Leads are the life blood of any business, without leads you don't have anyone to turn into customers. And we all need customers!
Lead generation is all about connecting with people who need what you have to offer. Then building your relationship so when they are ready to buy, they buy from you.
Well not quite. There are lots things you could do to generate leads for your business. The trick is to create a lead generation process that generates ongoing leads at a reasonable cost using some lead generation software to manage the process.
Without having a solid plan in place you can easily burn money on a range of tactics that have no long term benefit.
It's important to have a well considered strategy. One that you can build on and measure. Then improve.
Your lead generation process will need to move people through some basic steps.
Attracting visitors to your business website.
Converting visitors to leads that you can contact.
Moving contacts to deeper engagement.
Making the sale.
It helps to think of the whole process as a funnel or set of sales stages. Then work on moving people through it one step at a time.
If you have 100 visitors to your website each month.
And you convert 5% to leads.
And 20% of your leads become customers...
You have one new customer per month.
Want more customers? With your funnel process, you can now improve each step your new customers will go through.
You might want to:
Increase your visitor figures.
Increase your conversion rate.
Improve your lead nurturing.
Close more leads.
It's important to measure each action you take and make sure you don't make things worse.
There are two important points we need to cover before I go into more detail.
First, the difference between inbound and outbound methods for generating leads.
We are describing an inbound method for generating leads. Why? Because it's better, it's cost effective and it's the right thing to do.
And the second point?
We are going to be creating a journey for your buyers to take over time, that will turn them into customers.
On this journey we need to connect with them, understand their needs and show how we can help them.
You can do this by creating buyer personas that you will use at every step to tweak and improve your process.
A buyer persona is a profile of your typical customer. Designed to help you identify the person you're talking to in your marketing.
It may seem like a weird or unnecessary step. But don't skip it, personas are really useful. And help you stay tuned to your customers needs.
Lets look to see what activities you can use to support each step of your lead generation process.
Content marketing is the most powerful way to attract and engage with new customers. But what content should you create and how should you use it?
Use your buyer personas and brainstorm web searches they would do. Identify the websites they would visit. Find out which industry influencers they are likely to follow.
Your aim is to get found by the people that are actually searching for, reading about, and interested in what you do. And tempting them to your website.
You want to increase the quality of the visitors you have. And high quality visitors are those that look like your buyer personas.
That's why designing content to interest exactly those people makes great sense.
Having a blog is a great idea, as it gives you the ability to create a wide range of content to target search phrases.
When you are writing blog posts that answer common questions. You are also providing new ways for customers to find you. As well as building trust and highlighting your market knowledge.
When you start with social media it can be difficult to know what to talk about. But with a growing breadth of on-topic blog articles you have a treasure trove of content to work with.
Understand the influencers, blogs and information sources that your buyer persona visits. Then work on collaborations and ways to gain visibility.
Then track the activity on your website. Understand the sources of your traffic. Use UTM tags where possible to track the source of your visitors.
You've got a grip on generating more and better qualified traffic to your website. That's great! But it's just the start.
That's because visitors will hit a few pages and leave. Plus, they most likely wouldn't be able to recall the name of your website the next day.
To have any chance of initiating a longer term relationship you need to get their email address.
This is generally done with a value exchange. You offer something they want in exchange for their contact details.
It could be an ebook, a webinar, a free email course.
Whatever works for you and your leads, but you need to convert them. This is why understanding the motivations and challenges of your buyers is important.
It gives you the hooks you need to convert them.
Don't rely on one conversion mechanism, there are many touch points you can use to convert.
More commonly you will build landing pages. Each one is designed to convert visitors into leads, offering a particular piece of content.
Track the conversion rate of each conversion form or landing page. Test variations against each other (A/B testing) to work out which convert better.
As well as incrementally improving conversion rates, try different offers. And keep what works.
This way you can ratchet up the number of leads you are generating over time.
But what happens once you have converted a visitor into a contact?
You're doing well now. You've got visitors and leads, you're in a good position.
The challenge now is to stop those leads forgetting about you, or drifting off to one of your competitors.
How do we do that?
We keep in touch with them over time. We nurture them. Educate them, and build a relationship.
If you have only a few leads, you could keep in touch with them personally by email. People respond to personalisation and relevance.
But that would quickly become a full time job. Luckily we can ensure that our emails are both personalised and relevant automatically.
We can follow up contact activity with personalised email sequences with Marketing Automation.
This allows us to respond straight away, follow up without forgetting, make recommendations. Encourage re-engagement.
24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 365 days a year.
Once you have set up your follow up nurture sequences, keep an eye on the opens, clicks and unsubscribes. As with any other step in your funnel, you need to play around and improve your campaigns over time.
It's worth having the option within your nurture campaigns for people to email you back. They might have questions or be ready to buy at any point.
Which brings us to closing leads.
With marketing automation you can set a stage for each contact. Then increment the stage when they take actions you feel qualifies them better for sales.
Taking a look at your contacts by their stage might highlight backlog of leads at a particular stage. And so an email campaign to move them on, re-engaging them with a new offer could give you a sales boost.
Send your sales team a notification when a contact views your pricing page. This would allow them to focus upon actively engaged leads.
Lead generation isn't a one step process, it has a number of moving parts. But when you break it down you can work on a clearly defined set of steps.
And by measuring the success of each step. Then improving over time, you can take control of your own lead generation process.
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