

Well, for one, they are hyper-targeted to the reader. Answer this: If someone is already reading an article on lead generation, will they be more likely to want an ebook on the benefits of inbound marketing or 5 extra strategies to generate leads?

They’d be more likely to want those extra strategies, because this content upgrade provides value over and above what they’re already reading (AKA what they’re already interested in).

You can deliver a content upgrade just like any other lead magnet, with one little twist:

  1. Create a landing page for your content upgrade.

  2. Make sure the resource can be delivered to subscribers automatically, either through email or by redirecting them to the correct page.

  3. Link to the landing page within your article.

  4. Include a benefit-rich call to action that compels the reader to opt-in and download your content upgrade.

If you create a content upgrade for each article you publish and drive traffic to, you can increase your lead generation substantially.

5. Sidebar and End-Of-Post Opt-In Forms

These are the two classic places to include opt-in forms:

  1. Your sidebar

  2. The end of your articles

As email opt-ins have gotten more popular, people have become more desensitized to these opt-in forms.

(That’s why other techniques, like pop-up forms and content upgrades, have become more effective.)

That being said, you should still include these on your site. As long as people are still opting in to them, you can generate leads. In other words, if you exclude opt-in forms in your sidebar and at the end of your posts, you could miss out on email subscribers.

But you do want to make sure these forms are as effective as possible. Here are a few best practices to follow:

  • Give each form a specific benefit for opting in. Quickly describe the lead magnet they’ll receive.

  • Make them stand out. Use an interesting design.

  • Make your call to action button prominent.

  • Make it quick and painless to opt-in. Simply ask for an email address.

To Wrap It Up

If you follow the steps in this article, you’ll avoid the one crucial mistake that far too many businesses make--they drive traffic before optimizing their site to capture leads.

This is a crucial mistake for a reason. They’re leaving quality business opportunities on the table!

These strategies can be implemented in one morning or one afternoon, and you can reap the benefits for the life of your website.

Have you tried any of these strategies? Which ones are you going to implement?

Let me know in the comments below.

Takeaways

  • Optimize your website to generate leads before driving traffic.

  • Use lead magnets, landing pages, pop-up forms, content upgrades, and sidebar/end-of-post opt-in forms to collect contact information.

  • This will help you avoid leaving quality business leads out on the table.

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Topics: Lead Generation


3 Ways Targeted Outreach Boosts Your Sales Team

Posted by Michael Karp

June 23, 2015

Targeted outreach is part of a new inbound marketing philosophy -- “Inbound-Out Marketing.” 

This philosophy takes the best parts of sales and incorporates them into marketing for a more effective approach.

Why is this approach more effective? Well, that’s what you’re going to learn in this article.

Specifically, you’ll learn how targeted outreach through inbound marketing helps your sales team become more effective.

 3-Ways-Targeted-Outreach-Boosts-Your-Sales-Team-InboundTeam

Here we go:

1) Leads Are Warmer When They Reach Sales

Targeted outreach involves your marketing team reaching out to prospects and establishing initial contact. The goals of this contact are to:

  • Establish trust

  • Build a relationship

  • Develop micro-rapport

  • Introduce your content

Through this process, these prospects become accustomed to interacting with your business. They get to know your expertise and what you can do for them.

They also get introduced to your products and services, while building an interpersonal relationship with someone at your company.

By the time these prospects reach your sales team, they already know, like, and trust your business. Your sales team doesn’t have to shoulder the burden of achieving this anymore. It’s taken care of before a representative even picks up the phone.

2) Your Sales Team Becomes a Guide

Targeted outreach leads to warmer prospects interacting with your sales team. This means your sales team doesn’t have to “sell” and pitch your services as hard as they used to.

(Hint: Today’s prospects aren’t as receptive to this anymore, anyway.)

Your sales team is still an expert on your products and services. This is where their true selling power lies.

They become a guide. When speaking to prospects, their job is to uncover problems that your leads are having. They then use their expertise to determine how your products and services can help.

Your sales team doesn’t have to pitch. They can become guides who show prospects the best path for them to take.

3) Prospects Already Know What They Want

One of the goals of targeted outreach is to introduce your products and services. Prospects trust your authority through the content you produce, and they get introduced to your services naturally through calls-to-action on your website.

This process helps them decide which of your products/services could be right for them. They typically decide on one (or a few) that they might be interested in.

When they reach your sales team, they already have this list prepared. All they need is more information to help them make the best decision possible.

This makes your sales team’s job much easier (and more effective). People don’t want to be sold to. They want to be helped.

The most effective route for your sales team to take is to help prospects as much as they can. And it all begins with a targeted outreach campaign that warms prospects and introduces them to your business.

To Wrap It Up

Targeted outreach is one of the most effective ways to introduce prospects to your business. But it also provides benefits further down the marketing/sales funnel.

These prospects are warmer when they reach your sales team. Your sales team’s job now becomes that of a guide rather than a salesperson.

Why does this work?

Because today’s prospects are more receptive to being helped than to being sold to.

Takeaways

  • Targeted outreach is part of a new inbound marketing philosophy -- “Inbound-Out Marketing.”

