Whether you’re just starting a freelance business or running a growing agency or B2B brand, you need to generate quality leads.
It’s key to making money online, so no wonder 79% of marketers say it’s their top priority in 2021 – more than any other goal.
So it’s clear: we all want leads. But how do we generate them?
Traditionally, lead gen has been all about cold outreach – identifying prospects then contacting them via cold calling or emailing. It’s a labor-intensive numbers game that requires a constant high volume of activity to keep your sales pipeline full.
However, in recent years, inbound marketing strategies have become increasingly popular. That’s because inbound delivers results more cost-effectively than outbound. In fact, 53% of marketers say inbound provides a higher ROI than outbound, compared to just 16% who say outbound delivers the higher return.
With that in mind, here are seven inbound marketing strategies you can start using right now to turbocharge your revenue.
Strategy 1: Launch Your Own Podcast
Just a decade ago, podcasts were a pretty niche pursuit. But in the last five years their popularity has sky-rocketed, and today, more than half of all US consumers listen to them.
But how can starting a podcast feed into your lead generation efforts?
Drill down into that category and we find a bunch of niches that could be the ideal shop window for promoting your services, such as entrepreneurship, marketing, and management:
By launching a podcast, you have an opportunity to talk in depth on topics that relate to your audience’s pain points, and demonstrate how your service could be the solution they need. For instance, marketing agencies could talk through issues such as:
- Demonstrating ROI from marketing activities
- Creating content that delivers results
- Attracting more of the right sort of traffic
What’s more, podcasts lend themselves well to collaboration. Reach out to people in your network who have a similar audience to you, but who aren’t direct competitors, then invite them onto your podcast. That way, you can tap into their audience as well as your own which will help you grow your podcast following.
So far, so obvious. But where does the lead generation aspect come in? How can you transform podcasting into an activity that contributes to your wider inbound marketing strategy? Well, there are a few tactics that can work really well:
Step 1: Create Supplementary Gated Content
The average length of a podcast is 41 minutes and 31 seconds. That’s certainly enough time to discuss two or three areas related to your podcast subject. But it’s probably not long enough to cover the subject from all possible angles.
For instance, continuing my earlier example about a marketing agency, your podcast might be all about driving more of the right sort of traffic. On the podcast itself, you might discuss:
- How to identify the right audience
- Tactics for reaching that audience
- The sort of content they want to read
As well as this, you could create gated content – like an infographic, an ebook, or flyer designs – that goes into greater depth on one of these areas, or that provides insights and actions on something you didn’t get time to discuss on the podcast itself.
Hiring a graphic designer to make the content more attractive is worth the money if you have the resources to spare.
Tell your listeners about this gated content and where they can find it (preferably in a prominent position on your website). Hey presto – you’ve captured a bunch of names and email addresses!
Step 2: Ask Your Audience to Get in Touch
There are lots of reasons your listeners might want to get in touch with you. For instance, they might want you to tackle a specific subject. They might have follow-up questions off the back of an episode. They might even want to appear on the show themselves!
Direct all of these communications toward a simple contact form on your website. Again, this is a great way to capture names and contact details. And while they’re there, why not ask if they want to subscribe to your newsletter too?
Step 3: Create Transcripts of Each Episode
Podcasts can be fantastic for getting an overview of a topic. But they’re difficult to scan and pick out specific pieces of information, which can make it hard for listeners to put your advice into practice.
That’s why you should create a transcript of every episode, publish it on your blog, and direct listeners toward it. Look out for opportunities to incorporate internal links to relevant gated content, and include calls to action (CTAs) to your products and services where possible.
Starting a podcast is affordable and has a lot of growth opportunities that come with it. For instance, PodBean’s lowest price plan starts at just $9.
Strategy 2: Nurture Prospects With Email Marketing
Inbound marketing strategies aren’t solely about filling your funnel with leads; they’re also about what you do with those leads once they’re in your funnel.
That’s where email marketing comes in.
The thing is, inbound marketing won’t deliver instant results. You can’t expect to record one podcast episode or publish one ebook then generate thousands of dollars in new business straight away.
