What are inbound leads and how do I generate them?

what are inbound leads

Imagine if paying customers simply turned up at your door and knocked at it. Yes, genuine new leads come to you without you having to conduct a whole load of outreach activity.

That’s the appeal of inbound marketing. It’s all about a potential customer connecting with your brand because they’re interested in what you offer. They may visit your website having found your brand on social media. They might contact you after reading a blog or perhaps they download an ebook or white paper from your website.

In short, inbound lead generation is about attracting visitors to your business and then converting them into leads.

There is some effort on your part as you need to create the valuable content that will entice the potential lead to engage with your business. But when they engage with you, it’s because they’re genuinely interested in your products or services. They’re already on the hook and you need to reel them in.

What’s the difference between inbound vs. outbound leads?

Anybody who submits their contact information or enters your marketing or sales pipeline voluntarily, is an inbound lead. They’ll have interacted with your website or business because of inbound marketing activity that’s caught their interest.

There are different types of inbound lead and any of them can progress the customer journey along your sales funnel (which is your main aim).

Marketing qualified lead (MQL): a marketing qualified lead has shown interest in your marketing efforts. Their head’s been turned by your content; your product or service offering. It may be the solution that they’re looking for, but they’re not ready to commit just yet.

Sales qualified lead (SQL): a sales qualified lead, on the other hand, has shown more than an initial interest in your offering. They’re further along the sales funnel than an MQL. They’re more ready to buy, so are likely to convert from lead to customer. They may have filled in a contact form on your website or downloaded your content. So when your sales team follow up with a call, they’re already aware of your business.

Outbound lead generation means you actively initiate contact with a potential customer. Outbound marketing tactics include cold calling, cold emails, direct mail, PPC and social sales processes. They all involve sales reps or marketing teams reaching out to a potential lead.

4 of the best inbound lead generation strategies

Whilst new types of lead generation techniques emerge regularly, these are perennial favourites with a proven track record.

Content marketing

Valuable content creation is a popular inbound marketing strategy. Sharing your expert knowledge can resolve pain points and build trust with your ideal customers. It’s a proven marketing technique to inform, educate and/or delight potential customers.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is such an effective way to attract your target audience to your website. High quality, valuable content is key here, be that an informative blog or well optimised landing page with details of your products or services. You want your potential customers to engage with the content, and interact with your brand as a result. What’s more, SEO’s a pretty cost effective form of lead gen.

Social media

Social media platforms are ideal places to engage with new customers. Again, useful and informative content is a good way to capture the interest of a potential lead. It’s important to know your target audience and where to find them to make sure you’re publishing your social media marketing content on the right platforms. For example, LinkedIn is ideal for B2B marketing, whilst TikTok is best for young creative types. Refer to your buyer personas to make sure you’re creating content for the most effective social media platform.

Email marketing

Growing your email list and gathering the contact information for prospective leads is so powerful for your business. You need to give people good reason to hand over their personal details though – and that reason is, valuable content that’s free.

Once you have the email list of customers and potential customers, you can create email marketing campaigns to connect with them. The automation of email marketing campaigns is a really efficient and effective part of the inbound lead generation process. You can segment your audience and make sure you send the right content to the right people. That simple process can have a positive effect on conversion rates.

Lead magnets to attract inbound quality leads

Many of the inbound lead generation strategies involve gathering potential customers’ data. The idea is that your lead will be willing to exchange their email address to get free, informative, valuable content.

There’s heaps of content online, so you need to make sure that yours stands out. It needs to give your reader something they need or want – useful information, engaging entertainment or a solution to their problem.

But what to create? Content marketing ideas include:

  • Articles
  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • White papers
  • Guides
  • Infographics
  • Product demos
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts

To see it done really well, visit Hubspot.

The team at Hubspot are masters at inbound lead generation. They even have an inbound marketing online course. But, guess what? They use it as a lead magnet. You need to sign up and provide your contact details in order to access this valuable content. They provide really informative, useful guidance on their website regularly. They build trust with their audience, making them loyal customers who return time and time again.

Key takeaways for inbound lead generation

Inbound lead generation is a great way to attract new leads and grow your customer base. Inbound marketing’s a much more passive technique than most outbound tactics, but it’s equally (if not more) effective.

The bottom line is that inbound lead generation tends to deliver a higher return on investment than outbound tactics. It focuses on pre-qualified leads, people who are already aware of your business and have shown interest in it. The follow up contact by a sales rep is a conversation with someone who’s curious about your business rather than someone who doesn’t know it.

Valuable content is a fundamental component of inbound lead gen. You can use it as a lead magnet and ask potential customers to sign up for it. You can create evergreen, optimised content that will attract people searching for it time and time again. Inbound sales lead generation is good for the long term.

Done well, you’ll have potential paying customers turning up at their doorstep to find out more. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

If you’d like help to make this happen, please get in touch to arrange a free discovery call