The term “Lead Generation” is a combination of two words, namely “Lead' and then “Generation”. I begin with a definition of both words separately.
What is a Lead?
A lead is any person who indicates interest in a company's product or service in some way, shape, or form.
Leads typically hear from a business or organization after opening communication (by submitting personal information for an offer, trial, or subscription) … instead of getting a random cold call from someone who purchased their contact information.
Let's say you take an online survey to learn more about how to take care of your car. A day or so later, you receive an email from the auto company that created the survey about how they could help you take care of your car. This process would be far less intrusive than if they'd just called you out of the blue with no knowledge of whether you even care about car maintenance, right? This is what a “lead” looks like.
And from a business perspective, the information the auto company collects about you from your survey responses helps them personalize that opening communication to address your existing problems — and not waste time calling leads who aren't at all interested in auto services.
Leads are part of the broader lifecycle that consumers follow when they transition from visitor to customer. Not all leads are created equal (nor are they qualified the same). There are different types of leads based on how they are qualified and what lifecycle stage they're in.
Generation: Generation in simple terms Generation can be defined as the production or creation of something.
What is lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of attracting prospects to your business and increasing their interest through nurturing, all with the end goal of converting them into a customer. Some ways to generate leads are through job applications, blog posts, coupons, live events, and online content.
Like in any other country, Lead generation has become popular with businesses because it enables a business to:
- Determine pricing on a per-lead basis
- Choose the product or service they wish to offer to prospects
- Select the geographical area that the business is interested in
- Control the number of leads a business wishes to receive per month (this assists with budgeting)
- Pay only for the leads that are received
The Lead Generation Process
Let’s walk through some of the lead generation processes
- First, a visitor discovers your business through one of your marketing channels, such as your website, blog, or social media page.
- That visitor then clicks on your call-to-action (CTA) — an image, button, or message that encourages website visitors 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.
Note: An offer is a 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.)
- Once on the landing page, your visitor fills out a form in exchange for the offer. (Forms are typically hosted on landing pages, although they can technically be embedded anywhere on your site.) Voila! You have a new lead.
See how everything fits together?
In summary: Visitor clicks a CTA that takes them to a landing page where they fill out a form to get an offer, at which point they become a lead.
Once you put all of these elements together, you can use your various promotional channels to drive traffic to your landing page to start generating leads.
But what channels should you use to promote your landing page?
Channels to get your visitors to become lead
Content is a great way to guide users to a landing page. Typically, you create content to provide visitors with useful, free information. You can include CTAs anywhere in your content — inline, bottom-of-post, in the hero, or even on the side panel. The more delighted a visitor is with your content, the more likely they are to click your call-to-action and move onto your landing page.
Email is a great place to reach the people who already know your brand and product or service. It’s much easier to ask them to take an action since they’ve previously subscribed to your list. Emails tend to be a bit cluttered, so use CTAs that have a compelling copy and an eye-catching design to grab your subscriber’s attention.
Ads and Retargeting
The sole purpose of an ad is to get people to take an action. Otherwise, why spend the money? If you want people to convert, be sure that your landing page and offer match exactly what is promised in the ad, and that the action you want users to take is crystal clear.
The great thing about using your blog posts to promote an offer is that you can tailor the entire piece to the end goal. So, if your offer is an instructional video on setting up Google Search Console, then you can write a blog post about how to select your marketing metrics … which would make your CTA highly relevant and easy to click.
Social media platforms make it easy to guide your followers to take action, from the swipe-up option on Instagram stories to Facebook bio links to bitly URLs on Twitter. You can also promote your offerings on your social posts and include a call-to-action in your caption.
You can break down a lot of barriers to a sale by offering trials of your product or service. Once a prospect is using your product, you can entice them with additional offers or resources to encourage them to buy. Another good practice is to include your branding in your free versions so you can capture other potential customers, too.
Referral, or word-of-mouth, marketing is useful for lead generation in a different way. That is, it gets your brand in front of more people, which, in turn, increases your chances of generating more leads.
Whatever channel you use to generate leads, you’ll want to guide users to your landing page. As long as you’ve built a landing page that converts, the rest will handle itself.
How to Qualify a Lead
Now you have a lead, a person who has indicated an interest in your company’s product or service. Now, let's talk about the ways in which someone can actually show that interest.
Essentially, a sales lead is generated through information collection. That information collection could come as the result of a job seeker showing interest in a position by completing an application, a shopper sharing contact information in exchange for a coupon, or a person filling out a form to download an educational piece of content.
Below are just a few of the many ways in which you could qualify someone as a lead. Each of these examples shows that the amount of collected information used to qualify a lead, as well as their level of interest, can vary.
Let's assess each scenario:
- Job Application: An individual that fills out an application form is willing to share a lot of personal information because he/she wants to be considered for a position. Filling out that application shows their true interest in the job, therefore qualifying the person as a lead for the company's recruiting team — not marketing or sales teams.
- Coupon: Unlike the job application, you probably know very little about someone who has stumbled upon one of your online coupons. But if they find the coupon valuable enough, they may be willing to provide their name and email address in exchange for it. Although it's not a lot of information, it's enough for a business to know that someone has an interest in their company.
- Content: While the download of a coupon shows an individual has a direct interest in your product or service, content (like an educational ebook or webinar) does not. Therefore, to truly understand the nature of the person's interest in your business, you'll probably need to collect more information to determine whether the person is interested in your product or service and whether they're a good fit.
Lead Generation Strategies in United States
Online lead generation encompasses a wide range of tactics, campaigns, and strategies depending on the platform on which you wish to capture leads. We talked about lead capture best practices once you have a visitor on your site … but how can you get them there in the first place?
Let’s dive into lead generation strategies for a few popular platforms.
Facebook Lead Generation
Facebook has been a method for lead generation since its inception. Originally, companies could use outbound links in their posts and information in their bios to attract strangers to their websites. However, when Facebook Ads was launched in 2007, and its algorithm began to favor accounts that used paid advertising, there was a major shift in how businesses used the platform to capture leads. Facebook created Lead Ads for this purpose. Facebook also has a feature that lets you put a simple call-to-action button at the top of your Facebook Page, helping you send Facebook followers directly to your website.
Twitter Lead Generation
Twitter has Twitter Lead Gen Cards, which let you generate leads directly within a tweet without having to leave the site. A user's name, email address, and Twitter username are automatically pulled into the card, and all they have to do is click “Submit” to become a lead.
LinkedIn Lead Generation
LinkedIn has been increasing its stake in the advertising space since its early days. When it comes to lead generation, LinkedIn created Lead Gen Forms, which auto-populate with a user’s profile data when they click a CTA, making it easy to capture information.
PPC Lead Generation
When we say pay-per-click (PPC), we’re referring to ads on search engine result pages (SERPs). Google keeps making it prime real estate for any ad campaign, especially lead gen. The effectiveness of your PPC campaign relies heavily on a seamless user flow, as well as your budget, target keywords, and a few other factors.
B2C and B2B Lead Generation
B2C and B2B are a particular business model that requires a particular approach to lead generation. SmartInsights found that referrals are the top source for capturing business leads. Not to mention, effectiveness varies by channel.
Be Flexible in your lead generation strategy
Your lead generation strategy needs to be as dynamic as the people you’re targeting. Trends change, behaviors shift, and opinions morph … so should your lead generation strategy. Use A/B split testing to see what CTAs perform best, which landing pages convert better, and which copy captures your target audience. Experiment with layout changes, design, UX, content, and advertising channels until you find what works.