Understanding the Basics of Inbound Lead Generation and Why it Matters
One of the major concerns of any business is how to gain new customers. New customers mean growth, bigger revenue, and longer business life. In this quest for new customers, two words usually pop out:
- Inbound lead generation
- Outbound lead generation
So, what exactly do these words mean? How does inbound and outbound differ? More importantly, if you’re new to these two topics, you will probably ask what is a lead?
In business it’s normal for you to hear words like customers, clients, and prospects, but how about leads? If you ask a business owner on the street about marketing their product, you’d most likely hear them say they do adverts on flyers or commercials.
The term “leads” is mostly used by companies who have websites. These are the companies who have decided to take their business to the bigger wider market. So, what are leads?
Leads are essentially people who come into your website and are interested, but not totally convinced to buy your product or service.
Here’s an example. “Leila, a business consultant, is searching for a cosmetic product that would suit her sensitive skin. Most of the products she’s seen in the market contain chemicals not suited for her skin type. She comes across your website “X Organic” while browsing through Google’s search results, and decides to visit your site.”
Now, Leila isn’t a customer yet. She’s just visiting your site out of interest about what your site description is about. She’s a lead, a person who with the right marketing material can become a customer. Leads are therefore valuable to any business. All the customers you have now were leads at one point.
In today’s digital age, no one comes into your site and immediately buys. They usually research about you and your product or service first, before purchasing anything.
It’s important to remember that you didn’t:
- shove a flyer into her face as she was crossing the street
- disturbed the video she was watching with an advertisement.
In fact, Leila came to your site on her own accord. This tactic or way of acquiring leads is new to most traditional businessmen since traditional marketing methods usually require you to be pestering prospective customers 24/7.
What are the Types of Leads?
There are three types of leads you can encounter in a day to day basis. These three are cold, lukewarm, and hot leads. Leads are usually classified based on the following factors:
- Money – has the budget to purchase
- Time Frame – plans to purchase now
- Decision Power – in the position to decide to buy or not
- Need – needs the product to solve a problem
Cold leads are basically your common passerby, they’re coming into your site to research, out of curiosity, or just happen to get into your site. These leads usually have just one of the four factors. Take a look at the example below to get a clearer idea of cold leads.
A teenager tasked to make a report about different types of crystals. He happens to find your site, which has a lot of information about the different types of crystals (Your business sell crystals).
Now, this teen isn’t interested in buying, but he does find your site useful. So, if you check the factors, he does not have the budget, the power to decide and the plan to purchase as soon as possible. He does have the need for crystals though, and given enough time to grow and become an adult maybe this teen will have all the other three factors.
Warm leads, on the other hand, are your avid window shopper. They browse what businesses have to offer but aren’t totally up there to buy yet. They usually have two to three of the factors covered, and need just a little bit more push or time to be ready for buying. Take a look at the example below to get an idea of a Warm Lead.
A mother of two is looking for ways to exercise at home. She happens to see your website which sells simple exercise machines that anyone can use at home. She visits your site and decides to check out what you offer. She likes what she sees but decides to put on hold purchasing the product because she doesn’t have the budget for it yet.
This mother clearly has the decision power, the need for the product but does not have the budget, which means she can’t buy the product immediately. She is, therefore, a warm lead, once she has the money for the product. Given time and resources, this lead will eventually become a customer.
Hot leads are the bread waiting to be baked. They have all the four factors covered, but are still unconvinced that it’s your product he or she wants. Take a look at the example below to understand.
A businessman is planning to add a CRM system to his business. He visits your site X CRM and checks what features you have, but instead of purchasing immediately he compares your CRM with the top software Infusionsoft by Keap. Weighing the options he is undecided whether to avail your cheaper CRM or get the well known one.
Now, this businessman has the budget, decision power, need and plan to buy, but since he has all these he is also qualified for other brands. This is where your sales team comes in, it’s your team’s job to convince this businessman that your product is better than lead CRM software in Singapore. With the right marketing proposal and a benefit was driven sales pitch, you can convert this businessman into a customer.
Importance of Generating Leads
Lead generation is the air that a business breathes, without generating leads you won’t gain new customers. Sure you can keep on selling to your customers but if you stick to the only customers you have, your business won’t grow as fast. More consumers mean more business. People age, you lose the interest of customers, and a restricted exclusive market will hamper your growth.
