Lead generation is what CEOs, VP of Sales, and Sales Managers worry about the most. Without a steady flow of new prospect leads, sales teams are no closer to closing more deals and sales. Generating new sales leads is a time-consuming process.
With many marketing channels to choose from, selecting the right path to know which one will work best is a challenge. Done right, companies can strategically set in motion a flood of new and consistent quality leads to their business for more predictable revenue.
What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation, or ‘lead gen’ for short, is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects. Someone who has indicated interest in your company’s products or services. Whether you are marketing and selling to business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B). It is a way of warming up potential customers to your business and getting them on the path to eventually making a purchase. Some examples of sales lead generators are job applications, blog posts, coupons, virtual events, and online content.
Hubspot compiled a comprehensive guide titled “Lead Generation: A Beginner’s Guide to Generating Business Leads the Inbound Way” where they outlined how lead generation fits into a company’s inbound marketing strategy. It details easy ways that any VP of Sales or business owner can start generating leads for their small business or company. The Hubspot Inc. CRM software platform makes it easy for entire companies to work together. From marketing, to sales, to customer service, each ‘hub’ is powerful alone, but even better combined together. Hubspot boasts over 113,000 platform users in 120 countries.
Simple Lead Generation Process to Follow
The basic steps of the lead generation process are easy to follow. The first step is a website visitor discovers your business through one of your marketing channels, such as your website, blog, or social media page. That same visitor then clicks on your call-to-action (CTA), whether an image, button, or message that encourages them to take some sort of action.
That CTA takes your visitor to a landing page, which is a web page that is designed to capture lead information in exchange for an offer. An offer is the content or something of value that’s being ‘offered’ on the landing page, like an ebook, a course, or a template. The offer must have enough perceived value to a visitor for them to provide their personal information in exchange for access to it.
Finally, once on the landing page, your visitor fills out a form in exchange for the offer. Online forms are typically hosted on landing pages, although they can technically be embedded anywhere on your site. Once a visitor takes this journey and completes the lead-capture form, you now have a new sales lead to have your VP of Sales or sales team to follow up with.
7 Most Popular Types of Lead Generation Marketing
There are hundreds of ways to generate leads. The key is to narrow down and focus on a handful of ways that are proven to work for your business. If consistent effort and time is not given to any one method, a company will never know if it will effectively work for their needs.
Here are some of the best ways to generate B2B sales leads for those companies that really have set out to master their implementation consistently over time to earn a return on marketing investment.
1. Cold Email Marketing
Email is a relevant part of lead generation. In fact, 59% of marketers consider email their most effective marketing channel for generating B2B leads. When sending cold emails, make sure to personalize them. Research shows that personalized emails are 75% more likely to be clicked on by their recipients. They are also more likely to elicit a response than emails that are not personalized.
2. Content Marketing / Content Creation
Customers, prospect leads, and audience members want valuable content from your business. That content needs to reach audience members in a way that feels natural and organic from an educational-based marketing perspective. Content marketing helps businesses do this by describing the process of attracting, engaging with, and delighting your ultimate target buyers. By honing in on effective content marketing, your company can focus on just that. As a result, increase conversions, improve brand awareness, boost revenue, and establish yourself as an industry leader in the process.
3. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) / SERP Marketing
Improving the search engine optimization (SEO) of your company website to appear on the first page of Google for keywords that describe your product or service is a best practice. This helps to drive free natural organic traffic to your company website and increases your inbound sales leads. Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) marketing has been around since the internet was first created. While SEO is free traffic, it differs from pay-per-click (PPC) ads where a company is paying for each click on their ad.
4. PR (Public Relations) / News Media / Press Releases
The one most overlooked lead generation marketing strategies that could dramatically improve customer lead flow is public relations or ‘PR’. Getting positive media attention for your company is vital to any business success. How can a public relation campaign or press release help get more customers and clients?
Major news media (tv, radio, newspaper, magazines, social media, etc.) that publish newsworthy stories about your company, their readers, listeners, or viewers will learn more about your business. People who read or heard about your business in the news media will think “you must be good” and in turn, could very well go from sales lead prospect to new customer or client very quickly.
5. Linkedin Lead Generation
In “The Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Lead Generation for B2B Companies,” LeadBoxer.com said:
LinkedIn is where professionals go to level up in business. The average user might log on to stay informed about what’s happening in their industry, look for new employees to add to their team, or seek out tools that can optimize their team’s workflows.
If your business offers a solution to their needs, LinkedIn is the best environment for attracting their attention.
There are a few other reasons why LinkedIn is the best place to generate leads for B2B companies.
6. Facebook Lead Generation
Fortunately, B2B brands have many opportunities to generate leads through Facebook. In fact, you don’t have to invest in paid ads in order to grow your brand.
