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What is Lead Generation

Written by: Phillip Chambers  | June 10, 2020

How does the thought of cold calling prospects or physically visiting offices to sell your product sound? 

Rather unappealing, right?

With the advent of the internet, thankfully, newer ways of generating leads have been created, which are both cost-efficient, effective and less .... miserable.

Are you wondering what we mean by lead generation?

Read on as we'll tell you everything you need to know about mastering lead generation.

What is Lead Generation?

Lead Generation Definition: Lead generation is the process of identifying prospective customers for your business’ products and services to develop a sales pipeline.

Whether you‘re the founder of a company or a sales rep, generating leads is something that you just cannot escape.

As the buying process changes, marketers today have to find more effective ways to reach buyers, starting with cultivating a continuous relationship with to create a loyal customer base.

It's an important practice for both marketing and sales teams as it helps to obtain new sales leads, as well as generate the right sales leads. 

Interestingly, lead generation is a subset of demand generation. Understanding both practices is essential for creating an effective marketing strategy to help spark interest in your company. 

When you reach out to prospects you create awareness and demand that can help build your target audience, establish trust, and get your products or services noticed. You can then use lead generation to qualify the interested parties who actually have a genuine interest in what you have to offer.

Lead Generation: After the Arrival of the Internet

Advancements in artificial intelligence technology also permit you to engage with leads online like never before. You don’t have to do the engaging yourself – AI software programs will do it for you.

Technology has helped to target customers better, and track website visitors to land clients. You can now publish blogs, use social media, and send emails to educate prospects about the benefits of your products to generate interest in a much easier manner – all thanks to the World Wide Web.

Image Source: Apruve Blog

B2B Lead Generation vs. B2C Lead Generation

  • B2B = Business to business
  • B2C = Business to consumer

Many people mistake enterprises to be consumers. While in essence businesses are made out of individual groups of people, your approach when building relationships with customers and enterprises cannot be the same.

The primary difference when selling B2B, vs B2C, is the sales cycle.

Different Sales Cycle Length

sales cycle is the process that companies go through when selling a product.

There are many steps to the sales cycle, which are similar in B2B & B2C sales, but certain steps in the sales cycle can take significantly longer when selling B2B.

The primary hurdles that make B2B sales cycles longer are:

  1. # of people involved
  2. Contract complexity
  3. Dollar value of the sale

1. # of people involved

When selling B2B there is just more people you need to go through, and this increases as the size of the corporation increases.

Larger company = more people to go through.

Basically, the more "cooks in the kitchen", the harder it is to get things done.

2. Contract Complexity

When you deal with a B2B customers, you'll find that the complexity of the contracts will also contribute to a longer sales cycle. Business contracts tend to be much more elaborate when compared to contracts with consumers - which are in many cases, non-existent.

3. Dollar value of the sale

B2C sales cycles also tend to be shorter as there is a smaller sum of money and resources involved.

Audience Scope

B2B lead generation caters to a narrower audience, while B2C lead generation has a much broader market.

In a B2B landscape, it’s the company’s decision-makers or the top-level management that takes purchasing decisions. Your approach towards them needs to be more proactive and personalized to put your goods and services on their radar.

Unlike B2B, anyone with purchasing power is your customer in a B2C landscape, which makes pretty much everyone. You need to grab your customers‘ attention and separate your products and services from your rivals to stand out.

Uniqueness of Content

When you deal with top-level management in a B2B landscape, your customers will be more knowledgeable. As they do more research, they become fussier when it comes to making purchasing decisions. In addition to the features, pros, and cons, they need more valuable content such as case studies, infographics, and white papers to determine your credibility.

On the contrary, when dealing with B2C customers, your main goal is to tempt them during their buying phase. This can be done in the form of promotions, personal messaging, and giving unique offers.

Different End Goals

The end goals of a successful lead generation campaign for B2B and B2C differ.

A successful B2B lead generation campaign tries to build personal relationships with prospects for the future. For example, when a B2B customer is ready to make a purchase decision, he should think about your product or service first. In the B2C scenario, your main focus is to attract customer attention in a highly saturated market.

Sale of Goods

Earning the trust of prospects is the only way to succeed at B2B lead generation. In fact, B2B clients tend to purchase from people they know either professionally or personally.

On the other hand, B2C customers give a lot of importance to price and quality. They rarely know the sales representative from the company before placing their order, which makes impulse decisions more common.

Image Source: Team Gate

Social Media Relevance

For B2B lead generation, there’s no better place than LinkedIn, which is essentially a hub of executives and professionals. You can use this platform for initiating conversations with decision-makers and influencers in the business realm.

For B2C lead generation, your audience is everywhere with regard to social media. So it makes sense to stick to the top four platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Having said this, we would like to point out that you can use the top four platforms for B2B lead generation as well – provided you focus on matching your content with the dynamics of the platform you‘re posting it on.

Price Expectation

B2B customers don’t expect a product or service to be available at a lower cost, and if it is, it’s just a bonus for them. Their main priority is to get the product or service within their budget. So if you‘re successful in making them believe in your product or service’s worth, they will buy it.

