Attracting leads into your business is like being a scientist who experiments with chemicals to achieve a specific result.
A marketer goes through the same steps that a scientist does.
Observe, question, hypothesize, experiment, and analyze.
Every little detail is carefully examined to achieve a process that effectively attracts prospects to your business.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. Each business is unique; therefore, the lead generation process can differ from one business to another.
Most marketers are obsessed with attracting more high-quality prospects into their funnel.
61% of marketers believe that lead generation is their biggest challenge.
“Keep your sales pipeline full by prospecting continuously. Always have more people to see than you have time to see them.”Brian Tracy. Source: Inspiring Quotes
Keeping your sales pipeline full with prospects lined up is the key to continuous growth. Fortunately, you can capture as many leads as you want and automate the lead nurturing process with marketing automation software like Encharge.
We’ll cover the specific process and methods to acquiring leads, so you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to snag prospects away from your competitors. Let’s begin!
What is lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of generating interest in your company’s brand using inbound or outbound marketing strategies.
And a lead is someone who shows interest in your company’s brand, product, or service.
There are four types of leads, and they tell you where they are in the sales funnel.
- Marketing qualified lead (MQL): MQLs have responded to your marketing efforts by giving their email in exchange for a lead magnet. These leads haven’t yet made contact with your sales team.
- Sales qualified lead (SQL): SQLs shows interest in purchasing by booking an appointment or product demo. These leads are much warmer and ready to buy.
- Product qualified lead (PQL): Product qualified lead will demonstrate an interest in a particular product by signing up for a free trial, using features, and so on. They may have already tried your product on the free trial and are now ready to purchase a long-term contract or subscription.
- Service qualified lead: Service qualified leads are existing customers who have already used your product or service but are contacting your sales team about purchasing an upsell such as a premium membership.
Below is an example of an inbound lead generation process:
- A visitor lands on your website or landing page.
- They give you their contact info in exchange for something of high perceived value in return.
- The prospect is nurtured in your funnel and eventually shows interest to purchase by hopping on a sales call.
- The prospect becomes a customer.
Why do you need lead generation?
Lead generation is like starting a conversation with someone. Customers don’t simply land on your website and buy immediately. In fact, only 4% of traffic visitors that land on your website are ready to buy.
Leads are humans just like you. They need time to understand your business and decide whether they trust you or not. Lead generation aims to build awareness for your brand and ultimately generate new customers.
However, the process can be systemized and even automated so that eventually, the marketing system brings in new leads daily.
As a result, these leads are nurtured in your funnel and converted into customers. Think of the entire process like a well-oiled machine designed to attract, nurture and convert customers.
Here are a few examples of lead generation strategies that can bring predictable leads:
- Blog posts and service pages that rank for specific keywords to generate traffic
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator prospecting combined with an effective targeted cold email to generate product demos
- Facebook ads that target consumers and get them to opt-in to your lead magnet
“If you can predict the rate at which you qualified pipeline, and you know your average close rate, then you can start predicting your revenue.”Aaron Ross. Source: Inspiring Quotes
Difference between inbound lead generation vs. outbound lead generation
When determining your lead generation strategy, you’ll first need to separate between inbound vs. outbound lead strategies.
Inbound lead generation is when your prospects come to you, while outboard lead generation is when you directly reach out to prospects.
So what are some examples of inbound and outbound lead generation strategies?
Inbound: content marketing, search engine optimization
Outbound: cold calling, cold emailing, social media messaging, and advertising,
According to one stat, inbound leads are 61% cheaper than outbound leads.
So which should you choose? It comes down to your budget, strengths, and industry. Content marketing can cost less unless you outsource your content marketing or SEO to an agency. However, ranking for keywords will take more expertise and time.
Outbound marketing typically requires more human resources and money since you’ll hire salespeople to prospect or run ads to find new leads continually. However, the results can be much quicker.
