Leads – every business needs them. Whether you’re just starting out or are promoting a new product or service, lead generation is essential to every marketer. From attracting visitors to converting them into customers, generating leads is the crucial first step in growing your business. Once you create new leads, this will take you to the next step in your sales funnel.
But, how exactly do you generate leads for your business? With the current pandemic, many businesses and services have finally made the transition from working in the office to remote work, or work-from-home. Many businesses, including traditional brick-and-mortars, have quickly made the shift from in-person to digital, accelerated by the pandemic.
As everything moves online and as more and more companies continue to make their digital transformation, it’s important to know how to attract and retain your audience’s attention from behind the screen. So, read on to find out more on how to create lead generation strategies for your business!
What is lead generation?
Before we get started, what exactly is lead generation? Lead generation is the process of attracting and maintaining the interest of potential customers via inbound and outbound marketing strategies.
In today’s world, inbound marketing is a lot more popular than outbound, with people increasingly shunning cold-calls and unsolicited marketing and seeking out products and services that they are actually interested in. Inbound marketing is about giving customers what they want and when they want it. So, lead generation and inbound marketing go hand-in-hand.
Lead generation vs. Lead nurturing
What’s the difference between lead generation and lead nurturing? They are both part of the sales funnel and sound pretty similar. Lead generation is the creation of new leads, whereas lead nurturing is building and maintaining relationships with those leads, in order to convert visitors to loyal customers. As mentioned, generating leads is the first step of the sales funnel. Lead nurturing is the ongoing process of developing leads throughout the sales funnel. Therefore, lead generation is where you start your inbound marketing journey.
But which one is more important? Both are essential and necessary steps for building your sales funnel. Without new leads, you won’t have anyone to establish new relationships with to eventually turn into customers. And without nurturing these leads, you may lose customer attention and interest further down your sales funnel – you need to create and nurture leads in order to make sales.
Benefits of Lead Generation
Successful lead generation is the foundation to building a thriving, successful business. There are many, many benefits involved in producing leads. It increases brand reach and exposure, engages and informs your audience, helps attract potential customers, and eventually increases prospects and sales, to name a few. Lead generation is a necessary part of any business strategy and must be done. That being said, there are many different marketing methods you can use to create lead generation strategies for your business.
Ways to Generate Leads for your Business
There are lots of different ways that you can generate new leads for your business. As a marketer, there are two ways that you can go about this – through inbound or outbound marketing. Inbound marketing is creating and distributing content that customers find valuable and engaging; it’s essentially the same as content marketing. Outbound marketing on the other hand, involves using more traditional, old-school marketing approaches like direct mail, radio and TV ads, and telemarketing – it’s often called “interruption marketing”.
Inbound marketing is used much more than outbound, as people can easily learn about the company in question online. Almost every business has their own website, social media accounts, or page these days, so people can easily find out more about the company on their About Us or social media pages. Also, inbound marketing often provides timely and relevant content to the viewer, so it’s information people actually want to see. Content marketing is intended to stimulate interest in the audience, without actually trying to sell them anything. Outbound is more explicit and direct in its marketing.
Here are some common ways to generate leads as a digital marketer, via inbound and outbound marketing strategies:
Inbound marketing approaches
Email marketing is one of the most common and effective way to generate leads. This involves promoting your business via email. Your visitors will view your site content and see some kind of call-to-action (CTA) asking them to sign-up to receive updates or information about your business’ products and services.
For example, your visitor sees that you’re offering a free e-book on how to grow their company’s social media presence, is interested, and enters in their name and email address in your ‘Subscribe now’ box. You can then use this info to create an email distribution list containing the email addresses of all your subscribers. Whenever you send out an email update, your email will only be sent to those who have ‘opted-in’ or subscribed to receive your email messages. This is a form of ‘permission-based marketing’, as everyone on your distribution list has already given their consent to be there. Common types of marketing emails include: information emails, company updates, updates on products and services, and newsletters.
· Highly targeted and segmented – The emails you send out to your audience goes out only to those who signed up for your email list, so these visitors have already expressed some degree of interest in your products and services.
· Very cost-effective – It is generally free to create and send messages to your email distribution list, with many email marketing tools like Hubspot and Mailchimp offered at zero cost for basic services.
· Super easy to use – Email marketing is easily automated, with a message that you can write and schedule to send out at any time.
