Lead generation used to involve purchasing lists of names and sales representatives cold calling people at home. But, modern advances in technology have made it possible for us to now generate leads based on specific criteria and information.
For instance, companies (like jmexclusives) collect information about potential buyers and then tailor marketing methods and sales pitches to the prospects’ needs. And this is largely done through digital channels, using inbound marketing techniques. Alongside some of the former outbound marketing methods.
Successful lead generation can make the sales cycle more efficient, and lead to greater success rates in new customer acquisition.
Generating leads is easy, generating qualified leads is much harder, but it doesn’t have to be. But, small businesses need to make the most of every pound and every minute in order to be successful.
By ensuring you foster a collaborative and aligned culture and leverage technology and data you can vastly improve your lead quality and help grow your sales. And if you’re a salesperson, don’t wait around on marketing, there are sales lead generation techniques you can be using too.
What is Lead Generation?
Rather than simply handing over a list of leads from one team to the other, they work together to define which leads are ideal and nurture relationships with those leads throughout the sales cycle.
The marketing team can consider specific demographic information and behaviors to qualify and score leads to ensure that they are ready to be passed on to sales.
These changes to the buying journey have also affected the roles of sales and marketing when it comes to lead management.
- In the past the two teams had separate clearly defined roles – marketing would generate a list of leads, and then sales would try to turn those leads into clients.
- Today marketing plays a much bigger role in the sales cycle than it has in the past, and lead management has become more of a collaborative effort.
What makes a Qualified Lead?
Good marketing and sales alignment is key to any successful lead generation strategy. Marketing may be on the front line when it comes to lead generation, but that doesn’t mean sales can’t help out. Using techniques like social selling, outbound emailing, and networking, the sales team can take lead generation into their own hands.
Lead Qualification and Filtering is the process of determining whether a lead is ready to be passed on to sales. Based on things like customer demographics and behaviors. Some leads will be filtered out because they are not yet at that stage or appear less promising than others.
Focussing on unqualified leads is a waste of time and resources. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can be used to track and evaluate leads before distributing them to sales.
- The marketing of qualified leads is deemed more likely to become a customer than other leads. They show particular interest and could respond well to lead nurturing, though they may not yet be ready to buy. As the lead moves further along the sales cycle, often as a product of nurturing, it can be passed on to sales.
- A sales qualified lead is nearly ready to make a purchase, but may have more specific questions or needs to be addressed by the sales team. At this stage, sales staff continues nurturing the relationship that marketing initiated. Because these leads have already been qualified, they are more likely to turn into sales, and the latter part of the sales cycle tends to move more quickly.
- Strong marketing-sales alignment can result in more effective lead generation and higher conversion rates.
Lead Generation in the Digital Age
This vast quantity of information means that customers are no longer as interested in listening to a traditional sales pitch. Particularly, that doesn’t relate directly to their needs and it might even push them away.
It is now important for companies to focus on generating new leads by developing a strong internet presence. This is often accomplished by using inbound marketing methods. That especially, employ techniques like search engine optimization and other digital marketing channels.
The buying journey has changed dramatically with the growth of the internet and the increased availability of information.
- In the past, it was common practice for sales representatives to reach out to uneducated potential buyers in order to introduce them to their products and services.
- As of today, customers have an abundance of information at their fingertips. They can use search engines, social media, blogs, and other online channels to research. And become experts about a product before ever communicating directly with a representative of the company.
- The sales cycle will continue to evolve thanks to new and upcoming technologies.
The digital age has also made it easier for companies to research and understand their perspective leads.
By understanding the wants and needs of their target customers, companies can tailor information to better draw them in. As well as qualify any potential leads based on a variety of factors, such as engagement and demographic information.
It is increasingly important for companies to not only generate new leads but also develop and nurture relationships with them.
How do you Zero in on the Best Prospective Leads?
Continually generating leads can be a major struggle for any business. Bringing in hundreds of leads is only beneficial when a majority of them are qualified. Otherwise, you will spend time and resources dealing with “dead” prospects.
It is better to bring in 10 “hot” leads than 50 “otherwise” leads that have little or no potential of converting into customers. Filtering out the fluff is always a challenge. While it is impossible to guarantee that every lead will turn into a sale, there are strategies you can implement to help increase your percentage of qualified leads.
Successful lead generation is no longer measured simply based on the number of leads a company acquires. Leads can now be tracked, monitored, and ranked using lead generation metrics and lead scoring.
Some examples of commonly used lead generation metrics include:
- Click-through Rate (CTR) is a percentage made up of the total number of clicks divided by the number of page views. It determines the success of a call to action.
