Lead Generation methods may not be as simple as it sounds. But it has been the most important part of business.
“When it comes to lead generation, you want to make a promise to the visitor and then make sure you keep the promise.”
Founder and CEO, IMPACT Branding and Design
Clickers, we are living in an era of digitization. The Internet phenomenon has fascinated all those who wish to step into a new phase of modern world. From interaction with our friends to purchasing commodities for daily use, the Internet has managed to emerge as a medium for reaching goals which once seemed impossible. Leaders with foresight were quick to adopt the change and adapt to it.
Certainly, the spread of the Internet has made businesses realize the extensive scope for selling their products and services and increasing their client base. Lead generation is on the rise thanks to the birth of new marketing channels and a spurt in competition.
However, a significant chunk of businesses have failed to make a mark in their field. The central cause for this failure is the lack of a proper Lead Generation Strategy. In fact, 61% of the B2B marketers feel that their biggest challenge is “generating high-quality leads.”(Source: B2B Technology Marketing Community)
In this article, I will throw some light on the aspects of lead generation and how businesses can benefit from the same.
WHY LEAD GENERATION?
Let’s start with the basics. A lead is a person who has expressed some interest in a company’s product or service. Lead generation refers to the collective generation of consumer interest into the company’s products and services. It is the exchange of content or other such offers in return for consumer’s information. The aim is to increase the flow of traffic on the firm’s website. Lead generation forms an essential part of the company’s sales pipeline.
Following are some of the reasons why lead generation is vital for business growth:
- CUSTOMER INTERACTION:
This process enables a company to maintain constant touch with their leads. This means less chances of rejection on the part of the lead, which ultimately provides enough room for the company to spark interest in their minds.
- LEAD NURTURING:
When the consumer has given his/her contact information, it means the person is interested in the company’s offers. Therefore, it is necessary to nurture the lead and interact with them on a continuous basis. Leads, when not nurtured properly, may get turned off by the company’s offers.
- COST EFFECTIVE:
Lead generation can also be a very cost-effective solution because it focuses on aligning both sales and marketing teams, thereby closing all communication gaps.
- HIGHER ROI (RETURN ON INVESTMENT):
Lead generation is all about ROI. As I mentioned before, lead generation strategies are cost effective. They also facilitate the firm to reach out to a wide range of consumers. This helps to gain more business and eventually earn higher profits.
- CONSUMER AWARENESS:
Your business might be producing the best products in the industry. The products may be far better with respect to quality, features, pricing etc. But if the market is ignorant of your products, chances are that you will incur losses. Lead generation helps the firm to reach out to the consumer class by tapping their interest levels and spreading awareness regarding their products.
- CUSTOMER RETENTION:
It is widely believed that generating leads is not a tedious task, given the set of technologies business firms are equipped with. However, firms did not have a mechanism to measure the erosion in customer base. Through lead generation, the firm can get information regarding the erosion by checking the number of unsubscribed users, uninstallation of firm’s apps, down ratings made by existing users etc. Through this information, the firm can make amends in its strategies and regain the lost ground.
Leads are a lifeline, not only for digital marketing firms, but for every business organization. In their absence, the company cannot succeed in its purpose of capturing the market. Constant interactions with leads are vital to survive in the modern industry.
LEAD GENERATION STRATEGIES FOR B2B:
As I mentioned before, one of the firm’s prime objectives is to create new traffic to the website. Social media and search engines have greatly simplified the process of generating leads. It may take some extra research to find your new lead’s contact information, and then some more time to contact them, but it will still be a thousand times faster than cold calling.
Nowadays, companies are seen to be heavily investing in inbound marketing strategies. Traditional ways are outbound marketing techniques where a company initiates the conversation and sends its message out to an audience. But they are becoming outdated due to drawbacks such as heavy investment, lesser ROI etc. Outbound marketing generates lesser profits and thus their budgets are annually declining, now amounting to 23% of all marketing. (Source: Hubspot).
Much of the lead generation strategies revolve around these two types of marketing strategies. But apart from this, there exists a wide range of strategies which a digital marketing firm can use to its advantage. So let’s get started.
- INBOUND MARKETING:
Inbound marketing has brought in a new lease of life to the marketing world which invested heavily in the erstwhile outbound marketing tools. Though the impact of outbound marketing cannot be ruled out, firms are going for smart marketing to generate leads and conduct business with an ever increasing consumer base. Inbound Leads cost 61% less than Outbound Leads (Source: HubSpot).
In the modern world, if you want to earn the attention of customers, you ought to be accessible by producing valuable content. This is what inbound marketing exactly does. It puts emphasis on creating quality content, posting interesting blogs and articles etc. to attract customer’s attention and generate interest.
Inbound marketing can be divided into:
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving the visibility of a website. It is a contemporary tool for increasing website traffic, generating leads and enhancing sales. A 2011 State of Digital Marketing Report conducted by Webmarketing123 established that SEO is the main way in which business-to-company (B2C) marketers and business-to-business (B2B) marketers generate leads.
