How to Keep a Helpful Mindset in Content Marketing

What are the two biggest pieces of advice we keep telling our clients?

Overthink Lead Generation

is to first, not overthink lead generation,

 

 

 

second, to focus on being genuinely helpful to their audience through content.

 

 

 

It’s the mindset that sets the tone and voice of your brand, allowing you to craft messaging that nuanced, natural, and personal.

Crafting content this way captures your audience’s emotions, and what better way to be remembered than to make long-lasting impressions of how you made them feel.

We’ve compiled a few tips to help you maintain your focus on helping your audience. When writing content, use these as a guide to keep your creation process pointed steady on crafting something that will lead to your audience’s success.

Empathize with your audience

Understanding your audience lies at the core of buyer persona creation.

Understanding your audience may mean knowing their responsibilities and challenges, their associates and the bosses they respond to, and their lines of business and the industries they work with and serve.

That’s all well and good, right?
After all, that’s everything anyone in charge of generating BANT-like leads are after.

BANT

Seem to be the only bases for segmentation these days.

They’re “industry standards” after all, so they must be what they are now for a good reason.

That may be true.

But not so if you want to really get to know them.

To truly understand your audience, marketers must also be able to ascertain what drives their audience.

Content Marketing

These questions can be answered by looking at your current client base and having a personal conversation with them.

It doesn’t even have to be a formal interview; just talk to them as you would with a friend you are trying to get to know more.

Keep it casual, but don’t forget to get the information you’re after (and to inform your client of your intentions!).

The following are interesting questions to ask:

Content Marketing

As always, compile your audience’s answers to these questions, and segment them according to similar behaviors and characteristics.

If you need a framework for organizing your personas and need a list of data to ask, consider downloading our guide. It contains tips and tricks to gathering, compiling, analyzing, and presenting your finished personas to your sales and marketing teams.Creating buyer persona

Don’t ask for anything in return

When creating content, focus on nothing but the content you are creating, and how it will help your audience once they get to read them.
 
Let this be your guide from the moment you:

Content Marketing

Often we come across websites that, on load, immediately flash newsletter subscription capture forms (I just got here!).

Once we close that window, we see titles riddled with long tail keywords only Google could possibly love.
Then the actual content – headers are only semantically relevant among each other, with no real grammatical coherence between paragraphs whatsoever.
 
Please avoid doing this.

Content Marketing

The first rule of content marketing is to write content for your audience, not search engines.

With that being said,

The best mindset to have during content creation is to write helpful content without expecting anything in return.

Don’t consider content as a means to a lead generating end.

If you are to be truly helpful to your audience; let your content be the end – and the beginning of your audience’s success.

Content Marketing

Forget for a while your lead targets, Google, search engine rankings and keywords. Focus on content.

…until you’re done writing

Only once you are done writing are you to consider SEO best practices. The usual considerations apply:

  • Keywords in the title
  • Keywords in headings
  • Appropriate use of H1 and H2 tags
  • Keywords in the paragraphs
  • Relevant meta description
  • Content promotion

The reason you are supposed to only do this last is because you don’t want to influence your writing and turn your piece into something only robots would love.

There is art, personality, and emotion in writing, without which your content would be easily forgotten by your audience.

As a popular quote says it,

people don’t remember what you did, but rather what you made them feel.

Don’t water your content’s artfulness down thinking about what search engines would do with what you wrote.

When conflicted between an

Content Marketing

which one should you go with?

The short answer is that there is no answer.

The long answer is for you to use your best judgement and decide on what matters most to you on every specific situation.

If your title is an extremely obscure reference that only a small minority would understand and appreciate, maybe it’s best to go back to the drawing board to re-conceptualize.

If it sounds lifeless because it’s seven-word-long long tail keyword, maybe you should try making it more lively at the expense of “SEO”.

Maintain a healthy balance, and Google and your human audience should treat you just fine.

When asking for information, give something of equivalent value back

Now we get to the lead generation bits: CTAs, landing pages, forms, and gated content offers.
Every once in a while you will need (or more preferably want) to create premium gated content to generate leads.

As always, maintain a mindset of being genuinely helpful, not expectant of the form fill-ups it will return.

This mantra is even more important in creating more detailed, feature-rich, well researched, and generally more polished premium content.

Save thinking about the CTAs and landing pages for later.

Common formats of gated content include:

Content Marketing

These pieces of premium content are usually only accessible after a prospect fills in his or her information in your form.

How much information you ask for should directly mirror that of your content’s value.

To quantify value, think of

Below is an illustration of common content types, and how many form fields many websites ask for before a download:

Of course, it helps to be prepared as soon as possible for when form fill-ups do arrive.

Get a few email templates ready, and customize/personalize them according to what they downloaded, where they are in their specific buyer journey, or any other information you could derive with the details they could possibly provide.

If things get out of hand and become too many to handle, it may be time to give marketing automation tools a shot.

HubSpot is a good service to get everything neatly integrated in one place.

Hubspot Dynamic CRM Integration

If you’re not quite ready yet, check out a list of free marketing tools we still use to automate repetitive tasks and allow you to concentrate on the things that matter.

Hubspot Marketing Hub

Why branding and being genuinely helpful…helps

The most helpful websites are often the most memorable.

Helpful not in the sense of bombarding you with all the relevant information you could possibly need a la encyclopedia; rather, helpful in a sense that it attracts you with compelling copy.

They keep you entertained with human, highly-personal content composition, and they pull the right set of emotional strings during its presentation to keep you reeled in and entertained.

Just look at how WikiHow does it:

WikiHow

Above is a ridiculous how-to on listening and discovering music (that actually has substance).

Are they the most complete in terms of information in a given topic?

No.

Are WikiHow articles and their respective writers authoritative figures on the topics people are searching for?

Some may be, but we’re bound to verify and recheck other sources as you would with other material, anyway.

Are their pieces of content hilarious and memorable?

Hell yes!

There actually are better examples – WikiHow isn’t even an inbound lead generating website (what it is, is a topic for another day).

But take a look at some of their articles in their website.

WikiHow

Though many times hilarious and a subject of internet ridicule, WikiHow is actually a good model when it comes to solidifying brand image, identity, and style, centered around content intended to solely to help its audience.

Just don’t try to emulate. Or worse yet, overthink.

Think of what your offerings are, how they fit in the context of your prospects’ business, and how you can genuinely help your audience, and the voice and tone will follow.

It’ll come to you magically as you approach your prospects in the most natural manner possible.

Demystifying Inbound Lead Generation

Inbound marketing and inbound lead generation aren’t exactly new concepts, yet they still make their rounds on headlines every now and then. Many of these headlines say it’s the only way to do marketing in 2018, shunning the more “traditional” and “invasive” outbound marketing methods.

Some speak in the context of numbers, pitting inbound against outbound with efficacy and customer preferences as the primary metrics for comparison. Perhaps more recently, there are talks of the GDPR hurting inbound marketing as more and more people are taking back control of their privacy.

But what is inbound lead generation, really?

Non-overthought answer

Without overthinking things, inbound lead generation is simply any marketing activity that increases company visibility organically, and earning and building the trust of the visitors that found them. What sets it apart from advertising is that there is a concept of conversions: a process where you capture your visitors’ information so that you may contact them again in the future for nurturing.

In other words, inbound lead generation reverses the roles of marketers and prospects. Instead of focusing on finding the right prospects, marketers spend time increasing brand visibility on search engines by creating and promoting helpful and educational content. It’s the “they found us” instead of “we found them” approach, which empowers prospects as they have full control over who initiates the communication.

Outbound and Traditional: Marketers reach out to prospects, often seen as intrusive

Inbound: Marketers increase organic search visibility through content and social media promotions. Focus on opening up possible points for conversion and communication. Gives control back to prospects.

That’s all inbound is, really.

We’ve said it a hundred times and we’re going to say it again: do not overthink inbound lead generation, especially if you’re just starting out.

In the context of “being found,” concentrate on being genuinely helpful to your audience and the rest will follow naturally. Don’t attach numbers and metrics on your content just yet! Work on being helpful first, which will shape your company voice and tone after a few pieces of published content. If you don’t have your own style and you attach numbers this early, your content is going to sound robotic and feel like it was written for search engines.

Focus on writing content that your audience will want to share, not what Google thinks should be on top of the results page.

A look inside the lead generation engine

Not overthinking things – at least just from the onset of your marketing efforts – will indirectly develop your company voice and tone as you assist your prospects with their challenges. Once past this stage, it pays to learn how modern inbound lead generation works so you may know where and how to make tweaks to your lead funnel.

