What is Lead Generation? Scale Your Company’s Sales with Strategies that Convert
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie
Generate leads for your company can be downright discouraging at times. You can go weeks or months without gaining a single prospect, making you feel like the market is rejecting you.
But by better understanding what lead generation is and the strategies used to win prospects and influence purchasers, you can successfully grow your business despite past setbacks.
In this article, we’ll help you prepare a firm foundation for your lead gen processes, and brainstorm some new ideas to try out for your next campaign.
What is lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of attracting and engaging with prospects that match your company’s ideal client profile with the intent to nurture the lead into a customer. It involves creating content that is relevant to the needs of your target audience and then promoting and sharing that content in a way that encourages people to visit your site or jump on a discovery call to learn more about your offer.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any company’s marketing strategy because it’s how you drive prospects into your sales pipeline.
There are many strategies for generating leads, but here are just a few examples to get you started: blog posts, email campaigns, webinars, and social media marketing.
What is a lead generation strategy?
A lead generation strategy is an inbound or outbound outreach plan that your sales and marketing teams implement to drive awareness and consideration of your company’s solution. While many lead generation strategies focus on attracting new prospects, re-targeting and upsell strategies can be implemented to increase recurring revenue.
Some common inbound lead generation methods include using social media, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and paid advertising.
Outbound strategies focus on multi-channel campaigns through emails, phone calls, and platforms like LinkedIn.
While each lead generation strategy has its own unique monetary and resource costs, the benefits far outweigh the expenses.
What are the benefits of lead generation?
Perhaps the most important benefits are that it can help you build brand awareness, expand your customer base, and boost your ROI. In other words, lead generation is the best way to increase your market share and scale your company.
Another key benefit of lead generation is that it enables you to gather valuable information about potential customers. This information can be used to create targeted marketing campaigns as well as continuously refine your strategies for higher conversion rates.
How to generate leads for your business? Some strategies for lead generation
Generating leads for your business can be challenging in the beginning. Still, as you, and your AI tools, learn from each campaign, your processes become seasoned like a well-maintained cast-iron skillet. But if you want to get your prospects to slide through the sales cycle without getting stuck, you’ll need to cook up several inbound and outbound strategies to properly prep your processes.
One strategy is to identify your target audience and create marketing campaigns based on the challenges most commonly experienced by those individuals. You can also implement more than just one strategy in order to create qualified leads and land new customers for your business.
If you don’t know your target audience, it can feel as if you’re looking for a black cat in a dark alley. Instead of wandering around in the ebony abyss, take time to define better the commonalities of your current clients and the problems your solution helps them overcome.
Once you have a clear understanding of your ideal client profiles (ICPs), determining the most popular content with your audience and the right channels can easily be done by tracking influencers’ activity, studying top-ranking Google results, and reverse engineering successful sales funnels. Then, you can start creating lead magnets that will attract the right prospects based on the channels they use the most.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular platforms prospects are perusing and see how you can implement them in your lead gen.
LinkedIn Lead Generation
LinkedIn is 277% more effective for B2B lead generation than social media giants, Twitter and Facebook, making it one of the most commonly used platforms by sales executives.
Through LinkedIn, you can network with your ideal clients by advertising, posting, hosting events, and joining groups. You’re only limited by your budget and bandwidth.
While advertising is generally more expensive on LinkedIn than on other platforms, it can be easier to hone in on the right prospects because members are more likely to keep their profiles updated in case of new opportunities. Lead magnets are the perfect assets for LinkedIn ad campaigns as they can be added to sponsored posts or messages and delivered to your audience when they are active on the platform.
Organic outreach can be a productive alternative if advertising isn’t within the budget. Compared to Facebook, LinkedIn’s algorithm is more favorable to content creators, and members are more receptive to unfamiliar faces. After all, LinkedIn was developed to help professionals worldwide connect.
