If you’re in marketing, regardless of whether you’re employed by a small-to-medium sized business or a large enterprise, one of your most important goals is likely lead generation. It can be daunting, trying to figure out exactly which methodologies to employ in an effort to deliver the warmest leads to your sales team, but it’s a road worth exploring!
In this post, we’ll examine the 3 main pillars of lead generation: properly aligning your digital footprint, driving traffic to your website, and, by creating great content, getting those website visitors to convert.
If you’re a super tech-savvy digital marketer who is employing techniques such as multi-variate testing, heat mapping and you’ve created multiple pieces of content based on various stages of the sales-cycle, you probably won’t learn anything you don’t already know.
On the other hand, if you’re just tipping your toe in the proverbial water of lead generation, or you want to have some tools at your disposal that will help you deliver warm engaged leads to your colleagues in sales, this might help!
1. Properly Align Your Digital Footprint.
What exactly do I mean by “digital footprint”? Good question! First and foremost, you guessed it, it’s your website. Having a website that looks slick, is aesthetically pleasing, and is easy to navigate is important. But, what’s equally (if not more) important is making sure the HTML source code behind those killer aesthetics is optimized in a way that drives the right kind of traffic to your site.
Some website design components, such as title tags, header tags, and text-to-image ratios have an algorithmic relationship to how, where and when your website ranks on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for non-branded keywords in your industry.
Obviously, in terms of the number of page views, ranking higher is better. But, how much better, and can that be quantified? Yes, it can.
According to Marketing Land: “On average, 71.33% of searches resulted in a page one Google organic click. Page two and three get only 5.59% of the clicks. On the first page alone, the first 5 results account for 67.60% of all the clicks and the results from 6 to 10 account for only 3.73%.”
Clearly, given the fact that the 1st position receives over 30% of the clicks and the top 5 positions receive 70% of all clicks, that’s where you want to be. It’s the sweet spot. More pointedly, if you’re not on the first page (in terms of industry-specific keywords for which you are trying to rank) you’re not even in the game. Those companies/websites ranking on page 2 and beyond are fighting for scraps, collectively splitting just 4% of all clicks.
Here's a quick SEO optimization checklist from our partners at Hubspot:
On-Page SEO includes:
- Incorporating selective keyword naturally into title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags, alt text, etc.
- Blog posts and page copy that is written and optimized with quality
- Clean and formatted page URLS
- Optimized page load speed
- Google authorship incorporated
- Social sharing integration within your content
- And much more!
Off-Page SEO includes:
- Creating a high quality, natural backlink profile (aka having other high quality/authoritative sites link to your site naturally)
- Social sharing signals
- Social bookmarking (Stumbleupon, Reddit)
- List goes on here too!
If you want to get a little more granular, regarding how to properly align your website in an effort to drive organic traffic, please check out two of my previous blog posts. There you will also find links to free SEO audit tools which will grade your website and show you what components are in need of correction.
Those blog posts are: The 6 Basics of On-Page SEO: How to Check if Your Website is Optimized and 3 Tips for Assessing the Impact of Google’s new SERP Layout on Your Company’s Digital Marketing Strategy.
Other parts of your digital footprint to consider.
Social Media: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Apart from your website, at a bare minimum, make sure your company maintains a presence on these three platforms. Depending on your product offering and the core-competency of your company, whether it’s B2B or B2C, one might make more sense than another. If you want an exhaustive list of virtually all social media platforms, check out this list of 20 compiled by Small Business Trends.
Coming in a close 4th place to these top 3, is YouTube. The merits of video as viable form of content have never been more apparent. As Convince & Convert puts it, 2016 was the year of video marketing.
Now that your digital footprint is aligned, it’s time to drive traffic!
2. Driving traffic to your website: Is there a difference between SEO and SEM?
The answer to this question is simple: Yes…and no. Okay, so it’s not necessarily simple. It’s nuanced, but not difficult to sort out. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between SEO and SEM.
