The customer journey in inbound marketing doesn't stop once they get to your website. Attracting potential customers to your website through a variety of tactics is just step one in the sales process. The next step in the sales funnel, what happens once the visitor lands on your site, is an absolutely crucial step to capturing traffic and understanding how to turn them into dollars.
Let's assume the visitor has clicked a link from social media or search and has landed on your site. What is the next goal in the path to generating sales? Converting that visitor into a lead.
Lead Generation with Inbound
In the Inbound Marketing methodology, convert does not mean sell, persuade or push. Convert means to get your visitor to take action on the website. That action is often to submit their contact information for a free product, such as an ebook or download, to subscribe to an email newsletter, or to ask for more information. In the Convert phase of inbound, your company will receive contact information of prospective customers and they receive something of value to them.
Generally, a conversion works like this:
- A website visitor clicks on a call-to-action button (such as download or contact us) somewhere on your website or blog
- The CTA brings them to a landing page that correlates with the action on the button
- On that landing page is a form in which the visitor must submit their information to complete the action
- Once they hit submit, their information is collected into your contact database (CRM)
Let's take a look at each of these components and how they help in the lead generation process on your website:
A call-to-action (CTA), usually in the form of a button or clickable image, is exactly what it sounds like, a call to induce your visitor to take action. They have shown interest by clicking through to your site, and have now learned more about what you have to offer by reading through your site or watching a video. Then we ask them to take an action.
A CTA can be a button, link or even an embedded link within a video. It is intrinsic to the process of moving the prospect to the next stage within your inbound campaign. When they take the action of requesting more information through a whitepaper or ebook, they are qualifying themselves as truly interested in what you have to offer.
EXAMPLE (click to view landing page):
Calls-to-action can take several forms, dependent on the value of the exchange. Our CTA to download our free guide to 30 Effective B2B Lead Generation Tips (which you can download here) is an example of how a CTA doesn't have to be a simple button. You can use a mixture of buttons, copy and images to create a more effective CTA.
CTAs can be posted anywhere, but they are generally found on relevant pages or blog articles and link to specific landing pages. CTAs don't always have to be connected to free offers. Sometimes the CTA is the gateway to more valuable content, and the prospect needs to make a payment or offer a more valuable exchange than just contact information. For instance, they may need to register for a free trial of a product, or pay the lowest membership fee, or perhaps even sign up for a webinar or event.
Fun fact: According to Hubspot, personalized CTAs convert 42 percent better than non-personalized. This is why you see ads that relate to your browsing history. For example, ever looked at a computer on amazon, and when you went to Facebook an add for that exact product popped up? They are personalized for your interests.
A landing page is a dedicated page designed to continue the sales funnel from the original ad, social media post or blog post. It is a streamlined, highly-focused page that is meant to lead the prospect to the actual conversion point, where they give their contact information or make a purchase. It should smoothly continue the content from the previous page, to give the prospect an unbroken marketing message. Marketing Sherpa states that 48 percent of marketers create a new landing page for each campaign. This is highly recommended, as you have a higher chance of converting visitors if the offer and landing page is specific to the content that got them there in the first place.
Landing pages should be free of any distractions that can lead a customer away. Many landing pages have an introduction, and then a video because statistics have shown that 73 percent of consumers make a purchase after watching a video and videos have a 41 percent higher click-through rate than plain text. Since the goal of a landing page is to get the prospect to click on the CTA, landing page design focuses on drawing the eye's attention directly to the CTA button.
Depending on the industry, forms are designed to make it easy for the prospect to follow through on the CTA. Like the landing page, the ideal form will get the maximum amount of information from the prospect in the minimum amount of fields. The form should be made as user-friendly as possible.
In his article on MOZ, "The Most Entertaining Guide to Landing Page Optimization You'll Ever Read," Oli Gardner recommends one-page forms unless you have no other choice. If the form is too long and complicated, you will lose the prospect at this step. Minimal fields and pages help retain prospects during this stage. Typically, a form includes the first and last name of the person, email address, company name or website, and potentially their professional role.
If you're using a tool like HubSpot, you can convert your forms into "smart forms." If a prospect is highly engaged with your content and has already submitted one form, smart forms make it so you can automagically update the fields to capture new information, a process we call "progressive identification" in inbound. The idea is that you get the most information you possibly can to qualify a lead and understand how you can turn them into a client in the "close" phase.
Contact Database (CRM)
Once the prospect has exchanged their contact information for your free content, it can then be entered into your contact database for further nurturing. The contact management system will help qualify these prospects further, determine when they are ready to buy and continue a drip campaign to keep them interested until then. 84 percent of companies that have a customer relationship management (CRM) tool have a lead-scoring process to determine the quality of leads. Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent lower cost per Forrester Research. Lead nurturing emails from a database system generate an 8 percent CTR compared to general email sends, at a 3 percent CTR.
If used wisely, a CRM can boost your sales while making your work more efficient and effective. Much of the routine work can be automated, leaving the important tasks of interacting with and closing the prospect to be handled personally.
After you convert visitors into leads, the fun really begins. The "Close" phase of inbound marketing is when you really start working these leads through a mixture of marketing automation and sales tactics. More on that soon.