The industry and the type of the business can also dictate your strategy. B2C companies with low customer value wouldn’t likely do cold outreach to find clients. Instead, they’ll build out their content and ad campaigns to attract new customers.
But, a new digital agency with no clients may start by contacting businesses directly to land their first few retainer clients. As they grow, they may build a personal brand and adopt more inbound marketing strategies.
Further reading: Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing: which one to use in 2022?
Steps for crafting the perfect lead generation process
Now that you know the basics of lead generation, you’re ready to
1. Identify your market —get clear on your customer
Attracting the right leads into your funnel requires a good understanding of your marketplace.
That means understanding your niche and who you’re looking to target.
Not everyone will resonate with your message or offer. That’s because everyone has different desires and fears. An eCommerce agency owner has other desires and fears than a middle-aged parent looking to improve their health.
For your lead generation campaign to be highly effective, you’ll need to be specific and targeted in your approach.
For example, if you send pitches to B2B clients, you’ll want to target specific job titles and industries that match your ideal client.
The first step to identifying your market is doing niche research. With niche research, the goal is to understand your target audience so that you can craft a message that resonates with them.
A niche is a specific group of people with a strong commonality, such as a profession or people with similar hobbies or interests.
Ever heard of the phrase, “the riches are in the niches?” Tapping into a niche market with unmet needs allows you to swoop and be their savior.
Here’s an example of niches:
- A compliance consultant who helps investment advisers to stay compliant with the SEC
- An accountant specifically for law firms
- A digital marketing agency for dentists
- Encharge is a sales-focused marketing automation tool for digital businesses (primarily SaaS companies, agencies, content creators, subscription businesses, and productized services)
Keyword research is an effective way to find crucial information about your audience. Keyword tools help find what keywords your niche is searching for on Google.
Some keyword tools you can use are:
- Google Trends
- Google Keyword Planner
- KW Finder
Once you’ve entered different keywords into the keyword tool, it’ll recommend a list of keywords and give you statistics such as the volume, competitive score (the difficulty in ranking for that specific keyword), cost-per-click (how much advertisers are bidding to get their ad shown).
If I type in “marketing automation” on a keyword research tool, it’ll give me different ideas on the top search terms related to your query. Additionally, it’ll tell you how many searches that term is getting per month and how difficult it is to rank for them.
You can also search the term, and Google will provide some suggestions of other top related keyword phrases and questions people ask.
By identifying keywords, you’re figuring out what your audience wants. People go on google to fix their problems. Essentially, you are tapping into their fears and desires.
Of course, there are other ways to discover what your audience wants.
- Read posts and scroll through questions on forums like Quora
- Hang out in competitor’s community boards
- Join Facebook groups where people of common interest hangout
The key is to learn as much information as you can about your audience:
- Where do they hang out?
- What is their biggest problem?
- What are they currently doing to fix that problem?
- How are competitors doing to try to solve that problem?
- What is your audience’s desired outcome?
- What does your audience hate about the current solutions in the market?
The more you can learn about their demographics and psychographics, the better. As a result, you’ll determine what message you need in your lead generation strategy and which methods best suit your audience.
2. Determine your lead generation strategy
A lead generation strategy is a strategy that attracts prospective customers to your business in hopes that they purchase in the future.
Your lead generation will vary depending on your expertise and where your customers hang out online. For example, you can find B2B prospects on LinkedIn.
Here’s an overview of the different forms of lead generation strategies and how it connects with the entire process.
Businesses that focus on blogging are 13 times more likely to see a positive ROI. The type of content marketing will vary depending on the business.
- SaaS companies could focus on SEO optimization through blogging.
- Digital creators might be better off using YouTube, podcasts, or other social platforms.
- Agencies can leverage both social platforms and blogging. For instance, they can use LinkedIn and blogging to attract leads.
Now that you’ve already done your niche research, you can begin producing optimized blog content that can rank on Google. The idea is to bring as much organic traffic as possible.