- Time to Conversion is how long it takes to turn a lead into a paying customer.
- Return on Investment (ROI) is the financial gains calculated against the total cost of a campaign.
- The number of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) is the number of leads that the marketing team has deemed ready to pass on to the sales team. Leads are often qualified using lead scoring.
- Cost per MQL is how much money is spent on each lead before they become customers with the goal of maximizing results while minimizing costs.
With this in mind, you can consider the key elements of lead generation.
What is Inbound Marketing?
First of all, Inbound Marketing is a key lead generation strategy.
It can be described as a process of generating interest in your company through content creation and promotion.
- Content Creation is a marketing strategy that involves creating relevant content to draw in leads looking to address a specific issue. This can be achieved with blogs, videos, eBooks, infographics and other publications.
- Content Promotion is how that content is then made visible to potential customers using search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC) advertising, and social media, among other techniques.
Read and learn more about How does Inbound Marketing work?
What is Outbound Marketing?
Basically, unlike Inbound Marketing, Outbound Marketing constitutes the majority of marketing budgets for many businesses. And it’s been around for ages and some even consider it as the cost of doing business.
On the other hand, certain elements of Outbound Marketing have become less effective in the age of internet research.
But it can still be a useful tool when combined with inbound marketing to target specific opportunities and reach out to leads. Some examples of outbound marketing include emails, events, advertisements.
- Email Marketing can be used to distribute new content, send out event invitations, share news, and stay in touch with customers. It’s a way to provide content to potential leads who may not be looking for you.
- Event Marketing creates an opportunity to share your brand, build personal relationships with customers, and engage with attendees.
- Display Ads can be targeted to prospects with certain habits or demographic traits. They allow you to share information with a specific audience.
- Content Syndication is the practice of sharing your content on third party websites to draw additional attention to your brand.
Read and learn more about How is Outbound Marketing used?
What is Lead Scoring?
Lead Scoring is a methodology of ranking and prioritizing leads based on their value.
So that sales and marketing can focus on the leads with the most potential. Rather than nurturing them all equally.
A company can conduct a meaningful evaluation of a potential customer using a combination of explicit and implicit lead scoring.
- Explicit lead scoring considers how closely a lead’s profile matches the buyer persona of an ideal customer. This is demographic data and information about a customer, such as the job title, industry, or location. It shows how relevant a potential lead is to your company.
- Implicit lead scoring takes into account how often and in what ways a potential lead interacts with your business. This is measured through indicators, such as visits to the company website, the lead’s actions carried out there, or responses to email marketing. Implicit lead scoring shows how much interest a potential lead has in your company.
Whether you’re dealing with consumer or business leads, successful lead scoring depends on a number of factors. Such as high-quality content, well-defined buyer personas, relevant interactions, and involvement of the sales team.
Lead generation software can be a useful tool, as often includes automated lead scoring.
How Do I Generate More Leads?
Of course, Yes! Stop wasting sales’ time! It makes no sense for your sales team to waste time trying to sell to a lead that is not going to buy.
So, you need to know which leads are most likely to turn into real money and how to generate more of them. Most businesses, especially small businesses, have limited resources in terms of time, money and people, particularly on the sales side.
From that limited resource, they need to make enough sales to maintain and grow the business. So logically, maximizing the number of leads that are likely to turn into real business makes sense. Then, prioritizing the leads from the most likely to convert to the least likely, helps maximize the return on your efforts.
Here are 5 ways SMEs can improve lead generation on. Ensuring the resulting leads are more qualified and more likely to turn into deals.
1. Align your sales and marketing teams and goals
The marketing team’s role is to generate sales-ready leads for the sales team whose job is then to close the deals. To make sure you are getting the most “ready to buy” leads, both your inbound and outbound marketing relies on targeting the right kind of prospects.
The only way to be able to do this well is by ensuring that your marketing and sales teams are aligned. Core to sales and marketing alignment is making sure the teams communicate well and are engaged in each other’s strategies and processes.
Firstly, you need to define what the ideal lead looks like. How can you generate qualified leads if you haven’t defined what a qualified lead is? To do these sales, you need to specify exactly what detail they need to consider a lead to be good quality. You can also use this criterion to score leads.
Everybody needs to be using the same buyer profiles and personas. In many companies, the marketing team has constructed its own set and the sales team another. Eventually, which may overlap in some places but otherwise not.
The sales team are the experts on knowing what kind of buyer currently gives them business. As well as, where the long-term and profitable relationships come from.
Basically, the marketing team could offer insights into where other similar kinds of prospects could be found. Shared buyer profiles should be created from this shared knowledge and experience between teams.
