Inbound Marketing and Lead Generation

The first question many marketers ask about inbound marketing is, “will it generate the leads I’m after.” This should really come as no surprise, after all, when you boil it down a huge chunk of marketing really is just the process of generating leads. However, this shows a misunderstanding of inbound marketing from a “traditional” marketing viewpoint. Will marketing generate leads? Yes. Will it generate leads like traditional marketing? Probably not.

When I type “lead” most marketers immediately think one thing: a customer who is ready to hear more about our product, and probably wants to buy something. However, in the age of inbound marketing, the buying process has become a little murkier and a great deal more extended. With so many choices available to consumers, it is extremely rare to encounter a lead in the traditional sense.

Instead, inbound marketing foregoes the typical qualifications for leads. Instead of focusing on interrupting a client until they engage with you, inbound marketing brings the customer to you. This means that with inbound marketing you can forget about establishing interest, because the consumer has already demonstrated interest by coming inbound, to you and your content.

Inbound marketing focuses on converting the anonymous to the known. By distributing quality, engaging content a great inbound marketer will draw consumers to their product, and those consumers will identify themselves in some way. Once these consumers are identified they become an excellent asset because they can be quantified and acted upon. They’re a lead, but only in the softest sense.

So you have these extremely soft conversions from inbound marketing that are demonstrating interest in your product, but are far from being hot leads. Now the only thing left to do is engage in the sales process with them and hope they can be converted from cold to hot. Pick up the phone and call them, nurture them and gauge how they react to your strategy. The lead may start very soft, but it will still be easier to talk to them than just picking up the phone and making a cold call.

Inbound marketing won’t generate leads in the traditional sense, but it will generate a large pool of useful information and potential leads for the future. It also helps to streamline the process between sales and marketing by allowing the two groups to participate in an end-to-end process where they both share an identical goal: attracting new customers to your product.

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