In digital marketing, generating leads has to be one of the most important steps to turning your target audience to buying customers. Leads refer to potential sales contacts that are interested in the products or services you offer. As an entrepreneur, your job entails identifying your leads, targeting them, and keeping them engaged so they eventually turn into buying customers.

The thing is, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan for lead generation. In many cases, entrepreneurs are encouraged to study different methods to bring forth leads until they find out what works for their business. In this post, we will learn the foundations of a strong lead generation campaign, as well as the different ways that you can generate leads.

The Backbone of Lead Generation

Lead generation doesn’t stop at determining who your leads are in a massive pool of prospect clients. Say, for instance, you’re selling homemade jewelry on your online store. While it’s easy to declare your target audience to be every fashionable woman whose outfit isn’t complete without accessories, it is also important who they are in terms of age range, location, race, and economic status.

By identifying your target audience’s demographic profile, it will be easier for you to tailor your campaign strategies and your site’s content to appeal stronger to your leads. Keep in mind that the ability to establish targeted leads will help you steer your campaign to the right direction.

Before learning the best practices, you must first realize the basic pillars that make up a good lead generation campaign. These will serve as your guide as you decide on a particular method to generate leads and put together your plan.

1. Capturing the Leads

Once you’ve identified your target leads, your next step would be capturing them. Ideally, you should be able to guide your target leads to your site. Before you do this, you have to make sure that your site is ready with content that they would find valuable. For instance, e-commerce sites should have a complete and updated catalog of their products including descriptions, specifications, and other important details. You can also publish on your blog useful articles, such as how to take care of your products, warranties, and tutorials.
The point is, you give your leads enough data to go on with. It also pays to have one call-to-action on your landing pages such as ‘Sign Up to Our Mailing List’, ‘View Catalog’, or ‘Shop Now’. This way, you up your chances of keeping your leads engaged.

2. Qualifying the Leads

Bear in mind that just because you have plenty of leads doesn’t always mean that they will all convert into buying customers. In addition, just because a lead asks you about your services doesn’t automatically make them a prospect client. This is where lead qualification comes in.

You need to ensure that the leads you have are likely to convert, no matter how much or little you were able to generate. You have to ask your leads the right questions–say, their needs or their goals–so that you’ll know how your business can help them. By probing for relevant information, you’ll be able to figure out whether a lead is qualified and you can already rule out the ones that are not from your list.

3. Nurturing the Leads

Unqualified leads can still be worked with. After you’ve separated them from the qualified ones, you can begin reaching out to them so that you may up your chances of converting them to prospect clients. While they may not need your products right here and now, you can gauge from their answers whether you can do business with them in the future, which is why you should stay in touch with them. Some of the most common lead nurturing methods include free webinars, white papers, email updates, and sales calls.

Best Practices in Lead Generation

Now that we know the foundations of a strong lead generation campaign, it is time to learn the methods to actually do it. Listed below are the best practices experts have tried and proven effective which you can also test and apply as your lead generation strategies.

1. Encourage Customer Referrals

One of the best means to get new clients is through the referral of happy ones. Assuming that you have a truly good product or service, it only takes a satisfactory customer experience for one client to tell their network about you. In addition, leads brought about by referrals are likely to be qualified as existing clients tend to point their friends to the right brand—in this case you.

2. Use SEO, SEM, and PPC

When done right, the combination of search engine optimization, search engine marketing, and Pay per Click will help you find your leads and guide them to your site. Identify long-tail keywords related to your brand and your products, and build useful content around these to increase your relevancy in the search engines. As you build authority in these keywords, you increase the chances of your site turning up on the results and your targeted leads in finding you.

3. Explore Cross-promotions and Co-marketing

The general idea behind cross-promotion and co-marketing is that you work with related businesses that are not exactly your competitors so that you can refer to each other your own leads. For instance, if you partner your homemade jewelry store with an online giftwrapping service, the latter can give a discount to the leads who buy from you and have their gifts wrapped by your partner. This is a mutually beneficial way to advertise and to extend your reach to your target leads.

4. Create Valuable Content

As online shopping gets more prevalent, a lot of consumers tend to rely on other people’s reviews before buying a product. It is crucial then that you publish on your site informative and evergreen content to give your target leads a substantial background on your product or service. However, keep the selling tone in your content at a minimum. Instead, aim to educate your target leads through white papers, e-books, and webinars.

