Learn all about creating systematic lead generation campaigns and enhancing the quality of your leads using an easy-to-use web tool
Now, imagine receiving a coupon from a seller you follow on social media. How about receiving helpful tips on a subject you were recently researching? Or, maybe, a price estimate on your dream car or wedding.
As you can imagine, there is a world of difference between these scenarios.
The first will be disappointing for you and your potential customers. Marketers who reach out to their potential customers unsolicited are doomed to fail. The second will likely result in a delighted would-be or existing customer.
In marketing your business, which path will you choose?
Many lazy marketers will take the shortcut and do the first. The temptation to buy a database will be strong, but your data will not be quality leads. Ultimately, the customer will receive random calls.
If you choose the second scenario, however, then you are on the right track. You will be generating quality leads in no time!
This article will guide you in generating quality leads that help close a sale or delight an existing customer. We will also look deeply at the sales lead generation process as a core strategy for your inbound marketing efforts. Finally, we will even throw in a few pro tips for you along the way!
In the conventional sense, marketing has always been about making enough noise "out there," wherever your customers may be. In outbound lead generation strategies you create marketing programs that make your customers sit up and take notice of you.
Simply making random noises, isn't always appropriate. You get heard, but the noise doesn't necessarily result in a sale. Remember that odd phone call we mentioned earlier? Yup, both you and I hate them.
In contrast, good lead generation strategies let you draw in your customers willingly. As part of your inbound marketing efforts, and as far as the sales lead generation funnel goes, that potential customer moves further and deeper into the funnel and eventually translates to a sale.
You are better off looking at the lead generation process as a win-win strategy. You and your customer both end up winning! You get a sale and possibly some new loyal fans. Your customers, will not receive those random phone calls.
Simply put, lead generation is the process of creating consumer interest in your product and turning that interest into a sale.
If done right by your lead generation specialist, your paying customers can even become your volunteer promoters!
Not every lead you gather will be valuable. As in the case of simply buying data, that list may be a junk pile of names and contact information.
A good lead generation program should give you more desirable leads. These leads have expressed interest in your company, and your job is to convert them into paying customers. As part of the marketing or the sales team, your focus would be to nudge them along as they journey from prospect to loyal fan.
A lead may come from different sources. Did you meet your prospect at an in-person event? Was she part of your database of website users? Did he fill up an electronic or paper form requesting more information about your product? Was she referred to you by another loyal customer? These are examples of good leads.
Most companies qualify and sort their leads into different buckets. And companies will have different methodologies and terms.
For example, some sales teams use qualifiers such as hot leads and cold prospects to designate how close they are to a sale and depending on how soon someone is likely to sign.
Meanwhile, some organizations prefer the following classifications: MQL (marketing-qualified leads), SAL (sales-accepted leads), or SQL (sales-qualified leads). Let us try to learn more about each one.
A marketing-qualified lead is more than just a plain lead or prospect. These leads may not be ready to buy just yet and need some nudging from the marketing team. They may have clearly expressed their interest in your company or product at an event you attended. They can also hold a job title relevant to you. For example, that lead may be the head of the IT department if you represent a company selling anti-virus software.
Sales-accepted leads are leads that are being transferred by the marketing team to the sales team and which the sales team has the option to accept or reject. As part of the handoff process between marketing and sales, both teams should agree that the lead is ready to be contacted by someone from the sales team.
It is critical that both sales and marketing accept that the lead is a viable potential customer since each may be looking at a different set of indicators. For example, the prospect may score highly for the marketing team because of its social media interactions. Meanwhile, the sales team may look at something else, such as the industry or job title of that person. Ultimately, leads that marketing has passed on will be further validated by the sales team.
Sales-qualified leads are also ready to be contacted by a representative of the sales team. However, they have shown a definite interest in the product you offer. At this point, your sales team will aim to convert that prospect to a paying customer.
The differences between MQLs, SALs, and SQLs can be subtle. All three classifications intend to describe a prospective customer. The main difference lies in how far along the sales lead generation funnel each group is and which team is responsible for handling them.
As a small business owner, you probably don’t have dedicated teams. For one-person marketing and sales teams, the classification above helps you get into the right mindset. And helps you understand who en when you need to nurture, and when you need to sell.