To understand lead generation, it is important to first understand your “leads” or your prospects. The following is a representation of the stages of the modern buyers’ journey, and further down this post is the corresponding inbound methodology that guides them towards a sale.

acd

A quick breakdown of the stages of the buyers’ journey:

  • Awareness: The prospect realizes he has a problem, and he starts to look up what is causing it
  • Consideration: The prospect looks up a resolution to his problem
  • Decision: The prospect chooses a provider who will resolve his problem

The lines between the stages can often be very thin, so we’ll have a look at an example buyer journey. An IT Manager, in this case:

Awareness Stage Topics:

  • “Deployment Best Practices in 2018”
  • “How to Lower IT Operational Costs”
  • “Guides to Flexible and Secure Workstation Configurations”

Consideration Stage Topics:

  • “Cloud Deployment Pros and Cons”
  • “Hybrid Cloud – On-Premise Approach”
  • “Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Workstation OS’s”

Decision Stage Topics:

  • “Cloud Platform Provider Reviews / Best Cloud Services in 2018 / Cloud Services Comparison”
  • “Systems Integration Companies”
  • “Secure Enterprise Workstation Operating Systems”

When situations get tricky, get to know the intent of the prospect’s search queries. Intents separate the keywords from the actual interest. Ascertaining this interest can be difficult if you don’t know your prospects well. The solution to this is simple: buyer personas!

Buyer personas help you associate characteristics, responsibilities, and behaviors across your current customer base. From this knowledge, you can segment your audience based on common traits and target them with highly-personalized messaging and content.

Buyer persona creation is serious stuff. It requires careful research and thoughtful analysis of your audience’s responses. For this, we have prepared a helpful guide to creating your personas: from asking the right questions, collecting and organizing your data, and presenting them to your sales and marketing teams.

Creating buyer persona

Meeting your prospects halfway

Developed with the modern buyers’ journey in mind is the inbound methodology for lead generation. This methodology is a framework that guides marketers with the best approach towards their prospects in their respective buying stages. Here is the methodology side-by-side with the buyers’ journey.

four stages of inbound

Note that we didn’t use the word “nurture” here. Although that’s what we’re essentially supposed to do with leads on our funnel, we believe that the right focus word should be approach. “Approaching” them with the right messaging at their specific stage sounds more concrete than “nurturing” them, does it not? Plus, it definitely sounds more human.

Just as the graphics suggest, the four stages of the methodology guide prospects through their journey. You attract them so that they will be aware of your brand. You convert them into leads through capture forms so they may consider your solution after a few exchanges of communication.

When they know you well enough, trust your brand, and are in the decision stage, your sales team can close deals with them. Lastly, you can increase customer retention by delighting them with further offers and excellent customer service, turning them into your brand evangelists.

ThinkLogic’s inbound methodology looks like this, with the appropriate content and approach laid out within each stage:

Content Approach

Emphasis on the word approach. The methods listed above are our “common case”. There are exceptions, of course, but the strategy that we always employ is based on our customers’ buyer personas. (Where do my prospects “hang out”? What are their interests, goals, challenges, responsibilities and preferred methods of contact?)

What about outbound?

Since the advent of the Web 2.0 and inbound marketing, many marketers are shunning outbound marketing since it has been widely regarded as “interrupting”, “annoying”, or “abusive”.

There certainly is merit to those claims (read: spam). But to turn away from an effective marketing channel for a legitimate use case would be absurd.

Let’s face it: not every prospect is online. There are industries where its C-levels simply cannot be reached through digital content, still heavily reliant on traditional methods to get informed of recent news and developments.

This post isn’t intended to shine the light on inbound’s flaws, nor is it a listing of outbound’s redeeming features and inherent qualities. The point is that not everyone can be reached the same way. Inbound will beam you through to most of your audiences, while outbound will dial you in to the rest.

Which brings us back to our favorite topic of discussion: Buyer personas!

Exactly how and where you convert visitors into leads and leads into sales rests entirely on your understanding of your audience.

Take the time to build personas. 

  • Personify them, and communicate with them as if they were real. 
  • How would they react to the means through which you reached out to them?
  • And with that messaging, voice and tone? Map these (channel and messaging) to the inbound methodology.

Take into consideration their sales cycles on top of their issues, pain points, and challenges.

Marketing isn’t about taking sides, cheering for and booing against the camps and waiting to see who wins. Marketing is simply what works – what works for delighting you, your clients, your potential customers, or your clients’ potential customers with your messaging.

Perspective shift

Once I overheard “the less you focus on making money for your business, the more you will actually make”. As a marketer, I thought to myself that the same thing holds true for lead generation.

Modern marketers should shift their mindset from “generating leads” to being genuinely helpful to clients with their content.

Empower them with being the ones to initiate conversations – but make sure to open your doors and paths wherever and whenever they choose to reach out to you.

The less you put focus on “generating leads”, the more helpful you are going to be with your content. The more helpful you are with your content, the more likely you are to be remembered as a “thought leader”. The more you are remembered, the greater your chances for conversions and, ultimately, sales.

Always remember not to overthink it when creating content. 

Unsure if tele-lead generation is for you? Here’s a quick guide.

Lead generation through telemarketing is one of the oldest forms of driving product demand. That doesn’t mean, however, that its more technologically-advanced counterparts easily outclass it. Despite its age, it remains relevant in the marketing space owing to its adoption of internet and data-driven tricks. And depending on your needs, it might just be your most effective choice.

Among other methods of generating leads, telemarketing has the highest response rate at 10%, followed by direct email marketing at 3.7%, according to a study by the Data and Marketing Association. In terms of returns, telemarketing nets around 19%-20% in ROI, second only to the volume-reliant email at 21-23%. (ThinkLogic incorporates email-based techniques on its telemarketing efforts).

If you’re thinking about employing a telemarketing strategy to generate leads but do not have the infrastructure and manpower on hand, having a third-party vendor do it is a viable – and hugely popular – solution. And the benefits extend far past cost-savings and big returns on investments.

Getting a lead generation partner means you do not have to invest in equipment and manpower

Assembling a team of effective telemarketers can take up a significant amount of time and resources. Setting up the necessary infrastructure, building a database of prospective clients, and training marketers are all investments that must be taken into consideration.

Things start to look even more expensive when you take into account the running costs of keeping the lead generation team in-house, plus its inability to scale. Having a fixed workforce restricts the marketing team to campaigns whose sizes are only within their logistical capability. This, without even thinking about the markets that are beyond their reach due to zonal differences.

These are investments that must pay off somewhere along the line, and it can take a lot sooner if you don’t keep them busy. Find a lead generation partner if your campaigns vary greatly in size and region, or are few and far between.

Having a reputable partner do it guarantees that the people working on your account are already experts in the field

It isn’t just about saving costs, even though the financial implications in themselves are compelling enough reasons to do so.

Even if finances were no issue, an external team will still be a lot more effective and quicker to deploy than an in-house team. Third party vendors already have tons of experience in the field and have dealt with a multitude of clients and prospects across a plethora of different campaigns. They can even steer you clear of avoidable dangers and offer alternative solutions without losing sight of your primary objectives.

While it’s widely accepted that in-house staff knows their products better than anyone else, that isn’t everything there is to it. The true value in telemarketing is the ability to breach past gatekeepers and get solutions within the reach of decision-makers and influencers.

No matter how compelling a product is, nor how well-refined the sales team’s pitch, it won’t matter unless you get your brand across.

Having a partner do it allows you to focus on your primary processes (and grow your business)

Speaking of pitch, and of knowing your products best, this is where your company comes in.

By having someone else do lead prospecting, you can devote more effort into developing the perfect sales strategy to convert leads. Sales and marketing are monumental tasks on their own. With limited resources, organizations simply cannot skimp on one trying to do the other, as it is of utmost importance to avoid generating bad leads or failing to convert. Let telemarketers focus on acquiring high quality leads (what they do best), and focus on getting those high quality leads to convert (what your sales or product specialists do best).

Furthermore, this allows you to redirect your resources to product research and development. By being able to finance the R&D team more, you end up with a tactical advantage over your competitors in product offerings.

So how do you choose a telemarketing partner?

There are plenty of telemarketing companies out there. The trick to finding the one that’s perfect for your needs is to first assess your requirements, with the following questions as guides:

  • What regions am I targeting?
  • How much is my budget?
  • Which pricing model best suits my business and allow for easier calculation of ROI?

Each telemarketing company operates based on their own processes and principles, and are often tailored to their target regions. By assessing your requirements first, you narrow your choices down to the best candidates for your campaign and ensure that you get the best possible results.

Telemarketing is just one of the many business processes you can choose not to keep in-house, but it is a task that you can pass on to a partner without any worry. Its benefits extend far beyond cost-saving – opportunities to expand your reach, diversify and improve your products/services, and grow your business overall – without sacrificing control.

Give it a shot. Your next biggest sale might just be waiting for your first call.

Five Free Inbound Marketing Tools (That We Still Use!)

On our previous posts we talked about turning your website into a lead generation machine and how compelling content guided by buyer personas drives in traffic and increases demand. We’ve also come up with the wonderful advice (no sarcasm) of “not overthinking inbound marketing”. When you keep a mindset of being genuinely helpful to your audience, the rest comes naturally.

Side note: We’re huge fans of the no-overthinking mantra. It is the goal that drives our design and content decisions, and even extends as far as our product and services lineup.

While this mindset sits at the core of our processes, we also realize the potential that lies in optimization.

This post will talk all about the five lead generation tools marketers can use to:

  • Maximize traffic.
  • Gain insights from their audience.
  • Automate marketing.
  • Publish better content.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is amazing.

