Used well, content is a powerful lead generation tool!
What is lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of attracting the attention of people who are interested in the products or services you offer.
What is a lead?
A lead is someone who has indicated an interest in your products or services, where there is a possibility that you can ‘follow up’ that lead.
That interest might have been expressed by calling, emailing or visiting your business to make an enquiry, speaking with one of your employees or referral partners, reading or downloading content on your website, clicking on an online advertisement, liking your social media pages or updates, or picking up a brochure at an event.
It’s important to understand that where there’s a failure to identify a person who expresses interest, and no means of connecting with them again, you don’t have a lead. A lead is a connection you can act on, or a contact you can nurture. (More on lead nurturing below)
Why lead generation is crucial
With a constant stream of people interested in buying your products or services, you’d find it hard to achieve sales. The more leads you generate, the more sales potential you have. Once you’ve found successful ways to generate quality leads, your challenge is to optimise conversion of those leads into sales by good follow up practices and sales processes.
There are two important factors when it comes to generating leads:
- Your ability to capture lead details
- The quality of leads
There are multiple ways to capture leads, online and offline. Here are some examples:
- Gated content: you offer a fabulous ebook. It’s a ‘guide to’ something your prospective clients typically need help with. To get it, they need to provide their email contact details.
- You exhibit at an expo or trade event. You invite people who attend your stand to enter a prize draw by placing their business cards in a container.
- You run a workshop or webinar on a topic popular with your target market. People must register to attend.
- You have a ‘subscribe to our newsletter’ option on your website.
- You have a ‘get a quote’ button on your website that requires email address submission.
- You run a referral program, and partners actively refer potential clients to you.
The best ways to capture leads will depend on the type of products and services you offer, and your resources. For sure, not every lead you capture will result in a sale. But by choosing the most appropriate strategies, you can eliminate the leads least like to lead anywhere! This saves time and allows your sales team (or you!) to focus on more promising leads.
How do you define lead quality? Three significant factors are:
- Level of interest
- Ability to purchase
- Suitability of your solution for their problem
If the interest level is low, the chances of a conversion is too. If a person is interested, but doesn’t have the budget to purchase, conversion is unlikely. And the more suitable your solution is for their problem, the better chance you have of increasing their level of interest.
You may have heard the term ‘qualified’ lead – and this refers to a lead who has met certain criteria, usually along these lines.
If you think about how you generate leads now, you might already have some idea which methods are leading to high quality leads, and which to low quality.
Choosing the right strategies means more qualified leads, and a greater chance they’ll turn into sales if your lead nurturing and sales processes are working as they should.
Lead generation strategies
Lead generation strategies are sometimes categorised as being ‘inbound’ or ‘outbound’. I prefer to categorise them as online or offline. Here are some examples of each.
Online strategy examples
- Your website;
- Publishing content on your blog;
- Online advertising – whether by PPC (pay per click) or banner advertising;
- Publishing downloadable eBooks and whitepapers;
- Self-publishing books on Amazon;
- Running webinars;
- Social media marketing;
- Referral programs;
- Affiliate marketing;
- Email marketing;
- Running events or workshops;
- Sponsoring events;
- Exhibiting at trade shows and expos;
- Referral partners;
It’s easy to automatically focus on online strategies in the digital age, but ignoring offline lead generation can be a huge mistake, especially for B2B.
B2B lead generation
It remains true that people do business with other people. Much gets said about social networking referrals, but one of the best strategies for B2B businesses is to build a network of business contacts and referral partners. This is especially the case for start-ups and small businesses. For larger businesses, exhibiting at or sponsoring relevant trade shows and expos is usually an excellent strategy. In addition to generating leads that can be followed up immediately, your presence at the event builds brand profile.
B2B lead generation tips
- Don’t exclude offline strategies. Referrals are golden, whether they come via networking at your local Chamber of Commerce events, or establishing referral partnerships.
- Make good use of LinkedIn. Actively build your contacts, and remember to connect on LinkedIn with the people you meet offline!
- Educating your prospective clients can drive leads, and help them see the need for your B2B services. You can do this by publishing relevant content, or running workshops.
Automation and leverage
Generating leads can be hard work. Or not. Strategies that are partially automated once established or that leverage someone else’s resources, are golden. The more you can automate and leverage, the less of your resources is required to generate and follow up. And the lower your cost per lead will be. Let me give you some examples:
- You could attend 52 networking events a year. This would take up 150+ hours of your time, and the cost of attendance, but you might only generate a few leads or sales. However, establish 5 good referral partnerships, and you might receive 50+ leads a year without leaving your office.
- You could contact all 300 people who download your new eBook, introduce yourself and invite them to book a free consultation. That would take…forever. Or, you could set up an automated email campaign to reach out to people who download your eBook with follow up emails designed to quality those leads and eventually offer a free consultation.
Lead nurturing and content marketing
Lead generation and content marketing often go hand in hand. If that’s true for your business, setting up lead nurturing campaigns will be an important. Not every worthwhile lead will be ready to buy when they first contact you, but you don’t want them to have forgotten about you when they are ready. The person who downloads an eBook might be still exploring a range of solutions to their challenge. It won’t be time to sell – but it will be time to educate them further and provide useful information to help them towards solving their challenge.
A good content agency can assist you to create downloadable content, and set up campaigns and lead nurture marketing automation.
Lead generation companies
You may have noticed there’s no prominent mention above of hiring lead generation companies to do these things for you. That’s because it’s a minefield! There are legitimate and competent lead generation companies in Australia, but there are also dodgy ones that will put potential leads offside with spammy emails and the like. That can damage your brand. If you’ve tried some of these options and found the leads quality low, it’s time to take ownership of the lead process yourself, or contact a company that can assist in establishing or reviewing your entire sales process.
For help planning and creating content that resonates with your target market – contact us!