Sales and marketing teams within an organization can approach the lead scoring process differently. The process and criteria can also differ between two different companies.
As mentioned earlier, for example, the marketing team may put more weight on a lead's social media engagement. On the other hand, the sales team may be looking at the lead's company financials to assess whether a company can afford its product. They may rank companies with several branches higher or base their score on the representative's job title.
Whichever system a company adopts, the important takeaway is not to treat all leads equally. Some prospects will be better than others.
To guide you in scoring your leads, Lumen Marketing advocates the concept of BANT, which is an acronym for four simple lead criteria: budget, authority, need, and timing.
Budget: Can the company afford your product? It may prove futile to sell expensive marketing automation software to a small business, for instance.
Authority: Is the person you are about to contact a decision-maker? You may be wasting your time with a person completely unrelated to the product you are selling. (Nevertheless, treat everyone you meet at that company with respect!)
Need: Does the company require your product? Does your product fulfill a need for them? Frame your product presentation so that it answers their most basic needs.
Timing: Is the need immediate? Otherwise, you can move on to the next company for now. It does not necessarily disqualify a proper lead. It simply means you will continue nurturing that lead and work on others for the moment.
In a previous section, we touched on the sales lead generation funnel. Using the sales funnel effectively, we can determine where the customer is in his journey towards being our paying customer.
From another vantage point, however, we can view the journey differently. The customer starts as a stranger and slowly morphs into a visitor, a lead, a paying customer, and ideally, a promoter or fan.
As a marketing and sales team, and within the context of the customer journey, we move from one stage to the other organically: attracting, converting, closing, and eventually delighting the customer. Notice how different this approach is as opposed to starting with a cold call!
It is during the early stages of the relationship that the lead generation process happens.
Hopefully, you are convinced that the time of cold-calling prospects about your offerings is the wrong way to go.
These days you can attract potential customers with engaging social media content, an intuitive website, and helpful content. There are more ways, of course. Recall how we used to call potential prospects to gain feedback. We even answered all their inquiries with a phone call!
However, with the decline of direct communications using land-based phones (with VOIP phone systems customers can reach you using various methods including smartphone apps), you now need other ways to reach and persuade your customers. Even having a website is no longer sufficient. You will now need a strategy for all your website visitors!
A lead generation strategy (even multiple strategies) is crucial in your inbound marketing efforts. By attracting your prospects and raising their interest level, you can convert them into paying customers.
Try to recreate the last time you made a big-ticket purchase, like a car. Here are the possible steps you may have taken:
You discuss with someone (a partner, a friend, your parents, etc.) your need for a bigger car and your requirements.
Then, you start googling for SUVs on your phone or laptop. Possibly, you already have a brand preference and start looking at a specific brand.
After finding a car dealer, you click on its website link and browse through some available models. You find one you like and schedule a test drive.
After the test drive, you decide you want to buy the car and seal the deal.
The buying process is hardly ever this linear! It is especially true for more expensive purchases like a car. There will be plenty of back-and-forths before you settle on a final purchase. But, hopefully, you get the picture.
To understand how the lead generation process works, imagine this same linear buying process from a car dealer’s point of view -- that is to say, its sales process:
These four steps follow the process of attracting strangers to your business, converting them into a prospect, and closing them as paying customers. By the fourth step, you are on the way to delighting loyal fans. The first three steps encapsulate how the lead generation process for the marketing and sales team may go.
As a business owner, the first two steps, especially, would be your marketing and sales teams' routinary efforts to woo potential customers. The fourth step is more appropriate for customer retention or customer service teams.
A good lead generation strategy is essential. You can convert strangers and make them your prospects. In no time, they become paying customers and even unpaid promoters of your products.
Before we dive into the lead generation process, let's first look at the components of a successful lead generation campaign. These four components should be present in every lead generation campaign:
The CTA, as the name implies, is an image, message, or button that encourages your prospect to take action. It will help guide your prospective customers and encourage them to act on the marketing message you have put out through different channels.
Pro tip: You can include your CTA everywhere your marketing message appears.
In this regard, always have a CTA on your website, blog posts, social media posts, emails, or even in offline materials such as billboards.