  • Through targeted outreach, leads are warmer when they reach sales.

  • Your sales team guides prospects, rather than sells to them.

  • Prospects already know, like, and trust your business. This is what leads to a more effective sales process.

more

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Sales & CRM


Top 3 Strategies For Inbound Marketing Success

Posted by Kami Valdez

June 20, 2015

Inbound marketing is about producing relevant, helpful content and placing it on the web where your ideal prospect can discover it. Inbound marketing is not just about getting traffic to your website, it’s about drawing people in who are actually interested in what you’re selling.

Top-3-Strategies-for-Inbound-Marketing-Success-InboundTeam

Inbound marketing will help you attract the right people through the use of blogs, keywords, and social media that feature content relevant to your target audience. And if you create the right content, the right people will come.

Before creating any piece of content, you must have a clear picture of the following:  

  1. Who your buyer personas are.
  2. The characteristics, demographic attributes and personal interests that influence their buying behavior.

If you have not done so already, create a precise prospect profile for your persona(s). Use the Precise Prospect Profile Kit to help clearly define who your ideal prospects are so your marketing will have success.

Precise Prospect Profile Kit

Let’s take a look at the top three strategies that will help your inbound marketing to be successful:

Blogging

Inbound marketing is a strategy that is most successful when done consistently. The most important part of that strategy is your blog.

With your blog, you decide what information you provide your readers and how often you distribute it. The information you provide needs to address your prospects frustrations with the clear solution being your product or service.

You need to blog for two reasons:

  1. To get readers who learn to seek you out for your expertise.
  2. To get others to link to your material…thereby bringing more readers who will learn to seek you out for your expertise.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an integral part of inbound marketing. You don’t have to know everything about SEO, but you do need to know what the right keywords are for your market and how to use them effectively.

The goal is to increase your search rank. You want to be on the first page of search results when internet users type your keywords.

SEO can be tweaked and worked on to help your visibility. Over time, you will be able to determine what your effective keywords are, the words that are bringing visitors to your site.

Social Networking Platforms

There are many social media platforms out there. Start with two or three and build from there. Don’t assume more is better.

You should only have as many social media profiles as you can manage. Your main goal needs to be to promote your brand and distribute content, but don’t forget that these platforms are interactive.

They invite a conversation with the internet visitor. That’s something you never want to lose sight of.

In my next post, I will talk about the next steps you need to take to convert the visitors to your site into leads.

Takeaways:

  • Know as much as you can about your ideal prospect before you write.
  • Use blogging to provide answers and to become the expert in your field.
  • Use keywords to help visitors find your site.
  • Promote your content on only as many social media channels as you can manage.
more

Topics: Inbound Marketing, SEO


How to Get Your Sales Team to Use Inbound Selling

Posted by Michael Karp

June 18, 2015

The buying process has changed. Prospects don’t want to be pitched to by sales people anymore.

They do their own research. They weigh their own choices. They already know what they want before they talk to your sales team.

How-to-Get-Your-Sales-Team-to-Use-Inbound-Selling-InboundTeam

This calls for a new type of selling. It involves guiding prospects down the path they’re already on, rather than showing them the path.

It’s inbound selling -- a focus on educating the buyer through the sales process. Your sales team needs to adopt this methodology to be an effective asset as the sales landscape continues to change.

Here’s how to get your sales team to use inbound selling:

Teach Your Sales Team How to do Pre-Contact Research

Know your buyer as well as they know themselves. In fact, get to know them better than they know themselves.

This type of knowledge gives your sales team the power to help prospects. That’s one of the key differences between inbound selling and traditional sales. You’re not trying to convince prospects to become customers. You’re trying to help them make the best decision possible.

How do you do this? With pre-contact research.

Teach your sales team how to research prospect’s wants, needs, and pain points before getting in contact with them. This could involve scouring online forums for information. It could involve paying attention to discussions on social media. It could mean looking up a prospect’s LinkedIn profile to gather specific knowledge about their background.

Every piece of information your team can gather helps the sales process become a much better experience for your prospects (and leads to better results for your bottom line).

Know the Right Time to Call Prospects

In a previous article, I discovered that it’s best to contact a lead within 5 minutes after lead generation.

  • After they’ve downloaded an ebook

  • After they’ve started their free trial

  • After they’ve opted in to your blog

If you can’t contact a lead within 5 minutes, you want to get in touch sometime within that first hour. This also gives your sales team time to conduct pre-contact research.

However, during these calls, your sales team needs to act in an inbound way rather than a sales way. What do I mean by that?

In general, it’s about the types of questions that are asked and the ultimate goal of these calls. For example, inbound questions usually contain the word “help.”

“I see you downloaded our lead generation ebook. Do you need help with anything?”

The focus is on identifying your prospect’s biggest challenges and showing them how your business can be of service. It’s less about the products/services and more about the prospects.

The key is to really know your prospects. If you need help putting that together, download the Precise Prospect Profile Kit. 

Precise Prospect Profile Kit

Have your salespeople keep in mind that they are advisors who happen to know a lot about your products/services. If they can identify problems that your products/services can solve, that’s when they start discussing them.

