With all of the emphasis that has been placed on search engine optimization, we often have clients telling us they want to increase their SEO efforts to generate new business.
Yes, SEO is definitely going to bring you sustainable traffic over the long-run. It is critical to your lead generation strategy, but it is not a lead strategy on its own.
The Purpose of SEO
All successful lead generation strategies begin with SEO. This portion of your strategy is to place your business in front of potential customers when they search for the products and services your company offers.
An inbound marketing funnel for your b2b lead generation strategy may look something like this:
As you can see, SEO is a top-of-the-funnel strategy to bring qualified traffic to your website.
You achieve high rankings in search results for your business through producing content that is optimized for your keywords. You can also build your search authority by writing content that is so good that other see you as a source for information within your industry -- typically this results in high-quality sites linking back to yours.
SEO is like a party. If Google sees you're the most popular guy in the room, it's going to send more people your way.
But once someone gets to your site, they have to actually convert to people a lead.
SEO's Place in your Complete Strategy
That's the main issue behind thinking of SEO as a lead generation strategy: SEO's purpose is to drive traffic to your website, it can not help you capture leads.
When potential customers search for products or services offered by your business, they will be led to a page within your site, but that is only the first step in capturing and qualifying them as leads.
Think of your SEO efforts as the vehicle that drives potential customers to your place of business; getting them to the door does not guarantee a sale.
SEO Attracts Leads to Feed Into Your Inbound Funnel
You can attract traffic to your site through SEO, blogging, paid search and social media, but now you need to move these potential clients along in the buyer's process.
The vehicle has brought them to your business, now you need to move them from being window shoppers to entering your store to see what you have to offer.
You Have to Give to Get
Converting your traffic into leads has become more challenging than simply asking visitors to sign up for a mailing list.
You need to gain their trust before they provide personal details that allow for future contact. The best way to do this is through lead capture forms that make an offer that is useful for your visitors. The offer may be an ebook with specialized information, a case study or brochure, or even a free resource or consultation.
The bottom line is to give something to your visitors before asking them for anything.
Continuing with the vehicle analogy, the offer stage would be akin to providing a free sample or a discount coupon to the people who arrived at your storefront, to get them through the door and browse your shop.
Qualifying your Leads
Once you have generated leads through offers, you have to nurture these leads to ensure they move along in the buying cycle and build a stronger relationship with you.
Too often, businesses will focus on obtaining leads, then aim for the hard sell which can alienate potential customers or waste considerable time on people who are not ready to buy. To qualify your leads, you need a nurturing program in place that ties the information and offers to the value your company offers in its products and services.
Now, the traffic you brought in by vehicle have entered the storefront, enjoyed a sample or have their coupon in hand and only need light encouragement to choose their item and head for the checkout.
Learn More About Inbound Marketing
As you can see, SEO is really just the catalyst for successful lead generation strategies. It is not a strategy on its own, but it is the critical element that gets your business noticed and brings you the traffic from which to generate qualified leads.
SEO is just a piece of the inbound funnel. Download our Inbound Marketing case study to see how it all fits together: