Lead Generation The Definitive Guide



Welcome to the definitive guide to lead generation.

Leads are the life blood of your business, without new leads your business can’t grow and thrive.

Unfortunately generating leads is a difficult challenge for many businesses who struggle to find and connect with potential customers.

The good news is that I’m going to show you the techniques, strategies and processes that are working right now.

So let’s get started.




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Chapter 1. What is Lead Generation?



This chapter is super important as we’re going to give some context to lead generation by looking at how people buy, and answer some common lead generation questions.

Defined as the process of capturing the interest of potential customers to drive future sales. There are actually some broadly different ways of going about that.

Lets look those approaches and find the best way forward.









We all love browsing the web. Researching purchases and educating ourselves about products to make sure we get exactly what we want.

Equally, we all hate spam and those cold sales calls that interrupt our day.

Did you ever stop to think that those spammers and cold callers are just trying to generate leads?

The truth is that these days the buyer is in control, and understanding that can help guide a successful approach to lead generation. The truth is that we need to work out the techniques that put us in step with our potential customers.

And avoid being hated by the very people we are looking to attract!





What are Warm and Cold Leads?

When we talk about leads you’ll often hear people referring to warm leads or cold leads.

A Warm lead is a person that has expressed an interest in your products or company.

A Cold lead is one that hasn’t. So if you go and buy a list of email addresses from a list vendor, you are buying cold leads.

If someone visits your website and downloads an ebook to learn more about your products, they are warm. How warm they are relates directly to how interested they are in purchasing.

How do you know when leads are warm?

Using marketing software you can 'score' your leads so that the most active and engaged ones grab your attention.

Any lead nurturing via email etc. is done with the intent of ‘warming up’ the lead for sales. This is usually done with the help of a sales funnel.

What's a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel, is a visualisation of the process of qualifying and nurturing a lead to be ready to buy. And for your sales team to close as a sale.

The idea is that leads go into your sales funnel and purchase ready buyers pop out the bottom ready for sales. Once a lead is identified they are added to a sales funnel and the magical process within your sales funnel turns them into super keen buyers.

We'll be looking at creating your own sales funnel later in this guide, so hang tight!

So what does it look like?

A sales funnel has 3 distinct phases that describe how far a lead has progressed:

1. Top of funnel (TOFU)

Top of funnel is where new leads start and demand generation activities send their leads.

2. Middle of funnel (MOFU)

Middle of funnel is where leads are nurtured and qualified through marketing activity.

3. Bottom of funnel (BOFU)

Bottom of funnel is where activity drives handover to sales.

Generating leads

When we engage with our potential customers in ways that generate interest and encourage future interactions, we can actively move them towards a sale.

Interest tends to come from our ability to educate and help our potential customers understand and resolve their specific problems.

As Seth Godin once said “Turn Strangers into friends, and friends into customers”.

Many marketers use content marketing designed to attract potential customers and by gating high value content as lead magnets.

What's a Lead Magnet?

Lead magnets are offers designed to capture a leads information before providing access to the desired high value content.

We’ll look at this and other options in more detail later.

Living in The Attention Economy.

Social scientist Herbert Simon wrote “in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients.”

and as the volume of content increases the more difficult it becomes to be heard through the noise…

So why not just buy leads?

While inbound techniques (designed to attract potential customers with useful and targeted content) are recognised as the right and ethical way to generate leads, there are also products on offer that are designed to scrape email addresses from websites for you to then use.

You can also buy email lists from list vendors.

In fact there is no shortage of nefarious ways in which you can pull together lists of email addresses.

However, this approach comes with a whole range of problems, from being spammy and ill targeted in the shallow end of the trouble pool, to full on illegal in the GDPR deep end.

“You must be very careful before using bought-in lists for recorded calls, texts or emails. You can only use them if all the people on the list specifically consented to receive that type of message from you. Generic consent covering any third party will not be enough.”

Information Commissioner's Office.

EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR passed into EU law in 2018. It requires specific and demonstrable consent to be captured for communications. It applies to data relating to any EU citizen, anywhere in the world.

As a marketer under pressure to deliver leads to sales it can be tempting to buy in leads, but while it’s easier in the short term to just pay for leads there’s trouble down the line.

You see lists of leads are often sold on from websites where they have signed up for something else, so getting messages from you isn’t something they want or are expecting. Plus it’s hard to see how you could manage the permission preferences of individuals across bought and sold lists at all.

And the responsibility for demonstrating consent will be yours.

Although this has been common practice for many years, the level of risk for this kind of activity has sky rocketed. Making capturing your own leads and managing communication consent yourself far more attractive.

Ultimately, just from a practical point of view if the person you are contacting has never visited your website, or shown any interest in your products.

You’re spamming them.

Spam damages your email reputation.

Unsolicited commercial email is spam, by definition.

And when people receive spam, they mark it as spam in their email client. This hurts your reputation as an email sender and trains email clients to send further messages from you straight to the spam folder.

Can a company be a lead?

Some lead generation software services define identifying a visiting organisation as a lead. This visitor identification is based upon their IP address.

