What is a Lead Generation Campaign? The 10-Step Process and the 5 Best Strategies
Lead generation campaigns are the reason behind most businesses’ success these days. Companies, big and small, implement lead generation processes daily to expand their business and reach their revenue goals.
But understanding the mechanics behind lead generation campaigns can take time. There are so many lead generation types and strategies that it becomes easy to fall into analysis paralysis before you even start. If you are interested in running your own lead generation campaign but aren’t sure where to begin, this article is perfect for you!
First, we’ll break down the different types of lead generation campaigns, then take you through the 10-step process that will get you off the ground and running. Finally, we’ll wrap it up with some of the best lead generation strategies you can incorporate into your company’s daily routine.
What is a Lead Generation Campaign?
A lead generation campaign is a process used to capture, engage, and nurture prospects with the intent of converting them into customers.
Lead generation campaigns strive to educate, persuade, and remind consumers about your products or services. Through lead generation campaigns, prospects are moved through the sales pipeline till a purchasing decision is made. While the definition is pretty straightforward, there are several different types and strategies that we’ll define and dissect in this article.
What are the Different Types of Lead Generation Campaigns?
There are three main types of lead generation campaigns that help us classify the strategies we use: inbound, outbound, and referral. By understanding how these different types of lead generation campaigns are implemented to convert prospects into purchasers, you can start to pinpoint the strategies that will be the best fit for your pipeline.
Inbound Lead Generation
Inbound lead generation is the process of attracting leads to your brand through content. When a lead initiates contact with your company, we call that an inbound lead.
Take your website, for example, the sole purpose it serves is to educate visitors, drive interest, and, you guessed it, capture leads. If you have a website, you already have the start of a great inbound lead generation campaign.
In fact, in most cases, a company’s website is its primary source of inbound lead generation because it houses the majority of content needed to run these types of campaigns, such as blog posts, landing pages, and contact forms.
Lead magnets are also very useful in attracting inbound leads and should be a top priority as you build or optimize your website. Any material you’re willing to give away in return for an email or demographic information may be a lead magnet. For example, you could host a free coaching webinar or offer a downloadable template in exchange for emails and phone numbers. (We’ll go over landing pages and lead magnets in more detail later.)
Search engine optimization (SEO) also plays a vital role in inbound lead generation as it helps prospects find you through keyword queries on search engines like Google or Bing. By focusing on SEO content, you can attract more organic traffic and significantly reduce your cost per conversion on leads.
Outbound Lead Generation
As you might have imagined, outbound lead generation is on the opposite spectrum of inbound. Outbound lead generation campaigns involve direct outreach to ideal prospects who have not shown awareness or interest in the product or service being offered. Sales channels such as email, LinkedIn direct messaging, and phone calls are the most common methods used to generate outbound leads.
Most B2B companies rely on outbound lead generation campaigns to establish and scale their pipeline because the sales cycle is shorter compared to inbound tactics.
It’s important to note that outbound lead generation campaigns involving mass blast email outreach and telemarketing are no longer cost-effective and tend to push prospects away. Instead, we recommend following an account-based marketing (ABM) approach using buyer intent data to target the right leads. For our clients, we focus on the technographic and psychographic data linked to their ideal prospects, and in doing so, we have up to quadrupled scheduled appointments.
Referral Lead Generation
Marketing is a great way to increase sales, but it’s expensive. So what do businesses do when they want their sales to grow without paying a hefty fee? They encourage their customers to become brand advocates.
Referral lead generation is the process of driving brand awareness through the word-of-mouth of previous or current clients. While excellent customer service can foster a completely hands-off referral pipeline, companies generally offer an incentive to boost results. Discounts and bill credits are some of the most popular referral perks.
Prospects are rarely pioneers. People want the peace of mind that comes from speaking with or reading about someone who has already tried and achieved success through your product or service. While you should never solely rely on just one lead generation campaign type, referrals are an excellent way to build up your pipeline as you rev up your revenue engine.
The 10-Step Process of Lead Generation
Lead generation is a complex and lengthy process, but by following these 10 basic steps, you can start generating leads in no time.
1. Establish Your Goals and Objectives
The first step in establishing an efficient lead generation campaign is identifying your objectives. Your objectives should align with your overall company goals. So, if your company’s goal is to increase revenue by 10% by the end of Q4, then a good lead generation objective would be to increase sales-qualified leads by 30% in six months.
By setting objectives upfront, you can better determine the lead generation campaign types and strategies you want to pursue to meet your goals.
2. Research Your Target Audience
Next, you’ll want to undertake some audience research. Analyzing keyword queries for your target market is an easy first step when collecting data on your target marketing. Free tools such as Google Keyword Planner can help you get the ball rolling. You can also use Google’s search engine to discover related search terms by typing in some of the most popular keywords on your list.