With Facebook Live, Facebook Groups, brand positioning, and more, you can turn your personal and business Facebook pages into sources of lead gen for your B2B business.
VisitorQueue.com shared this in “5 Facebook Lead Generation Strategies for B2B Brands.”
7. Twitter Lead Generation
Did you know Twitter is the most popular social marketing channel for organizations in the UK and other countries?
According to CMI research, 95% of UK marketers choose Twitter as a content marketing platform for lead generation, beating LinkedIn (92%) and Facebook (74%).
If that comes as a surprise, it probably shouldn’t because Twitter has proven itself as one of the most powerful platforms for generating B2B leads and perhaps the only network (aside from LinkedIn) that you can use to capture leads organically.
VentureHarbour.com shared “10 Ways to Use Twitter for B2B Lead Generation.”
How to Qualify Sales Leads and Prospects
One creative lead generation method used by Marty Stewart, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Campaign Writer, and host of Inside Sales TV, was to send roses to a CEO as a lead gen ice-breaker. This unique approach resulted in a $380,000 B2B sales deal very quickly for his client. Another lead gen campaign resulted in a ‘hot’ prospect. This corporate sales strategy led to over $2 million in B2B corporate sales that started from a cold email outreach targeting Fortune 500 CEOs.
“One of the most lucrative corporate email marketing campaigns I wrote for a client came from sending one cold email to top Fortune 500 CEOs. At the time, the 8th ranked company General Electric, with Jeff Immelt as CEO, replied to the email I wrote. My client had multiple conversations with General Electric, and finally did business with them, all as a result of the one email reply from Mr. Immelt,” said Stewart.
Start Lead Scoring
A great way to qualify leads is to use a lead scoring model to gain some of the vital information you need without asking the prospect for it directly. Lead scoring gathers prospect information based on their engagement with your brand and data fields they have previously filled. The more they engage with your website, content and communications, the higher their score. Once they reach a certain number, they’re ready to contact.
Qualifying your sales leads: 6 easy steps from LeadForensics.com shared this.
Understand Their Need
Customer needs should come first. It should trump all other considerations. Without it, there’s no reason to continue with a prospect.
Stop wasting everyone’s time. Don’t be a solution in search of a problem.
If they have no need for your product or service, full stop – or if it can’t provide their desired results, do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
But if you identify a need and results that you can deliver, you’ve got a reason to continue talking.
MailShake.com shared this on A Step-by-Step Process for Qualifying Sales Leads.
Pay Attention to Context, Not Just Content
Close.com shared How to qualify prospects & leads:
Don’t just listen to what prospects say, but also to how they say it. If they tell you they’re super excited about implementing your solution, but their voice is flat and muted … maybe they’re really not super excited.
When you notice this, give them opportunities to clarify things. Don’t grill them: “Oh, you say you’re super excited, but you sound totally bored. Obviously you’re not being honest here!” Simply say something like: “Hey, a lot of times implementing a new solution is really hard. What are some possible issues you might encounter?”
The point is to stimulate a real conversation, to get real information, and not just to comfortably cruise along the surface level.
Qualifying a prospect is vital to the sales process, but it doesn’t have to be complicated:
• Consider Need, Budget, Authority, and Timing of Need.
• In addition to general qualifiers, establish custom qualifiers that are specific to your company.
• Use account-based marketing to take into account the trend for consensus decision making.
• Finally, avoid common mistakes, such as failing to nurture your prospects or not dedicating adequate resources to your sales process.
By following these steps, you can be sure you’re qualifying the right leads, making the best use of your resources, and closing more business.
This was shared by Saleshacker.com’s How to Qualify a Prospect (And 6 Common Mistakes to Avoid).
Lead Generation Tools to Accelerate Results
For outbound lead gen campaigns to earn a rate of return, the first step is to know who you are targeting exactly. That means having a ready list of email addresses or telephone numbers to contact sales prospects. Sometimes this information can be found on mainstream social media websites like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, however, that is not always the case.
For example, if you are an architect wanting to get more residential or commercial real estate projects, you would want to get an email list of high net worth (HNW) homeowners looking to build another home. Or, maybe an email or cell phone list of real estate developers looking to build more commercial property. Having a way to directly contact these types of prospects would be crucial for an architect or architectural firm to generate these type of leads.
There are many lead generation tools on the market. Some popular email and phone number search websites include: Swordfish AI, Zoominfo, Lusha, RocketReach, ContactOut, Uplead, Aeroleads, and others. These were all recently reviewed in a Yahoo Finance article titled “9 Top Contact Finding Tools to Find Email Addresses and Cell Phone Numbers.”
