What do we mean by lead generation?

Before leaping into our impressive list of lead generation tips it is imperative that we’re all on the same page as to the definition of a ‘lead’. Every ‘lead’ is actually an individual at a company that has expressed an interest into the services and products offered by your small business. The focus of modern day lead generation is very much online and so when we reference a ‘lead’ it is essentially an online declaration of interest; individuals will, in the main, have filled out a form situated on the landing page of your website, thereby identifying themselves as a lead.

Why has lead generation become so important?

Now we have clarified what we mean by lead generation, we must lift the lid on why you should read through all the carefully selected tips in this article. It is absolutely vital that each small business understand the key role played by lead generation in snaring and nurturing clients. Cold calling was the traditional and much maligned ‘go-to’ prospecting strategy for far too long and this unpleasant strategy can be consigned to the history books with effective lead generation using strategies which target customers already identified as interested in your services.

Now we can move onto our tips!

1: Using IP address tracking software

The choice of companies offering such lead generation software has never been greater. The use of IP address tracking is an ingenious and simple way of providing users with some incredibly helpful information about the people behind the IP addresses accessing the various pages of your website. Via an intelligent online system you will be provided with company names, a list of pages visited and how long spent on each page. You will also learn which search terms brought the visitors to your site, which can be vital in informing keywords for articles on affiliated blogs and on your own website.

2: Use that social media!

You may have heard of a few little known websites going by the names of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn! Research shows that around three quarters of all business to business (B2B) buyers use information gleaned from social media platforms when making decisions on purchasing products or services and choosing brands. The three aforementioned platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) are by far the most important, in that order, but the likes of YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram are also great mechanisms that should not be ignored. Dell’s VP of North America Commercial Marketing, Bryan Jones, acknowledges the vital role that social media plays and even admits being guilty of taking it for granted.
“We knew social played an important role…we didn’t know it played such a large role.”

How to use the various social media sites? Well, the Buyersphere Report (2012) shows that there are 3 distinct phases for leads: 1: Need identification 2: Supplier identification and 3: Supplier choice. The same study elucidated the best sites and site types to target each stage of the lead’s journey, shown below.
Phase 1: Blogs and Facebook
Phase 2: Blogs and LinkedIn
Phase 3: Twitter and Facebook

3: Clever types of content pay off

The days of stuffing blogs with nonsensical articles designed to appease Google’s algorithms with a plethora of key words, rendering the content itself of no use to the end user i.e. the reader and your potential lead. Thankfully, things have evolved, including Google’s algorithms which, these days, will punish those abusing key words but also the thinking behind content itself as a marketing tool.
Tips for types of effective content

  • Roundup lists. Top 10s or top 20s are a winning formula.
  • Beginners guides such as this beginners guide to online marketing are a great way to show potential customers that you know your stuff at the same time of giving away a few simple tips.
  • Clever headlines and titles are a must
  • Definitive guides on subjects your customers and targeted customers can relate to.
  • You can return to those search words gleaned from IP tracking here to ‘solve’ perceived problems in a ‘how to’ article
  • Feedback and case studies from successful relationships with customers. Consumer reviews are absolutely vital in the modern world. Just think about how you choose restaurants and hotels…anyone never used TripAdvisor?

4: Outsourcing and curating content

With the shift towards clever, vital, readable and engaging content comes a time consuming element that can easily occupy upwards of 20 hours a week. When you are trying to run a small business and juggling a vast number of equally important balls in the air this is an impossibility and outsourcing content writing to dedicated freelancers can be an excellent option. It is, however, also worth not dismissing the curation of content as a ‘cop out’. It is, when used effectively, a fabulous tool that enables you to speed up, without dumbing down. Curated content can even surpass in house content as there are plenty of folk out there who have the necessary means to provide quality pieces. A major boon of curating content is that it offers the possibility of forging relationships with other sites, businesses and blogs and cross-pollination of content which can mean sharing via social media and redirection of traffic, thus increasing readership and offering the potential to attract more appropriate leads.

5: Pay Per Click is a nifty trick

Pay Per Click (PPC) is a cracking tool and great for those who like to be able to easily quantify value for money in their marketing expenditure. The amount you fork out on advertising using this method is 100% linked to the success of the advert as you pay for each completed visit. Of course, the trick is to ensure that the right people are clicking on the advert, otherwise we are not dealing in the realms of lead generation. Carefully chosen keywords and phrases are the order of the day to ensure that your PPC advertising is reaching those seeking what your small business has to offer. On top of this, clickers should be redirected to an impeccably laid out and well-chosen landing page – not simply your homepage. Landing pages serve the purpose of attempting to generate a specific action from each visitor, easing them along the journey from inquisitive visitor to valued customer.

  1. Everyone loves a quiz

Although research also confirms this statement, you only have to go to an English pub on a given day most weeks and you’ll be able to see the truth in it. As long as you provide an engaging and relevant quiz, marketed through social media, then you’ll be well on the way to gaining some contact information from potential leads. The quiz, while fun and interested (at least it should be), is the bait. You can entice people in, attract their attention and hopefully make them desperate to see how well they’ve done. At this point they will be required to enter their email address in order to gain access to the answers. Clever, no? The link that they will be required to visit in order to fill in details prior to or after the test could link to your landing page. 

7: Repurpose your most successful content

You may, as part of a reappraisal of your marketing strategies over recent months and years, come across some online blog pieces or articles that have been particularly successful in garnering interest and engaging with your customers and potential leads. This is the sort of article that would benefit greatly from a makeover and recycle. You can group together your best performing articles and bundle them together, making them available to download, hosted as an eBook on your landing page. You can make it a free download, with the only prerequisite an email address. You can get inspiration from one of your blog posts to start a hot new conversation piece in LinkedIn. Infographics are increasingly popular and extracting some key stats and figures you can easily create some for Pinterest or Instagram to highlight your services and past successes.