As mentioned before, you need to grab your customers’ attention in a B2C landscape. Since clients spend their own money, a lower price acts as the perfect bait. 

Different Attitudes Towards Unsolicited Calls

B2B customers expect professional calls – solicited as well as unsolicited – during business hours. You can call the decision-makers and request a meeting to deliver materials for future reference.

B2C customers, however, don’t appreciate unsolicited calls as they view it as an invasion of their privacy. Hence, as a B2C marketer, you need to rely on permission marketing techniques when reaching out.

What is a Lead?

The word “lead“ in lead generation refers to a potential buyer who has shown interest in your products or services.

This interest can be in any shape, way, or form.

Usually, sales representatives or marketers contact leads after the latter express interest in an offer, subscription, or trial, and have submitted their personal information.

Let’s discuss this by taking two viewpoints: the prospect and the business.

From the viewpoint of the prospect:

You take an online survey to find out ways in which you can take care of your vehicle. The next day, you receive an email from the auto company that created the survey. As it was you who had given your personal information, you won’t find the company's reaching out as intrusive. You giving your email to the company has now made you their lead.

From the viewpoint of the business: 

You learn that a prospect has filled your survey. This helps you understand their pain points that you can now use to personalize communication when offering them a solution. If you find that your product/service isn't what the prospect wants, you shouldn't waste your time and effort to pursue someone who wouldn't benefit from your solution.

Putting things to perspective, leads are essentially a part of the consumer lifecycle when they convert from a visitor to a customer.

At the same time, every lead isn’t equal, and neither can they be qualified equally.

Now, imagine a scenario where somebody fills up a form on your website, initiates a chat, or interacts with you on social media. While some may consider him as a lead, some may not. 

This is why you need to understand the terms MQL, SQL, PQL, and SAL.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

Contacts that have engaged in your marketing team’s efforts like initiating a chat on your website, calling on your company’s landline, or filling out a landing page form are called marketing qualified leads. The problem here is that these are those leads who aren’t ready to receive a sales call – yet.

They become a qualified lead only when marketing is successful in nurturing them and getting them interested in a serious conversation later.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

Sales qualified leads are those contacts who have shown interest in your products and services and are past the engagement phase. Both the marketing as well as sales teams have analyzed these contacts and are now ready for the next stage – the direct sales push.

It’s important for both the sales team and the marketing team to work together to understand whether a contact is an MQL or SQL.

Product Qualified Lead (PQL)

A contact that has used your product (this can be via a trial or a free service for a limited period), and has expressed interest in becoming a paying customer is a product qualified lead. For example, a customer who was using a free version of your product is showing interest in learning about features that are a part of your paid plan will be a PQL.

Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)

Sales accepted leads are MQLs that have been reviewed and found to meet certain criteria and are then passed to the sales team for approval.

Lead Generation Process: At a Glance

Lead generation is all about building trust with your target customers and educating them about the benefits of your products and services and your industry. 

Here are the five steps that can ensure a more effective generation:

  1. Understanding your buyer persona
  2. Creating engaging content to bring new potential leads in
  3. Attracting the right audience that has a genuine interest in your products
  4. Winning their trust before getting access to their information like name, email, job title, and so on.
  5. Qualifying the leads that show genuine interest

We’ll discuss the process in greater detail later on in the article.

How Does Lead Generation Work? How do I Generate Leads?

Image Source: Boom Marketing

The only way that you can attain quality leads is by understanding how lead generation works. 

But let us warn you beforehand, the process isn’t easy. 

In fact, 61% of B2B marketers have accepted that generating leads is one of the biggest challenges they face.

The way consumers have started perceiving advertisements has changed too. Instead of flashy and aggressive advertisements and sales pitches, customers are valuing quality content higher.

This creates a need for companies to change their lead generation tactics accordingly. The best way to adapt to this shift is by constantly testing and implementing new strategies.

Some of these lead generation tactics include:

The Importance of Lead Generation 

Creating a good lead generation strategy is important for promoting traffic that can help boost sales by ensuring higher conversion rates. 

As the buying process has completely changed, you need to focus on finding different yet effective ways to reach customers. 

Understanding Customer Journey and Lead Generation Funnel

Prospects will find your website at different stages, depending on their needs. What you need to focus on is capturing leads at every stage of this customer journey

To understand how to tweak your lead generation campaign for landing prospects, you need to know the three stages of a lead generation funnel. Let’s take a look…

Stage One: Top of the Funnel (TOF)

It’s all about creating awareness in the first stage, the top of the funnel.

In this stage, the prospect is aware that he has a problem. But they don’t know about your product or service’s existence that could help solve their problem.

The first contact between a potential lead and your company takes place in TOF. Think of it as an introduction to your future buyer.

Your goal is to get their personal information like email address after making them aware of how using your product or service can solve their problem. Basically, you make the prospects solution-aware and move them into stage two.

To capture their email address, you need to use lead magnets such as videos, infographics, e-books, tutorials, or mini-courses.

Stage Two: Middle of the Funnel (MOF) 

In the middle of the funnel, which can also be called the evaluation stage, your prospect is aware of your existence and how you can provide them a solution. But they are still evaluating other alternative solutions. 

