What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of attracting complete strangers and converting them into loyal customers for your business. You must have a lead generation strategy if you’re in business for the long-term success. Here’s what lead generation really is…

Your customer’s journey isn’t done when your service is done. At least it’s no longer that way. Lead generation helps you turn total strangers looking for your service into loyal customers waiting for the next great deal.

A lead is someone who’s in search for your product or service but may not be ready to buy yet. Since they have never done any business with you before, your marketing strategy should work harder to get them to take the first big step.

Here’s how to make it happen:

 

Know the basics:

  • Lead generation has never been easier
  • Information is power
  • Getting to know your lead
  • The game plan
  • Alignment and Clarity
  • Discover what's possible
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Lead generation has never been easier

Remember that time when you had to buy contact lists and hire people to call them? Or that time when you had to personally knock door to door to offer your service?

Well, you don’t need to do the legwork anymore. Or risk getting reported for repeatedly calling people for a sales talk.

With lead generation, you can drive people who are *actually* interested in your offerings using their own data. With their internet activity, you can tailor your lead generation and sales pitch to fit their needs. This is largely done online – through your digital communication channels – and should be followed up in person with a well-rehearsed closing technique. If you have a robust lead generation in place, you’ll have more leads coming to you and more chances of winning a new customer.

Information is power

With information on demand through the internet, consumers now do a lot of research before contacting a business. They want to be an expert about the product, typing away on search engines, reading blogs, forums, reviews and many other resources before getting in touch with your business. Technology has changed the sales cycle as we know it. Well-educated buyers have now taken the reins.

As you already know, there’s an overload of information on the internet. And with all this noise, the last thing they want to hear is a generic sales pitch that they cannot relate to or solve their problem. Generating leads is now all about providing real value and establishing a strong online presence. You can leverage your expert knowledge through content marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO) – and build your authority while doing so.

From a business perspective, your leads need not be a puzzle to solve anymore. By understanding your ideal customers’ wants and needs through analytics, you can now design your sales process based on real and predictable numbers.

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Getting to know your lead

he change in the buying cycle has blurred the lines between sales and marketing. Unlike before where generating leads was left to the marketing team and converting them into into clients was exclusively for the sales, winning a customer is now a team effort. You don’t just hand over a contact list and leave it to the other team to call and convince. Sales and marketing should work together to decide which relationships to be nurtured and what criteria to qualify for sales.

But before anything else, what is a lead? How can you tell when a viewer is ripe for the next step?

The best thing about online marketing is that you don’t need to guess whether someone is interested to buy or not. By analysing your customers’ online activity, you can set touch points confirming that your lead is ready to take the next level. Most leads need nurturing to be ready. You should provide real value in the form of articles, ebooks, checklists, any useful information that leads to a sale. At this stage, your leads are considered marketing qualified.

Sales qualified leads are those who are interested to buy but may still have a few questions or reservations. At this point, it’s important that your representatives anticipate and address any concerns for the relationship to go further. Sales qualified leads have a higher chance of turning into a sale so it’s vital that the in-person sales is aligned with the online marketing.There must be a seamless transition between the two for your lead generation to be effective.

The game plan

An effective lead generation needs a powerful strategy and a knowledgeable team working together to close a deal. Your strategy should should use a mix of inbound and outbound marketing methods to target multiple audiences on different stages in the buying cycle.

Here’s how they all come together:

  • Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is driving traffic to your digital channels by creating and promoting original content. It has two main parts: Content Creation where you produce a variety of relevant content like blog articles, videos, infographics, ebooks – the lot; and Content promotion where you publish these materials on channels where your customers might be searching information like search engines (through SEO and Pay Per Click advertising or PPC), social media, and other channels.

  • Outbound marketing

While some outbound marketing methods has become less effective thanks to the internet, some strategies are still very much useful in reaching out to leads. For better results, outbound marketing methods like email, advertisements and events are best combined with your inbound marketing strategy.

It’s not enough that you publish your content on your communication channels. To establish trust and relationship with your leads, you should share news, updates and fresh content with them through email marketing. Giving out free resources is also a great way to connect with potential leads who are not looking for your services yet.

If you’re catering mainly to local clients, an event would be a great opportunity to build brand awareness in your area. By organising or joining events, even advocating for a cause, you get to share your brand and build relationships that could lead to new business and even partnerships.

Display advertising is an ad strategy used to target audiences using browsing activity data and demographic traits. This is where your analytics data would be most useful.

Want your brand to reach more people but you don’t have the resources to maintain another social media channel? Share your content on third party websites with Content Syndication. It’s a win-win for both parties: they get free content on their own website, your content gets free exposure, publicity and a backlink, boosting organic traffic on your site.

Alignment and Clarity

A successful lead generation is a combination of data-driven marketing and goal-oriented sales. Your online marketing may bring in the prospects to your door but a competent sales team is the one that seals the deal.

Between these two phases in your lead generation lies Lead Qualification and Filtering. It’s the process of determining if and when your lead is likely to convert to a prospect for the sales team to engage. It’s usually based on their online behaviour, demographics, and the goals you’ve set in your inbound marketing strategy. Having said that, not all leads are created equal. It’s the sale’s responsibility to figure out whether a prospect will turn into a customer or they will still need more nurturing. There’s no sense trying to convert a lead to a prospect when all actions point to the opposite direction.

Keeping track of every customer journey may sound like an impossible job, but it doesn’t need to be. If you have a customer relationship management (CRM) software set up in your website, every form submission and every action can be easily tracked and evaluated in one place. Your CRM can also be conveniently integrated with an email service so you can continue warming up to your leads.

  • The metrics

Gone are the days when your marketing success is based solely on how many leads you get. Using advanced analytics, you can now track, monitor and analyse your leads, and carry out smart marketing decisions based on real data.

Here are a few metrics you should look at in your own strategy:

  • Click-through Rate (CTR) is the total number of clicks divided by page views. The success of your calls to action is measured through the CTR.
  • Time to Conversion refers to the time it took for your leads to convert to a paying customer.
  • Return on Investment (ROI) is the income you generated stacked up against the campaign cost.
  • The Number of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) are the number of leads forwarded to the sales team.
  • Cost per MQL is the money it took for the lead to convert to a paying customer. This one is measured to minimise costs while ensuring you get optimal results.
  • Set the score

As you already know, not all leads are created equal. Some leads take more time in the customer journey while some would skip a step or two to talk business. Lead scoring is the method of ranking your leads so your marketing and sales team can know which ones to prioritise. This cues can either be implicit or explicit.

In explicit lead scoring, the lead is compared against your buyer persona or ideal customer profile to figure out whether a lead is a good fit. This makes use of your lead’s demographic profile: location, job title, industry, age, gender, etc.

Implicit lead scoring looks at all the channels and ways your lead has interacted with your business. This is measured using indicators like the number of pages visited, actions to your email campaign, downloads – actions that tell how much a lead is interested with your content.

An effective lead scoring is a result of continuous improvement in different areas in your marketing. As you go along, you will learn what works and what doesn’t, what’s useful and what’s not, so take your time improving your system. To make things easier, you can always invest in feature-rich lead generation tools that do all the work for you.

Discover what's possible ​

Lead generation today is more than cold calling people and hoping they might give your business a chance. Technology has made it possible to do marketing methodically and create relationships between your brand and your customers in ways that have never been possible before.

And there’s no better time to learn about it than now. If you want to learn more on how to grow your brand through lead generation, you can learn all about it here.

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