Lead generation is the process of raising buyer interest and gathering inquiries from prospective purchasers, often in the form of names and contact information.
These leads are then qualified for their ability and desire to purchase your products and services.
While generally the focus of B2B marketing organizations, lead generation also applies to B2C companies, especially where high price, high consideration products are involved.
57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a prospect ever talks to a supplier based on a Corporate Executive Board study of over 1,400 B2B customers across industries.
For marketers, lead generation is a tradeoff between quality and quantity. Specifically without a sufficient number of leads, you can’t achieve your sales conversion goals.
By contrast, too many leads often translates to unqualified buyers who need lots of persuasion to convert or they’ll never buy.
The best lead generation tips ever from 24 experts.
1. Connie Bensen – Global Social Media, Dell @CBensen
Ensure that the content is the right type of content for the community that it’s presented to and the right place in the customer journey. Be cognizant of the many steps in your customer’s journey. Make sure that awareness content is used in social channels. Consideration type content can be used for paid targeted audience buys.
2. David Berkowitz – MRY, @DBerkowitz
Include a strong call to action. So much social media marketing and content marketing fails when the recipient of the message isn’t clear about what to do with it. Do you want a share? A site visit? Their contact information? A subscription to your page or channel? Spell it out.
3. Bernie Borges – Find and Convert, @bernieborges
Experiment with owned, earned and paid campaigns. Try something you’ve never tried before. Be willing to fail small and fast.
4. Michael Brenner – SAP and B2B Marketing Insider, @BrennerMichael
The most effective way for marketing to drive stellar leads for sales is to deliver the right content to the right prospect at the right time. Mapping content to the buyer journey and then delivering it to the right prospects is the best way to drive effective sales-ready leads without wasting your sales’ teams time and you company’s money.
5. Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Guide, @HeidiCohen
Today’s customers are social media and content marketing savvy. Whether they’re making a purchase for themselves or their business, they’ve at least started their research before they ever contact you.
- Understand your potential customers including their influencers, end-users and social media community. To this end, create a marketing persona.
- Provide your market with the information they need to make an informed decision (i.e. the 5 basic content types). If you don’t offer it, your competitors and/or near substitutes might and you may lose a prospect.
- Incorporate a contextually relevant call-to-action. Don’t assume that potential customers will automatically contact you. Help them to buy from you.
- Ensure that your purchase process is easy-to-use. Keep your branding consistent as prospects move from your content on one site into your purchase funnel. Use tailored landing pages and ensure that your buying process is streamlined.
- Continually test each step of your lead generation and purchase process. Since your marketing is a dynamic process, test every step on a regular basis to ensure that your content and related marketing as performing as well as possible. This means that you must track your results!
6. Jeffrey L. Cohen – Ball State University and Social Media B2B, Co-author of The B2B Social Media Book, @JeffreyLCohen
You must include calls-to-action on blog posts to give visitors the opportunity to raise their hand and express interest in your company and its ideas. Too many blogs do nothing to try to convert their hard-earned blog visitors to leads.
7. Andy Crestodina – Orbit Media, author of Content Chemistry, @Crestodina
Find your super fans (online in social media or offline as clients) and put their voice on your website. Put it everywhere. Don’t make a page of testimonials. Make every page a testimonials page. This “social proof” will increase the percentage of people who convert from visitor into lead.
If you haven’t optimized your site to convert visitors into leads, your efforts increasing traffic are partly wasted. Remember, traffic times your conversion rate equals leads, so you can generate more leads by affecting either number. Simple site fixes are often one-time efforts. They’re less work than the ongoing efforts required to drive more traffic.
Think of it this way: a small change that increases the conversion rate from 1% to 1.2% is better for your lead generation than a 10% boost in traffic. Make sense? First fix your conversion rate, then work on increasing traffic.
8. Mike Delgado –Experian-North America, @MikeDelgado
Keep testing your landing pages. Test landing page layouts, headlines, amount of text, number of form fields, imagery, calls-to-action, bullets, buttons, and how it appears on different devices. Always have an A/B test or multivariate test going on.
9. Ric Dragon – DragonSearch, Author of Social Marketology. @RicDragon
Borrow a notion from Lean Manufacturing, and think about the world through the customers’ eyes. Each single one of us is inundated daily by marketing messages that are irrelevant. Those microseconds of attention are fundamentally without value; they’re waste. Eliminate waste, and create marketing that adds value to the lives of your audience.
10. Jason Falls, CafePress – Author of No Bullshit Social Media @JasonFalls
Bring the masses to you by providing “Holy Smokes!” content … content so good, they say, “Holy Smokes!” and want to share it with friends.
11. Barry Graubart – Content Matters LLC @Graubart
Make sure the focus is on engagement, not on generating leads. The content that you provide should be compelling – and don’t make it just a teaser – it has to stand on its own. Make it useful and prospects will be happy to share their information with you. And be consistent – if I registered on your site or followed you because you provided A & B, don’t suddenly change your focus. No one likes a bait & switch.
