Not sure why, but many people I talk to and clients I work with equate marketing automation with lead generation. They think that to generate leads they MUST have marketing automation.
Marketing automation will improve efficiency of your marketing, but if you have nothing to automate or resources to invest it will slowly and painfully kill your business.
Let's get this straight:
To generate leads you do not need marketing automation.
In order to start generating leads, you need 3 things:
- A website with a blogging capability
- Content strategy
- A landing page (or a few)
Frankly, that's all you need.
Marketing Automation Paradox
Marketing automation is a blessing and curse. If you have money and resources, it can be the best thing that ever happened to your marketing and business. But, if you're a small business with a limited resources and struggling to generate leads, it can be a nightmare.
When I talk to HubSpot clients who are considering leaving HubSpot, the reason for leaving is usually the same: I'm using 10% of all the features and I'm not getting any results.
When you are struggling to generate leads and have limited resources, you shouldn't be thinking about marketing automation but instead focus on lead generation. You can't drive a car without any fuel.
Lead Generation First
In my experience, there are 3 main issues that prevent businesses from generating leads – and having no marketing automation is not one of them.
- Poorly designed website. It might be the prettiest thing in the world, but it's terrible at converting visitors to leads.
- There's no content strategy to drive traffic of qualified leads.
- There are no landing pages, or if there are a few they are terrible.
Let's break them down into strategies that you can use.
@ProjectArmy I actually had more leads after sending you that email. My site has really increased our credibility! Thank you!
— TNTNutrition (@tnt_nutrition) May 19, 2014
1. Website. Most websites are created to aesthetically please your eye. If you have enough resources, you will hire an agency or a team that includes experts in conversion optimization. Many designers do not have enough experience to create a conversion optimized website. It's not a required skill set for designers, it's not their fault. It will look good, but it will not convert.
When I help overhaul clients' websites, I spend the time to understand the business and the target market to understand how to correctly position services, how to present information, navigation, layout for the homepage and internal pages, and landing pages.
If the client's existing website was generating traffic but not leads, they can start seeing new leads sometimes within a day of the launch of the new website. That's the power of a conversion optimized website.
2. Content strategy. Once your website is conversion optimized, you need to generate traffic of qualified leads. Blogging about yourself or haphazard blogging will yield no results.
When you can't dedicate a few hours a week to generate content for your blog, YOU WILL NOT HAVE TIME to effective use marketing automation tools. Period.
Content strategy encompasses not only your blogging, but it will help you define your email content, your white papers or ebooks, your videos, images, social media updates, etc.
Having a strategy in place (WRITTEN DOWN, NOT IN YOUR HEAD) allows you to be prepared to create content without dreading the blank screen, because you know what you need to write about. And because you do know who you're writing this for, you will create content that attracts qualified leads.
3. Landing pages. This, my dear friend, is where conversion happens. No landing pages? No conversions. This is why I force my clients to create at least one landing page when I build them a website, because I know it will be useless if they have no landing pages to convert that traffic into leads.
Having a contact form on your website is not enough. Lead conversion is a barter exchange process: the visitor gives you his/her information in exchange for a valuable reward (ebook, video, free consultation, etc.). If they do not see value (perceived value) in what you're offering them on that landing page, they will leave (don't do this on your landing page).
Lead generation does not require marketing automation. When your budget is tight and you're limited on how much time you can dedicate to your marketing, please DO NOT buy marketing automation platform. It will eat your budget quickly, and you will not get any results.
Focus on fixing up your website to improve conversions, create your first landing page, and focus on content to generate traffic. Don't be afraid to write. You're an expert in your field, share your knowledge!
Photo courtesy of NiederlandeNet/cc