It’s deceptively simple. It’s the kind of tool you can set and forget. When you come back to its dashboard after a day or two, you will be greeted with heaps of useful insights like:

  • Your most visited pages and posts
  • Your visitors’ behavior flow (where they land, what pages they visit, and where and when they leave)
  • What devices they use, their geographic location, and more!

These insights can help you understand your audience and how you can better address their needs. Perhaps mobile users are dropping because of a non-responsive, desktop only website design? Do the visitors prefer to sift through your website in their mother tongue? Is the site loading fast across all the geographic regions you’re targeting? Is my website easy to navigate in the first place?

These and many more questions can be answered with a simple installation of the Google Analytics tracking code. Take note, though, that if you want to be GDPR-compliant you will have to notify your viewers in plain language that you will be collecting non-personal cookie information. How exactly you’re going to do that will vary depending on your CMS, so give your webmaster a ring and ask him/her to assist with the installation. (By the way, here’s a good compliance tester and cookie consent tool)

There’s a lot to love for power users as well. Taking advantage of tags, marketers can track what does and doesn’t deliver as they work on campaigns. Tags are omni-channel too! As long as you incorporate the right URL parameters into your materials – even offline ones like direct mail, posters, print, etc. Google Analytics can track these for you.

Get started with Google Analytics now, and learn how to make the best use of it as you go along the way:

Google AdWords’ is primarily an online platform for Search Engine Marketers to structure their ad campaigns, plan their keywords, bid for the keywords and positions they desire, and optimize their results. It’s basically a one-stop shop for anyone looking to start a search engine marketing campaign on the Google search engine.

Just like Google Analytics, Google AdWords can also be deceptively simple. Simply list down the keywords you’d like to display your ads for, write your ad copy, specify a maximum daily spend, and link them to your landing and conversion pages. It’s that straightforward, and you’d have a running ad campaign in no time.
But we’re not here to display ads though – at least not just yet. What we’re interested in is its Keyword Planner feature.

As its name suggests, the keyword planner is a tool for advertisers to look up similar and recommended keywords to use that are relevant to their product, service, industry, and target markets. Of primary importance are the details concerning how much bidding for the individual keywords cost, its competition for your target market, and monthly average search volumes.

Let’s keep things simple for now and keep an eye out only on those three metrics. The goal is to find the right keywords with enough search interest to justify content marketing efforts. Take note of those keywords. See if you can target those with your blog posts.

As always, try not to overthink this. If you do and are torn between writing a bland, keyword-injected title versus one that best suits yours audience, draw inspiration from your answers to the following questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What are your most outstanding services and capabilities?
  • What do you do for companies that help them add value to their processes?
  • What do you know well (and better than the competition) in terms of specific category, audience, or industry?
  • What do you do better than most companies?
  • What are your unique philosophies, methods, or approach?
  • What results have you been able to deliver to your clients?

And oh, one word of advice: don’t feel disheartened if the topic you want to write about already ranks on Google. Do not let this stop you. Write for your audience, not search engines.

Get started with AdWords: Google AdWords (The keyword planner tool is tucked under the “gear” icon or under “tools”, depending on which layout Google decides to present to you).

HubSpot Free Forms and CRM Tool

Hubspot Form

OK, it may look like we’re getting a little biased here, but hear us out!
Here at ThinkLogic, we’re huge fans of HubSpot’s lead generation and sales tools. Why wouldn’t we be? We’re one of their partners here in Asia Pacific! We started with free, outgrown them for our requirements, and now we’ve decided to be HubSpot certified as an agency partner.

HubSpot’s tools does what it needs to do without getting in your way. Forms, which we have been slapping on to our websites and landing pages does everything a form needs to do without requiring you to do any magic. If you want some of its special sauces, you can simply log in to HubSpot’s Sales and Marketing Hub and you will be presented with additional functionality for use with their CRM – which are free as well.

Not to be sales-ey, but here are a few of HubSpot’s free Marketing Tools that we use on a day-to-day basis:

  • Forms and submission email notification
  • Instant integration with HubSpot’s CRM
  • Traffic conversion analytics
  • Lead intelligence for context regarding contacts from form submissions
  • Contact and lead management

These are the core features marketers need to be able to turn a website into a lead generator. If you don’t need marketing automation just yet, HubSpot’s tightly integrated set of free tools will work spectacularly for your processes. (We do have an alternative for automation towards the end of this list, though).

Elementor Page Builder for WordPress

Landing pages (in unison with forms) are pages responsible for turning visitors into contacts, contacts into leads, and eventually leads into opportunities and sales. It goes without saying that landing pages must have only one purpose. With each landing page’s specific offer aligned to the current stage of your customer’s buying journey.

You can already see where this is headed: You are going to have to create lots of landing pages. And you only have so much time and resources in your hands to make that happen. Since, of course, you also have to create your content!

Consider the following situation:

landing pages

That’s a whopping 36 landing pages to make for all the stages of the buyer’s journey! Sure, you could write multiple templates yourself, but you would be spending valuable time learning web development when you could be out there creating or promoting your brand.

Note: We’re assuming you’re using WordPress as your site’s content management system. If you’re not, a comparable landing page builder may exist for your CMS. Reach out to your webmaster and see if he can get your hands on a page builder for your CMS.

And oh, another note: Since becoming a HubSpot partner, we have moved all of our landing pages into the HubSpot’s Content Optimization System for our own statistics, as well as for our clients. We needed that extra integration bit 😉

Using a page builder saves you time and allows you to focus your efforts on following landing page creation best practices and writing compelling copy. Elementor works with any theme you currently have on your WordPress site, so you wouldn’t have to worry about redoing any of your site’s structure or design.

Page Builder Link: Elementor Plugin

IFTTT – Content Promotion (and Customer Experience Management, Automation, and more!)

ifttt

If This Then That isn’t really a marketing tool, per say, but a sort of general purpose task automation tool. It can serve in a plethora of different use cases for different needs based on the applets users can make or customize.

That’s not to say that it’s a difficult tool to use, though: in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Although there are a million ways one could use them, they all revolve around the concept of getting applications across the world wide web and devices to talk together (“integrate”). “If this happens, then do this one specific thing” is all that users need to think about to take advantage of the platform.

It just so happens that content promotion is one of the great things you can do with it. It’s the perfect use case for busy marketers!

A small side note on promotion: There’s this common 80-20 rule in content marketing that states that marketers must spend 80% of the time promoting content, and only 20% creating them. As arbitrarily-chosen as those numbers may be, it’s a good rule of thumb. It’ encourages marketers to prioritize promotion since content will only be useful when they can actually get in the hands of your intended readers.

IFTTT works on the concept of services, triggers, and actions, that when coupled together become known as applets. Services can be any of the internet’s most popular websites or apps. Triggers can be a date and time, the weather today, an event change in some relevant service, and so on. Actions are the activities you want to happen when the if part of your IFTTT statement is true. Say you want to update your social media profiles, add tasks to your project management tools, or add rows to Google Sheets.

Here are but a few examples of what you can use it for:

  • Schedule sharing of social media posts.
  • Share posts on social media automatically after publishing them on your CMS.
  • Listen for mentions of your brand on social media.
  • Do some basic email marketing automation.
  • Automate many of redundant and manual tasks in your workflow.

Link: IFTTT

A note on tools

Just as a swordsman treats his sword as an extension of his arms, marketers must also treat their tools as an extension of the heart within their content. Tools will only be as effective as the ones who wield them.
Use them to simplify redundant, repetitive, or time-consuming tasks, so you can focus on those that matter.

By no means let the tools dictate what you need to do and how you’re supposed to do it.

As always, keep things simple. Don’t over-complicate or overthink your inbound marketing. Just do it, guided by your buyer personas and how the content you’re crafting will benefit and help your audience.

The B2B Marketer’s Guide to Inbound Lead Generation

B2B marketers looking to generate leads in a sustainable, passive, and cost-efficient method is bound to have heard about inbound marketing and inbound lead generation. And who wouldn’t? Nearly every executive survey ranks inbound channels as their most effective means of driving demand.

But what exactly is lead generation?

In this comprehensive blog post, we will discuss:

  • What lead generation in general is.
  • How inbound marketing and lead generation works.
  • Tools that will save marketers time from redundant and repetitive tasks.
  • Tips and tricks to get you started in inbound.

Inbound lead generation defined

Inbound lead generation is any marketing activity with the intent of driving demand through inbound means. It deals with the process of attracting the right audience through:

  • Content and social marketing.
  • Encouraging them to take some form of action in exchange for contact information.
  • nurturing them with highly-personalized offers of value until they turn into sales and, eventually, brand evangelists.

Content, social, and SEO sit at the core of inbound. Every inbound marketing campaign consists of a bunch of helpful, educational, and relevant content, timely and consistent social media promotion schedules, and a solid SEO framework. In other words, inbound makes the best use of Web 2.0 trends and technologies to maximize organic search visibility.

