What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is a buzz word which is constantly used in marketing strategies. The simplest way to explain what lead generation is, is to consider a scenario whereby a business has a product or service that it wants to promote.
The first step in developing a sales pipeline is to draw attention to the product or service that you wish to sell. Therefore, in order for the business to develop a sales pipeline, it needs to devise a marketing strategy that will stimulate and capture interest in the product or service that they are selling.
Now this is not news for anyone familiar to the world of marketing, however, in the context of digital marketing, i.e. marketing online, this is referred to as lead generation.
In order to understand what the term lead generation means, we need to know what the term “lead” means.
What is a Lead?
A lead, is a person who has shown interest in your company’s product or service in some way, shape, or form.
Therefore, lead generation is the process by which a business manages to generate leads; or in simple terms, how to get people interested in their product/service.
After leads are generated, the next step is to convert those leads into actual purchases.
Why is Lead Generation Important?
As discussed previously, lead generation is a different approach from traditional marketing strategies, in that the focus has now turned to the individual rather than the mass, because the purchasing power is now in the hands of BUYERS and not SELLERS.
What Do We Mean By This?
Nowadays, the users must approach you first and open a communication with you if they want to. Before the advent of digital technology, the communication flow worked the other way around.
A traditional approach to conversion marketing, would be companies reaching out to potential customers after purchasing their contact information, and random cold calling people for instance – an approach which is very rarely taken today – and in the rare cases that it is, it is certainly not welcomed with great zest and cooperation.
Picture both of these scenarios:
- You receive an email from an insurance company after having interacted with them online or maybe completed a survey they were circulating
- You receive a phone call out of the blue from an insurance company
The latter option would be considered far too intrusive and perhaps even shady given that you do not really know who is on the other end of the line.
The second option, on the contrary, is more likely to be received with good emotions because the users have already familiarised themselves with the business. Bear in mind also that an email is definitely far less demanding than a random call. It is a no brainer why this strategy would certainly not work in today’s context.
The buying process has certainly changed over time, and marketers need to adapt to these changes. For any business to survive and thrive in today’s world, it needs to first acknowledge that people spend most of their time online; and secondly, it needs to come up with new ways of creating brand awareness to reach potential customers and building meaningful relationships with them.
Moreover, the strategy should work around the specific audience that a business wants to reach, instead of targeting a mass audience like TV adverts, slogans and billboards.
What is the Process of Lead Generation?
Lead generation uses digital channels in order to reach out to target audiences and create awareness. It is every business’ goal to attract visitors with the goal of converting them into leads (potential buyers) – and then convert these leads into purchases.
However what one needs to understand is that lead generation is only one stage in the inbound marketing methodology.
What is Inbound Marketing?
According to Markeco, inbound marketing is “the process of helping potential customers find your company—often before they are even looking to make a purchase—and then turning that early awareness into brand preference, and ultimately, into leads and revenue.”
The inbound marketing methodology mainly involves 4 stages and they explain how a user is passed through the sales funnel, i.e. from ToFu (Top of the Funnel) to MoFu (Middle of the Funnel) and finally BoFu (Bottom of the Funnel).
As can be seen above, lead generation is the second stage in the methodology, and comes after attracting strangers to your website. Then, once you have acquired both new and returning visitors, your aim is to convert them into leads – but it doesn’t stop there.
After a lead is generated, it is only the beginning. Many make the mistake to stop here, but what they don’t realise is that this is only the beginning stages of the sales funnel: (ToFu) Top of the Funnel. Leads are potential buyers, meaning that they might or might not end up buying from you.
A good marketer then needs to lead buyers down the sales funnel, and for this reason good lead generation marketers will not stop at ToFu but will invest in techniques that lead to Middle of the Funnel (MoFu), such as lead nurturing, which builds trust and relationships with customers. And all of this is done in different ways; by writing relevant content, by being responsive, and by giving users the experience that they are looking for.
MoFu marketing needs to form part of all marketing strategies in order to ensure a smooth process of turning leads into sales.
Remember that today’s buyer is self-educated and in control, and for this reason the marketing strategy has changed drastically from strategies which would have been deployed using traditional media. To be a marketer in today’s world, you need a solid grasp of inbound in order to truly amplify your lead generation impact – you need to think of unique and creative ways for potential leads to find you.
So, How Exactly Do You Generate Leads?
As we discussed before, you need to attract users to your website, and you need to do this through content. You need to produce a mix of interesting, informative, entertaining – and most importantly – relevant content that your audience will find useful.
Be it a blog or a video – content that is fresh and unique will create brand awareness and get users to interact by getting them naturally interested in the company. In a way, it is about building a relationship with users, and building trust.
Once you create your content, you need to make sure to blast it through all the right digital channels, i.e. where your potential buyers are likely to come across it, and where they spend their time.
Some of the most effective inbound marketing techniques include:
- guest blogging
- blogger outreach
- blog syndication
- social media updates
- social media engagement
- SEO on-page optimization
- premium content (eBooks, infographics, videos, webinars)
- landing pages
The Importance of SEO-optimized Content
When it comes to attracting users to your business, we know that fresh, unique content is key – but does that automatically mean that users will be able to find your content? Not necessarily.
For users to find you on the internet when they are searching for something that is related to your business, your website needs to have a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy – to ensure that your website will rank first when people are searching.
Your content needs to contain the right keywords and other on-page SEO factors need to be implemented, otherwise your chances of ranking and of users finding you through search, are very slim.
How to Turn Leads into Customers
The mistake many make is stopping at the lead generation phase. When a visitor converts to a lead, it is only the beginning.
While the first stages of the inbound marketing methodology kickstarts the process of generating leads, the tricky part is in discovering how to continue to build on those leads, pushing the user through the middle of the funnel by targeting specific opportunities.
A good digital marketing strategy then needs to not stop at the top of the funnel by continuing to push a user to the middle and eventually the bottom of the funnel.
You need to start moving slowly towards more sales targeted posts, persuading the user that your company offers the best choice of product or service that he or she is looking for. This can be done through case studies, testimonials, videos, interviews, webinars, demonstrations and other MoFu activities.
BoFu techniques would then help to seal the deal – to turn that faithful lead into a happy customer. A good marketer will sense when the time is right, and the user is ready to buy, and push the user to the final step of the sales funnel.
Understanding inbound methodology and the concept of lead nurturing through ToFu, MoFu and BoFu, and devising a lead generation strategy around it, is only half of it.
It takes a lot of time to consider your overall strategy, create the necessary content, and evaluate the leads you convert as they move down the sales funnel.
You will also need automated software to take off some of the load that can be time-consuming, such as sending emails. MailChimp for instance, is a very common software to use to deploy emails, that are still personalized.
The trick is to be smart – you need to use your time wisely and dedicate your time on what matters the most, such as creating more compelling content and drive more qualified leads to your sales team.