The Beginner’s Guide to Lead Generation

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So, your business has finally developed a premium skincare product that promises to blow the competition away. It offers faster skin rejuvenation that lasts at least three times longer than other similar products in the market.

Now for the million-dollar question: How do you get this product in front of enough people?

Because, while your company’s product may stand head and shoulders above every other product on the market, none of this matters if you cannot establish an audience for it. The answer to this puzzle can be found in the concept of lead generation.

Simply put, lead generation is how companies build an audience to which they can market and sell their products and services. Consistently generating leads forms a vital component of any successful business operation. Companies should, therefore, give special attention to developing proper lead generation strategies. 

For those wondering how to kick-start their lead generation process, you’ve come to the right place!

We have compiled a comprehensive guide to get your lead generation journey started. We’ll take you through the ‘need-to-know’ stuff, chat about processes, and also throw in some excellent lead generation ideas. Your journey to great leads starts now.

What is a lead?

Let’s kick off with the easy stuff. A lead is any person who displays any interest in a company’s products or services in some form. This interest can be displayed in a variety of ways, such as responding to an online survey or requesting a callback from a company by forwarding contact details to them.

Leads are essentially visitors that companies hope to convert into clients. Before you can successfully transform visitors into clients, you need to understand what type of lead you’re dealing with.

Not every lead is automatically ready to become a customer. For this reason, you must qualify (or segment) your leads, so you’ll know to proceed. Leads can be qualified into one of four categories:

  • Marketing-qualified leads: These are leads who’ve had contact with a company’s marketing division, but they aren’t quite ready to make a purchase.
  • Sale-qualified leads: Leads who are ready to become clients.
  • Product-qualified leads: Leads who may have already used a company’s product (possibly through a free trial) and are now ready to become clients.
  • Service-qualified leads: Leads who have informed a company’s service division that they are ready to become clients.

So what is lead generation?

By definition, lead generation refers to the process of attracting people to a business, intending to convert them into leads that express an interest in that business’s products and services. To put it another way, it is the process of getting someone interested in a product or service when they initially didn’t have any interest in it.

There are many different methods of generating leads. Still, they all have the same goal: attracting a potential audience in the hope of getting them interested in a product or service.

The lead generation concept is particularly important in the small business environment. Small businesses often operate in competitive markets and, as a result, need to find new and inventive ways of inviting potential clients to take a closer look at their wares.

What does the lead generation process look like?

Lead generation is all about attracting potential customers to your brand and getting them interested in the goods and services on offer, rather than hard-selling to clients who have never displayed the slightest interest in your product.

The lead generation process is relatively straightforward, but, when executed correctly, it can yield thousands of high-quality leads for a company. The process looks something like this:

  • An individual becomes aware of a particular business through one of its many advertising and marketing channels, for example, a survey email in the client’s inbox, or a competition that the company runs on its social media pages.
  • The individual clicks on the “call-to-action’ link. This call-to-action link usually presents as an icon that invites the individual to take action.
  • Once the call-to-action (or CTA) is selected, the individual may be re-directed to the company website, where they will need to provide some personal and contact information to complete the survey or be entered into the competition officially.
  • Once the individual completes the relevant information, the company has generated a new lead.

As mentioned above, once the lead has been generated, you must qualify the lead before proceeding. It may be that the lead was only interested in the “special offer” at this stage and may need to be nurtured before he or she is finally ready to make a purchase.

Now that we’ve examined the basics, we’ll take a quick look at several lead generation strategies.

You’ve got mail

It may be hard to believe, but email marketing is still seen as one of the most effective lead generation methods. According to several studies, emails rank as the top method that marketers use to drive leads for their pipeline.

Almost 80% of business-to-business (B2B) marketers regard email marketing as one of their most effective distribution channels. Emails work particularly well with people who are already aware of your brand.

A small business tip: It’s easy for potential customers to miss your mail through the myriad of emails that they receive daily, so make sure that your mail has enough to grab their attention. Also, it’s a good idea to include an opt-in and opt-out strategy, so customers don’t feel trapped by your regular mails.

Fill up on content

Content provides a wonderful, non-intrusive way to get new potential customers interested in a company’s offering. Numerous companies offer free access to resources and articles on their site. These articles and resources usually contain a CTA link should the website visitor wish to further engage with the company.

Some businesses have taken the route of offering gated content as well. While much of the content is free, certain portions of the material remain locked to website users. This ‘exclusive’ content only becomes available once an individual completes a lead capture form. Once the form is completed, a lead is generated for the company, and the user may now access the once-restricted content.

Build your social network

Social media platforms provide an excellent opportunity for lead generation. Through social media, companies now have access to a far larger audience than they’ve ever had before. The stats back up this claim: according to some reports, Instagram boasts one billion users every month. Around 500 million users frequent the platform every single day! In light of this, it makes sense for businesses to use social media marketing to acquire potential new customers. Indeed, many companies already do this, by inviting users to ‘swipe up’ on Instagram stories, or by clicking the link in their latest promoted tweet.

A small business tip: as you consider ways to attract a larger audience, make sure that social media marketing forms part of your strategy. Research has shown that it costs far less to advertise on social media compared to other ‘traditional’ methods of advertising. Social media marketing can help small businesses reach a massive audience while still helping to keep advertising expenses low.

If you want loyalty, get with the program

Customer loyalty programs are a great lead generation strategy. According to numerous studies, customers are more likely to interact with companies that offer rewards or loyalty points. Loyalty programs can be used to attract potential customers with rewards in the form of cashback rewards, discounts or even free items when they complete their first purchase.

Loyalty programs also provide valuable lead data. Through customer interaction with a loyalty program app, companies can collect data on which individuals are interested in which items.

This results in businesses being able to offer a more tailored solution to particular types of potential customers, increasing the likelihood of customer engagement and, quite possibly, some quality sales.

Take it for a trial run

Product trials provide another excellent method of generating leads. Often clients may be sceptical about spending money on goods or services that they may not be familiar with. By allowing prospective customers to ‘try before they buy’, companies have the opportunity to show these prospects the full extent of their product or service range. Even if the potential client opts not to buy at the end of the trial period, the company would still have generated another lead and, through continued engagement, may be able to garner a sale at a later stage.

So, there you have it. A beginner’s guide to the world of lead generation.

Whether it’s a small business or a large enterprise, lead generation is critical for survival and growth. It must be considered as part of any customer acquisition strategy.

The lead generation ideas presented here have all proven to be quite successful. If your business hasn’t adopted a lead generation plan as yet, you are missing out on creating a wider audience for your product or service. It may be time to rethink your strategy.

For more ideas on how to implement a successful customer acquisition strategy, read our recent article which highlights some timeless tried-and-tested strategies to attract new customers.

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