A successful SEO campaign will have carefully selected and relevant keywords which are popular among the online users.
Leads can be generated through SEO by:
- ORGANIC SEARCH RESULTS: Links to relevant websites based on the search term or keyword. These results are determined by the search engine’s algorithm.
- PAID ADVERTISING: Pay per click advertising involves establishing links that appear at the very top and to the right of organic search results in Google and other search engines.
According to a survey by Webmarkleting123, SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation. In today’s cut throat competition, application of SEO has become a norm for every firm.
SEO functions can be explained in the following manner:
- KEYWORD RESEARCH:
Keywords are the building blocks of SEO. They are a reflection of what the online users look for in search engines when they require some information. An elaborate study by Pew Research Centre found out that 92% of adults used search engines for gathering information.
Digital marketing firms assist businesses with their SEO strategy to facilitate lead generation.
Make sure you are spot on with the keywords while advertising your website. Use Google Adwords to get access to the latest trends and volume data.
- LINK BUILDING:
Link building is an process intended to make a site popular through links from other websites directing to the pages being optimized to have higher search rankings. One of the tactics under SEO, it refers to the process of getting external pages to link to a page on your website.
If you have no links going to a website page, then Google assumes the content on that page isn’t credible or valued, and thus the page will not be given top preference.
A link from a reputed website such as Wikipedia or Indiatimes will generate high quality leads for the firm.
- LANDING PAGE:
A landing page can be any page that someone lands on after clicking on an online marketing call-to-action. Ryan Deiss, in his article titled “9 Lead Magnet Ideas and Examples”, defines a lead magnet as “an irresistible bribe offering a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information.”
The purpose of a landing page is to capture leads and ready your potential customers before sending them further into the sales pipeline. Lead generation landing pages are used to capture user data, such as their name, email address. 68% of B2B businesses use landing pages to garner a new sales lead for future conversion. (MarketingSherpa).
Landing page contains lead magnets to attract customers. Lead magnets can be considered to be ethical bribes given to the end users in return for their contact details like email ID, contact number etc.
• Your website contains all the navigation links and social media sharing buttons.
• A landing page must have a strong headline plus a definite content format which appeals to the readers.
• Make use of lead magnets to attract leads.
• Boost the quality of UI (User Interface) by measuring the lead’s interest levels at regular intervals via A/B Testing, heat mapping etc.
• Follow “Principle of Message Match”: Nature, design and format of message in the ads must match exactly with the message given out in the landing page.
b. CONTENT MARKETING:
Content Marketing is used by 93% of B2B marketers (Source: TopRank).
Nowadays, there is a great demand for interesting and valuable content from the end users. 71% of B2B marketers use content marketing to generate leads. (Source: MarketingProfs). You can have a look at some of the best digital marketing firms. What keeps them ahead in the race is the high quality content offered by them on their respective websites. In fact, content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less. (Source: Demand Metric).
•Great deal of market research required.
• Knowledge of keywords is essential to get hold of consumer pulse.
• Answer the consumer’s questions through your content.
• Ask questions:
• Whom am I trying to reach?
• Which audience would be interested?
• Where are they?
• What are their urgent problems?
• How can I give solutions?
• Put social media buttons on your content pages.
White Paper is an in – depth academic document which educates the audience regarding a specific issue, addresses problems associated with the issue and attempts to provide solutions for the same. Usually, whitepapers require a visitor to give his/her email address which broadens the network of leads for the firm.
Around 59% of B2B marketers hail “White papers and Research Reports” to be the most effective forms of content marketing (Source: TopRank).
•Provide clarity on the issue by conducting extensive research.
• Put forth realistic problems backed by legitimate reasons.
• Give logical solutions such that readers can digest the report.
EBooks have become a common medium of enticing the customers since you find them in almost every business website nowadays. Like the other strategies mentioned above, the main purpose of EBooks is to increase traffic to the host’s website and generate viewers for the same.
•Design an attractive cover design.
• Write in a warm, less formal tone.
• Make use of charts and statistics to educate readers in a better fashion.
• Be sure of your EBooks’ content. Check whether it is in sync with your firm’s philosophy.
iii. BLOGS/ VLOGS:
Blogs are precious opportunities to interact with the end users so it is important you mix it up with other lead generation strategies. They compliment the efforts of the sales team in generating leads by discussing about relevant topics to catch the attention of the visitor and draw them into serious business.
Similar is the case with Vlogs. They are blogs of the 21st century which assist in making a one to one connection with the netizens. Online users digest the concepts better when they see someone explaining first hand, rather than the usual typed matter. According to a recent research by Neo Mammalian Studios, visuals are processed 60000 times faster in the brain than text.
•A strong and definite headline is a must.
• Information should be classified in bullet points or paragraphs.
• Maintain regular schedules for posting Blogs/ Vlogs.