There was a time, in a galaxy far, far away, when some folks inhabiting the planet of Digital Marketing would assert that the term “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) referred to the optimization of the organic, or non-paid components of a company’s digital footprint, mainly the website. While, conversely, all paid efforts in this regard were referred to as “SEM” (Search Engine Marketing). The reality is, since there is a high degree of overlap between SEM and SEO, this was never an accurate delineation between these two terms.
More accurately, SEO is simply a subset of the overarching category that is SEM. All the methodology and best practices encompassed in “SEO” are part of “SEM”, it’s just that there is no overt cost in aligning these components, unlike other paid channels.
Since we covered aligning your digital footprint in an effort to drive organic traffic in the first point above, let’s look at some paid methods of driving traffic. And, again, just to be clear, all the paid methods we’re about to examine, while part of SEM, are not part of SEO, since they are not organic. Got it? Great!
PPC (Pay Per Click)
For the purposes of this post, we are going to stay within the realm of Google since, according to Search Engine Land, it accounts for approximately 65% of all searches, while Microsoft, Bing and Yahoo together account for the other 35%. Keep in mind, the way that the algorithms operate on these different search engines are more similar than they are different.
Creating ads with a high Google Quality Score determines how, where and when your ads appear and, consequently, who clicks on them. This video, from Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian, does a great job of explaining the AdWords auction and how the Ad Quality Score is determined, which is a combination of click-through-rate, ad relevance, and landing page quality.
As you begin to explore the world of PPC, a great place to start is with the many tools Google provides it terms of primers and education. First among them, would be to have whomever is going to be managing the day-to-day strategy of your campaign to become Google AdWords Certified. Once you’ve developed your ads using Google’s best practices, you should frequently check your Quality Score. Nothing about PPC is “set it and forget it”, it’s part art, part science; it takes constant monitoring and adjustments to produce optimum results.
Display Advertising and Retargeting
Marketing Land defines Display Advertising as “a type of online advertising that comes in several forms, including banner ads, rich media and more. Unlike text-based ads, display advertising relies on elements such as images, audio and video to communicate an advertising message.”
Essentially, these are ads displayed on websites. Display ads give websites a way to monetize their traffic and it gives advertisers an opportunity to get their ads in front of people who, often times, have engaged with their brand or fall within their target demographic.
In the Google Ecosystem, there are two sides of the paid advertising coin. One side, let’s call it “heads”, is the Google Search Network; while the other side, let’s call it “tails” is the Google Display Network. The former encompasses everything outlined in the section about PPC above (as well as Google Maps and Google Shopping) and the latter is, as Syncore aptly put it:
“…a collection of Google websites (like Google Finance, Gmail, Blogger, and YouTube), partner sites, and mobile sites and apps that show AdWords ads matched to the content on a given page.
Similar to the Google Search Network, keywords can trigger your ads to appear next to search results on Google and other search engines or on other sites across the Internet through Retargeting, also known as remarketing, a form of online advertising that can help you keep your brand in front of bounced traffic after they leave your website. For most websites, only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit.
When setting up a Display Network campaign, you can either let Google automatically determine where your ads appear by matching your keywords to websites in the Display Network, or you can manage the process by picking specific placements and setting the bids for each, and then selecting the sites where your ads might appear.”
An excellent source for unpacking the different approaches to a tactful and effective display advertising strategy can be found on ClickZ’s 47 Ways to Buy and Place Display Ads.
“Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a form of online advertising that can help you keep your brand in front of bounced traffic after they leave your website. For most websites, only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit.” – Retargeter
We’ve all been there: You’re on an e-commerce site looking at a pair of shoes. But, maybe you decide that you’re not feeling the 5” leopard skin stiletto heels at this particular moment. So, you bounce from the website. Maybe you abandoned your shopping cart, maybe you never even put anything in your shopping cart. It doesn’t matter. Later, when you’re surfing the web, there are those same 5” leopard skin stiletto heels saying, “Hey, remember me?”
