How Can Lead Generation Fit Into Your Inbound Marketing Strategy?
Table of Content:
- What Is A Lead?
- Different Types of Leads
- How to Identify Leads?
- What Is Lead Generation?
- How Has The Lead Generation Process Evolved Over The Years?
- What Is The Process Involved In Lead Generation?
- Effective Lead Generation Practices
- Why Do Businesses Need Lead Generation?
- Role of Technology in the Realm of Lead Generation
- Lead Generation Trends
- Examples of Lead Generation Campaigns
- How To Generate Leads During a Pandemic Like COVID-19?
From finding the customers to being found by the customers, marketing has evolved to a great extent for some years now. Earlier, people used to follow traditional marketing methods like cold calling, telemarketing, etc., that was highly interruptive and frustrating for the customers. Now, marketers implement inbound marketing strategies like content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and branding after understanding the buyers' persona in detail to generate quality leads. The lead generation process comes at an initial level of inbound marketing, then comes to the efforts relating to converting the leads into customers, and after-sale services. Basically, the inbound marketing strategy follows the lead generation process without annoying and disturbing the customers with interrupting calls and spammed emails.
Generating high-quality leads having the maximum capability of getting converted is the biggest challenge marketers face these days. To overcome this challenge, it has become important to use the best inbound lead generation practices. This article would walk you through the complete information that can help you identify and implement the right inbound lead generation strategies ensuring the long-term growth of your business in terms of reputation and profitability.
Let's get started with the definition of a lead and then move towards discussing different topics that can clearly explain how lead generation can fit into your inbound marketing strategy.
What Is A Lead?
A lead is an individual, group of people or a company that shows interest in the products/services you are offering. In sales and marketing context, lead is also termed as a potential buyer or a prospect. The leads express their interest by responding to your marketing campaign, survey, or filling up the inquiry form on your website and submitting their contact information and preferences. Based on the data captured, the marketing team then proceeds to convert those leads into buyers.
Different Types of Leads
Generally, the sales and marketing teams categorize leads into 3 types - hot, warm, and cold. This categorization is based on the level of interest and response leads provide when contacted, their position in the buyer's journey, and their placement in the marketing funnel. Let's have a better understanding of these different types of leads.
Information Qualified Lead (IQL)
IQL in marketing terminology is known as "cold lead." Every lead is a cold leat at an initial level of the buyer's journey. At this stage, the marketer needs to approach the lead with the information about the products/services in exchange for the lead's information like their name, contact information, location, preferences, etc. Let's say you have posted an ad on Facebook, and an individual interested in it clicks on its landing page and fills up the inquiry form therein. At this stage, the lead is considered as an Information Qualified Lead (IQL).
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
This type of lead is in the middle of sales and marketing in the funnel. The leads in this category have expressed their interest and acquired information about the products/services you have provided but are taking some time making purchase decisions or considering other options. At this stage, marketers offer discounts and freebies to attract customers and close the deals. The leads in this category are also known as "warm leads" by sales and marketing professionals.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
Sales leads are the ones that are just ready to convert into sales. The leads in the bottom part of the sales funnel are known as "Sales Qualified Leads" or "Hot Leads." The individuals who have collected all the information from you about your offerings and are about to pay for the same can be considered sales qualified leads. These types of leads are passed on by the marketing team to the sales team so that the sales process can be completed.
How to Identify Leads?
Identifying, scoring, and categorizing the leads is important for improving conversions, but it is also a tricky process. Considering the below criteria can make this task easier for you.
What Is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is attracting your target audience towards your brand with the intention of selling them your products/services. Different inbound marketing methods like content marketing, social media posting, SEO, paid advertising, etc., are implemented to generate quality leads that positively convert into sales. The below visual can clearly define the position of lead generation in the inbound marketing process -
How Has The Lead Generation Process Evolved Over The Years?
Earlier, generating leads was all about collecting the potential buyers' contact information and passing on that information to the sales team. Now, the lead generation process has changed to catch up with the buyers' changing behavior and the growing competition. So, what has changed that instigated the evolution in the lead generation process? The answer is simple - competition and the way people research, compare, and analyze the products/services have changed. Let's go through some aspects that have made sales & marketing professionals implement advanced lead generation strategies that actually work.
