Here at INCo, lead generation is our thing. It’s what we enjoy, it’s what we offer our customers, it’s what we do best. But, what is lead generation? Lead generation is the name given to the process of collecting the information of potential customers; in particular where they are with regards to their buying / evaluation cycle of a product / solution or service. If this information is used correctly and nurtured well, you should be able to convert those leads into paying, delighted customers.

For example, we have an eBook directed at IT and Consulting sales professionals, and we ask that in return for them receiving this piece of content, they enter some information into a form that we can then use to provide them with more relevant content later on.

There are many factors you have to consider in order to convert leads into customers, such as making a choice as to which lead generation strategies you want to follow will affect the channels you need to consider and the means you will use to contact potential customers.

Through this post we intend to show you some cost effective lead generation strategies that will help you connect with your target audience and entice them to your offering without blowing the budget!

What is a Lead?

A lead is someone interested in what you have to offer. We really dive deep into the full explanation of what a lead is and how you should define it in this previous blog post.

When looking at your marketing and sales funnel, a lead will fall into the middle of the funnel – the top of the funnel is comprised of strangers and visitors, the people that make up the traffic on your website, and we target them with free content like blog posts, tweets, interesting statistics or client testimonials.

When you nurture your leads effectively, you will be able to nurture them down through the funnel, into the bottom stage where they will convert into paying customers..

The most important thing to remember about lead generation is that it’s all about the prospect. You are trying to reach potential customers and encourage them to tell you about themselves. This may be specifically looking for an email address so you can follow up later with more content.

You may also want to use this opportunity to collect further information about the prospect that may help later on;

  1. Name – allows you to personalise any contact with the prospect which makes emails seem less automated.
  2. Phone number – useful for the sales team when it is deemed suitable to go in and try to close the prospect as a customer.
  3. Company – B2B companies can also ask which company the person represents in order to really personalise content to his or her needs.
  4. What is their current business need or challenge? – This can help you tailor content to suit them.

It is also vital to recognise why a lead chooses to leave their information, so as with our previous example of our sales eBook, at INCo it is up to our marketing department to help move this lead through the funnel to MQL status with more sales-oriented information; this may be in the form of white papers, or related case studies, but should always keep in mind that these should be focused on sales.

So How Do You Capture the Information?

Capturing a lead is the process of actually collecting and storing the information a lead chooses to give you. This is most often in the form of a landing page; which is a webpage consisting of some brief information regarding the piece of content the prospect will receive, including benefits, and a form that prospect will fill in with the information discussed above.

If you want people to fill out a form, and hand over information, you have to give them a reason to. You have to encourage your prospects that what you are offering is worth surrendering their personal information for. If you offer something that the prospect really values, the idea of giving out their email is no longer that crazy.

This can be anything from an eBook, to a report, to a web demo of your services.

It’s all about making it worthwhile for your prospects. And the best way to do that is through content creation.

As we’ve said previously in this article; in order to encourage prospects to give you their personal information and become leads, you must offer them something they deem valuable.

So what makes valuable content?

Firstly, create content relevant to your industry. This will drive traffic to your website, and the better and more frequent your content is, the higher you are likely to rank on search engines for keywords relating to your industry.

Next, increase your brand awareness and become trusted thought leaders within the industry. You will do this by creating useful content that answers questions your potential customers may have about your product or service. This shows potential customers that you know what you’re talking about and will encourage them to seek you out when they have a problem.

Finally, through developing content you have something potential customers want. This becomes your leverage and you can use it to get their contact details to approach them later on.

Here’s a few examples of incentives you can offer in lead generation strategies:

  • Free analysis / consultation
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Video tutorials
  • Reports
  • Blog posts
  • Newsletters
  • Webinars

For example, we created a checklist to assist in designing the perfect call approach. Prospective customers who were struggled to have effective sales calls, or found leads but couldn’t convert them were happy to leave their email addresses and information in order to receive this content. They were able to reach the content through a blog post, supported by social media, and also through a link on the website. In this instance we decided against using a PPC Campaign, but this may be another avenue to go down when designing your own content.

Follow Ups and Marketing Automation

Two of the most common reasons for lead generation campaigns not working are; not following up correctly, and not implementing marketing automation.

Following up is a careful process, you don’t want to hound the prospect and turn them away from your company, but at the same time you don’t want to leave them alone to consider a competitor for their business. Effective following up should allow you to capitalise on a lead and convert it into a happy customer.

Following up doesn’t just mean via email though, with a solid SMarketing relationship in your organisation, you should be able to analyse a lead’s stage in the marketing funnel and pick up the phone accordingly to help them. This could be someone from marketing trying to help drive a lead down the funnel with more appropriate content or by answering any questions the prospect has, or someone from sales picking up the phone to engage with a lead that appears just on the precipice of engaging.

This is where marketing automation comes into play. Marketing automation, as it sounds, allows you to automate some of the actions involved in converting leads. Contacting leads one by one is a tedious process and also offers very little return as you are unable to track the status of your efforts; whether the prospect has opened your email, clicked a link to content, or ignored it completely can be all the difference in a sales campaign. Using a marketing automation tool (we like HubSpot) will allow you to create pathways or workflows leads will follow resulting in instant actions.

From the time a lead is captured, it enters a specific workflow. They then receive a number of emails based on their current place on that route.

For example, a business usually opens with sending the piece of content the leads signed up for. After a set amount of time, they will receive an email asking if they had enjoyed the content received, giving an option to speak to an advisor if they have any questions, but also links them to related content if they are not yet ready to engage.

Marketing automation is the natural next step if you are implementing various lead generation strategies across your organisation. After all, these leads won’t convert themselves and all they need is a little push.

Lead generation and conversion doesn’t have to cost you the earth, especially if you’re doing it in-house.

By creating valuable content, capturing targeted leads and following up, you can boost sales without using the more expensive lead generation strategies. Here’s a summary to get you on the right lead generation track;

  1. Content Creation is Key!

To capture a lead, you need to give something in return. An investment in content creation will be money well spent. Your website will not only start ranking higher, but people won’t mind giving you their contact details just to get your latest industry information.

  1. There Are Many Ways to Capture a Lead

Your landing pages don’t have to be the only places where you obtain some prospect information. Pop-ups, social media, blog posts and even just contact forms on your webpages are all fantastic places to catch potential customers.

  1. Following Up Doesn’t Just Mean Selling

Prospects will be quickly turned off by an aggressive sales call or email just after they’ve received an eBook.

So instead, provide more relevant and helpful content in a number of emails or phonecalls and eventually the sales call will seem like a natural progression, or the prospect will come to you themselves.

  1. Marketing Automation is a Natural Next Step

At some point, staying in touch with all the leads you capture will become impossible to do by hand. Using marketing automation, you will be able to contact hundreds of leads while making sure that they convert into customers.

There are definitely other lead generation strategies that don’t cost marketers an arm and a leg to get going.

If you’d like to know how INCo can help you start converting leads into customers, why not talk to us today?

Discover your Lead Gen Strategy Now!