Will inbound marketing improve your sales cycle and lead generation?

Attract Attention Online To Attract Business Online

One of the most often asked questions about inbound marketing is whether it’s worth the investment of time and money. To appreciate the answer, you have to look at the process, and understand what activities move “buyers” through the process.

Inbound is about attracting prospects and moving them through what sales teams call the “funnel”. In its simplest form, “top of the funnel” activities have to do with generating prospects. “Bottom of the funnel” activities are about closing sales.

Here’s a look at the funnel:

inbound-methodology

How is your current web traffic?

  • Is traffic flat, or are you seeing consistent growth? Only a web analytics tool can give you the answer.
  • If you don’t have a website, please read our factbook: The Five Keys to Generating Leads on Your Website. The data will help you to address the issue and and give new insight when reviewing your current site.

TIP: Even if you believe your new business comes mostly from referrals, a website combined with inbound activities can shorten your sales cycle and generate more qualified leads.

What is your current online conversion rate?

Look at the amount of traffic your website receives as a result of current marketing activities.

  • Calculate how many prospects you get from your site traffic
  • Then calculate how many of your prospects are converted to leads or customers
  • Calculate how much of the conversion process happens through web content offerings vs. direct contact.

If you are seeing a industry wide average 2% “conversion to lead”, you’re doing well. If you see a industry wide average 5% “conversion to customer” rate, that’s even better. If you’re not seeing those rates, you need to review your content strategy. Achieving these rates can be challenging depending on your specific industry.

TIP: If your sales team is spending more time qualifying leads then closing on a sale, inbound marketing can help.

Room for improvement? Look at the whole, not the parts.

Success with an inbound approach comes from addressing lead generation or conversion processes in four areas:

  • Attract: Blogging, Social Media, Keywords, Web Content
  • Convert: Calls-to action, Landing pages, Forms and Contacts
  • Close: Email, Nurturing Workflows, Lead Scoring, and CRM Integrations
  • Delight (referrals, endorsements): Social Media, Smart calls-to-action, Email, Workflows

TIP: While there may be a tendency to focus on one area for budget reasons or a lack of clearly defined goals, highest rates of success come from looking at the entire inbound process. 

Stand back and consider

  1. Is it plausible that a social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn can really address all of your prospects questions about your product or service?
  2. If your audience is spending a lot of time on social media, is it a good strategy to try and address service issues or successes solely through your website content?
  3. How successful can an email campaign offering a product or service tryout be if the prospect has never heard of you before?
  4. If you only focus on web content and your competitors focus on the entire picture, who do you think will be found online first?
  5. Do you have an SEO strategy? Are you using PPC (Pay Per Click) as your primary method for generating traffic?
  6. If you are using PPC, do you have the right conversion paths in place reflecting different stages of the buying process?
  7. What happens to your web traffic when you stop paying for PPC. Is the change gradual or sudden?

TIP: Read our guide: Learning SEO from The Experts

Learn more

The first step is to learn about how inbound thinking can help you. A qualified professional should be able to discuss your current situation, identify challenges and pain points in your online marketing efforts.

An inbound consultant can help you understand the value of Buyer Personas to the process, measuring results with a comprehensive inbound platform, and a funnel based content strategy and conversion process.

You can easily locate a firm in your area by conducting an online search with phrases that include the terms Inbound Marketing, Online Lead Generation with your locale or your industry. Search terms such as SEO or social media while valuable can be limiting for this particular specialty.
About the author: Tom Weinkle is a founder and partner of Vortex Communications, a graphic and website design firm who offers graphic and WordPress web design, build, troubleshooting and training services along with search optimization, social media and inbound marketing services. Based in Miami, Florida, Tom has over 25 years of experience in visual communications for the healthcare, medical, law, accounting, software, financial services and banking industries.

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