Author : Brianna Harvey
Lead generation is an essential technique that almost all businesses leverage, small, medium and large, in order to identity prospective customers and, ultimately, close new business. There are a variety of ways that lead generation can be accomplished, whether it’s face to face or online. In 2020, we’ve seen more businesses rely on digital methods, specifically internet and online marketing, to generate leads – especially due to the business impact of COVID-19.
This blog will cover the importance of lead generation and the following 5 digital methods used for lead generation:
What is Lead Generation
Lead generation is when you approach prospective customers and identify them as someone who has taken an interest in your company. This natural interest can result in these people wanting to hear more from you. The interest can potentially come from visits to your website/landing pages, downloading your latest eBook, subscribing to your blog, or signing up for your podcast or a virtual event.
Why is Lead Generation Important?
Leads are an important part of building a business’s foundation and expanding your existing book of business. They can be used for newsletters, sales leads, list acquisitions – any sales/marketing activity that can benefit businesses in some way.
Digital Lead Generation Methods
There are many methods to gathering leads from physical to digital. Some of the traditional but effective methods are hiring people to generate leads. These people are typically marketers or outside salespeople who will usually go to big events such as home shows and community events to talk to people and gather contact information. Businesses also have the option of using inside salespeople and/or telemarketers who will sit in a call center type of environment and call on prospective clients to see if there is any interest in learning more about the company and services/products offered. This method is not as common anymore but still is used from time to time. Typically, once the leads are gathered the sales team will go ahead and follow up on the leads in an effort to make a sale.
On the flip side there are digital methods to generate leads as well. The digital transformation in business has led these methods to become some of, if not the most commonly used methods. These methods are search engine optimization, effective advertising (Pay-Per-Click or PPC), social media, email marketing automation, and online networking. The switch to digital lead generation is in part due to companies realizing how much easier it is to generate leads from a computer rather than having a whole team of people take time to go to events. Digital methods also are effective and not as costly for businesses to use. Since digital lead generation works hand in hand with digital marketing and advertising, it will typically fall under the marketing department’s wheelhouse.
As aforementioned, digital lead generation is done through organic search engine results, effective advertisements, social media, email marketing automation and online networking. With all of these options for lead generation it’s no wonder that many businesses are resorting to getting the job done online, with many companies even utilizing all of the methods included in this blog.
Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”)
First up is SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Simply put, SEO is the process in which you get your business to rank organically on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. This is accomplished through different techniques like keyword research, purposeful content and link building. You can also pay for a higher ranking (which we will cover in effective advertising or PPC); however, it is not hard to do some trial and error and find what keywords work best for your business.
Effective Advertisements (PPC)
Online advertising, on the other hand, comes with many benefits and some potential complications. Businesses can pay to rank in the number spot, which is important because over 65% of the clicks on all online searches go to spots 1-5 on page one, but it can get costly. The good news is that you, your business, can pick and choose what type of daily/monthly/yearly budget you would like to implement for these paid ads. The bad news is, in order to really optimize your ads and bidding, and create the most effective strategy, you may need to be a little flexible regarding how big the budget is. Your budget is going to largely depend on how popular the keyword search that you’re trying to rank for is. The more popular the search is, the greater the chance of new leads, but this popularity will also mean that the cost per click (“CPC’’) will be well above the average cost of around $2 USD. Alternatively, you can bid on cost per thousand and cost per acquisition.
Social media is another great method for lead generation. With the majority of social media apps being free to access its fair game for businesses. While social media marketing does come with many different strategies, putting out consistent content that relates to your business can go a long way. With the many different apps out there (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) businesses can attract a wide audience that they may never have reached before. This is a great way to get leads that your business may not have been able to achieve without the broad audience using social media.
Email Marketing Automation
Next up is email marketing. Email marketing automation is beneficial for businesses looking to “passively” generate leads for their business. What this means is companies can send out emails to different consumers or businesses (depending on if you are B2C or B2B) and generate interest/leads through email campaigns. The “passive” approach begins with using tools for automation, certain workflows and sales sequences. Platforms like HubSpot, Salesforce, Active Campaign and Zoho can be of great assistance when implementing email marketing automation. You can set up different email campaigns and email templates and add them to a workflow that distributes content based on certain dates or triggers that allow your leads/contacts to enter a workflow. This is done passively because once you set up your initial campaign you can sit back and let the automation work – there’s no need for you to remember to send an email every 2nd Tuesday of the month because there is a system in place that has automated the process. This technique is used to potentially reach the right people (generate leads) without having to do the work every time – unless these potential customers directly respond to your email and are interested in your free trial, or your webinar, or your CTA to learn more.
The last method is online networking. Although you could refer to online networking as social networking through social media, having a platform isn’t what it’s all about. Having the platform is one thing, but genuinely networking is another, and what this section is all about. According to LinkedIn, there are over 706+ millions of users on LinkedIn. This makes it the largest professional networking app and website. Not utilizing platforms like LinkedIn to connect with your audience and customers misses out on a huge opportunity for brand awareness and potential lead generation.
In a world that is as competitive as ours, businesses cannot afford to miss out on lead generation. Gathering leads can result in many new customers each year which means expansion and more money in your pocket. To simply not indulge in lead generation is to miss out on hundreds, and even thousands, of potential customers. In this world, with businesses becoming more digital, generating leads physically and digitally are important to any sized business. If you like what you read, or are interested in learning more, feel free to browse through the rest of our blog (how about checking out Keyword Research – An Overview).