What is Lead Generation & Why Your Business Should Invest In It
Lead generation is about fostering interest in your products and services. You want people to knock on your door, rather than travelling from door-to-door like sales operations of the last century. If you’re getting people to interact with your brand, you’re generating leads.
Nearly every business in the world uses lead gen and strategies are always changing.
What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is starting the process of brand discovery for new customer prospects.
Basically, that means that lead gen is how you get attention in your market. There are a few staple strategies for generating and cultivating leads—while many things change across industries, these are fairly consistent.
Hosting a blog—whether it’s on your own site or on a platform like Medium—has massive potential to help you attract, convert, and close new customers. One added benefit of blogging: you have built-in lead scoring. A solid platform will let you know which pages are receiving the most attention and some even tell you which sections of a post attract the most attention.
Social Media Marketing
Social media, like blogging, is an excellent way to attract customers to see your brand. You’re also able to learn things like:
- Which posts are getting the most views?
- What posts are people sharing more?
- How often do people want to see your content?
- Do people resonate with the way you present your brand?
Each of these information snippets can help you better target and find higher quality leads. High-quality leads are those who have more intense needs for your products and services than the average person.
Email marketing is for people who have already been exposed to your brand and chosen to exchange their contact info in exchange for a “lead magnet,” or something like a whitepaper, ebook, or workbook that gives them immediate value. Email marketing, when done well with other forms of lead generation can deliver exceptional results.
Website Landing Pages
Website landing pages often house your lead magnets. These special webpages are linked to your primary web domain, but they’re single-focused. You want to either sell a product or capture a lead’s information so you can sell to them later. Landing pages allow you to explain an issue and a solution in-depth without sacrificing precious homepage and menu space.
Ads and Retargeting
Finally, Ads allow you to reach out to brand new people who haven’t seen your brand yet. Retargeting, however, serves best to bring customers back as they develop a deeper understanding of their need for your products and services.
Why Lead Generation is Important
Lead generation allows your business to keep consistent cashflows.
Basically, you can start counting on regular income when you’re executing a good lead generation strategy. This is what leads to stable income streams, regardless of what business you’re in. In times past, lead-gen meant focusing on fostering word-of-mouth reviews and posting advertisement in printings like magazines or on billboards.
Those forms of lead generation offered some success, and still do. The thing is, other options may be more impactful, depending on the target customers. You’ll notice that each lead generation strategy offers unique benefits for your business. Though some strategies may offer overlapping benefit categories, few to none offer the same exact benefit ratios.
You need to know how you’ll measure ROI before deciding on which campaign you want to start. Without knowing what types of leads, or what lead score you want from the endeavor, you’ll leave money on the table, even if you still experience notable success.
It’s important to note that your call to action should never be a sale when customers are totally unfamiliar with your brand. This sort of thing tends to push more customers away than close sales.
Expect changes in these three key areas as a result of your lead-gen efforts.
- Awareness of your brand will grow
- You’ll be reaching more of your target customers
- Customers will be more likely to stay customers.
All of these have one result in common—improving your bottom line. Brand awareness saves marketing dollars, while customer loyalty drastically reduces customer acquisition costs—which often include marketing, but expand beyond it as well.
Who Uses Lead Generation?
Basically all businesses use lead generation in one form or another.
Businesses use lead generation to build the base of their business and make more money. Some businesses do it to expand the scope of their impact on the world. Regardless of the reasons businesses use lead generation, successful businesses are also successful at lead generation. You don’t need a massive marketing budget to make lead-gen work for your products and services.
Even individual entrepreneurs and small businesses use lead generation successfully every day. Two specific groups use lead generation: sales and marketing.
Sales teams often procure cold leads, then reach out with cold calls or cold emails. They want to get as many leads as they can. Meanwhile, marketing teams are much more focused on customers who are likely to buy. This difference is why some companies pay hundreds or thousands of dollars per Marketing Quality Lead (MQL.)
Buying leads can provide an initial burst of influx to your sales pipeline, but it doesn’t last or generally gain steam like an organic strategy would. A proper lead generation strategy will build on itself over time, continuously bringing more prospects to your company. Think of lead generation strategy like a long lever and buying leads like a short lever.
Sure, with enough grit and input, you can boost the heavy object on the other end. With the longer lever, however, you’ll put forth way less effort for way more benefit.
It’s easier to both fill your pipeline and to close sales because the customers have been exposed to your brand numerous times before they reach a purchase-based CTA. Sure, Marketing Quality Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) can convert into customers, but they’re overall less likely to do so and you’ll pay far more per-head for their business.
Types of Lead Generation Strategies
Lead generation strategies are groups of actions that your business will employ to get new eyes on your business.
The most common types of lead generation strategies are:
This includes subjects like email marketing, social media marketing, blogging, creating whitepapers and other authority content types. Content marketing is often used as a part of a rock-solid SEO strategy, but the benefits don’t stop at the search engine. Customers are able to learn from your content, share it, and otherwise interact with your brand. Each interaction brings customers one step closer to buying your products and services.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a set of strategies that businesses use to earn better rankings on search engines such as Bing and Google Chrome. By ranking higher, businesses are able to get in front of customers with more ease. ‘Googling It’ has become a commonly used phrase. It really highlights the benefits of ranking well on Google.
Outbound advertising basically means paying others to showcase your brand with theirs.
Google Display Ads, Bing Ads, Custom Banner Ads, text ads, sponsored articles on well-known publications, and many other forms of marketing exist that fall into this category. It’s a more traditional approach than content marketing (as it currently exists.)
Even though it is older, it’s still carrying vast potential.
When you’re working to generate leads, you need to have something to offer in exchange for a user’s contact details, like an email address or phone number.
Following are some examples of the lead magnets, or value offerings that you would provide in exchange for their email address or phone number.
- Free webinar invitations
- Referral bonuses
- Quizzes on the site
- Facebook content marketing—be it videos, photos, text posts, or livestreams
- Free reports or evaluations
- Free ebook PDFs
- Free subject matter guides or workbooks
Each of these offerings can benefit a customer massively, it’s your job as a business to give them those items at just the right time. Sometimes, that’s the hardest thing to do, though.
How to Improve Lead Generation
The best way for you to improve your lead generation strategies is to optimize each lead magnet for a specific phase of the sale cycle.
The sales cycle will likely come with its own unique milestones for each customer. They will likely have nuanced needs, but when you offer content for each stage, you’re far more likely to hit customers in their real needs at any of those points, even if some might have been hit perfectly by focusing on just one area.
The lead nurturing process is simple. A customer sees your content, either identifies a need they have, or gets excited about resolving a need they already had, you collect their basic info, you help them resolve that issue, and then you retain their interest through regular interactions.
The lead generation and sales processes can be long and tedious, but they’re worthwhile when done properly. If you’d like some help with scaling your B2B sales, feel free to reach out!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to generate leads?
It varies by industry, but it’s never an instant process. It’s not uncommon for lead generation to be a process over 6 months to 2 years.
How much does lead generation generally cost?
Lead generation costs are usually calculated on a per-lead basis. In 2019, the average lead value was $198 but that has always varied wildly by industry.
Marketing Campaign CPL = $16,000 / 500 = $32
Can my business do lead generation or should we hire somebody?
Your company can do it, but you might see better results by hiring another business to manage it for you.
Can I use lead generation if I have a complex product?
Yes, you’ll be better off for having done lead gen with complex products. It’s far easier to sell them when you have a library of content that breaks them into bite-sized pieces for customers to learn.
What are lead generation metrics?
Common lead generation metrics include things like total visits, time-on-page, number of return visits, content shares, and sales inquiries.