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As a B2B marketer and experienced business development professional, I believe strongly in the value of inbound website leads. This doesn’t mean that other leads aren’t also valuable. Referral leads, partner programs, paid search leads, and account based-marketing can all be great sources of leads.
The issue I have come across is that many salespeople don’t assign the necessary value, and therefore priority, to inbound website leads. So, let’s take a look at look at what inbound leads are and whether they are valuable to your B2B organization.
1. Define what constitutes an inbound website lead
Getting back to basics, it’s important to understand what constitutes an inbound website lead. Simply put, an inbound website lead is any person who arrives on your brand’s website and completes a form.
This includes - but is not limited to - contact form completions, newsletter subscriptions, demo or consultation requests, content offer downloads (such as case studies, white papers, ebooks, and guides), and webinar sign-ups.
In all of these scenarios, the website visitor has willingly traded their email and/or contact information for something your brand has to offer.
Now, certain leads may be further along in their buying journey than others and the leads still need to be qualified, but they are all leads and should be treated carefully and professionally.
2. Understand how brands can improve the conversion of inbound leads
Respond in a timely manner
This first step in converting leads may sound like common sense, but it’s not always obvious to those receiving the leads. It’s critical to respond to a website lead in a timely manner. Ideally, “timely” is the same business day, often within an hour or two.
Why? Because if the person is reaching out to your business, they are often reaching out to your competition as well. In sales, the first person to talk to a potential client can educate them and guide them through the buying process. Essentially, the first salesperson to respond controls the buying process for that client (even the process they follow with competitors).
Have a strategy for each type of lead
You don’t need to create an elaborate lead nurturing strategy or extensive sales pitch worked out. Remember, this person reached out to you, they already believe they have a need for your product or service. Keep in mind that your strategy for handling a consultation request will be different from a newsletter subscriber. Think about your strategy from their perspective, considering what they want and need at this time.
Make your communications short and direct
As I mentioned above, the prospect already thinks they have a need for your product or service so you don’t need to sell them on it. What you need to do is get them to the next step. It kills me when I see a response to a website lead that starts out with an explanation of the company’s products or services and then a list of qualifying questions. Almost 100% of these types of sales responses get put straight into the trash folder.
Make it easy for your prospect. Respond with a short email introducing yourself, letting them know you’d like to chat with them about their needs, and provide times for a call (in their time zone!). The only thing the prospect has to do is check their calendar and reply with the time that works.
Boom! You have gotten them to the next step.
3. Know the common reasons inbound marketing doesn’t work
In my experience working with 100s of B2B firms, there are a few common reasons why inbound marketing doesn’t work.
There could be a lack of buy-in where the sales team and/or management doesn’t believe in inbound leads.
There’s the lack of a follow-up. It may sound laughable, but I’ve seen clients file away website leads without any follow-up.
Another issue is delayed contact. As I mentioned, the first salesperson to respond gets to set the tone for the buyer’s entire journey and evaluation process.
An obvious lack of commitment to the entire inbound marketing strategy or lack of consistency will also set the stage for failure. It’s like physically working out, you need to do it on a continuous basis to see results.
Poor resource allocation is a common problem. Resources for inbound marketing include subject matter experts, copywriters, strategists, editors, designers, website updates, and lead qualifiers. If your company doesn’t allocate the right resources for your inbound marketing strategy, it will fail.
Lastly, a lack of focus is a serious bugbear. A strategy for inbound marketing sets the course for attracting and converting website leads. If you and your team chase every shiny object that pops up rather than carefully evaluating and following your strategy, your efforts will be in vain.
4. Realise that inbound website leads are essential
Whether you need to meet with prospects in person or not, inbound website leads are often the starting point of a client relationship. Ignoring or mishandling inbound website leads ensures that you won’t close any new inbound leads. The clients that have the most success with inbound leads value these leads and understand these prospects have shown buying intent and interest long before they have spoken to a salesperson.
Jeremy Durant is passionate about inbound marketing and business development. He works as a business principal at Bop Design, a B2B marketing and web design agency.