Traditional vs inbound lead generation

TRADITIONAL – refers to marketing channels that are not digital or are outside the world wide web. This includes posters, billboard ads, telemarketing, trade show appearances, TV and radio broadcasts, and others.

OUTBOUND – refers to any marketing activity that are more focused on finding prospects. Outbound is often associated with “interruption” marketing. But that isn’t always the case (every channel has its intended purpose, which we will get to later). Techniques include search and display ads, interstitial pages, email lists, telemarketing, and others.

INBOUND – Unlike other techniques, inbound deals with marketing activities that maximize organic search and social media presence. It is the opposite of the previous two methods. Inbound is more about being found through helpful videos, blogs, tutorials, and other educational content, than putting effort to go out there and find prospects.

Understanding the distinction between the different marketing approaches, their strengths and weaknesses, and their ideal use cases is one of the most important steps in creating your marketing strategy.

While the subject of this blog post will mostly be about inbound, outbound and traditional will be discussed where applicable and will also be shown some much-deserved love.

What that said, we’ll say from here on that “traditional” and “outbound” mustn’t always mean interruptive; it may just be that the channel of choice didn’t match with the audience’s interests, current stage in the buyer’s journey, or simply their personality.

Marketing is not a matter of whether inbound, outbound, or traditional is best, but rather whichever combination of tools and channels at a marketer’s disposal is most appropriate in attracting their ideal audiences.

Later in this post we will discuss about how inbound marketing and the process of creating buyer personas can breathe new life into traditional marketing channels, as well as how using outbound means can complement inbound lead generation campaigns.

Inbound 101: Getting started with inbound

If you already have a website, then great! You’re well on your way to generating leads organically the inbound way!

However, there is much work to be done. In order to turn a website into a lean, mean, lead generation machine, marketers must commit some time and effort to create content relevant and helpful to their audience. The same content must be promoted as well, else content will be just content sitting there in some corner of the internet. Then, marketers must be ready to nurture and qualify leads with compelling email copy throughout each of their prospects’ buyer journeys.

This may seem like a lot at first, but things will come naturally as you put your focus on creating helpful content first, and generating leads second. A mindset of helping generates leads and awareness, not the other way around!

Getting Started with Inbound – A Practical Example

The inbound methodology in detail

Having a mindset of being genuinely helpful to your audience is just enough. If you want to optimize your inbound lead generation funnel or have a reproducible framework, it helps to understand the inbound methodology and how you can tweak it into your advantage.

The inbound methodology revolves around a highly-personal experience for prospects across their buyer journey. From the moment prospects are aware they have a problem, are considering possible solutions, and deciding between providers, inbound covers all of these and provides points for conversions with content.

inbound methodology

But how exactly does inbound do that?

Content sits at the heart of inbound. These pieces of content are spread throughout the buyers’ journey, each of which has its own special purpose relevant to that stage.

And it’s not just content. The inbound methodology also helps marketers choose the most appropriate channels in approaching their prospects based on their stage in the buyer’s journey.

buyer's journey

Marketers attract their audience into the awareness stage with blog posts, social media, and search engine optimization. Various calls-to-action from within blog posts encourage these visitors to convert into the consideration stage – which basically means they’ve shared their contact information with the company. From the consideration stage, they are nurtured with highly-personal emails and calls towards the decision stage, which may be at the point where they are passed on to sales to close as deals. Lastly, the inbound methodology wouldn’t be complete until these customers turn into evangelists of the brand – which wouldn’t be possible without exemplary customer service.

Buyer personas are key

Before we go ahead and apply the inbound methodology to generate leads, we first have to ask the following questions to attract the right prospects such as:

  • Who am I trying to reach out to?
  • What are their challenges and responsibilities?
  • How will my solution help them in solving their issues

And this is where buyer personas come in.

Buyer personas allow you to understand your audience on a much deeper, more personal level.

They are semi-fictional representations of your audience segments, grouped according to their common pain posts, challenges, issues, and needs.

Developing personas is critical to your inbound lead generation campaign’s success. And the reason is simple: after knowing your prospects’ problems, you can empathize with them and see how your solution and, more importantly, the content you create, will be helpful in their buyer journeys. This is known as content mapping in inbound terms, and it’s central to making sure your content gets found by the right people.

buyer persona

Developing buyer personas

Do some research on your existing customers. What are their common challenges? Job titles? Industries they work in? Who do they answer to? What are they responsible for? How much do they make? How do their career trajectories look like? Where do they spend their time online? What other characteristics can you use as a basis for segmentation?

For a good starting list of questions, download our guide to buyer persona creation. Here’s a sample persona pulled straight from the guide:

buyers persona

Doing persona research

The research process can be done through any means you like. Just try to do as little guesswork as possible. Remember that these will be representations of your actual customer segments, and that you will be using this to build copy and content against. Keep it accurate, and keep it fun!

  • Surveys
  • Phone interviews
  • In-person interviews
  • Trends in your contacts database
  • Feedback from the sales department
  • Feedback from client services executives

Start with three personas. Interview at least 3-5 people per persona you are trying to build. Organize the data you have gathered, format it for presentation, and discuss and present this to both sales and marketing for feedback. When all is green, it’s time to use your personas for content creation!

Map out content to buyer personas

Ideally, you should have at least three personas to work with on your inbound lead generation campaign. But for the sake of brevity in this article, we will focus on creating a content map for just one persona.

Building up on the persona from the previous section, we’ll create content for every stage of Sample Sally’s buyer’s journey.

Awareness stage content

The awareness stage is all about generating aware by writing relevant content that appeals to your personas. It doesn’t always have to be about HR Management Software or how “the best one” will change her life forever. Content that aims to address Sample Sally’s challenges, directly or indirectly related to her job description, qualifies. Just don’t stray too far away from your domain of expertise.

Sample content:

“How to use IFTTT as a task-automation tool” (to help give her room to breathe by spending less time doing – repetitive tasks)

“Top ten reasons why employees leave their employers (and what you can do about it)”

“Technologies and trends shaping the way we hire in 2018”

Decision stage content

Content from the consideration stage can be very similar to those from the decision stage. The biggest difference is that on this stage:

  1. Marketers begin to focus on the value of their brand’s solution.
  2. its differentiating features from the competition, and other characteristics unique to that brand.
  3. how it’s best suited for their prospects.

Besides blogs, decision stage content also comes in the form of case studies, brand comparison sheets, whitepapers, and others. The following is a sample list of content best fit for Sample Sally:

“Growing <business_name_here>: An ROI-oriented Case Study”

“How <solution_name_here> is different from <competing_solution_name_here> and their use cases”

“<Business_name_here> Solutions Portfolio 2018”

Write content!

Now here comes the fun part!

We say fun because writing with a defined audience and purpose is fun! It helps set the tone and voice of your content, whose emotions make your content feel more personal and alive.

When writing, try to keep a healthy balance between search engine optimization and being genuinely helpful to your audience. How much you lean to either side will depend on your audience. Just keep in mind that you should be writing for humans, not computers.

Some SEO guidelines:

  • Focus keywords in the title, headers and mentioned reasonably frequently in the body
  • Tags present
  • Meta description present

Creating content offers and re-purposing

Attracting traffic into your website with blog posts is one thing, but converting them into contacts is another. This is where additional content offers come in.

Content offers are your brand’s premium content. They are more comprehensive, more detailed, full of research, and generally more polished. They usually come in the form of eBooks, whitepapers, comprehensive checklists and guides, webinars, or free trials, among others. These are given to prospects for free in exchange for further contact with you.

Re-purposing

Content offers demonstrate your expertise in your topic domain. Chances are, you already have the bits and pieces of content you need to create comprehensive guides. Audit what you already have, and repurpose them as necessary.

A few places you could look at for content to re purpose:

  • Your website home page and services page
  • A breakdown or analysis of your processes
  • Your blog posts, both published or unpublished
  • Your pitch deck
  • Case studies
  • Internal surveys and research

Re-purposing content

Compile your new content into the most appropriate format, and create a call to action for insertion into relevant blog posts.

Creating calls-to-action

Calls to action link your content offers to your blog posts. They play a pivotal role in turning your blog’s visitors into contacts. It does that by encouraging your visitors to take an action you desire. As is usually the case for B2B inbound lead generation, it’s to download your eBook or guide in exchange for their contact details.

It goes without saying that you must be able to demonstrate the value of your offer during the brief moments that readers will spare to glance at your CTAs.

Once they click the CTA, take your visitors to a landing page – a page whose sole purpose is to further expound on the value of your offer and to capture their contact details before they download.

call to action

call to action

Some tips for creating effective CTAs and landing pages:

  1. Make the value of your offer immediately clear to your prospects!
  2. Write copy that is short, sweet, and to the point
  3. Use action verbs!
  4. Prefer designs that are simple and that emphasize your offer’s selling point
  5. Make sure that the language used on both CTAs and landing pages are consistent

Promote content

With your content deployed, it’s time to promote your posts on social media or through email for your existing subscribers.

Keep a consistent posting schedule on social media. Stick to a frequency, dates and times, and commit to it. As for what posting times work best, refer to your personas. Determine the best social media platforms for posting and leverage existing statistics for dates and times that lead to higher than average view, open, and engagement rates.

