What Is Lead Generation And What Does An Effective Lead Generation Process Entail?
Lead generation in its entirety is made up of two components; demand generation and lead management. An effective lead generation process begins by focusing on creating the demand which attracts the appropriate prospects to your website. The lead generation process will then cover the steps needed to convert those unidentified website visitors to identified leads. Then finally the process should cover the management of the leads based on qualification criteria and an agreed-upon lead management process between sales and marketing.
Lead Generation - Converting Website Visitors Into Identified Leads
One of the main goals of an inbound marketing strategy is to generate leads. The idea behind inbound marketing is to attract traffic to your website and then convert your visitors to leads that your marketing and sales teams can nurture through the sales funnel.
10 Steps To An Effective Lead Generation Process
Attracting the right audience to your website is the beginning of a successful lead generation process. Subsequent efforts involve managing and qualifying your leads so that you don’t waste time and resources. The ten essential steps that you will need to take to implement an effective lead generation process follow:
1. Define Your Buyer Personas
Effective lead generation begins with knowing who your targeted buyer personas are. If you can’t define your target audience, not only are you going to have difficulty attracting visitors that you can qualify as potential leads to your website, but you’ll have no way to actually qualify them. How can you determine if a lead has the potential to become a customer if you don’t know the intricate details of your customers?
The best way to prevent these issues is by developing buyer personas. Buyer personas are fictional representations of customers that you consider to be ideal. Businesses will often assign their buyer personas with fully developed personalities, including names and even pictures. These personas include details such as demographics, interests, industries, job titles, needs, fears, challenges, preferences, and more. Most organizations have multiple buyer personas to represent the various segments of their target audience.
2. Create Content That Attracts Your Buyer Personas By Providing Value
Once you have created buyer personas, you’ll be able to create content that specifically targets each persona and ensure that your content marketing efforts provide relevant value to your audience. By creating content relevant to your audience, you’ll be more likely to attract visitors who fit your buyer personas and who are more likely to qualify as potential leads.
3. Create An Offer That Is Worthy Of Your Buyer Persona’s Information
The content you create is what will help to attract visitors (whether it’s by way of a Google search or through an external link on a social channel or another website) as well as nurture visitors while they’re on your website. However, actually converting your visitors to leads requires some kind of incentive in the way of an offer. These offers should be based on the needs, interests, or goals of your buyer personas and should match the context of the content that they are consuming.
Many companies offer free downloads like ebooks and whitepapers. Other offers, such as free trials or access to webinars, can be effective as well. If the offer isn’t relevant to your visitors’ or it doesn’t help them navigate through their buyer’s journey, they won’t be as likely to provide you with the information your forms are requiring.
4. Create A Specific Place For Conversion
Wherever your offer is displayed (such as on your homepage or in the CTA at the end of a blog post), it needs to include a link that leads visitors to a specific landing page. Once a visitor clicks on a link to your offer, it indicates that there’s genuine interest in the offer. Then the landing page should help reinforce your offer and convince the visitor to convert in return for your offer. To achieve this, landing pages should:
- Reinforce how your offer will benefit the visitor.
- Match the exact offer (if your CTA promised an ebook, then the landing page should highlight the exact ebook as the offer and use the same language).
- Use a simple layout that’s easy to scan so that the visitor can find exactly where your form is located so that they can obtain your offer. This also means making sure that the landing page isn’t cluttered.
- Avoid having too many links. Links will take the visitor away from your landing page. Once they’re on a landing page, your only goal should be to convert.
5. Use Web Forms That Ask For Information Of Equal Value To The Offer And Qualify The Prospect
In return for your offer, the visitor will need to fill out and submit a form. This is how you capture your leads. The form should ask the visitor to fill out various fields with information that you can use to qualify them.
The information you request should reflect the offer. If the visitor is simply trying to download an ebook, then requiring them to submit highly specific information isn’t a good idea and can cause them to change their mind. Alternatively, people will understand if you want a little more information if they’re signing up for a more significant offer, such as a free software trial.
6. Deliver The Offer To The Prospect Via Email Or Web Download
Once the visitor has submitted a form you will need to make sure that your offer is delivered to them immediately, whether it’s through a download link that’s provided on the web or through an email. If your lead doesn’t get their offer right away, it will hurt their trust in your brand since it will appear like you’ve reneged on your deal. Having access to your offer will help to nurture your lead further down the sales funnel.