Organic engagement can be achieved through personal profiles and company pages. For optimal organic lead generation on LinkedIn, most businesses have sales executives reaching out to prospects through connect requests and direct messages, while the company page is used to drive brand awareness. An investment in automation tools and Sales Navigator can streamline lead generation on LinkedIn and increase your ROI.
That being said, if LinkedIn doesn’t seem to match up with your ICP’s social media habits, then Twitter may be your next best bet.
Twitter Lead Generation
Twitter is not just for NFT fanatics, despite the crypto market hype over the past few years.
Based on a concept conceived by co-founder Jack Dorsey, Twitter originated as an SMS alternative — which explains the 140-character limit initially imposed on the platform.
Because of Twitter’s unique position in the social media marketing game, B2B lead generation takes an equally unique approach. Your character limit on Twitter is now 280, but you still have to take the less is more stance. Tweets need to be easily digestible and informative or exciting. Think news headlines. Your audience wants the highlights.
But how do you even get an audience to begin with?
Twitter makes it easy to gain followers of similar brands or personalities. Through Twitter ads, you can target users who are already following competitors or like-minded people and encourage those users to follow your account as well. However, if you don’t have the right type of content, then your follower count won’t help your lead generation strategy.
By optimizing your profile with high-converting links, posting frequently, and responding to mentions, your Twitter profile can help build brand awareness and drive website traffic.
While it may seem hard to believe that Twitter would have any type of lead generation benefits, the platform is second only to LinkedIn for content marketing and narrowly beats out Facebook by 1%, according to a study by the Content Marketing Institute.
Facebook Lead Generation
With 190 million North American users logging on to Facebook daily, it’s no wonder why 92% of marketers are relying on the platform for advertising.
Even though the competition may seem fierce, Facebook’s Meta Pixel, algorithm, and ultra-targeted segmenting help maximize ad spending while generating buzz and driving brand awareness for many B2B companies.
For example, you can target people who have engaged with your website or interacted with your Facebook page and remarket to them on the platform. You can also upload a customer list and create lookalike audiences based on their profiles and online behaviors. When one of these targeted audience members clicks on your ad, they’ll be taken to a landing page or chatbot where they can enter their contact information or download your offer.
Organic lead generation is also possible on Facebook, but it requires more sweat equity. Still, it’s a great way to put prospects in your pipeline if advertising isn’t financially feasible. Because Facebook prioritizes high, initial engagement, organic strategies work best when planned around trending topics and valuable content.
The ultimate goal of posting and engagement on Facebook, or any social media platform, should be to cultivate and nurture relationships to a point where your followers are ready to move conversations from the platform to their inbox.
Weekly or Monthly Newsletter Lead Generation
The best way to keep prospects engaged and make the buying experience more personalized is through email newsletters. By creating and sharing gated lead magnets using the social media marketing tactics mentioned above, you can build up an email list of potential prospects facing the challenges your solution can overcome.
But why would you want to move your prospects from social media to an email newsletter? Seems a bit outdated, right?
Surprisingly, the opposite is true. You see, with email newsletters, you “own” the traffic. You no longer have to bend to the will of an algorithm or live in fear of losing your audience to a suspended ad account. As long as you are following email etiquette and regulations, you’ll be able to get your message in front of your prospects and customers whenever you decide to distribute helpful information or exciting new promotions.
But we do understand the hesitation of devoting time to building a subscriber list. Keeping up with a newsletter can seem like more work than it is worth, but even today, the ROI for email marketing is hovering at around 4,200%.
The big hurdle is encouraging prospects to subscribe. If social media lead generation isn’t earning you newsletter signups, then pay-per-click (PPC) may be a better alternative.
PPC Lead Generation
89% of B2B buyers research online before making a decision which is why PPC lead generation is an effective strategy.
With PPC, you target potential customers based on related keyword searches on Google, Yahoo! or Bing.