Your lead generation landing page is where your customers end up after responding to your CTA, and it always serves a distinct purpose.
Too often, marketers use the lead generation landing page to present their product, explain their offer, but do nothing more. Big mistake! As with all your other marketing materials, always include your CTA on your landing pages.
Remember, too, to be clear about the landing page's purpose.
What is its value to the person who ended up there? Did you want him to browse through some materials, or should he download something? Make sure to consider the landing page's purpose carefully!
Pro tip: Whichever purpose the landing page serves, the CTA that led that person to your landing page should be clear from the start. Ultimately, the landing page should accomplish the CTA's promise.
You have already captured your prospect's attention through a proper CTA and led him to your landing page. Now comes the tricky part that's easy to mess up - your lead generation form.
Forms are a series of fields that a prospect needs to fill up or answer to get to the CTA's promise. Arguably, the form is the core component of your lead generation campaign, and perfecting your form's design will make or break the campaign.
Too often, a marketer can get greedy and ask for more information than the business requires. Did you need to know whether a person owns or rents his home, or if they still live with their parents? How about requiring someone to provide confidential information on their employees' backgrounds?
Your form should always be a balance between asking too little and asking too much information.
Pro tip: If the form is too long or asks impertinent questions, the person answering it might lose interest. On the other hand, if you ask too little, you might end up with unusable leads.
One more thing. Make sure to design the form well. Make it easy to answer! Some are difficult to accomplish and are sure to turn off even the most enthusiastic customer.
An offer is something of value that supports your goal of convincing a landing page visitor into giving you their personal information. Different offers can serve various purposes: a piece of content or article, a downloadable e-book or file, a free trial, etc.
When designing your campaign plans, the offer needs to be valuable enough to entice landing page visitors into willingly giving you their personal information. What you come up with can also make or break your lead generation campaign.
Pro tip: To ensure the effectiveness of your offer, always align it to the goals of your landing page, and by extension, to the CTA.
Is the prospect still undecided about you and your product? Or perhaps he is already very interested but needs more convincing?
These scenarios may entail different approaches and different offers altogether. An undecided customer might benefit from a product demo or a free trial. Meanwhile, for the already-interested prospect, a newsletter or article might be better. Others, still, will respond well to a free webinar or a freebie.
Once you identify these four components for your lead generation campaign, you can start directing traffic to your landing page and begin generating leads.
In essence, the lead generation process works by getting visitor traffic to your site and convincing the visitor to share their information with you!
You may then ask - "how should I create my first lead generation campaign?" In brief, your lead generation campaign should comprise the following steps:
Start with a single offer. If you plan well, your first offer will be more than enough, and you won't need several others.
Make sure your offer fulfills the promise of your CTA and matches the contents of your landing page. And remember, you can always reuse that offer in several ways!
You should have a dedicated landing page or a microsite. Directed at your target persona and your offer. The landing page should contain all the other elements of your lead generation campaign: the CTA and a form that the visitor will need to fill out in exchange for the featured offer.
Once a visitor completes your form, lead them to a thank you page to acknowledge their contribution and send them a separate thank you email whenever appropriate.
Pro tip: Resist the temptation of letting your visitors jump through hoops to get to your offer. Your offer should already be immediately available on the thank you page.
Try to send a thank you email and include new additional information when acknowledging their contribution. You may want to send a short brief of your other products, or you can consider presenting more offers, too, such as an upgrade.
With the different lead generation campaign components in place, you are now ready to promote your campaign on various platforms!
With all the components in place, a well-planned lead generation campaign should start with promoting your CTA and landing page (and highlighting your offer!) on various channels.
Identify these channels and start promoting your CTA in them. The following list is not exhaustive or in-depth, but here are a few strategies that should get you started.
Your website is your virtual real estate on the Internet, so make sure your CTA is displayed prominently on the different pages. Don't forget to align your CTA with the offer and the stage of your prospect's journey. The same goes for your regular blog posts. You can likely include a CTA for just about every blog post you make!
You and your team interact with many people: prospects, current customers, job applicants, suppliers and vendors, industry partners, and many others. Everyone likely sends out several emails daily! Why not include a CTA in each piece of email you send?
