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Lead Generation: The Only Beginner’s Guide You Need

by Henningh van Schoor

Learn about lead generation, why it matters, and how you could use it as part of your marketing strategy to generate quality leads for your business.

You’ve got an amazing product or service that will make the world a better place! Everyone can benefit from your offering and you can’t wait to help them, but somehow your phones aren’t ringing and you don’t know who to call either. You need leads!

Lead generation is the process of generating interest in your product or service in order to drive individual leads to buy. So let’s jump in and get started by defining a lead, covering what online lead generation is, why lead gen matters, how to qualify leads, and how to get going with your first lead generation campaign.

 

What is a lead?

A lead is any person who shows interest in a company’s product or service. The more interested they are the “hotter” the lead is, and the more likely they will buy from you.

Normally, leads are contacted by a business after first making contact (submitting a form in exchange for an offer). Contacting an individual who is interested in your business, and has shown an interest in your business is a lot more fun (for the customer, and your sales team) than cold calling.

Not all leads are the same. Their intent can vary greatly depending on which stage of the buyer’s journey they are in. Let’s keep it simple for now, you can always learn more about the four primary lead types in our advanced guide.

 

 

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of triggering interest in your product or service in order to drive individual leads to buy. It’s a method of warming up a potential buyer and helping guide them to making a purchase.

 

Why lead generation matters

All corporate giants that have stood the test of time and still do business today have one thing in common. They deliver value! When strategies, like lead generation, are used effectively they make it easier to deliver value to the right person at the right time. Which in turn increases the likelihood of a sale. It’s a win, win for buyers and sellers.

 

Practical ways to generate leads

The lead gen process can be divided into two categories: Inbound marketing and outbound marketing.

 
Inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing

 

Inbound marketing draws customers in through content marketing, social media marketing, and search engine optimization. The lead generation process is focussed on making it easier for leads to find you.

What makes inbound lead generation so effective is how naturally it occurs. Rather than paying directly for the attention of your audience it is earned and found where customers are already looking. Inbound marketing is all about attracting customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them.

Conversely, outbound marketing is all about putting your brand in front of potential customers. Pay-per-click advertising, direct mail, trade shows, and cold calling are all categorized as outbound marketing strategies.

Before your audience can learn more about and trust your company, they need some initial exposure. This is where outbound marketing comes into play.

 

 

Now, let’s explore how you can generate leads for your business using either, or both of these strategies.

 

Creating a campaign

A successful lead generation campaign consists of the following:

 

  1. Audience (target market)
  2. Offer (value proposition)
  3. Calls-to-action
  4. Interaction

 

Defining your audience

Defining your target market is one of a marketer’s most important tasks, and that’s why it is the first step. The better you understand your audience, the better you’ll be able to tailor your lead generation campaign to them (with relevant content, messaging, and ads).

 

How to define your audience before creating your lead gen campaign:

  1. Conduct a survey.
  2. Do your research and analyze any existing customer data that you might have (such as a website or social media analytics).
  3. Check out the competition to speculate who your competitors are targeting.
  4. Do some testing to see who is engaging with your brand and consider how they can support your business.

When describing your ideal target market take the following into consideration: Age, location, language, spending power and patterns, interests, and their stage of life. Use this information to create buyer personas that represent your ideal customers.

Great! Now that we know who might be interested in becoming a lifelong customer, we can create an offer that they’re interested in and take them from a prospect to a lead.

 

Creating an offer

In the like for like world that we live in things are rarely given away for free. So why would marketers expect something as precious as a leads personal contact information to be any different? Not surprisingly, it isn’t any different. Leads want something of value in return. They want a compelling offer that they can’t refuse.

Lead winning offers can range from free callbacks or consultations to coupons or promo codes, free trials, gift cards, discounts, downloadable content, or even a little information (such as the results from a calculator or a quiz.) Get creative and consider what your potential customers might be interested in.

 

Calling the lead to action

A “call to action,” also known as a CTA, is a phrase that’s used to tell the user exactly what action to take and how to take it.  This can be as simple as two words (“Learn More”) or a sentence or two “Tell us what you think of our new product and get 25% off our plan. Learn more about this here.”

If you want to generate leads you have to call your audience to action. Almost all of your campaigns and content should have a well-crafted call to action designed to get the lead.