In practice it is possible to identify visiting organisations, however the information can be difficult to derive value from unless you can easily identify the person in the organisation who might have need of your product. This technique is most commonly used as part of an Account Based Marketing Strategy.

Account Based Marketing (ABM)

A B2B specific approach that concentrates marketing efforts on specific organisations that are seen to be a good potential customer.

You can also find that they are 8 months away from making a purchase decision and in early research stages. Certainly not ready for sales.

As a technique it can be indiscriminate and relies on volume cold-calling to generate new businesses. Having said that I have known people in specialised markets to use this technique to great effect.

Live chat for lead generation

You wouldn't open a shop and not have any staff to help serve potential customers. So why do the equivalent on your website?

Live chat software is an immediate and direct way for you to connect with visitors as they interact with your website.

It’s easy, fast and allows your potential leads to connect with you and ask their own specific questions. The conversation is tailored directly to their needs. Right at the time when they are thinking about you.

Even when you are not available, many systems capture the name and email address of your potential lead, allowing you to respond to them later.

Conclusion

So it looks like lead generation tactics can be different for different people. But the overall principles are the same, from attracting new visitors to converting them into leads, and then nurturing them through your sales funnel to being ready to purchase.

As you can see, there are a few moving parts we need to fit together to get our lead generation engine running.

And with a clearer idea of exactly what lead generation is, we're left with some more specific questions about how we can build our own lead generation process. One tailored to our own business.

What does a potential customer look like to you?
How can you get their attention?
How can you make an initial connection?
How will you nurture them through to sales?
How will you manage your relationship?






Chapter 2. Let's Start with Demand Generation



Generating demand for what you do is crucial if you're going to have success in generating leads.

Unfortunately a lot of people fudge this step up.

The good news is we're not going to and that demand generation will be your secret sauce that helps you to connect with the right people at the right time.

Powering your lead generation and improving your conversion rates as you target the right audiences.







If you are going to have any success in generating leads, you need to have a good supply of the right kind of people turning up to your website and landing pages.

This is where demand generation comes in.

People often mix up lead generation and demand generation, they are closely related but have their own (mutually supportive) objectives.

Create a spark of interest

A demand generation campaign has the aim of creating awareness and interest in your company, your brand and your offer.

A good demand generation campaign should identify a challenge that your potential customers have and show how you can solve the problem for them. It’s proactive and targeted by nature.

A lead generation campaign has the goal of converting this interest into leads for your business.





Match their need to your solution

Demonstrate that you understand their needs. Be clear about their problem that your product solves.

This is your hook.

This is where you connect your product to their need. It's where you show your expertise around the issues they are looking to resolve.

In the first instance this can be quite high level, but more importantly you need to follow up on interest with more in depth content showing how your solution works and the benefits it brings.

Understand and define your audiences

What kind of people buy from you?

Think about the different ways you can describe them and single them out. From the phrases they would search for to the places they would hang out, to the social channels they use and the content they consume.

If you haven’t yet nailed down who you’re looking to attract, take a quick look at buyer personas (more on this later).

Using Buyer Personas

Developing a deep understanding of your leads and their needs is essential in order to create the right lead magnets and demand generation campaigns. Buyer personas are a technique you can use clearly map out needs and generate content and ideas for offers to engage your leads.

Demand generation can take many forms and is often a mix of tactics, with the underlying strategy being that of reaching out to the people who would make good customers with messaging that generates interest by building familiarity and showing them how you can solve their problems.

Note: Demand generation is for inbound and ABM

Whether you are targeting people within a defined list of organisations or marketplaces the top level principles of understanding customer needs and creating content to attract and engage is still the same.

The targeting and the channels you use might change but success will be driven by driving interest in how you can solve problems.



Some demand generation strategies for you to try
Use these top ideas to kick start your demand generation campaigns.



Give away high value content.

Giving away content that your potential customers perceive as being very useful and high value builds trust and preference.

It may seem counter productive if you are used to gating your content but giveaways remove the friction that gating provides and allows your content to travel further.

Plus, having already received items of solid value people are much more likely to give their contact details in the future for other materials.

Use Facebook lookalike audiences

The Facebook Lookalike audience feature allow you target people on Facebook that are similar to your existing customers, or people that have shown an interest in you already.

You can upload a CSV file of your existing customers or add a tracking pixel to your website to build a remarketing custom audience.

Invest in content creation

Publishing and sharing content is a fundamental part of building a solid demand generation strategy. However these days for it to work your content has to be very high quality.

With the growth of inbound marketing and content marketing, the volume of information and competition for the attention of your potential customers has increased. Making it harder to be heard above the noise and more important that the content you create really stands out.

Focus upon creating content that is of real value and shows insight. Provide information that is both useful and actionable.

When looking for content ideas keep going back to the problems that your potential customers have and explore them, providing actionable solutions and illustrations of the benefits that a solution such as yours can offer.

Create a free tool

While it can be a costly strategy with regard to development, providing an online tool that makes your potential customers lives easier and relates to your product or service is a proven strategy.

Generating a free grading report such as HubSpot's website grader or a widget to build buttons, or resize images like Sprout Social’s landscape tool are examples of this strategy.