Top 10 Lead Generation Strategies and Tips for Best Results
Define Your Lead Gen Audience
Before you get started with lead generation, you need to first define an audience for your brand. This is because you need to ensure that all of your marketing efforts bear fruit. If you don’t target the right people, they may not respond well to your marketing. This can harm your lead generation efforts.
Instead, if you show your content to relevant people, they may end up becoming strong leads. This is why it is essential that you define your audience before starting off.
To define your audience, you need to come up with a customer persona. This should be based on their locations, behaviors, demographics, and interests. Based on the customer persona, you can build your target audience.
This lead gen strategy came from ShaneBarker.com’s “11 Super Efficient Lead Generation Tactics You Can Implement.”
Lead Generation Starts at Home: Review Your Homepage Messaging
For most marketers, their homepage receives the most visits. Tandberg (since acquired by Cisco), a leader in the field of teleconferencing, increased its lead generation by 50% from a simple homepage CTA that blended with other elements such as the headline, subtitle, and images.
If you’ve been actively promoting your site, your homepage will be getting visitors from referring sites, social media sites, search engines and other sources.
Stuart J. Davidson shared how he reached 140,753 page views within twelve months, since re-launching his blog. Since the homepage receives a tremendous amount of traffic, don’t you think that reviewing and adjusting your homepage messaging might help you generate more leads?
This lead gen strategy came from NeilPatel.com’s “Lead Generation Hacks: 6 Strategies That Will Grow Your Leads By 113%.”
Provide a Freemium Product or Free Trial to Capture Leads
Capture leads from interested and qualified prospects by offering a free trial or freemium product.
Free trials and freemium products attract qualified, interested prospects who aren’t ready to buy.
Once free trial users sign up, you can convert them into paying customers later by teasing paid features and delivering drip email campaigns that promote the benefits of upgraded accounts.
This lead gen strategy came from Alexa.com’s “12 Effective Lead Generation Strategies.”
Lead Capture for Sales
Odds are that about half of your visitors will never return to your site if you do not adequately capture some bit of information from them. A working email address is the best thing a marketer can ask for here, but visitors are not always willing to give this kind of personal information up.
Call-to-action (CTA) buttons like “Sign Up Here” have practically become synonymous with “We are Going to Spam You”, which is why marketers need to find new ways to obtain this information.
Nicholas Kusmich, a Strategic Marketing Consultant and Facebook Ads Specialist, suggests a new rule of thumb for obtaining visitors’ information. Kusmich suggests 2 golden rules be taken into account:
• We must give before we ask.
• Every step of the marketing process (advertisements and promotions) must be valuable in and of itself.
This lead gen strategy came from HubSpot.com’s “How to Create and Execute a Successful Lead Gen Strategy. “
Get Creative with Cold Emails
Cold emailing is hard because you have no prior relationship with the company or person you’re sending it to. So you have to make a good first impression to get results.
Here are a few things we recommend to see more leads from cold emails:
• Be creative to stand out from the crowd. Include things like animated GIFs or memes to catch people’s attention.
• Be funny! Life is boring enough as it is. Sometimes humor can go a long way.
• Get straight to the point and don’t spam people with marketing lingo. Many simply ignore this.
• Send at least 2 followup emails. Just like social media, things tend to get lost in people’s inboxes. Sending two or three emails gives you a better chance of getting seen.
This lead gen strategy came from Kinsta.com’s “Lead Generation – 11 Tips and Strategies for 2021.
Customer Referrals are Golden Leads
A customer referral program is a great way to bridge the gap between wanting to find new leads and leveraging the ones you already have. The main benefit of adopting a referral program is that leads who were referred typically have a faster sales cycle because there’s already a level of built-in trust.
Think about it. Wouldn’t you be more likely to buy something if a good friend highly recommended it?
This lead gen strategy came from ZoomInfo.com’s “The Lead Generation Strategy Guide.“
Educational or Instructional Videos for Content Marketing
Close.com shared “20 lead generation ideas (and strategies) that brought us 200,000 leads:”
Over the past five years, we’ve uploaded nearly 250 videos a year and they’ve been viewed over 1 million times.
Consistency is key with getting traction from your video content. Put in the work, show up every day with a strong message, and you’ll start to see what’s gaining momentum.
Combine video with your written content and you’ll be doing two things at once: adding a new acquisition channel for your audience to discover your content, and offering your readers the option to consume the content over video, rather than just text.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Allows Unlimited Leads
Google Search Ads are another effective way to generate highly targeted leads. However, there are a lot of factors to account for to achieve a successful return on this approach:
• Your ad copy needs to be engaging, which often requires testing and optimization.
