Lead Generation as a Growth Strategy

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Lead Generation for Educating Potential Buyers

Technology has expanded the way companies can use the internet to generate new sales leads. Lead generation is a sales tool, or process, that gives a company the ability to build lead lists by creating awareness through marketing channels. The goal of capturing a lead is to create awareness and educate them about a product or service and convert them into revenue generating customers.

A report by Forrester demonstrates that buyers can be from 66% to 90% of the way through their research before they contact a company to discuss a solution. So it is very important to build trust along the sales journey. Each lead is in a different phase of the purchase cycle, and they may not know that they need your service right now, so it’s important to have the right information on your website to keep them interested.

Lead Gen Strategies

Lead Generation Tools

There are many different tools that can be used to generate interest in your company, and just as many different social media channels where the message can be shared. Your website should be the primary source for lead generation, followed by social media and advertising.

Your Website Should Generate New Leads

The content of your website is ranked by search engines, and the ranking includes hundreds of factors. A company website should only engage in search engine approved white-hat techniques. Essentially, you must play by the rules as defined by Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search providers. Your website content should provide value to users, and should be optimized to appear in search engine page results (SERP).

Getting traffic to your website is only half the battle, and you need more than one lead-gen strategy for your website. Your page content must provide the information users are searching for, or they won’t convert. Once a user lands on your website, they should be able to quickly find the information that led them to the landing page. Keep visitor attention by providing content that delivers solutions. The content can be in virtually any format, including; a white paper, case study, video, blog, podcast, or ebook.

Contact forms are a tool for capturing user information. The form can be placed on specific landing pages, or they can be strategically located on every page.  Often a prospect is simply looking for an answer (shame on you if they can’t find it on your website), and they can quickly fill out your contact form, hit the Submit key, and go on with their day. A triggered workflow should send the visitor an email confirmation that you have received their information and will reply to their inquiry. This contact method assures the visitor that their request didn’t drop into a black hole. Make sure that the information will flow to your sales team.

Click-to-call is another lead gen tool that works well for websites. Some users prefer to call and speak to a company representative, rather than submitting a form. This strategy gives mobile users the ability to click the phone number, and dial automatically. PC users can click the number and request an immediate callback, or schedule the call for a later time.

Guide Your Leads with a Call-to-Action (CTA)

You need to decide what you want the user to do when they land on your page. Guide users to the next step in the sales process by offering them something of value. This can be done with a clickable button, or plain text that helps them decide what to do next, such as; “Click for a Free Trial”, “Learn More”, “Sign Up”, or “Request Assessment”. You can test different colored buttons, different sizes and placement of the buttons in relation to images and text.

The worst thing you can do is not offer users the next step. Don’t leave them hanging, or hoping to find what they are looking for on your website. Test several different examples to find out what users respond to the best, and guide them through the process.

Newsletter Sign-up

You may have website visitors that aren’t ready to purchase, but they like what they see. Give them the opportunity to sign up for a monthly newsletter. The sign-up form is different than the Contact form and should be located in a different area. My preference is to include a sign-up form at the bottom of every page because it gives the user the ability to make a passive commitment before they exit the site.

Include a link to a free ebook, an upcoming webinar, or a related blog post in your newsletters. Don’t use the newsletter to solve industry problems for your leads, but instead show yourself as a thought leader and a company that can solve their issues, even though you address their problems in a non-direct way.

Monthly newsletters should be educational and targeted to your leads. They have given you permission to contact them, so don’t waste the opportunity by sending a sales pitch. Send information they haven’t already received that will keep them in the sales funnel. If you use newsletters as a sales pitch, your leads will begin to opt out of the communication program, and you may never get them back.

Social Media and Lead Generation

Social media channels are an easy and inexpensive way to share your content.  Linkedin is an excellent platform to share this type of information. Although twitter moves incredibly fast, your post will be seen, and possibly even shared. It’s even better if other twitter users engage with your content. I have seen posts on twitter that led me to the article of interest, which I then shared with my boss or team. You never know who will see your post on twitter. Pinterest is proving to be an excellent place for brands to post content because users do search for business solutions in that channel. Instragram, Snapchat, Youtube and other social channels should all be considered as part of your lead gen strategy if you know that’s where your audience spends their free time.

Generating Leads at Trade shows

There is a difference between consumer trade shows and B2B trade shows. Companies that participate in the same industry trade shows year after year, can generate new leads. However, if the majority of the exhibitors are also the same, year after year, then you are talking to the same people. Generating quality leads at a B2B tradeshow takes considerable planning and a high-level strategy along with detailed tactics to be successful.

Exhibiting at a consumer trade show can take the same level of effort. However, you will have a broader audience, and they may not all be interested in your company.

There are a variety of methods that can be used in the months and weeks leading up to a trade show (B2B or B2C) to create awareness, generate interest, and drive traffic to your website. However, you also need to be mindful about following up with qualified leads to keep them engaged. Non-qualified leads can be identified as such in the database, and you can continue to nurture them with email marketing.

Connect Your Leads to Your Database

Leads from your website forms should be routed to your database. Once the data has been received, a trigger email can be sent to the sales team so that they can follow up with each new lead. I’m not going to recommend a specific database platform. However, your database should give you the ability to;

  • Capture leads from website forms
  • Give you the ability to segment leads based on region, type of request, and any other specifics that are a critical part of your sales pipeline
  • Give you the ability to export lists for marketing

Top 7 Data Points to Capture on a Contact Form

The sales relationship is one where the lead gains trust, over time. It is important to consider that when designing your contact form because website visitors prefer to share limited information. However, as the relationship develops and they gain familiarity with your sales team and your brand, they will probably share more information. In the beginning phase of the relationship, the only information you need to request includes;

  1. First Name
  2. Last Name
  3. Email address
  4. Company Name
  5. Phone Number
  6. City
  7. State

You can require some of those fields, and make other fields optional by using an asterisk as an indicator.

Nurture Your Leads

Once a lead has been engaged, there should be a specific contact strategy to continue their education about the company. This can be done through permission based drip-marketing campaigns that occur on a regular schedule. Each part of this nurture campaign should introduce information about the company that has not already been shared with the lead.

Lead Generation is a Growth Strategy and Must be Proactive, not Reactive

If your business depends on more than word-of-mouth referrals, then you need to devise a lead generation strategy for your website. There are multiple tools, but the most important one is the use of your sales team in following up with each lead. Make sure that you are nurturing leads that aren’t ready to buy right now, because when they are ready to make that decision, you will have established trust in the relationship.

If you want to learn more about generating leads from your website, contact us.

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