In a recent Hubspot survey, 65% of business managers said that effective lead generation was one of the biggest marketing challenges they faced.
On the face of it, that statistic might not seem particularly informative or prevalent. After all, identifying potential buyers and enticing them to purchase goods and services has been a driving concern for organizations in every industry, since time immemorial.
However, the nature of that concern has certainly shifted focus over the past decade.
The Changing Face of Lead Generation
Gone are the days when outbound strategies like cold calling and mailing catalogues defined the entirety of a company’s marketing efforts. The digital revolution has brought with it an unprecedented democratization of data.
Across the globe, an estimated 3.5 Billion internet users routinely seek out information and connect with relevant brands using the sophisticated search engines, Faebook groups, Google forums, company websites and blogs.
With these tools in hand and data at their fingertips, the modern buyers are more well-informed than ever before.
Today, when marketing teams hand sales personnel a list of qualified leads, the sales reps do not waste time educating prospective clients about the nature of the company or its offerings; because they know that buyers are already well aware.
Well… actually that may be an understatement. If anything, buyers are too aware.
If you think about it, that is what marketing should be all about. i.e. making sales process less “salesy”. Buyers have already been educated on the benefits of your products or services either through their own research or through the groundwork you do through your marketing strategies. Thus, they are picky and precisely know what to expect when the conversation begins with the sales team.
The online space has quickly become saturated with a mass of businesses –both big and small— looking to capitalize on the marketing platforms filled with a glut of content that include social media posts, blogs, videos, apps and email campaigns.
Inevitably, all this competition has led to a sensory overload for many internet users. With that overload comes truncated attention spans and highly elastic demands. Compared to the rate of content being produced, there are finite number of people to consume it. This is resulting into a phenomenon called content shock (the term coined by Thought Leader Mark Schafer). I highly recommend reading his articles and blogs.
What Lead Generation Is All About
Effective online lead generation is about converting prospects into leads and nurturing them so that they become your customers. According to Forrester, 90% of buyers are more than 2/3rds through their buying journey before they even approach a vendor.
Who needs a sales expert when you have Yelp, Twitter and Google to aid your research?
A digital marketer’s job is to develop buyer personas for the company’s targeted market segment, develop content that speaks to this niche audience and create points of interactions for prospective customers at every point in their buying journey.
If each step is optimized to maximum effect, you’ll be looking at a self-selected group of interested buyers who’ll be ready to commit their loyalty to your brand.
So how do you go about creating your own lead generation tool belt, what mistakes are being made, how to avoid those mistakes and propel your lead generation strategies?
Mistake 1: Not Having a Marketing Funnel
A marketing funnel breaks down every stage of the buying process and assigns strategies to maximize influence and reach at each step of the way.
Since prospects who visit your website do not know you, you should not expect them to buy your products or services right from the get-go. Just put yourself in their shoes. Would you buy and hand over your credit card info to a website that you don’t trust or know much about?
Marketing funnel is a key tool that allows you to take prospect through a journey from being a cold lead to becoming a warm lead to paying customer to ultimately becoming your fan.
Much like the household tool, a marketing funnel starts off with a wide span to attract the awareness of as many potential customers as possible. Usually this awareness is gained through promotional content such as advertising, E-books, viral video campaigns, social media posts or customer referrals. The span of your funnel at this stage is dictated by the market segments you want to target, and the sort of brand image you’re looking to create.
Once you’ve garnered wide-reaching awareness, you need to sustain it by telling them why they should be interested in your offerings. This is the interest and evaluation phase of the journey. Your business should be focused on developing more in-depth content that details the specific advantages of your products and services; you might also offer free informational material that delivers added value to the potential customer. Newsletters, case studies, tutorials and webinars are all great tools to use at this stage.
The individuals that pass through this phase are definitely hot prospects. Now it’s time to pass these leads over to your sales team, so that they can personally answer any last-minute objections and silence lingering doubts with full demonstrations.
Mistake 2: Not Building the Lead Magnets
A lead magnet (aka opt-in page) is a marketing technique in which you offer free products or services to the customer in exchange for an email address or other contact information.
