Have you ever taken an online survey to see what your personality type is? Then received an email from the company that hosted the survey on their website about how they could help you find the career path that is right for you? That’s all part of the company’s marketing strategy. In fact, it’s a critical component of any business’s growth model – it’s called lead generation.
Lead generation is all about building your customer base, which is absolutely vital if you want to grow – and as you know, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Here why: Customers are not inherently loyal – there are simply too many other options in today’s highly competitive market. So you have to work to keep your existing customers, while constantly striving to create new streams of customers. This allows your business to keep evolving, and, ideally, to keep expanding.
But how do you go about developing a lead generation strategy for your business? And what type of lead generation is the best avenue to pursue?
Here is what you need to know in order to establish a top-notch lead generation system:
DISTINGUISH YOUR LEADS
The first thing you need to understand is that every lead is different. Someone at the top of your sales funnel, for example, will require an entirely different marketing approach than someone closer to the bottom. The goal is to distinguish where each customer is on their unique journey and the best way to reach them.
Too often, sales and marketing teams decide to cast a wide net and hope for the best. In fact, most businesses fail to recognise that only 5-15% of leads are sales-ready initially. So why waste time, money and your own energy targeting someone who has very little potential of converting to a high-value client – or even a client at all?
Reference your user personas to figure out exactly who your ideal client is, then allow your marketing and sales teams to come up with strategic ways that you can target them. Remember, someone who fills out a form once may not necessarily be someone who has any intention on further engagement with your company. And if you don’t realise that you have to set benchmarks to determine the “quality” of a lead – then you will be running a fool’s errand.
Take the time to implementing a level of focus and strategy that will allow you to run more efficiently and also allow you to fine-tune your approach towards growing your customer base.
Once you have determined who your leads are, it’s time to narrow it down and distinguish which leads can be classified as Marketing Qualified Leads, or MQLs.
An MQL is someone who has expressed some interest in your company. Perhaps they signed up for your newsletter or mailing list. Perhaps they commented on or shared some of your content. Or maybe they took a quiz and filled out a form in order to get the answers. They essentially have met some benchmark that warrants them attention from your marketing team. And while they likely aren’t ready to buy, they will respond favorably to the right approach.
YOUR BREAD AND BUTTER
Now let’s move further down the sales funnel to the prospects that have not only shown interest in your product or service, but have shown interest in purchasing. These are your Sales Qualified Leads, or SQLs.
An SQL is someone who is inquiring about a product, or who has taken that extra step that lets you know they are “ready to buy.” If you are an online retailer, for example, this isn’t just a person who browses your website and perhaps signs up for your newsletter. This is the person who has placed items in the cart. But perhaps they need an extra little push to become a real customer. That’s why it’s on you and your team to create an optimal customer experience. Because if they are a first-time buyer, they will want to know that they are in good hands. Remember, your brand identity begins the moment someone hears of your business.
Take the time to deepen your relationship with the SQL, because the quality of their experience at this point could make or break their decision of whether to become a customer. So be sure to give them the customer experience of a lifetime. While that may mean something different for each individual company, the idea is the same – to not just meet expectations, but to exceed them.
GENERATING MORE LEADS
Now that you see why “not all leads are created equal,” you can use that information to reverse engineer your lead generation strategy.
Think about your customer and who they are. Then, based on where they are in your sales funnel, design the most strategic and powerful ways of reaching them:
SEO – Did you know that Google gets over 100 billion searches a month? That’s why 61% of marketers say that improving SEO and growing their organic presences is a top priority. Whether they implement relevant content, or simply focus on SEO keywords, this is an important component of bringing in new potential leads.
Paid Advertising – Paid media allows you to create relevant and actionable ads that target potential customers through digital marketing campaigns. And with the advent of geolocation, you can create a more customised approach that feels less intrusive and more enticing to your audience. Simply direct them to a dedicated landing page and then start to nurture these MQLs.
Social Media Marketing – Did you know that revenue increased for 24% of businesses when they utilised social media for lead generation? Leverage platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to reach your target audience and bring them into your ecosystem. Each channel must have a unique strategy, and content should be geared towards the specific audience you are connecting with. But if you can actively engage users on social media, you can generate more leads that could become MQLs and potentially SQLs.
Content Marketing – From webinars and podcasts to ebooks, white papers, videos, blogs and guides – there are a number of ways you can use content to generate more leads. How does content generate leads? As Tony says, when you provide more value to your client than anyone else, that’s when they’ll become raving fans. And high quality content is one excellent way of adding value, because you’re giving your customer relevant information, what they need to succeed or to make the right decisions. With the right techniques and strategies in this area, you’ll build an enduring customer base that you can nurture and then move further down the sales funnel.
Email Marketing – Easy to customize and relatively inexpensive to implement, email marketing is one of the best ways to directly connect with your customer. This is one of the most efficient and effective means of turning leads into MQLs because it is a personal, one-to-one communication with a client that you know is already interested in you. That’s why it is so critical to build your client database early and always continue to grow it – and to be strategic in how and when you communicate with this audience. Provide your leads with value-add content that they can’t get anywhere else. Include “best offers” that will drive them to action, and be sure to test your CTAs to discover which are the most effective.
Referral Programs – By leveraging the power of your current customer base, you can not only increase your numbers of sales leads, but also improve the quality of your sales leads. Think about it: every single customer you have has a built-in network of trusted friends and colleagues. So by implementing a referral program, you motivate your existing customer to make the introduction and you make it easy for your sales team to approach new customers.
While there are many ways to generate leads, the best method for your business depends on your unique business model. That’s why it’s imperative for your sales and marketing teams to come together and determine just who your customer base is, what you define as an MQL and an SQL, what the best methods of reaching those customers are, and your strategies for moving leads down the sales funnel. The goal is to find the highest potential ROI, and to constantly be focused on innovating. Because if you’re not growing, you’re dying. So get smart, get strategic, and start generating leads.