5. Use Qualifying Questions

In the case of B2B, it is normal to come up with prospects from similar industries, or those that offer the same services. However, it is important for you to filter these leads to ensure which ones are already qualified.

One of the ways to do this is by including a qualifying question or two in your inquiry or intake forms. While it may be easier for clients to fill up a form with mostly dropdown options, knowing your clients a little better through qualifiers can be worth the risk. You can include in your form space a question that would lead a prospect to elucidate their business’s biggest challenge. This will give you an idea on how you can help them overcome it.

6. Rank Your Leads

You may have qualified leads already but not all of them have the same needs, challenges, and knowledge about your product or service. To help you determine the kind of response you need to give your leads, you can score them according to a scale of 1-5, where 1 is being of low priority and 5 the most urgent. This way, you can attend to the leads that have the most critical need of your services and see the results according to the campaign you customized for them.

7. Categorize Your Lead Funnel

After ranking your leads, you can easily classify them into the lead funnel. A basic lead funnel constitutes of three categories:

  • top of the funnel, where the leads still require more information about your product or service, thus you have to keep them engaged;
  • middle of the funnel, where the leads have a clear idea of your business and how you can help them so they in turn convert to actual buyers; and
  • bottom of the funnel, where your job is to nurture existing clients so that they may continue their patronage or do another purchase.

On the other hand, you can also customize your own lead funnel depending on the information you gather from your leads, especially if you are using qualifiers.

8. Use Multi-Device Targeting Strategies

Retargeting and remarketing is a common practice in the digital marketing scene, but mostly on leads that use the computer. However, it is now possible to generate leads that depend on mobile gadgets, which means you can up the chances of doubling the leads you gather.

You may use a third-party app to help you identify and use specific attributes to track leads. Just remember to remove leads from the retargeting list once they have already made a purchase or signed up as a client.

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9. Streamline Your Data Across Channels

Apart from generating leads from multiple channels, you also make sure the content that appears in one channel can also be accessed in others. This way, it will be easier for your leads to get information about you, and it will also help you in measuring ROI as you don’t have to establish separate criteria for the content that is available in every channel.

10. Exploit Next-Generation SEO

The presence of the Hummingbird algorithm in Google’s search engine has prompted many marketers to review and change the keywords use to conversational, long-tail ones. In addition, Hummingbird is also responsive to voice searches whether the query was made using a computer or a mobile device.

As such, take SEO into fair consideration especially when you’re using multiple channels in marketing. The workings of your site, both desktop and mobile versions, must be SEO-friendly so that it could build authority easily and be deemed relevant by search engines to client queries.

11. Measure Campaigns based on ROI

In the past, digital marketers depended largely on rankings to gauge their campaign’s success. However, high rankings don’t automatically translate to high ROI. You need to have a clear idea of the campaign’s value, as well as the value you spend on each channel you use and every method you utilize. You also have to create a corresponding measurement and review process to help you evaluate whether your chosen methods and channels are working (i.e. they are generating your target ROI).

12. Connect Your Content Assets

A blog that has valuable content is a great way of keeping your leads engaged, especially those that are still on top of the funnel. However, you should also lead them to learning advanced material from your site. You can do this by including call-to-action buttons on your blog entries which will direct them to premium content. It can also be a download form where they have to enter their name and email address to gain access to the material.

13. Guide Your Leads to Several Blog Entries

In some cases, leads just read the one article from your site that answers their query. However, the purpose of publishing substantial and useful content is that they hold your leads’ attention and see your site as a one-stop-shop for all the information they require.

Assuming that you already have this kind of content, you could benefit from linking related posts to each other and put them in a place where your readers will find them right away. It also pays to connect your articles with each other throughout the text so that your leads can easily open the links in new tabs.

14. Provide a Product Sample or Freebie

The reality is that not all leads have the patience to read all your content. They may, however, be up for a free trial or a product sample to have a good idea of how your process actually works. While this may not apply to all types of business, it may be useful for online services by, say, giving a 30-day free trial. Shops with physical stores can also give away sampler sizes of their wares to their leads or maybe a discount coupon to those who sign up to your mailing list.

Regardless of the channels you use, it’s crucial that you devote specific landing pages for where your leads will be directed when they find your site. As such, it pays to learn how to create engaging landing pages that will capture and hold the attention of your leads.

It will also be useful to learn about conversion rate optimization using landing pages, and this we will be discussed in upcoming blog posts.