Don’t Try to Force Sales

Here’s the thing:

Getting the sale is always a good thing. But there’s also an opportunity cost involved.

When your sales team tries to force sales on bad leads, these interactions usually last abnormally long. Even if they do get the sale, that time could have been spent on higher quality leads, meaning they could have gotten multiple sales in that same time frame.

If the lead doesn’t have problems your business can help them with, or they’re simply not ready to buy right now, make sure your sales team knows to postpone the interaction and move on to warmer leads.

Create a Seamless Buying Process for Prospects

What’s the ultimate goal? To make sales.

Who ends up buying your products and services? Your prospects.

Therefore, it makes sense to make the entire process as smooth and painless for these people as possible. No hassles. No gimmicks. Just a smooth ride to their destination.

Put yourself into a prospect’s shoes. What is this person expecting? What would make their life easier?

As you think about the process from your prospects’ perspective, you’ll discover different ways to make the buyer experience a more pleasant one.

Inadvertently, this also leads a more effective sales funnel.

Focus on the Buyer

Finally, it’s crucial to communicate to your sales team the importance of having a buyer-focused mentality.

It used to be that salespeople mastered the ins and outs of your products/services and that’s what gave them the power to make sales.

Not anymore.

Buyers already know about your business. They’ve done their research. Now they need a trusted advisor to help them along the way.

They need sales people who have their best interests at heart and can lead them to the right decision.

That’s inbound selling at it’s finest.

Takeaways

  • The buying process has changed. Prospects don’t want to be pitched to by sales people anymore.

  • Inbound selling is a focus on educating the buyer through the sales process.

  • To get your sales team to use inbound selling, teach them how to do it and why it’s so important in this era of sales and the buying process.
more

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Sales & CRM


Why Isn't Inbound Marketing Bringing Me Leads?!

Posted by Kami Valdez

June 16, 2015

"Inbound Marketing will get you leads," they said.

"Start a blog and the leads will pour in," they said.

"This is a waste of time!" you said.

Why-Isnt-Inbound-Marketing-Bringing-Me-Leads-Inbound-Team

When it comes to inbound marketing, just because you publish a few posts that talk about your company does not mean you are going to get the results you are hoping for. There is a lot more to it than that.  

If your inbound marketing is not producing the results you thought it would, take a step back, examine what is going on, find the problem, and then fix it.

To do this I recommend you take a deep breath, take a real look at your content, and then ask yourself these 8 important questions:

1. Do I know my target audience?

The most important thing to consider with any type of content is who you are writing for. If the information you place on your website is not performing like you think it should, it might be because you don't know enough about your prospects.

The first step to creating content is to clearly define your ideal prospect. The better you are at defining your prospect, the better you'll be able to shape your content to serve your target audience.

Download our Precise Prospect Profile Kit and define your ideal prospect.

Precise Prospect Profile Kit

2. Does my content provide solutions my audience needs?

Buyers are at your site for a reason. They need help and they are hoping the information you provide will help them. 

It is not enough just to produce content, you must address the questions and concerns your prospects have. If you are not answering your prospect's questions, they will leave your site and go elsewhere.

The better you are at answering the questions your prospects are asking, the higher you will rank and the more visitors you will get. 

3. Are my blog titles compelling?

The headline is the most important part of an article, because its purpose is to get the reader to read the first sentence. If it falls short, the rest of your content will go unread. 

Concentrate on making your headlines fun, catchy, and magnetic. Ask yourself, "Would this make me want to read on?" If your answer is yes, then you have a winner.

To learn more about creating great headlines, check out this article on how to write enticing headlines. 

4. Am I using the right keywords?

One of the most successful ways to gain more traffic is through the use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).The better you get at SEO, the more you can increase the amount of traffic that comes to your site.

If you research and discover the keywords that prospects in your target market are using when they search, you will know the terms and phrases to use in your content and you will also learn more about your prospects. 

These important keywords and keyword phrases must be part of your SEO strategy. Place them in your blog title and multiple times throughout your blog post. 

5. Are my images attractive and fun? 

Earlier we said the purpose of the headline is to get the first sentence read. Well, having a great image can give your headline a big boost!

Great images attract readers' attention and will enhance your post. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure the images you use are telling the right story and attracting readers.

To learn more about how to use images to enhance your blog, check out this article

6. Am I adding calls-to-action to all my posts?

Inbound marketing is about so much more than just getting visitors to your site. You need to convert these visitors to leads, and you can do this through having compelling and relevant calls-to-action in your blog posts and on your home page. 

A call-to-action prompts your visitors to take action. CTA's should direct your visitors to a landing page where they will give you their contact information in exchange for a valuable piece of content.

Align your calls-to-action with the information on that page as well as the stage of the sales cycle that person is likely to be in. Help your visitor decide what to do next rather than leaving them to decide that on their own.

7. Am I doing more than publishing content on my own site?

Social media is the perfect medium to let people know you have just published a new blog post. Sharing your content on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter can help get the word out about your company.

Make sure the content you produce can be easily shared with others. 

8. Am I on the right platform?

There are so many different social media platforms out there, that it would be difficult to be amazing on every single one. Stick with the 3 or 4 that have the greatest potential for reaching your ideal audience.

