Inbound marketing is about attracting leads with helpful information, not soliciting them.

1. Generate leads

We attract visitors to your website—visitors who are suffering from the exact problems you can solve—using targeted, high quality blog content. We then capture some information about these leads in exchange for whitepapers, guides, eBooks, and other compelling and useful premium content

2. Nurture leads

Leads alone won’t grow your business. We make sure not to let those super valuable online leads out of your grasp. We keep them interested by identifying exactly where they’re stuck in the sales funnel and matching them with content precision-engineered to get them unstuck.

3. Close leads 

Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn your sales team loose with a list of leads that were already interested in your brand, educated about the solutions you provide, and had already had their major pushbacks addressed? That’s exactly what our process provides. And we take it a step further, by helping your sales team convert those golden opportunities into customers with high-value offers they’ll love.

Part 1: Generating Leads with IMR

We're Trigger Happy

Nobody does anything without a good reason. That’s why we believe effective content marketing must always start with an understanding of what set your prospective customers down the road toward the solutions you provide. We call this a trigger, and everybody has them. A trigger is an event or set of events that causes a potential buyer to identify a goal or goals he or she needs to achieve.

Think about it this way:
You’re looking at this website because of something you experienced: frustration from a low number of online leads, perhaps, or difficulty closing leads from online sources. Those experiences triggered in you a need to achieve certain goals: to generate more leads online and align online marketing with your sales team to close more leads.

See, we know something about you before you’ve even consumed a single piece of content or given us your name and email address.

Everything we do in a content marketing campaign begins with a trigger. For every trigger and goal we identify among your prospective customers, we seek to understand the specific questions they might be asking or the information they might be searching for. This gives us strong topic categories around which to organize content campaigns.

"Everything we do in a content marketing campaign begins with a trigger. For every trigger and goal we identify among your prospective customers, we seek to understand the specific questions they might be asking or the information they might be searching for. This gives us strong topic categories around which to organize content campaigns."

Built on Blogging

We believe blogging is essential to content marketing. Blogging is what will drive information-seeking traffic to your site. Effective blogging means consistently posting at least two 500-600 word posts every week on topics that relate to the problems that your potential customers want to solve—the information they need to know (don’t worry, we handle the writing and the posting).

But after someone has found and read a great blog article on your site how do you get them to stick around? Strike while the iron’s hot. Every blog article we do ends by promoting a “premium content offer,” a whitepaper, guide, eBook, webinar, or video that will go into much more detail on the given subject. The idea is to catch prospects immediately after you’ve answered their initial question and, as painlessly a possible, get them to take the next step.

When prospective leads fill out the form to get access to your premium content, they become a registered lead in your contact database. We call these leads information qualified because they have shown an appreciation for the value of the information provided in your premium content. As leads consume your content, you begin to establish trust and thought leadership.

Social Trends

Blog articles make the critical first impression with your audience. That’s why it’s so important for blog writers to stay on top of what is trending among your prospective customers. We use social trend analysis to identify content trends across social media and that enables our content creators to stay relevant and create content that will be found and shared by the right kinds of leads for your business.

CMB_social_trends

Part 2: Nurture Leads to a Point of Sale

Not all leads are created equal

The key is to keep leads engaged by feeding them content aligned with both their interests and their level of qualification. We’ve identified three important stages of lead qualification.

  1. Information Qualified Leads. These leads have shown an interest in your helpful information. They’ve downloaded a piece of premium content, subscribed to your blog, requested more information, or all of the above. We treat these leads with care. They want to learn, not be sold to. That means no “salesy” information until they’re ready. The best way we know of keeping these leads engaged with your content is to keep it educational, valuable, and relevant.
  2. Marketing Qualified Leads. Marketing qualified leads have shown an interest in your brand. How do we know? Because they’ve downloaded a piece of content that is specific to your brand, like a product sell sheet, a brochure, a company overview, a video demo, or case studies. These leads are ready for more product-specific information and can handle more “salesy” content.
  3. Sales Qualified Leads. These leads have asked to be contacted by sales. They have voluntarily taken action on a sales offer like a free consultation, a demo, a quote, or a set of valuable recommendations. Time to get to work!

Executives say lead scoring is critical to driving bottom-line results

importance_of_lead_scoring

Executives' responses to: "How important is lead scoring to your marketing strategy?"


 


When Leads Get Stuck

It’s inevitable in content marketing that a high percentage of leads will get “stuck” at any given stage of the sales process. These are leads who made it to one level of qualification but, for whatever reason, haven’t moved on to the next.

Information qualified leads get stuck because they still have some questions that you haven’t answered. Marketing qualified leads have unanswered questions, too, but of a more branded variety. They most likely have some pushbacks or objections about your specific branded solution that have not yet been addressed.

In either case, it’s content to the rescue again. To get stuck leads unstuck, we build lead nurturing email “workflows” (you might know them as “drip campaigns”) designed to answer common prospect question about your business’s positioning (at the top of the funnel) or to respond to common pushbacks (at the middle).


Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost.

Nurture leads according to their qualification

Blog Articles for Information Qualified Leads

Our email workflows at the top of the funnel clue information qualified prospects into blog articles that should answer whatever lingering questions they may have. You can use other types of content, but we prefer blog articles. They’re the easiest to create and they usually receive high click-through rates in nurturing emails.

Nurturing content for marketing qualified leads

Once a marketing qualified lead consumed brand specific information—a middle-of-the-funnel offer—we promote bottom-of-the-funnel offers that will result in a call with sales. When marketing qualified leads don’t bite with this offer, it’s usually because they have some of the pushbacks common late in the traditional sales process:

  • Your product or services cost too much.
  • I’m not convinced you’ll get results.
  • We think we can do this on our own.

When prospects have these pushbacks, it’s time to bring out the big guns (promoted via email, naturally): testimonials, case studies, and other product-specific information designed to respond to those common pushbacks and demonstrate why your company’s products or services are just what the prospects need to solve their problems.

Do You Nurture Sales Qualified Leads?

Nope. Once a lead becomes sales qualified, no more lead nurturing is required. Your sales representatives will take it from here, validating that the lead is sales ready and delivering what was promised in your bottom-of-the-funnel offer.

Part 3: Close More Leads with Marketing and Sales Alignment

With an automated online marketing engine doing most of the initial heavy lifting, the role of your sales team is going to change. Their well-honed sales instincts are still absolutely necessary, of course, but now they’re working with leads that have already explored your brand, received answers to common pushbacks, and built up enough trust in your brand to feel comfortable reaching out to request direct contact. If the inbound marketing engine has done its job right, sales qualified leads are ready to discuss the promised value of working with your company. Therefore, when first contacting your sales qualified leads, we recommend your sales team follow this process:

1. Validate Sales Readiness

Do the leads have questions? Do they understand who your products or services can help them? Were you able to contact them at all? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” this is a warning sign a sales qualified lead is not actually ready for a sale. But all is not lost. Your sales team is armed with killer content to address any questions leads might have about your brand and positioning. Just bump the lead back to information qualified or marketing qualified and continue nurturing.

2. Upgrade from Lead to Opportunity

If a lead is educated and actively considering your products and services, your sales team must mark that lead as an opportunity. At this point, the lead is truly ready to consume your bottom-of-the-funnel offer, which will result in a proposal for your products or services.

3. Track the Revenue Back to the Source

One of the most powerful aspects our inbound marketing engine is its ability to perform “closed loop analytics,” meaning all the revenue generated through this process can be attributed to a specific marketing activity. By revealing the true value of your various marketing investments, we can drive smarter future investments, and faster growth for your business.

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