Getting customers. That’s what business is all about.
But it’s one heck of a process. There is so much that goes into turning a complete and total stranger into a happy-paying customer.
You have to attract their attention, make them see value in your product, pique their interest.
And then, after all that, by some miracle, you have to convince them to give you money.
This doesn’t even include all of the impenetrable obstacles along the way.
So how do you do it?
Unfortunately, there is no one right answer. No simple trick that will get people begging for your product.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t strategies you can take and make them work for you and your business.
In this article, we are going to go over some. Specifically, strategies pertaining to lead generation.
So, before you start paying for random ads, posting blindly on Facebook, or buying leads, here are some cheap but effective ways to start generating leads.
WHAT IS A LEAD?
Let’s start with the basics.
A lead is any person who has expressed interest in a product or service offered by a business.
The key words there are that a lead has expressed interest.
Knowing that someone is interested in what you have to offer makes them far more likely to become a customer than a complete stranger.
Just think about it logically. If you are planning dinner with friends and they say they want to eat Italian food, would it be easier to convince them to go to an Italian restaurant or a Mexican one?
But this article isn’t about turning leads into customers, but strangers into leads.
So let’s talk about the lead generation process.
THE LEAD GENERATION PROCESS
Lead generation is exactly what it sounds like: generating leads.
As a b2b marketer, you are taking total strangers and getting them to indicate some sort of interest in your company. In other words, turning them into leads.
We’ll get more into specific strategies and tactics you can implement to generate leads, but the process looks a little something like this:
- Someone discovers your business through one of your marketing channels.
- They then click on a call-to-action that brings them to a landing page (a standalone page that is part of marketing campaigns).
- On this landing page, the visitor fills out a form, giving their information in exchange for some kind of service.
And there you go! Now you have a lead. Someone who has expressed interest in your company, and has given you their contact information so you can go ahead and begin the process of converting them into a paying customer.
Now, in terms of a specific lead generation strategy, there are a lot of ways to go about it.
Most fall under either inbound marketing or outbound marketing.
This article is about Inbound lead generation, so let’s look at what inbound marketing is, then we can talk about the different tactics you can use.
WHAT IS INBOUND MARKETING?
You know how you sometimes get random calls, emails, smoke signals, and other forms of communication from companies trying to force their product down your throat?
When that happens, what do you think?
“Oh, this is great! I totally want this product, let me give you my money!”
“How the heck did this company get my information? This is so annoying I was in the middle of ironing my napkins now I need to block this number.”
If I had to guess, it was probably the latter.
So that’s outbound marketing. It is when you interrupt someone’s day and try to sell them your product.
Inbound marketing is the opposite.
Instead of you reaching out to people, inbound marketing gets people to initiate contact with you.
You attract them to your business by offering a solution or demonstrating value to them through your marketing.
Advantages of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is a more organic way of bringing in a customer. You can create a stronger feeling of trust because the customer initiated contact, making them feel more in control.
You also know when you then reach out to them, that they are definitely interested, making the transition to a lead or customer more likely when compared to calling random people.
More often than not, people also get annoyed with outbound marketing, with the interruption of a phone call or email they didn’t ask for becoming a nuisance.
People have also become pretty good at blocking out ads.
According to Albacross, 38% of adults have installed an ad blocker and 50% actively avoid ads. The average click rate on ad displays is .35%.
And when compared to outbound lead generation, inbound is responsible for 90%+ of clips on the web, while outbound is responsible for less than 10%.
Inbound marketing is also far less expensive than outbound marketing. 62% less to be precise.
Put simply, inbound is way better.
INBOUND LEAD TACTICS
There are tons of ways to get leads.
Because this is about inbound marketing, the following strategies will be focused on getting your customers to come to you.
They will involve offering good content and incentives, all of which are designed to allow your potential lead to build trust with you and see value in your product or service. This is called lead nurturing.
These were mentioned in the lead generation process earlier, but it is worth going over again in detail.
The CTA or call to action is essentially a link embedded within one of your strategies that brings your potential lead to a landing page.
It is called a CTA because it usually looks like you are asking your visitor to do something. It can be:
“For more information, click here!”
“To sign up, go to our webpage!”
Those are some pretty generic examples and you would obviously make a CTA that fits your product and what you are offering, but you get the idea.
Places to embed your CTA
Providing quality, entertaining and useful content can be very helpful in getting someone onto your landing page.
Offering information on your product or the field in which you are in, or free advice will help people see value in your company and what you can provide.
And if your content is entertaining and tailored to your target audience, it can help people build a personal connection with your business.
Content can come in several different forms, including:
- White Pages
3.6 billion people use social media.
If you’re not on it, then what are you doing?
It is such a powerful tool, as you can give bite-sized versions of what you would give in the content section.
This is extremely important, because we currently live in a time where people’s attention spans are now less than that of the goldfish , and most people only scroll through about 50% of articles.
So that means if you are still reading this, you’re probably a goldfish.
Social media is also a great place where you can produce entertaining and engaging content that can again, create a more personal relationship with your target audience.
Just think of all of those hilarious tweets from Wendy’s:
If someone has already given you their email, then they have already expressed interest, meaning that it is more likely they will spend money on your product.
In your emails, you can embed your CTA’s in reminders about sales, events coming up, special offers, rewards and so much more.