Your ideal audience spends time on specific social media sites. Those sites are where your prospects are most likely to see your content. 

To find the platform that makes the most sense for you, check out this article on how to choose the right social network for your business.

Inbound marketing is all about working smarter for your web site visitors and earning leads through the great content that you post. You can gain a lot of attention and your site will increase its traffic in a substantial way if you create the kind of content your target market values. As your traffic increases, so will your leads.

Takeaways

  • Clearly defining your audience makes all the difference when creating content and will help ensure your success. 
  • Address the issues that keep your prospects awake at night by creating content that solves those problems using your products or services.
  • Carefully choose your blog titles, keywords, and images so they enhance your content.
  • Convert visitors to leads using appropriate calls-to-action.
  • Sharing content and engaging people on the right social media channels plays a vital role in the amount of website traffic that comes to your site.
more

Topics: Lead Generation, Blogging, Inbound Marketing, Social Media


What Does Inbound Marketing Cost?

Posted by Michael Karp

June 11, 2015

A 2012 study found that inbound leads cost 61% less than outbound leads.

That being said, inbound marketing is not free. Even though the three main channels (blogging, SEO, and social media) are free to utilize, there is a cost for successful execution.

What-Does-Inbound-Marketing-Cost-InboundTeam

That’s what we’re going to break down today. How much does this style of marketing actually cost? How big of a budget does it take to be successful?

Whether you’re considering inbound marketing or you’re already an active practitioner, these are important questions to answer.

I’ve broken this information up into two categories:

  • The cost of doing inbound marketing internally

  • The cost of hiring an agency to do it for you

Let’s get started.

The Cost of Handling Your Own Inbound Marketing

InboundSales.net put together a great overview of inbound marketing costs. We’re going to use their analysis to quantify the different aspects of inbound marketing.

First, inbound marketing takes planning. You need to develop buyer personas, put together a content strategy, a promotion plan, etc. All of these make execution a smooth ride, but this planning takes time and labor.

Strategy and analysis will typically run you about $600 a month.

Content is the driving force behind inbound marketing. It’s how you attract prospects, nurture them, and eventually convert them into customers.

There are many forms of content, but the number one way to publish it is blogging. Blogging takes time and resources. Often, companies need to outsource their writing, and quality writing commands strong pay. But quality writing also attracts and converts leads at a higher rate.

Blogging will typically run you about $1,350 a month.

One of the goals of inbound marketing is to be found when your prospects are searching for information related to your business.

They can find this information on social media and online communities, but the first place they typically go is Google. You want to be one of the first businesses that pops up, and this involves search engine optimization.

SEO will typically run you about $3,000 a month.

Getting traffic is a top priority. There are many free strategies and tactics to take advantage of, but paid advertising offers audience targeting that many free strategies just can’t match.

Specifically, pay per click (PPC) advertising is usually the go-to choice for inbound marketing teams.

PPC advertising will typically run you about $500 a month.

Next up we have social media. This is where you will do most of your content promotion and traffic generation.

But once again, there is cost to manage these accounts and execute this promotion.

Social media marketing will typically run you about $3,000 a month.

Inbound marketing is broken up into campaigns. These campaigns start with measurable goals and end with results for your business.

They’re critical to the success of your inbound marketing initiatives. Content/social media campaigns will typically cost between $2,000 and $10,000 per campaign.

Finally, not every lead you convert will be ready to buy right away. This calls for a “lead nurturing” process to build trust in you, your brand, and your products/services.

This crucial part of inbound marketing costs about $1,000 a month.

Here are the overall costs from InboundSales.net:

Remember, these costs are for running your own inbound marketing. What they can’t quantify is the time it takes to learn these skills and execute them for a positive ROI.

However, once you’ve learned them, you’ll have them at your disposal for life.

There’s another route you can take, and it’s more of a “fast track” to success. That is hiring someone to do all of that for you.

The Cost of Hiring an Inbound Marketing Agency to Do It For You

By hiring an agency, you skip the learning curve and head straight to the results you’re looking for. These people are experienced, they have a proven track record of success, and they’re ready to get started right away.

On average, hiring a high quality inbound marketing agency starts at around $100,000 a year. This is for the full gambit of services. (You might have specialized needs, which brings the cost down.)

Check out Inbound Team’s marketing packages.

Inbound Marketing Packages

To Wrap It Up

In the end, the cost of inbound marketing depends on your business and its needs. It also depends on whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring an agency.

Make sure to do your research beforehand. And if you decide to go with an inbound marketing agency, choose an agency you trust and respect.

Takeaways

  • While inbound marketing is cheaper than outbound, there are still costs to consider.

  • The full budget range for inbound marketing is about $115,400 - $200,000 per year

  • Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire an agency, do your research.

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Topics: Small Business Marketing, Blogging, Inbound Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Content Marketing, Pay-Per-Click


What Should Leads Cost?

Posted by Clarke Bishop

June 9, 2015

What should leads cost?

Lead cost depends on your market and on what your company has in place. There’s no definitive answer. Still, I know you’re looking for some guidance, so let’s consider some scenarios.

