Quality, qualified leads are oxygen to any growing business. Without them a company might survive through repeat business and referrals, sure – but if you want growth, your business needs a sustainable (and ideally predictable) flow of qualified leads entering the business each and every month.
But how do you get businesses and individuals contacting you out of interest in your product or service?
It can seem elusive to businesses that have never had that kind of relationship with their market before and many are led to believe that the best way to surmount this challenge is to buy leads.
Although quicker, buying in leads is often a false economy. The leads that you buy will not know who you are and will therefore not understand the value that you offer because there’s no relationship.
So while on the one hand you may have these “leads” to contact, your rate of conversion is likely to be very low – also, if you’re contacting people cold, you won’t be endearing your brand to them – more likely you’ll annoy them – clearly not a bright growth strategy!
What is a Lead?
It’s a bit of a simple question but one that needs a clear answer to help us appreciate this process on a deeper level. Is a lead a phone number? An email address?
A lead is not just an email address or phone number that you have access to.
A lead is someone who has expressed an interest in what you do and wants to hear from you. They’ve voluntarily provided you with their contact details – an indication of interest – in exchange for something of value (we’ll get to this shortly).
For sustainable and long term growth, putting the effort into setting up systems that yield warm, qualified leads is a much better strategy than buying leads and making unwelcome approaches.
Yes, it will take testing and time – but generating leads in this manner will mean higher conversions and ongoing growth – so it’s an exercise that is surely worth the effort.
There are many different tactics to generate leads but we will go deep into a content driven approach. So whether you’re just starting out looking at ways to generate leads for your business, or if you are already getting some leads in but want to increase your numbers, answering the following five questions (which form a helpful framework) will help you in your mission:
– The Foundation Question
– The Persona Question
– The Value Question
– The Distribution Question
– The Measurement Question
Ready? Then let’s dive in!
The Foundation Question
This question asks:
“Do you have the foundation in place to generate a sustainable flow of leads?”
So what do I mean by foundation?
Your website is your main hub of activity. It needs to be optimised in the sense that there should be a main objective and sub objective built into the design of it.
For example, for an e-commerce business, the main objective could be: get a sale.
The sub objective could be: collect an email address.
For a B2B business, the main objective could be: get an enquiry.
The sub objective could be: visit the blog page.
Knowing what the objectives are means that you can affect the flow of traffic with how your web pages are structured, linked and what the calls to action are.
Also, in your analytics, you can set up goals that make it abundantly clear as to how your website is performing and where needs optimising.
Once your website is in the best shape possible, then you want to ensure that the content that you’re producing at the top and middle of the funnel is relevant to your audience and providing good value.
Conversions will tend to come in at the bottom of the funnel – but that is only really likely to happen if the rest of the content in your funnel is of a high quality and optimised.
More and more nowadays, especially in the B2B space, people won’t just stumble across you and immediately make an enquiry. There needs to be a relationship built – over time – and your content is the point of contact that most of the market will have with you.
Having said that, it’s well worth checking out this study by our friends at Straight North about 10 ways you can increase your chances of converting a first time visitor.
Top of the funnel content helps to generate awareness. Consider using social media activity, blogs and explainer videos here.
Middle of the funnel content helps the user to further their knowledge about the products you sell or the services that you provide – they’re considering their options here. Content like case studies, white papers and e-books are powerful assets at this stage.
Next we want to consider the actual collection of leads. A proven practice of lead generation is the creation of specific landing pages for specific offers. A landing page is a one page “mini-site” with a very clear objective – to convert.
You may have an e-book on offer via a landing page that you’re driving traffic to. You need to ensure that your headline, copy, images (or video) and call to action are all clear, powerful and relevant to the offer.
Then you have your form. This is the mechanics of data capture. A form can be as simple as a field for just an email address or you can have several that will gather information such as:
The fewer the fields – on average – the more people are likely to complete them. However, you need to balance this with the quality of data that you’re getting.
We tend to be in the camp that says the more info someone is willing to give us, the more they are qualifying themselves as being interested in our company. If someone isn’t prepared to spend 60 seconds typing their company name, job title and provided you with their business (not personal) email address, how interested do you think they really are?
We believe that fewer, but higher quality leads are better than a high volume of low quality ones.
The choice is yours – as ever, experiment, test and measure and see what works for you.
The Persona Question
This question asks:
Who do you want to attract into becoming leads? (Please, do not say “anybody”!)
This comes back to your buyer persona (you do have one, right? No?! Ok, click here, quick!)
Knowing who you want to attract is fundamental to lead generation. This is so you can craft content and messaging that appeals to them and offers them genuine value.