First, you’ll need to identify a list of keywords that people might use when searching for your products or services. Have fun with it! Brainstorm with your team. Ask some of your friends and family members. And, of course, try out different search terms for yourself to see related auto-fills and “people also ask” derivatives. You’d be surprised by the different ways people think when using search engines. Once you have a sizable list, refine your options using tools like Google Keyword Planner and Semrush. Try to go after keywords that are high traffic and low competition. That’s the sweet spot.
You should also consider keywords you don’t want to pay for, known as negative keywords. In fact, it’s best practice to have more negative than ranking keywords if you want to develop a healthy ad account.
Finally, when it comes to building a keyword list for PPC, match types are super important as they help you further eliminate unrelated queries. Think of it this way, if you wanted to promote a line of custom leather handbags, instead of trying to create a long list of branded search terms to add to your negative keyword list, you could do an exact match for the keywords you want to bid on. This decreases your opportunities to advertise, but will also make the most of your budget.
Before starting an ad campaign, go through your website, especially the pages you plan to direct traffic to and check for keyword terms in the copy. If the keywords aren’t present, find ways to incorporate the phrases naturally into the content and metadata.
Your quality score is determined by Google and reflects how relevant your ads and website are to the searcher’s query. The higher your quality score, the lower your costs will be for each click on your ad.
You can add Google Analytics tags to your site so Google AdWords can provide conversion tracking that will help you optimize your campaign’s performance and measure how many leads you generate from your PPC ads.
But unfortunately, if the competition is fierce or you’re just starting to scale, PPC lead generation can drain your budget fast. In this case, you can turn to more cost-effective strategies like outbound outreach.
Outbound Lead Generation
Outbound lead generation involves curating lists of decision-makers that match your ideal client profile, then driving interest and building rapport with those prospects through multiple channels campaigns in an effort to encourage a purchase.
Many companies run outbound campaigns alongside inbound marketing to balance their sales pipeline. By diversifying lead generation strategies in this way, your team will be able to acquire customers even if disruptive changes shift the flow of your funnel.
The right tools and talent can make all the difference when developing and optimizing your outbound strategy.
Platforms that provide lead databases, email automation, and social media integration reduce the time spent hunting for leads while increasing the number of prospects reached per month. There are so many options on the market today geared towards outbound. One of the best ways to discover the tools suitable for your company is to take advantage of free trials and demos to see if the capabilities match your strategy.
But without the right sales executives to nurture those relationships, your investment in tools could be wasted. Consider sales as well as industry experience when searching for new hires. Those that can speak directly to your prospects’ pain with concrete examples are more likely to get a foot in the door than those who simply understand the fundamentals of selling. If you are struggling to find or keep sales executives, you can supplement your outbound outreach with an outsourced partner specializing in executing and scaling lead generation.
As you implement different outbound and inbound strategies, you’ll discover areas for improvement. But diagnosing the root problem can be challenging. Understanding how metrics are affected by different lead generation processes can make it easier to improve your pipeline’s health.
Examples and Tips for Improving Your Lead Generation Results
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to lead generation. A best-in-class engine will have three common features: forecasting accuracy, sales velocity, and funnel management. Without all these pieces in place, you’ll struggle to generate leads and sales for your business.
Luckily, there are things you can do to improve each of these areas. For example, if your forecasting accuracy is off, make sure you constantly update your projections based on new data. If your sales velocity is low, look at ways to increase the leads in your pipeline for more opportunities to turn prospects into customers. And so on.
Let’s have a deeper examination into the ways you can boost your lead generation ROI.
Attract and Qualify Quality Leads
Who are they? What are their needs? What are their pain points?
Attracting your ideal clients comes down to tailoring your marketing and sales efforts through content and messaging that resonates with where your prospects are in the buyer’s journey.
While case studies and product pages are helpful in the consideration or decision phase, those just starting to experience roadblocks need educational information like guides and market research. You can recycle your keyword lists from your PPC campaigns to align your content with commonly asked questions and search queries.
Use a CRM and a marketing automation tool to track which channels are most effective and how they consumed content matches up with your leads’ buyer readiness.
As opportunities start to fill your funnel, further qualify prospects through special offers, webinar invites, and follow-up calls.