It’s also important to note that you don’t necessarily have to have one blog post for every social media post. Simply re share your content as necessary, making sure you space them out enough in between intervals. Take advantage of buzz and trends when sharing and writing post copy.

Plan ahead for good measure.

Take note of your contents’ titles, links to be shared, unique post copy, publish dates, status, and remarks.

Here’s a social sharing template you could use to get you started:

promote content

Nurture leads with further content offers

The leads you have generated so far are top of the funnel leads, and they’re not quite ready to talk to your salespeople yet. What they’re ready for, however, are content complementary and relevant to the issues they’re facing.

Remember that eBook we tied into our blog post as offers? What eBook your prospect downloaded will tell you enough about what challenges your prospects aim to solve. If Sally downloaded the “Guide to Healthy Turnover Rates in the Modern Workplace” eBook, for example, we can infer that Sally may be interested in an eBook that further talks about using “HR Management Software to Spot and Act on Trends in Data”.

Keep in communication with your prospect. Send them offers relevant to the issues they are facing.

Nurture leads

Visualization of the whole inbound lead generation process

inbound lead generation process

List of free inbound lead generation tools

If you have your website built on top of a CMS like WordPress, then you already possess one of the most important software in the lead generation toolkit. Your CMS allows you to dynamically add, alter, delete, and update your content according to the needs of your audience.

Beyond this, it helps to have a set of specialized tools designed to analyze site traffic and statistical data, automate many repetitive tasks in marketing, or build attractive landing pages and CTAs at speed.

Visit this page for a list of free inbound marketing tools we still use today!

Making inbound and outbound work together

Both inbound and outbound have their own strengths and weaknesses. Outbound’s strength lies in finding prospects quickly for as long as you have the data and the right targeting parameters. MQLs coming from channels such as phone, SEM, and display tend to be easier to find, but are significantly more expensive per lead.

Inbound marketing is cheaper, more sustainable, more effective in finding ideal prospects and gaining market insights. They also cast wider nets; qualified leads are passed on to the sales time, and the unqualified ones are enrolled into various nurturing strategies.

When planned right, inbound and outbound can work together better than they can on their own.

When creating a strategy with both an inbound and outbound approach, it’s best to have the focus around buyer personas – and to see how it executes from the prospects’ perspective.

Buyer personas identify the best channels to meet your prospects halfway at, as well as the right content offers that would appeal to them in that specific channel.

An inbound + outbound approach, something we like to call all bound – is all inclusive. We place content marketing and marketing automation at the core of our processes, and employ the right outbound channels as we see best fit for our clients. The following is an example of inbound and outbound working together.

inbound and outbound

“Getting Started With Inbound” Checklist

If all these seem overwhelming, don’t worry.

We got you.

As soon as you get started and bringing in traffic, you will begin to see how each of these elements interact with each other, and why the tips contained herein are recommended in the first place.

So what better way to learn inbound marketing to dive right in and understand things as they go? Refer to the checklist below and get that lead generation machine started!

inbound checklist

There is no B2B Lead Generation – Only H2H Conversations

Simplify the term “lead generation” down to its roots.

What it is, when stripped of marketing and business terminology, is essentially a way of reaching out to your potential customers who are the most likely to buy your products or services.

To gauge their likelihood of converting to sales, marketers must engage with the prospects in conversation to understand their challenges and needs, and determine how the product or service being marketed can solve their issues and pain points.

That’s what lead generation basically is: conversations.

Regardless of who initiates it (inbound vs. outbound marketing), or how and where conversations are initiated from (phone, display ads, blogs, videos, etc.) conversations lie at the heart of lead generation. It is the sole activity that must be done well and matters the most; not the numbers, metrics, keywords, or spreadsheets.

It is the messaging that reels visitors in, content that engages them in conversation, and the human interaction that prospects feel from your brand that must trump all others efforts.

Crafting better conversations

Your brand’s messaging sets the tone for all future communications with your prospects, so it’s only logical to do it right from the very first touch point. But how do you do that, exactly?

Two words: Buyer Personas.

The key to successful marketing is knowing your audience well.

When you know your audience well, you know what tone appeals to them. You know what voice they’re most likely to listen and stay engaged to. You’ll know exactly where they hang out – both in the digital and offline world – and what offers they will respond to.

Creating buyer personas is a worthwhile activity in that once you spend the time to know your buyers well now, you will be rewarded in the long term with:

  • Lower bounce rates, as you now know what content, voice, and tone resonates with your prospects.
  • Increased conversions, since you’re reeling in more qualified contacts, instead of casting a very wide net.
  • The ability to segment your contacts, allowing you to create highly personalized content for your different personas which, in turn, will improve the metrics your boss will surely love.

Spend the time to know more about the people behind the B2B companies you’re marketing to.

  • What are their roles, responsibilities, and goals?
  • What do challenges and pain points to they face in pursuit of their objectives?
  • Who do they answer to?
  • To whom do they share their responsibilities with? How do they spend their free time?

Your answers to these questions will help you empathize with your prospects and guide you as you craft the perfect messaging for them.

To help you get started with buyer personas, we have prepared a free guide for you to download. It includes tips and tricks for asking the right interview questions, formatting your research, and presenting your buyer personas for use in marketing segmentation.

Creating buyer persona

With buyer personas in place, the next logical step would be to take advantage of those powerful insights. Align your marketing efforts to where you’re likely to find your personas, and meet them with the content and messaging that fits.

Human conversations first, SEO second

As marketers, it is our prime directive to generate leads above everything else. We’re given marketing resources to reel in as many prospects as possible. The more effective we are at driving demand for the sales teams, the happier the upper management becomes, and the more budget we can get.

Because of this perpetual pursuit for metrics, it can be easy to forget that it is our duty to communicate with prospects as much as it is to attract them in.

It is communication that differentiates and allows us to transcend from advertising. It helps us uncover insights from prospects that we never would have known if not for human interaction.

And what better way to start conversations with your prospects than to genuinely offer them your help. This line of thinking extends to every marketing activity there is: from display and programmatic ads, content marketing, SEO, marketing automation, you name it.

Shifting a marketer’s mindset to helping prospect is important because it gives them a human goal that guides the message creation process. This, along with the buyer personas, serve as content compasses in choosing the right tone, voice, style, and design decisions.

Any marketing activity without a human goal is bound to feel unnatural and robotic.

Take SEO writing in the context of content marketing, for instance.

Content marketing simply means providing educational and helpful content in the form of eBooks, infographics, how-tos, and videos for your potential readers. For these pieces of content to be useful in the first place, they must first be found – visible and preferred in search engines.

Copywriters and online marketers must then make sure that the content they create follow SEO best practices. The target keyword (what you’re trying to rank in search for) must be present in the page title, meta tags, and heading, and must be mentioned with reasonable frequency in the content body.

And therein lies the problem.

The “need” to rank can often take a writer’s focus away from writing content for people, and into writing content for search engines.

With SEO considerations taking the spotlight, writers lose the flexibility and creative freedom they need to create compelling copy. Instead of witty wordplay, they may be forced to settle with a rather bland title just to fit the keywords in the title.

Subheadings take the heaviest toll, since writers see this as an opportunity to introduce new subtopics creatively – opportunities writers for print magazine articles tend to take. For writers, subheads are more than just breaks in content for manageable pieces; they’re poetry.

True, this will get you in the first page on Google search (just look at the titles of the articles you see on page one when you look something up). Think about the traffic though. Are the views you’re reeling in coming from the right people? Does the title and content resonate with your personas once they land?

Having “fully SEO-optimized” copy may increase views and overall traffic, but it increases bounce rates from unqualified views as well. Ultimately, this will manifest itself in the form of lower than average page conversion rates.

A middle ground

Striking a good balance between being found and writing compelling copy is, of course, the way to go when faced with this dilemma. At ThinkLogic, it is our style guide to prefer to write freely, deferring SEO except on the absolute necessities, or incorporating them into the title where “creatively” possible.

We put our faith on the power of having genuine, human conversations with our clients and readers. We prioritize getting them engaged and to stay over bulk volume. This way, we can focus on increasing conversions – not visits – and understand our core audience segments as well.

Which leads us back to the original point: There is no B2B lead generation; just human to human conversations with B2B executives to better understand their needs and pain points, and to get to them with the right helpful content. This, with enough time and nurturing, will eventually turn to sales.

Focus on buyer personas to know where and how to attract your audience. When you have those details, craft creative and compelling content specifically tailored to your persona’s channels of choice.

And that’s basically how it all works.

There is no need to overthink anything, for as long as you’re willing to help your audience succeed through genuine human interactions.

The rest, we guarantee will come to you naturally.

“Just having a website” isn’t going to cut it anymore

Think of any business. For the first one that immediately comes to mind, try to see if they already have a website in place.

Then think of another one.

And then another one once more. Keep on going until you get to the local small business level. Chances are, you’ll find that most – if not all – of the businesses you ran through your head have their website up.