Here’s how it works:
Traditionally, retargeting has been a tool reserved for B2C companies. However, recently the effectiveness of using this tactic in the world of B2B has gained validity. One of the reasons is because the B2B customer journey involves a complex path-to-purchase. Therefore, after you’ve segmented visitors by funnel stage, you can retarget with appropriate content. Check out this great article by Bizable: 5 Smart Ways to Use Retargeting to Drive Leads in B2B Marketing
Let’s face it, if you’ve navigated the internet for more than a couple hours, you’ve probably been annoyed by display advertising. Considering this, it’s no surprise that according to eMarketer, the use of ad-blocking software is at an all-time high and growing year over year.
Given the fact that over 25% of internet users will block ads in 2017, now more than ever, creating quality ads with a high-degree of relevance are at a premium. Therefore, as you begin to formulate a display advertising strategy, here are some stats from both good and bad display methodologies to keep in mind. (Again, from our trusted partners at Hubspot)
3. Content and Conversion: Where the Rubber Meets the Road.
By this point, hopefully you’ve shored up the SEO components of your website. Also, you’ve become AdWords certified, so you’ve got some really great campaigns running, which are optimized based on your desired keyword sets. Along with these efforts, you’ve peppered in some display and retargeting ads. Maybe this has doubled or tripled the amount of traffic to your website. Nice work, particularly if you managed to do that in the 10-15 minutes since you started reading this blog post! Well, now what? Converting those visitors into leads, that’s what.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Generating traffic to your site doesn’t do much good unless you get those visitors to engage with your company or your brand in some way. Did they fill out a form (email, phone, company name) in order to download a marketing asset? Did they sign up for your newsletter or blog? Were they presented with a clear and navigable CTA (call-to-action) that incentivized them to become part of your company’s community in some way? All of the above can be considered conversions. As a digital marketer, getting a user to take any desired action is, in the broadest sense, a conversion moment.
With regard to lead generation, getting a visitor to convert isn’t the end-goal, but it’s a crucial step. After all, regardless of whether a user has come to your website via paid or organic channels, you’ve invested time, effort, and money to get them there. Without a conversion, it’s not exactly an exercise in futility, but it’s close.
What percentage of visitors should be converting?
According to Search Engine Land, “Across industries, the average landing page conversion rate was 2.35%, yet the top 25% are converting at 5.31% or higher. Ideally though, you want to break into the top 10% — these are the landing pages with conversion rates of 11.45% or higher.” May 15, 2014
Conversions and content are inextricably linked. It seems obvious, but users are more than willing to provide their contact information if the piece of content you’re offering is perceived as having a high value.
In other words, it solves a problem, answers a question, or helps them overcome a challenge. It’s an exercise in psychology. So, whether you’re creating a white paper, an e-book, a case study, a blog post, a podcast, or a video, make sure it’s utilitarian.
Answer the kinds of questions you hear from your clients and prospects most frequently. This will solve a problem for your audience, while allowing you to create a highly desirable piece of content that is tied into your company’s products and solutions.
Here are some great resources for creating good content and maximizing conversions:
- The MOZ page on CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)
- Mashable – 5 Stages for Maximizing your Website’s Conversion Rate
- Conversion Sciences – 12 Rules for Maximizing Conversions from AdWords
- Content Marketing Institute - 13 Surprisingly Effective Tips for Conversion-Oriented Content
- Quick Sprout - 15 Types of Content That Will Drive You More Traffic
In conclusion, there’s a lot to unpack under each of the 3 points above, so I suggest taking your time and visiting all the links embedded here in this blog post. Even for the seasoned digital marketer, there are bound to be a few new tactics you can add to your current inbound methodology. Also, be sure to check out Fielday’s Guide to the Top 5 Marketing Automation Tools, which examines different tools for lead generation, nurturing, and closing.
Until next time, keep on marketing!