If you’ve been studying inbound marketing for any period of time, you know that one of its most basic principles is “Get Found.” Rather than obnoxiously making ourselves known by forcing our messaging onto unsuspecting, busy audiences, we position our brand to be found by them when they’re starting to think about what we do. How do we do that? The first step, aligned with the very top of the sales funnel, is Demand Generation.
What is Demand Generation and why is it so important? Demand gen is spreading awareness, promoting your top-funnel content online (or maybe even offline) in places where your target audiences are likely to find it when they’re good and ready. Leads click through to your site, download that piece of content, and if you’re using inbound practices to the fullest potential, they enter a lead nurturing workflow that will, over time, deliver the most qualified leads for your sales team to close.
Demand generation is how we acquire new contacts. It’s how we keep the sales funnel full and flowing. There is a lot of room for creativity here, too, and that’s half the fun of being an inbound marketing strategist—looking for that unturned stone that will help you increase your website traffic and, subsequently, sales qualified leads.
Without further ado, here are 13 ideas to pull more leads into the top of your sales funnel:
- Social Media – Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, SlideShare and Flickr are typically the first place inbound marketers turn for demand generation. However, bear in mind that each social platform serves a different purpose and possibly a different audience. Treat each one individually and remember not every platform is a good fit for every brand.
- Organic search – Make sure your web presence is fully optimized for organic search using the most relevant long-tail keywords. Perform a regular assessment to consistently improve performance—don’t “set it and forget it.”
- Paid advertising – This can include Google AdWords as well as social ads like promoted posts on Facebook. Where these paid ads sometimes fall short is when they’re used to direct leads to a bottom-funnel offer or sale. Try promoting top-funnel piece of content to increase the number of leads entering a nurturing workflow.
- Groups and discussion boards – A brand representative should not only be reading conversations taking place in groups and discussion boards for research, but participating in those conversations. LinkedIn Groups and Google+ Communities are a good place to start by finding industry-related groups. Remember to paint yourself as a subject-matter expert rather than a salesperson.
- Guest Bloggers – Guest bloggers not only provide a fresh voice and point of view to your blog, but expose it to a new set of eyes. Make sure your guest bloggers promote their posts to their own social connections and website visitors.
- News Releases – Using a news release distribution service like MarketWired can make it easy for your story to be picked up by many sources, increasing your reach exponentially. We like to use news releases to announce a new piece of content that kicks of a nurturing workflow.
- Email – “But wait,” you might say, “isn’t email used to engage leads you’ve already captured?” Yes, but within that audience, you can use email to create demand for new content or products or reengage those who have been dormant for awhile.
- Webinars – Webinars are an excellent way to showcase your subject-matter experts. Try partnering with another related organization to mutually benefit from the extended reach.
- Guest Speaking – Guest speaking doesn’t have to be reserved for the likes of David Meerman Scott or Joe Pulizzi. Your local professional organizations are always looking for event speakers. Book a gig with a chapter in your area and send them to your website to collect more information on the topic you present.
- Trade Shows – Like other channels, trade show results can fall short of expectations when the goal is to find new buyers. Instead, take an educational approach to provide attendees with content they can actually use today and remember you by tomorrow.
- Print ads – Just because inbound is hot doesn’t mean outbound marketing tactics are dead. We’ve seen great results from promoting top-funnel content in a print ad. Provide readers with a simple, easy-to-type URL so they can easily visit your site and access the advertised content.
- Newsletters – I’ll admit, I’ve been anti-newsletter at times in my career. They can be difficult to put together, especially if you’re trying to corral multiple contributors. However, modern technology makes it a much easier task. Share some great articles from other sources with your audience, and be sure to make it conversational by telling them why you found the article interesting. You can also take the opportunity to drive readers to your own blog or top-funnel content.
- Blog posts – Including top-funnel calls-to-action in your blog posts is a no-brainer to keep readers engaged on your site and enroll them in a nurturing workflow.
I’d love to hear other ideas from Brand & Capture readers! What creative demand generation channels or tactics have you found work well for your brand? Leave us a comment below!
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Photo Credit: goodrob13
With a decade of marketing experience, Meghan Sullivan is a Senior Consultant at Kuno Creative and is passionate about developing and executing inbound marketing strategies for her clients. When sheís not doing that, sheís probably curled up on the couchwith her dog and iPad, or exploring Clevelandís incredible food scene. Connect with Meghan on Twitter or LinkedIn.