Your goal is to establish your authority and convince them about your product or service’s reliability. You have to give them a quick win that will move things to stage three. It’s important to continuously engage with the prospects in a bid to nurture them.

Checklists, templates, cheat sheets, toolkits, and white papers can act as helpful evaluation lead magnets for capturing your prospects.

Stage Three: Bottom of the Funnel (BOF)

The bottom of the funnel is the conversion stage. Your prospect is almost ready to buy your product or service – provided you‘re successful in clearing all their existing doubts by giving them a final push.

The good news is that your prospects already trust your company.

Your goal here is to maximize customer value immediately. Take necessary measures to clear any objections that your prospect might have when making a purchase. In other words, give them that much-needed nudge.

Conversion lead magnets include free trials, consultations, free quotes, coupons, discount offers, and free catalogs.

Rented Attention vs. Owned Attention

We‘ve already discussed the importance of raising awareness about your company's solutions by gathering the customer's attention. 

This brings us to the next part of our article: understanding the difference between rented attention and owned attention.

Marketers have mostly rented attention built by other people in the past. For example, they prefer to purchase an ad in a leading newspaper to get the word out. Now, however, attention scarcity has forced them to shift from rented attention to owned attention.

Marketing today is more focused on building owned attention, and the best way to ensure this is by gaining the trust of your prospect. This can be done by creating and publishing valuable content that actually helps the prospects to overcome their pain points. 

Still, it’s important to use a mix of rented attention and owned attention for a successful lead generation campaign.

Critical Steps to Follow Before Building A Lead Generation Funnel

Building a successful lead generation funnel doesn't have to be complicated. But this is only possible when you have a well thought out checklist ready to guide you through the process.

From understanding the buyer persona, working on content segmentation, and lead generation strategies, there's a lot that you need to consider.

Understanding Your Buyer Persona

The starting point of lead generation is to understand everything you can about your leads. After all, the better you understand them, the better content you’ll create to convince them to give your product or service a shot.

Wondering where to start? Take a look at your website’s analytics.

Google Analytics can be an excellent source to extract and analyze demographic data. Don’t forget to check out your competitors to get an idea of the type of leads they are generating. It would also be useful to take a look at your existing and past customers. 

After you’ve figured out who your customer is, you need to understand why they could be interested in what you’re offering.

Answering the “why“ is where the hard work starts.

Although there are several ways in which you can find out about your buyer's needs, pain points, and wants, running a survey is the most effective. You can share your survey on social media, display it on your website, or send it to your email list. 

Talk to your sales team, or customer support team to get some valuable insight into the psychology of your customers. Even ICP and empathy maps can be useful.

Creating an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

An ideal customer profile or ICP tries to define the perfect customer for your organization. 

It can also interpret the problems your products or services can solve and align their capabilities with the needs of the customers. It will also pave the way for your company’s future by laying out the necessary updates and changes.

We’ve previously mentioned how every lead isn’t equal. While some might benefit from what you offer, some may not find it as useful. 

Developing an ICP will help you weed out those leads that will only waste your sales rep’s time and efforts simply because your solution isn’t going to solve their problems.

Now, to create an ICP, you need to collect two kinds of data – quantitative and qualitative.

  • Quantitative Data

This type of data will give you an idea about the numbers related to your target market. This includes age, job title, gender, location, and industry. Web analytics and visitor identification software are great tools for finding out such data.

  • Qualitative Data

The main aim of gathering qualitative data is to add unique parameters to your personas – adding more depth.

Your main focus should be on the prospect – the words they use to describe their problems, the challenges they face, and the solutions they think could help improve their current predicament. Surveys and interviews are an excellent way to extract qualitative data.

You need access to both kinds of data to know as well as understand your buyer.

Building an Empathy Map

Developing an empathy map again will help you better define your buyer persona. It’s a collaborative tool that can give you a deeper insight into your target customer.

For this purpose, you need to find out the answers to certain questions. Such as:

  • How would you define the thought process and feelings of your customer?
  • What would be the worries and aspirations of your customer?
  • What would the customer see when using your product in their environment?
  • What would the customer be saying or doing when using your product? Will this change in a public or private setting?
  • What are the benefits of your product for the customer?
  • What would the customer’s pain points and fears be when using your product?

We would also recommend using your team’s opinion as well to get better insights.

The main idea behind creating an empathy map is to think from the customer‘s viewpoint in their environment. This can help you elaborate on buyer persona, understand their behaviors, and learn customer segments of a business model.

Segmenting Your Content Based on Buyer Persona 

After you‘ve understood who your buyer is, you need to figure out the best way to communicate with them. The best way to do this is by grouping your target audience according to their characteristics and then developing a strategy for each group. 

This segmentation will permit you to deliver highly personalized communication that resonates effectively with your audience. Moreover, it’ll also help to lower the cost of acquiring new leads.

When segmenting content, you need to understand the correct tone and topic for your blog posts, emails, and website copy. You should try to produce content that can be assigned to a specific buyer persona.

