Lead generation is the technical term used to describe this process. Whether you choose to invest in lead generation services or attempt to manage lead generation tools on your own, having a firm grasp of lead generation strategies can help you invest your time and resources wisely.
What Is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is all about attracting potential customers (leads) to your business. Once they come, you nurture them, helping leads transition from interested potential customers into loyal customers.
Lead generation is made up, in part, of a variety of inbound and outbound links. Also known as inbound vs outbound marketing, these links act as a cornerstone for your lead generation efforts. Placing these links in a strategic way, and marketing the pages that these links are on, will drive organic and paid traffic to your website.
Inbound links are any links that come to your site from another website. For example, if your marketing team posts content on Facebook, and that content links to your website’s home page, that counts as an inbound link.
You can also receive inbound links organically. For example, if you invest in content marketing and become an industry expert, other content creators may choose to link to the content on your website.
Outbound links refer to any links that originate on your website and go elsewhere. This may include authority links, which content marketers use to link to sites that are authorities on the subject, as well as affiliate links.
Outbound links can improve lead generation because it shows your customers that your brand can be trusted and that you do your research.
Classification of Qualified Leads
Lead classification refers to the process of categorizing your leads based on how close they are to buying from your company. There are three main classifications of leads: marketing-qualified leads (MQL), sales-qualified leads (SQL), and sales accepted leads (SAL). To make the most out of lead generation, your sales team should spend time nurturing each of these types of leads.
Marketing-Qualified Leads (MQL)
MQLs are leads that have shown interest in your marketing channels but have not yet made a purchase. This could include:
- Leads you’ve met with in face-to-face interactions
- Leads who have willingly provided their contact information to your brand
- Leads who have clicked on your ads or otherwise interacted with your marketing channels
- Leads who have favorited items on your website or added items to their Wishlist
MQLs are valuable because they’ve proven themselves to be interested in your brand and receptive to your marketing techniques. Compared to cold leads, MQLs are much more likely to convert to paying customers.
Sales-Qualified Leads (SQL)
An SQL is an MQL that has been nurtured by your sales team long enough that they are ready to consider making a purchase.
Most companies used a process called lead scoring to determine when a lead transitions from an MQL to an SQL. But, in general, the big difference is that a sales-qualified lead has been vetted by your marketing team. This means that your team knows more information about SQLs than MQLs, and is more prepared to communicate effectively with them.
SQLs also tend to be further along in the shopping process. They may be calling to talk to your sales team or ready to make their first purchase.
Sales Accepted Leads (SAL)
Not every business bothers with defining sales accepted leads. However, most B2B businesses will focus on sales accepted leads as a stage in between MQLs and SQLs.
SALs are leads that have officially been passed to the sales team but are not yet ready to make a purchase. Separating SALs from MQLs encourages you to nurture these leads a little more carefully, follow up in a more timely manner, and shorten the time it takes for MQLs to become SQLs.
How Do B2B Marketers Attract High-Quality Leads?
Business-to-business (B2B) marketers face a unique challenge when it comes to generating a lead in marketing since the competition in the B2B market is so fierce. As a result, B2B copywriting has to occur across numerous online channels.
Social Media Platforms
Social media remains one of the top channels marketers use for lead generation. B2B businesses rely on many social media staples, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Business decision makers spend 74% more time on Facebook each day than other users, making this platform a prime location for B2B advertising.
One of the best ways marketing teams can use Facebook for B2B advertising is through the use of retargeting. Retargeting is the term used for intentionally showing users ads for products they’ve already shown an interest in. This strategy has marked success.
In fact, the click-through rate for retargeted ads is ten times higher than first-time ads. Conversion rates for retargeted ads are also higher than for traditional ads, with retargeted customers shown to be 70% more likely to convert than customers viewing an ad for the first time.
Another tactic for advertising on Facebook is by contributing to Facebook groups relevant to your business. If the businesses you’re advertising to are in the same groups, contributing to discussions in a meaningful way can position your brand as a thought leader in the industry. Over time, you can use this strategy to build trust with your leads, improve brand recognition, and increase the chances that they’ll think of you the next time they’re looking to make a purchase.
Twitter sets itself apart as a valuable B2B lead generation channel because it can generate organic traffic for your company. The majority of Twitter users rely on Twitter as a primary news source, which means that businesses that can create newsworthy content tend to do well on this channel. You can find newsworthy content to share by looking at FAQs on your subject, researching local and national news in your industry, and putting topical spins on the product you produce.
Make your news-worthy posts go further by creating Twitter engagement ad campaigns with your most popular posts.
LinkedIn markets itself as the go-to platform for professionals, so it’s little wonder that it’s one of the top social media sites for B2B marketing. In fact, 71% of professionals use LinkedIn to help inform some of their business decisions. This means that when your business advertises on LinkedIn, you have a chance of being seen by business decision-makers.
You can improve your use of LinkedIn by creating valuable content that positions your brand as an industry leader and by contributing to community pages. Take time to optimize your LinkedIn home page so that visiting business leaders can find any information they may need to make a decision about working with your brand.
Content marketing is one of the top lead generation strategies for increasing organic traffic to your website. How? Search engines are trained to be on the lookout for well-written content that answers the questions their users are asking.