You can even use off-site strategies like guest posting to get more visitors to your website. Guest posting creates backlinks (inbound links) to your site. Higher quality links will help you rank higher, thus receiving more traffic.
FutureFuel.io is a platform that helps employers to retain talent by helping employees pay off student loan debt and develop better financial habits. They’ve quickly grown their traffic through the use of blogging and receiving backlinks.
Advertisements are an effective method to target a specific group of people directly and get them to take immediate action. They disrupt the user’s attention; therefore, the ad must be extraordinarily engaging and propose something of high-perceived value to the prospect.
PPC ads on Google are like organic SEO posts, except you can simply pay for your page to appear at the top of the search results. In contrast, social media ads like Facebook allow you to target individuals by demographics such as age, location, interests, etc.
For example, SEMRush is a keyword research software that helps people find keyword phrases to rank for. They ran Facebook ads to a particular case study to demonstrate how their software can help local small businesses.
Rather than using a direct opt-in, they’ve decided to send traffic to their blog, including podcast episodes. Although it may sound counter-intuitive not to collect emails right away, they are using the podcast to nurture their leads for them.
The campaign uses a catchy video ad explicitly targeted to small business owners. Thus, this niche will feel more compelled to click on the ad. Furthermore, it’s aligned with the buyer’s journey since it’s designed for top-of-funnel leads who still need to gain SEO and keyword research awareness.
Drift is a software that helps improve top-line revenue by offering plug-and-play features like adding AI-powered chatbots and even offering live-video chats to prospects.
They used a specific case study ad to discuss how a customer achieved a mind-blowing result with their software. Rather than telling people why your software is great, it’s better to tell a story about how someone else used your software to increase their sales. This makes the ad less salesy and gets the customer curious about how that customer achieved the result.
Direct outreach can come in many forms, such as social media messaging, cold email outreach, or even cold calls.
Generally, it’s better to reach out to customers once they are familiar with your brand.
For example, you can directly message a prospect who you’ve noticed comments on your social media blog posts. In this case, you’re much more likely to receive a better response.
Cold email outreach can work well too. It’s best to research each prospect and mention how you can help them with their specific problems. Direct outreach is best suited for selling enterprise plans or high-ticket offers that require more trust-building and personalization to get a sale.
Here are some cold emailing templates you could use to gain more leads.
This cold email approach requires you to know that your prospect already uses a competitor’s product. You can sell them on your solution by mentioning the key differentiator between you and your competitor. It’s an excellent way to pique their interest and get them on a product demo.
Direct outreach doesn’t have to be used on the prospect. You may send cold emails to pitch a company on guest posting or content collaboration. Also, you could even pitch influencers to help market your product.
In this example, you are pitching content ideas to blogs that receive a lot of visitors to their site. In the marketing niche, it could be blogs like Social Media Examiner, Copy Blogger, and Business Insider.
Perhaps, you could offer to create specialized infographics for them in exchange for links to your site. As a result, you’d be getting inbound traffic from a high-authority site, which helps you o rank higher and gives you more traffic.
3. Determine how to capture leads
Lead magnets should be enticing enough to incentivize prospects to give out their email address. In fact, 84% of marketers utilize form submissions to generate leads.
Typically, you’ll create a lead nurturing funnel to send them an email sequence. This sequence is designed to take the prospect from their current level of interest to paying customers.
Some leads are warmer than others. So it’s essential to distinguish how close your prospect is to buying from you.
Here are some great lead magnet ideas for SaaS companies, agencies, and creators:
Webinars are live or pre-recorded presentations by experts who can educate and sell prospects on their product or service. Webinars are an excellent way to sell to many people at one time. Furthermore, it can have a group effect where when one person asks a question or has an objection, you can answer it for everyone to hear.
SmartAdvocate is software that helps law firms manage their cases through a cloud server and helps them create documentation. They have a webinar that they invite prospects to attend, where an expert will discuss how the software can make their life easier and solve their problems.