You can also conduct a content audit of your pre-existing blog posts, landing pages, case studies, or gated resources. Try to identify the gaps and areas where you can improve to attract more people to your website. 

Remember, the content pieces you create in this stage will serve as the foundation for your marketing automation efforts.

After creating your content, you need to direct your efforts towards putting it in front of the right audience. In other words, you should create individual conversion journeys for every persona, and then deliver the content accordingly.

This will also help you nurture your leads effectively by providing them with relevant information and solutions. The idea behind creating persona-specific campaigns is to ensure better engagement with targeted prospects to make them more interested in your products or services.

Establishing Your Go-To Market Strategy

While there are several strategies that marketers use for the generation, you need to figure out one best suited for your organization.

You can start by creating a lead magnet such as e-book, webinars, PDFs, etc., to increase the traffic to your website. Follow this by creating an opt-in landing page to get your prospect’s email. Remember, the landing page should be convincing and properly explain the lead magnet to the prospect.

Additionally, you can try redirecting your prospect to your service page with a CTA. 

The service page is where the action starts; mention the USP of your services, how it can be useful, and add social proof – lots of it! You need to present an excellent selling proposition that could potentially convert your lead into a buyer. 

Finally, start running ads after activating a funnel tracking system. You can use sites like Adwords, Facebook to fuel your sales engine with traffic.

Lead Generation Channels

Lead generation channels have two main heads: outbound marketing and inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that can be used for driving prospects to your website with zero outside advertisements for your products or services.

Your approach here is to familiarize prospects with your brand and its offerings. Hence, you must make a good and lasting impression. SEO, podcasts, blogging, content, email, word of mouth and viral marketing, and retargeting are some of the more common examples of inbound marketing 

Outbound marketing, on the other hand, is a traditional marketing method that includes cold calling, cold emailing, direct mail, advertising, pop-up events, display ads, and billboard advertising.

Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

Now that we’ve defined the concepts, let’s take an example to understand the difference between the two.

Imagine a situation where two girls want to sell chocolates.

The first girl decides to use the outbound lead generation and starts visiting houses to politely enquire whether the owners would be interested to buy her chocolates.

The second girl decides to be a little more creative. She makes posters and flyers to market her chocolates and even posts on social media offering a 10% discount to her first 100 customers. She chooses a specific communication medium to make a pitch.

As you might have realized, the first girl will have to put in a lot of effort and time (even spend more money to travel from one house to another), and she could still end up with no leads. The second one, however, gets to engage with a broader audience without much effort and also has better chances of securing quality leads.

How to Generate Leads

The following are a few of the most important aspects that you can use for generating leads:

Website

You need a website to establish a strong presence online by attracting targeted clients, using organic traffic sources. You can use this medium for educating your target audience about your products and services through engaging content.

The other advantage of having a website is ensuring a personalized user experience. Delivering relevant information will give your buyers a solid reason to come back to your site.

Your website can include informational and valuable content like blogs, articles, and so on as well. Just remember to include a CTA when drafting them.

Email

You can use email to engage with customers who are already on your mailing list. It’s also much easier to ask them to consider your offerings as they have previously subscribed to your list and know about your brand and product/service.

If you send an email to people who are already on your mailing list, it’ll be known as sending warm emails. On the other hand, if you email strangers, it’ll be cold emailing.

Try to create a compelling and attention-catching design to make a solid impression on your reader. Again, adding a CTA is very important when sending emails.

A part of outbound marketing, in the case of paid advertising, you pay money to the owner of ad space in exchange for using that space. This includes several categories like pay-per-click (PPC), pay-per-impression (PPI), and display ads.

Social Media

The popularity of social media platforms right now is unparalleled. You can publish content on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to reach out to potential customers and generate the right kind of buzz.

Free Trials or Freemium Model

The concept of a freemium model sounds rather puzzling. After all, the company has to first give away their products and services for free to make money.

You see, the idea behind giving free trials is to lower customer acquisition costs (CAC). You give a free version of your product to attract more customers and create awareness. If the customer is satisfied with the product, they’ll be more than happy to try out the paid version of the product on the expiry of the trial.

Affiliate Marketing or Referral Marketing

In affiliate marketing, companies pay influencers or blog writers a commission to promote the former’s product or services.

On the other hand, referral marketing is word-of-mouth publicity. Aim to get more people to try out your products, which, in turn, could potentially generate more leads.

Contact Information Visibility and Using a Contact Form

This is where making a website comes handy. Once you’ve taken the measures to drive traffic to your site, you should ensure that it‘s easily navigable, which includes making your contact information visible.

You can also add a live chat functionality or a contact form to make it even more convenient for your client to get in touch with you and learn about your products.

Use Opt-in Forms

Opt-in forms offer website visitors an appealing incentive in exchange for their email address. While this incentive can be decided after considering your target audience, it should always be valuable. This can be a free demo or any actionable information.

Landing Pages and CTAs

A landing page is the best way to capture leads by collecting their contact information. In fact, the quality of the landing page with a CTA plays a significant role in determining how successful your lead generation campaign is.

When you develop a CTA, make sure that it‘s clearly understandable, has a compelling narrative, and is positioned properly on your website, making it easily visible.

