In theory inbound marketing leads should be cheaper than paid leads as customers are seeking you out rather than the other way around.

But just how much money do you stand to save by increasing your number of inbound leads?

In a talk at our Funnel B2B marketing conference HubSpot’s CMO Mike Volpe revealed that his company pays an average of $346 for each paid lead compared to $135 for inbound, a saving of 61%.

Not only that, but inbound leads also convert at three times the rate of paid leads.

And if you’re still not convinced, Volpe said that for every $1 HubSpot spends on inbound marketing it achieves a $6 lifetime value from the customer, whereas the same amount invested in paid marketing returns $2.50.

So it’s not difficult to see why HubSpot is pleased that 80% of its business comes from inbound marketing. But how can you try to replicate some of this success for your lead generation? 

At Funnel Volpe shared several tips from his company’s content marketing strategy, and here are some of the highlights…

1. Get more content

It’s a simple equation, but more content equals more inbound leads.

Volpe said that HubSpot got almost 8,000 leads in October from blog posts that weren’t published that month. In fact 70% of the company’s blog leads come from old posts.

With paid leads every month you start at zero, but with inbound you are halfway to you target every month before you even start.

2. How do you build your assets?

Content marketing can take a number of different forms, including a blog, podcasts, videos, photos or images.

According to Volpe, the important thing is to have the correct mind-set as it’s not about pushing out content that is important to your business. Instead you need to tap into what your audience is interested in.

To attract potential customers you need content that appeals to your customer. It’s not until the late stage of the funnel that you should start introducing content about your products.

At HubSpot, 70% of all leads originate with marketing, 75% of which are inbound versus 25% that are paid for through channels such as PPC, social ads or display.

The inbound leads are split fairly equally between the blog, social, SEO, email, marketing grader and co-marketing. 

By having all these different inbound channels we have a risk proof strategy, because if one channel disappears then we have several other channels to fall back on.

3. Blogging philosophy

If your company publishes a blog Volpe said that it should be tailored to your customers’ interests with the lofty goal of making it the best publication in your industry.

He referred to a study which found that companies with blogs typically see a 55% increase in web traffic and 79% increase in Twitter followers, while 57% of companies with blogs say they get revenue from it.

4. Social

In order for B2B marketers to gain leads from social media Volpe said they need to make their social channels among the most interesting and valuable accounts for potential customers.

For this to work businesses obviously need to have content to share in the first place, but assuming your business already produces interesting content then there are two steps to achieving success.

Firstly, you need to focus on building an audience and avoid any sales messages. Volpe suggested that this could be achieved in part by tweeting your own content and links to useful content on other sites, but also recommended investing in a few paid promotions to attract new followers.

Once you have built a decent community (HubSpot currently has 256,000 Twitter followers), you can start to mix it up with sales messages and links to lead generation forms or offers.

You can’t do this earlier as people won’t follow you. But the benefit is that you get really high conversion rates when you have a reputation for good content.

5. Offers philosophy

Free content such as ebooks, webinars or white papers are useful tools for generating interest from potential customers, but it’s wrong to assume that more free content leads to more leads.

Volpe said it’s unlikely that people will go directly from requesting an ebook to requesting a quote as they are not necessarily in the correct mind-set.

The journey has to be more natural. They might click a link at the bottom of a blog post to download an ebook as it makes sense that visitors will be interested in more of the same content.

HubSpot currently achieves a 50% conversion rate on pages linked to from blog posts as they try to ensure first and foremost that the content is useful.

Therefore lead generation from free content has to be more subtle, so resist the temptation to stick huge ‘Buy now’ CTAs on the bottom of white papers.