Free trials give users access to your product or service for a limited time. Sometimes companies may restrict certain access to their product, such as only providing the essential features to the product. This means the prospect has to upgrade to enjoy its full features.
Monday.com uses a free-trial method on all subscription models up to the Pro level. Saas companies generally use free trials to get users to test their product in hopes they’ll continue once the trial period ends.
Onboarding sequences typically follow Free-trial campaigns to get the customer acclimated to their software.
Evernote sends out five emails (one per day) to provide tips on effectively using their software and gaining the most value out of it.
eBooks are a mini-guide that educates users about the problem or solution. It should position you as the authority so that you’re able to establish trust with the prospect.
Some software tools use traditional lead magnets such as eBooks. Salesforce offers a free eBook to educate customers on choosing the right CRM. They specifically qualify their leads by asking for additional information such as job title, phone number, and number of employees. This ensures they are only receiving high-quality leads in their funnel. Not to mention, they get more buy-in from their customers once they’ve gone through an entire lead nurturing sequence.
There are countless forms of lead magnets. We recommend doing research on lead magnets that your competitors are offering. Opt-in to their lead magnets and see how you can provide resources that are more enticing and deliver more value.
4. Nurture leads
Once your lead has opted into your funnel, it’s time to nurture them. Essentially lead nurturing is the process of navigating your prospect throughout the buyer’s journey and converting them into a customer.
Email is the easiest way to nurture your leads. Lead nurturing works by sending various campaigns to bring your prospects down the customer journey.
Here are a few campaigns you can add to your email sequence:
- Welcome campaign — Designed to introduce yourself and set expectations for what the prospect can hope to gain moving forward.
- Educational campaign — Educate prospects about their problem and the solution out there for that specific problem.
- Follow-up email — Follow-up on prospects who haven’t yet made a purchase
For example, Ship 30 for 30 is a business that offers a writer’s cohort program, and they are continually educating subscribers on the value of SEO. This email is laid out similarly to a mini blog post to help dispel the myths of SEO. This email helps to establish trust and build authority.
Snov.io is a tool that allows you to find B2B prospects to outreach to them directly. They send an offer email about their full-fledged prospecting service to handle all of the outreach and follow-up activities for you. Here’s an offer email that they sent to me to book a demo with them.
Keep in mind that every email series should flow from one to the next. Let’s create a hypothetical email sequence to help illustrate the point:
- Send a welcome email introducing yourself and outline future emails so they don’t miss out.
- Highlight the mistakes your audience is making and clarify their problem to them.
- Talk about how potential solutions.
- Make your offer and position your solution as the best option in the market because of X, Y, and Z.
- Provide proof that your product or service is effective through case studies, testimonials, trial offers, a sneak peek, or an insider’s look.
- Give your prospect a final chance to purchase.
5. Qualify your leads
Not everyone is a good fit for your business. Perhaps they don’t have the budget to afford your product or services or aren’t a decision-maker.
At every step of the funnel, you should disqualify any potential prospects that wouldn’t be a great fit for your services.
Ironically, disqualifying leads actually increases engagement with interested prospects.
Here are a few ideas to disqualify leads:
- Limit the number of clients you’ll take on at a time.
- Provide a real scarcity or time limit.
- Require all leads to fill out a form prior to the call asking them about their business, budget, goals, etc.
- Explain to your prospects who your product is for and who it isn’t for.
Think of each disqualifier as a test for your prospects. Prospects who genuinely want your product will jump over the hoop and pass the test. The disqualifier can give them an extra push to make a decision. Conversely, a colder lead may need more time, or perhaps they’re not the right fit.
Weeding out the bad leads will save your sales team time on the phone and prevent them from having to follow up with them, especially if they’re not showing much interest.
Use lead scoring for lead qualification
While nurturing your leads, you want to analyze each prospect’s sales readiness. Fortunately, Encharge can help you automatically do this with lead scoring.