Outbound Prospecting

Outbound prospecting is a direct marketing channel where you first identify your target customers and then contact them to introduce your brand and its products/services.

Account-based Marketing

Account-based marketing or ABM uses highly targeted and personalized campaigns to win over the trust of prospects. Instead of trying to satisfy an entire market, it targets individual accounts and treats them as individual markets in itself.

Public Relations (PR)

Public relations can also be used as a lead generation tool other than publicity, awareness, and reputation management. However, PR needs to be in sync with business development and paid advertising. This can be done through public speaking, sponsored events, or customer reviews.

Pro Tip: Align your PR & SEO strategies for a huge traffic boost that 99.9% of companies miss.

Field Marketing

To enhance the lead generation efforts of a company, marketers carry out a series of activities to build brand image and develop and manage customer relationships. In field marketing, brands try to get their products “out in the field“ by advertising in public locations, stores, college campuses, and events.

Retargeting

Retargeting campaigns are designed around re-engaging with visitors that once showed interest in your website. You give them special offers or send a different message to lure them back to your site.

Video Marketing

Interestingly, 72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service by watching a video. This is certainly an advantage for companies as it lets them communicate with prospects in a more effective manner. Plus it’s much easier to watch how to use a product and learn about its USPs rather than reading about it.

Influencer Marketing

As the name suggests, you use influencers or people who have expert-level knowledge or social influence on social media to generate awareness about your product/service.

Despite popular belief, influencer marketing is quite different from affiliate marketing. While the former focuses more on brand exposure, the latter strives to build relationships between the audience and the brand’s site.

Direct Mail

There might be cases where your target customers won’t come across your created content.

What you can do instead is send them a direct mail to make them aware of your company and offering’s existence. Keep in mind that your message needs to be attention-grasping and creative to be fruitful.

How To Qualify A Lead

Your prospect needs to show genuine interest in what you offer – only then can you qualify it as a lead. 

The two best ways to gauge your lead’s interest level is the BANT approach and lead scoring.

Image Source: Yesware

What is BANT?

BANT stands for budget, authority, need, and timeline. You can use this framework to determine how qualified a prospect is and then prioritize it accordingly.

  • Budget: You need to consider your prospect's expectations about pricing. How much are they willing to spend, and from where is their funding coming? You also need to figure out whether they would be flexible with their budget. You see, if the prospect cannot afford your product or service, there’s no point in trying to pursue them.
  • Authority: It’s always wiser to make the decision-maker your main point of contact. This will let your reps know who should be involved in the buying process, and needs to be convinced to land a sale.
  • Need: Try to find out the challenges your prospects face, and how it impacts their daily life. This will help you comprehend their pain points better. You can then use this information when you offer your solution. Also, if your product or service doesn’t solve their problems, chances are that the prospect might not be interested at all.
  • Timeline: Understanding the timeline is important for prioritizing your leads. For example, if a prospect needs to purchase within three months, you should be more proactive in your approach.

If a prospect plans to make a purchase next year, you can send them helpful resources and then follow up later.

Image Source: GetSmartAcre

Lead Scoring

When you assign numerical values to your leads for determining the perceived value of the prospects to the company, it’s known as lead scoring.

Now, these scores are awarded based on multiple attributes such as professional information, behavior, and so on. You also can't group the prospects as every lead is supposed to get an individual score.

For example, you can give +25 points if your prospect is a manager, and +50 points in case he is a CEO. Similarly, you can award +5 points to somebody who downloads an important document, +10 points for somebody who views your pricing page, and -3 points for a prospect that visits your Careers page. In the end, prospects that surpass the pre-decided criteria get qualified.

Still, when you‘re scoring your leads, you shouldn’t ignore the rest of the database or consider it a standalone marketing process.

Lead Generation Process

Before we talk about the lead generation process in detail, we would like to emphasize on the importance of aligning the sales team and marketing team in a company. Interestingly, this alignment will increase the effectiveness of the company when it comes to closing deals with nearly 67%

The best way to ensure this? Having a shared understanding of qualifying a lead. 

Let’s take a look at the four steps of lead generation:

Step One: Identifying and Acquiring Leads

Leads are contacts who match the profile of your target buyers. So if you want to increase the number of leads, you just need to research and find relevant networks where you can offer your products and services.

A great way to gather attention is by starting a referral process. This can include raising awareness about your target audience and offering incentives to encourage prospects to contact you or refer contacts to you.

You can also ask industry networks and existing customers for endorsements and testimonials. Work on creating a website where you can post valuable content. This can help gain the trust of your prospect.

Even creating e-books, informative blog posts, infographics, and photos can be useful for distribution across your social channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and email. Another tip would be to create short videos as visitors don't want to read content always. 

Lastly, you can use direct marketing tactics like cold calling, sending direct mails, or running competitions where you can offer certain incentives.

Once your lead gets interested in what you have to offer, they will automatically fill up a form or get in touch to become a newly acquired lead.

Step Two: Qualifying and Scoring Leads

Qualifying leads basically revolves around four aspects: customer profile, needs, their decision-making process, and competition. 