Whether during online lead generation or offline, you can always include a CTA in your press releases. Take advantage of the convenience of hyperlinks for online press releases. Offline, you can avoid having to use long Internet addresses by using shortened links and dynamic QR codes that can be reused without having to replace the whole code.
When planning and executing your pay-per-click campaigns, you will enjoy better click-through rates with a well-crafted CTA and an irresistible offer!
Using social media for lead generation is a no-brainer. However, each social media platform works slightly differently. Be sure to take advantage of a social media platform's various features in your lead generation strategies.
Facebook Facebook has evolved to favor paid advertising over regular (or free) posts. Previously, all a company had to do was post as many times each day or week in the hopes of capturing good leads. They also just needed to feature an enticing enough offer and an appropriate CTA. They may even use clickbait-type posts. Nowadays, changes in Facebook's algorithm will likely bury these regular posts.
Twitter Twitter used to have Lead Gen Cards that let you collect new leads quickly. Nowadays, Twitter is especially useful in engaging seemingly random strangers.
This platform lets you communicate with your followers in a unique non-sales-driven way. Your tweets can instead focus on brand building, piquing the interest of your followers, and building loyalty among current customers. A well-crafted tweet can engage a new prospect, reinforce the tone and personality of your brand, or even sell!
Twitter's brevity and the use of 280 characters or less make it the perfect platform to create messages on the fly. A retweeted or liked post can signal your followers' seal of approval. Even better, that seal of approval is seen easily among the followers of your followers.
LinkedIn Another platform to explore for your lead generation campaign is LinkedIn. A rich source for generating leads, especially in the B2B lead generation (business-to-business) context, business referrals from LinkedIn can be an invaluable addition to your social media efforts.
Your lead generation campaign's success will generally hinge on increasing a lead's interest in your company or products. However, you will first need to determine where they are in their customer journey and their level of interest.
Ordinarily, you generate a lead by collecting information on someone. That person would have expressed some interest in your business. And usually depends on the CTA and the offer you created to attract that person in the first place. The information you collect will vary based on these two components. Consequently, the collected data used to qualify a lead, and their level of interest, will also vary.
Here are some common scenarios that can alter the amount of information you collect and which will affect how you gauge a lead's interest:
A job seeker sending in his application A potential employee who wants to land that available job and catch the attention of your recruitment team will likely fill out an application form and share a lot of personal information.
Job history and career highlights, educational attainment, names of personal references -- these are just some of the more personal information considered typical data in an application form. However, while the data you collect may be extensive, they are probably of little or no use to your sales or marketing team!
A shopper trying to download a coupon The shopper who tries to download one of your coupons will probably not share as much information as a job applicant. They will likely hesitate to provide personal references and question why you are asking about their current salary. If you're lucky, perhaps they will share their name, email address, and phone number.
Or maybe none at all if they find your coupon worthless! Your typical shopper will assess your offer's value to them before deciding if it's worth sharing their personal information with you!
However, once they've agreed to share their information, the likelihood that they're interested in you and your products is very high!
Someone trying to download a piece of content There is a difference between the interested shopper trying to download your coupon and someone trying to access content from your website. Perhaps the latter is simply doing research and examining the options available.
In this case, you might need to get more information than just their name and email or phone number! It might be premature to conclude that the person trying to access your content - an article, an e-book, a tutorial, etc. - is interested in you or your product.
In each of the three scenarios above, and they are by no means exhaustive, the kind and amount of data or information you collect from your leads will vary. The different scenarios also highlight the fact that the information you collect will depend on your objectives. Finally, to gauge whether someone has a genuine interest in your products, you will have to gather the correct information from your leads.
Your lead generation campaign will always start with your amazing offers. However, these are not always a one-size-fits-all. The offer needs to match the stage in which your leads belong in the context of a customer's journey. You can start with just one, but you'll probably have to come up with several offers eventually.
For example, someone unfamiliar and still at the beginning of the customer journey will probably need information-packed materials to learn more about your products. Meanwhile, someone more familiar with you and needs a little prodding may benefit from a free trial. Those ready to buy, however, will appreciate the discount coupon the most!
