How many times have you approached prospective customers only to see those leads tank? Well, there are good reasons that happens.
Where did you get those leads in the first place?
There are two types of lead generation, one based on inbound marketing and the other, outbound marketing.
What’s Inbound Marketing?
According to a definition on HubSpot: “Inbound marketing is about using marketing to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention.”
Marketers call this “pull” marketing. This is where the following marketing vehicles come into play:
- Content Marketing: blogging, guest blogging, blog commenting, articles, white papers, e-books, social media sharing
- Website: information, instructions, Q & A, contact forms, sign-up calls to action
- Promotional Marketing: landing pages, giveaways, contests, quizzes, surveys, free white papers and e-books
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): keywords
- Events: Free webinars, online courses, in-person cultivation
- Videos: informational, instructional, humorous
- Online advertising: banner ads, social media ads, sponsored ads
Once you’ve attracted your target audiences, and they’ve signed up for your emails or newsletters or given you their business cards in person, you now move them to the engagement stage.
When you have permission to communicate with them electronically, you can build brand awareness and share valuable content that serves their needs. If you met in person, you can follow-up with telephone calls, individual e-mails (using your work e-mail address, not mass sends) or by connecting on LinkedIn.
In B2B (business-to-business), the goal is to move prospects to a one-to-one meeting (either in person or remotely) to learn more about their needs and offer solutions. In B2C (business-to-consumer), the goal is to get prospects to your physical location or e-commerce site.
What’s Outbound Marketing?
Outbound marketing means “push” marketing, when you send out marketing messages to get target audiences to respond. If you were to research outbound marketing, you’ll likely find descriptions that include traditional means of advertising such as direct mail, TV, radio, newspaper, magazines, and trade shows. I’ll also add cold telephone calling.
If it means sending out messages and waiting for responses, then online advertising such as banner ads, sponsored ads, social media site ads, etc. fall into this category, too. What’s the difference between prospects ignoring your online ad or recycling your direct mail piece? It’s the same thing!
In fact, if you mail a print newsletter (filled with relevant content) to a target audience, and include a call to action to sign up online, you now have permission to engage with respondents through e-mail. I don’t see this any differently than sharing your blog post in social media networks with the goal to build your e-mail list. Both require prospects to follow-up with an action.
In addition, these two approaches are attempting to break through the clutter to gain attention and increase response rates. So, that leaves cost.
You need to figure out the return-on-investment (ROI) for each tactic and determine your cost per conversion followed by the value of the new business. Which is more cost-effective and produces better sales results?
Some Leads Are Just Lousy
Just because people have signed up for your giveaway, engaged with you in social media, or responded to a call to action doesn’t make them good prospects. Before you run off and spend time and money pursuing them, do some homework! Do they truly fall within your target market segments?
Here’s a perfect example of time and energy wasted. I received an email this week from a company that offers positioning and branding services. Here’s how I replied to the sales person:
“Hi, [name]. I don’t know where you got your leads, but I write about branding! It’s curious why you would approach a marketing and branding professional.
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Here’s her reply:
“We have many different systems we use for customer acquisition and you must be on one of our automated lists. I have heard your name before and do apologize, as it would not make sense for you to use us for anything branding related.”
Do the due diligence! The few minutes it takes to run a quick Google or LinkedIn search can save you big time.
If you have the resources, delegate this task to interns, junior employees, or outsourced assistants. If you’re a small business owner or manager, it’s up to you!