B2B professionals with a background in traditional marketing (direct mail, trade shows, advertising in trade publications) and sales (cold calling, networking, generating referral business, etc) are usually lost when it comes to targeting a specific audience online.
Almost all traditional sales and marketing activities start with a prospect list. It might be purchased, rented, traded, built, etc. But, it always starts with a list of target prospects. So, when traditional marketers start investigating inbound marketing, they always make the statement, "I can't target my inbound lead generation to my target audience online."
I always respond, "Did you mean to ask me how you can reach your target audience online?" (That's the sales guy in me: Turning an objection into a question.)
A good starting place is a review of what tactics are available to inbound marketers.
- 1. Search engine optimization - A system that helps you constantly increase traffic from search engines month after month. (e.g. Each page on Trish's website is optimized around a different keyword. Do a google search for "Inside Sales Consulting". Trish has earned the top spot.)
- 2. Business Blogging - A new means of establishing thought leadership, starting a dialog and networking. (You're reading this right now. Proof enough.)
- 3. Social Media Marketing - Tools and sites that help you connect directly with other people, initiate a conversation and extend your thought leadership. (Find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Blitztime.)
- 4. Pay Per Click Advertising Bidding for placement on search engines so that your ad is shown when people do a search. You pay per click. (HIghly successful inbound marketers might not pay for ads since they generate such a good amount of leads through items 1-3.)
These are all ways to attract traffic to your site, but in reality lead generation is the goal.
Once you get a visitor to your site, you need to have calls to action and landing pages designed to get visitors to turn into "suspects" by sharing their contact information.
It's imperative to have offers on your site that get your visitors to convert while they are in "research" mode. People aren't going to use your "contact us" form until they're convinced you're the expert and they want to learn how and if they should buy.
They're not going to request a demo of your software until you've demonstrated that you understand their challenges. To convert most of your visitors, you must understand that most of your site visitors are just looking for information to determine whether you can solve their problem. This is what white papers, eBooks, surveys, pre-recorded webinars, etc are for.
Keyword research is the process of identifying keywords you're prospects might type into a search engine to find a solution like yours. In Trish's case, if someone types "Inside sales consulting", they're looking for someone like her. But, they also might type "technology inside sales" or "software sales training" or "how to increase sales in a down economy". So, the key is to create content and pages for each of these keyword phrases.
This blog is a good example of everything we talked about above. It generates several hundred leads per month. However, they aren't all in the target market. Not unlike many of my clients, who are really just scratching the surface of the potential of inbound marketing to transform their business.
---(Next week we will publish the 2nd and final part of this article covering the "10 ways to target your market more precisely online".)