Inbound lead generation is a solution that can save your organisation from disruptive cold calling and aggressive outbound sales tactics that, for the most, do not work.
In this post, the first in a three-part series, we’ll look at defining an inbound lead and the ins and outs of online lead generation and why inbound lead generation is required with 2020 in mind.
What is lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting prospects into someone who has interest in your organisation's product or service. A way of warming up potential customers to your organisation and getting them on the path to becoming a client or customer.
The process generally concerns offering something, usually content or information, to get prospects naturally interested in an organisation so they eventually warm up to the brand enough to want to hear from a representative. A conversation, in theory, which would not be in any way intrusive with both parties engaged in a relationship building process.
How to Generate Leads
So, to the most important question for anyone in a marketing role: How to generate leads? The lead generation process typically follows a process whereby a prospect follows a pre-determined process set up by the marketing organisation.
First, a prospect discovers your organisation or brand through one of your marketing channels, such as your website, blog or social media page. That visitor then clicks on a CTA — an image, button, or message that encourages prospects to take some sort of action. The CTA takes that prospect to a landing page on your website; a web page designed to capture information in exchange for an offer.
The form on your landing page consists of a series of fields that collects information about the prospect (to build that prospect up to a lead) in exchange for the offer. Forms are typically hosted on landing pages, although they can technically be embedded anywhere on your site, as well as on third-party websites.
An offer is the content or an informative product of value offered on the landing page, such as an e-book, a course or a template. The offer must have enough perceived value to a visitor to merit providing their personal information in exchange for access.
That is typically the first step of the lead generation campaign, commonly referred to as the “awareness” stage of the buyer’s journey from an inbound perspective.
Lead generation marketing
Once you put all the lead generation elements together, you can use your various promotional channels to drive traffic and prospects to your landing pages to start generating leads. What channels can you use to promote your landing page?
The diagram above shows a basic lead generation process with three common channels. There are even more channels you can use to get visitors to become leads. HubSpot describes the three selected channels and explores another three suitable for inbound lead generation.
Content is a great way to guide users to a landing page. Typically, you create content to offer visitors useful, free information. You can include CTAs anywhere in your content — inline, bottom-of-post, in the hero, or even on the side panel. The more impressed a visitor is with your content, the more likely they are to click your call-to-actions and move onto your landing page.
Email is a great place to reach the people who already know your brand and product or service, especially in the B2B setting we operate within. It’s much easier to ask them to take an action since they’ve previously subscribed to your list. Emails tend to be cluttered, so use CTAs that have a compelling copy.
Ads and retargeting Ads
The sole purpose of an ad is to get people to take an action. Otherwise, why spend the money? If you want people to convert, be sure that your landing page and offer match exactly what is promised in the ad, and that the action you want users to take is clear. Ads are a great way to get in front of your target audiences as it is most likely that they are already using the platform, which will also have a lot of data on that user. The downside is, of course, that ads as such tend to be costly.
Blog posts can promote an offer, where the entire blog post can be tailored to the end goal of a download on the landing page. So, if your offer is an educational e-book on some of your key clients using your products, a blog post might hone in on a specific feature of one of the products that pre-empts the download of the e-book.
Social media platforms make it easy to guide your followers to take action, the channel is social by its very nature. You can also promote your content and offers on your social posts. Take a look at (and follow) our social profiles: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
You can break down a lot of barriers to a sale by offering trials of your product or service. Once a prospect is using your product, you can entice them with added offers or resources to encourage them to buy. Another good practice is to include your branding in your free versions so you can also capture other potential customers.
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Why not just buy leads?
Marketers and salespeople want to fill their sales funnels with leads, and they want to fill it quickly. The temptation to buy leads, therefore, becomes greater.
Buying leads, as opposed to organically generating them, is much easier and takes less time and effort, despite being more expensive. But buying leads, although it looks good in terms of top-of-the-funnel numbers, means the numbers further down the funnel will not look so good.
First, any leads you've purchased don't actually know you. They've opted in on another site when signing up for something and didn't actually opt in to receiving anything from your organisation. The messages you send them are therefore unwanted messages, and sending unwanted messages is intrusive, which probably won't convert.
If the prospect has never been to your website and indicated an interest in your, products or services, then you’re interrupting them. If they’ve never opted in to receive messages from you, then there’s a high chance they could flag your message as spam. It’s always better to generate leads organically than to buy them.
The next post we'll look at how to do this...
This blog post is the first in a three-part blog series. Follow this link for part two on lead generation strategies and tips.