Googling ‘Lead Generation’ brings you around 509,000,000 results. That’s a lot of information to try and digest, but the reality is that lead generation is the core of any successful business.
We’ll start with defining a lead, and then go over what online lead generation is, why you need lead generation, how you qualify someone as a lead, how you generate leads, and why your own bespoke lead generation is miles more effective than simply buying leads.
In the past, lead generation used to involve purchasing lists of names and sales representatives cold calling people at home. Advances in technology have made it possible for us to now generate leads based on specific criteria and information, whether this is through outbound or inbound strategies. Companies collect information about potential buyers and then tailor marketing methods and sales pitches to the prospects’ needs. This is largely done through digital channels, using inbound marketing techniques alongside outbound marketing methods (more on that below). Successful lead generation can make the sales cycle more efficient, and lead to greater success rates in new customer acquisition.
This vast quantity of information also means that customers are no longer as interested in listening to a traditional sales pitch that doesn’t relate directly to their needs and it might even push them away. It is now important for companies to focus on generating new leads by developing a strong internet presence. This is often accomplished using inbound marketing methods that employ techniques like search engine optimisation and content marketing.
So, what is a lead?
A lead is a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service in some way, shape, or form.
You can generate leads via outbound methods, or at least generate awareness and interest in your business. There are then several methods you can use to convert a prospect into a lead, and then into a client.
Content is a great way to guide users to a landing page. Typically, you create content to provide visitors with useful, free information. You can include CTAs anywhere in your content — inline, bottom-of-post, in the hero, or even on the side panel. The more delighted a visitor is with your content, the more likely they are to click your call-to-action and move onto your landing page. Web content fits perfectly within the ‘attract, convert, close delight’ methodology of inbound marketing. Creating engaging content for your prospects to interact with is a great way to generate inbound leads.
Image from Hubspot
Email is a great place to reach the people who already know your brand and product or service. It’s much easier to ask them to take an action since they’ve previously subscribed to your list. Emails tend to be a bit cluttered, so use CTAs that have compelling copy and an eye-catching design to grab your subscriber’s attention.
Ads and Retargeting
The sole purpose of an ad is to get people to take an action. Otherwise, why spend the money? If you want people to convert, be sure that your landing page and offer match exactly what is promised in the ad, and that the action you want users to take is crystal clear. You can target online ads at a very particular demographic, as well as set them to retarget people who have visited your website (so you know there is already an interest in your offering).
The great thing about using your blog posts to promote an offer is that you can tailor the entire piece to the end goal. They’re also brilliant for SEO and boosting your rankings for a wide range of key words. You can write content aimed at all of your different target audiences, and then promote this either via email or as LinkedIn content – all whilst improving your search engine rankings. This then links back to the content section, and you can use this to warm prospects into leads.
Social media platforms make it easy to guide your followers to take action, from the swipe up option on Instagram stories to Facebook bio links to bitly URLs on Twitter. You can also promote your offerings on your social posts and include a call-to-action in your caption.
You can break down a lot of barriers to a sale by offering trials of your product or service. Once a prospect is using your product, you can entice them with additional offers or resources to encourage them to buy. Another good practice is to include your branding in your free versions so you can capture other potential customers, too.
Referral, or word-of-mouth, marketing is useful for lead generation in a different way. That is, it gets your brand in front of more people, which, in turn, increases your chances of generating more leads. A recommendation from a trusted connection will always significantly improve the probability of a prospect buying, compared to entering in as a client with no idea what to expect.
Whatever channel you use to generate leads, you’ll want to guide users to your landing page. As long as you’ve built a landing page that converts, the rest will handle itself.
Certain elements of outbound marketing have become less effective in the age of internet research, but it’s still an invaluable tool when combined with inbound marketing to target specific opportunities and reach out to leads. Some examples of outbound marketing include emails, events, advertisements.
- Email Marketing can be used to distribute new content, send out event invitations, share news, and stay in touch with customers. It’s a way to provide content to potential leads who may not be looking for you.
- Event Marketing creates an opportunity to share your brand, build personal relationships with customers, and engage with attendees.
- Telemarketing when done correctly is extremely effective at generating interest and appointments, as it allows you to go direct to the decision maker in your target market and deliver a tailored pitch.
- Display Ads can be targeted to prospects with certain habits or demographic traits.They allow you to share information with a specific audience.
- Content Syndication is the practice of sharing your content on third party websites to draw additional attention to your brand.
- Outbound LinkedIn Marketing allows you to use the world’s largest B2B network at scale, to reach out directly to your target audience, and market to them on an ongoing basis with your content
Why not just buy leads?
