You Don’t Need Marketing Automation to Generate Leads
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 the 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 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.
1. The 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. The 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 effectively use marketing automation tools. Period.
The 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. The 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 the 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 a 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
You hit the nail on the head a few times in that piece. Well done. Graphics designers are not direct response marketers, and if you want to believe they are, then less competition for me, haha! Your 10 hour per week estimate of time dedication seems good enough if there is little competition in your niche, far more is needed if you are in any kind of high competition space.
I love how you broke this down to three basic things necessary for lead generation. It really is that basic and you have a lot of valuable links and resources here to help the small business person get off to a good start! I wish I had read this a year ago instead of learning the hard way! 🙂
Glad you found it useful Sherree, and I hope it will help you get more leads 🙂
“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.”
Exactly. Couldn’t have put it better myself. Great article Viktor – very informative.
Thanks Stewart. Commitment and effort are key to using marketing automation tools successfully.
Great info Viktor! I understand and agree with your point about having a good content strategy – my issue is having the time to implement the strategy. I have mixed feelings about HubSpot – but I agree you certainly should not expect to “drive the car with no gas.”
I think it’s important to have at least a basic plan of action, so you know what type of content to create for your audience (your target market). It makes content creation so much easier, since you’re not starting from scratch every single time 🙂
Some great stuff here. We’re some way behind the US content marketing industry this side of the pond, but way too many businesses are being sold expensive marketing automation and CRM packages with long lock-ins BEFORE they have a fully formed content plan in place. Invest in content first, then, once the traffic is there, automate the process if you can prove ROI. Chickens and eggs. Oh – and hire a content expert, not a marketeer, to create your content if you don’t have the time to do it youself.
Even a basic plan can help you move forward in the right direction, direction you want to go and not the one current is taking you to. Implementing strategy will save you time and make you more efficient, since it lays everything out for you. Something definitely worth considering.
Hi Viktor, thanks for sharing your insights. At some point, I would like to have a more in-depth conversation with you about your views on Hubspot. Good read!
Thanks Noble. You know where to find me when you want to chat about HubSpot.
Viktor, this is a lot of great info! The task you mention that helps me most at this time is having a content strategy. This helps me focus and you’re not flailing around wasting time trying to figure your topic. Put it all on paper with topics for the week or month or whatever works for you (we outlined a whole year on Jan 1, 2014)…..it’s okay if it changes, at least you have a starting point.
Thanks for your input, and confirming to other small businesses how important content strategy is to the business. With content strategy, you walk a path and you know where you’re going. Without content strategy, you’re wandering around the Sahara desert. Good luck with finding your way there 🙂