Aligned buyer profiles and goals concentrate the minds of the marketing team on creating campaigns aimed at finding this kind of prospect. A tightly-focused campaign may result in fewer leads overall. But, if this then turns into more business it can be much more valuable to you.
Quality rather than quantity can make a distinct difference to your bottom line.
2. Make data-driven decisions to improve productivity
Most businesses have a wealth of historical information that they need to mine to avoid wasting time and to improve sales team productivity. Historical data can help improve your lead scoring.
By understanding how likely a prospect is to convert. Based on a particular kind of interest, behavior or action, you can score them accordingly. And prioritize the leads for sales.
So, for example, if you see that companies who have indicated that they have a budget of £X are very likely (or unlikely) to buy your product. You can score and prioritize the leads accordingly.
Your past experience, along with some analytics, should give you clear indications of the likelihood that a customer will convert based on their behaviors. Somebody who has downloaded an ebook might be at the top of the funnel. Whereas, somebody that asked to be contacted on your pricing page is more likely to be ready to buy.
This knowledge drives efficiencies. The data can also help you create better buyer profiles to target and more importantly drive better quality lead generation.
3. Spend your budget wisely
The spray gun approach to marketing is a waste of money. Therefore, to generate qualified leads you should focus carefully on your target markets and prospects.
Learn from what has worked for you in the past. All the likes and shares in the world will mean nothing unless they eventually turn into sales.
If you don’t understand how your campaigns translate into sales, you can’t work out the return on investment (ROI) on your marketing spend. Is it worth the money, or could that cash be better spent elsewhere?
Obviously, if you’re a small business, and budget is tight, you’re going to want to bootstrap things focus on low-cost lead generation methods. Rather than expensive marketing campaigns.
You should also consider how you spend money on staffing and systems. Are key people spending valuable time doing low-level jobs that could be automated? Such as sending follow up emails. Would automating these processes free up people to think and act at a strategic level? Could you cut costs by reducing the time and effort spent on processes?
By tracking your campaigns, and the tasks your employees are spending the most time on, you’ll quickly be able to see what’s working and what’s not. That can then guide your budget plans, you can ensure you’re spending in the right places and guess what? Better quality leads as a result.
Investing in marketing automation can also improve your lead generation. By automating the repetitive tasks and nurturing leads through the funnel. Until they’re sales-ready and by giving marketing more time to focus on the bigger picture.
4. Understand and improve your customer journey
The customer journey is the series of touchpoints a customer moves through, building from awareness to engagement and purchase. Mapping out this customer journey and understanding how customers go through the sales process can help make sure you give them the right kind of information. To help build a business case or deal with objections at the right time.
Being aware of the various touchpoints of the customer journey can help you realize if your sales and marketing materials or websites need improving anywhere. For instance, if you see people continuously dropping out of the funnel at the same point.
There may be some issues that you are failing to address with information or reassurance. Or maybe you are not dealing with an inquiry and follow up quickly enough compared with your competitors.
Likewise, if you are getting lots of people through to a certain point but the vast majority never buy. In that case, you may be wasting time following those leads. You might want to see if there is a way of further qualifying the leads. For example, adding an extra field for a job title or size of company on a white paper or download.
Speeding up the velocity of potential customers moving through from inquiry to sale in the shortest time improves results. You can sell more in the same timeframe. Understanding your prospects’ needs and wants during their customer journey gives you defined insights. Especially, that can help speed up the process for some sales.
5. Test and keep testing then act on the results
Businesses have moved on – sales and marketing teams can no longer rely on gut instinct to tell them what works. The digital arena allows you to track and measure more easily and quickly. And so, you can keep seeing if you can improve what works for you.
Most marketing and sales teams can gain real benefits to their strategies by testing.
You can test values;
- from sending emails at different times of the day, or days of the week,
- how frequently to send marketing messages,
- to the kinds of messages that get the best click-through or share rates,
- or whether leading on price points or offers helps.
But always remember, sometimes a high click-through rate may be a false positive.
You could flood your sales team with leads but they might be lower quality and less likely to convert. This is why when you’re testing and optimizing you need to take the next step. And track what is turning into sales.
Don’t forget, just because something works well now it won’t necessarily stay that way. Technology changes – just look at the rapid rise of mobile. And buying habits evolve over time – markets mature, new competition enters the arena.
Therefore, you need to keep testing new things and learning from the results. While at the same time, optimizing further then retesting and feeding all the results into your sales and marketing efforts.
Finally, I hope the above-revised guide on Lead Generation in Online Marketing was helpful enough to you and your business team.
You can also share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below this blog.