· Has a high reach – With often no size limit to your email marketing list, you can send your marketing message to as many people as you’d like. Just make sure you check and update your distribution list from time to time, just to make sure there’s no duplicates or opt-outs if it’s not updated automatically!
· Instantaneous – You can send your marketing message out to your audience instantly at the click of a button.
· Impersonal – Although email marketing is targeted to a specific audience group, it tends to be a bit impersonal with the hundreds or thousands of other contacts on your email list.
· Easy to ignore – Email messages are easy to overlook, especially if the customer doesn’t check their inbox much and if your message is unfortunately sent to their junk folder. Email marketing has a low open rate on average, at just 15-25%, according to Campaign Monitor in 2020.
· Not very engaging – Email is not the best way to communicate. As most people these days prefer to message directly through text or instant messaging apps, many don’t check their email outside of work. If they do, it may not be till the following day or even week. Also, because you’re not communicating directly with your audience, email marketing is not as ‘rich’ or engaging as face-to-face interactions.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
People have been using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for years now to like, share, and follow others. With the prevalence and growing usage of social media (SM), it’s an absolute must for your business to have some sort of social media presence these days for effective social media marketing. Facebook and Instagram are the most common social media platforms for online businesses, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter.
· Has a very high reach – With the millions of social media users all over the world, your ad can easily reach hundreds of thousands of people.
· Helps increase site traffic – Due to the huge numbers of people on social media, your social media posts can really increase the number of visitors to your website.
· Highly targeted and segmented – You can create your SM ad based on a bunch of demographics like your audience’s age, gender, occupation, and interests, to name a few. So, a significant portion of users who see your ad will be interested in clicking on it.
· Instantaneous – Your sponsored ad is posted immediately at the click of a button.
· Extremely competitive – So many other businesses are promoting their business on social media these days, so the competition is very fierce, especially if you’re not in a niche or specialized industry.
· Is very time-consuming – Developing your business’ social media presence requires daily monitoring, engaging with customers by responding to their messages and comments, and needs to be updated regularly.
· Can be costly – Promoting, or ‘boosting’ your social media ads can be costly. For example, your boosted post of $20.00 on Facebook can run out within hours if many users were exposed to and clicked on it. You may find that you’ll need a higher advertising budget, depending on the size of your audience and industry.
· Can be subject to online bullying or attacks – Although still rare, anything online these days is at risk of online attacks like cyberbullying, information leaks, hacks, and negative publicity. That’s why it’s important to monitor your social media accounts regularly, respond to negative feedback from customers, and maintain a positive brand image as much as you can.
With the increasing popularity of videos comes the increasing use of video marketing. YouTube is now the second largest search engine in the world after Google, even though it wasn’t intended to be used as a search engine. DIYs, how-tos, Q&As, and vlogs continue to be the most watched video content. With how user-friendly it is and its free usage, YouTube continues to soar in popularity with users from pretty much every age group and demographic.
· Has a very high reach – YouTube is the largest video sharing site in the world. In fact, if it were a country, it would be the third largest after just China and India! So, you can imagine how many users your videos can potentially reach!
· Helps increase site traffic – Because of YouTube’s immense popularity, your videos can reach many people across the globe.
· Very engaging – Videos are a rich and entertaining medium, having lots of visuals and sound effects. Plus, the audience can see and hear everything that’s going on in your videos, so they tend to feel more connected to you this way.
· Highly targeted and segmented – Because YouTube recommends videos to users based on what they’ve previously watched, they will make it more likely that your video is viewed by some one who has seen something similar. Also, you can set details for your videos like tags (which are keywords), categories, age range, and language, which helps segment your video to the right audiences.
· Is permanent – Once you upload a video, it will stay there unless you hide or remove it, or unless YouTube flags it for whatever reason.
· Is very time-consuming – Uploading a video takes a lot of time and effort, from setting up your filming location to actually shooting it and finally editing your video. Even just a two- minute video can take a few hours to edit if you need to add captions, annotations, transitions, and other adjustments.
· Can be costly – Hiring a video marketer or some one else to make your videos can be pretty costly due to all the time and effort involved.
· Very competitive – As with social media, there are millions of YouTube users out there and it can be hard to get a wide audience, unless your videos are highly targeted.