Leads

Trade Show Lead Cost

For most companies, an online leads costs less than leads from traditional offline marketing. To see why, let’s look at trade shows for comparison.

I’ve seen estimates that it can cost $10K for each person you bring to a trade show.  An average sales rep makes at least $1,600 per week. Add another $1,500 for travel to the show and entertainment. If you send some senior people, it’s likely the costs are even higher. Then, you’ve got the cost of the booth, booth transportation, collateral materials, and the show itself. $5K per participant seems like a conservative estimate, and the cost may well be closer to $10K.

Let’s say four people go to the show, and your total cost is $20K, and you get 100 visitors to your booth.  That’s a cost of $200 per lead—not an uncommon estimate for a trade show lead.

Trade shows can be fun, and there may be other reasons to attend. Still, they have a number of important disadvantages:

  • Many companies fail to follow-up effectively on trade show leads. This is just a waste.

  • Trade shows happen infrequently. What if a prospect needs to buy one month after the show? They’re not going to wait eleven months.

  • Going to a show and coming back can disrupt your business rhythm.

Google AdWords Lead Cost

For digital lead generation, there’s a quick way to estimate the cost. Use Google’s keyword planner. For this scenario, assume you are an accountant looking for more business.

For $9, Google will sell you a click from a person who searched Google for “accountant.” Below is an example of the data you can get directly from Google’s keyword planner.

It costs $9 to get a person to your website, but will they become a lead? Not all will, but let’s assume you have a good website page with a good offer. If so, 20% might respond and become leads. You buy 100 clicks x $9 = $900. $900 x 20% = $180 per lead.

At least it’s less expensive than our trade show scenario. There was a time you could get inexpensive clicks from Google, but today, more and more companies use Google AdWords. The competition has run up the cost, and it looks like this tactic will continue to get more expensive.

The good thing is that searchers on Google are actively looking for help or a solution to their problems. This means they are very qualified prospects. And Google AdWords can be a very useful way to discover search terms that prospects are using in Google.

Inbound Out Marketing Lead Cost

Trade shows, AdWords, and many other types of traditional marketing and advertising are time-based. You go to a trade show for a week. You run AdWords or other advertising for a month. You can turn these on or off and your results will go up or down.

Inbound Out Marketing is a strategy. You have some ability to adjust the ongoing costs, but you can’t dabble without destroying its effectiveness.

A minimum budget is $6K per month. Depending on your growth goals and situation, you may want to do more inbound marketing, more targeted outreach, or both. In either case, you have to regularly publish useful information that your prospects value.

A good blog post costs $200—more for specialized technical topics. I know, you’ve heard about somebody who bought blog posts off eLance for $20. But was it any good? I’ve tried a lot of these “writers,” and I can confidently tell you that it doesn’t work. It’s not easy to write well enough to impress your customers. 3 posts per week is a good target. That’s $2,400 per month.

Blog posts will attract readers, but you want leads. Premium content along with a landing page form converts readers to leads. Premium content means longer pieces like special reports, infographics, training courses, and videos. For good premium content, typical costs are $2K and up. Plan to create a premium offer every two months, so plan for $1K per month.

You’ll want to do good follow-up with leads and customers, so plan on $1K per month to write and manage the emails.

Add $1K per month for a marketing system like HubSpot. That leaves a few hundred dollars for website maintenance and other special activities in our $6K per month budget.

At 2,000 monthly visitors per month, let’s say 5% of these visitors provide their contact information. You get 100 leads from 2,000 visitors at a cost of $60 per lead.

If you’re starting from scratch, it will take several months to ramp up to 2,000 visitors. This disadvantage is offset by the fact that inbound out marketing builds over time. Each month you’re adding new prospects to your database. As you keep going, expect your monthly visits will grow too.

Inbound Out Marketing starts with completely knowing your prospect. Do you have a completed, written profile. Download the Precise Prospect Profile kit for complete instructions and a useful starter template.

Precise Prospect Profile Kit

 

Summary

Each of these scenarios depends heavily on your market, your competitors, and what your company already has in place. Still, most companies should consider inbound out marketing. Traditional marketing and advertising is becoming more difficult each year. Don’t risk letting your competitors get the jump on you. It’s both difficult and more expensive to catch up.

Takeaways

  • Most companies will lower their cost and improve their positioning by using inbound out marketing.

  • The Internet has changed the buying process forever. If you are not doing inbound out marketing, there’s a big risk your company will be left behind.

  • Lead cost will vary for each market and each company. There is no single answer on what a lead should cost.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing


How to Write Enticing Headlines

Posted by Michael Karp

June 6, 2015

Smart copywriters will tell you the headline is the most important part of an article, because if it falls short, no one will read your content. We know headline-writing is crucial, but why do some headlines fail, while others go viral?

Today, I’m going to pull back the curtains and reveal a process for creating headlines that entice visitors to click and read your content. Not only that, but you will get exact, plug-n-play formulas for creating headlines that are proven to get results.

Let’s get started.

What is The Ultimate Purpose of The Headline?