Even I have my own personal website where I write things I couldn’t possibly publish here or at LinkedIn. That’s me “just wanting to have a website,” so I don’t really care about operating expenses, ROI, promotion, or analytics; I just wanted my own digital space online.

For businesses, however, the internet and the way modern commerce works has changed so much that “just having an online presence” isn’t going to cut it anymore. Marketers (a collective term I will use for actively involved in the promotion of their brand from this point on) need to adopt a lead generation mindset when it comes to their online real estate. This isn’t just to increase sales, but to remain competitive in their respective industries.

What is lead generation?

You may have come across this page with the “lead generation” keyword as a search term. Since the topic can be too broad, I am going to explain it anyway to narrow down what this post is going to be.

Lead generation is any marketing activity with the expressed interest of capturing prospect data for future contact, nurture, and sale. It can be done through many different ways, such as:

  • setting up an event, seminar, or webinar, and capturing registration data from there.
  • smart prospecting and telemarketing to ascertain needs and challenges of potential customers.
  • offering helpful content such as how-to’s, blog posts, free software, and more and encouraging future contact from visitors.

This post is going to focus on the third method – content marketing – and how it can turn one’s online real estate into lean, mean, content marketing machines.

A case for lead generation and conversion optimization

Credit where it’s due: the businesses I asked you to think about earlier probably have their websites in perfect working order already. Pages have the proper meta tags, headings, and links for SEO. Navigation and menu items, along with their sub pages, are organized in a neat and intuitive fashion. The designs are aesthetically pleasing, and are able to grab their viewers’ attention to the details that matter the most.

In short, for all intents and purposes, they have nice websites.

It should not stop there, however. In fact, having a nice website should only be every business’ starting point. Marketing teams and web development agencies should embrace designs that encourage conversions and systems that easily adapt for growth.

The following questions should help guide with evaluating an existing website according to conversions and growth considerations:

  1. Do each of the pages have a clear and defined goal?
  2. Are each of the pages able to deliver the results they are intended to bring?
  3. How are the pages performing? Is there room to improve these numbers? How does it compare to industry standards?
  4. Are the visitors able to find the information they desire with little to no friction? Are the pages able to anticipate those needs?
  5. How are the pages set up to convert those visits into contacts?

With these being said, it is first important to have metrics set up, as well as your goals you want those numbers compared against.

Metrics encourage you to create pages with their own, clearly defined purpose towards achieving a singular goal. Without specific goals for specific pages, websites are bound to be reduced to mere online brochures of a company’s products, services, and contact details.

A simple goal example

Say we want 1 website inquiry – a sales ready lead – for every 5000 visits. Simple enough to handle without a plan, right? Though deceptively simple, website inquiry goals are actually the perfect, most straightforward example to guide website design and layout decisions.

The first step in taking on this goal would be to map the website’s copy to stages in the buyer’s journey. According to the inbound methodology, today’s modern buyers go through the following stages before making a purchase decision:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision

Website copies, designs, and layouts must be crafted in a way that will appeal to audiences in their specific stage in the buyer’s journey. Read through the following as a guide on copy creation:

Awareness

Answer these questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What are your most outstanding services and capabilities?

Visitors coming from search engines tend to land on home pages. Or, if you have blogs set up, on the specific blog post talking about the problem they intend to solve. Home pages should immediately tell visitors who you are and what you do without being sales-ey.

Consideration

Answer these questions:

  • What do you do for companies that help them add value to their processes?
  • What do you know well (or better than the competition) in terms of specific category, audience, or industry?

Answers to these questions have their place in the services page, and deserve a mention right next to – or with – your unique selling proposition.

Decision

Answer these questions:

  • Do you do better than most companies?
  • Are your unique philosophies, methods, or approach?
  • What results have you been able to deliver for your previous clients?

Decision makers who are already looking for specific vendors to address their needs are usually found sifting through the services and case study pages. Make sure that your answers to these questions are clear and concise within those two. Last, and most importantly, make it easy for them to find a way to get in touch with you.

Gluing everything together with CTA

If you’re relying solely on your navigation menu to guide users across your website, then you’re missing out on opportunities to showcase your brand’s unique messaging and potential conversions.

The solution is to tie up every page and every section with calls-to-action. CTAs are simply big, easily noticeable buttons that encourage action with verbs and offer something of clear value to the viewer.

Example CTA:

For example, if you have just mentioned somewhere in your homepage that you have helped many businesses drive revenue through your solution, you could have a CTA that will immediately take them to your case studies page.

The trick is to consider your messaging and page layout. Run through your website as your potential clients would. Identify areas or sections where you expect your visitors would want to know more about a specific topic and then jump to that page. Anticipate their needs in order to minimize conversion friction.

The following is an example website showing the steps visitors can take towards an inquiry. This is as simple as a modern lead generating website can be. If you want to maximize your SEO visibility and provide more value to your readers, consider taking a step further and engaging your audience with content marketing.

For demonstration purposes, this is a good starting point:

Remember your buyer’s journey and use your CTAs effectively in guiding them as they solve their challenges and address their needs.

Continuous pursuits

Optimization stage starts when you finish setting up and deploying your new website. Keep track of your metrics, and let your goals guide you in making the changes necessary. A/B test wherever possible. Start a blog and help people solve their problems. Promote your content on appropriate places and make sure to share them on social media.

Inbound lead generation is a continuous process. It’s results and effects won’t immediately manifest themselves within a month or two. Perhaps the most important tip is not to overthink it. Aim to help your prospects. Once you do that, we guarantee that things will only come naturally.

 

What the GDPR means for ThinkLogic

In a move to give back the EU’s citizens control of its data, the EU has passed on the GDPR and was approved on April 26 2016, which will take into effect this coming May 2018. Though EU-centric in nature, the regulation will have – and have had – a profound effect on countries outside the union as well.

That includes us, ThinkLogic, who operates from across the world serving organizations based in Southeast Asia.

GDPR in a nutshell

One phrase perfectly summarizes the GDPR: “privacy by design and privacy by default.” This concerns the way data are stored and secured against attacks, as well as the means in which data were collected in the first place. In other words, consumers must be explicitly made aware that information were collected, and that these collected data must be safe from any form of attack.

Furthermore, it requires data controllers – people directly involved in the collection and processing of data – to be more transparent with the data they collect and that they adhere to subject rights such as:

  • right to be forgotten – data removal must be as simple and straightforward as its collection.
  • right to access (and to portable data) – Consumers must be made aware of what data was collected about them, as well as the purpose of having collected them in the first place. All of this in a format that is easy to transmit and read.
  • notification to data breaches – data processors are required to notify customers and data controllers of breaches within 72 hours.

Organizations in the EU found to be non-compliant with the regulation can be fined 4% of their annual global turnover or 20 million euros – whichever value is higher. The GDPR’s scope also extends to companies outside the EU if they are controlling, storing, or processing data containing EU citizen information.

The final text of the GDPR can be found here.

Regardless of the how specifically it will affect nations outside the EU, one thing is clear: consumer expectations worldwide will shift, and they will demand for greater transparency, more control over where and how their data is collected, and, of course, greater control over what they give out.

ThinkLogic and the GDPR in the context of technology

Perhaps the most straightforward – but not in any means easy – topic of discussion is that of data storage and protection.

ThinkLogic has long appointed an internal Data Protection Officer (DPO). The DPO has sole access to the individual entries to the database. During data processing, the DPO himself allocates individual rows to the lead generation specialists and collects them back after they are spent. Everything is accounted for, and only those that have been qualified to a level matching the campaign requirements are released to the client.
The DPO has been appointed on the following grounds:

  • he has a thorough understanding of how data is processed.
  • his responsibilities as the DPO and database manager do not conflict, as both job titles share the responsibilities of data safety.
  • he is familiar with IT systems, and is in constant communication with the IT heads in keeping the systems regularly maintained and updated.

As for the storage and management themselves, ThinkLogic operates an in-premises server for our in-house contacts management platform. It is only accessible from within our local network or through a VPN, and its disks are protected with full encryption.

ThinkLogic and the GDPR in the marketing context

ThinkLogic’s commitment lies in driving meaningful results for our clients. To do that, we place the greatest value on making the telemarketing and lead generation process as positive as possible an experience for our prospects. That said, we continually refine our qualification process with the prospects in mind. The changes we introduce are aligned with what prospects expect from a brand – the clients we represent. Genuine concern for their user base and interest towards a more efficient workflow, we believe, should top the list of consumer expectations brands should meet.

Not much has changed in our qualification process between before and after the introduction of the GDPR. Not because we’re beyond the scope of the regulation – we actually often find ourselves dealing with European data – but because our interest-based approach has always had consumer consent baked into the core of our lead generation process.

We work only through contacts that have been prequalified and have agreed to receive further qualification, even at the very top of the funnel. As we nurture and qualify them further to pass on as leads, the same set of permissions are acquired before they are delivered to the clients’ sales teams. The key to our process is the genuineness of our messages and its consistency across the funnel, without which our conversions rate wouldn’t be as it is today.