  • How well does a prospect match your ideal customer profile? 
  • Are you selling products and services that can fulfill your prospect’s needs?
  • What are the factors that your prospect takes into consideration when making decisions? 
  • Who are your competition, and vendors that your prospect has worked with?

You'll be able to qualify leads more efficiently by answering the above questions. After this, you have to score the leads to understand which one of them is worth chasing.

Step Three: Nurturing Leads

“Nurturing” your leads is you making your prospects feel special and exclusive while ensuring that they have a positive customer experience.

After adding leads to your email list or lead management system, you have to continuously nurture them to move through the sales funnel. It’s important to retain their interest in being a part of your email list.

Nurturing tactics can include downloading helpful content, giving incentives like free product trials and demos, or offering exclusive discounts. 

Keep in mind that nurturing a lead could take anywhere from a few weeks to more than 12 months. After all, the intention here is to convert the lead into a customer, which is why taking out time to build a relationship over the phone or through email is necessary.

Step Four: Passing Along Leads to Sales

In essence, lead generation is the continuous flow of leads from the starting point to the ending point of the sales funnel. 

Once you’ve acquired, qualified, and nurtured the leads, the next step is to convert them. Once a customer has purchased from your company, it's the duty of the sales team to enrich their experience to retain them in the long run.

Useful Tools for Lead Generation and Lead Scoring: Bombara and 6sense

B2B marketing and sales teams can combine Bombora and 6sense for delivering engaging experiences by creating hyper-targeted audiences. While the former platform tells you which businesses are searching for your products and services, the latter combines the power of big data, machine learning, and AI to boost revenue growth.

Both providers have partnered to deliver a comprehensive account engagement platform on the market. Using this, companies will be able to enhance their sales and marketing efforts.

Not only will you be able to generate more demand, but you’ll also be able to acquire, qualify, score, and nurture leads better.

Lead Generation Metrics

For a successful lead generation campaign, you need to have intentional measurement strategies planned in advance. This will help you measure the success of your lead generation efforts or as management expert Peter Drucker says “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.“

The following are some of the most important metrics that you should know:

Click-through Rate (CTR)

If you want to know just how compelling your call to action is, CTR is what you need. You can also determine the level of effectiveness with which you move your customers along your sales funnel.

The formula to measure CTR is:

CTR = Total Number of Sales / Total Number of Visitors * 100

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate will tell you how many of the visitors are performing a specific action. These actions can be placing an order for your product or service, filling out a form, or taking a survey.

The formula to measure conversion rate is:

Conversion Rate = Total Number of Sales / Number of Unique Visitors * 100

Time to Conversion

This metric will let you know how long it takes to turn a visitor into a verified lead. 

Now, this period is dependent on many factors. For example, if you‘re selling something expensive, your prospect will, of course, do more research before placing an order. Similarly, if your verification or qualification process is more complex then again the conversion time will extend.

The formula to measure time to conversion is:

Time to Conversion = Total Time Spent by All Visitors / Total Number of Leads

Cost Per Click (CPC) and Cost Per Mile (CPM)

Several companies run digital campaigns like Google ads or Facebook ads. In such cases, knowing your relevant costs becomes necessary as well. 

As the name suggests, CPC is when you pay for every click you get, while CPM is paying per 1000 impressions (also known as a mile). In both cases, the lower your CPC and CPM, the better it‘ll be for your business.

The formula to measure CPC and CPM is:

CPC = Advertising Cost / Clicks

CPM = Cost / (Impressions / 1000)

Cost Per Lead

Cost Per Lead is the average amount of money you have to spend to acquire a lead. Generally, marketers consider the amount spent on capturing leads to be the same as the variable costs. 

This practice, however, is wrong as other costs need to be accounted for as well.

You need to add your one-time costs (developing marketing collaterals) as well as recurring costs (amount spent on marketing tools or platforms).

The formula to measure Cost Per Lead is:

Cost Per Lead = Money Spent on Capturing Leads / Total Number of Leads Captured

Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)

LTV will give you a better understanding of how valuable your average lead is. You can also break down that value by campaign or channel.

The formula to measure LTV is:

Lifetime Value = Average Customer Lifetime x Average Monthly Spend x % Gross Margin 

Return on Investment (ROI)

The last metric is ROI, which is also the most important one. 

If you have a positive ROI, your company is profitable and vice versa. This is why you should try to invest your time and money in developing strategies that give you the highest ROI.

The formula to measure ROI is:

ROI (%) = Net Return / Investment (Expense) x 100

Alternatively,

ROI (%) = Return (Profit) - Investment (Expense) / Investment (Expense) x 100

Having said this, it’s also important to note that some strategies have a longer implementation timeframe. As a result, you might not see a positive ROI right away.

Lead Generation Strategies

When you're trying to generate leads online, you can use a wide range of campaigns, strategies, and tactics depending on how you want to capture your leads. 

Here, we’ll discuss some of the best lead generation strategies to help boost your sales.

Image Source: Venture Harbour

LinkedIn Lead Generation

We’ve already mentioned the relevance of LinkedIn today, especially for B2B marketing. Additionally, the platform has been steadily increasing its stake in the advertising space.