Additionally, you’ll want to dive into your current clients’ data to uncover similarities that will help you narrow in on the perfect prospects. However, taking the data at face value might steer you in the wrong direction. Consider conducting customer interviews so you can dig deeper into the psychology behind their purchase. In doing so, you’ll be able to write killer content that adds tons of value throughout the buyer’s journey.
3. Select Your Lead Generation Tools
Now here comes a tricky part: select your lead generation tools.
The most popular lead generation tool categories include advertisement, communication, marketing and sales automation, and lead databases.
The choices you make here will depend entirely on the type of lead generation campaigns you will be running. Inbound campaigns will need communication as well as marketing and sales automation tools. You’ll find several all-in-one platforms as you search around, but be sure the functionality and features align with your strategy. Otherwise, you might be overpaying for your software. For outbound campaigns, you’ll require everything you need for inbound, plus a lead database. Your team will use the database to pinpoint the right prospects and curate a lead list. Advertising tools may be needed for either campaign type but are not required.
While you might be tempted to maintain a lean lead gen toolset, keep in mind that the more manual processes your team has to perform, the more time it will take to build your pipeline. If you are concerned about cost, consider outsourcing some or all of your tasks to a lead generation expert. You will not only reduce your expense but also reduce your workload.
4. Plan Your Content
Now that you have finished the first three parts, it’s time to plan your content.
Your lead generation campaign’s goals should align with the content you publish. Use the keyword research from step two to build a content calendar that speaks to your target audience.
When planning content for your website, SEO must be taken into account. SEO is like a lead generation magnet that brings in potential customers. It increases the chances of your content sticking to the top of a Google search engine results page (SERP) and attracting your target market to your site. Consider how important and relevant your material will be to your intended audience. To help your article rank better in search engines, use keywords throughout but don’t stuff them to the point that you’re word-vomiting all over the page.
In addition to planning publications, you’ll also want to schedule social media posts and email marketing campaigns. By developing cohesive content throughout your marketing channels, you’ll simultaneously build up your brand’s awareness and authority.
5. Create Attractive And Compelling Content
How many times have you come across an advertisement that was so funny that you unintentionally didn’t click the skip button or so intrigued that you yearned to know what’s next?
That was because of the simple yet powerful tricks used by those who created the content. You must follow in their footsteps without copying their work by creating your own take on the concept.
Ensure that the information speaks to your audience to make your content worth clicking on. This is where those client interviews come in handy. What kind of problems were your customers facing before being introduced to your products or services? How did your solution transform their lives? Take special care to mimic the words your clients use to describe their unique situations. More often than not, prospects similar to your customers will use similar phrases.
While aesthetics are important in content creation, you won’t generate leads if the message doesn’t align with your target audience. So strike a balance between attractive and compelling to deliver the best experience for your viewers and readers.
6. Promote Your Content or Offers
Once you have created your content, you must promote it through paid or organic campaigns. Paid is usually faster, but organic will be your best bet if you are low on budget.
You have a lot of options here: social media, influencers, advertising, trade shows, email marketing, and affiliate programs. The great thing is you can recycle content for each promotion type — you just have to repackage it. For instance, a blog post on your site might be repurposed into an infographic or a template, or even a webinar. The sky’s the limit.
But one of the most underrated promotion channels is email. With an ROI between $36 to $42 for every dollar spent, email marketing is just something you shouldn’t pass up. You can build up a subscriber list by promoting a weekly or monthly newsletter, and you can send out outbound emails to ideal prospects. As long as you are focused on creating compelling content, you’ll start to see leads flowing through your funnel.
7. Test the Components of Your Lead Generation Campaign
Unfortunately, your lead generation campaigns will most likely underperform in the beginning, especially if you’re new to the game. That’s why we marketers test, test, and test again. Aspects such as email subject lines, headlines, copy, CTAs, page design, and ad targeting are all up for grabs when it comes to campaign testing.
These types of lead gen experiments are called split testing, also known as A/B testing, which compares the effectiveness of different marketing aspects in converting prospects into leads.
It’s crucial to test since it increases the efficiency of your lead generating activities. Make sure your lead generation tools provide the analytics you need to validate your tests. Without the right metrics, you’ll be flying blind when trying to optimize your campaigns.
8. Nurture the Leads
Rarely do leads convert after their first encounter. It takes at least seven touchpoints to receive a response and at least five follow-ups to finally land a meeting. But surprisingly, 65% of companies don’t engage in lead nurturing activities. So, if you want to push past your competition, every lead that enters your funnel must be nurtured.
Leads that are just warming up can easily be pacified with an automated lead generation campaign; however, once a lead is sales-ready, all outreach should be personalized by the sales executive.
And again, you have an opportunity here to recycle your content. Think about the different stages of the buyer’s journey — awareness, consideration, and decision — and how your content could nurture your leads during that phase. As you softly nudge prospects in the right direction, you will be recognized as a top contender just by being the brand that was there when they needed you the most.
