Buy, Build or Both Part 2: The basics of list building
Editor’s Note: This is the second of a series of articles to help marketers and salespeople looking for a reliable lead list. Read the first post here: “List Buying: 3 reasons why this tactic can be deadly for marketers.”
In the previous blog post, Mike Volpe, CMO of HubSpot, exhorted marketers to stop buying lists and start doing their jobs:
“Doing marketing right, building relationships and creating love for your company requires some work,” Volpe said. “Suck it up and do your job, and please stop giving marketers a bad reputation by cutting corners.”
In this blog post, Ellie Mirman, Head of SMB Marketing, HubSpot, and Kaci Bower, author of the MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing Handbook, give three tactics to help you immediately start building those relationships that create the kind of lists that produce great ROI (and great reputations).
Tip #1: Just ask
“There are so many places where you already have the opportunity to capture someone’s contact information. But you need to ask for it,” Mirman says. She explains it’s much easier to ask when you’re offering them something of value in return. She gives a couple of examples:
- When people log on to your website, offer free content — like an e-book, whitepaper or article — that will help them regardless of whether they purchase from you.
- When you meet someone at an event, inquire about their positions, challenges and opportunities; offer to send them information that can help make their lives easier.
Check out the resources below if you need help giving prospects content that will make them glad they gave you their contact information:
- Learn how ECI Telecom set up its content marketing strategy: “How Content Strategy is Transforming an Entire Marketing and Sales Organization.” If you don’t have the resources to develop your own content, pay special attention at timestamp 20:00 to find out how to leverage third-party content.
- Find out the basics of how to produce content people will care about in the MarketingSherpa blog post, “Content Marketing: Focus on Value, not Length.”
Tip #2. Work with a partner
“It can take time to build up a decent-sized list when you’re just starting out,” Mirman admits. To speed up the process, she has three bits of advice:
- Find a partner with an audience that matches yours
- Ask if you can sponsor an email campaign
- As part of that campaign, offer their audience a chance to join your list
“The recipients will see the email is coming from someone they already have a relationship with, it introduces them to your business and your content, and it can send a lot of highly qualified traffic to your website,” she explains.
For more ideas on how to quickly build your list, look at this blog post from HubSpot: “21 Awesome Ideas to Grow Your Email List.”
Tip #3. Build your inbound marketing framework
Inbound marketing is where leads find you, instead of you finding them. It’s the smartest way to build a list of prospects who are eager to learn more about your company.
“Consumers are more empowered than ever before; they can go online to instantly research and compare products and services,” Bower explains. “They don’t want to be sold or interrupted – which is what happens when your name lands on a purchased list. What today’s consumers want is information that will quickly answer their questions and ease their pain.”
Bower provides a highly simplified outline on how to build an inbound marketing architecture that ensures prospects can find you in their moment of need and sign up for your list.
A. Drive search traffic to your website
“The first thing most people do is a Google search when they want to know more about a product or service,” she explains. “The goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is to help search engines, in response to those queries, find and rank your Web content higher than competing sites.”
Here are the basics for improving ranking:
- Identify the right keywords. These are the words your prospects type in when they’re looking for your product or service. In fact, periodically ask your best customers what they typed into Google when they first started searching, per this article: “8 Questions to Steer Your Marketing Priorities.”
- Use these keywords. Make sure they’re represented in your website’s code, like title tags and meta tags, as well as in content and social media.
- Link your site with others. Search engines pay attention to how many other sites link to your sites – essentially, point to your site as an authority on a subject. Make sure you give people a good reason to link to you, and it should be good content. Editorial, research, multimedia, infographics, software and any valuable resource, like tools or calculators, are all good “link-bait.”
B. Develop content that aligns with your audience
“Too many companies think, ‘Okay, we’ve got this product, so we should definitely produce a whitepaper and brochure. Oh, and we need a webinar, too,’” Bower explains. “Instead of shooting in the dark with this approach, know what kind of information your customers need to answer their questions at each stage of the buying cycle so you can efficiently move them along it.”
C. Build your social media presence
“Social networks bring together like-minded people, provide platforms to share and influence opinions, and are a great way to find out what people think about your organization, its services and products,” explains Bower.
- Listen first.What are people saying about your company? Your industry? What are their issues and challenges? This can help shape your content so you can give them information for which they’ll gladly exchange their email address, says Bower.
- Position your organization as a thought leader and bring them back to your website (with the opportunity to add their names to your list) in three ways:
- Set aside time every week to cull through questions related to your industry on Q&A Forums, like Linkedin or Quora, and on sites specific to your industry where people are looking for guidance and expertise.
- Thoughtfully answer as many questions as possible, without pitching products. Offer links back to your site where they can exchange their contact details for information that will, again, help them with their issues regardless of whether they buy from you.
- Start a blog, if you already haven’t done so, that addresses your prospects’ challenges and pain points. And, of course, give them an opportunity to provide you their contact information.
See the graph at right, which outlines how a prospect finds content through organic search and social media sites and is then guided to a place where she can give you her contact information.