If you can design in the ability for your free tool to highlight shortcomings that your product can then fix, all the better!

Deliver value via email

So many marketers ‘blast’ their email lists hoping to squeeze sales out of it. This is a recipe for asking people to unsubscribe.

Instead of sending out generic campaigns to all of your subscribers, use segmentation such as pages visited, location and demographic information to send better targeted and more useful messages.

If you are creating really useful content for your blog it should be easy to target appropriate subjects to your database.

Recognise the demand that exists with lead scoring

Using lead scoring to help you recognise buying signals and elevated interaction levels is useful for making sure that you can pass the right leads over to sales at the right time.

While demand generation is generally seen as being something that drives lead generation, increasing the levels of qualification of your existing leads and boosting demand from inside your sales funnel is also part of the process.

Lead scoring is the process of assigning incremental score changes based upon a persons behaviour, so visiting web pages, completing forms and landing pages, opening emails etc. Can all adjust a score to highlight hot leads.

As recency is also a factor, there are also decay settings to reduce a score over time to take away points for inactivity.

Build Demand Generation Campaigns with Lead Magnets

Lead Magnets and demand generation go hand in hand, think about what you can offer and where to grab attention attention and show insight into your customer's needs.

Make sure to dive into the Lead Magnets section for more ideas on how you can build demand generation campaigns around lead magnets.

Campaigns

With a demand generation mindset and some ideas for what lead magnets you can use to engage with your audience, you can decide upon how you will build a campaign to support your initiative.

Depending upon how you can target your audience effectively, you might choose one or more of a range of campaign types.

Display Ads
Facebook Ads
LinkedIn Ads
Twitter Ads
Adwords
Content Syndication
Direct Mail
Events
Discounts and coupons
Public Relations

Conclusion

Thinking about demand generation alongside lead generation, helps us to focus upon their mutually supportive goals.

Defining and targeting our audience to match our best customers, then approaching them with lead magnets that are designed to appeal to their needs.

Which brings us to...






Chapter 3. How to Generate Leads for Your Business.



The good news is that there are lots of ways you can generate leads for your business.

In this chapter we’re going to take a look at more lead generation ideas than you could possibly shake a stick at.

More importantly we’re going to get them organised so you can see how they might fit together into something more powerful.

(More on this later)









To Capture the interest of potential customers we need to create something of value to them that positions us correctly (for our business objectives) in our potential customer's minds.

And we need to bring it to their attention. Providing them with a mechanism to exchange their details for access to our offer.

Convert interest into action with a value exchange

This exchange of value (your content for their identity) is often completed with landing pages and conversion forms. That’s because it’s a process that you can scale, particularly with digital assets such as ebooks.

A well targeted demand generation campaign that drives traffic to a landing page optimised to convert well, can provide a steady stream of new leads for your business.





Some of these lead generation tactics and ideas are quick to implement and some are longer term plays.

Equally some will cost you in time and some will cost money.

What I want you to start thinking about is how you take your lead from initial contact to them being ready to buy. This could take hours for some leads, and it could take many months for others.

We also need to think about our activity from the view of our potential customers, to ensure we are delivering enough value to carry our leads through to sales.

Kusmich's rules

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.

It's important to understand that generating leads is not a one step process. There are usually multiple touch points where attention is gained, interest raised and then the decision to interact is taken.

These interactions can take place across the social media, your website, paid advertising. Our aim is to combine techniques into campaigns that drive leads consistently over time.



The promotional channels you choose are only significant in that they target your ideal leads. Defined through your understanding of ideal customers when fleshing out your buyer personas.

They are the places where your ideal customers hang out, as well as any campaigns you run using lookalike audiences and retargeting.

Let's look at lead generation strategies!
Use these top ideas to kick start your lead generation.



Let's start with your website

Your website should be at the heart of your activity, and it should complete a number of tasks.

Clear communication of what you do and the personality of your company so that potential leads are confident when interacting with you.

Social proof in the form of reviews, testimonials and case studies help to build confidence.

Keeping in mind opportunities for generating leads throughout your website is also a must!



1. Attract leads with high value content

Creating high value content and offers is a core process for generating leads, we’ll be looking in more detail at how we can make this process work for us throughout this guide.

2. Create informative content for SEO

Educational and SEO optimised informative content will help to build inbound links and traffic.

By clearly defining the content needs of your potential customers you can target the content you create and use it to convert your visitors into new leads for your business. We’ll dive right into this topic and break down how to get the right content and deliver it effectively.

Stay tuned!

3. Build backlinks and register in directories

Backlinks to your website from related websites are the strongest mechanism for growing the authority of your website in search engines.

Each link to your website is seen as a 'vote' for your content and helps you get your pages ranking for searches.

4. Use embedded forms and overlays

Love them or hate them, exit intent overlays can turn any page of your website into a lead generator and (particularly when used with targeted lead magnets) they work very well!

Think about how you can use different pages for different lead generation opportunities, for example, offer a company newsletter subscription form your 'about us' page.

