If you want to build your company’s sales, you need to expand your outreach to as many potential customers as possible. However, rather than trying to sell to everyone under the sun, it’s best to focus your attention on individuals who are likely interested in what you have to offer. These people are called leads.
Although it’s easy to say that you need more leads to close more sales, where do you find them? How can you get them to visit your website and landing pages? Fortunately, this is the ultimate guide to lead generation — we’ll discuss everything you need to know about this process. Let’s begin.
What Is Lead Generation?
Lead generation, or lead gen, is the process of finding individuals who are potentially interested in your products, services or brand.
However, for your lead generation to be successful, you need to be strategic in finding new leads. Once you obtain those leads, you can put them into your sales pipeline, where your team can nurture them until they are ready to buy.
As we’ll discuss later on, one of the best practices with lead generation is qualifying your leads. This process means that your sales team focuses on the individuals who are most likely to purchase a product or service and ignores the rest.
You could say that the secret to lead gen is qualification. Unfortunately, it is far easier said than done. Thankfully, we will show various lead generation strategies to help you locate and qualify more leads for your business.
What Is the Lead Generation Process?
There are two primary ways to find and engage new leads. First, you can reach out and locate people, otherwise known as outbound marketing. Alternatively, you can create content and materials that attract people to your business, also known as inbound marketing.
Most companies prefer the second option because it doesn’t involve as much “cold calling.” If enough people come to the brand, either through a landing page or social media profile, the sales team doesn’t have to do as much work.
Realistically, however, a good lead gen process requires both inbound and outbound steps. While the specific details will change based on your business, here are the basic elements of lead generation:
What kind of leads do you hope to capture? Who is your target audience? What is the market demand like for your products? What is the competition doing? What do you have to offer that competitors don’t? Which tools will you use to find and capture leads?
During the analysis phase, you need to answer all of these questions and more. By doing sufficient prep work beforehand, you can streamline your lead generation process more easily, rather than playing catch-up as you go.
Once you have your answers from the first phase, you need to back them up with hard data. Where do your ideal customers spend their time? What are their interests? How does your product or service help them? The analysis phase is when you create your lead generation outline, and the research phase is when you refine the design based on factual information.
For example, if your target audience is single moms, you may assume that the best place to find them is on Pinterest. However, in your research, you might discover that the ones you are trying to target spend most of their time on Facebook or Instagram. By learning the data, you can ensure that your sales and marketing teams get the most out of their efforts.
Lead generation is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Your team will be reaching out to new leads across a wide array of platforms, including social media, email, direct messaging, landing pages, pay-per-click ads, blog content and more.
Although your overall message may be the same across each platform, you have to present it the right way. For example, you can’t just post an 800-word blog on Facebook and expect leads to read it. Instead, you have to customize your message to fit each platform.
By generating these pieces beforehand, you can save a lot of time and energy later on. It’s always easier to edit your messaging than it is to create it from scratch.
For the most part, you want to direct your leads to various landing pages based on their interests. Each landing page should have a clear message and call-to-action (CTA) to contact your sales team.
So, during this phase, you need to build as many landing pages to fit the content and messaging you created during the last stage. These pages should be personalized and targeted so that they will resonate more with your leads.
You can also consider A/B testing, where half of your leads go to one version of the page, and the other half go to the second version. From there, you can see which version gets the most engagement and use it moving forward.
Once all of your material is created, then you can unleash your sales and marketing teams. The two primary methods of outreach for lead generation are phone calls and emails. Ideally, your sales reps should be utilizing both.
Calls can help warm up a lead by putting a human touch to your brand. Then, your reps can follow up with an email that has more information. Typically, the best option is to alternate between calling and emailing until either the lead is converted or lost.
The final phase of a competent lead generation process is to analyze what is working and what isn’t. Without this step, your team could waste time on unqualified or low-quality leads that don’t boost your company’s bottom line.
During this phase, pay attention to your messaging, landing pages and outreach methods. Focus on those that get the most engagement, and don’t hesitate to remove anything that isn’t working. By refining your lead generation process, you will only make it more effective at converting new leads.