You can use LinkedIn‘s Lead Gen Forms, which auto-populate with a user’s profile data when they click a CTA, making it much easier to capture data.

PPC Lead Generation

PPC lead generation is definitely a little complicated, but the channel can be great to fill the sales funnel with leads. 

You can attract visitors who are looking for your solutions, improve your keyword rankings and traffic, fully control the message for every funnel stage, keep a track on ROI, get an idea about what your target customer wants, and grow your lead database.

You do have to pay for every click-through though. 

You see, you'll need someone to write the blogs, manage social media, perform SEO optimization – and the hired person won’t be doing it for free. But then again, other marketing channels involve some expenditure too.

B2B Lead Generation

This strategy has a broader concept being one of the earliest steps you do when creating a typical marketing funnel. You collect a potential customer’s information like email, job title, etc., in hopes of subsequently making a sale. 

You can use website optimization, content marketing, email marketing, social media, and paid advertising to attract the attention of prospects. Certain offline strategies like direct mail, developing printed marketing collateral, and getting referrals can also help generate leads.

Creating an Interactive Tool

Interactive tools help to boost engagement with a target audience by allowing them to interact with your page. One of the more prominent examples of these tools is interactive calculators.

Imagine that you own a medical information website. You can add an interactive food calculator to let users track their food intake and exercise. Not only will this help develop brand loyalty, but it will also keep your visitors engaged, making them a lead.

Imbed Opt-in Forms in Video

Creating short videos can be excellent for engaging your prospects. But instead of making a regular video, you can take it to the next level by adding opt-in forms to the videos.

All you need is a media player that lets you embed an opt-in form into the videos. You can check out media players like Wistia, HeroCaster, Viewbix, and OptinPlayer. Keep in mind that this works for videos that play on your website only, and not on YouTube.

Podcasts

Podcasting can be a powerful lead generation tool. It serves as an accessible entry point for prospects to start engaging with your company. After that, you need to take the right steps to move them along the sales funnel – turning them from listeners into leads and then customers.

Forum Posting

Forums may sound intimidating but are actually a great source for getting leads. Several people actively participate in group discussions pertaining to their respective industries in these platforms.

If you want to increase your inbound leads through forum posting, you need to do three things: participate, project yourself as an expert, and convert FAQs into ROI. 

You need to participate and provide expert-level feedback to people to make a lasting impression on fellow contributors and readers. Try to mention the advantages of your product/service and how it’ll be able to solve a specific problem. You can then add a link to your company’s website to let prospects contact you.

Joint Ventures

For those of you who aren’t aware, joint ventures are agreements or relationships between two businesses where each party pools in resources that could be mutually beneficial. This includes lead sharing, joint promotions, and of course, a revenue share.

Think about companies that would be a good fit for a joint venture with your business. Approach them and work together to create compelling offers that would benefit both parties.

Quizzes

Who hasn’t taken that odd BuzzFeed quiz to know which character from The Office is your spirit personality? You’ve done it, we’ve done it.

As everybody loves online quizzes, why not use it for generating leads?

When creating a quiz for lead generation, you need to identify your quiz concept before drafting the questions. The intention here is to put together a quiz that revolves around lead capture – but this should only come after the last question. 

As an average quiz generally takes a couple of minutes, the quiz taker becomes invested in seeing the results. So when you ask them to fill in their emails to know the results, they will not view it as a barrier.

Just don’t forget to write visually engaging and compelling quiz results along with a CTA to catch their attention.

Lead Generation Tools

The level of success of your lead generation campaign is largely dependent on using the right lead generation tools and lead generation software. Utilizing a formal system for organizing and storing your leads can make you more efficient.

We’ve discussed some of the most effective lead generation tools like chatbots, Optinmonster, and email automation below. Let’s take a look...

Chatbots

Chatbots are very useful. While media platforms use them for reporting daily news to their readers, e-commerce stores use them for recommending products to customers. As for marketers, they use it for lead generation!

The possibilities are endless when it comes to a chatbot. 

It can ask your visitors about their interests, whether they would like a free trial or product demo, are still looking for options or are ready to make a purchase, and more. The bot can also recommend a product or pricing plan to them according to their needs.

It's important to note that chatbots are different from a live chat function. The former is much faster and can reply to multiple people at the go. Additionally, they are more cost-effective too.

Optinmonster

Image Source: Optinmonster

Optinmonster is hands down one of the best lead generation plug-ins for WordPress. It allows you to create excellent opt-in forms that convert well thanks to its attention-grasping value. It also lets you convert your website visitors into subscribers and customers.

This plug-in uses precision targeting for creating campaigns to generate more leads, attract more subscribers, and promote sales. It also shows targeted messages based on where the user is coming from. Whether you want to customize campaigns according to a specific page/section of your website or create on-site drip campaigns – Optinmonster can do it all.

Email Automation

Image Source: Venture Harbour

Email marketing is equally efficient for generating more leads online. Customers are actually more open to both warm emails and cold emails, which makes the process a bit more effective.

And when you add automation to the mix, the effectiveness increases tenfolds.