You need new customers to keep expanding your business. A business that sells to only 100 people in 10 years will either die out or remain small. On the other hand, a business that originally sells to 100 people and expands to get more customers while having great customer service, not only gains stability but also the chance to become big business. Keeping old customers while gaining new ones keeps your business afloat and evolving.
How Do You Get Leads?
There are many ways to generate leads, but these ways are group into two main branches Inbound and Outbound. There’s a definite distinction between the two, which can clearly be seen on who decides what is the marketing tactic.
Inbound generation means that you attract visitors to your site through what you offer and not through adverts like flyers, radio or tv commercials, or actual paper newsletters. In Inbound, the customer gets to decide, it’s solely user-directed. It’s the customer searching for your site, subscribing to your online newsletter and reading your ads. This means that:
- You are not bothering the customer
- The customer is interested in a way
Here’s an example of how inbound marketing works. Your website sells hobby materials and you have a daily blog teaching people how to do different types of DIYs. You attract people to your business through these blogs. People who are curious about hobbies and want to do DIY will then be brought to your site. You add buttons and phrases that direct your readers to your products, making them into leads. They end up subscribing to your newsletters, on their own accord and receive promo codes from you because they want it.
You naturally have more rapport with these leads and pitching them for sales will be easier since you have contact with them. They trust you, they like your product, and most importantly they have a positive outlook when it comes to your brand.
Outbound is the opposite of Inbound, in that it’s you who directs the actions. You send them newsletters via the mailbox. You place ads in magazines, commercials on radio and tv shows, and you insert ads on online videos. You get the picture, but since you direct these actions, you don’t have your target audience’s complete attention. You instead borrow the attention of what actually interests them.
Like, let’s be honest, how many of you read a magazine solely for the ads? How many of you watch a video just because of a commercial. Most of the time you get pissed because an ad has disturbed your viewing time. In our shifting marketing world, customers are becoming smarter and smarter when it comes to deciding what they buy and what they shy away from.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Both
One of the main good points of inbound marketing is that it costs less than conventional methods. It takes fewer resources to post an article online than to say have a commercial made. But one drawback is that inbound marketing takes time similar to buying stocks, you can’t expect immediate results. It is a growing, steady process of gaining leads that helps you create a reputable online presence. So, if quick and easy is for you then inbound marketing won’t be your best choice.
If inbound marketing takes time to bear fruit, outbound marketing produces fast results. But, one of its drawbacks is that it costs more. You need to fork out money if you want to run ads on platforms like Youtube. If you don’t have a big budget to promote your product then, outbound marketing is not for you.
Why Inbound Marketing Is Important
Inbound marketing is not just a segway strategy of getting leads in fact, it’s a component to ranking high on Google. The different ways to do successful inbound marketing also incorporates the factors that make a website good, this can be clearly seen on the content of every site.
Correctly done, inbound marketing can help you build a good reputation online. It also helps you get the right leads, not everyone who visits your site matches the values and goals you want to impart. For example, if you’re a business promoting zero waste, you wouldn’t want a customer who rejects zero-waste ideas.
How do you Correctly Do It?
You can successfully do inbound marketing in three steps: Attract, Engage and Delight. These three words can change the way you look at your website, from how you set up your content to the way you arrange the navigation within it.
First things first, before you even get leads you need to attract them to your business. You can do this through blogs, showing up on the Search Results Page of Google or other sites, videos (very effective for getting attention) and social media posts. Get them interested in your website, start a video series about your service. Be the helping hand by providing unique and useful information in a business world full of annoying unwanted adverts.
Once you’ve captured their attention, the next step is to build communication. You can do this by replying to comments, posting Q and A’s, addressing your subscribers on emails or private messages (for social media). You’ll build rapport, trust, and good faith this way. Just remember to be civil especially if hate comments or bad reviews are posted about you. Being courteous even in the face of rudeness is a plus point.
Release content that your leads want, if they request for how to’s on using your product then oblige. If they want to see the product in use, then, by all means, do it. Post relevant blogs, and create newsletter subscriptions to continually engage and keep your leads interested in your product. Just make sure that you’re delivering worthwhile content, not unwanted adverts.
To Sum It Up
Inbound marketing helps you gain noteworthy and interested leads who look at your business and your product as the solution to the problem, not the annoying brand that keeps disturbing your favorite Youtube Series. The more you improve your website experience to user-centric and user-driven approach, you increase your chances of turning leads into customers. But, more importantly, leads are not to be wasted, so think twice before deleting people from your contacts especially if they haven’t shown a hostile and unresponsive reaction to your brand.