Top Lead Generation Strategies
It’s easy to outline the various steps involved in lead gen, but it’s harder to figure out the details. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the multiple strategies you and your team can employ to get the best leads and turn them into customers. Here’s what you need to know.
How To Qualify a Lead
The best leads are those who have shown a lot of interest in your company or products. However, how can you tell when someone is interested or not? Since you don’t have a crystal ball that can provide such information, you have to collect it yourself.
There are multiple ways to qualify a lead, and some are better than others. Overall, you want to gather as much data as possible before heading into the outreach phase. Here is where having an excellent landing page comes in handy.
On a landing page, you can have visitors engage with your messaging. Some examples of how to do this include:
- Contact Fields – Leads need to enter their contact information to reach out to you. If someone is willing to submit their phone number and/or email, there is a good chance they want a response.
- Surveys – Ask leads what they are interested in about your business. For example, if you offer multiple products or services, the survey can have the lead pick the ones they are most interested in. Surveys should be concise and to the point.
- Downloads – You can offer white papers or e-books for leads to download that provide more information about your business and products. If a lead does want your content, they may be interested in going further.
- Inquiry Forms – Leads that visit your landing page likely have questions about your products or services. By having a built-in inquiry form, individuals can submit their questions easily. From there, your sales team knows what to discuss when reaching out.
Although it would be nice if leads could provide tons of details when visiting your landing page, you will likely only get bits and pieces. However, based on the information you do obtain, your sales reps can go into a call with an idea of what to discuss. From there, they can ask for further information to qualify the lead even more.
The other side of lead qualification is a disqualification. It might seem counterintuitive to drop leads, but it’s often better so that your team can stay focused on those that are most likely to boost your bottom line.
To make it even easier for your team, you can implement a scoring system. This process involves ranking leads based on the actions they’ve taken. For example, leads who have engaged on multiple platforms would score higher than those who simply liked a social post. From there, your team can reach out to high scoring leads first and work their way down.
Facebook Lead Generation
As one of the most widely used social media platforms out there, Facebook is a valuable tool for marketers and businesses. Lead gen on Facebook can happen a few different ways:
- Paid Ads – Facebook’s algorithms favor accounts that utilize paid advertisements to reach out to customers. So, by creating and boosting these ads to your target demographics, there is a better chance your page will be seen by more people. Each ad should direct to a landing page related to the ad’s message.
- Content Marketing – You should be posting regularly on Facebook with captions, images and video clips. You can either link to a landing page directly on the post, or the content you’re sharing could have a call to action embedded within (e.g., in a blog article).
- Page Links – Ideally, when you post, users will visit your business page to find out more about your brand. Facebook allows you to have a CTA link on this page, directing followers to a specific landing page.
One point to consider is that while Facebook makes it easy to target various demographics, you need to make sure that your material is engaging and stimulating. Since users see so much content on Facebook, you have to stand out with eye-catching images, fun videos, targeted messaging and witty captions. Otherwise, your brand will fade into the background.
Twitter Lead Generation
One of the issues with lead generation on Facebook is that clicking a link takes the user away from the site. Twitter, however, has lead gen cards that allow you to capture contact information without directing the lead to your landing page. All the person has to do is click the submit button, and they become a new lead.
While this process makes it easier to find leads on Twitter, the trick is getting individuals to submit their information. Here are some strategies to get the most out of your Twitter account:
- Use Hashtags Correctly – Twitter tells you which hashtags are trending, meaning that you can easily boost your posts. However, pay attention to why the tags are trending so that you don’t accidentally make light of a bad situation. You can also use hashtags to see what people are saying about your company or industry, which gives you valuable insight into potential leads.
- Curate Your Follower List – When choosing who to follow on Twitter, focus on accounts related to your industry or product. From there, it’s easier to get followers who are interested in what you have to offer.
- Stay Engaged – This platform makes it easy to communicate with leads directly, both publicly and through direct messaging. Don’t make posts and ignore comments — reach out and engage with your followers regularly. Doing this will make them more likely to interact with your brand.
- Create Cool Content – If each tweet is a sales pitch, you’ll turn away more leads than you’ll attract. Instead, focus on tweeting creative and clever captions that will generate buzz. Be a fun Twitter account, and the followers will come.