Lead scoring is a numerical point system that scores your leads based on their behaviors.
Further reading: What Is Lad Scoring?
Here are a few lead scoring examples:
- A prospect who books a call with your sales team for a product demo receives +5 points.
- A prospect who downloads your free lead magnet checklist gets a +1 point.
- A prospect who didn’t open any of your emails in the sequence gets -2 points.
The higher the score of your prospect, the more likely they are looking to buy. Lead scoring lets you find the hot prospects and close them as soon as possible!
With Encharge, you can set up your own scoring system that makes sense for your funnel.
Once you’ve created assigned behaviors into your lead scoring system, these prospects can be segmented properly.
For example, hot leads may be contacted sooner or sent into a new email sequence so that the sales team can close these ready-to-buy prospects. Conversely, cold leads can be sent into a retargeting campaign to nurture further and engage the prospect.
6. Leverage case studies and referral programs
Assuming some of your leads have made a purchase, what next?
Your goal is to continuously improve the customer experience to help your clients achieve their desired results. This will help you leverage their satisfaction to attract more leads.
How to use client success to get more leads
Google or Youtube search “lead generation strategies” or “how to get more leads,” and you’ll find dozens of tactics.
However, the best lead generation strategy for the long term is word of mouth. That’s because if your product delivers on your promises, your customers will tell their friends and spread the word for you.
You could have the best lead generation hacks in the world; however, if your product or service fails to deliver or provides subpar results, your brand image will suffer. Soon, bad reviews will circulate, and your lead generation methods will no longer be effective.
So assuming you’ve got a world-class product or service that customers get amazing results with, how do you leverage their success for more customers?
Use case studies and testimonials!
At Encharge, we share the results of successful companies who’ve used our marketing automation tools to make dramatic transformations in their business.
Like Encharge, Codeless also offers a library of case studies for prospects to review. If a lead lands on the case study page, it’s a good opportunity to run retargeting ads to them or have an email opt-in to capture the visitor as a lead.
Case studies demonstrate how effective your product or service is. Each case study should clearly explain:
- A brief backstory of the company
- Their struggles or where they were before using your product or service
- How your product or service helped them
- The result they’ve achieved as a direct result of your product or service
Customer testimonials and customer interviews are also great ways to prove that your product works.
Billy Willson is a digital marketing agency owner and course creator who leverages client success stories and packages them into long-form interviews. It’s much more powerful for a prospect to hear about a real customer’s experience from the client’s perspective rather than an owner or salesperson.
Build a Referral Program
Any business can benefit from creating a referral program. Loyal customers who enjoy using your product can be rewarded by getting other people also to use your product or service.
In fact, referrals usually make better customers. That’s because the prospect has a relationship with the person who referred them. This means by association, the prospect will trust you as well.
One study even found that referred customers have a 16% higher customer lifetime value than customers acquired by other marketing channels.
Not to mention, acquiring referred customers virtually doesn’t require any acquisition cost. The only cost is the rewards that you’re giving out.
Here are two examples of SaaS companies that use referrals.
Airbnb gives out $25 for customers who refer others to download and use their platform. Also, Airtable out $10 in credits for referrals.
Ideally, you want to determine a desirable reward to your customers that don’t exceed your acquisition cost or average customer lifetime value; otherwise, you’d be losing money.
Start Generating Leads Today
Lead generation is a never-ending game. Think of lead generation as a magnet to suck prospects into your business. The stronger your magnet is, the more high-quality leads you’ll attract.
Once you find the lead generation strategy that works for your business, double down on it. Use tools like Encharge to charge up your lead generation campaign. Our tool can help you qualify and nurture leads on autopilot. Best part? Enchaarge seamlessly integrates with CRMs like Salesforce and Hubspot so you can automate lead generation, nurturing, and sales process.
Sign up for a free 14-day trial with Encharge and build your marketing automation system today!