Keep your messaging consistent and always deliver on your CTA's promise. Your call-to-action will likely appear on different platforms, so make sure they are consistent across all channels. The end goal of your campaign is not simply to capture leads but to nurture a customer! With a view towards the customer journey, you should aim to nudge that lead further along the lead generation funnel each time!
Don't fall into the trap of just leading your prospects to your homepage. To achieve consistency in your messaging, you may have to design different landing pages (and different forms!) for different CTAs.
We mentioned earlier that some businesses get greedy with their information gathering. For this group, too much is just right and probably never enough.
Having this mindset, however, can be problematic. It can result in your visitors immediately leaving the landing page (aka bouncing) or abandoning the form-filling process.
The key is to achieve a good balance between too much and too little.
For example, if your business has a physical storefront and only serves a limited area, go ahead and ask for an address from your leads. If, however, your service area is nationwide, you might forego asking for their address and opt for an email instead. At the very least, it may be a good idea to make that field optional.
Content marketing provides valuable content to your customers. However, the noise can be overwhelming these days. With each marketer trying to hawk goods to a finite set of customers, getting lost in the shuffle is easy.
Personalizing content for your customers is particularly challenging and makes it harder for you to stand out. For companies on a limited budget, however, small business lead generation and personalized content creation can be prohibitively expensive.
The answer to all this noise is to adopt a value-based marketing strategy. With this approach, you can deliver more meaningful and more personalized content to your customers. You also offer more interactivity, which tends to be more engaging and leads to higher conversion rates.
How does taking a value-based marketing approach affect your lead generation efforts? Simple. Your CTA should try to lead prospects not just to the usual content but to one that is both engaging and personalized.
In value-based marketing, interactive tools like calculators, quizzes, games, diagnostics and assessment tests, surveys and polls, infographics, videos, etc., are staples. As an improvement to static content marketing, they are often more engaging and offer better personalization. This approach works notably well in small business lead generation campaigns.
Popular opinions by leading marketers say that interactive content always outdoes and outmatches static content in many ways. What they're not advising, however, is that we disregard static content altogether, which also has its benefits. (As always, the trick is in balancing both!)
Here are some points why interactive content is superior to static content:
Interactive content is better at catching our attention than static content. It gets you more involved, too. It tends to pull you in and encourages users to share valuable information about themselves. Typical desirable behaviors associated with interactive content include answering questions, making choices, and giving preferences.
Interactive content educates your audience/customers and gives them information/answers they need or were seeking out. You can do this in long-form posts and blogs, of course, but who wants to read a long entry versus answering a few items to get to a solution? Remember what we said about waning attention spans? Yup, that, especially.
Undoubtedly, interactive content improves the experience of looking for answers. It also increases the likelihood that someone will give you their personal information to access your content!
Many interactive content tools allow you to acquire richer and more insightful data. You can then analyze the data to make conclusions about your audience.
Sure, you can ask for information from someone in exchange for giving access to your static content.
For example, you can create a long-form post (or even a video tutorial!) about cosmetics and makeup tips. Meanwhile, in contrast, you can also consider crafting a quick quiz on the same topic.
Contrasting these two types of content, you'll find that a quiz can easily give you insights on several things: brand preferences, ethnicity, skin tone, age bracket, etc.! The information you gather will be invaluable in making conclusions about your audience!
Let's take a closer look and find out why some interactive lead generation tools used in value-based marketing are particularly effective.
Love them or hate them, this popular, fun, sometimes silly tool is very effective at gathering information. Remember the makeup tutorial example we mentioned earlier? You can then use the information you gathered in that quiz to target an unwitting customer.
"What kind of pizza are you?" Then, try substituting the word "pizza" with the word "lover," "plant," "bed," "friend," "Swiftie fan," "90s song," etc. Seemingly silly quizzes like these, when done well and aimed at the right audience, can garner marketers tons of information about the quiz taker.
Sometimes, the more nonsensical the outcome, the more likely a person will share the results on social media. In turn, this action generates even more leads.
Alternatively, you can develop a less silly-sounding quiz - "how security conscious are you" or "how well do you know Google" - and accomplish the same results!
Surveys and polls, too, are a great way to generate leads. Soliciting opinions and feedback from the right audience can give you valuable information about your company or products.