Podcasts are digital audio files, uploaded by individuals, celebrities, companies, and TV or radio networks, that are typically available as a series. The most common types of podcasts are interviews or talk shows, news, comedy series, audio versions of books, and storytelling. Like videos, podcasts are continuing to grow in popularity, with people listening to it while doing something at the same time, or while on the go.
· Is easy to create – As podcasts don’t involve any visuals, they are fairly easy to produce, especially compared to videos.
· Very cost-effective – Unlike videos, podcasts don’t require any sort of set-up.
· Engaging – Podcasts can be pretty engaging to your audience, especially when they can hear the expressions and tones of some one’s voice in the recording.
· Convenient – Once your podcast is up, listeners can tune in whenever they feel like it.
· Relatively low competition – The podcast market is still relatively unsaturated compared to social media and videos, so the competition isn’t at a cut-throat level just yet!
· Accessibility – As podcasts are audio files, listeners need to be plugged in or in a relatively quiet place to be able to hear it properly. Also, podcasts should be close-captioned for those who are hard-of-hearing, otherwise it’s not a very useful medium.
· Not easily searchable – Because they are not visual or text files, podcasts can be a bit difficult to search online, unless you add captions, keywords, or an online transcription of it.
Blogs and Articles
Ahhhh, the classic blog. Pretty much every business has some kind of blog, and with the event of covid-19, more people are staying indoors and reading more – some have even started their own blogs! Blogging has been here for a while now, and although countless new pages are added to search engines every day, blogs are here to stay.
· Easy to create – Blog posts don’t have to involve many visuals; you just have to write a post about something.
· Very cost effective – It’s pretty inexpensive to get your own blog domain to get started.
· Helps increase site traffic – If your blogs are timely, engaging and provide valuable, helpful content to your audience, they will likely click through to your website.
· Can be highly targeted and segmented – If you do your research, write your blog well, and provide the perfect keywords, images, and ALT (image) text, your blog will appear to the right users on search engines.
· Convenient and highly accessible – People can read your blog whenever they feel like it, as long as it’s there.
· Extremely competitive – There are countless of other blogs out there these days, so competition is extremely fierce.
· Not growing very fast – Compared to other content types like videos and podcasts, blogs are not growing in popularity as quickly.
· Is pretty time-consuming – In order to stay relevant and timely, blogs should be updated regularly, at least once a week; you don’t necessarily have to keep posting new content. However, it’s important to create ‘evergreen’, or everlasting content, and repurpose (reuse) content several times a month.
Outbound marketing approaches
Because of the nature of marketing these days, outbound marketing is not used as much as inbound marketing. But, this does not mean that outbound is dead. With the right timing and approach, outbound marketing can be just as effective as inbound marketing. That being said, here are examples of common outbound marketing approaches.
· Banner and Display Ads – Including search and display ads and pop-up ads
· TV/Radio Ads – Ads on television or on radio broadcasts
· Print Ads – Newspapers, flyers, brochures, billboards
· Tradeshows – In-person exhibitions promoting products and services
· Telemarketing – Cold calls
Of all these, tradeshows are considered the most relevant and valuable in building potential leads, as many people who attend these events have expressed some interest in the company. Also, tradeshows involve seeing people face-to-face, so you will be able to showcase the product, answer questions, and have a more in-depth discussion about your business.
‘Cold-calls’, a.k.a telemarketing has always had a bad rep in the marketing world, but calling people can be a good way to connect. Communicating over the phone is a more engaging and personal way to speak with potential customers, as well as answer any questions they may have about your products. But make sure you send some content, such as your company website, or some info about your products and services to them first, so your call won’t be totally unsolicited. That’s why it’s important that you pursue inbound marketing techniques first before trying out any outbound ones.
Which methods are best?
Which marketing methods are best for your business? The short answer is: it depends. With the advent of covid, everything has shifted online, so inbound marketing is the norm these days, with its mostly online distributed content. Most businesses use a combination of different techniques, with SEO/search engine marketing, email marketing, SMM, blogs, and video marketing being the most common. It’s rare for marketers to use outbound or traditional approaches these days, unless the leads have already expressed some degree of interest in the company first.
Lead generation is essential to every business, and it’s super important that you have a good lead generation strategy to bring in new prospects. There are many different approaches you can use to do this, and neither one is necessarily better than the other. Just do your research first, try a bunch of different techniques, and go for it!!!!!