The marketing and sales sands have shifted dramatically in recent years, and so has the process of lead generation. It’s not that advertising, direct mail, and trade shows are no longer part of the marketing mix, but they share the stage now with a variety of digital tactics to generate qualified leads.
The fundamental change in lead generation is that buyers frequently do not want to engage with a sales person in the early part of the buying process. They want to conduct their own research before ever speaking to anyone. Easy access to information usually means that prospective customers are educated about your product, your company’s service record, and reputation long before you even know who they are.
Because of this, your digital presence is critical to your success.
According to an IDG Enterprises 2013 survey on lead generation trends, the most effective lead generation program includes an optimized website and email marketing that nurtures leads as it moves prospects toward becoming buyers.
If we think of a lead generation formula with marketing tactics as ingredients, success would look something like this:
Success = optimized website + content marketing + social media + PPC + inbound links.
Lead Generation Best Practices
Invest in expert developers and SEO professionals to design and optimize your website. This will make it easy for prospects to find you and bring leads to your website through organic search.
Post easy-to-access information on your website (without requiring registration) in multiple media formats that will appeal to both influencers and buyers of your product. Make it easy for them to get the information they’re looking for.
Capture leads from everywhere in your marketing mix. This can include: newsletters, contests, free trial offers, surveys, polls, social media, gated content such as webinars or white papers, catalog requests, direct mail, advertising, or trade show leads.
Keep focused on the offer. Create specific calls to action for each step in the lead generation/lead nurturing process. Never ask your prospect to do more than one thing.
Develop an autoresponder series that moves prospects through an information funnel by providing them valuable information to help them solve their problems. Responding to leads within minutes instead of days or weeks gets their attention and creates the opportunity to convert them faster. This program can be automated so it doesn’t cause a drain on either sales or marketing resources.
Gated content such as webinars and white papers are extremely effective lead generators. Keep the information you ask for to a minimum – name and email address – this will improve response.
Use social media to build relationships with your audience. This is not a sales channel, but an information channel. This is an excellent way to find out what’s on educators’ minds and what kinds of solutions they’re looking for. Remember the 80/20 rule. You should talk about your product or service less than 20% of the time. 80% of the time, you should share resources, ask questions, engage with others. Developing authentic relationships with your target audience is the best way to generate leads.
Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) has been successful for many companies. Key word sponsored ads, such as Google Ad Words, can be an effective way to find leads. This is sometimes called paid search. As with everything else in marketing, you need to test to see if this tactic will be effective for you.
Following some or all of these best practices will generate high quality leads for your company. Prospects are adept at finding the information they require before contacting you. That is why it is critical to have high-caliber information easily available for both influencers and decision makers. You can chart a path to move prospects to buyers by providing them content they consider valuable and shareable.