People generally like to express themselves. If done right and sometimes paired with the right incentive, a survey is a quick way to get tons of data. Polls, meanwhile, are more useful when trying to capture data on a single point quickly and painlessly.
Marketers have long used giveaways and contests as a tried-and-tested method to engage their audience, build a mailing list, increase loyalty, or promote a brand. The tactic can address a variety of objectives and can even address sales-related problems like low sales.
We left calculators for last, and for good reasons!
Just like the other lead generation tools, lead gen calculators are very efficient and cost-effective for gathering leads. Inherently, though, lead gen calculators have a distinct advantage over the other tools: they can directly and handily answer the most complicated but frequently asked questions:
There is a lot to love about calculators being your go-to lead generation tool. It should be an indispensable part of your marketing arsenal. In brief, here are other advantages that highlight its superiority over other interactive tools:
Quizzes are entertaining, but they sometimes border on the silly. Unlike calculators, they don't necessarily provide a solution to a particular problem. Calculators, meanwhile, actually solve a specific problem. In this way, they go beyond providing an engaging experience by providing both value and assistance.
Because it solves a prospect's specific pain point, a calculator ably nudges that prospect closer to being your customer or deeper into the sales funnel. In this regard, it outdoes many other tools because it's applicable at practically any stage of a customer's journey. (Although, in most instances, many marketers prefer to use it towards the middle or the bottom of the sales funnel.)
Calculators can provide prospects and visitors instant answers to nagging questions. Instant gratification is not unique to calculators. However, its ability to provide answers and solutions sets it apart from static content or even interactive content like quizzes, surveys, and polls.
Introverts, rejoice! Have you ever felt irritated at being followed around by a store salesperson? The experience that an interactive calculator provides would be the exact opposite! It appears that the self-service format is sometimes preferred by other people, especially at the beginning of their search for answers.
Remember when we said that a quiz on makeup and cosmetics gives you better insights into the quiz taker's preferences, especially when contrasted with a static, long-form post?
Let's look at another example.
Now, imagine a family trying to finalize their house renovation project budget. Again, you can draw up an interactive quiz and gain some insights. You'll probably end up learning about their preferences: wood vs. metal, modern vs. traditional, shabby chic vs. high-end finishings, etc.
An interactive calculator can give you this and more! You can learn how many square meters of floor coverings they need, the materials they prefer, the budget they have, and so on. In turn, they receive a project budget estimate that they can increase or decrease by changing some preferences!
The simple calculator has addressed a pain point - knowing one's budget for a project. In return, you now have a clearer picture of your potential client - the family's budget, detailed specifications like their home's floor area, material preferences, and other pertinent information - a qualified sales lead!
Can you hear the cash register ringing?
A well-built calculator exists to answer specific questions. The tool focuses on answering questions and offering solutions that can help build trust and transparency, resulting in a strong relationship with a brand.
We already know that visitors who spend more time on your pages impact your search engine ranking. Intrinsically, calculators increase this engagement period, and customers end up spending more time on your page. It decreases your visitor bounce rates, too, resulting in better onsite SEO.
When your visitors, users, and prospects find your calculator useful, Google and other search engines know this, too. These engines perceive your page to be "useful" to your visitors and will reward you accordingly!
You can take silly or even "serious" quizzes repeatedly. You can also watch tutorial videos on repeat or read long-form content several times. But that's about it for these materials and tools.
Meanwhile, here's another unique advantage for calculators. They are so dynamic that they are essentially marketing campaigns without an expiry date. You can use them repeatedly at different times. At each time, they remain relevant because they will ideally address another purpose on each visit!
In your journey to generate leads, you will meet different types of lead generation software. These can be difficult to implement, however. In contrast, we must point out that getting started with your calculator is absolutely easier, whether your focus is B2B lead generation strategies or B2C strategies.
ConvertCalculator is a versatile calculator form builder for your website with many use-cases that can automate and grow your business. We offer a DIY drag-and-drop form builder that you can embed on any platform or landing page. You can even create an entire landing page with ConvertCalculator!
Have a particular calculator type in mind? The sky is the limit. Our calculator form builder allows you any number of questions you need. With our copy-paste method, you can integrate the calculator on any website. We even have custom embed methods for several popular website platforms.