8: Revisiting SEO in content

The unanimous feeling in the marketing world is that SEO has long been abused, but perhaps because of the mistakes of the past there is still a great possibility to use SEO for the benefit of your small business, ensuring that your SEO campaign is focused, streamlined and intelligent. Here are some tips on how best to integrate SEO into your overall approach.

  • Increasing the responsiveness of your website is a great method for achieving better Google rankings. There was a tectonic shift in the way Google reward articles in their rankings last year and they now incorporate how ‘mobile friendly’ a site is in their algorithms, with strong bias to the best performing mobile sites.
  • Using easy to read and simple description tags is vital. Filling them up with keywords is not helpful. Think of one simple sentence that reads well.
  • When utilising WordPress themes pages must be well structured. In advance of finalising a layout put to good use any knowledge you have about the most popular searches in your sector and use those keywords in the tags of your home page titles.
  • Keep content fresh and vital. Constant repopulation is the key here.

9: Incentivise blog subscriptions

All small businesses should have a blogging site in order to share relevant articles to your line of work, showcasing new products and services and providing answers to problems common among your customer base. A reader who has subscribed to your blog will receive notifications when the blog is updated and populated with new articles. This is a fine way to boost lead generation, but how to get people to subscribe? One great way is to run competitions advertised via your social media pages, whereby the entry simply involves subscribing to your blog using a valid email address. Competitions might involve a freebie, a discount off some of your products or services or a free quotation (where relevant).

10: Be very clear with privacy issues

As the world becomes more and more internet savvy it is no longer possible to dupe the majority of people into signing up for something unawares. Everyone knows how irritating it is when free software is being installed and you have to carefully check or uncheck boxes where applicable to opt out of installing some noxious search engine toolbar along with your chosen piece of software. Well, being cognisant of this irritation will pay off as annoying potential leads is certainly not good practice, nor is it likely to gain you any new customers.

11: Learn everything about your ‘model’ lead

Like an actor learning a part, as a small business owner, you need to study your customers and potential customers, picking out common traits, common likes and dislikes, problems that unify them and commit all of this to memory to be recalled whenever a particular marketing strategy is being finalised. By coming up with a standard – an average online customer if you like, you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to come up with focused marketing ideas.

12: Spring clean your data!

No matter how perceptive, intuitive and creative your marketing team is and no matter how well you think know your customer, everything can quickly fall around your ears if your data is not spot on. False data on consumer behaviour and in other areas can have very serious ramifications. It can cause prospect erosion, irreparable damage to reputations, a reduced conversion rate and vitally here, poor quality leads. Your data flow must never be viscous with misinformation and poor strategy.  By coming up with a system (alongside your IT team) that keeps data flowing nicely and crisply you will get the best handle on your leads.

13: Use CTAs (Calls To Action) effectively to direct leads to your landing page

According to MarketingSherpa’s research, 68% of small businesses use landing pages to attract new leads. But how do you get people to visit your landing page? The answer, more often than not, is by using a CTA. A CTA can come in the form of an infographic, an image, a video or GIF to name but a few options. The best CTAs look attractive and beg you to click on them. For lurking in their DNA is (or at least should be) a hyperlink to the landing page of your business. In terms of where CTAs should be placed, there really is no limit. CTAs can be successfully integrated into product pages, blog posts, email newsletters and social media status updates. The only requirement is an adequate space for it!
Best practice for CTA usage should include:

  • Attractive, appealing and relevant design. The CTA should beg to be clicked. 3D design, clever looking GIFS that activate when users scroll over them and open your landing page when clicked…the options are endless.
  • Great clarity. Get to the point and make visitors clear about what’s on the table.
  • A hyperlink to your landing page. This is where your offer should be presented and the visitor’s information harvested.

14: Word of mouth is still relevant!

Never underestimate the power of customer referrals and word of mouth in advertising. For one thing, word of mouth referrals tend to generate high quality leads – people who are already more than halfway convinced to use your products or services. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association posits that 54% of consumers reference word of mouth as the main factor that influences their purchasing decisions.

15: Pay It Forward is NOT just a dodgy movie

Ric Dragon, author of Social Marketology and all round lead generation and marketing guru, highlights the massive importance of paying it forward with regards to lead generation. He advocates a three step policy, which involves:
Step 1: Thinking about what your business is all about…really stepping back and having a good look in the mirror.
Step 2: Getting to grips with the needs of your customers.
Step 3: Being generous – paying it forward without stopping to analyse the potential spin offs for your company.
It is the last step that he sees as the most vital in nurturing leads and transforming lead generation into lead engagement and onwards into valued customers. He also references Twitter as a great platform to put this into practice.

16: Finally, don’t forget the role of webinars

The role that webinars play in lead generation strategy has continued to grow in recent years and this looks set to continue exponentially as its potential is realised universally. Biznology highlighted the sheer power of the webinar in the short term as they first used webinars in the first quarter of 2015. They had 100 people who registered of which 50 attended. Of the 50 attendees they ended up with 23 qualified leads to offer to their sales team. Not bad eh? And that is for a newbie! The beauty of webinars can be summed up in five key points.
The build relationships
They are inexpensive
Leads tend to be high quality
Location is not an issue
Partnerships with other, overlapping businesses can be forged

In Summary

As you have read, there are many avenues that can and in fact must be explored in order to come up with a solid, comprehensive lead generation strategy that will produce impressive and lasting results. As a closing note, however it is really worth emphasising that lead generation is simply the beginning. It’s an extremely important beginning, but it is not a means to an end. Leads must be engaged with effectively and then nurtured going forward as valued customers. As the saying goes, your best lead is your best customer.