Evaluate and Score Leads More Effectively
As you attract more leads, you may find that predicting company growth becomes increasingly difficult. You can increase forecasting accuracy by scoring leads based on the level of intent and product fit.
For example, if you are a revenue leader for a project management software company, you would want to score someone who submits a demo request on your website higher than someone who simply clicks on one of your display ads because the former is closer to making a buying decision than the latter.
You can’t just base your lead score on actions taken, though. Buyer persona, firmographic, and demographic information should also factor into the ranking system. If you know that a business with 500+ employees converts more often than one with 200-500 employees, then you would adjust the metrics accordingly.
Once you settle on a scoring system that fits within the parameters of your CRM, you’ll have a better understanding of the speed at which prospects flow through your pipeline. In turn, your forecasting will be based on objective attributes that predict buyer readiness.
Lead scoring also encourages better coordination between departments by clarifying when a prospect successfully moves from marketing to sales-qualified.
Prioritize Leads for Your Sales Team
When a prospect moves closer to a purchasing decision, it’s important to replace marketing automation with messaging that echoes past conversations and relates to specific challenges. Your sales team will be spending hours developing personalized value propositions, presentations, and proposals for decision-makers which takes a toll on your sales velocity.
This is especially true if all the work is done for leads less likely to convert. And in the meantime, the right prospects could be slipping through your fingers.
Aside from attracting quality leads and implementing a scoring system, there are a few additional things you can do to help prioritize your prospects for your sales team:
Make sure your lead tracking system is up-to-date: Data entry can be tedious, but real-time updates to your tracker system or CRM will help keep the most promising prospects top of mind so you can make the most of your time and resources.
Continually assess and adjust your ICP: It’s not uncommon to have a shift in what counts as a qualified prospect as you gain feedback from your lead generation strategies. You might find your solution has a surprising use case in an industry outside your ICP. Or that company size has an impact on whether a person with a specific job title is considered a decision-maker or influencer. Keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid to change your lead scoring.
Get to the “No” Faster: Trying to save a doomed relationship will only result in longer sales cycles and low conversion rates. Empower your sales executives to be candid about foreseeable roadblocks while proactively offering solutions. By being upfront with prospects sales executives not only build rapport but also ensure that neither party’s time is wasted if the roadblocks cannot be removed.
By prioritizing the most qualified leads for your sales team, you’ll be able to acquire more customers, even if you have fewer prospects at the bottom of the funnel.
But if the opposite is true and the number of prospects begins to exceed what your team can handle efficiently, sales automation and enablement tools can help your sales executives stay productive.
Improve Your Lead Generation Results with Sales Automation Tools
From tracking engagement, scheduling multi-channel campaigns, and forecasting, sales automation tools improve the way you manage your sales funnel.
With the right tools, you can narrow in on your target market, connect with prospects more likely to convert, and close more deals. But how can you make sure you’re using them effectively?
Here are some tips for improving your lead generation results with sales tools:
Make a List of All the Repeatable Processes: Does your team conduct manual research for each prospective account? Do they send out a helpful template after each webinar? Is there a follow-up process after demos? Map out the sales approach for each lead generation strategy so you know what to look for in an automation tool. Focus on the most time-consuming tasks that can be automated through conditional logic or AI. Every minute you give back to your team is an additional minute they have to nurture relationships into partnerships.
Find a tool that grows with you: There’s an overwhelming number of automation tools on the market with capabilities that are overkill for most startups and SMBs. Fortunately, SaaS companies give you the ability to trade functionality for budget-friendly plans till you fine-tune your revenue-generating machine. Because switching costs is a painful price to pay, foresight is imperative when picking a tool. Imagine transferring tens of thousands of leads into a new platform because of missing features or integration limitations. Avoid that kind of nonsense by doing your due diligence before signing on the dotted line.
