LinkedIn. Facebook. Google Ads. Cold Email. Social media. Inbox invasion.
I’m kidding on the last one (but it can be effective when done right).
There are plenty of options to get leads for your businesses nowadays. So how do you know which one to use?
There are many different methods, but there’s no set rule as to which process will work best for your company. It depends on what kind of service or product you provide, who your target customer base is, and your budget.
Whether you’re just getting started in your job as a marketer or you’re trying out a new marketing channel, it can be challenging to figure out what works best because the online world is constantly evolving.
The key to successful lead generation is sticking to marketing basics (because human psychology hardly changes) and staying up-to-date on any changes that might affect your industry.
Balance these two things, and you’ll never fall behind in the game of pipeline building.
With this guide, we aim to give you the foundations of a successful lead generation strategy. We’ll cover the basics like what a lead is, what exactly is lead generation, and how to implement it in your organization.
If you are looking for advanced lead generation techniques and strategies, we also got you covered with links to in-depth guides on the topics.
Let’s jump in and start with the basics.
What is a lead?
Leads represent potential customers who may be interested in your product or service.
Many businesses make the mistake of marketing to everyone when they should really be focusing on a targeted demographic.
Because not all leads will turn into a customer, it’s essential that you know how to weed out tire-kicker leads so your team can focus and nurture the best-fit ones.
Different types of leads
Marketing Qualified Lead
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) are leads engaged with your brand and shown interest in your product.
Whenever a qualified lead provides you with their email address and checks the box to receive your brand’s newsletters or lead magnets, this is an indication that they are eager to learn more about your product or service.
Sales Qualified Lead
Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) have taken an active interest in your offer and have been qualified by the sales department through a discovery/sales call or another medium.
This is the group of people who contacted you via email or phone to learn more about your product or service offering. SQLs probe deeper into the specifics of your offer than simply considering your product in a general way.
Product Qualified Lead
A Product Qualified Lead (PQL) has used your product or service during a free trial or demo. This kind of lead has engaged with your product in one way or another.
For example, these people signed up for a free trial of your course to see if it’s what they need. PQLs try out your product because they see some value. They might consider a purchase in the near future.
Want to learn more about the different types of leads and how to qualify them? Read our post on the topic: What is a Lead? How to Qualify and Generate Leads
What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is the process of attracting prospects and converting them to become customers.
It’s not a one-size-fits-all process. In order to attract new customers, your marketing efforts must be targeted and directed at those who are most likely to be interested in your products and services.
Why you should do Lead Generation
It’s not only about ensuring the survival of your business but also about taking advantage of growth opportunities.
When looking at lead generation from the outside, one might be tempted to think that the focus is purely on ensuring a steady flow of profits while maintaining financial stability.
However, lead generation spans beyond that. Listed below are a few more compelling reasons to engage in lead generation:
Build your business
Lead generation allows you to find more customers, build relationships with potential clients, and retain existing ones by building up trust over time — all while increasing brand awareness for a lower cost than most advertising options on the market today.
Keep up with the competition
To be ahead of your competitors, you must be in the know of the latest trends. And guess what, leads are your best source of competitor intel.
Leads can share knowledge about what is going on in the industry. Talk to them, and you’ll see how to capture growth opportunities in your field.
Make your brand more visible
As a business person, you want to find the best ways to connect with your customers and get them on board. Making a list of contacts is the key to spreading the word about your product.
When you build a targeted list of leads to market your product or service, you’re not only able to gain more visibility but also increase your chances of acquiring customers.
The different types of lead generation strategies
Lead generation is a tricky and vital part of any business. It can be difficult to find leads, but once you crack the code and make it work, your sales could skyrocket.
There are many different strategies for generating these precious assets. Some options include reaching out to people who don’t have a clue about your product. Then, there’s engaging in paid ads that instantly capture the interest of cold leads. Don’t forget the classic LinkedIn messaging.
To decide on a lead gen strategy, get to know the various types of lead generation strategies.
Inbound vs. Outbound
Lead generation can be divided into two types: inbound and outbound.
Inbound lead generation involves attracting prospects interested in your brand, whether it’s on your social media account page, email, or a brand website. As long as you’re making the leads inquire about your business first, that’s inbound marketing.
Examples of inbound lead generation strategies are:
- Web optimization
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
In contrast, outbound lead generation occurs when you actively generate new demand for the product or service you are marketing. Typically, the marketing team will contact and connect with people using a more direct sales approach.
Examples of outbound lead generation strategies include:
- Cold calling or emailing
- PPC or paid ads
- Asking for recommendations and referrals
Each marketer or business has a preference, but in truth, both inbound and outbound have a place in your marketing plan.
Business to Business vs. Business to Client (B2B vs. B2C)
When reaching out to potential customers, it’s important to consider whether you’re targeting B2B or B2C. The approaches for these are different.
The B2B acronym stands for business-to-business. Here, a business eyes other businesses and companies as potential customers.