Whether it’s an article, an ad, or a sales page, the headline has a distinct purpose--to get the first sentence read. And the purpose of the first sentence is to get the second sentence read, then the third, and the fourth; all the way to the end of the article or sales page.

But it starts with the headline, so the better the headline, the more people will read the article. Not only that, but the headline shows up on social media and search engines, so its effects extend much further than just your website.

So when writing headlines, keep in mind that you’re trying to get people to read the first sentence.

How to Master the Subtle Art of Headline Writing

Mastery of any skill takes one thing--practice. Those who achieve mastery deserve it because of the amount of blood, sweat, and tears they put into practicing that skill.

The same is true of writing enticing headlines, as our president, Clarke Bishop, discusses in this video on effective headline writing:

At Inbound Team, we suggest coming up with 10-20 headlines per article before picking a winner. This ensures that you have gone through enough permutations of the headline to pick the best one.

If you publish 5 articles per month and come up with 20 headlines for each one, you’re already practicing 100 headlines a month (or 1,200 a year). At that level, you’re well on your way to headline mastery, but here’s the kicker:

As your headlines improve, you’ll see concrete changes in how people interact with your articles — in the form of clicks, social shares, and traffic. That’s where the true fruits of your labor lie.

A Sneaky Trick to Write Viral Headlines

The importance of headline writing is relatively new to the blogging and inbound marketing world. However, it has been vital to the success of newspapers and magazines for as long as they have been around.

In all those years, they’ve gotten pretty good at writing headlines for articles that go viral. So what we’re going to do is mimic them.

Here’s how:

Head over to a popular magazine or online newspaper. How about BuzzFeed?

Here are a few headlines from the home page:

Let’s see if we can make some viral marketing headlines out of these.

 

BuzzFeed:

13 Times We Wished Computer Shortcuts Existed in Real Life

Inbound Team:

13 Times You Wished People Clicked Your Headlines


BuzzFeed:

9 Bizarrely Specific Myths That Every Culture Seems to Have

Inbound Team:

9 Bizarre Marketing Myths Everyone Seems to Believe


BuzzFeed:

23 Things You Never Noticed in “Zoolander”

Inbound Team:

23 Things You Never Noticed About Blogging


I can see the social shares pouring in now. That’s how you can create powerful headlines by simply piggy-backing off the publications that have been creating these forever.

Now, let’s break down some headline formulas, so all you have to do is plug in your subject matter and you’re good to go.

7 Proven Headline Formulas That Work

1.  7 Proven [BLANKS] That Work

Everyone wants proven strategies that actually work. If you’ve got case studies and evidence to back up your claims, this is a great headline formula.

2.  How to [BENEFIT] and [BENEFIT]

“How to Win Friends and Influence People”

That book, by Dale Carnegie, has sold 15 million copies since 1936 and is one of the best-selling self-help books — ever.

One of the reasons why? If I had to guess, I would say it’s because he combined a “How to” headline with two benefits that almost everyone in the world wants to achieve:

  1. Make friends

  2. Influence people

Simple yet powerful.

3.  The Secret of [BLANK]

Everyone wants to know secrets. They involve hidden treasures that in business, can help you get a leg up on your competitors.

If you have a relatively unknown tactic or strategy to share, this headline could help it go viral.

4. The List Post

“15 Reasons Why Kale is Good For You”

“8 Ways to Cure a Hangover (Without Taking Pills)”

“32 Smart Inbound Marketing Strategies Your Competitors Aren’t Using”

List posts are great because they provide the reader a specific number of items they’re going to read. This prepares them for the length of the article before they even click it.

They might also click just because they’re curious about what each item is. List posts are, and always will be, effective pieces of content.

5. [DESIRED OUTCOME]: Get [BENEFIT] in [TIME PERIOD]

“More Customers: Get 20 Prospects Knocking on Your Door in 2 Days”

“Lose Weight: Shave Off 10 Pounds in 1 Week”

People want a specific benefit in a specific time period. This headline delivers both.

6. Why [BLANK] is [BLANK]

“Why Inbound Marketing is So Effective”

“Why Playing Basketball Makes You Taller (On Average)”

If you have something interesting to say, the “Why” headline is one of the best ways to get people to read it.

7. Announcing…

“Announcing a New Product That Reverses Wrinkles and Smoothes Skin”

“Announcing The Best Thing in SEO: No More Google Penalties”

People are naturally attracted to novelty and news. If you’ve just launched a new product or service, this headline will help you get it in front of people’s eyes.

Just make sure not to say “Announcing [PRODUCT NAME]” but rather “Announcing [PRODUCT BENEFIT]”.

Wrapping It Up

There you have it!

You know that the purpose of the headline is to get the first sentence read. You also know that practice will help you master headline writing, and that you can use news sites and magazines to help you come up with viral headline ideas.

Finally, you’ve got 7 proven headline formulas to use whenever you get stuck. You’re on your way to writing enticing headlines that attract readers, get clicked, and get shared on social media.

Takeaways

  • The ultimate purpose of a headline is to get the first sentence read.
  • To write viral headlines, head over to online magazines or newspapers and use their headlines as templates.
  • When you're stuck, use headline formulas that are already proven to be effective.
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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing


Lead Management: How to Optimize Lead Engagement and Response Time

Posted by Michael Karp

June 4, 2015

Lead transition from marketing to sales often poses many questions.