Availability of Abundant Information - With the growth on the internet, the availability of information increased. The availability of abundant information results in attention scarcity. With so much information about the products/services available, the buyers' have too many options to look into. The sellers have to deal with a lot of competition to grab the attention of the buyers. Thus, posting relevant & high-quality content has become mandatory these days to generate qualified leads that convert.
Awareness Among The Buyers - As there is easy access to the information relating to the products/services, suppliers, and vendors the buyers are looking for, the sales & marketing professionals now face the challenge of dealing with educated buyers on an initial level itself. Thus, today's buyer is much more knowledgeable and smarter than before, and so the advanced lead generation methods need to be applied to win their attention and interest.
With this new dimension, there are certain factors given below that should be considered while executing advanced and successful lead generation strategies -
Personalization - Gone are the days when the marketers send bulk email messages to the targeted audience with the same message. Now, to generate high-quality leads, it has become important to approach the audience through personalized messages based on certain factors like preferences, location, gender, budget, etc., that impact their purchase decision.
Technology - The use of technology to generate qualified leads has become important these days to eliminate all the flaws and improve sales & marketing teams' performance while approaching the buyers. The use of marketing automation software and CRM has become common in business organizations these days to streamline and enhance their leads, generating and leads nurturing activities.
High-Quality Content - This has become one of the most important aspects these days required to generate qualified leads. The search engine algorithms have also grown smart now and thus do not rank content stuffed with keywords written for the ranking purpose. A mere sales pitch is not at all effective these days. The content in the form of text, images, or videos you post on your website, blogs, whitepapers, landing pages, etc., should interest your target audience and at the same time benefit your inbound marketing strategy.
Insights & Business Intelligence Reports - To create compelling content that can raise awareness among your audience and grab their attention and finally generate qualified leads, it becomes necessary to go through the past data, insights, and business intelligence reports. It is important to know how your audience reacts to your lead generation activities to plan & execute effective inbound marketing strategies for the future.
Use of Right Lead Response Tools - Phone calls, emails, landing pages, social media, live chat, website contact forms, etc., are some of the lead generating platforms. The use of these channels to grab the buyers' attention should be done appropriately. Using the right lead response tools depends on the buyers' persona & journey, and the product/services you are marketing to help your inbound marketing campaign achieve expected results.
Thus, it is an inevitable fact that lead generation tactics have changed and are continuously evolving. To keep up with the competition, the marketers need to execute updated lead generation methods to empower their inbound marketing efforts. Let's look at some of the most effective lead generation strategies that can help you attract qualified leads and improve conversion rates.
What Is The Process Involved In Lead Generation?
Effective Lead Generation Practices
According to B2B marketers in the United States, the below-mentioned are some of the most effective lead generation tactics used in 2019 that exhibited the highest ROI.
Let's have brief information about some of these highly effective lead generating tactics.
Content marketing is all about publishing content that can engage the audience with your brand and generate leads. It can include infographics, social media posts, tweets, whitepapers, guides, or anything that can provide information about the products/services you are selling.
Email marketing is one of the most old and successful lead generation methods that has been used for a long time. Email marketing is used to send newsletters, discount coupons, or other information to generate leads and convert them into customers.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Almost every business owns a website these days, and it has become the first point of contact for the buyers these days. SEO is an organic way of ranking a website on top position in SERPs. The people searching for the products/services you sell may find your website in the top position in search engines and land on your website as a visitor. If the visitors landing on your website find the information provided by you useful, get converted, and generate revenue.
When it comes to paid advertising, Google Ads and Facebook advertising are quite popular. The PPC ad appears on the right side of the SERPs, and as soon as the visitors click on your pay per click ad, they land on your website landing page having an inquiry form. The visitors get converted to leads after they fill up that inquiry form. After that, marketing professionals approach the leads and try to convert them into customers by implementing effective inbound marketing strategies.
Social Media Marketing
As per Global Digital Overview 2020, social media users have surpassed the number of 3.8 billion. That means more than half of the world's population will use social media by the end of this year. Thus, social media marketing is considered one of the most effective ways to engage the audience with a brand and generate leads. Posting status updates, launching business pages, introducing contests and polls, offering discounts, etc., on social media platforms are some of the best ways of generating qualified leads with a high probability of getting converted into customers.
Blogging helps in ranking high on search engines and providing valuable information to visitors. Through blogging, you can introduce your new product launches, practice link building, and promote your services. All these benefits help improve the number of visitors to your website, increasing the engagement of your brand with your target audience, ultimately resulting in generating qualified leads.
