"Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting qualified prospects to fill your sales funnel." (Unbounce)
In other words, lead generation allows you to acquire contact information about people who fit your buyer persona profiles and may go on to become customers. But what do I mean by the term "the best lead generation companies"? Well, quite simply, businesses that are great at implementing this process - that are the best at attracting and engaging the right contacts with what they offer.
And the best way to generate leads is through content. However, it’s not as simple as that. A "churn out content and the leads will follow" approach isn’t going to cut the mustard. Instead, you need to execute a carefully considered strategy and keep your eye on the prize at all times.
So what tactics do the best lead generation companies employ?
1. Create targeted content
Like pollen to bees, content attracts the people you want to connect with – but only if is it aimed at them. Whether eBooks, blog posts, podcasts or the like, your content should address the fears and concerns of your target audience; it should answer their questions and provide solutions to their problems.
Content can generate new leads both indirectly and directly. For example, a blog post is available for anyone on the Internet to read. But if an individual finds the information within a blog post useful, they will want to access more material. By including a call-to-action (CTA) button at the end of your blog post, you can direct readers to a content offer - for example, an eBook – which they can have in exchange for their details.
Content can also directly generate leads – for example, a specific content offer might be promoted via email or social media. Users who click on the link will be directed to a landing page, where they can access the content, again in return for their contact information.
And that leads us to the second tactic…
2. Produce excellent landing pages
There is only one action you want people to take on a landing page: to fill in the form and give you their details. All of your landing pages should be designed with this single goal in mind. And people are far more likely to complete this action if it is crystal clear why and how they should do so.
It’s a good idea to ensure your landing pages are aesthetically appealing and to keep the content concise. There is no set formula for a successful landing page but here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Write a good headline – remind people why they are here – and use an action verb. For example: "Download our eBook now".
- Include relevant and useful information – summarise what the content you are offering is about – and emphasise the benefits. It’s often better to use bullet points rather than chunky paragraphs.
- Keep the form short – only ask people to provide information that is absolutely relevant – for example, name, company, position and email address. If you include too many fields in your form, you may put people off.
3. Implement a lead scoring system
Once you’ve generated your leads, what do you do with them? Lead scoring allows you to rank your leads, based on both their personal details and the actions they have taken while on your website.
For example, a decision-maker in a company, who has downloaded two of your eBooks and watched a product demonstration video, would be ranked higher than a junior employee, who has visited a number of product pages on your website and signed up to your blog.
To implement this process, you will need to decide on a set of criteria by which to assess the "warmth" of your leads, and devise a correlating points system. You can either do this manually or use a software program that could work with your CRM.
Leads with lower scores will need nurturing, via marketing activity (of which, more below), to acquire more points. Once a lead reaches a certain score you may decided that it is sales-ready, and you can pass it on to your sales team to work with – and hopefully gain a customer.
4. Invest in a marketing automation solution
A marketing automation solution can help you to generate leads more successfully. In fact, the right software program can support all of the three tactics we have already discussed.
For example, it can enable you to optimise, publish and promote your blog posts, create and monitor engagement with landing pages, and score leads – all within a single platform.
Through the right marketing automation tools you can then support and nurture those leads with offers of other helpful content (based on their previous content choices or activity on your site) or else, send an appropriately timed email suggesting they might be ready for a conversation or consultation with you regarding one of your products or services.
And because everything is in one place, you obtain an excellent overall picture of the success of your marketing efforts, which pieces of content and which approaches are the most effective at generating and nurturing leads and ultimately, creating customers.
5. Create evangelists
You don’t have to generate every single lead yourself. Other people can help you. Who are these other people? Well, they’re your current customers – and they’re also the individuals who love your product or service but perhaps aren’t currently in a position to become customers. These are the people that will spread the word about you.
Writing on Copyblogger, Sean Smith says: "You have to find your core group of engagers - the people who really care, whose principles align with yours, and who are willing to share.
"[…] You don’t get to 10,000 sales by targeting 10,000 people, you get 10,000 sales by targeting 1,000 people who will spread the word once they’ve bought."
So what do you have to do to kick-start this domino effect? You simply need to delight your current customers. Create valuable and useful content that is aimed specifically at them; send them exclusive offers; suggest other products or aspects of your service that they might be interested in; deliver on your promises. And, of course, address any problems or complaints swiftly.
A happy customer is far more likely to recommend your business to someone else, thereby bringing new visitors to your site and, in turn, generating leads.
Generating leads put simply is acquiring contact details from the type of people you are targeting with your marketing - who have the potential to become customers. Content is at the core of this entire process - it's the valuable resource that you offer in exchange for people's valuable information. But content doesn't bring leads on its own; you need to consider how you are getting your content out to the right audiences, how you are using social media to support that effort and how your evangelists are helping spread the word to new potential leads.
And then it's about how you use marketing automation tools to nurture and score those leads. By implementing the tactics we have explored in this post, the leads are sure to start flowing in.