Commit to Actually Using the Software: Don’t tuck the thought of mastering your automation tools into that same deep, dark corner as your long-forgotten gym membership. You’d be shocked at how some of the simplest features like follow-up scheduling and automated appointment reminders can transform your sales process. Not to mention the more advanced features like engagement-based email automation and upsell forecasting that can significantly boost conversions.
The time you invested in implementing new sales automation tools will be returned ten-fold as your team becomes more proficient. Consider rewarding sales executives for completing training courses to ensure you get the most out of the platform. Look for examples of how the system is helping employees hit KPIs to share with the team, especially if the change in software has ruffled some feathers.
As the automation tools become an extension of your sales department, you can look at upgrading to new features that can further enhance your sales funnel management, like website and land page engagement tracking.
Optimize Website Content and Landing Pages
The first draft of your website is rarely ever the best version. The same goes for your landing pages. Even if you spend hours agonizing over every minute detail, there is always room for optimization. That’s where engagement tracking comes into play.
You’ve probably heard of Meta Pixel, formally Facebook Pixel, and Google Analytics Tags that can be added to any web page with a string of code. Well, that data can tell you how long visitors linger on a specific page, how many visitors clicked on a button, how many forms were submitted, etc.
Just like you would work to optimize an email campaign based on metrics like open and reply rates, you can optimize your pages based on metrics like bounce rates and session times. So say you’ve noticed your most popular page is a lead magnet for a free consultation, but the conversion rate is below 1%. You can play around with the form fields or add on an exit-intent popup with a special offer to improve the number of signups.
Some other things you can do is to make sure all of your website content is high quality and relevant to your target audience with keywords that would match search engine queries. You should also consider revamping your landing pages to make them more visually appealing and user-friendly. Sometimes a change to your hero image or an adjustment to your header can make all the difference.
In addition, be sure to test different versions of your landing pages to see which ones generate the most leads. Always keep track of how many leads each of your marketing efforts generates so that you can determine which strategies are most effective.
If you feel like you’ve completely optimized the content and experience for online visitors but you’re still not getting results, take a second look at your messaging to uncover any information gaps that might be confusing your audience.
Keep Messaging Clear, Consistent, and Aligned with Marketing Priority
Donald Miller, the author of StoryBrand, always says, “If you confuse, you lose.”
In a day and age where so many brands are begging for audience attention, those with a garbled message will lose to those who communicate clearly and consistently with prospects.
This means ensuring that all content is on-brand, including website copy, email templates, social media posts, and even phone scripts. It also means making sure that sales reps are well-trained on the key messages so they can communicate them effectively to potential customers.
Once everyone understands the objectives, you can develop messaging that will resonate with your target audience and help you reach your goals.
And remember – always test and measure the results of your campaigns so you can optimize them over time. An excellent way to tell if your message will make an impact is to have someone that does not fit your target market read your content and explain what they think the message is conveying. If an outsider can clearly understand the benefits of your solution and it aligns with your marketing efforts, then you can feel confident that your message is on point.
The next step is to repeat this process for each phase of the buyer’s journey for every buyer persona.
Create Great Content for All Different Stages of the Buying Journey
Whether shopping for a bottle of shampoo or a new car, every person goes through the buyer’s journey before making a purchasing decision.
The buyer’s journey can be broken down into three phases:
Awareness: The prospect begins to experience pain and consciously recognizes a problem exists.
Consideration: The root of the problem is identified by the prospect. Research is conducted to discover potential solutions.
Decision: The prospect reviews all available strategies and vendors and weighs the pros and cons to create a shortlist of the most viable options.
While this journey might take seconds when purchasing commodities, most B2B sales take months to arrive at the final destination.
Providing customized content based on where prospects are in their journey will not only speed up the decision-making process but also increase your chances of making the shortlist.
Why? For one, the rule of reciprocity has a powerful hold on human etiquette, and two, we are all looking for a guide to help us avoid failure and achieve success.
While the concept of aligning your offers with the buyer’s journey seems simple enough, the tricky part is knowing what certain prospects need to get through each phase.