Marketers and salespeople alike want to fill their sales funnel — and they want to fill it quickly. Enter: The temptation to buy leads.
Buying leads, as opposed to organically generating them, is much easier and takes far less time and effort, despite being more expensive. If your conversion rate is good, it might seem extremely tempting and you’ll probably get a few sales out of it. First and foremost, any leads you’ve purchased don’t actually know you. Typically, they’ve “opted in” at some other site when signing up for something, and didn’t actually opt in to receiving anything from yourcompany. This already puts you at a disadvantage compared to a prospect who has had a conversation with you already, or come across your website and enquired with you directly.
The messages you send them are therefore unwanted messages, and sending unwanted messages is intrusive. If the prospect has never been to your website and indicated an interest in your, products or services, then you’re interrupting them, plain and simple. This also puts you at risk of not using data properly under new GDPR rules, if it’s not certain that the lead has a legitimate interest in your offering.
If they never opted in to receive messages specifically from you, then there’s a high chance they could flag your messages as spam, which is quite dangerous for you. Not only does this train to filter out emails from you, but it also indicates to their email provider which emails to filter out, and your domain authority both in email servers and on search engines will plummet. It’s always, always, always better to generate leads organically rather than buy them.
How to Qualify a Lead
As we covered in the first section, a lead is a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service. Now, let’s talk about the ways in which someone can actually show that interest.
Essentially, a sales lead is generated through information collection. That information collection could come as the result of a job seeker showing interest in a position by completing an application, a shopper sharing contact information in exchange for a coupon, or a person filling out a form to download an educational piece of content.
These are some of the things you can ask for in a lead gen form (though this will vary depending on the information you require, and what you do):
- Full Name: The most fundamental information needed to personalize your communication with each lead.
- Email: This serves as a unique identifier and is how you will contact your lead.
- Company: This will give you the ability to research your lead’s industry and company and how the lead might benefit from your product or service (mainly for B2B).
- Role: Understanding an individual’s role will help you understand how to communicate with them. Every brand stakeholder will have a different take and perspective on your offering (mainly for B2B).
- Country: Location information can help you segment your contact by region and time zone, and help you qualify the lead depending on your service.
Lead scoring is a way to qualify leads quantitatively. Using this technique, leads are assigned a score to determine where they fall on the scale from “interested” to “ready for a sale”. The criteria for these actions is completely up to you, but it must be uniform across your marketing and sales department so that everyone is working on the same scale. A lead’s score can be based on actions they’ve taken, information they’ve provided, their level of engagement with your brand, or other criteria that your sales team determines. For instance, you may score someone higher if they regularly engage with you on social media or if their demographic information matches your target audience.
Borrowing from the examples above, you might give a lead a higher score if they used one of your coupons — an action that would signify this person is interested in your product.
The higher a lead’s score, the closer they are to becoming a sales-qualified lead (SQL), which is only a step away from becoming a customer. The score and criteria is something you may need to tweak along the way until you find the formula that works, but once you do, you’ll transform your lead generation into customer generation.
Costs per Lead
Buying leads can also get very expensive very quickly, and will likely cost you more than the marketing spend to organically generate a similar quantity of leads, which would be of higher quality. Software, Marketing and Financial Services companies can expect to pay on average £40-£75 per lead, so you’re better off doing this yourself.f
Lead Generation Software
It would also follow that the most successful teams use a formal system to organize and store leads: 46% use Google Docs, 41% use marketing automation software, and 37% use CRM software. The more comprehensive your solution, the better you’ll be able to monitor, nurture and follow up your leads to convert them into sales.
Lead Generation Strategies
Online lead generation encompasses a wide range of tactics, campaigns, and strategies depending on the platform on which you wish to capture leads. We talked about lead capture best practices once you have a visitor on your site, but how can you get them there in the first place?
Let’s dive into lead generation strategies for a few popular platforms.
Facebook Lead Generation
Facebook has been a method for lead generation since its inception.Originally, companies could use outbound links in their posts and information in their bios to attract strangers to their websites. However, when Facebook Ads was launched in 2007, and its algorithm began to favor accounts that used paid advertising, there was a major shift in how businesses used the platform to capture leads. Facebook created Lead Ads for this purpose. Facebook also has a feature that lets you put a simple call-to-action button at the top of your Facebook Page, helping you send Facebook followers directly to your website.
LinkedIn Lead Generation
LinkedIn has been increasing its stake in the advertising space since its early days. When it comes to lead generation, LinkedIn created Lead Gen Forms, which auto populate with a users profile data when they click a CTA, making it easy to capture information. You can also use LinkedIn for highly targeted, large scale outbound lead generation. This is exactly what we do, and it proves extremely effective for our clients for a very low investment. Outsourcing this (instead of doing it yourself) means you don’t need to spend the hours each week generating opportunities at the output required – read more on the rest of our website!