Be sure to make your emails simple and aesthetically pleasing. You want them to stand out.
But don’t send too many emails!
You would hate to drive your potential customer to hit the dreaded “unsubscribe button” because you bombarded them with too many emails.
The Landing Page
The landing page is where a stranger officially becomes a lead.
On the landing page, a person will give you their information, usually on some sort of form asking for their name and possibly:
- Phone number
It can also include a survey that asks about their spending habits, personality, and other demographics.
It helps to have something to offer your new lead in return as an incentive for them to give you their information.
Incentives For Your Landing Page
Product Trials/Limited Version
You can give your new lead either a free trial of your product or a limited version of it.
This gives them time to use your product and, hopefully, they will see the value in it and like it enough to purchase it!
This works great for online-based products, like apps and software.
In this case, in exchange for their information, you offer them educational benefits, training, or networking opportunities. These are less tangible but can be just as valuable to people.
Events are also a great place to personally interact with your leads, which can help build your relationship with them and instill trust in your company.
Events can take place both in-person and online in the form of:
- Speaking presentations
Come on, who doesn’t love a good sale?
Offering discounts and coupons can be a great way to push someone over the fence when debating to buy something.
And hopefully, they will love your product enough that they will become a long term customer as well.
It also shows that they aren’t just a lead, but a lead with a great potential to purchase, as claiming a discount or coupon shows they are likely to use it (More on how to qualify your leads later).
A newsletter is great for a few reasons. It is:
- Free and easy to make.
- Can be chocked full of information and free advice that customers can find useful.
- Organically informs leads about your product, helping them see value in it.
- Can create a more personal feel by being sent to your leads directly.
REMEMBER: BE UNIQUE
A quick reminder if you use any of the above strategies for your lead generation effort.
Think of them more as starting points or templates.
Because your product is unique, your marketing strategies, and therefore lead generation, should be unique.
If you write a blog, you can write about more than just your product.
Throw in advice, tips, current events, or other topics related to what you do.
For example, if you’re selling software that helps people format their screenplays, your blog can contain advice on writing for film and TV or news about some of the best screenwriters.
The point is, be creative with what you do. Mold your lead generation tactics to your products.
And don’t be afraid to try something new!
HOW TO QUALIFY YOUR LEADS
So now you have a bunch of leads, but you’ve acquired them in several different ways.
How do you figure out which leads are most likely to become customers? How do you know which ones to target heavily, and which ones do you back off a bit so you don’t scare them away?
Below are a few different categories of leads that will help answer these questions, as well as tips for creating a scale for your leads.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
A marketing qualified lead is someone who has expressed interest in your company and has
engaged with your marketing efforts.
They are more likely to become a paying customer than most leads, however, they haven’t expressed direct interest in making a purchase.
So, when it comes to MQLs, you want to keep your marketing efforts up with them.
If they signed up for a newsletter, make sure they keep getting them.
If they requested coupons, send friendly reminders, or offer new deals.
But don’t push too hard. Again, they haven’t expressed a direct interest in completing a purchase, so they likely aren’t ready for a sales call.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
Product Qualified Lead (PQL)
If your lead has taken up your free trial or limited version offer, then they are a Product Qualified Lead.
This means they have spent time with your product. They didn’t just sign up for it but have used it in some meaningful way.
What “a meaningful way” means is dependent on your product. It could be a certain amount of time used, a certain number of uses, or some other engagement.
Once someone has used your product for a while, hopefully, they have enjoyed it or found it useful and will be ready to finally make a purchase.
Service Qualified Lead
Once you get a service qualified lead, you have practically made the sale.
Service-qualified leads are people who have directly stated to a service representative that they are interested in becoming a paying customer.
At this point, your service representative will transfer them to their sales team, and let them get to work.
The above categories can help determine how much of a lead your leads are, but they can also help to create a lead scoring system.
By assigning your leads numbers on a scale, you can quantitatively determine their level of interest from “indicated interest” to “ready to purchase.”
This is helpful because having a uniform scale is more efficient, as everyone will know what each number means and what to do next.
Creating the criteria and scale will be up to you, as every lead generation campaign is different.
Essentially what you can do though is look at the actions leads have taken and use them to determine how interested they are.
For example, someone who has only signed up for a newsletter will be ranked lower than someone who has contacted customer service to ask questions about a product.
Be sure to critique and adjust your scale as needed, because you may find that certain actions are more or less likely to lead to customers than you originally thought.
DON’T GET DISCOURAGED
You’re going to get a lot of leads, but not all of them are going to turn into customers.
And that’s ok. It’s part of running a business. There are many things that you will be able to try out – social media marketing, improving your marketing funnel, using a new lead generation tool, cold calling, etc.
The important thing is not to get discouraged over losing some leads.
Because sometimes it is out of your control.
A lead may determine that they don’t actually need your product or are unable to afford it, no matter how good your marketing efforts are.
When you lose a lead, it also offers an opportunity to learn and grow.
When that happens, take a step back, look at what you did, and see if there is something you can do better or differently next time.
Did you send too many emails? Not enough?
Can you demonstrate the value of your product better?
Could you offer more meaningful advice or information in your videos?
There is no one way to get leads or turn them into customers. It is going to take a lot of trial and error to find the best methods that will work for you.
So be sure to keep your spirits high and learn from your mistakes!