The holidays are coming up, which means towns and cities all across the country fill their buildings and homes with lights and shiny twinkling objects everywhere you look. Then as the new year rolls around, everyone takes their decorations down, ok, maybe you do it in February, but you go back to the norm before the next excuse to decorate comes around.

Digital marketing tactics and methodologies work in a similar way. Every year, there seem to be so many trends, tips & tricks, and updates that happen in the complex online world, and it’s hard for any business to keep up. We’re not here to show you the shiny, sparkling digital marketing tactics of 2016 that work for a season and then are forgotten about or fail in a couple months. We are here to deliver you the five best lead conversion strategies that worked in 2016 that are here to stay for the new year, unlike the holiday decorations you store on a shelf in your garage for the next nine to ten months.

Before we dive into the lead conversion strategies, let’s talk about the ‘leaky bucket’ effect. Many companies and marketers don’t realize that they are metaphorically pouring water into a leaky bucket. In other words, rather than fixing the bucket (the marketing funnel), they pour more water into the bucket (traffic) to keep it full. At this rate you might as well be flushing your marketing dollars down the toilet because this strategy only generates below-average results.

So, how do you fix the bucket? You have to improve the lead generation strategies your company uses in order to generate higher quality leads that will actually make your boss happy and positively impact your bottom line. Some studies say that SEO is the best lead conversion strategy and others claim that content creation drives the most potential customers to your business. However, the most important thing to remember is that while the platform you are using to generate leads is important, how you are best optimizing that platform for your audience is where you see real results.

  1. Email Marketing

Email marketing is like that holiday-themed dish platter that your mom gave to you as a gift years ago and every year you put it on the counter for the holiday party because it serves its purpose well and people compliment it every time. Email is one of the few digital marketing strategies that has outlasted many others, and is still an effective lead conversion strategy today, and will be tomorrow.

One of the biggest trends in email marketing that has generated results for companies for various types and sizes is marketing automation. Not sure what that is? HubSpot explains marketing automation as a way marketers nurture prospects through repetitive actions with highly focused, personalized, and useful content that helps convert those prospects into customers. It allows you to connect with the contacts in your database and send them targeted and specialized emails to try and convert them into leads. While newsletters and traditional email marketing are still important, the ability to capture more data about your website visitors using behavioral-triggers has allowed marketers to get a lot more strategic with how they reach out to their target audience.

  1. Content Marketing

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: your business needs content marketing in order to lure in your target audience to your website, and eventually, to your front door. Think of content marketing as the main course at your holiday dinner or party. It’s the meat, the foundation of the night and of your brand and what keeps people coming back to your site or back to the dinner table with second helpings. Keep in mind that content is supposed to be educational and relevant to your customers. Their wants. Their needs. Their pain points. While you can write about your products or services and company to promote your brand, keep it to a minimum.

The basic steps to start and/or improve your content marketing are as follows:

  • Learn which audiences help your business grow, research the relevant trends and spending habits of your prospective customers, outline your objectives as a company of how you want your content marketing to grow your business, and use all the information you’ve gathered to create a strategy.
  • Once you have a strategy in place, and a good amount of diversity and experimentation to know where the biggest growth opportunities are for your business, then you can create blogs, infographics, videos, ebooks, or anything else that will deliver value to your customers and your bottom line.

  1. Search Marketing

Search marketing should be at the top of your company’s wish list this year. According The State of Inbound 2016 report conducted by HubSpot, SEO is the #1 lead source strategy for marketers. SEO is a massive concept to try and sum up in  a few sentences, but we’ll give it a try.  In short, you want your company to appear on the first page of Google because your prospective customers don’t have the patience to find your business on page 16.

SEO is about optimizing all of your website’s assets, whether it is site copy, blog content, page titles, or paid ads, with keywords that your target audience is searching for so they find you  before your competitors. SEO also includes optimizing the technical aspects of your site so both Google and potential customers can easily find and navigate through your website. The better your business ranks in search, the more website traffic you will generate, and the more opportunities you have to convert those visitors into leads.

  1. Social Media

Oh snap (or is it tweet, like, share, +1, comment…?)! For a lot of companies, social media is a touchy subject. Some believe that social media is one of the best lead conversion strategies for businesses, and yet others claim that it is a disastrous waste of money and time. At StringCan, we believe that many companies can be successful on social media, not by how many social media sites you create accounts and pages for, but for the strategy that you use once you are active on the platform.

The reason why a lot of companies have a hard time finding the value in social media is because they use these platforms to push self-promoting content that, let’s be honest, no one is reading (minus the 1 like on your post from an internal team member). Instead, we encourage companies to leverage social media as a platform similar to blogging, where you are posting useful and valuable information to help your customers solve a problem or learn something they would not have otherwise. Post links to the content that you write to gain even more visibility. Social media and content writing is an office relationship that you don’t want to keep secret from HR.

  1. Smarketing

No, we did not misspell “marketing”. Smarketing refers to the alignment between your sales and marketing teams created through frequent and direct touch points and communication between the two teams to generate optimal growth and increased revenue for the company. Think of smarketing as inviting your two best friends or family members who don’t necessarily get along all the time to your holiday dinner or party. The trick is to finding a middle ground with them and when everyone is happy and in jolly spirits, the whole celebration is a night to remember.

In other words, if your marketing team is putting a ton of time and effort into the lead generation strategies above and the sales team does nothing with these leads, you have a problem. Likewise, sales teams often get agitated when the marketing department delivers them handfuls of unqualified leads that will not benefit the company’s bottom line. Smarketing is the ongoing process of open communication to analyze what’s working and what isn’t, and passing along and following up on leads to see where they are in the sales process. It’s about bouncing customer pain points and questions among both teams and developing materials to tackle those questions, together.

Now that you have the pieces to the lead conversion puzzle, it’s time to put them all together. The key to generating leads and better results is to have an undying willingness to experiment with the different strategies and to interconnect them. It takes time and patience to find out what works and what doesn’t for your company, but you will only figure this out if you step out of your comfort zone and experiment with different tactics and strategies.

Once you figure out which lights are the brightest and the ones you want to keep on your house all year long, then you can use your time and budget more effectively to generate higher returns on your investment and substantially grow your business.  If you would like more information on any of these topics or how to tie them all together, please contact us!

Image by Shawn&Kelly via Flickr CC