Because really, that’s the underlying point in lead generation – prove your worth upfront – show what you can do before they buy. Gain their trust and respect and they’ll be much more likely to be drawn to you – this is the underpinning principle of content marketing (aka inbound marketing).
If you don’t know who you want to attract then you’ll create generic content that won’t offer any value to anyone. Your call to actions will be weak and your messaging won’t just miss the target, it’ll miss the entire board!
Get clear on who you are targeting and why, build your persona and get specific in the areas just mentioned.
The Value Question
This question asks:
What are you offering of value to your audience that will compel them to want to give you their contact details?
Hopefully at this stage you understand the utter importance of the Persona Question. Part of creating your persona will be understanding what their challenges are – providing you with the perfect catalyst in creating content that is meaningful and valuable to them.
If, for example, your persona struggles with keeping on top of tasks throughout their day or feeling overwhelmed, you could choose a theme of time management and create a series of content that covers this subject.
Start with a blog post and scale up to something more ambitious (what we call a “content upgrade”).
For example, a blog post could be “5 Ways to Manage Your Time To Ensure You Complete Your To-Do List, Everyday”.
Then you can follow this up with a downloadable “Time Management Kit” – it could include templates, a video, step by step guides etc. i.e. something that carries a lot of value to them by helping them solve a particular problem.
The idea is to create and give value that makes it a no-brainer for them to exchange their details for it.
Another way to figure out what kind of content is in demand is to use a data driven approach. Here’s a quick guide to digging into available data using Google’s Adword Keyword Planner:
OK, so now we know how to create value for our audience that will attract our persona – next, we need to talk about distribution!
The Distribution Question
This question asks:
How do we get our content in front of the audience that we’re targeting?
OK so now we have our foundations for lead generation in place, we know who we are targeting and we know we can offer genuine value….so how do we go about getting our content in front of those who matter?
This comes down to knowing your audience.
Where are they? What channels are they on?
Of course, this is highly contextual. Managing directors of finance firms and teenage girls have different habits online and you have to go where they are with your offer.
It’s worth considering putting a budget behind PPC on various social channels (especially Facebook – the targeting and audience options on offer is excellent) and promoting posts that advertise your offer.
The aim is for your audience to be interested by the offer, click the link and visit your landing page to be converted.
As with many marketing activities, to get results, you will need to be patient, test and measure. It’s an idea to a/b split test elements such as copy on your posts and calls to action – as well as who and how you target.
Start small with your spend, find out what works and when you strike oil, scale up!
The Measurement Question
This question asks:
How do we measure the success of our efforts?
This question is super important because if you don’t know how to measure success, you won’t know what to do less of, what to change and when to scale up!
I’m a believer that in marketing, if you can’t measure it, you shouldn’t do it. Fortunately, modern day marketing techniques allow for easy measuring, which makes number geeks like me very happy!
First of all, let’s not conflate metrics, KPIs or return on investment. It seems to happen a lot and this disconnect and misunderstanding of the terms can really harm your efforts. So, to be clear:
Metrics are things we can measure accurately.
KPIs are how we measure success.
Return on investment (ROI) is the financial return that we can attribute to these efforts.
In terms of your lead generation efforts, your KPI will be how many leads you gather in a single campaign. Tracking metrics will help you to adjust your approach, so keep an eye on numbers relating to:
– Landing page conversion rate
– Traffic on landing page
– PPC click rate (CTR)
– Ad spend
– Cost per lead (CPL) (the number of leads generated in a campaign compared to total spend on that campaign.)
It’s important to think of your metrics as data that informs you what you need to do next. For example, if you’re getting a lot of traffic to your landing page, but no leads, it will indicate that your landing page needs optimising. So you can split test headlines, calls to actions etc.
If you’re getting very little traffic, then you’ll need to look at the copy and calls to action on your ads/promoted posts – as well as zooming out and considering if the channel you’re on is the right one.
It’s common for things to start slowly when generating leads. But this is where a lot of people will give up – or make excuses (my favourite one is “marketing just doesn’t work”…..WTF, really?!).
When things don’t work, it doesn’t mean that they will always not work – it just means it needs fixing…and it’s your job to fix it!
I know, this is a long post and setting up a system for lead generation is not easy – maybe you find it intimidating because of all of the work involved. But remember that your efforts – if you persist – will pay dividends in the long run.
Here’s a recap of the questions:
The Foundation Question – Do you have the foundation in place to generate a sustainable flow of leads?
The Persona Question – Who do you want to attract into becoming leads?
The Value Question – What are you offering of value to your audience that will compel them to want to give you their contact details?
The Distribution Question – How do we get our content in front of the audience that we’re targeting?
The Measurement Question – How do we measure the success of our efforts?
Good luck in your lead gen efforts and let me know if you have any questions! (firstname.lastname@example.org)