For any business, no matter how big or small, lead generation is highly important to its success. Lead generation brings potential customers to your marketing funnel, where they can eventually become customers. There are a number of different ways to generate leads for your business. In this post, we’ll break down lead generation into four key areas: inbound, outbound, online, and offline. We’ll then put it all together with our efficient approach.
Where traditional marketing methods such as email blasts used to be enough to draw customers, the increase of competition and information abundance is making it more difficult for companies to track, reach, and engage with potential customers. Lead generation, the marketing process of stimulating and capturing interest in a product or service for the purpose of developing a sales pipeline, allows companies to nurture targets until they’re ready to buy. Lead generation can be useful for any type or size of business, and for both B2C and B2B spaces. Sixty percent of marketers state that lead generation is a key pain point for their company. Determining a good lead is more complex than just targeting people who downloaded your white paper, and it’s important that your sales reps don’t waste their time cold calling unqualified leads when there are ways to narrow down the pool.
When you implement a lead generation program, you increase brand awareness, build relationships, generate qualified leads, and ultimately close deals. The higher quality leads you direct your sales team to, the more of those leads will result in sales. In doing this, you are helping your company grow, while also growing the credibility for your marketing department by showing tangible results and proving yourself to be a valuable part of the revenue team.
Lead generation has been around for a long time, but methods have changed from simply finding a customer early on in their sales journey and sending the sales team their way. The self-directed buyer is inundated with information, so it’s vital to find new, creative ways to cut through the static and reach potential customers. Instead of finding customers through mass advertising and email blasts, marketers must rely on being found and building relationships with their buyers. In the age of information abundance, marketing is going through a massive shift.
Simple batch and blast advertising doesn’t appeal to the self-directed buyer, and having a solid lead generation program in place can help you navigate the new complexity surrounding lead generation. Below are a few problems lead generation can help solve.
- Problem: I need to generate a high volume of leads. If you’re just starting out, a lead generation program can result in increased brand awareness, new relationships, higher quality leads, and more sales. If you’re looking to optimize an existing program, you may want to reevaluate your audience profiles, buyer journey, channels, and tactics. Keep your goals, customer concerns, and challenges in mind, deliver content that solves their pain points, and keep nurturing those relationships—soon you’ll have a funnel filled with qualified leads.
- Problem: My sales team says that I’m not delivering high-quality leads. There are several reasons why your sales team is struggling to convert leads into customers. First, sales and marketing should be in agreement about what constitutes a qualified lead, and when that lead should be handed off, keeping in mind that 96% of people visiting your website aren’t ready to buy yet. If sales contacts them too soon, they may feel put off—buyers today do not want to feel sold to. Lead quality is important, but it’s a major challenge for marketers, so it may take some time to start bringing in qualified leads.
- Problem: I’m bringing in leads, but don’t have a strategy around what to do next. Generating leads is just one part of lead generation. Once you bring these leads in, you must utilize lead scoring and nurturing to qualify said leads before sales can do their job. According to Forrester, buyers might be anywhere from 75 to 90% of the way through their buying journey before they contact the vendor, after they’ve completed their own research. Keep this in mind when determining what point in the funnel sales should step in.
- Problem: I need to be able to demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) of my marketing team. To show the impact of your marketing team, you’ll need to plan out a strategy and determine what to measure, when to measure, and how to measure. Choose metrics that show how marketing is increasing effectiveness across the board, generating qualified leads, amplifying sales pipeline velocity, and improving sales and marketing alignment through leveraging lead generation software.
See how what else you need to know about lead generation today in Top Demand Generation Trends to Unleash Your Marketing in 2021.
Lead generation programs don’t end at simply generating your leads, there are various other components that are just as important to the lead generation strategy.
- A lead generation database: As leads come in, you’ll need to be able to track, attribute them to the appropriate source, score, and segment them to begin nurturing. While you can do some of this manually, you’ll need an automated system in place if you want to scale your efforts.
- Supporting content and lead-ready channels: Content is the foundation of your lead generation efforts. Think of content as the fuel for all of your marketing campaigns—from email, to social, to event collateral. You’ll also want to see how your website, landing pages, social media, email marketing, paid programs, and sales tactics fit in to the lead generation execution plan.
- An analytics engine: Now that you know how much you’re investing you can accurately track returns on your lead generation programs. But looking at only the first or last touch to determine how your overall strategy is working won’t give you a full picture—common wisdom is that it takes seven touches to convert a cold lead to a sale.
- A martech stack: The right lead generation technologies will save you money, help you do more with less, measure and optimize your programs, and ultimately allow you to grow your lead generation programs—and company—faster.
Learn more about what lead generation can offer in our Definitive Guide to Lead Generation.
The ROI of a successful lead generation program depends upon determining qualified leads and moving them along the sales funnel at their own pace.
- Lead generation drives content marketing. 85% of B2B marketers say lead generation is their most important content marketing goal (Ring Lead, 2017).
- Lead generation helps you to direct users to relevant content. Targeting users with content relevant to their position along the buying process yields 72% higher conversion rates.
- Lead generation can grow revenue in any size company. By building a lead generation strategy, we’ve seen mature companies achieve 133% greater revenue versus their plan than average companies, and 174% more than the least mature companies.
Learn more about how lead generation contributes to ROI with our ebook Lead Generation Metrics.
The first step to developing a lead generation program is to determine what constitutes a good lead and making sure sales and marketing are on the same page. In just five steps, you could have your own lead generation program up and running.
- Step 1: Define your leads. Start with the basics and determine what makes a good lead for your company. Leads can be defined in many ways, and there are even more ways to identify a qualified lead. For example, Marketo defines a qualified lead as “a prospect that is starting to exhibit buying behavior.” Then, use demographics, firmographics, and BANT (budget, authority, need, and time) to profile and segment your leads.
- Step 2: Align with sales. Just as sales and marketing must agree on the definition of a good lead, they must agree about when that lead gets directed to sales. If done correctly, this results in a seamless transition and immediate follow-up for qualified leads. To do this, sales and marketing must agree on two main categories of lead stages: marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs)
- Step 3: Build your road map. Including inbound and outbound efforts.
- Step 4: Nurture and score your leads. It’s pretty easy to generate top-of-funnel (TOFU) leads, but since those leads aren’t ready to buy, it’s important to focus on middle-of-funnel (MOFU) leads. Utilize nurturing and scoring techniques to make your lead generation efforts worth the investment.
- Step 5: Measure and optimize. When it comes to lead generation, the more you test, the more you know. Learn how to use A/B testing, calls-to-action (CTAs), imagery, copy choices, and multivariate testing to optimize your lead generation strategy for the best possible results.
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