More and more businesses are implementing a lead generation strategy to support their sales teams’ efforts but what are the best ways to generate qualified leads? Let’s find out!Why is lead generation so important? Growth is the number one priority for every business and, in order to grow, every business needs leads.
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Without leads you don’t have customers, and without customers you don’t make sales, and without sales you don’t have a business.
It’s safe to say leads are pretty vital.
Here’s the thing:
Attracting and converting leads isn’t an easy task, particularly when you consider the sheer amount of competition lurking behind the scenes.
This is where lead generation becomes an art.
What Is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is essentially the process of warming up potential buyers and pushing them through the different stages of the sales funnel until they click that all-important “buy” button.
Increasing the quality of the generated leads is the top priority for 68% of B2B professionals, followed by increased lead volume (55%).
As mentioned earlier, lead generation is a great way to support business growth, the #1 priority for CEOs.
Source: Growth Remains a Top Priority for CEOs, Statista
What Are the Most Common Lead Generation Challenges Faced by B2B Professionals?
When it comes to lead generation, marketers face several challenges including:
- Generating high-quality leads
- Generating a high volume of qualified leads
- Measuring the success of the lead generation strategy
- Finding the right channels to use for content distribution
- Nurturing leads in an effective way
- Building an effective strategy despite tight budgets
Source: Lead generation strategies report 2017: top channels to drive quality and quantity, GetApp
The Importance of Lead Generation
Cold-calling is a thing of the past.
When was the last time you picked up a cold call and bought whatever was being offered at the other end? Chances are, you’ve never done this, and you’re not alone.
Consumers today are savvier than ever and don’t buy into the whole cold-selling mentality. In fact, they hate being sold to.
Instead, they’d rather find a brand they love under their own steam.
When someone shows an organic interest in your business and initiates the relationship themselves, taking them from stranger to customer becomes ten times easier.
But how do you get someone interested in starting that relationship in the first place? It’s all about lead generation.
3 Practical Ways to Generate Leads
We could talk all day about the weird and wonderful ways brands have generated leads over the years, but there are only three key major tactics that continuously provide results.
1. Content Marketing
Your content is the first thing potential customers will see in relation to your brand, whether they find it through their social channels, Google, or a recommendation from a friend.
This is your chance to show your expertise, build authority, and spark that relationship that you can then continue to nurture.
It’s important to think about the entire sales cycle when you’re planning your content, which is made up of:
- Top of the funnel consumers, who aren’t aware of your brand or what you can do for them
- Middle of the funnel consumers, who know who you are but aren’t quite sure they need your services or products just yet
- Bottom of the funnel consumers, who are ready to buy from you
Source: The Marketing Funnel Explained From Top to Bottom, Autopilot
The key to successfully using content marketing to generate leads is to provide the right content at the right time throughout the sales cycle:
- Share user-generated images on social media to attract and build awareness of your brand for the top of the funnel consumers
- Publish detailed “how to” blog posts for middle of the funnel consumers
- Put together detailed case studies and demos for those who are ready to buy.
2. Email Marketing
Once you’ve got consumers hooked with your content that’s been specifically geared to where they’re at in the sales cycle, you can begin to nurture that relationship.
Usually, this comes in the form of email marketing, which gives you the chance to show up where your audience is hanging out and share your value with them.
Source: The State of Email Marketing, Campaign Monitor.
Email marketing is an incredibly powerful lead generation tool because you’re constantly putting yourself in front of potential buyers and reminding them that you exist and can help them solve their problems.
In fact, it’s so effective, that it has an ROI of 4400% (which makes it one of the most effective lead generation tactics ever).
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to getting started with email marketing as a lead generation tool:
- Sign up with an email marketing service so you have a tool to send out mass and automated email sequences
- Create a lead magnet that your website visitors will download in return for their email address (make sure it’s really juicy and irresistible)
- Send nurturing emails that continue to educate, entertain, and give value to your subscribers
- Gently nudge them towards the sale with soft promotional emails and reminders about your products and services
3. Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization or SEO is a lead generation tactic that will get people to your content in the first place, so they can then sign up for your lead magnet and you can start nurturing the relationship.
Source: What Is Search Engine Optimization?, Zagfirst
SEO works by increasing your ranking in search engines for relevant keywords relating to your business.
That means when someone types in a keyword into Google, your website will show up as one of the top resources.
They’ll then go to your site and read your awesome content. At this point, awareness has been created and it’s down to your lead magnet to convert them from visitor to subscriber so you can continue to nurture them.
The Three-Pronged Approach to Lead Generation
These three techniques work in tandem to bring you leads and convert those leads into customers.
The SEO part of the equation brings relevant visitors to your site, your content keeps them sticking around, and your email marketing pushes them further towards the sale.
When you look at it like this, lead generation doesn’t seem so overwhelming or scary.
It’s simply a case of attracting the right people using the right content, making them aware of who you are and how you can help them, and nurturing the relationship with them so they want to buy from you.
Feeling inspired? Feel free to download our free Social Media Starter Kit for Professionals where we share tips and best practices for helping you taking your social media and lead generation strategy to the next level!
About the author: Ryan Gould is Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation B2B Marketing. From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skilfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively align sales and marketing teams within organizations.