These days, marketers post how-to-do and informative videos to increase awareness about the products or services they are offering. Direct selling or praising the products/services in the form of video is not in trend these days. The buyers are smart, and they encourage informative videos that add value and make their purchase decision easier. Posting a video on social media platforms, or embedding on your blog, website, and landing page can generate leads and improve conversions.
Why Do Businesses Need Lead Generation?
The answer to this question is simple - Growth of Business. Without lead generation, businesses fail because they don't invite new customers, and the old ones can get tempted to competitors' offers at any time. Generating leads is important to attract potential customers that can drive sales and ensure the growth of the business in terms of monetary returns and reputation. Below are some benefits that inbound lead generation methods can offer -
These benefits say a lot about the important role lead-generation plays in the success of a business. Lead generation is an initial step in the inbound marketing process; at times, it can seem overwhelming and complicated. It doesn't have to be if you integrate the right technology with your lead generation process.
Role of Technology in the Realm of Lead Generation
From automated emails to providing after-sale services, technology has played a major role in enhancing the lead generation process to benefit the business organizations and customers. Applying technology to lead generation strategies can help achieve efficiency and eliminate flaws in the entire inbound marketing process. Here are some different ways in which technology has revolutionized the realm of lead generation across the globe -
Marketing Automation Software
Marketing automation software is a tool that can automate and streamline the leads generation and marketing activities. It helps automate your email marketing campaigns, manage advertising campaigns, segmentation, targeting leads, and many more tasks, making it possible for you to generate high quality leads in less time utilizing minimum human efforts. Using the best marketing automation software, you can automate and streamline the process of generating quality leads that can actively contribute to your business organization's profitability.
In CRM (customer relationship management) software, every lead gets its profile. All the details about the leads are easily accessible using CRM. The marketing & sales professionals can understand each buyer's journey in-depth and execute their strategies accordingly to meet their sales goals. CRM software helps in streamlining the lead generation and lead nurturing process by automating monotonous tasks, eliminating flaws, and launching marketing campaigns.
Business Intelligence Software
Business intelligence software is used to analyze and transform past and present data into business insights and reports. These business insights and reports show the preferences and behavior of the customers. Based on that, the sales and marketing professionals can design successful lead generation strategies for the future. Business intelligence software plays the most significant role in generating high-quality leads having the maximum possibility to convert.
Thus, technology plays a major role in implementing successful lead generation strategies. At the same time, we cannot ignore the latest lead generation trends that are ruling the present inbound marketing scenario. To achieve success in inbound marketing strategies, it has become necessary to follow these latest lead generation trends.
Lead Generation Trends
Many businesses are using influencers to reach out to the customers instead of directly approaching them because the audience trusts and follows the trends set by the influencers. For example, posting an advertisement for a kitchen appliances brand on a popular food recipe blog would help target relevant audiences and generate leads with a high chance of getting converted.
The impact of personalized messages is much more useful than general messages in terms of audience response. It has already been proven that emails with personalized subject lines have a higher open rate than emails with common subject lines. Whether it is a social media update, an email, or a chat experience, it should provide a personalized experience to the prospects to ensure high conversion rates.
Whether on your website landing page, Youtube Channel, or blog, interactive content has a high possibility of grabbing the readers' attention and engaging them with your brand. For example, surveys, polls, quizzes can get you more information about your user than a simple inquiry form.
The real trick behind the growth in sales is identifying, which leads have the potential to convert. AI can do that easily for marketers by providing in-depth insights and reports that make decision making easier. For example, an AI-based software like Salesforce Einstein can fetch out the most critical insights and deliver recommendations that can empower all kinds of lead generation activities.
It has become necessary to optimize the website for voice search these days due to the increased use of voice search assistants like Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, etc. The businesses are now emphasizing on rankings for voice search rankings and to remain competitive and generate more leads, you need to ensure that your website ranks on the top position when voice search is performed.
Augmented Reality (AR) has helped the potential buyers see and experience the products/services before buying them. For example, IKEA uses Augmented Reality to help its potential customers know how the furniture would look like in their home before buying it. This helps in engaging the audience with the brand to enhance lead generation and conversions.
A chat session is an excellent opportunity to generate leads. The world works 24/7, but humans cannot. To ensure that you don't miss out on any opportunity that knocks your business door through live chat on your website or a social media messenger, you need to use chatbot technology that can collect the information on your behalf from your audiences. This would help you leave no stone unturned when it comes to lead generation and gaining maximum conversions.
