What is lead generation? The Complete Guide

You can’t have a steady business without customers – who will use your services or your product otherwise? That’s why finding new ways to get new customers is a priority for all companies, no matter is this a local shop or an international enterprise. But how can you do that?

Some companies decide to randomly call people, hoping someone will be interested in their services (mobile operators and banks, I’m looking at you). But the vast majority of callers refuse – no wonder, it’s the first time they have ever heard of this company, and they are immediately asked for a purchase? Besides, sales reps from those companies tend to call in the worst and annoying times, making it even less likely the caller will be interested.

There’s a much bigger chance your caller will be interested in your services if he showed interest in your company and became your “lead”.

What is a lead in marketing?

According to lead marketing definition, a lead is a person who has in some way show an interest in your company’s product or service. They took an online survey or signed up to the newsletter or downloaded a free trial. Either way, you caught their attention enough for them to read more about your company or your product and to give you their email address. You aren’t calling or emailing them as a total stranger, and that gives you a higher chance to get them to convert.

Let’s say you took an online survey on what you are missing in your current mobile network package. If later you got a phone call or an email from a mobile company with a solution to your issue, it would be far more relevant to you than if they called you out of the blue asking to switch operators right?

Not only you gave the company your email address/phone number willingly, but you also told them what problem do you have so the company could call you with the solution to your issue. They aren’t merely trying to sell you something you don’t even need, they want to solve your problem.

What is a marketing qualified lead?

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is a user that already landed in your marketing funnel or lead tracking system, has presented the interest in your products or services and probably will progress to the end of the funnel. Customers that come from MQL have low churn rate because they usually complete the deal on their own conditions. It’s important to target your marketing actions at all leads – both unqualified and qualified!

How to get close to any kinds of leads?

To get your new leads you have to reach them – for this you need to choose your marketing channels first. Marketing channels are the ways marketers use to show their products and services to the customers – and there are dozens of them. Emails, social media accounts, websites, ads, blogs, videos – all of them can be used to find your potential customers. Here are the most popular ones:

#1 Generate leads with content marketing

One of the basics of how to create lead marketing that brings new visitors to your landing page is by using good content – articles, infographics, videos and much more. The better the quality of your content, the happier the website visitors are, and the more likely are they to click on your CTA button.

#2 Email marketing ideas

One of the most popular channels. Email is a great and inexpensive way to reach thousands of people – if someone is using the internet, he surely has an email account too. If they previously gave their email to you (by subscribing to your newsletter for example), it’s much easier to ask them to complete a specific action. You need a clever headline, compelling copy and an eye-catching CTA button to stand out in the crowded inbox though.

#3 Create targeted ads

Even though a good number of people use ad blockers, targeted ads are still an excellent way to get people to take action. If you want people to convert and not just leave your page as soon as they found it though, make sure that both your landing page and offer match the ad – if you promise one thing in the Ad but there’s a much less appealing offer on the landing page, your visitors will close the page.

#4 Write a blog

Publishing useful and entertaining content on your blog is a great way to engage your readers, educate them and show yourself as an expert in the industry. What’s also great about blogs is that you can write articles that are perfectly matching your goals – starting new service? Adding new features to your software? You can write an article about those earlier to show the benefits of the new services or to help customers make a decision.

#5 Be present on Social Media

95% of adults aged 18-34 are following a brand via social networking and 71% of customers who have had a good experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend it to others. By using your social media account as a marketing channel, it’s easy to persuade your followers into taking specific actions, to promote your offers or new products and to get even more customers.

There are many more marketing channels than just the ones I mentioned – and it’s definitely not possible for your brand to be visible on all of them. Picking the few ones that might be the most beneficial for your company will save you both money and time, so chose wisely!  

I have chosen a marketing channel, what’s next?

Picking a channel is just the start of the road to get your new leads. To get new people turning into your customers, they need to complete several steps:

  • At the beginning, an internet user discovers your company by finding your blog, ad, your social media account, your website or any other marketing channel you use.
  • He sees your CTA button (an image on your page that the user needs to click to complete an action you want him to take) and if it catches his attention, he clicks on it.
  • Your website visitor is then taken to a landing page – a specially designed website where a visitor can get something valuable (an ebook, webinar access, templates) in exchange for his contact data. Since most of the website visitors are wary of giving their email address or phone number away, your “lead magnet” (what your customer can get in exchange for his contact data) must be valuable enough to the visitor. Here is some useful information on finding anyone’s cell phone number by their name and also on getting the best data on your leads.
  • To get the lead magnet, your visitors fill the internet form with his personal information –  that is, as long he doesn’t get distracted or annoyed by the length of your form.

If a customer does all of the actions above — voila, – you have a new lead! But if you think that all leads are equal, no matter from where you got them, you are in for a surprise.

In the stream of leads, you’ll have the ones that are the closest to complete a purchase or book your service (and should be your priority), those that need to learn more about you before they will be ready to convert and also those that signed up by mistake or to complete a one-time action (no point in wasting your time on them).

What is Lead Scoring?

That’s when lead scoring comes in handy. What is lead scoring? It is estimating how likely the lead you just got is to make a purchase or use the service – on the scale from “cold” (uninterested) to “hot” (ready to purchase). A lead’s score can be based on several criteria, depending on what is important for your business – it might depend on actions the visitors have taken, information they have given, from which marketing channel they came from, what is their experience with your brand and any other criteria both your marketing team and sales team deem as important.

It’s essential  that both the marketing and sales department agrees on the same criteria earlier – if they don’t, the marketing team might end up sending the sales team leads that for them are “ready”, but for the sales team, they are not – and that only leads to waste of time and unnecessary chaos.

After agreeing on the criteria, your next action depends on the score your leads get:

  • The ones with the highest score are the closest to purchase, and you should contact them first.
  • The ones with a lower score are interested but might need more time and information so send them for further email nurturing.
  • For the ones with the lowest scores, first check are they interested in your company. If you get no reply from them, remove them off the list.

You’ll need to continuously tweak and improve your scores and criteria along the way to find the best working formula for your company, but it will help you in getting more and better quality leads.

That’s so much work – can’t I just buy leads?

The temptation to buy a list with leads is great – it’s easy, fast and effortless way to get a large list with potential leads. Instead of spending time and effort on slowly building the leads list and then scoring the leads every day, companies can buy a list and have more leads than they would need. Plenty of people are offering their “high quality”, “active”, “verified” lists for sale.

But buying any of those is a terrible idea. The main issue with the bought list is that the lead doesn’t actually know you. The customer might have subscribed to another website or given their email address to someone, but they didn’t give their permission to you – so you are going back to the annoying cold-call sales reps you wanted to avoid in the first place.

What is more,  if the leads never agreed to receive messages from you, then there’s a high chance they will mark your messages as spam (no matter how useful your email might be) and this gets email providers interested in your company.

More spam complains and your emails might be sent straight to the spam boxes, or your company might be put on a blacklist (and it’s difficult to get off it!). So instead of using a risky shortcut, it’s better to spend time and effort on finding the leads yourself.

A sales funnel filled with high-quality leads is a sign that your marketing efforts are definitely paying off. Generating fresh leads might sometimes be tricky but in the end, everyone benefits from successful lead generation marketing – customers, marketers and sales reps. So it’s worth it to spend time on it!

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