LinkedIn Lead Generation
Like Twitter, LinkedIn offers lead generation forms that allow users to provide contact information without having to visit your landing page. However, LinkedIn isn’t as fun or engaging as Twitter, so it can be challenging to capture and qualify new leads through this platform.
That being said, here are some tips to get the most out of your LinkedIn account:
- Become a Resource – While Twitter is where you can cut loose and be casual, LinkedIn users typically want informational content. Here is where you can share industry news, trends and other details that are valuable to your leads. By becoming a resource, users are more likely to visit your page and learn more about your business.
- Don’t Narrow Your Outreach – LinkedIn makes it easy to be hyper-targeted with your paid ads. However, it’s often better to expand your network than to limit it. Since users are mostly working professionals, it’s more challenging to get engagement, so you want to reach more people.
- Be Holistic With Your Marketing – This site is excellent for sharing all content types, from links to blog posts to ads. Be sure to utilize multiple channels to reach new leads and test your material regularly. Remember, LinkedIn has a much more discerning audience, so the content you share on other social sites may not get the same traction.
PPC Lead Generation
These days, pay-per-click advertising is the gold standard. Rather than paying for an ad that may or may not engage with leads, you only pay when someone clicks your content. This method ensures that only those interested in what you have to offer will go to your landing pages.
Because these ads are on search engines, and since billions of people use search engines every day, there is a lot of competition. So, if you want to get the most out of lead gen, follow these tips:
- Focus on Relevance – Sites like Google will score your ad based on its relevance to a particular keyword. So, don’t overload your ads with too many keywords or irrelevant information.
- Have a Specific Goal – PPC works best when trying to achieve a specific objective (e.g., selling a particular item). While generic ads can boost your brand awareness, they don’t often yield a high ROI.
- Use Multiple Ads – Don’t sell yourself short by only focusing on one keyword. Create ads for multiple related keywords so you can cast a wider net and get more leads.
- Have a Decent Budget – Since there is so much competition, you need to keep up. If your budget is too small, your ads will show to a narrow group of people, making it hard to generate leads. Only use PPC ads when you have a sufficient budget to make it work.
B2B Lead Generation
If you are selling to other businesses, your lead generation process is much different from those marketing to consumers. Here are some top tactics to find qualified B2B leads:
- Use the Right Social Media – Most businesses are on LinkedIn, so you should focus your attention there. Twitter and Facebook are also platforms to find companies, but avoid consumer-based sites like Pinterest, TikTok or Instagram.
- Be Informative – The B2B sales process is relatively long and requires multiple steps to close a deal. The best way to attract new leads is to provide valuable information about your brand and the industry at large. From there, you can start a dialog and move forward.
- Start Small – Another side effect of a long sales process is that you don’t want to move too fast. For example, only ask for an email address in your CTAs. Phone numbers can come later. Asking for too much info upfront can turn leads off.
- Do Your Homework – When approaching B2B leads, you want to know as much about the company as possible. This way, you can create a targeted lead generation and marketing campaign. Otherwise, you’re flying blind.
Social Media Lead Generation
We’ve already discussed how to use some social media sites for lead gen, but here are some general strategies to find and curate new leads on social platforms:
- Tailor Your Content – Facebook posts are different than tweets, which are different than Instagram Stories. Don’t share the same content across platforms — instead, customize it for each audience.
- Be Active – Social media works both ways. If you’re not engaging with your leads, why should they engage with your business?
- Analyze Results – Which posts get the most engagement? Understanding why those posts get so much traction can help you generate more captivating content in the future.
- Be Creative – Don’t use too much sales language on social media. Instead, focus on being informative and creative. Humor typically gets more engagement than a pitch or direct call to action.
How To Ask for Lead Referrals
One of the best ways to find qualified leads is to ask your current crop of customers for referrals. Since your customers already know your business and like what you have to offer, they are more likely to upsell your brand to people they know. However, asking for referrals can be tricky, so follow these tips:
- Ask Your Best Clients – Rather than asking all past customers, focus your attention on the clients with whom you have a good relationship.
- Ask for Reviews and Testimonials – Not all referrals have to be direct. If your customers are willing to share their positive experiences publicly, you can find new leads that way too.
