You say you’re serious about building a lead-generation program using content (inbound) marketing. But are you?
Here are a dozen ways we tell the difference between the pros and the poseurs, between those who are deadly serious and those who just playing at it.
Serious: Making a full commitment by establishing lead-gen as a priority, building out a complete plan, allocating resources (most especially, the human resources), setting goals, and measuring outcomes.
Unserious: Dipping your big toe into lead-gen to see if it will work for you. No quasi-effort will deliver, but a commitment will.
Serious: Using a highly capable marketing automation system (like HubSpot).
Unserious: Using one of the other free blog-hosting services.
Serious: Researching your various target segments, building specific target persona descriptions, knowing what questions they ask and what information they’re seeking online—so your content can be tailored specifically for them.
Unserious: Writing something your mom likes or something your spouse assures you is spot-on.
Serious: Knowing the keywords and using them in your content, tags, metatags, page descriptions, and images—so the search engines will index your content correctly and it will pop up when your target persona goes searching.
Unserious: Discounting all that keyword talk. Sounds too geeky.
Serious: Committing to quality. You’re competing on the world stage and your stuff needs to be world-class (okay, almost!). The points you make need to be substantive, accurate, and helpful. The text needs to be free of spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and usage errors. The designs needs to be clean and clear.
Unserious: Rationalizing that your content is good. Ignoring the fact that if it isn’t that good or isn’t carefully edited, both the bots at Google and the real people you’re trying to reach will be unimpressed. You’ll show up on the seventh page of search results instead of the first, and you’ll get fewer links, likes, shares, retweets, etc.
Serious: Committing to quantity. This is equally important. You need to be publishing quality content at least three times a week. Once you have that frequency going, figure out how to get to five items a week without sacrificing quality.
Unserious: Publishing as often as you can, and just not sweating it.
The Research Process
Serious: Not waiting for the world to beat a path to your virtual doorstep. It may never happen. Establishing a presence on every social network platform where your target personas are likely to hang out. Places liked LinkedIn and Twitter are ideal for B2B firms; Facebook and Instagram might be right for your B2C company. Deploying easy sharing tools with all your content. Getting your colleagues and associates to help.
Unserious: Letting your stuff speak for itself. Telling yourself it’s good and doesn’t need any artificial boost.
Serious: Having a strategy for turning lurkers into leads. The most proven method is by offering premium content (eBooks, infographics, spreadsheets, templates, how-to guides, etc.) available to anyone who submits their name and email address.
Unserious: Just figuring that people will be so impressed with your content that they’ll find your contact info on the site and reach out to you without any further encouragement.
Serious: Loving your leads. Nurturing them creatively and individually. Soon there will be too many to deal with one at a time, but because tailored nurturing is still essential, setting up work flows and automated sequences to keep each lead’s flame alive. Scoring their activities and interactions so you know when they become sales-qualified.
Unserious: Counting your leads, and then moving on. Finding more leads, and adding them to your totals. After all, metrics are the new black, right?
Serious: Looking at your metrics, not for bragging rights, but as analytics. All that data gives you insights into which subjects get the most readers, the most shares and likes, the most click-throughs. Using those insights to tune your future content.
Unserious: Because data is tedious, saving it for that day when you have nothing else to do.
Serious: Not just passing a sales-qualified prospect along as if it’s just another cold lead. After all, you have accumulated some outstanding intelligence about the lead, their company, and their needs and interests (based on the articles and subjects that piqued their interest). Passing it along benefits everyone—the salesperson, the prospect, and your company.
Unserious: Leaving that intelligence all locked up. Letting the salesperson twist slowly in the wind. Disappointing the prospect.
Serious: Asking for help when you need it, and for those aspects you need help with. Some people need help only at inception (planning and launching). Others need or want tailored help on a sustaining basis. Some need help only with content creation, while others need help interpreting their metrics and growing their program.
Unserious: Puffing up your chest, grabbing your lapels, and jumping into caelum incognita without a net.
By now you can tell if you’re serious or not. Do you have questions about some of what you read above? We’d be delighted to answer. Set up a call with us.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published June 10, 2015 and has been updated.