12. Kelly Hungerford – Paper.li
Take a half a day a month to revisit your buyer personas and ensure that they’re still aligned with your business goals. If your target personas have changed your content won’t be effective and lead generation will be amiss. The recovery will take a lot longer than that initial half day!
14. Alan K’necht – Digital Always Media Inc., @AKnecht
Don’t forget to always have a way for people to give you the lead. This includes a basic registration form for at least an email address. Too often, there is no call to action with any form of capture.
15. Arnie Kuenn – Vertical Measures, author of Accelerate, @ArnieK
If you are offering a free guide download and have any type of gated lead form, make sure you ask yourself one question: Is what I’m providing to a prospective customer enough value in exchange for the information I’m asking them to give me? If you aren’t sure, take a look at your content again and see where you can improve or get rid of some of the required lead form information. If you’re more than sure you’re delivering on value – great! See if there is some more data you think is fair for someone to exchange if that’s the case.
16. Jason Miller – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, @JasonMillerCA
Be smart about your content creation. The mantra for content marketers should be not to create more content, but create more relevant content. Relevance is everything.
17. Jesse Noyes – Kapost
Get inbound and outbound on the same page. Your marketing should be divided up by tactic and/or separate goals. This just results in your paid efforts operating completely independently from your brand awareness and sales enablement folks. Better to get all these efforts working from the same campaign and same calendar.
18. Phil Paranicas – ThomasNet
Don’t “set it and forget it”. Your digital marketing strategy is a living, breathing, dynamic thing. You must measure activity and adjust your strategy accordingly on a regular basis. By studying the behavior of visitors, including the actions that they take, you will get critical clues on how to refine strategies to improve engagement and conversion over time. Face it, we all know this, but why does it fall to the bottom of our priority list? Make a personal commitment to move it to the top of your list.
19. Paul Roetzer – PR 20/20 and author of The Marketing Agency Blueprint.
Understand the difference between a lead and a sales qualified lead (SQL). “Stellar lead generation” should be all about quality, not quantity. For example, if your ebook gets 500 downloads, but none of those contacts every make it to the sales-conversion part of the funnel, then it may be time to revisit your content and lead-generation strategies.
20. Dayna Rothman – Marketo, Author of Lead Generation for Dummies, @dayroth
Don’t forget about nurturing your leads once you have them in your database! Many marketers think that lead generation ends after lead acquisition, however, what are you doing to move leads through your funnel? Just because someone downloaded a whitepaper doesn’t mean they are ready to buy. Once they are in your system you have to use strategies like lead nurturing to educate them throughout their buying journey. That way, new leads become familiar with your company over time, and once they are ready to be sent to sales you will have much better luck closing the deal.
21. Stephanie Sammons – Wired Advisor™ and Sammons Digital, @StephSammons
Minimize the number of calls-to-action on your site so that it’s clear to your visitors what you want them to do. Have a “low friction” call-to-action that is highly visible such as a free guide, webinar, or membership offer. If you include a “high friction” offer on your site such as a complimentary consultation or assessment call (a high friction offer typically will ask for more information), set this up to be offered as the visitor goes through a logical process first. For example, we have both a “free guide” low friction offer on our homepage as well as a “learn more” option. If the visitor clicks through to “learn more”, at the bottom of this page they will be presented with the high friction offer to schedule a free assessment. This barbell approach to lead generation has worked very well for us.
22. Neal Schaffer – Maximize Your Social, Author of Maximize Your Social,@NealSchaffer
Try to make your content – and messaging regarding it – as aligned to specific segments in your target audience as possible. Too general of content and messaging might bring in more “leads,” but they might not be the right ones that will convert.
23. Jim Siegel – HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, @MeaningComfort
Never forget to think from the recipient’s perspective: What’s in it for them? It’s not what you’re looking to sell, it’s what they’re looking to buy or to learn about.
Also, remember that social media are TOOLS. They are NOT a strategy. Start first with objectives and strategy. Subway CMO Tony Pace nailed it recently in the Wall St Journal: “Everybody is chasing the new technologies all the time, but you have to remember that the long-established benchmarks of marketing remain despite the fact the channels are different.”
24. Deborah Weinstein – Strategic Objectives, @DebWeinstein
To generate leads, Strategic Objectives has created a cross-channel model: PESOF
P – Paid amplification of your content
E – Earned media through public relations
S – Shared content – that is both owned content that others share, and found content that you share with your audience
O – Owned content like websites, blogs, social connections, etc.
F – Found – use a Search Engine Optimization strategy to identify the keywords your audience is searching for, and then utilize these keywords in your content creation strategy and web copy.
Leads will be knocking down your door looking to hire your company, if you properly align lead generation efforts across PESOF.
Lead generation, especially in a connected, content-rich world, is a multi-step process. While prospects may be 60% or more of the way through the process before they contact you, don’t expect them to buy from you immediately.
Be prepared to coax prospects through the purchase process by providing them with the 5 basic content types they need, giving them the ability to gather more information and to get their questions answered, and allowing them to purchase when, where and how they wish to do so.
What else would you add to this list? What is your best lead generation tip?