5. Build a brand community

Every opportunity for you to begin and build relationships with website visitors should be taken. Companies that stand for something, have clear values that people can identify with and then build community are particularly successful.

In the marketing field Moz, HubSpot and MailChimp have been particularly successful in this area.


Publish a business blog

Businesses that run and maintain a blog, posting regularly on topics relating to their business activities are notably more successful at generating leads, and at a lower cost per lead.



6. Use blogging for SEO

Blog content provides a mechanism for you to publish and rank articles in the search results. Adding offers related to the content of your blog posts bring the opportunity to convert those visitors straight into new leads for your business.

7. Build links from related websites

Popular posts that generate good results positions also give you the opportunity to link back to key product or service pages. Boosting the SEO of your main website.

8. Be a recognised authority

It also provides a platform for you to become a recognised authority in your industry, which is important as B2B customers actively research and reference content from industry thought leaders which informs their buying decisions.

9. Comment on Blogs

Commenting on blog articles that relate to your business allows you to gain visibility for your business, but be aware that links from blog comments don't carry any SEO value.

10. Start to guest Blog

Writing guest posts for blogs in your niche is a great way to build authority and to help create back links to your website.

11. Participate in forums

Forums are a great way to build reputation and get feedback from people within your industry.

Remember that you are part of a wider community and try to add value, overly promotional activity is frowned upon!



Landing pages

Landing pages (sometimes called ’squeeze pages’) are single pages designed with the sole intention of getting the person who visits the page to complete a web form.

To this end there is generally a prominent offer combined with a form. Other elements such as benefits, testimonials and background information are used to support the desired action.

Any extra page elements you would normally see on a web page such as navigation options and other links are removed to drive a single action.

The content of the offer (or lead magnet) is completely dependant upon what is of value to the potential lead. Understanding the needs and the motivations of your lead will help you to devise powerful offers.

Common types of offer used in landing pages are:



12. Use ebooks and guides as lead magnets

Useful documents such as learning guides and information on how to complete important tasks, as well as background information on a purchase decision the lead has to make are popular topics for ebooks.

In fact, lead magnets are such an important mechanism for lead generation they have their own section later in this guide.

13. Publish authoritative whitepapers

Research papers and educational documents are often used as lead magnets. The key here is to make sure that you are choosing the type of content that is desirable for your ideal lead.

Understanding who your ideal leads are and clarifying the content that will appeal to them is another super important topic we dive into in much more detail later.

14. Go straight to appointment setting

Driving potential leads to set an appointment with a sales person or advisor for a free consultation is another popular mechanism.

15. Use autoresponders to keep leads warm

Autoresponders allow you to set up and send drip email campaigns over a long period of time and are commonly used to keep leads warm, with anything from ’best of the blog’ curated content sequences to e-learning courses.



Marketing software

There are a world of options when it comes to marketing software, some products specialise in one task like landing pages or email marketing, and there are all in one marketing automations systems designed to convert, nurture and manage leads all in one place.

These systems allow you to create workflows designed to interact with your leads in different ways, examples of these marketing automation campaigns include onboarding, re-engagement, welcoming new users, upselling etc.

Whichever software you choose there are some things to do to keep your leads coming and organised.



16. Use email newsletters to keep in mind

Email newsletters a super easy way to keep in touch with leads that are interested in what you offer but not ready to buy yet, there’s no pressure for them and it keeps you in mind for when they are ready to progress.

17. Stay organised with lead management software

Given that you are actually generating leads, keeping your lead information organised, with notes, tasks, tracking their activity, how they respond to email campaigns they are sent, as well as moving them through sales stages and being able to segment your leads for specific campaigns becomes very important.

Lead management software allows you to keep track of your leads and focus on moving them through sales funnel stages as they are qualified over time.

But we’re skipping ahead here a bit and will go into this in more detail later.

18. Identify hot leads with lead scoring

Lead scoring is a process of assigning a score for specific lead activity and actions, such as visiting a web page, completing a form, viewing your pricing page etc.

This score is then used to identify leads that are showing high levels of engagement and should be flagged up for sales.

It allows your sales team to zero in on the right leads at the right time.

19. Use an E-learning email sequence to deliver value over time

Instead of creating a single downloadable document, another option is to create an learning course that is delivered via email.

This has the benefit of turning any follow up emails which are now learning opportunities into valuable and anticipated communications.

20. Automate your marketing

When it comes to nurturing your leads, keeping them warm and engaged, moving them through sales stages and qualifying them for sales it can be very easy to get overwhelmed.

Marketing automation allows you to automate what works and concentrate on improving your outcomes, rather than sending hundreds of personal emails following up on individual leads each day.

21. Directly engage with leads via live chat

Live chat is a powerful mechanism for engaging with website visitors and turning them into leads.

Live chat brings a range of benefits from allowing you to answer each lead’s specific questions at exactly the right time for them to deepening your customer relationships.

22. Attract leads with Webinars

Webinars provide you with a mechanism to collect interested leads details and manage the process of organising the actual webinar.



Social Media

Social media is a great source of leads. Build your own audience through posting your content and target promotions based upon demographics, business details and marketplace or even Bio text depending upon the network you choose.

