Lead generation is how you take website visitors and convert them into leads. These are leads that your marketing and sales team are excited about because they help to drive bottom of the funnel sales -- like accelerating leads into sales opportunities and sales opportunities into new clients -- that provide you with scalable, predictable revenue growth.
Traffic generation needs to happen before we have lead generation. Whenever we ask CEOs and sales directors of small and medium-sized businesses, “what is the biggest struggle that you're facing in your company right now that relates to sales and marketing?” Lead generation always comes up very high. Sometimes there’s a word that comes in front of leads -- qualified, quality, targeted. But with regard to needing more leads, there’s a non-stop thirst for leads.
A lot of the ways that people generated leads historically with the traditional marketing and sales playbook, just don't work as well as they used to. For decades, sales teams relied on cold calling and cold emails. But cold calling is not terribly effective today, because no one answers their phone anymore without caller ID.
Cold emails are an uphill climb as well. Between Google Priority Inbox and aggressive filtering, it’s tough to get messages through to people that you don't have a pre-existing relationship with.
In general, the marketplace has spoken. They've gotten tired of getting interrupted for selfish reasons. That's the reason why you see people paying for satellite radio -- when they're in the car they don't have to get interrupted non-stop with obnoxious commercials. When they're watching TV at home, the DVR started it, but subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime video have proved that people are fed up with getting interrupted with annoying crap, and they're willing to pay for subscriptions to avoid it.
70% of Decision is Made
In a digital-first world, people are doing tons of research before they get to you. So much so that as much as 70% of their decision is made up before you have an opportunity get a chance in edgewise.
How are we going to be relevant in that first 70%?
We have to have a way to attract strangers into visitors and convert those visitors into leads. Why do we need to convert visitors into leads? Because unless your company is selling something at a very inexpensive price point that’s seen as an impulse purchase, more than likely there is a sales cycle. There's a buyer’s journey -- sometimes it's days, sometimes it's weeks, sometimes it's literally years. But we need to understand and we need to measure and try to optimize and improve on our ability to close sales faster at the right price points in the right kind of context.
It starts by having a relationship with those people -- with people that fit the buyer personas.
The first step is being able to convert those visitors into leads.
What are the key things to be able to do that? First, we have to understand who these people are that were trying to generate leads from. What is the buyer persona that we’re trying to come up with a compelling offer for that says, “Wow, this looks pretty helpful. Yeah, I'll give them my business card for what's on the other side of that landing page.”
In a business-to-business (B2B) context, you’d look to have somebody type in their first name, last name, email address, and maybe a couple of quick questions. With lead generation, most of the time people that are new to this are not asking enough, or they're asking way too much.
A lot of the times they don’t ask enough because their lead generation or content offer doesn’t have a high perceived value. The reason it doesn’t have high perceived value is that they don’t know what the heck they are doing -- they haven’t taken the time to do thorough buyer persona research. They need to understand what the common problem is that’s driving them all nuts. If you simply made that the title and the headline of your eBook checklist, planning guide, your webinar event or your offline event, it would resonate. They would say, “How do they know!”
It’s all about turning website visitors into leads.
The first thing we need is premium content. Premium content is content that is so good that people are willing to take off their anonymous mask and tell you who they are in return for access. It’s like a type of currency. They are paying you in data and information.
Premium content is different from a blog post, a podcast, or a video on YouTube that doesn’t require any type of opt-in to get access. Premium content needs to be good enough that people are willing to give you a little bit of information about themselves in order to get access to what's on the other side of that landing page.
Calls to Action (CTAs)
The next thing we need are calls to action (CTAs). We need to understand where we have reach, where we have existing traffic, and how we can get that traffic from one place to another to get them to your landing page. In some cases, we're putting a call to action in an email that we send out to a targeted list of people that are that buyer persona but have not yet converted that we want to reconvert.
Calls to action can be used in email. Calls to action can be used on social media. When you share a status update about a premium content asset, you have a call to action on your Facebook post, on your Twitter status update, on your LinkedIn post. You can also use calls-to-action on paid social -- that's essentially what you're doing most of the time if you're taking one of the status updates, one of those posts that you would have done on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn and you’re amplifying it to get it in front of new people that match the targeting profile that you're using.
Calls to action can be used in email. Calls to action can be used on social media. They definitely can and need to be used in strategic places on your website. If you look at your website traffic and you see, for example, five pages with the most traffic or ten pages with the most traffic, look at what's going on with that page. Look to see what that page is all about and if you have a piece of premium content and a call to action that matches up where it makes sense to put that in a highly visible area on that particular website page.
Your blog posts should be the same way. The goal of every piece of content that you share is to have a highly relevant call to action that tells somebody exactly what to do next and why they should do that next.
You’re looking to take someone from one place on your website, email, or social media and gets them to your landing page to get access to premium content.
A landing page is a specialized website page who’s entire purpose is to convert a visitor into a lead. We look to get rid of as much extraneous nonsense as possible. We get rid of navigation menus and links, because we want to make sure that nothing is confusing them. Think about having lunch or dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. They have a 30 or 40-page menu with a ridiculous amount of choices. If you put 30, 40, or 50 choices in front of someone on your landing page, your conversion rate would be non-existent. Visitors would be so confused, they’d just throw up their hands and say, “I can’t make up my mind.” They’ll just back-button out.
Make it simple for them. Give them one choice -- to opt-in and convert. If you do your job right and you’re listening to your buyer personas which are aligned with your SMART goals, you should get a decent conversion rate of at least 20-40%. It all starts with having good, solid landing pages.
Most of the time when people are new to this, they have a goal to generate dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of leads per month. But they don’t have nearly enough landing pages and premium content to do that effectively.
If your company has three different buyer personas that you’re looking to reach (CFO of a financial services company, head of sales at a software company, or a technology director for a K-12 school district), they all care about different things. If we try to talk to them all about the same topics, one size fits none.
So at the absolute minimum, we need three different columns with three different buckets of content to reach each of those people with something that's driving them nuts or the biggest challenge they’re facing.
But we don't just need premium content for that initial attraction to turn somebody from a stranger into a visitor and a visitor into a lead, that's just the beginning. That’s the top of the funnel. In order to accelerate people into sales opportunities, we need to continue to provide them with premium content that adds value that’s relevant for who they are and where they are in the buyer’s journey.
Our lead generation, our premium content strategy, and our calls to action should be grounded in who they are and where they are in the buyer’s journey. It helps to prioritize your efforts if you set SMART goals (goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound).
The Bottom Line
With SMART goals, you’ll know what you’re working towards, and how to quantify the business impact. If you want to go a step further toward what a lead is worth, and you want to get your Board or CFO especially interested in funding these initiatives and investing at the right level, make sure you talk about what the average lifetime client value (LTV) is for the particular buyer personas.
As a starting point, benchmark what you’re investing today. This is called the Cost of Client Acquisition (COCA). Make sure you understand what a particular buyer persona is worth to your company over its lifetime after repeat or recurring purchases. Understand where you're starting from -- your fully loaded sales and marketing costs of what it takes to acquire a customer today.
Those are some of the things that help you have a proper and thorough discussion about setting your lead generation strategy. Start with buyer personas. Start with where they are. Understand the extremely important building blocks like premium content, calls to action, landing pages with forms that are relevant for the perceived value of that offer to that buyer persona.
What types of lead generation is your company doing? Share your thoughts in the section for comments below.
To learn more about lead generation, download our eBook "3 Revenue Growth Opportunities Your Business May Be Missing."