- Create Custom Queries – Don’t send a mass email to your subscriber list. Instead, send personalized messages requesting referrals.
- Make It Casual – If you don’t put too much weight on the referral, it won’t be awkward. You can mention it while working with a client or have a reminder in your email signature.
- Make It Easy To Reach You – If your customers don’t have your contact info, how can they refer others? Give your phone number and email every chance you get.
What Is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)?
Although sales and marketing often have the same goals, they pursue them in different ways. A marketing qualified lead is a potential customer who has interacted with one or more marketing materials.
For example, perhaps someone entered their email to join a subscriber list or downloaded a white paper. This person would be considered an MQL. At this point, the lead has expressed interest but may not be ready to buy.
What Is a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)?
Typically, in lead generation, MQLs become sales qualified leads once they have shown sufficient interest in a product or your brand. For example, one action may not be enough, but if an MQL interacts with your website multiple times, the sales team may decide to reach out to keep that momentum going.
What Is a Product Qualified Lead (PQL)?
If your business is selling digital products (i.e., software or apps), one powerful lead generation method is to offer a free trial or freemium version of the program. When a person uses one of these versions, they are considered a product qualified lead.
Since the lead has experience with the software, they are far more likely to buy. The sales team should then reach out at the end of the trial or after the lead has had time to see what the freemium version offers.
What Is a Service Qualified Lead?
Just because a lead has become a customer doesn’t mean you should stop selling to them. A service qualified lead is someone who has interacted with your service team and is interested in other products or upgrades.
For example, perhaps a client purchased the basic version of your software. Then, when talking to a service rep about the program’s limitations, the customer is interested in upgrading to a better version. At this point, the agent sends the person to the sales team to close the deal.
Examples of Lead Generation Tools
Knowing the lead generation elements is just the beginning — now you have to put these strategies to work. There are tons of tools out there, but how can you know which ones are best for your company? Here are some examples of helpful lead generation tools:
- Landing Page Builders – Landing pages do a lot of the heavy lifting for new leads. As we mentioned, A/B testing can be highly valuable. With a comprehensive builder program, you can create more engaging pages and test them more easily. You can also integrate landing pages with multiple platforms like email and social media.
- Social Media Integration – Managing multiple profiles can be a full-time job. Instead, it’s better to use one program to manage all of your posts. This way, you can schedule posts ahead of time, create campaigns and get analytics, all in one place.
- Email Marketing – As your subscriber list grows, you need to manage it efficiently. Lead generation tools can make it easier to parcel your subscribers into different categories, send drip campaigns and integrate other tools like surveys or landing pages.
How To Choose Lead Generation Software
While it’s tempting to go out and buy the biggest and most highly recommended lead generation program, you need to be strategic about this process. Here are some tips on how to choose the right software for your business:
- Know Your Pain Points – Which elements of lead generation are giving you the most trouble? Is it finding leads, converting them or something else? Without this information, it’s impossible to alleviate those pain points.
- Compare Different Programs – Some software is laser-focused on a single task, while others offer multiple solutions. Making a side-by-side comparison can help you narrow the field.
- Understand Your Limitations – If you’re a small company, you may not have a dedicated lead generation team. If not, how much time will your marketing or sales staff use the program? What is the learning curve like? Don’t bite off more than your team can chew.
- Set Goals – Before starting on lead generation, know what you want to achieve. Without this insight, how can you qualify your new leads?
What Is an Average Cost per Lead?
Although leads can boost your bottom line, they do require investment. The best way to ensure a high ROI is to know the average cost of a lead. The price will depend on the following factors:
- Industry – Some markets have tons of leads, while others are relatively scarce. The more leads available, the cheaper it is to find them.
- Products Offered – How much information do you have to provide to new leads? Is your product easy to understand? If so, you can spend less on lead generation since you don’t need as many materials.
- Channels Used – If you find leads with paid ads, they will be more expensive than those who visit your site organically (e.g., from a social post).
Depending on these factors, leads can cost anywhere from $20 to over $200. While that can seem expensive, what matters is the average profitability per lead. If you spend $200 to get a qualified lead who then buys a $500 product, the process is worth it.
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