inbound-sales-funnel.jpgTake a moment to think about the people who visit your website. They are probably there because they have a problem or question, and are looking for the solution or answer in the content you’ve provided. That makes them a qualified lead, doesn’t it?

What if you could attract more of these qualified visitors? And then, what if you could actually convert these strangers into sales leads so that you could close more new customers? Would that help you get more business?

Many company’s websites remain an untapped resource for mining sales leads. Their site content is often just a rehash of their printed company brochures and sales literature that they’ve put online. In an effort to generate sales leads, most company websites do display a phone number, or contain a “Contact Us,” or “Request a Quote” page, but few have a well-considered online marketing process to guide visitors through their buyer’s journey toward these “bottom of funnel” offers. Therefore, most business owners feel frustrated that they do not get the results they expect from their website and other online marketing.

The best way to turn these strangers into customers and promoters of your business online is with an inbound marketing process.

Does your website generate enough leads?

There are two simple questions that will help determine whether your website is helping your business or not. First, do you get a lot of visitors to your website?

If you don’t know, find out. Use analytics software, like the free Google Analytics, to track this most basic metric.

If the answer is no, then start with an online campaign to increase website traffic. There are many approaches, including search engine optimization and paid ads on search and social channels.

Blogging is another great way to attract visitors who are actively looking for the helpful advice and knowledge you offer. Research from HubSpot shows that companies that blog just once or twice a month generate 70% more leads.

Second, if your website does drive traffic, do you know how many of those visitors actually become leads and customers?

This is usually where the answers get murky because it’s where most marketing tactics stop. Search Engine Optimization and pay per click ad campaigns are very important marketing activities for driving visitors to your website, but these methods do not capture the names and email addresses of qualified leads so you can add them to your sales funnel and close them as new customers.

Think again about the website visitor who landed on your blog article because it provided helpful answers to the questions they asked in their search engine query. Your SEO plan did its job by displaying your site highly in the search engine rankings, but once the visitor clicked through to your site, what he or she does next is up to chance.

Inbound marketing provides a clear path for what that visitor should do next to get even more of the valuable content they came for. For example, the prospect can fill out a form with their name and email to download a free report. Then, armed with this contact information, in addition to what you know from website analytics data about how the visitor interacted with your website, such as which other pages they visited or whether this is their first or a repeat visit, you can make informed decisions about the prospect’s needs, and how you can help.

An inbound marketing plan outlines the process of attracting website visitors and converting them into leads, then nurturing the most qualified leads into customers. Using the contact information provided by the visitor, combined with detailed website analytics data, companies can develop an online marketing plan that transforms their website from an online brochure, into a profitable sales tool that generates leads and customers.