Nearly every business must rely on lead generation to boost and maintain sales. Leads are potential new customers who will, hopefully, keep buying from you. However, new clients won’t arrive on your doorstep without awareness of your brand and how it can help them.
That said, lead generation involves more than creating awareness. It’s also about capturing contact information so sales reps can nurture leads through the buyer’s journey. Some business use lead generation tools, such as online contact forms. Others hire a lead generation agency to handle the logistics.
Either way, lead generation strategies, and activities apply to businesses in nearly every industry. However, marketing and sales employees do the lion’s share of the work. Below we’ll review what lead generation involves and ways to go about it.
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What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation consists of companies’ ideas and techniques to attract interest in products and services. The goal is to convert that interest into a sale and develop an ongoing relationship. A company can implement outbound or inbound lead generation strategies.
Most businesses implement a combination of outbound and inbound lead generation ideas. Inbound strategies focus on getting potential customers to respond to marketing campaigns. For example, leads may fill out online forms, request product demos, or download digital content.
Outbound activities involve staff initiating contact. Social media posts, cold calls, and mass email blasts are examples of outbound efforts. Once people respond, they may move through the lead generation funnel. The funnel qualifies interested parties as viable prospects and converts them into paying customers.
Who Should Use Lead Generation?
Almost every business should implement lead generation tools and strategies to stay viable and competitive. Even brands with household names like Coca-Cola use some form of lead generation. However, just because your business has high brand authority and awareness today, doesn’t mean it will tomorrow.
Furthermore, a brand can have a high awareness for the wrong reasons. Poor reputations and past mistakes may haunt companies for years. A lead generation agency can help businesses overcome credibility and authority problems.
Why Lead Generation Marketing is Important
Lead generation marketing usually consists of inbound activities. It’s often marketing’s job to bring in the leads and initially qualify them. Without marketing, building brand awareness and credibility are challenging.
What happens when you see an online ad for a product or service? If that ad appeals to your needs, there’s a good chance you’ll click on it to learn more. That ad may direct you to an online store or a landing page. After browsing around, you might do one of the following:
- Fill out an online form to have someone call or email you with more information.
- Sign up for the company’s email newsletter.
- Create an online store account and save the product in a favorites list.
- Register for a webinar, an online product demo, or a digital event.
In these cases, you haven’t purchased anything yet. However, you’ve expressed interest, and the company has your information. More importantly, you’ve given the business permission to contact you. Different lead generation business strategies may use your email address, name, phone number, or mailing address.
Whichever way a company contacts you and follows up on your interest becomes part of the qualification process. If leads aren’t interested or provide false contact information, they’re not high-quality. Quality leads are critical to a business’s success because they’re more likely to convert. Targeting the right audiences with inbound efforts increases the quality of the leads a company gathers.
The Lead Generation Pipeline Explained
Not all leads become customers. A lead generation pipeline reveals which contacts convert and which drop out. For example, let’s say someone fills out an online contact form to learn more. A sales rep calls them back but finds out they’re not qualified because of their credit score.
That lead drops out of the pipeline. However, another lead that filled out the form is qualified by sales to purchase the product. But they want to do more research before making a decision. The sales rep sends them a product flyer or supporting details to help. The lead calls back two weeks later and purchases the product.
Both leads went through the pipeline, but someone who doesn’t convert after doing additional research also moves through it. They become a cold lead or someone who may no longer be interested. It’s up to the sales team to determine why and continue their conversion efforts if appropriate.
Quality leads are critical to a business’s success because they’re more likely to convert. Targeting the right audiences with inbound efforts increases the quality of the leads a company gathers.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Lead Generation
Here are a few pros:
- Boosts sales revenue
- Increases brand awareness
- Expands market reach
- Integrates marketing and sales efforts
Now for the cons:
- Outbound methods may be intrusive.
- Inbound methods may produce little or no immediate results.
- Costs can become expensive, and ROI can go down.
How to Launch a Lead Generation Campaign
A lead generation campaign usually involves some form of digital marketing. So, what is lead generation in digital marketing? Well, it’s inbound methods with some carefully leveraged outbound tactics.
Launching an effective lead gen campaign may start with an online webinar. First, you gather attendees’ information from registration forms. On the registration form is an option to receive a follow-up email or call- your sales team contacts attendees who agree to this.
The team nurtures the relationship by sharing more information, offering to answer questions, and seeing how your business can help. As attendees move through the pipeline, they may opt out, decline to respond, set up demos, or make purchases. However, sales reps serve as attendees’ main points of contact. They also record the results of each interaction.
Lead generation involves sales and marketing departments and is critical to driving sales revenue. Campaigns can consist of inbound or outbound activities, although the most effective campaigns use both.
While not every lead will convert, businesses can increase the likelihood of gaining quality leads. Proper nurturing of the relationship and knowing where to focus lead generation efforts are also crucial to success.
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