Social activity is generally seen as a top of funnel exercise, to allow you to advertise to and attract leads.



23. Use social media to find prospects you can help

Use the advanced search options in LinkedIn and Followerwonk for Twitter to target prospects that would make great leads.

Follow the prospects you identify and engage with their content, and when appropriate reach out. Tools like https://www.lusha.co/ can help you find contact information based upon social profiles.

24. Offer complimentary consultations via LinkedIn

Using a free consultation gives you and your prospect the opportunity to see if you are a good fit for each other.

25. Influencers

Building relationships with influencers on social networks allows you to gain exposure to high volumes of people based upon their specific interests.

26. Targeted Facebook Ads

Facebook offers a range of targeting options, from demographics to the ability to upload existing contacts to create a 'look alike' audience based upon your existing customers.

You can also create audiences based upon people that have visited your website.

27. Twitter search

Twitter search allows you to identify conversations on specific subjects, which can be useful for highlighting posts and conversations that you might want to engage with.

Try searching for your company name or products and services you offer to see what people are saying and identify those looking for advice.

28. Share videos on YouTube

YouTube is the second largest search engine, with more than 3 billion searches per month it also reaches more US adults between the ages of 18-34 than any cable network.

29. Optimise your videos for search and discoverability

100 hours of video are uploaded every minute, so you need to ensure your content is optimised for search.

30. Youtube cards

Adding YouTube cards to your video gives you the ability to overlay a call to action (CTA), with a link to your website.

31. Website link in video endscreen

Adding a video end screen allows you to end your video with a CTA, which can be a link to another video, a playlist or even a link to your website.

32. Answer questions on Quora

Quora is a great place to answer questions and build your reputation as an authority on a given subject, as well as drive traffic to your website.

33. Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is an account-based marketing (ABM) system which allows you to search for and target organisations and individuals as well as message them with InMail directly from LinkedIn. It includes a social selling index (SSI) which tracks how well you are doing in using the product.



Manual outreach

There are a bunch of things you can do personally from asking your personal network and current customers for introductions, to attending networking events, revisiting lost opportunities etc. But for the purposes of this guide, we’re going to focus upon techniques that we can scale more effectively.

Conclusion

Creating and promoting content through our website, blog and via social media provides lots of opportunities to generate leads. But what do we do with them now?

How do we take this spark of interest and build it into a desire to buy...








Chapter 4. How to Move Your Leads to Sales.



If you want to see those leads you're working your socks off for become customers (who doesn't!), you need think about how to keep them on track.

You see losing leads is a common problem.

Running marketing campaigns and sending traffic to those landing pages and generating new leads is great, but what happens next?

I’m going to show you. Right now.

Let’s get started.









When people are in the market to buy something they go through a number of phases with you before the deal is done.

Let's consider how people go about making their buying decision and how we can work alongside that process to educate and nurture them through to sales.










Generate some attention and interest

Firstly they need to be aware of you and you need to generate interest in what you have to offer.

This is the first step in your sales funnel, generating interest with demand generation and providing a way to allow your new prospect to register their interest and become a lead.

Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

Formulated by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898 to describe the process of effective advertising the AIDA model is widely used in advertising and marketing, to map out and describe the steps that a person goes through from first becoming aware of a product to making a purchase decision.

Whilst originally applied to the role of a specific advertisement, it's a great model for thinking about creating an effective customer journey with our marketing.

Drive desire and action

This is where it gets interesting.

Creating content and offers for your existing leads gives you the opportunity to find out more about their needs, how good a match they are for you and how qualified they are.

Then given that you are creating and promoting content that addresses common customer needs, topics and subject matter of the content they choose will help you understand their situation.

The form questions you use in your landing pages can help add some detail to the nature of their organisation, and the role of your lead there.

The content you use and how you use it, particularly in combination with emails that are sent will provide your lead with their buying journey.

The creation of this buying journey and ensuring that it is a good fit for your leads, answering their queries and potential objections is the part that most people find particularly challenging.

We'll look at a way of generating laser targeted content for your leads in the following chapters.

Manage it or Automate it.

Keeping an eye on the particular activity of your leads, which lead magnets they convert on, whether they open your emails, the pages on your website they visit etc. allows you to respond in ways that are personalised to their needs and interests.

It allows you to understand what stage they are at in their buying process and whether they are ready for sales.

Manually checking all of this information at any scale would be impossible, which is why marketing automation is used to help keep this process flowing.

Welcome to your sales funnel

When you have leads and are in the process of nurturing them over time, they are in the middle of your sales funnel.

Leads that are in this stage are often described as being Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), the next step in your journey is when they become ready to talk to sales. This is when they become a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).

The transition from marketing qualified lead to sales qualified lead could be indicated by something as obvious as a lead booking a call with sales themselves, or equally an automation triggered when price lists are downloaded or viewed.

It might even be a case of passing the lead to sales based upon the lead being recognised as a good fit for your business.

Once accepted by Sales, your Sales Qualified Lead is recognised as an Opportunity and has the potential of being closed as a new customer.





