Top of the funnel lead generation for inbound marketing

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Published May 14, 2013 | Written by Jeremy Knight




(THIS IS THE VIDEO TRANSCRIPT) Eric Swain (ES): We're back. Now, in our last video, we talked about creating buyer personas and about mapping our content to the buying process. And during that, we touched a little bit on the funnel.

Jeremy Knight (JK): Just a little bit.

ES: OK. Granted, yes. We flashed it up quite a bit. We didn't talk about it a lot. And we promised we would come back, and we would dwell on the funnel a little bit more. And so that's what we're going to do today. We're starting here so the next couple of videos will be on the funnel itself.

And this is a top of the funnel video, lead generation in our world. That's what we refer to. Some people might call it classic inbound marketing.

JK: Well, certainly, the founders of Hub Spot did exactly that, when they coined the phrase.

ES: And they were focused on blogging and social media and searchers, SEO. And so, I suppose, we need to touch on those a little bit today.

JK: I guess folks pretty much know what those things are. But we should talk about them in the context of inbound marketing. So blogging, it's publishing, right?

ES: Your background.

JK: My background. But blogging has enabled publishing in a way that's something of a game-changer really, because you can share content. You can comment on content. So you can engage with that content like never before.

ES: It's true. But it doesn't change the fact that -- and you'll know this more than most people, that content has to be good content. It has to be what people want to read, what is helpful for  your buyer persona, for example.

JK: And you have to do it frequently. You've got to keep that content fresh. And you probably need to consider including links in that content, links to your own further content and links out to great third-party content.

ES: Help for the bigger community, right?

JK: Building your community, attracting links back to your content.

ES: Which Google likes as well.

JK: Google certainly likes that. And speaking of Google, the SEO piece, that's changed a lot recently.

ES: It really has.

JK: Which is a good thing.

ES: I think so -- there were people out there doing what some people term black hat SEO, trying to game Google. And Google has done a very good job of trying to figure out where people are doing that and staying a step ahead of them as best as possible.

JK: But people should know not ignore SEO today.

ES: No, no. Not at all.

seo_iconJK: You have to have a site that's well structured, that can be crawled by Google, so it can categorise that content. Otherwise you're not going to get found. Keyword research is still really important. The right keywords, or keyword phrases, with the right authority and the right number of searches need to be seeded across your content from end to end.

But, really, SEO has evolved quite quickly over the last couple of years. And even the SEO guys themselves often refer to the importance of content and, especially, the importance of social media.

ES: Well, that's true. And I think in terms of social media and SEO and content, social media becomes, for many people, a distribution channel in that context. You write great content, and maybe it's going to be found in a search. But this is a way to distribute it across the social channels.

Now, if that were all it were, then that would be a limiting thing. But it's not even a tip of the iceberg for social media, is it? I mean social media is really -- we've said it before, it's almost a cliche -- it's really about relationships and building that rapport and building that trust with people, the community. Maybe they're your clients. Maybe they're potential clients. 

JK: They could include competitors these days.

ES: They could include competitors, partners, employees, all that kind of stuff. And to that end, it's a broader issue than top of the funnel when you're talking about social media. It helps you throughout the entire funnel and on beyond into client retention and into employee retention and all of those sorts of things.

JK: But we're talking about the top of the funnel here.

ES: Don't get me started on social media.

JK: But, if all we were to do was get found by people looking for what we do in that top of the funnel piece, that traffic piece, we wouldn't get very far at all.

ES: No. This needs to be part of a proper structured program that takes that early -- well, we said it, didn't we? In the first video, where we defined inbound marketing, the second part of that definition was take that early interest and generate leads -- turn those into leads and to sales ultimately.

JK: Let's take a quick look then at exactly how you do that.

Now, we've all been a party to inbound campaigns whether we realise it or not. It tends to start, typically, with what's often referred to as a call to action.

ES: One of those things to try and compel you to do something or the reader to do something.

JK: It could be as simple as a Download Now button. Or it could be a more illustrated indicator, a signpost if you like, to more information that could be useful to you, leading to what's typically referred to as a landing page. And landing pages are best used when you strip out the main navigation, where there's a single purpose to that landing page, which is to extol the virtues of that piece of content and include a form on the page, all importantly, in order to capture the details of the person looking at the landing page in exchange for that piece of content.

Now, there's some debate as to where you should gate your content. But if you want to get them into an inbound marketing campaign, at some point, you need to have that exchange.

ES: And that's the important thing, isn't it? In our world, that's what is giving us the permission, as an organisation, to continue the conversation with what is now a lead. It's no longer a prospect. Now, they're a lead. They've signed up. They've exchanged some of their information for some bit of helpful content. And now we can talk to them further.

JK: And from that landing page, once they've given that information, you take them to a thank you page, which is where the link to that content is, and trigger an email to them, saying, hey, glad you downloaded it. Here's a permanent link to you've started the conversation and with permissions intact.

ES: And that's all important, the permissions. OK, we've discussed top of the funnel. We've now converted some of that interest into leads. What do we do that with that? Well, now, we nurture those leads through the funnel.

And that's what we're going to talk about in our next video, the middle and the bottom of the funnel, and taking those leads and nurtured those leads into marketing-qualified leads.

JK: Are we going to see the funnel again?

ES: I think the funnel might just show up some more.

JK: That's great.

ES: I'm looking forward to it.

JK: Me too.

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Published by Jeremy Knight May 14, 2013
Jeremy Knight