How long until these leads are warm enough? What should happen before they’re introduced to sales? When is the right time for sales to engage with leads to maximize customer acquisition?

 Lead-Management-How-to-Optimize-Lead-Engagement-and-Response-Time-InboundTeam

These are big questions that affect your bottom line.

Today, I’ve put together two distinct processes to help you determine the right time for your specific sales team to engage with leads. Here they are:

  1. A lead response management study (to break down exact numbers)

  2. The inbound marketing methodology

Let’s get started.

Lead Response Study -- The Exact Days/Times to Engage Leads

LeadResponseManagement.org published a study to determine the best day, time of day, and response time to contact leads to get the highest qualification ratios.

Their mission was to “fill the knowledge gap that exists between marketing and sales, where companies are using intuition and experience to manage lead response timing rather than science.”

They used data from InsideSales.com, which generates and stores call data linked directly with lead process and flow information. They examined three years of data from six companies (that generate and respond to web leads). The study included over 15,000 leads and 100,000 call attempts.

Here are the results:

Day of the Week

The study found that Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to call to make contact with a lead (with Thursday being the top day).

Wednesdays and Thursdays are also the best days to call to qualify a lead (with Wednesday being the top day).

Time of Day

Between 4PM and 6PM is the best time to call to make contact with a lead.

8-9AM and 4-5PM are the best times to call to qualify a lead (with 8-9AM at a slight advantage).

Response Time After Lead Generation (Hours)

The odds of making contact with a lead drop 10 times after the first hour.

The odds of qualifying a lead drop 6 times after the first hour.

After 20 hours, every additional dial to contact a lead hurts your chances of qualifying that lead.

Response Time After Lead Generation (5 Minute Intervals)

The odds of making contact with a lead decrease by over 10 times in the first hour.

The odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times. From 5 minutes to 10 minutes, the odds drop 4 times.

What does all of this mean?

Here are the takeaways from the study:

  1. Wednesdays and Thursdays will provide the highest response rate when making initial contact with a lead.

  1. When qualifying leads to nurture them into the sales process, they’re most receptive on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

  1. 4-6PM (end of the work day) is the best time to make initial contact with a lead.

  1. 8-9AM and 4-5PM are the best times to nurture leads into the sales process.

  1. It’s best to contact a lead within the first 5 minutes after lead generation, regardless of day or time.

  1. If you cannot make contact within the first 5 minutes, it’s best to make contact within the first hour.

  1. After 20 hours, each additional contact attempt hurts your chances of qualifying that lead.

How to Apply These Results to Your Business

These results are not universal. They come from 3 years of data and 6 companies.

However, it does show that tweaking your response times can have a significant impact on your sales team’s ability to get in contact with leads and nurture them into the sales funnel. (Just look at the discrepancies in the data between different days/times/response times.)

Use these results to test different contact strategies. For example, for one month, have your sales team make contact within the first hour of lead generation. Then analyze your sales.

Change that variable back to its original, and have your sales team attempt to qualify leads between 4-5PM every day for one month. Then analyze your sales.

Continue this process by leaving everything equal except for one variable (so you can determine that variable’s impact). After 6 months, you could have an entirely redefined sales strategy that has grown your sales by a vast percentage.

This is one way you can optimize the exact day, time, and response time for your sales team to engage with leads.

Let’s try another.

Using The Inbound Methodology To Determine Correct Response Time

Inbound marketing typically follows a 4-step process:

  1. Attract

  2. Convert

  3. Close

  4. Delight

To use this methodology to determine the right time for sales to engage with leads, focus on Attract, Convert, and Close.

The primary lead generator and nurturer in inbound marketing is content. Content is how you:

  1. Introduce prospects to your business in a non-intrusive way.

  2. Build your trust and authority in the space.

  3. Convert prospects into leads.

Make sure #1 and #2 have been accomplished before sales talks to your leads (the Attract and Convert steps). This is the “warming” process where prospects and leads become accustomed to your business’s presence in their lives.

They’ve already been introduced to your products and services. They know what you offer and the role you play as a provider. Now they just need a small push to become buyers and brand advocates.

That’s when it’s the right time for sales to engage with leads.

 

To Wrap It Up

We looked at two processes to determine when sales should start working its magic:

  1. A lead response management study

  2. The inbound marketing methodology

At Inbound Team, we advise combining both processes.

  • Test different times, days, and response times after lead generation.

  • Analyze your sales after each test and determine which time is best.

  • Make sure your leads are primed with valuable content that builds trust and authority before they talk to sales.

This creates a one-two punch marketing and sales strategy that grows your business.

Takeaways

  • The exact time for sales to engage with leads is different for every business.

  • It’s crucially important to test different response times, to make sure you’re not allowing valuable sales to slip away.

  • Before sales talks to leads, make sure your leads have been primed with useful content (by following the inbound methodology).

 

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Sales & CRM


Where Are All The Good Prospects Hiding?