What we foresee will change is how B2B marketers, especially those at the top of the funnel, will have to evolve and be more creative in the collection of data. This will shape the future of the competition for years to come.

The future

As a company that puts its clients and customers first, ThinkLogic sees the GDPR as a major step forward in improving the marketing landscape. Because let’s face it: marketing and advertising will only continue to work effectively if everyone involved has the same positive experience around them.

The road ahead is filled with onerous challenges. No matter the region, consumer expectations will grow to be more defined and stricter about their rights to privacy. As such, top-of-the-funnel marketers are going to have to put a lot more effort and ensure opt-in explicitness. The competition will be an interesting one as message creativity starts to become an integral part of marketing.

In the end, the GDPR is going to make consumers win by default – and with a head start to boot. That’s the first step to creating a positive experience for them. All marketers now have to do is to play their cards right, find a way to meet them halfway, and keep things positive for everyone.

Symptoms, causes, and solutions to common inbound lead generation problems

With inbound lead generation, getting a proper diagnosis about why a website isn’t generating leads can seem intimidating at first glance, what with all the components and “moving parts” involved in the typical website.

Sure, there really are a lot going on behind the scenes. But with a little introspection of your process, and an understanding and application of the inbound methodology (plus all its parts), troubleshooting your inbound lead generation issues will be a piece of cake.

First things first: the inbound methodology

Inbound Methodology

Popularized by HubSpot, the inbound methodology defines a marketing framework focused on building personal experiences for each audience across their buyer’s journey – from awareness, to consideration, to decision stages.

This means attracting audiences into the awareness stage with educational and helpful content, converting visitors into the consideration stage through lead nurturing, and closing them into deals with decision-stage content.

But it doesn’t stop there, the inbound methodology encourages marketing and sales to delight closed-deals into brand evangelists by offering superb customer service and providing referral incentives.

Inbound Methodology 2

Troubleshooting based on the inbound methodology

This guide will follow a top to bottom-of-the-funnel approach to troubleshooting common inbound lead generation problems. The funnels will be based on the inbound methodology, covering the attract and convert stages and its equivalent awareness stage in the buyer’s journey.

Troubleshooting top-of-the-funnel issues

Attracting traffic is the most straightforward activity in inbound lead generation. To many, this is the first big step to take.

Symptoms

1. Low traffic volume

Traffic may not be the sole measure of the efficacy of a lead generation campaign, but it gets the lions share of attention even as you move towards the very bottom of the funnel. That said, everything revolves around traffic: given a constant visit-to-contacts add contacts-to-leads conversion ratios, traffic directly and indirectly dictates the number of sales a company can make within a specified period.

Common Causes

  • Low organic search ranking
  • Unmarketed website and blog content
  • Poor website performance and page load speeds
  • Lack of content
  • Lack of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts

Remedy

Achieving a high-enough organic search ranking is key to increasing your website traffic volume. The higher you can get your brand and brand content up the Google Search Results Page (SERPs), the more impressions and potential clicks (“inbound traffic”) you get towards your website.

Increasing organic search engine ranking is no small feat, but it is something that’s certainly achievable within a reasonable time frame. For as long as your marketing team fortifies its content front on a consistent basis, higher search rankings should be on the horizon in around three months.

While you’re still building up on SEO, take the time to work on your social strategy. At this point you will now have to consider three fronts – the holy trinity – of the inbound methodology:

  • Content
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social

The following is a condensed version of a common inbound lead generation strategy utilizing content, social, and search SEO:

  • Create buyer personas.
  • Plan for, schedule, and write content designed to solve your personas’ issues, pain points, and challenges.
  • Edit written content, optimizing the headers and sub-headers, meta descriptions, and titles based on SEO considerations. These elements, as well as your content, must make occasional mention of your brand or your post’s target keywords.
  • However, do not let keywords alone dictate the flow of your content. Write as naturally as possible for your audience first, and then edit and optimize for SEO later.
  • Publish content on a consistent basis. Aim for 1-2 published blog posts per week.
  • Share your content on social media platforms where (and when!) your ideal audience and prospects are most likely to see it.
  • [Optional, but highly recommended] Schedule your social media posts by laying it out on a spreadsheet. Know that it is okay to publish social media posts more frequently than your content bandwidth can afford; You may share posts you have already shared before, but keep your captions updated and relevant to current contexts. Keep the same blog posts spaced apart enough, though!

Infographic

Troubleshooting middle-of-the-funnel issues

It’s one thing to generate traffic, and another thing entirely to make sure that the traffic being pulled in are qualified, relevant, and have a propensity to convert to future sales.

In this stage, marketers are most concerned about making sure the traffic they bring in belong to one of their defined personas – or at least someone they’d want to do business with. If they are, they should be led to the information they are looking for with as little friction as possible.

Symptoms

1. High bounce rate

High bounce rates can indicate many things, but this is usually due to viewers not getting to the content they are looking for. Maybe they think the website isn’t where they’re going to find it, or maybe it’s where it might be, only that they are lost due to site navigation issues.

Similarly, this may be indicative of a campaign that’s driving in unqualified traffic. These views may be coming from websites that have little to do with the subject your content is discussing.

Whichever the case, the viewers’ expectations are not being met by the page they have landed on.

2. High exit rate

Exit rates and bounce rates seem similar – and they are. The difference is in how and where they are tracked, and ultimately their implication for your audiences’ behavior.

Unlike bounce rate – which is measured based on how much time your visitors spend on specific pages, exit rate is measured based on how many pages your viewers visited before exiting your website and from which page they left. That being said, this difference opens new opportunities to gain insights.

High exit rates primarily mean that your viewer can’t get to the information they are looking for. This may be due to a confusing navigation structure or a counter intuitive menu text. The copy used to direct their interest towards where you want their attention may also not resonate with them immediately.

If you are inspecting your exit rates on a page per page basis, know that some pages are meant to have higher exit rates than others. A thank you page having an exit rate of 70% or more is normal (though there are opportunities to provide further offers here). The home page showing the same number? There’s probably a problem somewhere.

3. Low average session duration / pages per session

The more relevant your website is to your viewers, the more time and the more pages they will be sifting through per session.

This metric is directly related to your exit and bounce rates. The difference is that this metric provides more of a holistic view of your visitor behavior instead of a per-page basis. Often, this dictates how easy or hard finding the information they need was for them, and the number of steps they had to take before finally getting what they came looking for.

While bounce and exit rates tell you how many of your visitors got to their information, average session duration and pages per session say how long it took them to get there and how engaging your content was for them.

Remedy

1. High bounce rate

Reducing high bounce rates is done two-fold.

First, make sure that the source links and copies set the right expectation for the viewer. Write your SEO meta descriptions, page or article titles, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) ad copies in a way that encourages the reader to click through, but tells them succinctly what they will be getting once they do click it.
The second step is to simply meet this expectation on the destination page.

When in doubt, refer to your personas. What interests your audience? What verbs and adjectives resonates with them? Will the written copy resonate with them? Is the content on the destination page written in a manner that was designed specifically to address their issues?

Here is a simple “do and don’t” example for an eCommerce website’s SEM campaign:

relevance-tips

2. High exit rates / low average session duration / low average pages per session

Measures to reducing exit rates for important pages are mostly similar to those from reducing high bounce rates. On top of making sure that you set and meet your audience’s expectations, keep your audience engaged by helping them navigate through your website.

A general rule to always keep in mind: don’t just rely on your portal’s navigation bar. When visitors are reading through your content in search for specific bits of information, they will want to check out other, complementary information located elsewhere in your website.

What marketers must do is to anticipate this need by placing calls-to-action or links to relevant pages in-line or in the middle of your page. Write the copy in as conversationally-natural a way as possible; write them as if you know exactly what they’re looking for, what they’ll want to view next, and how your link or button easily takes them there.

Here’s an example from our own home page, where we encourage visitors to check some of our case studies out:

Case Studies

Again, when in doubt, refer to your buyer personas, as they will almost always guide you with the language, voice, and tone with which you craft your links and CTAs.

Troubleshooting bottom-of-the-funnel issues

The bottom of the funnel without a doubt the most critical part of your inbound lead generation efforts. After all, you’ve spent a considerable amount of time and effort in driving in qualified traffic for your website and performing analysis on how to best take them to what they need. At this stage, you must give it everything you have to make sure they convert into contacts and don’t just bounce out.

Symptoms

1. Low CTA click-through rate

Before you can turn visitors into leads, you will first have to direct their attention to a landing page – pages that encourage visitors to download an offer of value in exchange for their contact information.

If you have CTAs scattered strategically around your website that directs traffic to landing pages but aren’t getting clicks, it may be indicative of the following problems:

  • The CTA copy is not resonating with your audience.
  • The CTA design does not stand out enough from the rest of the web page’s elements.
  • The CTA does not facilitate a natural thought flow or conversational-style presentation of the information being read.
  • The value of the offer is not being immediately made aware to the visitor.

2. Low visitors-to-contacts conversions

A page is said to have low visitors-to-contacts conversion rates when it receives a high volume of traffic, but is unable to turn these visitors into contacts.