Basically, the idea is that by offering relevant, informative content that solves your target market’s pain-points or problems, you can compel them to provide you with a small reward in return. Ultimately, this small handshaking should serve as the first step in establishing a long-term sales relationship.
Remember, you don’t need to offer a lengthy E-book to entice your visitors (although it’s a legit strategy). You can start with a package of useful links, Infographics or an article that expands upon your blog ideas. It should be quite sufficient get their buy-in.
Mistake 3: Not Creating Email Autoresponder Series
Storytelling is a powerful tool for any digital marketer, using a strong narrative device to sell promotional material can create lasting emotions within the mind of the reader and leave them in ready anticipation for your next follow-up.
A multi-part email series makes use of this style of content delivery to move a prospect down the sales funnel, in incremental steps.
Much as the name suggests, an autoresponder series is written in advance. It is set to deliver emails at predetermined intervals to interested customers. This drip-feeding strategy helps you slowly develop trust with your email subscribers. You can also recycle your best content in an extremely efficient manner.
Some ideas for an autoresponder series include:
· A relevant anecdote that draws from your experience in the industry
· A series of quick tips that provide practical solutions for a common problem facing your target audience
· A ranking of great resources that can help enhance your prospects’ knowledge
· A testimonial from a satisfied customer
· A survey series asking for feedback regarding hot button industry issues
Mistake 4: Underestimating the Power of Videos
Why leave your lead generation strategies to an impersonal format like text, when 43% of people want more video content from their marketers?
Videos can condense three paragraphs of information into a single minute. Additionally, videos allow you to create instant connection with your target audience. If you are speaking in that video, that is even better.
Every day 30 million visitors watch an estimated 5 billion videos on YouTube. In spite of 1.3 billion websites over the world and its relevant user base, only 9% of US small businesses are making use of YouTube for digital marketing.
A consistent video strategy can give you a much-needed competitive edge. Look towards creating business videos with a consistent theme in any of the following areas:
· Product demos
· How-To videos
· Interviews and FAQs
· Videos of live sponsored events
· Daily Vlogs
Mistake 5: Failing to Write Blog Posts
Companies or business owners that maintain a consistent blogging presence generate 55% more traffic to their websites, and 92% of businesses that update their blogs on a daily basis acquire at least one customer a day as a result of their effort.
High-quality blog posts help you establish a strong online presence as a thought leader within your field; the resulting credibility helps turn lukewarm customers into strong brand advocates. If you can get customers to sell your business through reviews and social media then you’ll have unparalleled credibility in the market.
If you want to know how to get started and deliver high-quality blogs, visit this article.
Other Lead Generation Strategies to Consider
Of course, we’re just scratching the surface with lead generation.
Apart from the aforementioned strategies, there are a wealth of other avenues for driving customers to your website. Consider augmenting it with below (not an exhaustive list):
- Paid advertising/Marketing campaigns – Paid traffic offers a great way to generate interest faster in a short amount of time. If you’re looking to get the word out faster and quicker, a paid campaign can give you an instant boost in few days compared to what a blog series can offer in a year (both strategies are legit and work).
- Speaking engagements – Showcase your speaking skills by reaching out local chamber of commerce, meetup groups or lunch-n-learn groups. Get invited to speak in local or national conferences. Speaking, by far, offers awesome lead generation opportunity for your business. Here, you are already speaking to a pre-qualified audience. Also, when you speak, it sets you apart from your competition.
- Podcasting— Host a podcast series where you are talking about issues, challenges and solutions to customers’ problems and pain-points. Podcasting offers a great way to showcase your expertise in an informal setting. Or get invited as a guest on other podcasts. It offers a great opportunity to build relationships with your listeners who will eventually come to your website or reach out to you for your business expertise.
No business wants to lose money… ever. Leads are vital and act as oxygen to keep your business thriving. Just like anything else in life, you should not expect results to come overnight. However, provided that you create a lead generation tool belt and provided you put the right systems in place, it won’t be long where you will start to drive consistent traffic to your website which will ultimately generate into qualified leads for your business.
Wishing you all the very best!