A sales funnel walkthrough

Top of Funnel (ToFu)

We want to attract as many people as possible to our website where we can impress them with our authority and industry leading knowledge. Assuring these visitors that we are the right people for the job.

We can do this through our demand generation campaigns, regularly publishing content to our blog, ensuring that our content is geared towards answering the needs of our customers and future leads.

Writing and publishing content for our blog also gives us material we can use in social media, with the aim of building social engagement and driving traffic back to our blog and website.

Other tactics we covered for attracting visitors were the use of guest posting, being active on online communities and answering questions on Quora, amongst other things.

This top of funnel strategy, may well come as no surprise to you as it is a core process for content marketing and inbound marketing methodologies.

A solid top of funnel strategy will attract lots of visitors to your website, visitors with an interest in what you have to say and what you do as a business. Our goal now is to use this traffic to generate leads.

Middle of funnel (MoFu)

The middle of your sales and marketing funnel is where your value exchanges happen, trading in depth and high value content for information from your visitor.

This is often accomplished in marketing automation by offering an ebook download in exchange for a visitors contact details.

The actual content that’s offer must be of significant value to the lead, often communicating ways in which they can solve pertinent problems or grow their business in ways you are knowledgable about.

Bottom of funnel (BoFu)

Our goal now is to get a response form our lead, and the best way to connect and move our relationship forward in to make sure that our communications are personalised and targeted.

We can’t rely upon all of our leads returning to our website and sourcing the latest and most appropriate content for their specific needs, so we can use a combination of segmentation based upon activity and interests and maybe some background research and manual outreach to make a connection.

Conclusion

Sales funnels help us to understand how we can structure our activity in a way that moves leads to sales. But in order help clarify what activity we to engage in to make the magic happen we need some other tools.

We need to develop an understanding of who our leads are and how we are best to talk to them.






Chapter 5. Understand Your Perfect Leads with Buyer Personas.



It’s a mistake to think that lead generation is all about pushing content into the right channels. Or even about using the right mechanisms.

Anyone can start a conversation.

Saying something interesting is a whole different kettle of fish. And that’s what we need to do.

Making sure that we are saying the right things and in the right way can only come from a clear understanding of who we are talking to and why.









When we understand and can accurately describe our customers we have an insight we can use to decide what kind of content we should be creating to meet their needs.

Buyer personas are the go-to tool for developing a deep insight into your buyers, one that will let you anticipate their needs, overcome their objections and suggest the content you need to our them into customers.

Using personas to mind read your buyers

A persona is the characterisation of a target market based on the proven similarities that your buyers have. Designed to inform content strategy and drive the kind of buyer engagement that leads to sales.

When you’re defining a persona it’s a good idea to take a look at existing customers and focus upon any common traits you find. These common features will give your persona breadth and allow you to target a wider market.

Creating a persona is not just a box ticking exercise, that you need to get past in order to start the real job.

Good personas with insight and depth make the job of creating content and defining topics and tone of voice much easier.

It also dramatically improves the chances that the content you create will strike a chord with your buyers.





Bring your persona to life

When you create your persona it’s important that you aim to bring the character to life, the more your team feel that they know or can identify with the person the more useful they are. A common mistake is to simply describe a persona.

Writing in the first person allows you to bring your persona to life and makes it easier to identify with them.

Personas don’t exist in isolation

Think about the relationships that exist between your persona and other people who have influence over the buying decision.

Create more personas until you have clarity around the buying process and the perspectives of each persona.

This insight will help define content that needs to be created in order to overcome issues that would prevent a purchase.

When we take this higher level view and include the relationships, decision drivers and blockers that will make the difference between a sale or not, it’s easy to see how powerful this technique can be when used properly.

Understand their difficulties and needs

Investigate and describe your persona’s difficulties and needs, these need to be specific and detailed enough to allow content to be created that addresses them.

The content that is created should resonate with your real world buyers, showing them your understanding of their needs and the ability to identify with their problems.

For example, “Wasted time and effort trying to manage lead generation across landing pages, CRM and email marketing systems” is a problem that suggests content ideas as well as style and tone.

Get a feel for and communicate how your persona fits into their workplace, how they relate to their team, do they lead? Are they researching for someone else?

“Anne leads a team of 5 and keeps a close eye on the performance of her team”

“Steve has been asked by Anne to research ways to improve the cost efficiency of their marketing automation setup”

Tone is more easily decided upon and communicated if you know what it’s value is to the person it’s for and what they want to do with it. Are they confident leaders or are they looking for information to support their team and improve the situation for others?

Overcome obstacles

Explore and clarify obstacles that prevent a sale. Then create content that addresses each of these obstacles.

Here we are trying model and overcome as many reasons why you’d lose the sale as possible.

Understand their questions

Treat this not as a unrelated questions, but try to create a story board or conversation where obstacles start quite general but become more specific.

If you can create a sensible order for your questions and answers you can use this process to devise a lead nurture workflow.

Plus when your lead interacts with specific questions, you can get a feel for where they are in their buying process.

Understand how they consume content

We all have different preferences for the type of content, social networks and media outlets we like and use.

Do they prefer video, audio, short or long form copy?

