Content for content’s sake is a thing of the past. There’s a common misconception with many established businesses and startups that content marketing online means providing continual content with keywords, and the integrity and actual resourcefulness of that contact is not as important as it’s regularity. But, content for content’s sake is a thing of the past.

The scrutiny of the public eye perpetually polices the information posted and offered online. The more press an article or resource receives, the more liable the contributor is for that information. Readers will comment immediately and point out any misinformation, contradiction, and many times contribute more information and insight on the topic. In many ways, it’s the self-policing web that has driven the current trend toward integrity and valuable resources online.

So how does this relate to gaining leads online and effective inbound marketing? Consider your harsh audience when you provide resources, information and insights online. Give them something they can sink their teeth into, whether it taps into similar experiences, valuable information and guidance, your personal opinion—and even controversy.

One of the best ways to gain leads from your website is via ‘Lead Generation Forms’ – forms on your website offering some type of free resource in exchange for the user’s email, whether it’s a newsletter, quote, ebook, pamphlet, event calendar, or other (usually downloadable) source of information. The more valuable the incentive to fill out the form, the more effective the form is at gaining leads.

4 Steps To Creating Effective Lead Generation Forms

Step 1:
Better than a newsletter, your site can offer free kits of educational materials, for example, to help seniors (digitized) – like offering a free ebook download, educational pamphlets and other helpful resources. In order to get the educational materials the user has to enter his or her name and email.

Step 2:
Chatter-Opt-in-barTo get their attention, there is a wonderful popup theme pack from Ninja Popups called ‘Opt-in’ bars. You need to buy and install Ninja pop-ups first. Then the Opt-In bar theme pack. What makes this opt-in so appealing is it’s non-obstructive and easy to integrate design. The bar shows up across the bottom of screen (see image). Ninja Popups also track lead activities, and allows you to easily test one popup over another. Also, you can control when and how often it pops ups so it won’t feel intrusive.

Step 3:
They are automatically signed up to a mailing list, where you continually send them more ebooks and resources to download via email. Usually an email every other week is often enough that the subscriber doesn’t forget they subscribed, but won’t feel overwhelmed. Each email starts with a short personalized message.

Step 4:
Then you offer a link to download the material. It is important that you include easy to access sharing links on the download page. Also, make sure the user has to fill out a form to receive the download. Using a service like HubSpot (All-in-one Inbound Marketing Software), you can have this form already populated with the returning user’s information so they don’t have to fill out the form again every time they want to download a resource. But when they share the download, a new user fills out the form and you secure an additional lead.
In some cases you may want to add strategic questions about their business (if it’s B2B) or preferences (if its B2C). This additional information helps you capture more information about your leads.

What is ‘Inbound Marketing’ and How Does It Relate to Lead Generation?

Inbound marketing is advertising a company through blogs, podcasts, video, e-Books, e-newsletters, white papers, SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing. In essence, it’s marketing material that attracts a specific targeted audience, and converts them from strangers to advocates of your service or product.

The word Inbound comes from the initial ‘pull’ or attraction of strangers to your content through blog posts, keywords, PPC (pay per click) and social media—essentially making them visitors to your site. These visitors are converted to leads when they visit landing pages, fill out lead generation forms, and perform calls-to-action (usually a clearly visible button asking the user to perform a preferred action like calling, buying, or filling out a lead form).

Leads eventually become customers through proper follow up using email campaigns, direct messaging or a phone call, and using CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to track and follow hot sales leads and closed sales.

Different Inbound Marketing Tools to Track Leads

Here are two of my personal favorite inbound marketing all-in-one software services to help you track, organize and act on online leads:

photoHubStop – All-in-one Inbound Marketing
HubSpot’s software contains everything you need for effective inbound marketing. You can blog, send email, monitor social media, create web and landing pages, facilitate marketing automation, SEO and more—all in one integrated platform.

HubSpot also integrates with Salesforce, so your leads from your website go directly to Salesforce.com CRM -3.26% at real-time speeds. If you are unfamiliar with Salesforce, it ‘s a customer relationship management (CRM) software & cloud computing from the leader in CRM solutions for businesses large & small.

HubSpot’s own inbound marketing campaign offers a perfect example of effective inbound marketing using meaningful resources. I fill out HubStop’s forms all the time, because the resources they offer are great. And they have excellent services. They ask questions about my business and I’m happy to supply them the info because it provides more material for them to help me. You could do the same. Just be careful that questions don’t involve sensitive information.

InfusionSoft – All-in-one sales and marketing automation software for small business

InfusionSoft combines CRM, email marketing and e-commerce. Their features include organizing your lead data, automating marketing by sending targeted emails, drag-and-drop campaigns, emails and landing pages, while monitoring web activity and marketing reports. They also help your sales team close sales using their unique tracking system that rates how ‘hot’ leads are by monitoring user returns to your site and their activity in marketing campaigns. They also have specialized system to help optimize e-commerce sites and increase sales online.

Conclusion

In order to gain leads and turn them into customers online, you have to give a piece of yourself to the public first. And the most valuable piece of yourself is your professional experience and insight. Once your company’s online content and downloads are considered a valued resource, then users will turn to your company when they need a professional service or product. Be careful of mundane or typical ad copy as well. Your goal is to build trust in the user as an unbiased source of information. That doesn’t mean you can’t slant your content to your product or service or add the occasion plug. Just make sure you focus on the soft sell, the integrity of your content, and don’t forget a personal touch.