Here are some talking points for your team to use while brainstorming ideas for buyer’s journey based content:
Awareness: At this point, your prospects are searching out symptoms of their problem online. The diagnosis is not yet decided. Prospects are looking for:
- How-To Guides
- Explainer Videos
- Social Media Content
Consideration: During this phase, prospects are ready to dig into the detail of different treatments that can alleviate their pain. Consider providing content like:
- Podcasts or Vlogs
- Comparison Charts
Decision: As the prospects inch closer to purchasing, they will need more hands-on experience and a deeper look into how the partnership will work. In most cases, you’ll want to offer:
- Case Studies
- Personalized Demos
- Feature Overviews
- Free Trials or Pilots
- Quote or Estimate
You may find that some content hits home with your prospects while other pieces miss the mark, and that’s okay. It shouldn’t discourage you from trying new angles and adjusting your approach. The more you learn about each prospect and what they had to go through to find your solution, the more refined your content will become.
We covered quite a bit in this guide, but you may still have some unanswered questions. So let’s go over some lead generation FAQs.
What is a lead generation campaign?
A lead generation campaign is a coordinated outbound or inbound strategy geared towards a specific target market to attract qualified prospects and cultivate interest in your company’s offer.
Lead generation campaigns can take many forms, including email marketing, online advertising, webinar hosting, or even cold calling. The goal of a lead generation campaign is to obtain contact information from potential customers or schedule a discovery call so sales executives can nurture the relationship with decision-makers.
By coupling lead gen campaigns with other marketing initiatives outlined in this guide, you can improve your chances of generating more leads and closing more deals.
What is a lead generation form?
A lead generation form is your best bet when it comes to capturing information about your prospects from inbound campaigns.
A lead generation form is commonly used on websites, land pages, email marketing campaigns, and social media ads to obtain contact, demographic, and firmographic information about prospects for future marketing and sales opportunities.
The provided information is also used to determine if the lead generation strategies attract the intended prospects.
While a simple contact request or demo signup is considered a lead generation form, offering an incentive such as a free ebook, template, or training course significantly increases conversion rates.
What is a lead generation company?
You probably realized by now that lead generation strategies quickly become complex. At some point, you are going to need help workshopping new ideas, launching campaigns, and following up with prospects.
Many companies choose to handle all sales and marketing tasks in-house. Still, there are many more turning to outsourced lead generation companies because of their specialized knowledge, proven processes, and cost-saving benefits.
A lead generation company partners with businesses to help attract, engage, and qualify prospects by developing, implementing, and optimizing inbound or outbound campaigns.
An experienced outsourced lead generation team should be able to integrate seamlessly with your internal staff. This is essential to providing a smooth transition for prospects moving from the top to the middle of the funnel.
What is lead generation software?
We talked about sales automation tools, but what is lead generation software? Is it not the same thing?
The truth is there’s a lot of overlap when it comes to these platform types. You’ll find as you hunt for the perfect system that many SaaS offer an all-in-one solution. However, it’s good to know how to distinguish between the two.
Lead generation software focuses on capturing and tracking prospect details through coordinated multi-channel campaigns that drip out automatically based on planned sequences and conditional logic.
While sales automation tools usually perform these tasks as well, they also enable revenue leaders to more accurately forecast sales cycles, gain a holistic view of the pipeline, and pinpoint problem areas in the process.
However, lead generation software and sales automation tool have been used interchangeably over the years, so as long as you have the features and functionality you need to succeed, that’s all that matters.
Lead Generation is Essential for Businesses of All Sizes
We all need leads to ensure our business survives and thrives. How you obtain those leads comes down to your position in the market, the demand for your solution, and the time your team allocates to implementation.
By reading this guide, you’ve learned how to put some of the top lead generation strategies to work for your company. Now it’s time for you to find your own special mixture of what drives traffic to your doors.
If you are still unsure of the best way to get started or want to speak to a lead generation expert about scaling your sales pipeline, feel free to schedule an appointment today.