There are many causes for low conversion rates. Common causes include:

  • Your contact form is asking for too much information relative to your offer
  • The value of your offer isn’t being made immediately clear to the visitors
  • The landing page copy may not be encouraging action, using generic text on form and button labels (“submit”, “click here”, etc.).

Remedy

Take advantage of the fact that CTAs and landing pages are made to stand out. Make the value of your offer immediately stand out. Carefully show your audience that the content being offered is of equal or more value to the time they take filling up your form to give you their contact information.

For CTAs

Make sure the button doesn’t just blend in with the rest of the page. CTAs must be immediately noticeable, with the right copy that both encourages action and shows succinctly what’s on the other side of the link.

Of equal importance is where you place these CTAs. These CTAs must be present only on blog posts or website pages that are relevant to the content being offered. Consider the buyer persona link from the “top-of-the-funnel” troubleshooting section in this post as an example.

top of the funnel

For landing pages

The secret to forms and landing pages is to be able to demonstrate the value of your offer within five seconds of the visitor loading the page. Leverage five second test, be it through paid services online or through colleagues from different departments (or those who are not directly involved in marketing and sales).

Ask them to have a five-second look at your landing pages, after which they will have to explain what the page was all about based on their first impressions. If they mostly get it right, then congratulations – your landing pages are effective! If they do not, consider making tweaks to your landing pages; you’re most likely only to need to be more direct with your messaging, and to make your message as clear as possible from the top of the fold.

For forms

While we’re on the subject of value, ask only for an equal amount of value relative to your offer. If you’re offering an eBook, it may be best to limit the form fields to only the name and email address. If you’re offering a case study of sorts only you can offer, then it’s okay to ask further for things like company names and direct contact numbers (visitors downloading case studies may already be in the decision stage). If it’s a market survey you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on which you think might create a buzz (for the good, of course) and get re-shared, then go ahead and ask for even more information!

The rule of thumb is to ask for as little information as possible. Aim to make the experience friction-free; if they’ve spent time looking at your offer, then they most likely have been thinking about downloading it. Make it easy for them to do so. Keep it balanced: don’t just give out free information, nor lock and keep it out of anyone’s reach.

Keep optimizing

The optimizations listed here are of the more “general” type. Of course, there may be some intricacies with your niche or product that will be subject to other considerations beyond the scope of this post.
It all goes back, however, to your personas.

Just try to keep your website’s experience with them in mind. Map out their potential interactions with your website’s individual pages, and design your navigation and content around getting them around friction-free and as personas as possible.

Optimization is an ever-continuous process. Mind your data, keep experimenting, and, most importantly, keep it fun and human!

Telemarketing’s Role in the B2B Buyers’ Journey

It is a common misconception in the B2B industry that telemarketing is limited to activities near the bottom of the sales funnel – implying its limitation for use only on the final stages of the buying process, or to generating hot leads effectively. And that anything upwards of that would simply be “unwanted cold calling,” especially in this era of digital and inbound marketing.

As we have shown to our clients throughout the years with high leads-to-conversions rates, this is nowhere near the truth. Though, this isn’t immediately apparent to them, to the leads that we have generated, or to the outside world.

And therein lies the art in our process. We will discuss this in more detail shortly, but first it is important to explore the different buyer profiles across buying stages to understand how telemarketing should fit into their journey.

The following are some stages in the customer journey and the approaches telemarketing takes to lead customers down the funnel:

1. Complete Strangers

Complete Strangers

Nearly all B2B prospects in this stage has been acquired, in one way or another, by inbound marketing techniques. Web, content, and SEO drive most of the traffic, with display and pay-per-click advertising targeting users based on keywords, profiles, and intent according to the search phrases used.

Put simply, the overall goal for inbound marketing in this phase is to capture prospect information for further retargeting, remarketing, and nurturing.

Telemarketing’s Role:
Prospects may be closer to a purchase than the captured list of leads tend to present. Telemarketers can easily be deployed to follow up on responses to forms and qualify them as leads, or to yield for further nurturing. Telemarketing also shows its importance at this stage because, as they say, first impressions last. Follow-up calls at the right moment with the right message shows prospects that what they have to say matters to the company, as well as empowers them to make purchase decisions based on their specific issues and pain points.

Telemarketing in driving awareness through smart profiling:
Internal work culture can vary wildly between countries and companies. Some persons of authority find the idea of online activity during work hours as beneficial in the grand scheme of things, seeing as how the internet holds an unlimited volume of information that helps everyone keep up with the pace at which the world changes. Others, however, simply see it as a distraction from their duties.

Wherever you stand on the issue, it is a certainty that many prospects simply cannot be reached through online methods alone.

A combination of smart profiling techniques and a succinct telemarketing script is central to generating awareness on markets difficult to penetrate with inbound marketing. ThinkLogic’s own methodology – its interest-based approach – makes smart use of data by pre-qualifying our contacts at the database acquisition phase, so we know exactly who to approach come a solution that needs marketing.

2. Subscribers and Leads

Acquainted visitors consume content, are aware of the company in question, and are often subscribed to promotional emails.

During this stage, prospects are encouraged to take a specific course of action. Dial in to webinars, attend a nearby convention or seminar, or request for product demos and trials, among other similar nurturing techniques. These actions, when taken, allow marketers to gain more information from their prospects as well as to score them for warmness and propensity to convert.

Telemarketing’s role:
This is one of the best opportunities for telemarketers to begin determining the prospects’ interests and intents.

Remember: “interests” are the desires of the prospects to remedy an existing organizational process, while intents are the “interests” prospects have already looked to implementing soon.

Distinguishing between both is straightforward through telemarketing. This is especially true when telemarketers place a special emphasis on having genuine, human conversations with their prospects. Human conversations are achieved by simply making prospects comfortable – accent, approach, choice of words, ways around several cultural intricacies, you name it. Once this is realized, prospects feel more open to discuss their needs and pain points instead of them having the impression that they are used solely for data collection.

Towards the conclusion of the phone call, it should be clear which prospects need more nurturing, and which ones are closer to a purchase decision – the latter being easily approachable by the sales team given the insights that helped them formulate their pitch.

3. Opportunities

Oppurtunities

Opportunities are prospects that are already scored, and their interests discovered. With a little bit more hands-on nurturing, opportunities can be led quicker and further through the sales funnel.

Opportunities are usually further nurtured through a mix of inbound and outbound techniques. Calls to action are modified to ascertain decision making power, budget, and time frame. Often, the modifications are straightforward and manifest themselves through lengthier content walls and more personal emails.

One can immediately see the drawback in this approach: the prospects’ declining willingness to accomplish a form the longer and more “sensitive” the data being asked for becomes.

The issue is less about the data being requested from the prospect, but rather the limited trust they are willing to give to an online for – an online form that can only do so much to reaffirm that the data they submit will end up in safe hands. True, many websites manage to earn that trust. But the reality is that innumerable visitors (prospects) are averse to filling in more forms given the internet’s infamy to be easy to trip email subscription mines.

Telemarketing’s role:
We have previously discussed and emphasized how BANT-style qualification can often be flawed when taken as is and on its own. In a nutshell, our articles about BANT talk about it being an effective measure of one’s propensity to buy, but it is severely limiting in terms of reach and can leave out prospects from organizations with internal culture intricacies.

Of importance – one that cannot be ignored is the complete focus on key decision makers alone with little reservations. On paper this makes perfect sense: key decision makers, those with the responsibility and power to sign the dotted lines, should be prioritized. But to limit opportunities only to those decision makers, especially in this day and age where shared information and collaboration reign supreme, would mean…well…missed opportunities.

According to a 2016 study conducted by TechTarget, IT management and staff have significant influencing power towards solutions purchasing. 85% of these respondents consider themselves to be influencers to their senior IT’s decisions. Naturally, only 19% of Senior IT management consider themselves to be influencers, but 71% – not a full 100% – does the decision making.

There is clearly a tight synergy between each level in the IT department, one that is probably more pronounced here than elsewhere. This also suggests that typical filters can and will create many missed opportunities.

Determining whether an IT personnel has strong influencing and recommending power, then, doesn’t stop at job titles alone. To score them, one must determine their functions, roles, and specific responsibilities and how they fit into their company’s big picture.

And, as you may have guessed, this is where telemarketing’s strongest suites shine.

Nothing simply comes close to having a real, human conversation with your prospects. Like how acquainted visitors are assessed according to their issues and pain points, opportunities can be qualified further by carefully listening in to how their pain points related or affect the opportunity himself.

Sure, everyone can consider themselves a recommender, but our experience in the field has shown us one thing: that one’s affinity for their roles and functions, regardless of their title, have strong implications toward a company to lean on to a sale. This affinity can only be reliably evaluated through real, human interaction.

Through a combination of data and smart profiling techniques, telemarketing has shown over the years that not only does its challenge the many notions against it as a medium, it also presents itself as a completely viable and effective full-funnel marketing solution.

Furthermore, when understood completely and strategized, telemarketing can bring great results when used to complement other forms of inbound and outbound lead generation techniques, or on its own.