Lead generation for B2C, on the other hand, refers to business-to-client relationships. This refers to businesses that target individuals as prospects.
Besides their targets, these two techniques also differ in the following aspects:
B2B lead generation focuses on building connections and trust with other businesses. Dealing with B2B means dealing with a group of decision-makers from whom you must get all approvals.
Lead generation for B2C focuses on gathering leads within a highly competitive market of individual consumers. This is because you are dealing with individual people targeted by numerous brands like yours.
Compared to the consumer market, the B2B sector is much larger and more complex. This means that when you’re looking to get purchases from an organization, it’ll take time for them to get to know your brand.
Therefore, if you’re targeting B2B, your content must be informative and relevant to the lead business.
For B2C, your lead generation content should be tailored according to the buyer’s journey stage. And it needs B2C marketing automation to level up during the purchase stage to entice the customer further.
Companies looking into B2B lead generation should consider that businesses like theirs take time to research and decide before reaching a purchasing choice for their organization.
In B2C sales, many of the processes are straightforward and quick since you’re dealing with an individual only. This makes it easier because you acquire leads quicker than if they were going through a long approval process with higher costs associated with them, as is the case in B2B transactions.
In summary, here’s a comparison.
|Market approach||Sophisticated since you deal with a group of decision-makers.||Straightforward since you’re appealing to individuals|
|Content strategies||Often complex. You’d have to consider the different priorities of all the decision-makers.||Specific and direct, depending on the buyer persona and customer’s journey|
|Cycle time||Long (months to years)||Shorter (Hours to days or weeks)|
Paid vs. organic
Paid advertising is another way to get new leads for your business. It involves setting a monetary budget in exchange for views, impressions, or leads.
Paid lead generation includes pay-per-click (PPC), LinkedIn Ads, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and other display advertisements so you can target specific demographics on certain platforms.
On the other hand, organic lead generation involves generating leads using unpaid channels. It could be through website SEO, profile optimization, or organic social media marketing.
Each lead generation strategy has its own set of pros and cons depending on what kind of content you want to create for your audience. There are several different types of lead-generating strategies, and it is important to know the strengths and weaknesses that each one has.
Further reading: B2B vs B2C Marketing — What’s the difference?
Setting up your lead generation for maximum ROI
1. Define your goals
Before you begin your lead-generating campaign, set your goals and your objectives for each. Here are a few reasons why business people want to attract leads:
- Increasing sales
- Information gathering
- Prospect development
- Establishing trust
- Promoting product awareness
- Building your brand
- Finding a new customer segment
Setting a goal will help you become more strategic and give your campaign direction.
2. Describe your leads
The ideal customer profile (ICP) lays out in detail who your most profitable clients are. Get to know your leads.
Where do they hang out the most? How do they make decisions? How do they interact best? Who do you want to attract? Who do you want to repel? How do you capture their attention?
The more you know your ideal targets, the more you can craft an effective plan.
3. Identify the right strategy
Setting up your lead generation for maximum ROI means choosing a lead generating strategy that is best for your business.
As it turns out, the marketer’s job is not just about directly selling products or services. It goes beyond that and becomes a much more holistic process of understanding the business environment in order to be successful at setting up campaigns to see which is the best approach to capture these leads.
To get more chances of winning, use the platforms they’re already using. Use the creative medium that they respond to best. Pattern your approach to their personality to ease into them and build trust.
3. Qualifying and scoring your leads
Lead scoring is the primary method that salespeople use to qualify leads. This process measures how qualified potential customers seem based upon different criteria such as their age or income level.
Your marketing team uses lead scoring to determine if the person they are contacting is worth pushing further through the sales funnel.
4. Nurturing your leads
Lead nurturing involves establishing relationships with buyers. It creates trust and rapport between marketing and potential clients over time.
Nurtured leads are those people who could become active consumers if engaged appropriately.
Consequently, you should always strive to understand what your prospects are looking for, segment your leads, and deliver content that will ultimately lead to them purchasing a product or participating in your call to action.
5. Measure and optimize
Measuring lead generation efforts ensures that you have a clear understanding of the metrics behind customer acquisition. This lets you improve them in future marketing campaigns and also helps you keep up with industry patterns and trends.
After following all the steps needed to set up your campaign, it is best to do various lead generation optimization strategies to maximize your return on investment.
Don’t stop at capturing the leads
Lead generation is a necessary and important part of your business. Maintaining a steady stream of new prospects is one way for your organization to grow and succeed. But without the right type of nurturing, they’ll just slip away.
Use marketing automation tools like Encharge to drive more leads and convert them into customers. With Encharge, you can segment your prospects by their behaviors and see how they interact with the website, what types of content they prefer, and more — all from one place.
This is a great way to better understand and provide personalized experiences across the whole customer journey.
Boost the success of your lead generation efforts with Encharge, start a 14-day free trial today.