PPC Lead Generation
When we say pay-per-click (PPC), we’re referring to ads on search engine result pages (SERPs). Google gets 3.5 billion searches a day, making it prime real estate for any ad campaign, especially lead gen. The effectiveness of your PPC campaign relies heavily on a seamless user flow, as well as your budget, target keywords, and a few other factors.
Telemarketing is a form of outbound calling into businesses to pitch directly to the decision makers in your target market and set sales appointments. A lot of people are of the firm belief that cold calling is dead, but this is absolutely not the case. When done correctly, it’s still one of the most effective ways of setting up qualified face to face appointments, which have a far higher conversion rate than someone signing up to your newsletter. Again, this is definitely something worth outsourcing to a specialist agency, who have trained and qualified telemarketers that work as an extension of your business (and learn your offering inside out). This is usually far more cost effective than having an in-house telemarketer, and allows you to scale the output depending on your requirements. This is also something we can offer within the Straight-Line Group – visit www.slmarketing.co.uk for more information.
Tips for Lead Generation Campaigns
In any given lead generation campaign, there can be a lot of moving parts. It can be difficult to tell which parts of your campaign are working and which need some fine-tuning. What exactly goes into a best-in-class lead generation engine? Here are a few tips when building lead gen campaigns.
Use the right lead generation tools.
As you saw in our data, the most successful marketing teams use a formal system to organize and store their leads. That’s where lead generation tools and lead generation software come into play.
How much do you know about the people visiting your website? Do you know their names or their email addresses? How about which pages they visited, how they’re navigating around, and what they do before and after filling out a lead conversion form?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, chances are you’re having a hard time connecting with the people who are visiting your site. These are questions you should be able to answer — and you can with the right lead generation tools.
There are a few different tools and templates out there that’ll help you create different lead gen assets to use on your site:
- Lead Generation Software Tools: This free tool from HubSpot includes lead capture and contact insights features, which will scrape any pre-existing forms you have on your website and add those contacts to your existing contact database. It also lets you create pop-ups, hello bars, or slide-ins — called “lead flows” — that’ll help you turn website visitors into leads immediately.
- Visitor Tracking: We partner with tech giant Lead Forensics, who offer a unique IP tracking software. This allows you to see exactly which businesses are visiting your site, which pages they visited (and for how long), and where they found you. This makes it brilliant to target the people who are already looking at you. We can integrate this into any marketing strategy you work on with us, to maximise your return on investment.
- Form-Scraping Tool: A form scraping tool that collects submissions on your website’s existing forms helps you automatically consolidate all your leads into your contact database, regardless of which form visitors submitted on your website.
Get your sales team involved.
Remember when we talked about lead scoring? Well, it isn’t exactly doable without your sales team’s input. How will you know what qualifies a lead for sales without knowing if your defined SQLs are successfully sold? Your marketing and sales teams need to be aligned on the definitions and the process of moving a lead from MQL to SQL to opportunity before you even begin to capture leads.
Also, be open to evolving your relationship with sales and how you guide leads along your funnel. Your definitions will likely need to be refined over time; just make sure to keep everyone involved up-to-date.
You can also do a lead generation analysis of your blog to figure out which posts generate the most leads, and then make a point of regularly linking social media posts to them. Another way to generate leads from social media is to run a contest. Contests are fun and engaging for your followers, and they can also teach you a ton about your audience. It’s a win-win.
Remain flexible and constantly iterate.
Your lead generation strategy needs to be as dynamic as the people you’re targeting. Trends change, behaviors shift, opinions morph – so should your lead gen marketing. Use A/B split testing to see what CTAs perform best, which landing pages convert better, and which copy captures your target audience.Experiment with layout changes, design, UX, content, and advertising channels until you find what works.
Now you know more about how to generate leads for your business and the importance of doing so. The basics we’ve gone over in this blog post are just the beginning. Keep creating great offers, CTAs, landing pages, and forms — and promote them in multi-channel environments. Be in close touch with your sales team to make sure you’re handing off high-quality leads on a regular basis. Last but not least, never stop testing. The more you tweak and test every step of your inbound lead generation process, the more you’ll improve lead quality and increase revenue.
To talk to us about how we can keep your sales funnel topped up with a consistent stream and large volume of sales opportunities from LinkedIn outreach, click below. We’re always happy to have a no-obligation chat about how LinkedIn Lead Generation would work with your offering, and how effective it can be in any industry. You can also give the office a call on 0161 503 7654