How do they interact with social media?

What sort of style and tone of voice will engage them?

Do they want interactive tools? Infographics? Webinars?

What media to they use to gather information?

Explore and define their language

Understanding the language your persona’s use and building the way they describe their issues and the solutions they are looking for into your persona description helps to keep your use of language appropriate in the content that is inspired by your persona.

Taking note of phrases and descriptions used when talking to customers is a great start.

The chances are these are the phrases they are searching on rather than the terminology you would use in your industry.

Conclusion

When you create a buyer persona it should be a useful tool that helps you to get inside the head and understand the behaviour and motivations of your buyers.

This way it can help you to create content that will be a more powerful a sales tool.






Chapter 6. A Lead Magnet Powered Buying Journey.



Lead magnets are the fuel for your lead generation engine.

A good lead magnet speaks to your lead’s needs and delivers great value. It positions you as an authority and starts your relationship with new customers the right way.

The good news is that they’re not necessarily difficult to produce.

The challenge is getting the correct offer that is completely irresistible to your leads.

And that can only be done by the deep understanding your have developed through creating strong buyer personas.





Lead magnets are items of value that help you to convert your visitors into leads. We’ve all seen them, they are the ebooks, swipe files, checklists and cheat sheets etc. that we give our email address for in order to uncover the goldmine of information held within.

Irresistible lead magnets are the ones that contain information we really want and need. Ones that will save us time and money. Ones that speak directly to our immediate problems and offer solutions.





Use those personas to define your lead magnets

This is where your personas are worth their weight in gold.

With the persona insights you have developed you can begin to develop lead magnets that are super specific and irresistible.

Plus, when someone downloads your lead magnet, not only are they putting their hand up as a lead for your business, they are also telling you exactly what their current issues and priorities are.

Making constructive and helpful follow up easy.

Generating Lead Magnet ideas

A great way to go about generating ideas for lead magnets is to think about how you can package and deliver solutions to your personas problems, ideally in ways that are easy to consume.

A checklist for SEO optimising a webpage delivered as a PDF could be good lead magnet, equally an online service that scans your website and delivers you a report with recommendations would be another solution.

Both target a persona concerned with ensuring their pages are well optimised. But require wildly differing budgets to produce.

What kind of lead magnet should you produce?

The priority for your lead is the information, and accessing what they need to know as quickly and effectively as possible.

Don’t over work your lead magnets, keep them actionable and concise. Long rambling ebooks that lack detail and insight will not be well received and set your relationship of on the wrong foot.

Value is the most important element. You should leave your lead feeling indebted and as though they have something they should have paid for.

It will position you well in their eyes and encourage them to come back for more.

What do great lead magnets have in common?

There are some characteristics that the most powerful lead magnets have in common. This is because they deliver what we want, how we want it.

Solves your leads problem

You need to give your lead something they want. Something they really really want. If it doesn’t do that, they simply will not download it. End of.

Be crazy specific with your benefit

Generalism does not convert. Lead magnets with super specific benefits do.

Be a quick win

Help them to achieve something important to them, quickly.

Super high value

The Higher value the better. High perceived value. High actual value.

Snackable

Quick to consume PDF checklists that do their job convert well because they are so quick and easy to read. Hefty white papers and reports can overwhelm.

Instant

Don’t make your leads wait. They’ll forget why they cared. Deliver the value right away.

Show your expertise

Demonstrating your knowledge and expertise positions you in their mind and they’ll think of you next time they need something similar.

Common lead magnet mechanisms

Assessment/Test

Free tools and assessments are great lead magnets as they can be used to both identify actionable reasons why the lead needs your service as well as being very interactive and personalised.

HubSpot uses it’s website grader to generate leads for it’s marketing software, simply add your website address and the grader scans your website and comes back with a personalised report on what to improve.

Their website grader is cited as a critical website in their online marketing strategy.

Sprout social creates awareness and demand for its social media product by providing a free service to allow people to resize images for social media platforms, saving them time and effort.

Quiz/Survey

Quizzes are fun, interactive and personalised. That’s why people love them.

They also allow you to customise results for individuals and collect information you can use for segmentation.

There is generally a start page for a quiz that outlines what it’s for, then a bunch of questions (5 - 15 works well) which is aimed at generating personalised advice.

Importantly, there is then a lead capture form the user completes to receive the results.

The results page or email then usually contains a related offer.

Cheat Sheet/Checklist/Worksheet

Checklists and worksheets are ultra useful documents for people to keep handy and refer to when completing a common task.

Making them graphically appealing adds to the perceived value.

Templates/Handout

These work well because they are super specific and offer immediate value.

They are also really quick to produce compared to longer form content.

Here is a great example from Digital marketer, how often have we sat scratching our heads wondering how best to phrase our next social media post for maximum clicks?

How useful would 72 proven headline formulas be to give us ideas and inspiration? Super useful.

Interestingly, rather than building the conversion form directly into the page, a button triggers an overlay that contains the form. So once you click the download button you’re kind of committing to getting it and you’re more likely to carry on and hand over your email address.