Every lead nurturing email sequence will be different, depending on how you captured that lead in the first place, and the next action you want them to take. But here’s an example of how an email sequence could look for people who’ve just downloaded your latest book:
- Email 1: Thank them for downloading the ebook (and attach it too, in case they had trouble with the download)
- Email 2: Follow up with additional value, such as a key stat or interview quote that didn’t make it into the final ebook
- Email 3: Form a personal bond by introducing yourself, adding personalization – such as any shared connections you have – where possible
- Email 4: Add further value related to their pain points, such as a free tool or how-to guide
- Email 5: Describe how your product or service solves one of their key pain points and ask if they’d like a demo or consultation
There are lots of additional steps you could add here, too. For instance, after the fifth email, you might follow up again with a case study or testimonial from an existing customer in your prospect’s industry.
Strategy 3: Create Thought Leadership Content
Thought leadership content is absolutely integral to an effective inbound marketing strategy. It demonstrates your expertise and provides a strong incentive for prospects to hand over their contact details. And, most importantly, decision-makers love it, with most reading thought leadership content for at least one hour every week.
With all that in mind, it’s not surprising 53% of marketers are increasing the proportion of thought leadership in their content strategies.
While “thought leadership” broadly refers to any type of content that positions you as an authority in your field, the most common format from a lead generation perspective is the ebook.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating your own lead gen ebook:
Step 1: Choose a Topic (& Create Your Ebook)
You need your ebook to resonate with your target audience, so it should ideally speak to one of their key pain points. If you’re not totally clear on what these are, speak to your sales and client relations teams – after all, they’re the people who spend most time talking to your existing and prospective customers.
Need a little extra help? Answer the Public, a tool that visualizes Google autocomplete data, can be a great way to get inspiration on potential titles. In this example, we can see common “how” searches on the subject of SEO:
Having picked out a theme, it’s time to create your ebook. As a general guide, you should be aiming for at least 2,000 words broken down across multiple sections and subsections, although some ebooks are much longer. Once you’ve written the copy, compare two documents then turn it into a pdf, using graphics and images to highlight key stats, quotes, or information.
Step 2: Build a Landing Page
You could create the best, most insightful ebook the world has ever seen, but without a high-quality landing page optimized toward conversion, you won’t generate the leads you deserve.
When creating a landing page, your goal is simple: to compel people to complete your data capture form and download your ebook. The following best practices will help you do that:
- Write a compelling title that shows visitors they’ve come to the right place
- Tease your content by including key takeaways in bullet points (without giving all your best information away free of charge)
- Add trust factors, such as names of business leaders you interviewed, or how many people you surveyed
- Craft a strong call to action that speaks to the benefits of downloading
One more point on this: keep your lead capture form simple. It might be tempting to ask for a prospect’s phone number, job title, and employer, but the more fields you add, the lower your completion rate will be.
Speaking of completion rates- keeping your conversion rates high is imperative if you want to see sales in your sales pipeline. This is where understanding your customer comes in. Just like you would track your website traffic via Google Analytics, it is important that you track your customers’ behavior using the right tools.
The Omniconvert Reveal tool can help you do just that by tracking customer analytics and segmentation. The tool segments customers based on buying behavior and then uses that data to create personalized buying journeys.
Getting traffic to your landing page is not your end goal- converting that traffic into sales and then keeping those customers around for the long-haul is what you really need to be focused on.
Step 3: Promote It
If no one knows you’ve written an ebook, you’re not going to generate a lot of leads! That’s why you need to promote it.
There are lots of methods for promoting thought leadership content. What works best for you will largely depend on your audience, the platforms they use, and the messaging that resonates with them. However, in my experience, the following tactics work well for most brands:
- Promoting your ebook to your existing mailing list
- Advertising it on industry sites and newsletters
- Partnering with influencers and thought leaders in your niche so that they can promote your content. (Of course you should be giving them good reason to promote your content. Mentioning them within your piece is the best way to do this.)
- Running ads on Facebook, Google, and Linkedin
Strategy 4: Write In-Depth Blog Content
Blogs aren’t just about driving organic growth – they’re also a highly effective inbound marketing strategy. In fact, blog posts are rated as the most effective content type for generating qualified leads.
But as any SEO expert will tell you, there’s no point writing blogs for the sake of it. If they don’t bring in traffic, no one will ever see them. That means they need to be created with SEO best practices in mind:
- Get the length right: According to HubSpot data, the ideal blog post length is 2,100-2,400 words. That’s pretty long! Don’t just pad out your blogs with unnecessary words; keep them concise, but tackle weighty topics that justify the word count.
- Win backlinks: Provided your content is of sufficiently high quality, it should be possible to capture high-quality backlinks. Of SEOs, 40.7% say content marketing provides the strongest passive link building results In turn, that will help your blog rank better, while also generating referral traffic.
