When I started LeadJoint, the online lead generation service for SEO agencies, one question I persistently thought about was where to acquire my next customer from. Should we start advertising even before turning in profit? Should we wait for SEO to show some results? Or should we cold call/email prospects in the hope that some of them turn customers?
With close to five months of marketing under our belt, I think it is time to have a fair perspective of what is working and what is not. I plan to come up with an updated article every few months to keep you in the loop on what is working and what is not.
Marketing for LeadJoint essentially started around new year’s time. Broadly speaking, here are the different marketing techniques we have used since then:
- Cold emails/calls
- Content marketing
- Forum marketing
- Facebook advertising
- Email marketing
So how good have the results been with each of these different techniques? Here is a short write-up on what worked, what didn’t and the lessons learned.
Cold Emails & Calls
Cold calls and emails were the only two forms of outbound marketing LeadJoint resorted to. We stopped cold calling after just a couple of weeks since we had started seeing better results with Cold emails. For cold emailing, we picked several templates, but the one that had the best response rates was one that I had initially discarded because it seemed too ‘salesy’ and ‘spammy’. I received an average of one or two responses for every 15-20 emails I sent using this template. Your mileage may vary. Click to view enlarged image.
Why did this work better than more professional emails? It’s probably because it was direct and instantly conveyed the benefit of the product to the recipient. So even though the recipient does not like sales pitches, the fact that this email conveyed the benefits faster meant a relatively higher percentage of people responded to this mail.
Content marketing is by far the most popular marketing strategy at LeadJoint. Essentially, content marketing consists of two parts:
1. Blogging on your own website and making it popular
2. Blogging on popular third party websites and drawing in traffic
The reason we use so much of content marketing is because it just works. But if you think content marketing ends with getting your article published on a third party website, you are wrong – you will need to spend a lot of time promoting it. Here is a short guide I wrote for content marketing.
But again, not all content works alike. In my experience, the conversion rates are always higher from content pieces where LeadJoint is referred contextually as part of an article rather than explicitly at the header or byline. I guess this is partly due to the fact that when a product is introduced contextually in an article, it has the prospect already “warmed up” to the problem and the need to solve it with a service. But in the case of mentions on headers and bylines, the click-throughs are equally high, but the conversions (and even visitor engagements) are relatively lower because these people are not looking for your product at that point.
By forum marketing, I am not stopping merely at bulletin boards, but also at social communities including Quora and Facebook Groups. We have not invested in this category as much as we should have. Therefore the results are not spectacular either. However, with the few conversions we have had from this strategy, some conclusions that can be drawn are:
1. Conversions do happen from signature links. But make sure you appear consistently smart in your responses to gather any sort of authority among the community members
2. Smaller niche communities convert better than large catch-alls where there is no one way to draw the demographic of your audience.
3. As in the case of content marketing, you stand a better chance of capturing a conversion when your product is mentioned contextually rather than spamming your link.
We decided not to invest in advertising for as long as we do not turn a profit or gain traction. So this is one of the most recent marketing experiments. Fortunately, it seems to be working for us. In order to keep the CPCs low, LeadJoint is currently being advertised only from the right hand side of a desktop computer and is targeted at the decision makers in the organization. At the moment, we are seeing a conversion for every $9.5 ad spend. For one, the sample size is still pretty small to call that a definitive cost-per-conversion. Also, there is plenty of opportunity to optimize. Here is one ad that has converted well so far.
For email marketing to work, you need to get two things right : First, you need a pretty valuable lead magnet that will draw visitors into signing up. Second, you need to have a good reason to send an email newsletter at a good frequency without being frowned upon for spam. In this aspect, I guess we got it pretty right. Subscribers to the LeadJoint email newsletter come from two sources:
When someone visiting the blog section downloads the free link building ebook on the right sidebar
When a LeadJoint visitor tries out the lead searching feature
The first source is pretty straightforward. In the second case, when a visitor to the LeadJoint homepage hits the search button, they are typically shown only the top 3 out of the more than 15,000 results. With the rest of the results blurred and hidden from view, we decided to put up a form over the blurred area to allow visitors get a larger sample of results. This helps us sign up a lot of customers.
The other part of email marketing is the content. Every Wednesday, we send out a bunch of new leads for free to our subscribers. These leads are sourced from across different markets like the US, UK, Australia and Canada and helps our subscribers get a perspective on the kind of leads they could source from LeadJoint.
While there is a decent conversion rate off these email newsletters, the interesting part is that there are a higher number of paying subscribers who sign up soon after they subscribe to the newsletter. Essentially, these visitors are using the subscription box to merely reassure themselves about the quality of leads and once they are happy with the sample provided, proceed to pay right away.
There are still a lot of other marketing strategies that we are yet to experiment with. Chief among them are Adwords advertising, affiliate marketing and partnerships. We will update you with the success with these strategies in a future column. For now, here is how I would rank the various strategies on the basis of what worked the best.
1. Content marketing
2. Email marketing
3. Facebook advertising
4. Forum marketing
5. Cold outreach