7. Qualify, Assign & Manage The Lead In Your CRM
Based on the information captured the lead will be qualified in a predetermined way which will also dictate how the lead should be managed. If the information captured is light then chances are the lead would become a Marketing Qualified Lead and further nurturing by marketing would be triggered. Conversely, if the information captured is substantive and leads you to conclude this is actually a Sales Qualified Lead, the lead should be assigned accordingly and the sales team should run their process.
8. Follow Up With The Lead After Conversion To Gauge Interest And Buyer’s Journey Stage
Follow up with the lead to better understand the interest that drove them to seek out your content and offer while also gauging their interest in your company and what you have to offer. This will help you qualify the lead. You should also determine what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in because the buyer’s journey is not linear. Some leads may be captured in the early stages of the buyer’s journey and will require a lot of nurturing. Others may have done a significant amount of research on their own before they felt comfortable converting, so they may be towards the latter stages of the buyer’s journey already.
9. Assign Lead Stage Based On Previously Defined Lead Qualification Process
Using the information you have on the lead you captured (including the information provided by the lead via your form as well as their website behavior), as well as the results of the initial communication, you can then determine what stage the lead is in, for example, MQL (marketing qualified leads) and SQL (sales qualified leads). At this point segmentation and your lead management process will let you nurture the lead more effectively with more relevant content and more personalized engagement.
10. Set Appropriate ‘Next Steps’ And Begin Lead Management
Once you’ve appropriately qualified the lead, follow the lead management process for appropriate next steps for nurturing that lead. While some steps of your lead management process will be manual, other steps can be automated (such as through an email drip campaign), but it’s important that you correctly identify what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in, and that they were segmented to the right list.
Reporting On Lead Generation Efforts
Because your ability to close sales is strongly linked to how effective your lead generation process is, carefully monitor every aspect of your lead generation process. This will allow you to identify potential issues that could be hurting your ability to attract qualified leads, capture leads in general, and/or capture leads that are actually qualified. If you’re using the right metrics, you should be able to diagnose the problems that are causing these issues, which you can then address to improve your lead generation strategy.
To monitor your lead generation efforts, you can track several important KPIs such as these:
Lead Source Effectiveness
Lead Source Effectiveness tells you not only where your leads are coming from, but how effective each source is at delivering qualified leads and ultimately new customers. For example, if you notice that a large percentage of the visitors coming from social media are converting to sales qualified leads, then you can assume that whatever social media strategy you’re using is working and that putting more resources into that strategy could be a smart move. On the other hand, you can also identify traffic from another source that is converting poorly. For instance, maybe your organic traffic from Google is not converting into qualified leads at an acceptable rate. If this is the case, you might have an issue with your SEO strategy that needs to be addressed.
Lead Quantity & Lead Quality
When you qualify the leads you capture, you get a sense of their quality. While capturing a large amount of leads is certainly a good thing, if a large number of them aren’t being qualified as MQL and SQL, then you have an issue with the types of leads you’re attracting to your website. If the leads you’re capturing are of low quality, you won’t be able to nurture them down the sales funnel. It also says that your marketing efforts aren’t very cost-effective since you’re wasting resources on visitors who are turning into poor quality leads.
Funnel Stage Conversion Rates
It’s also a good practice to monitor the conversion rates from one stage to the next. This will identify potential bottlenecks or roadblocks that are preventing your leads from moving down the funnel. Monitor your visitor-to-lead, lead-to-MQL, MQL-to-SQL, SQL-to-opportunity, and opportunity-to-closed won conversion rates.
Marketing Sourced Pipeline
To determine how effective your lead generation efforts have actually been in regards to creating revenue, you will need to monitor your marketing sourced pipeline metrics. There are two major marketing sourced pipeline metrics to track:
Marketing % Of Sales Pipeline
This metric shows the percentage of revenue from opportunities in the sales pipeline that came from your marketing efforts. If the percentage is large, then your marketing department is responsible for many of your sales; however, if you’re putting a lot of effort into outbound marketing as well, then it could mean that your outbound marketing efforts are underperforming compared to your inbound efforts.
Marketing % Of Contribution To Closed Revenue
This metric shows the percentage of revenue made from closed-won deals that came from your marketing efforts. It shows you how your marketing efforts have affected your revenue vs. your opportunities. It’s a metric that many businesses use to highlight the ROI of their marketing efforts. However, connecting your marketing efforts to your revenue dollars requires closed-loop reporting to integrate sales and marketing data.
Your Marketing And Sales Efforts Depend On An Effective Lead Generation Strategy
In the end, your marketing and sales strategies will only be successful if your lead generation strategy is effective. If you don’t place emphasis on attracting high-quality traffic to your website and converting those visitors to leads that are qualified, then your marketing and sales results are bound to suffer.