Posted by Clarke Bishop

June 2, 2015

If only I had more leads, I could really grow this business!Every CEO and Business Owner

Every CEO I know says that good leads are a bottleneck. So, where are all the good prospects hiding?

Where-are-all-the-good-prospects-hiding

All hidden prospects are not the same. In fact, there are three types of  evasive prospects, and your marketing approach needs to be different for each type.

Secretive Prospects

Secretive prospects are real buyers. They have a problem or pain and a budget to solve the problem. It’s just that they aren’t ready to engage with a salesperson. Not yet.

In 2012, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) estimated that “57% of the B2B buying process is complete before a prospect is ready to talk with a salesperson.” Others have different estimates and each market is certainly different. Still, it’s safe to assume that at least 50% and as many as 70% of active buyers are secretive. They are collecting information, filtering providers, and making their initial choices.

Secretive prospects are not open to engaging with your sales team. If you try to call them, they’ll avoid you. They won’t return phone calls and they won’t respond to emails. They’re just not ready.

As a business owner or CEO, you probably don’t like this situation. You’d like to believe that secretive prospects do want to hear from you. If only your sales team would work harder. After all, you have a great product or service that would make the prospect’s world so much better. Why won’t they listen?

Like it or not, here’s the reality. Before the information explosion known as the Internet, you did have a lot more control. You had all the relevant knowledge, and buyers had to come to you. Now, buyers have all the information they want, and they can access it whenever they want—right from their smart phone.

It gets worse. If you don’t connect with secretive prospects early in their buying process, it’s often too late once they come out of the shadows. What can you do?

Inbound Out Marketing

Inbound Out Marketing is the best option to engage early with secretive prospects. It’s inbound marketing combined with targeted outreach.

Secretive prospects want to learn about you on their own terms. So, help them out. Create blog articles, helpful guides, infographics, videos—whatever it takes to help prospects understand their situation and realize you are one of the market leaders. Focus on the prospect’s problems and questions. It’s about them, not about you. They aren’t ready for you. Not yet.

Back in the day, good salespeople used to provide a lot of education in the early part of the sales process. Now, you have to rely on your website to teach prospects about your overall product category and possible solutions. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on your solution too soon. Help prospects learn about their options. They will buy from you unless your company is not a good fit, so don’t worry about telling them too much and losing them.

Targeted outreach is the secret we use to get significantly better results. If you know and can discover your ideal prospects, contact them directly. Find them on LinkedIn or through other social sites and lists.

It’s essential that you have a very clear picture of your ideal prospects. Once you know exactly “who” they are, it gets much easier to find their hiding places. That’s why we developed our Precise Prospect Profile toolkit.

Precise Prospect Profile Kit

Once you’ve identified some ideal prospects, offer helpful information. It’s too early to sell, so don’t. Instead offer to send your special report regarding “Common questions about _____ (Your product category).” Prospects do want helpful information, and they’ll appreciate you for it. They just don’t want sales information, yet.

Your objective is to be a helpful resource and to be positioned as a trusted option once the prospect is ready to buy.

Wannabe Prospects

Wannabe prospects do have a problem—a problem you could solve. They just don't have enough pain or budget.  Wannabe's are earlier in the buying process, but many of them will become buyers, so they are still important targets. Their pain will get worse and they'll allocate budget for their next cycle.

Inbound Out marketing continues to offer a great option. However, the content and information Wannabe's need is different.

Wannabe prospects are higher up (earlier) in the sales funnel. Give them more general content like:

  • 5 trends this year in the _______ industry

  • Top challenges faced by people in the ______ role

  • How a top company solved the ______ problem.
    NOTE: This could be a case study involving your product, focus on the customer and their problem. Don’t make it all about your product.

This is great positioning for your sales team—you get to be the first company on their short list. They see you as helpful and have favorable feelings about your company. All your competitors will be fighting from behind.

Potential Prospects

Potential prospects are similar to your ideal prospects. They are in the right industry and the right jobs. You can expect some of them to become prospects at some point.

Perhaps they already have a solution that’s working or they are pleased with their current provider. Still, what’s working today may not be working next year. You want these prospects to know you.

The prospect’s company may be too small for your solution—at least for now. After they grow, they may be a fit.

You want to know these prospects and have them know you. When they do need you, you’ll already be positioned as an excellent choice. Even better, potential prospects fit your ideal prospect profile. That means they know others in the industry who are good prospects. Some of their friends may be secretive or wannabe prospects. You’ll get referrals from people who aren’t even customers yet. Potential prospects are influencers, so don’t ignore them.

Marketing to potential prospects is much like marketing to wannabe prospects. Create content for the broader industry. They’ll eat it up and love you for it.

Takeaways

  • Buyers now control the buying process. Companies and salespeople have to give up the delusion that they have any control. Instead adjust to this new situation and work to serve buyers.

  • Inbound Out Marketing is the best way to reach hidden prospects that are not ready or willing to engage with a salesperson.

  • There are different kinds of hidden prospects—Secretive, Wannabe, and Potential prospects. All are reachable through Inbound Out Marketing. All that needs to change is the content of your materials to best serve each type of prospect and to deliver the information they want.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing


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