Marketers use email automation for creating nurturing campaigns, testing and tweaking every email to make it more personalized, and monitoring and measuring email results. Despite all this happening at a granular level, you save a lot of time because of automation.

Contact Database Enrichment

Data enrichment is a never-ending process where marketers merge third-party data from an external authoritative source that has an existing database of first-party customer information. 

You must build a bigger picture of the new leads and contacts you generate as accounts. This will help to personalize every customer interaction, score each account, and provide a better overall customer experience in general. 

Here are some of the best data enrichment services:

Lead Generation Challenges

After the strategies and tools, you need to be aware of some of the biggest challenges that marketers face when generating leads, and how to overcome them.

It’s generating quality leads that are important for every organization. But the fact that 61% of marketers face problems in finding these leads speaks volumes about the complexity of the process.

The only way to succeed here is to know your target audience *extremely* well, and that your product/service is actually a relevant solution for that problem.

Challenge #1: Increasing Per-Lead Costs

Acquiring leads – qualified ones at that – costs money. Marketers often use different verticals to attract prospects. Moreover, you might not close a few leads that will again add to your expenses.

Take measures to reduce your overall cost per lead to avoid incurring a loss. Dividing your cost per lead per channel will help you shift your budget to optimize your spending while also letting you experiment with different efforts.

Once you’ve identified channel-specific problems, start working on solving them. Two of the most common issues marketers face are higher competition for keywords, and receiving more impressions but fewer clicks. 

In the end, you should be looking at every campaign on a case-by-case basis. Work on optimizing your cost and strategy, and it’ll all be better.

Challenge #2: Ability to Accurately Reflect Attribution

Most marketers keep monitoring SEM conversions and cost per conversion. They are also aware of how fruitful their webinars or email campaign is. 

But somehow the numbers don’t add up.

Here, you have to try to get a clearer picture of how your marketing allocation is affecting your sales pipeline in reality.

Work on creating an integrated marketing stack that includes your CRM system and conversion points, and then connect all data in a single attribution database. You can choose from solutions like a purpose-built marketing attribution system, a marketing automation system with built-in attribution databases, etc. But it should meet your budget and simultaneously solve business issues effectively.

Even designing a lead attribution report to understand which marketing sources are driving raw and qualified leads during different points in the sales funnel will improve your understanding of the sales pipeline.

Challenge #3: Proper Split Testing

According to Optinmonster, a split test is a method of testing multiple versions of a website (or individual elements of a website) against each other to see which works best.

You should run a split test – not for the sake of making a change – but to understand which aspect of your marketing strategy isn’t performing well enough. 

To ensure a good split test, start by observing and collecting data from your Web Analytics account. Also, you can form a hypothesis to understand the results, that will then let you run tests and collect data. 

For example, if you‘re running an email campaign, you can split test email subject lines, images, copy, and CTA.

Challenge #4: Hype Cycle of Lead Generation

A branded tool created by Gartner, called the hype cycle graph, is a graphical representation of the different stages of any technology’s life-cycle stages – from conception to maturity and widespread adoption.

In the case of marketing, you need leads to make sales, and the best way to generate it is by using high-quality content along with a great email and social distribution.

After the conception, you can then distribute this content to ignite (in some cases reignite) interest. LinkedIn ads, Google ads, sponsored webinars, and so on are great sources to lock in quality leads in greater quantity.

Lead Generation Benchmarks

You are now generating leads and getting web traffic, so what next? Well, now you need to find out where you stand in your industry.

Consider industry data to determine whether or not your lead generation strategy is effective. The number of leads that you should really be generating, and how well you‘re performing when compared to your competitors are important data that you should know.

Take a look at a few benchmarks below:

Cost Per Lead, by Industry 

While media and publishing industries have the lowest cost per lead with a range of $11-$25, financial services companies are the highest at $51-$200. Smack in the middle is consulting companies and software companies with a range between $26-$50 and $51-$100, respectively.

Lead Generation Budget Trends

In 2012, nearly 50% of the marketers saw a rise in their lead generation budgets, while 44% didn’t see any change. For 7% of marketers, surprisingly, there was a budget deduction.

As for 2020, Megan Meade, a marketing specialist from Prospect Path, believes that more focus will be placed on the middle of funnel content. According to her, leads who are in the middle of the final stage have stronger buyer intent signals.

In addition to this, the CMO of XY01, Hayley Zerwas, thinks that videos will be one of the biggest trends for B2B marketing and sales. If that’s the case, we can predict more marketers to invest in developing engaging video content.

Nevertheless, as 2020 has been anything but predictable, it’ll be interesting to see how marketers adjust their lead generation budgets in the midst of the corona pandemic.

The Bottom Line

Lead generation has multiple moving parts, each one of them essential for attracting, nurturing, and converting leads into customers. 

Try to have an open mind when running a lead generation process, considering how dynamic the marketplace can be. Implementing new approaches and ideas and constantly evolving is the only way to improve lead quality and boost revenue for your business.

Interested in getting more out of your lead generation efforts, and learning the exact methods we use to generate leads & grow our agency? Join us for free at SERP University.
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