January 11, 2022

What is Lead Generation?

Most companies today are already aware of the importance that rests upon lead generation, but only some of them actually know where to begin the process. If you are new to the business of lead generation, then it might be helpful for you to first check out what this process actually is before trying to understand how it can help your business.

But before going on a deep dive, let's first tackle this "lead."

What is a Lead?

A lead is any prospect, an individual or organization who has shown some level of interest in a company's product or service. Leads usually hear from a business or organization once they've given some information about themselves. This information usually involves a name, contact details, company name, position in the company, and location.

Leads are part of a broader lifecycle that consumers take part in transitioning from a visitor to customer. Not all leads are created equally, nor are they all qualified the same. Leads are qualified into different types based on their qualifications and where they are in the lifecycle stage.

Different Types of Leads

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)

MQLs are those who have given promotional information to a company due to the efforts of your marketing team but aren't ready to receive a sales call yet. This can be a person who filled out a landing page form for something that you're offering.

Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)

SQLs are those who have taken visible steps that indicate their interest in becoming paying customers. This can be someone who filled out a form to ask questions regarding your product or service. Usually, a sales team will get in touch with these leads to explain more details about your product or service.

Product Qualified Leads (PQL)

Those who have already used a product and demonstrated interest in becoming a paying customer are classified as PQLs. They are usually for companies who provide a free trial or a limited version of their product with options to get an upgrade. This can be your existing customer who's currently using a free version of your product and asked about the features that are only available to the paid version.

Service Qualified Lead (SQL)

SQLs are customers who have taken steps to your service team that shows interest in becoming a paying customer. This can be someone who has requested a quote from your service representative for an upgrade for their existing plans or subscription. The service representative will then coordinate with the sales representative or team to hand off this customer.

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process of attracting people who may be potentially interested in your business and getting in contact with them to further communicate, with the end goal of converting them into a customer or a client.

Lead generation is the first step that a business will take into building a customer base. What establishes an individual's interest in your business is knowing who you are and what you offer. By generating leads, companies can use easier tactics in marketing to reach more people and establish a larger customer base.

Types of lead generation

There are several ways to generate leads. But what's important is to have a distinction between inbound and outbound lead generation.

Inbound Lead Generation

Inbound lead generation is the process where the prospect is the one who initiates the interaction with your business. Most often, this strategy focuses on attracting new customers through relevant and useful content, also known as content marketing. This type of marketing relies heavily on creating a great customer experience with a website, a company's product or service.

Generating inbound leads is the result of building trust, being helpful, and establishing expertise in your industry. What you're looking to do in this strategy is to give your prospects the information and resources to help them find a solution for their needs. Trends show that more and more consumers are spending time online researching before purchasing, making inbound initiatives an effective strategy to deliver qualified leads into your business.

The common types of inbound lead generation process are:

  • blogs
  • social media posts
  • newsletters
  • videos
  • guides or e-books
  • pillar pages
  • press releases
  • infographics

These are all great ways to establish your credibility and authority in the industry and drive inbound leads.

Outbound Lead Generation

Outbound lead generation is the process where a business or a company is the one who initiates the interaction with your prospect. What you're trying to do in this strategy is to get your prospect's attention by any means necessary and motivate them to take action.

What differentiates outbound from inbound is that the former relies heavily on interrupting your target audience in different ways, while the latter focuses on providing valuable content and building trust with your prospects over time

Some outbound lead generation options are:

  • social media ads
  • paid search ads
  • cold email
  • cold calls
  • prints ads
  • radio ads
  • TV ads
  • direct mail

Every option has its pros and cons, so it's just a matter of knowing your target audience and finding the most effective way to reach them.

What is the Importance of Lead Generation to Businesses?

Achieving a 100% success rate of converting leads to customers is always close to impossible. What effective lead generation strategies can do for a company is to help them in acquiring and sustaining customers by:

Increasing Brand Awareness

Companies need to let their target audience know about who they are and what services or products they offer. What generating leads do is help the company create awareness of their brand, product, or service in the industry.

Targeting the Right People

Generating leads will allow the company to focus their resources on targeting the appropriate audience. What they can do is increase marketing efforts of campaigns that are more relevant and effective by excluding people, who might not be interested in what they're offering.

Get Valuable Data

What a business can do with their generated leads is to get valuable information about who their prospects are, what they're looking for, and where they're coming from. What you will want to do with this data is ensure that you keep track of your target audience's interests and engagement levels. This data will help you in building a marketing strategy that will work best for your company in the long term.

Increasing Sales

An effective lead generation strategy gives you a way to connect with prospects on a personal level so you can demonstrate your brand's value proposition and establish trust over time. What this does is help the business achieve more sales because they have been able to nurture their leads from awareness up to conversion.

Lead Generation Strategies

Depending on what type of lead you're trying to use, there are various strategies you can implement in order to generate more quality leads.

Below are some of the most popular lead generation strategies:

Inbound Lead Generation Strategies

The usual inbound lead generation strategies involve promotional channels that can attract potential customers. Depending on the niche of a company, the sources of inbound leads will vary.

Content Marketing

Around 80% of B2B companies are actively using content marketing for their lead generation. What content marketing does is help companies build an audience and generate exposure for their brand as well as authority in the industry. This gives businesses opportunities to establish thought leadership which will allow them to connect with prospects on a personal level so they can demonstrate the value of their product or service.

