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Inbound marketing: how social media can be your startup’s strongest and cheapest lead generation machine

Marcus Ho is a social media strategist to best-in-class businesses in Asia. Marcus has helped over 200 corporations ranging from MNCs to fast-emerging startups to increase sales through social and digital campaigns. He is also the author of Social Payoff.

Inbound marketing: how social media can be your startup’s strongest (and cheapest) lead generation machine

In recent years, inbound marketing has proven to the more popular choice over the traditional outbound marketing strategy, which usually consists of buying ad space on media and waiting for queries to come in. A 2013 study by inbound marketing experts Hubspot shows that 58 percent of marketers have embraced inbound marketing, and more importantly, 34 percent of leads are generated through inbound marketing; only 22 percent of leads are produced through outbound marketing.

This does not even consider the extra cost required for outbound marketing. The study shows that inbound marketing saves marketers about 12 percent the cost per lead and about five percent the cost per customer:

Inbound marketing - how social media can be your startup’s strongest and cheapest lead generation machine

And ultimately, does inbound marketing actually generate considerable enough return-on-investment (ROI) to warrant a change in marketing strategy (if your startup hasn’t already embraced inbound marketing?)

Here’s your answer:

Inbound marketing - how social media can be your startup’s strongest and cheapest lead generation machine

Nearly half the marketers testified that inbound marketing generated actual results, notwithstanding the 34 percent of marketers who could not or did not calculate their ROI.

So where does social media come in?

Now that we’ve established the importance of the inbound marketing strategy, let’s discuss why social media is such a powerful inbound marketing tool. Here are three reasons why your startup should use social media to pull in leads:

1. The ability to create specific content

Every audience has its own needs and wants, and your startup will need to be properly positioned so you can answer their queries or address their issues. And the best way for you to do that flexibly and with immediacy is social media.

Traditional marketing platforms are largely one-sided in communication and not nearly adaptable to suit your audience. For example, social media can be used to create content that propagates your brand values, while also providing the latest news on your industry. There are so many ways for you to give value to your audience through social media, and with the instantaneousness that other marketing platforms cannot provide.

Your content can be adjusted, skewed, and targeted to directly appeal to your audience. And when your audience sees the value in your highly specific content, that is where qualified leads come in.

2. Automated nurturing of leads

Many a time, high quality leads do not just appear in front of you. You have to create them. You will have to nurture them individually, making sure any leads with even just a hint of potential will be properly cultivated and convinced of your product’s or service’s benefit.

Social media allows just that. You can now support your potential leads by answering their queries on your social media platforms in real-time, increasing their level of confidence in your startup and cementing them as a high-potential lead.

Furthermore, most of your leads will probably not be convinced enough to immediately buy from you. You will have to be present throughout their thought processes, which is a perfect time for your social media platforms, because they can…

3. Help your leads along their buying process

At different stages of the buying cycle, your potential customers will have growing, changing concerns. And it is very crucial that your startup remains on top of their mental recall by answering them, assuring them, and finally persuading them that your product or service is the best thing for them.

What better way for you, as a startup, to utilize social media for that? It all boils back down to the immediacy of social media. Your responses to potential leads on social media can be specifically tailored to make each and every one of them feel like their worries about your product or service are being put to rest.

When you’ve guided them through the mental buying process, you’ll not only be seen as a reliable source of information and help, but also close the lead as a customer.

If there’s anything you can take away from this article, let it be this: using social media is a highly effective and cheap solution to your inbound marketing strategy. Social media may not be the only tool you can use to create strong inbound marketing for your product or service, but it is certainly the most cost-effective. It’s really a no-brainer if you want to market your startup on a lean budget.

Editing by Steven Millward; top image credit: Petworldstore

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