• Include statistical information to educate the readers.
• Promote it as much as possible to attract leads.
Infographics are excellent marketing tools which can be combined with the rest of the lead generation strategies to make the content more lucid and understandable to the common public since visuals are processed 60 times faster than words.
•Create infographics for your target audience.
• Strong headline is a necessity.
• Keep it concise and precise.
• Promote your infographics since they are your USP.
• Cite your sources.
A podcast may be an audio or video series, digital radio etc. If the podcasts are well planned, they can give excellent ROI.
•Keep the content short, sweet and simple.
• Entertaining and professional at the same time.
• Optimize on search engines so that it reaches a larger population.
C SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING:
Since many people are getting connected via social media, firms have a new channel to market themselves. For this purpose, they post advertisements on social media platforms like FB, Twitter etc. Product promotions through the company’s official social media pages are routine. To market their products aggressively, firms are opting for paid promotions on such mediums.
Online ads are armed with calls to actions, directing the user with instructions such as sign up now, call now, try now etc. When a user clicks on such lead boxes, the user enters the landing page where the firm showcases its products and explains its prospects to the user.
•Focus on the kings of social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
• Do not ignore Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr etc.
• Research on social media users’ preferences.
• Be consistent in providing social media content.
• Interact one on one with the netizens.
• Accept their feedbacks while creating content.
2. OUTBOUND MARKETING:
Though we have ushered in an era of inbound marketing and firms are productively applying the modern age techniques to draw leads, the traditional marketing channels cannot be written off. Ran Gishri, VP of marketing at Leadspace, in his article ‘Outbound Marketing : The Comeback Kid’, states that, “Companies such as data visualization and infographic design leader Visually, a Leadspace client, have used this method to boost outbound sales by 250 percent; gamification platform Badgeville, another one of our clients, saw its sales-driven pipeline surge by 400 percent.” A prudent digital marketing firm will go for a marketing mix of inbound and outbound to derive full advantage and gain maximum leads.
a. COLD CALLING:
The old fashioned cold calling is still one of the most effective forms of lead generation. Termed as the best form of proactive prospecting, it helps in personalizing the communication between the lead and the enterprise. This breaks down walls of discomfort and excess formality between the two parties, culminating into a win – win situation for both parties. Research shows that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. (Source: InsideSales.com).
You are 4.2x more likely to get an appointment if you have a personal connection with a buyer. (Source: Sales Benchmark Index). So no running away from cold calling! Pull up your socks and get ready to make better sales calls for better lead generation.
•Plan questions in advance.
• Client investigation a must before calling.
• Sales team should focus their questions on their client, not themselves.
• Encourage use of sales script in the team members.
• Practice, practice, practice.
b. PRINT MEDIA AND TV:
Print and banner advertisements and TV commercials are an evergreen form of outbound marketing which never fail to generate leads for the firm. Especially TV commercials, which create curiosity via repetition effect, can be considered the better of the lot, although all of them are equally important aspects of the lead generation process.
c. TRADE SHOWS AND EXHIBITIONS:
Trade shows and exhibitions will facilitate your firm in showcasing and marketing your products and services and at the same time, getting a sneak peek into the promotional ways of your rivals.
I consider such events as “Knowledge Hubs” since you get an insight into the current market trends and opportunities available in the industry which enables you to modify your lead generation strategies according to the needs of the market.
•Sales team should collect maximum product information.
• Set realistic target audience.
• Build a credible corporate image of the company.
• Prepare well in advance before facing the public on the D Day.
Even with all the marketing tools in your arsenal, the evergreen Email marketing still maintains the repute of being the most effective lead generator.
A 2014 study found that 78% of respondents cited email as the most-used channel for generating leads, followed by event marketing and finally content marketing. (Leggatt, Helen (4 April 2014). “Content marketing earmarked for higher investment for lead generation”. Biz Report. Retrieved12 September 2015).
Email marketing, like cold calling, is seen as a personal interaction between the firm and the potential lead. Marketing Sherpa, a research firm, concluded that Email Marketing has two times higher ROI as compared to cold calling, networking or trade shows. However there is a fair chance that your efforts to reach out to your target might end up in the Spam section.
•Choose an appropriate and appealing subject title.
• Maintain brevity in content.
• Incorporate images and social media sharing links in your emails.
• Neither send too many emails, nor too less.
e. PRESS RELEASE:
Press releases are looked down upon by a section of the marketing professionals but its potential to draw leads cannot be underestimated. But given the low cost nature of getting leads and its capability to reach out to a large section of the public, the idea of press releases cannot be destroyed. Press release marketing is not only useful for getting your company noticed and distributing the latest information about your company, it’s also useful for building credible SEO backlinks.
So these were the lead generation strategies which can come handy for all businesses. Apply these techniques skilfully and you are bound to earn super monies.
Feel free to comment and share your valuable thoughts on this subject. Thank you!