• Your keyword research needs to be thorough. Every click is going to cost you money, so you need to ensure that user intent is accurate. Semrush’s PPC Keyword Tool can help with this.
• Your bid strategy also needs to be planned out, or you will burn through your budget.
• Your landing page and creatives need to be engaging and convey the value of what you’re offering in exchange for the sign-up.
This lead gen strategy came from Semrush.com’s “Lead Generation Strategies: The Definitive Guide for Agencies.”
Remarketing is a Smart Way to Turn Prospects into Buyers
Remarketing enables you to tag site visitors and get back in front of them as they go about their business around the web, checking their email, watching YouTube, searching Google and even hanging out on Facebook.
It helps turns abandoners into leads, which is huge considering that 97% of people will leave your landing page without converting. Remarketing amplifies the effect of all of your other startup marketing activities: content marketing, social media marketing, etc., by positioning you in front of your audience again.
This lead gen strategy came from WordStream.com’s “7 Lead Generation Strategies that Work for Startups.“
Measure and Optimize for Better Lead Score and Sales Conversion
When it comes to lead generation, the more you test, the more you know.
Learn how to use A/B testing, calls-to-action (CTAs), imagery, copy choices, and multivariate testing to optimize your lead generation strategy for the best possible results.
This lead gen strategy came from Marketo.com’s “Lead Generation” article.
FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) About Lead Gen
Why Do You Need Lead Generation?
Lead generation is important to a business. Without it, a business will struggle to make sales and expand. A business must have a good lead generation strategy. As a business will struggle to generate leads as they are unsure what type of people they are looking to attract and sell to.
“Why is Lead Generation Important to Business?” was answered by LeadGenera.com.
Why Not Just Buy Leads?
Buying leads brings the illusion you will solve your problem, with the sales team busy reaching out all those contacts and selling new deals.
- They are not qualified: most of the time companies will sell lead lists that are just a list of names, not even checked or qualified.
- They are “used” leads: even if companies claim to offer target leads, how will you be sure that those leads are not being used by your competitor business owners? Imagine how frustrating it can be to reach out to people who are already in contact with your competitors.
- It is a cold call: instead of saving time by reaching out warm or hot leads and nurturing them, the sales team will spend time cold calling and losing focus.
- Buying leads ends up being expensive: This is especially true if you’re a real estate business looking to spend money on real estate lead generation sites or programs online. Buying leads are more expensive and can eat up more of the marketing costs than doing lead generation on your own, through business referrals.
GetTheReferral.com answered this on “Why You Should Stop Buying Leads Now?.”
What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation, or ‘lead gen’ for short, is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects. Someone who has indicated interest in your company’s products or services. Whether you are marketing and selling to business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B). It is a way of warming up potential customers to your business and getting them on the path to eventually making a purchase. Some examples of sales lead generators are job applications for job searches, blog posts, coupons, virtual events, and online content.
What’s the Difference Between Leads?
SuccessAgency.com’s “The Difference Between Cold, Warm and Qualified Leads” article, answered this question, and they said:
Marketers, and particularly online marketers, will preach the benefits of warm and qualified leads over cold leads. But what are warm and qualified leads and how do they apply to online marketing and what makes them so much better than cold leads?
We have all been the on the receiving end of a cold lead cold call. This is when, for example, a credit card company calls you out of the blue and tries to get you to sign up for one of their credit cards. You never contacted them, showed interest in their products or services, and were completely annoyed by them because they probably called you in the middle of dinner.
A warm lead on the other hand is someone who has shown interest in a product or service either by following your company on social media, signing up to your email newsletter, as a referral from a friend or previous client or some other expressed interest. These types of leads are simply prospects who have shown interest in learning more about a product or service, are much more valuable than cold leads, but really only consist of someone whose contact information has now been captured.
Sales Qualified Leads
Qualified leads are the best types of leads because these people tend to be closest to the buying stage of the sales cycle. For example, a person who does a Google search for a specific product or service is a qualified lead because their need has brought them to go online and search for a company like yours.
To get in front of qualified leads via search engines, you’ll likely need to invest in SEO and PPC advertising.
However, there are different stages of qualified leads and these can be established using what is called the BANT approach.
How Will You Generate Sales Leads for Your Business in 2021?
Lead Generation Tip:
Before you start your sales lead generation campaign, be sure you have the correct B2B lead generating and sales prospecting tools to find email addresses, direct dial phone numbers, and even cell or mobile phone numbers for the Decision Makers you are targeting for your outreach.
Swordfish AI provides the most accurate B2B contact information, including cell phone numbers and email addresses of executives, managers, and key decision-makers. Try Swordfish AI now.
Cover Image Licensed from: 123RF.com / Rawpixel.