Before someone will make a purchase with your business, they need to know you exist. From the other side, you can’t strike a deal until a potential client shows their interest.
The purpose of lead generation is to attract or reach out to those potential buyers, inform them about your brand, and gauge their interest. It’s an essential cog in the sales machine, helping you prioritize your efforts on the most likely clients.
But what exactly does lead generation involve?
In this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at the process — from planning out a strategy through to closing sales.
What Is Lead Generation?
A lead is a potential client who has interacted with your business in some way. Sometimes, they are known as prospects.
In simple terms, lead generation is the process of finding these potential clients and nurturing a business relationship with them.
To help you get a better feel for what that means in practice, let’s take a visit to your local fishing lake. Wait, hear us out…
Say you want to catch some bass. You head to a spot where you know that species is abundant, and use a lure that mainly attracts your preferred catch. Do it right, and you will land some whoppers.
In essence, lead generation is the same idea applied to business. Instead of catching fish, you’re trying to get clients to bite on a lead magnet.
This analogy might seem a little left field, but it perfectly summarizes the mindset of top lead generation experts, and even their tactics.
How to Get Started With Lead Generation
Like fishing, lead generation isn’t easy. You may need to be patient and try a number of different strategies before you strike lucky. In fact, 61% of marketing professionals regard lead generation as their number one challenge.
However, effective lead generation campaigns generally include the following steps:
- Define Your Goals
- Create a Strategy
- Promote the Content
- Nurture New Leads
Let’s take a closer look at each stage.
1. Define Your Goal
As with any kind of marketing campaign, setting a goal for lead generation is an important step.
Without a clearly defined target, it’s very difficult to know what success looks like. In turn, you can’t be sure which strategies are “working” and which need to be abandoned.
A good lead generation goal should be easily measurable, and ambitious yet achievable. It could relate to conversion from website visitors into leads, the total number of leads generated, or the resulting revenue.
Your choice of goal will shape what happens in stage two.
2. Create a Strategy
An effective lead generation strategy doesn’t need to be complicated. However, there are quite a few points to consider when you’re building a plan.
- Target Audience – To attract your ideal client, you need to understand who they are. Creating buyer personas can help you visualize your target audience and shape your strategy accordingly.
- Choosing Channels – There are many ways to reach potential clients (we will discuss them later), but each has pros and cons. Unless you have unlimited resources, it’s generally better to focus on two or three channels rather than spreading your campaign too thinly.
- Lead Magnets – A lead magnet is a product or service that you offer free or at a discount in order to attract potential clients. Your choice of magnet should be tailored to your buyer personas and the channels you have selected.
- Following Up – Usually you would ask for contact details in exchange for your lead magnet. It’s important to have a strategy for how you will reach out to the leads, and how you will sort serious potential from passing interest.
Once you have fleshed out your lead generation strategy, it’s time to put your plan into action.
3. Publishing and Promotion
How exactly you go about promoting your lead generation campaign will depend on your choice of channels and lead magnet.
If you choose content or social media marketing, you will need to start publishing blogs and sharing updates. Email marketing involves sending out targeted messages, and online ads need to be configured.
We will take a closer look at the most popular marketing channels later in this guide.
Whichever option you choose, it’s worth creating a content and promotion strategy. Consider what your target audience is searching for and adapt your efforts to match.
4. Nurturing Leads
If everything goes to plan, you should start to see a steady flow of leads coming in. Great work!
Just remember that landing a lead is only the beginning of the sales process. When someone gives you their email address or phone number, you need to use it wisely.
Depending on which lead magnet you use, it might be necessary to qualify some of your leads — in other words, figuring out who is a good fit for your product or service.
You can achieve this by starting a conversation, introducing more lead magnets, or even sending a questionnaire. It all depends on your particular business.
Once you have identified your most likely prospects, you can then start making your pitch. Personal interactions work best, but you can also use segmented email marketing to deliver a pitch that suits every customer.
What Are the Best Online Channels for Lead Generation?
One of the key decisions you will need to make when developing your lead generation strategy is which channels to target.
Here are some of the most common online options:
By far the best source of leads is your existing email list.
Some of these contacts might be past clients; others may previously have expressed an interest in your business but have never become customers. Either way, they have previously shown some interest in your business — even if the timing wasn’t right for a deal.