- Optimize for image search: Add visual elements to your blog post through the WordPress visual editor, editing the alt-text to incorporate searchable terms.
- Target the right keywords: Use a tool like Ubersuggest to find relevant keywords you can naturally reference throughout your blog.
Once you narrow down on a keyword, it is all important that you make sure you can rank for it. Ubersuggest can help you with this too. Simply do a quick search of your target keyword. As an example, I have searched the keyword ‘invest in stocks’-
Ubersuggest will help you understand if you can rank for it by giving you metrics like the SEO difficulty score, search volume, and more.
Strategy 5: Run a Webinar
Webinars are effectively another form of thought leadership content. But I’ve given them their own section, because they’re particularly popular right now. Indeed, ON24 recently reported a 167% upturn in webinars run on its platform.
Webinars are an invaluable lead gen tactic. In fact, 73% of B2B marketers and sales leaders describe them as an effective way to capture quality leads.
If you’ve never run a webinar before, don’t worry: they’re not much different from creating any other piece of in-depth, lead generation-focused content. You still need to:
- Pick a topic that’s relevant to your audience
- Build a high-quality landing page to capture leads
- Promote it to existing prospects via email
- Amplify to new prospects via ads
However, there are a couple webinar-specific points to bear in mind:
- Get the length right: Nearly half of attendees prefer 30-minute webinars. Once you’ve got the introductions out the way and left time for questions at the end, that doesn’t leave you much space to tackle your chosen subject, so keep it concise.
- Make it interactive: The big differentiator for live webinars is their interactivity. It makes them a lot more engaging than non-live content. Consider adding interactive elements like live chat and polls. Or to really go the extra mile, use a dynamic QR code generator to direct attendees toward a dedicated landing page containing additional content around the points you’re discussing.
- Do a run-through: Don’t assume it’ll be alright on the night! Practice before the event, asking someone to join as a guest, so you can figure out the technical elements of your podcast platform and choose a suitable backdrop.
Strategy 6: Build Actionable Landing Pages
From your homepage to your key category or service pages, every landing page on your site should be designed to drive a specific action from your audience. Hiring a freelance designer will help you ensure that every page looks perfect and contributes to a great customer experience.
So how does this look in practice? Essentially, it’s about two things:
- Making it clear to your audience what action you want them to take
- Making it simple for them to do so
Let’s take a look at the homepage for Hollander Law Firm to see this in action:
Straight away, we can see two clear CTAs – one to contact Hollander for a free consultation with their online booking app, and another to request a free case review. Simple but effective!
Strategy 7: Incorporate Trust Factors
Trust is super important in inbound marketing.
Four-fifths of US respondents to a major Edelman study said “trusting a brand to do what is right” is an important factor when making a purchase decision, while almost two-thirds are happy to pay more for products or services from a brand they trust.
Furthermore, four in five said they will always recommend a brand they trust if asked.
In other words: it’s in your interests to demonstrate that you’re a reputable, trustworthy brand that has your prospect’s best interests in mind. It’ll win you more new, quality business in the first place, and it stands you in good stead to close even more deals down the line through word of mouth.
Trust factors vary from one industry to another. Prospects in one sector might expect you to use certain words or phrases; those in another might look out for specific accreditations and qualifications.
Again, taking a look at the personal injury space, Attorney Brian White uses client testimonials to demonstrate trustworthiness:
Testimonials and reviews can be an extremely effective trust factor – and they’re becoming more effective over time. According to BrightLocal, 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020, up from 81% in 2019.
Of course, this approach doesn’t only work for personal injury firms. For instance:
- Marketing agencies can reference how much revenue, or how many customers, they won for a certain client
- Realtors can speak to the value or number of properties they’ve sold in a given period by optimizing their real estate business
- Recruiters can state the average time it takes them to place a new hire, or how many candidates they’ve placed
Wrapping It Up
So what have we learned here?
Well, as you’ve probably noticed, there’s a lot of overlap between different inbound marketing strategies.
Most likely, you’ll need to use a combination of tactics to generate the desired results. You might create thought leadership content, then build an actionable landing page, and support your efforts by running a lead nurturing campaign via email.
Ultimately, good inbound marketing rarely exists in silos. The more you add value for your audience and help them solve their business problems, the more leads you’ll generate and deals you’ll close – and all without having to make a single cold call!