The type of content being produced will always depend on your goals as a company and the persona of your buyers. Some examples of content you can create as a startup are:

  • Blog articles: Creating good quality blog articles and content offers useful information and insight to your target audience. It also creates trust and allows you to build credibility and good rapport with your customers. This is actually one of the best opportunities to generate business leads, as it lures people to your page and website.
  • Video tutorials: In most cases, people perceive information better through watching videos. So creating video tutorials can allow you to showcase your product or service, how it works, and its benefits. This can also be a video format of the content that you've already written on your blog articles.
  • Ebooks: Ebooks give prospects valuable education on a particular topic which will help them solve a problem they have at hand. This is also an effective tool in nurturing your leads because it helps you present your product or service that will suit their needs.

Social Media Marketing

About 66% of marketers generate their leads from social media. The reason for this is that social media platforms offer a different type of platform where you can target your ideal audience and engage them in conversations. There's also the possibility to use paid ads on these sites as well, so it will allow businesses to generate more traffic and leads with their campaigns.

Social media marketing helps companies distribute content that they've created and it also allows them to establish their brand on various social channels. So what businesses need to do is choose a platform that's relevant to their target market and then create engaging posts that will catch attention. This way, you're able to establish an audience base for your products and services on a larger scale.

Some of the popular social media platforms for businesses are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Around 59% of B2B marketers believe that SEO has the biggest impact for companies in doing lead generation. This is simply because whenever someone tries to look for products, services, or just solutions to their problems, what you want to appear first on their results pages is your website.

By ranking your website on the search engine, you'll be able to draw leads who are genuinely interested in your product or service. Social media and SEO both go hand in hand because they both require good content to rank higher on search engines, specifically Google.

Outbound Lead Generation Strategies

As outbound leads are those who haven't taken a voluntary interest in what you're offering, they can be harder to convert. But with the use of the right targeting and personalization, you'll be able to get their attention and interest.

Some examples of outbound lead generation strategies that companies use are:

PPC Advertising

PPC advertising is technically being used to enhance inbound marketing, and this paid lead generation technique can also deliver a great number of sales to your company.

It allows a business to place ads across the web, which appear on search engine results pages and other websites. So whenever someone searches for keywords that are related to your products or services, your ads will appear first before organic search results.

While it does draw traffic from various sources, this type of campaign can be expensive to manage if you're just starting. So you should plan your PPC campaigns carefully so you can monitor their performance and set it up properly.

Content Syndication

This is a great way to increase your brand's visibility across various channels. By repurposing and distributing your content, you'll be able to create authority and trust on the web because people will know that you're the source of information.

While this is considered to be an inbound strategy, you can still use content syndication for your outbound strategies. This is simply by making your published works, guides, or any content as the conversation starter when you're trying to engage with a potential lead.

Cold Outreach

This method involves contacting potential leads over the phone or email, who might be interested in what you're offering. This presupposes that you already performed lead sourcing, which involves finding potential leads.

The traditional way of doing lead sourcing is by visiting a marketing or sales event, but nowadays, companies search for contacts from various sources with the use of lead generation tools.

The key to getting them interested in your company is to get their contact information so you can engage with them later on after you've done some research about their needs and wants. This method might be considered invasive at first, but it's very effective when managed properly.

Lead Generation Tools

Many companies nowadays invest in lead generation tools to help them increase their conversion rates while saving them time and resources when it comes to sourcing for potential leads. So instead of doing manual lead generation, you can invest in tools that will help you automate your marketing efforts.

There are plenty of lead generation tools that you can try, but five of the most popular ones are:

  1. Email lookup tools
  2. Email outreach tools
  3. Marketing and sales automation tools/CRMs
  4. Communication tools
  5. Advertising tools

Lead Generation Techniques

Whether you're using inbound or outbound lead generation techniques, it's important to understand what makes great content that people would want to engage and share. This way, you can create something that converts into sales and draws more leads.

But since we're talking about generating business leads, here are some strategies that will help turn traffic into conversions:

Clickable CTA

Having a landing page that is pleasing to the eyes is always a must when it comes to lead gen, but you should always make sure that your CTA is extra compelling. Your CTA's text and color should be able to capture a prospect's attention and inspire them to click on it.

Make your Website Mobile-Optimized

The majority of the searches being done on the internet today are with the use of mobile phones. So it's really a no-brainer that your website, including all of its content, should be well readable when being viewed on a mobile device. This is also one of the most common practices when it comes to SEO.

It should be user-friendly and mobile-optimized so your potential leads won't have a hard time navigating through your web pages, thus having a better engagement in general.

Don't Sleep on Email Marketing

With all the different techniques and strategies that businesses can utilize, email marketing is still considered to be one of the best choices for the business. So make sure that you use this as an advantage—by making it part of your lead generation efforts.

Create a Referral Program

Up to this day, word of mouth is still one of the most effective types of marketing. People believe what other people say about a company, even if they're just ordinary consumers. So making your current customers advocates for your brand is something that you should consider as part of your sales and lead generation strategies.

You can also give your clients an option to share referral links that will bring you new target leads while giving them a small incentive in return.

Be Consistent

Another important thing that you should do is to be consistent with the efforts you're giving in your lead generation campaign. You may also want to start by focusing on one platform first, before distributing them across other channels. This way, you can easily manage and track the growth of conversions.

Once you've gained their interest or trust, you can build your relationship with them, by asking for their feedback or opinions about the products and services that you're offering. By building a good rapport, they will be more willing to engage in business opportunities with you.

Combine Lead Generation Strategies

No one size fits all when it comes to lead generation. So instead of focusing on one strategy alone, you should mix and match different techniques that can help you capture more leads.

Inbound and outbound marketing can both be used in generating business opportunities for your company. But regardless of what strategy you're trying to use, the goal here is to drive more conversions and increase revenue.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it—a comprehensive explanation of what lead generation is and how it can help your business grow. Whether you're new to the game or not, understanding how lead generation works and making use of these techniques will surely benefit both you and your company in different ways.

So, what are you waiting for? Start generating business leads now!

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