To make the most out of this strategy, your marketing team should ensure that any content you produce is more detailed and better written than the top three articles currently ranking for your topic. For example, if you’re writing about the best homeschool planner on the market, you want your article to be better than the top three homeschool planner articles currently available online.
By continually producing content that is more detailed, better researched, and more helpful than your competitors, you teach search engines that you’re a brand that can be counted on to provide quality information to its users.
Paid Advertising (PPC)
While generating organic traffic is great, paid advertising is also a tenable lead generation strategy. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising allows you to pay only when potential leads click through an ad to your website. Because you only pay when leads click, PPC advertising has less risk associated with it than pay-per-view advertising.
You can improve the results of PPC advertising by identifying your target audience and limiting your advertisements to people in that demographic. Targeted advertising increases the chances that your ad money will be well spent.
Once you get a lead’s email address(es) email campaigns can be a great way to nurture your leads by reminding them about your company and what you have to offer. Sending cold emails has questionable results and can sometimes get your emails marked as spam. Thus, send newsletters and other emails to people who have willingly provided you with their email addresses.
If you plan to use email campaigns for lead generation, be sure to follow B2B email marketing best practices, including creating easy-to-read emails and clear call-to-actions.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is not its own strategy; rather, it’s a strategy you should use in conjunction with your social media marketing funnel, content marketing, and paid advertising channels.
When you practice search engine optimization, you think about how search engines like Google will understand your content. This includes incorporating keywords into your content so search engines understand what you’re writing about. It also includes providing alt texts to all of your images so search engines know what your pictures represent.
A strong SEO strategy can bolster your organic traffic. After all, 68% of all online interactions begin on a search engine. The more often your website shows up as a response to a search, the more likely you are to benefit.
Tips and Tricks for Lead Generation Campaigns
Once you understand how to generate leads, the next step is to roll out lead generation campaigns to bolster new leads.
Consider Using a Lead Generation Tool
Lead generation tools refer to any of a number of software available that help businesses capture leads. These can include email address lookup tools, email follow-up tools, and landing page creation tools.
While lead generation tools aren’t always necessary for successful lead generation campaigns, they can automate tedious processes, allowing your marketing team to spend more time and resources on other aspects of your campaign.
Personalize the Buying Experiences by Providing Attractive Offers at Touchpoints
A 2018 study shows that customers are 80% more likely to buy from brands that provide a personalized experience. If you’re already working on nurturing leads by providing numerous touchpoints, you can take that strategy to the next level by personalizing them.
We already provided one example of this when we discussed retargeting ads. But another way to do this is to provide offers that are attractive to your unique users. For example, if your research shows that a particular user is a businesswoman in her thirties, you might offer coupons “for millennials” or “for business execs” at different touchpoints.
Be Consistent With Your Messaging via Interactive Channels
When customers interact with your brand across numerous channels, they want those interactions to feel seamless and consistent. In fact, companies that focus on omnichannel customer engagement retain, on average, 89% of their customers.
Consider creating omnichannel lead generation campaigns. For example, you might send a text message at the beginning of your campaign, followed by an email message, a couple of social media posts, and another text.
Regardless of how you communicate with your leads, make sure that you have the same tone of voice and advertise your business the same way across the board.
Create Dedicated Landing Pages for CTAs
Any time you use a CTA, whether it’s on a social media platform or in an email, the link has to go somewhere. Instead of linking to your home page or a product page, consider linking to a dedicated landing page.
Landing pages allow you to provide more information about a topic in an attractive way. They’re great for converting visitors because they are both targeted and informational. You can improve your landing pages by including high-quality images or videos for an enticing multimedia experience.
Your landing page can also be a great place to showcase testimonials from your customers, which can provide the social proof your leads need to nudge them from “potential buyer” to “loyal customer.”
Perform Social Media Campaigns Strategically
To make the most of your social media campaigns, it’s best to track your audience on social media. Social media analytics can give you valuable insights, such as:
- The time of day when your audience is most active
- The demographics of the people interacting with your social media channels
- The types of posts that are gaining the most traction on your social media channel
You can also try A/B testing on social media ads to figure out what your audience finds most appealing.
Once you have some data under your belt, you can begin to plan a social media strategy, rather than just throwing content at your social media pages and hoping something sticks.
One of the best ways to run a social media campaign is to run the same campaign concurrently across multiple social media platforms. For example, if you’re running a social media contest on Twitter, you should mention the contest on Facebook and LinkedIn, including a link to your Twitter page and rules for entry.
Quality Content Can Go a Long Way
Although a lot of different things go into lead generation, one thing that remains consistent — whether you’re writing a white paper, sending out an email, or planning a social media campaign — is that the quality of the content you produce matters.
Customers will judge your brand based on the first interactions they have with you. Well-written, quality content shows customers that you take your business seriously, do your research, and invest in providing value to your customers. Poorly-written, error-filled content, on the other hand, shows potential customers that you cut corners or don’t care about what you’re offering.
The quality of your content also tells search engines how seriously to take your company. If you consistently provide search engine-optimized content that exceeds the content of your competitors, search engines will see that and reward you with more organic traffic.
So, whether you have a small marketing team or a large one, and whether you’re planning to invest in lead generation tools or not, aiming to produce quality content should be your number one strategy for improving lead generation. Everything else — from your email marketing to your social media strategy — hinges upon your ability to create top-notch content at every single point in your customer interactions.
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