A carefully crafted email marketing campaign can bring these old leads back to life, with much less effort than it takes to find new prospects.
Most forms of lead generation involve publishing some form of content. Examples include blog posts, webinars, podcasts, videos, and so on.
If you choose the right topic and format, your content should appeal to your ideal clients.
After they click through to your website, you can guide them towards a lead magnet and grab their contact details. Alternatively, you can use a direct call to action — such as a link to a product page or sign-up form.
An additional benefit of good content is search engine optimization. Instead of paying to promote your content, people will be able to find it organically through searching.
Social Media Marketing
For any brand with a significant number of engaged followers, social media can be a good channel for lead generation.
Posting useful content on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms can attract attention in much the same way as content on your site. Of course, you can also promote content on your site by posting the links.
Another option is paid social ads. These work particularly well as a method of promoting a strong lead magnet.
(While you’re on LinkedIn, you can use the Datanyze browser extension to research potential outreach targets and find up-to-date contact details for your leads.)
Online Ads and Retargeting
An obvious way to extend the reach of your lead generation efforts is through paid ads. These come in many forms, from paid search listings to display ads and sponsored social updates.
Ads are great for pushing lead magnets and content that generates leads. With pay-per-click advertising, you only pay when someone visits the relevant page on your website.
Another strategy for paid ads is retargeting. This is where you create ads that are targeted specifically at people who have visited your site or made a purchase before.
Statistically speaking, this is the most effective form of online advertising — retargeting offers a click-through rate that is around 10 times better than standard display ads.
Some businesses use products as lead generation for bigger purchases and upgrades down the line.
For example, you could sell $5 tickets for a 90-minute live webinar and add the attendees to your mailing list. The “freemium” software model works in a similar way — users can try a demo version, and then upgrade to a paid account if they like the app.
The advantage of charging for a lead magnet is that the email list won’t be full of people who just want free stuff. If you pay for a short tutorial, chances are that you would consider paying more for tools or a course.
5 Top Tactics for Successful Lead Generation
As we have seen, there are many valid approaches to lead generation. Each of them has the potential to deliver great results — it’s all about how exactly you deploy them.
To help you set off in the right direction, here are five top tactics that can be applied to almost any lead generation campaign.
Create Offers for the Whole Buying Cycle
In sales and marketing, we often talk about the “buyer’s journey” — the route from first contact to making a purchase.
While it’s tempting to focus on getting that first spark of attention, it’s important to keep clients engaged.
You can do this by providing different offers at each stage. For instance, an informative blog post would be a great lead magnet initially. Later on, you might want to provide product information or a free trial.
Link to a Dedicated Landing Page
You might think that giving away a free gift would be enough to convince a visitor to leave their email address.
But deep down, everyone knows that they are signing up for a marketing email list. They will only part with the details if you make a good pitch.
For this reason, it’s essential that every offer you create should have a dedicated landing page. Give your lead magnets the same treatment as a paid product.
Reassess Your Strategy Regularly
Aside from having a target, the purpose of setting lead generation goals is so you can assess your strategy.
If the numbers are good, you may want to keep things the same or run some tests to see if you can improve. If you are missing your goals over a period of time, it might be necessary to come up with a new plan.
Just remember that every lead generation plan needs time to bear fruit, so don’t go chopping and changing every week.
Get Your Marketing and Sales Teams Working Together
Technically speaking, lead generation is a form of marketing. Yet as soon as someone becomes a prospect, you will want your sales team involved.
If possible, create a workflow that allows both teams to track incoming leads and share information. There are now many platforms that can handle both sales and marketing; otherwise, you can use an integration to link to different solutions.
Use the Right Tools for the Job
That brings us nicely to the subject of tools.
Building and managing a lead generation campaign is no small task. However, you can reduce your workload by choosing solutions that are made for the job.
Here are a few options you might want to consider:
- Datanyze – Research leads incl. contact and company information
- HubSpot – Sales, CRM, and marketing in one workflow
- Pipedrive – Track all interaction with prospects
- OptinMonster – Lead tracking that integrates with marketing platforms
- Constant Contact – Powerful email marketing solution
- ActiveCampaign – Email marketing aimed at lead generation
- Pardot by Salesforce – Run tests, build landing pages, automate email
- Leadpages – Powerful and easy-to-use landing page builder
This is just a small selection of the specialized tools that can help you with lead generation.
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