Examples of Lead Generation Campaigns
Even after considering the latest technology and trends, the lead generation still remains a challenge. People sometimes don't want to take time and respond to your email, social media post, or any other lead generation idea. Here we have listed examples of some successful lead generation ideas that can help you meet your sales goals.
GoodFirms'Q&A platform enables professionals to solve their queries relating to buying, selling, and analyzing software products & services. It is a smart way to generate leads, as people visiting the community section for solving their queries can also consider listing their software products & services on one of the most reputed research & review platforms.
Optimizing Social Media Profiles
Michael Hyatt is a leadership coach and author. His Facebook cover page includes the details about his publications and links directly to the landing page. The users need to submit their information to avail offers on those publications.
Interviewing Third-Party Expert
To help Shopify Plus rank for a valuable keyword like "ecommerce re-platforming," the content strategist Aaron Orendorff interviewed Paul Rogers, one of the most high-profile experts in the industry. The keyword "ecommerce re-platforming" was used naturally throughout the interview to gain priority in search results.
Offering a Free Trial
Trello is a project management software that offers a freemium version to the users to get started. Later on, by applying different marketing tactics like email campaigns, these users have a greater possibility of getting converted into paid users as they get accustomed to this tool.
Using Live Chat On Website
Orderhive is an inventory management software that allows you to manage your inventory on a real-time basis. It has a live feature on its website, that allows visitors to clear all the doubts relating to Orderhive inventory management software. This also helps the business to generate new leads through live chat facility.
How To Generate Leads During a Pandemic Like COVID-19?
Offer Heavy Discounts & Freebies
We all know that giving away products for free is not easy; after all, it impacts your business profits. During this time, it is necessary to improve your brand image, encourage more customers to buy, and improve customer satisfaction. For that, you can include your discount offers in your emails, blogs, and newsletters to generate leads.
Online classes have become the best option to keep your business running if you are into the education & training industry. Online training is useful not only for schools, colleges & universities but also for institutes offering training in dance, singing, art, drawing, languages, etc. Promote your online training services through email and social media platforms to maximize lead generation even in this global financial crisis.
Conducting events in this pandemic situation is next to impossible as one cannot risk gathering so many people under one roof. In this scenario, if you need to generate awareness about your products/services, you can conduct virtual events using video conferencing tools that allow the users to register online for a group demo, seminar, or conference.
Whether it is a financial institution, hospitals, or mental health clinics, online consultation becomes the right option in this pandemic situation. Using different communication tools, financial business consultants can provide consulting services to their clients. Moreover, medical professionals use telemedicine software to offer medical treatments to their patients, and psychologists and psychiatrists use mental health software to provide online counseling sessions to their patients.
Post Relevant Content
People may not be aware of the use of your products/services in this crisis. Explain them in the form of interactive content about how your products/services can help in safeguarding them or making their lives easier during COVID-19 situation. This helps in generating Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and winning more business even in this critical situation.
Provide Extended Trials - During COVID-19, many individuals and businesses have been affected due to the financial crisis. Are you providing free trials for your products/services? This is when you show understanding to your customers by extending the free trials and winning customer loyalty, which may help you reap the benefits in the future.
The Key Takeaways
Lead generation is the most important and initial effort of your inbound marketing strategy to decide your business revenue outcome. And so, for implementing successful lead generation strategies, you need to design appealing landing pages, forms, and CTAs and provide attractive offers to your audience. Sales and marketing teams need to have a strong collaboration to make this possible. Last but not least, never stop exploring new ways to generate leads. The more you tweak your lead generation methods at every step of your inbound marketing process, the better results you get in terms of quality leads and increased revenue.
Managing leads comes after generating leads to ensure attending to every opportunity. For that, lead management software helps streamline important information about all the leads on a real-time basis, scoring, qualifying leads, and making sure that your entire inbound marketing process is systematic & flawless.
You can also get in touch with GoodFirms’ experts and get the best recommendations and suggestions about the latest tools and technologies used for generating high-quality leads that can help you in accelerating your business.
Jemimah Rodriguez is a content marketing specialist having 8+ years of experience in content writing, SEO, and social media optimization. At present, she is working with GoodFirms – a reliable platform helping businesses in selecting right Software Companies & Products. For further information, you can get in touch with her on [email protected]
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