What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is the name given to the process and steps of attracting potential customers with the intention of converting them into a paying customer.
It is simply about finding ways to make new people aware of your business and encouraging them to do business with you through various steps.
What is a lead?
A lead can be classified as any person that shows interest in a company’s product or service, often through the sharing of personal data such as name, email and phone number.
It is the expression of interest and sharing of personal data that really defines a lead. For example someone that you cold call would not be considered a lead because they have shown no previous expression of interest in your brand, product or service. But if the end result of that cold call progresses to a follow up call or them showing interest in what you have to offer then they could now be classified as a lead.
While the process of generating leads is as straightforward as moving someone from a visitor to a customer we must remember that even leads fall into different categories.
What is a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
A sales qualified lead is a person that has given clear indications that they are interested in paying for your products or services. This could be that they have completed an online form to request prices on particular products or they have clicked an ad from Google Ads that led them to a landing page to request a call back or demo from a sales agent. Or perhaps they have been part of your CRM email software and have recently engaged with content that signals they are ready for a sales call.
What is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
A marketing qualified lead is a person that has shown some interest in your product or service but by engaging with one of your marketing programmes but have yet to give signals that they want to make a purchase. This could involve sharing personal information in exchange for an ebook.
Why should you use Lead Generation Strategies?
A properly planned out and measured lead generation strategy will not only help you convert potential customers into paying customers. But it will also help you streamline your marketing efforts and track the time and cost associated with making a sale.
By investing in lead generation then you are maximising your chances of moving someone from the awareness stage of the buyer journey to the action/purchase stage.
By ignoring lead generation you are leaving lots of gaps in your sales and marketing funnel/process and losing potential customers as a result.
What does Lead Generation look like?
Many people think that lead generation is a highly complex process that is only suitable for those in big business, but that is not the case. Lead generation can be applied to companies of all shapes and sizes as well as budgets of all shapes and sizes!
Step 1: Make people aware of your business through one of your digital channels, eg you website and blog through SEO, PPC, or your social media pages through organic content or social media ads.
Step 2: The person then engages with your content by clicking a CTA (call to action) button that directs them to a dedicated landing page.
Step 3: They now share some of their personal details on this landing page in exchange for more content or an offer, such as an ebook, product demo, price sheet or a call back.
And just like that you now have a new lead!
Although as I mentioned before, not all leads are made equally so you will need to develop a scoring system or method to qualify your leads. Qualifying your leads will help you prioritise which leads you should go after first!
What Are Lead Generation Strategies?
We just highlighted a very simple lead generation process but even in those simple three steps there are multiple elements and strategies that will take resources to create and plan.
Too often we see companies rushing too quickly into lead generation campaigns without putting in the pre-launch work that could be the difference between success and failure.
1: Content Creation
Think of content as marketing fuel. Would you spend all day building a campfire base with large stones, purchasing marshmallows, bringing out some outdoor seating and inviting all your friends round, but never gathered any fire wood or fuel for the fire? You might….but it’s going to be a bit of a disappointing (and cold) evening for you and your friends!
Content creation is the process of putting yourself in your customers shoes and asking, “what do I want?”. Content should be created with a purpose in mind. Great content should answer questions, educate, entertain or excite!
It can come in the form as imagery, video, landing page copy, blog posts and much more. Not only should content be relevant but in terms of your lead generation process it should be targeted and mapped to the buyer journey.
For example, creating an advert on Facebook to target a cold audience with your price list is probably not going to get a lot of traction. Whereas creating a short and engaging video that talks about the benefits and solutions your product or service provides could be much better placed at building awareness and getting people to click a CTA button to move them along the buyer journey.
Content can be viewed as its own entity for attracting customers but it is also part of almost every other step in the lead generation process.
2: Online Advertising
Using ads is a great way to get traffic to your website or social channel. But figuring out what platform & what type of ad to show is very important to get the best results from your lead generation process.
PPC (pay per click) Ads can come in a variety of forms such as, search ads, social ads, display, video and retargeting ads. All of which have different pros and cons to be considered and should be used strategically.
Online advertising or digital advertising is dominated by Google Ads and Facebook Ads (which includes Instagram). In the world of B2B LinkedIn is probably the key social channel and the LinkedIn Ads platform is quickly catching up to the big players, but Facebook and Instagram still play an important role for B2B companies and their lead generation strategies.
SEO is a hugely successful way to bring relevant traffic to your site. SEO or search engine optimisation is one of the best investments you can make for your digital marketing strategies and more specifically lead generation strategies.
SEO is the process of writing and editing content to give it the best possible chance of being found on Google and other search engine result pages (SERPS). Like content, it needs to be planned and developed with not only your business in mind but also your potential customers in mind.
Unlike PPC ads which can be turned on and begin working instantly, SEO is a longer term digital marketing strategy as it could take many months to see results. But SEO is very valuable because as humans we are aware of ads and some people are very wary of ads. But we still see SEO as a more natural form of marketing and are therefore more likely to trust an article ranking higher on google over an ad.
3: Social Media
Social media channels allow you to quickly and easily direct traffic to your website or even generate leads direct from the platform itself through Messenger. Your social channels should serve a purpose and so too should your social posts. Each channel may have a different purpose for different audiences and the content you share across each platform could vary depending on your strategies. But regardless, they are are great way to move potential customers onto the new stage of the customer journey.
4: Email & CRM
Similar to your social media followers, the people on your email list already know your business and your product or services. These users are further down the lead generation process and are more likely to respond to a CTA that’s embedded in an email from you. Although, just because someone has subscribed, doesn’t mean you don’t need to work for their attention. Compelling subject lines and targeted content is the best way to keep your email list engaged.
By going a step further and implementing a CRM system to automate your email marketing efforts will save you a lot of time in the long run. But with a considerable investment of time and money needed to get it setup you’ll need to be sure you’ll have the volume of email subscribers to justify it.
Lead generation is an effective and powerful way to grow your business and increase sales by growing the quality and quality of leads coming into your business.
Developing a well thought out multi channel funnel focused on lead generation is one way to accelerate and your overall growth.