Before writing your call to action, determine the goal you’re trying to achieve:

 

  • Do you want to increase subscriptions?
  • Boost sales?
  • Move readers to another content piece?

 

Once you know what you want to do, you can think about how best to do it. The best calls to action are simple, brief, and use strong verbs. They speak directly to the customer and push the desired outcome. Oftentimes adding a little urgency can be helpful too (ex. “Shop now before we sell out”).

You know who to target, what to offer them, and how to call them to action. The lead is almost yours. Lastly, you need to set up the right interaction.

 
Choosing the right lead interaction

An interaction can be defined as “what happens after the potential buyer engages with the call to action”. For example, a Facebook video ad with a CTA button that says “Send us a message” opens up a chat window that allows the lead to contact your Facebook page directly within the app. In this instance, the interaction is a direct message.

Which interaction you set up is dependent on which phase of the buyer’s journey your offer is targeting. Some leads are ready to get in touch, and others are simply interested in learning a little more about your business, product, or service. 

Here are a couple of interactions to consider for your campaign:

 

Landing page

A landing page is a standalone web page, created specifically for a marketing or advertising campaign. It’s where a visitor “lands” after they click on a link. Landing pages typically have a single objective and in this case, it would be to capture the lead. The landing page is rarely the final interaction and oftentimes the landing page contains more information and another call to action that encourages visitors to subscribe to a newsletter, start a trial, or complete a form.

Lead form (form ad)

As part of an ad campaign, you can attach a form to your ad to generate leads for your business. Lead forms are generally found on landing pages as well.

A form consists of a couple of fields that request vital lead information. You can decide what information you’d like to request, such as the lead’s name, email address, phone number, or something more specific like their budget.

Direct message

Customers already spend a lot of time on social platforms chatting with family and friends and consuming content. As a result, some buyers are more comfortable contacting you directly.

Create direct messaging opportunities and make it easier for your leads to come to you! Common platforms with direct messaging include: website chat, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Snapchat.

 

Pro tip: If their info isn’t already available, ask for their email address and/or phone number in return for a unique offer that you have.

 

Appointment

For a second, just imagine that all your prospects called and booked appointments on their own. It almost feels like cheating, but this a very effective strategy for making contact with potential customers. Integrated appointment scheduling allows prospects to book a sales appointment or consultation quickly and on their schedule.

 

Check out the best appointment scheduling and booking apps according to Hubspot.

 

Call

A handful of buyers want to cut straight to the chase and engage with you directly over the phone. The minute they find your business online, they want to make a call to find out how you can help them, or what makes you better than the competition.

Another scenario where the lead does the work for you, what a bargain! 

Google Ads lets you create call ads that encourage people to call your business (a call ad will appear only on devices that make phone calls.) When a potential customer clicks your ad, the ad places a call to you from their device. Call links can also be set up on your website and landing pages, but be sure to make them responsive so that they only display on mobile devices.

Now that you have all the necessary elements to begin generating leads, let’s take a look at how to score your leads to determine whether they are qualified and ready for your sales calls.

 

How do you qualify a lead?

Qualifying your leads refers to gauging their level of interest in your product or service. As a matter of fact, you can evaluate whether your business is a right fit for them by assessing factors such as budget, minimum repayments, company size, and more depending on the complexity of your offering.

 

Everyday examples used by marketers include:

 

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Company name
  • Website URL
  • Number of employees
  • Country

 

Reduce what is known as page friction and only ask for what matters the most to you. Statistically, it takes a reader roughly six seconds to decide whether they want to move forward or go back. Therefore it’s vital that you remove any element of your website that is confusing, distracting, or causes stress for visitors. Failing to do so will ultimately result in an abandoned form and a lost lead.

Based on the questions that you ask, and the information that your interactions generate, you can start to score your leads based on their sales-readiness.

A lead scoring system assigns point values to different actions a lead or customer can take in the sales funnel. Whenever a lead reaches a predetermined point total, they are considered a hot (or qualified) lead. How compex the sales funnel or scoring system should be, is dependent on your business or industry. Get marketing and sales working together to create a scoring system that works for you.

 

That’s it for our beginners guide to lead generation

With the proper preparation and a little automation, you can start generating high-quality leads in your sleep. Invest the time and effort to set up a well thought out strategy and your campaigns will yield returns many times over. Now that you know where to begin, go out there and start generating leads for your business!

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