Here is another from Digital Marketer that generated 35,859 leads in 60 days…

Toolkit/Resource List

Resource lists and toolkits are super straight forward to put together and they’re really useful for people who are researching ways to improve their workflows, and how they go about getting stuff done.

Guide/Report

Free guides and reports are the most common lead magnets, they provide an easy mechanism to demonstrate authority on your chosen subject. Plus if it’s a topic you already cover in blog articles you can re-purpose several of those into a guide.

Just make sure you are adding value for your leads. :)

If you’ve written a super big guide on a particular topic you can convert it into a guide and offer it as a handy download.

Video Training / Audio

Video training can be a powerful lead magnet, we all respond to different formats in different ways and many people like to consume information visually. In 2018 54% of people said that they wanted to see more video content from marketers.

For busy people audio content can be easier to consume than ebooks, infographics and video.

Hana Fitz, brand strategist and business coach uses a free audio training package, and says “They can listen to it while driving, eating, or working out at the gym, ensuring that the prospect consumes my content as opposed to the start and stop or never complete that I have found can happen with an ebook or even video,”

Software Download/Free Trial

Free trials are common for software they give potential customers the ability to try out your product or service to see if it’s a good fit for them.

Discount/Free Shipping

This is an interesting one that is becoming popular on commerce sites, where a discount is offered for example in an overlay, giving the visitor something they know they can redeem if they purchase.

The website also gets the email address of the visitor for future marketing.

Consultation/Sales Material

Leads completing this kind of lead magnet are well qualified, but to get the right offer you need to be clear about the volume of responses you’re likely to get as while a brochure download will scale nicely, a 30 personal minute consultation might not.

Conclusion

There are no shortage of lead magnet ideas you can use to inspire your next offer! And keeping your offers tuned in to the needs of your buyer personas will keep you on track.






Chapter 7. Bonus Tips from Lead Generation Experts



Well done! Together we've explored lead generation from first principles to the full lead generation process.

Now you've got a deep understanding of how lead generation works in principle and in practice.

Let's take a look at the tips and tricks that experts use every day to boost their lead gen efforts.

Let’s get started.








We've reached out to some of the top experts to gather together actionable and inspiring lead generation tips.

What are the tips and tricks that leading lead generation experts use to keep their sales funnels full?





"Some say content is King, but I like to say Content is the Kingdom. So, to generate leads through content marketing, it’s essential that you create relevant, meaningful content that warms up, engages and inspires your customers. Understanding customer questions and behaviors when they look for information, consider options and make decisions is essential. With content marketing that means knowing three things about your audience:

1. How do they discover solution content?
What do they search for? What do they discuss on social media or in forums? What publications do they subscribe to? Who are they influenced by? What ads do they respond to?

2. What content types and topics do they prefer?
Are they using a laptop, tablet, phone, voice device or all four? Do they prefer video or whitepapers? Infographics or case studies? Demos or freemium trials? What topics are your customers interested in? Are those topics the same as the content you’re producing?

3. What triggers will motivate action?
Not every interaction with your content will convert to a sale, but content should always give the reader something to do next. Inevitably, that next step is to inquire, buy, refer or share. Content Marketing should help buyers lead themselves to the conclusion that your solution is the best answer for the problem they’re trying to solve.

By understanding the questions buyers have and empathizing with their preferences for information discovery, consumption and action, marketers can create and promote content that effectively attracts, engages and converts."


Lee Odden

TopRank Marketing CEO

"Focus on quality rather than quantity when it comes to content. Keep your focus on highly relevant content that engages your audience and adds value for them."


Sujan Patel

Voila Norbert Co-founder

"Content is still one of the highest priority lead generation elements. Content planning has really risen to the strategic level. It’s no longer an SEO tactic or simply content marketing. While we should certainly use it for those things, we must plan it at a foundational level. The use of high-quality, education-based content has become a necessary ingredient in creating awareness, building trust, converting leads, serving customers and generating referrals. Today we have evolved into the “less is more” approach. Big content projects, even if there are only three per year, is better than writing a blog post every week, just because you think you should."


John Jantsch

Founder of Duct Tape Marketing

"Turn your high traffic blog posts into high converting landing pages, enhance the layout and formatting. Think about how you can make it function more like a landing page, perhaps by removing distractions and including a single call to action."


Lilach Bullock

Online Business Expert | Speaker | Coach

"Progressively profile your leads over time to build up a clear picture of who your lead is and how qualified they are to make a purchase. Moving leads through lifecycle stages from subscriber to lead, to marketing then sales qualified helps you to visualise your sales funnel and segment leads for better targeting of your communications."


Brian Honigman

Honigman Media

"91% of buyers are looking for more visual and interactive content. Developing interactive content is a great way to encourage your audience to interact with your business. For example, mortgage brokers and real estate agencies include mortgage calculators on their websites to create interactive experiences and gather leads. Trulia, a real estate listings website, offers a questionnaire for those who want to get a sense for what they can afford in their location."


Emma Siemasko

Content Strategy & creation







Over to you

Did you pick up any new insights from this guide?

If you have your own tips to leave or any comments / questions please let us know!