9. Perform Lead Scoring
Lead scoring helps your marketing and sales team focus on the decision-makers most likely to convert to paying customers. When scoring leads, focus on characteristics such as fit, behavior, and the purchase stage to maximize your company’s time and resources.
Terms such as marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), sales-qualified leads (SQLs), and sales-accepted leads (SALs) are used to identify where prospects are in the pipeline. Some teams use a numerical value generated through a lead management software to score a lead’s sales-readiness. In the beginning, it may be easier to use a naming convention, but as your sales cycle becomes more complex, consider adding more qualification metrics to your lead scoring system.
10. Analyze and Optimize Your Campaign
You will need to analyze your split tests weekly and make changes to your campaigns based on the data. Be cautious not to optimize based on one specific metric. While a higher open rate is generally a good sign that your subject line is working, a subsequent increase in unsubscribes means leads consider the line spammy.
Analyzing on a schedule will ensure that you never miss an opportunity to optimize. An underperforming lead gen campaign can drain your budget and dry up your pipeline. If you find that your improvements are incremental, run a completely different campaign as a test to see if you can make more meaningful advancements in your lead generation metrics.
What are Some of the Best Lead Generation Campaign Strategies?
There are numerous lead generation strategies, some of which we touch on in the 10-step process. Here, we’ll take a closer look at these and some other common lead generation strategies suitable for your business.
Website and Blog SEO
Your website and blog will be the origin of the majority of your lead generation strategies. So, you’ll want to continuously focus on making your website user-friendly and adding SEO content to your blog. Both of which will help you improve your visibility on search engines like Google and increase your domain authority over time.
Optimizing your website and blog is a long-term lead generation strategy. It may take months to start seeing results. But as your ranking improves, the organic leads you earn will more than pay for themselves.
Inbound and Outbound Email Marketing
Inbound and outbound email marketing are pull and push strategies (respectively), in which the former requires you to attract your potential buyers while the latter works to expose your potential clients without them showing interest initially.
B2B companies should run both inbound and outbound email campaigns. Your team can build a subscriber list through newsletters that provide valuable content to your target audience. Lead magnets and land pages, which we’ll discuss next, are also great ways to capture emails for inbound campaigns. Outbound email marketing requires a database of contact information collected through manual research and third-party providers. Sales representatives then reach out to those prospects to introduce the solution, peak interest, and initiate discovery calls.
As we mentioned, both inbound and outbound emails will require marketing automation tools to launch, monitor, and manage campaigns; however, you will most likely need different platforms for each type.
Campaign-Specific Landing Pages with Lead Magnets
A landing page is a one-page site used as a marketing asset to capture leads. A well-designed land page will be free of distractions, easy to navigate, and convey one compelling and concise message.
A lead magnet is a free resource such as an ebook, template, or webinar given in exchange for contact information. Landing pages and lead magnets often go hand-in-hand. The perceived value of the lead magnet must be equivalent to the perceived value of the information you are requesting, or the exchange will not take place.
Because brands with at least 15 landing pages obtain 55% more conversions than those with 1-10, we recommend creating campaign-specific landing pages and lead magnets to diversify your offer and maximize your lead gen success.
Social Media Marketing
All social media platforms offer free and paid ways to market your brand. The hard part is choosing the right channel. When it comes to social media marketing, select your strategy based on your ideal prospect, not your preferred platform. By considering your target audience demographics, you can narrow in on two to three channels that hold the majority of your market.
Once you settle on the platform, look for social media management tools that will make it easy to schedule posts in advance. Repackage your content to fit the purpose of the platform. For example, if you are publishing on Instagram, tell a story through photos or videos, but if you are posting on LinkedIn, add context through well-written copy.
Outsource Lead Generation Processes
Outsourcing is also an option that is generally more cost-effective than handling lead generation in-house. This is because early-stage pipeline processes like prospecting and vetting leads are time intensive, stealing up to 50% of your team’s working hours. Additionally, lead generation is resource intensive. Tools alone can cost tens to hundreds of thousands a year, especially for outbound strategies.
Our clients save an average of 65% annually when outsourcing their lead generation processes after factoring in labor, overhead, and software expenses. Through our sales executives, our clients are also able to stop hunting and start closing deals which shortens their sales cycle and helps to reduce customer acquisition costs.
How to Measure the Success of Your Lead Generation Campaigns
When it comes down to it, achieving lead generation success is the main reason we’re here. The only way you’ll know if you and your team are going in the right direction is to measure your campaign results.
The most obvious metric you’ll want to assess is the conversion rate, but it’s not the only indication of success. Keep in mind that converting the right customer is more important than the conversion itself. A low cost per lead isn’t worth it if your retention rate suffers. Pay attention to other metrics like your cost per acquisition and the lifetime value of a customer. Taking the time to deeper into these details could mean the difference between barely surviving or sustainably thriving.