So, you want more leads, more growth?
But how do you do it?
85% of B2B companies list lead generation as their most important marketing objective. Yet… as many as 62% struggle with it.
We know that trying to generate leads may be intimidating — after all, attracting customers is the lifeblood of any business. But it doesn’t have to be complicated.
We’re going to break down the process with everything you need to know to help you maximise your efforts and grow with confidence.
Soon, you’ll know everything you need to attract and generate your ideal leads.
- What is a lead?
- What is lead generation?
- Types of leads
- How important is lead generation for my business?
- Inbound lead generation vs outbound lead generation
- How does lead generation work?
- Lead generation examples
- Your first 3 steps to lead generation
- Proven tips for your lead generation campaigns
- Capture and convert more high-quality leads with a CRM
- Ready for growth?
What is a lead?
A lead is a person or business who’s shown interest in your products or services.
Typically, this is someone who has given you their contact information — such as their name and company name, email, and phone number — via a website form or social media, and they’ve indicated that they want to communicate further with you.
This could also be someone who you’ve gotten from a lead provider or a dream account you’ve found on LinkedIn who you decide to initiate contact with.
What is lead generation?
Lead generation definition
Lead generation refers to the strategic activities and techniques used by businesses to capture the interest and contact information of potential customers with the goal of nurturing them into paying customers.
Or as told by our Global Content Marketing Strategist, Mariam Matuk, “Lead generation is the art of turning strangers into friends and friends into customers. It’s a precise process that requires the right messaging, targeting, and value proposition to succeed.”
This means making people aware of your business — then identifying those whose interest you’ve captured and getting their contact information to communicate further.
Converting someone into a lead might involve them filling out a form on your website for your newsletter, downloadable resource, or free trial.
Now, you have their information and express opt-in to chat further with you. Nice, right? This signifies the beginning of your relationship.
The goal here is to fill your sales pipeline with high-quality leads who can then be nurtured toward closing the deal.
Types of leads
These are the four main types of leads:
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
Marketing Qualified Leads are visitors who are interested in your solution and have engaged with your company through your marketing efforts — such as filling out a form, clicking on specific calls to action (CTAs), or interacting with you on social media.
Your marketing team will use various methods to qualify these leads as a good fit for your business and pass them along to sales to work their magic.
To keep MQLs moving along the buying journey, marketers typically nurture them through marketing automation campaigns that provide them with useful information about your products or services.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
SQLs represent potential customers who have shown a high enough level of interest in your products or services and taken actions that indicate they’re ready to make a purchase.
Typically, this will mean contacts who have taken actions such as requesting a demo or pricing information, or they’re leads who have already been qualified by marketing and passed to the sales team to close the deal.
A key metric in measuring the effectiveness of your lead qualification process is the MQL to SQL conversion rate. This represents the amount of MQLs that successfully become SQLs. To benchmark your efforts, the average conversion rate for MQL to SQL is 13%.
How to calculate MQL to SQL conversion rate
MQL to SQL conversion rate = (Number of SQLs / Number of MQLs) x 100
Service Qualified Leads
A Service Qualified Lead is a customer who has expressed to your service team that they’re interested in an upgrade or additional products offered by your company.
For example, this could be a customer who has purchased a software system from your company and is interested in upgrading their package or adding on additional modules.
Service qualified leads are then passed on to the sales team, who will work to close the deal.
Product Qualified Leads (PQLs)
Product Qualified Leads (PQLs) are potential customers who have already used your product and are interested in becoming a paying customer or upgrading.
These are typically people who have purchased a free trial or limited subscription of your software and are ready to chat with sales and upgrade to a paid subscription.
How important is lead generation for my business?
When it comes to running a successful business, lead generation is a crucial part of the process; “if you’re not generating leads, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to connect with potential customers and build lasting relationships,” shares Matuk.
A study by Marketing Charts found that 74.6% of B2B sales take at least four months to close, with 46% taking seven months or more.
Don’t be the one who gets stuck in an endless sales cycle. With a solid lead generation strategy, you can start building relationships with your target audience, creating a space for them in your pipeline to nurture into paying customers.
Once you’ve started capturing interested leads’ contact information, this is where the magic really happens. Now, you can qualify who’s most likely to generate revenue for your business and understand where to prioritise your time and efforts.
This is what separates successful businesses from those who struggle to grow.
Inbound lead generation vs outbound lead generation
Lead generation used to require cold calling and emailing to grab the interest of potential business (outbound), but now, we can now pull consumers in more naturally through our digital channels to build trust right at the start of their buying journey (inbound).
In fact, inbound marketing both costs less and is shown to be 10 times more effective in lead conversion than outbound. Consumers are spending more and more time online and prefer to start their buying research on their own terms, making it crucial for brands to develop a strong digital presence.
But while inbound methods like content marketing and SEO get the spotlight (deservedly), there is still a place for outbound; most successful B2B businesses include a carefully planned combination of both in their lead generation strategies.
When determining where to place your focus, how you plan your lead generation efforts will depend on your specific business model, your audience, objectives, and budget.
What is inbound lead generation?
Inbound lead generation is the process of attracting consumers to reach out to you by providing them with relevant and valuable content.
Here are some common methods to attract inbound leads:
- Content marketing (e.g., blog posts, videos, whitepapers)
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media marketing
- Landing pages
- Web forms
- Opt-in email marketing
What is outbound lead generation?
Outbound lead generation involves proactively reaching out to potential business; the initial contact is initiated by you.
This could mean targeting your ideal customers on Google, LinkedIn, advertising, or paying a company to hand promising contacts to you.
With the outbound method, your lead’s level of awareness in your business is often unknown, so you’ll need to quickly educate them and establish trust.
Here are some common methods for outbound lead generation:
- Advertising (e.g., TV, radio, billboard)
- Cold email
- Cold calling
- Direct mail
- LinkedIn message
How does lead generation work?
Lead generation is primarily a marketing process that focuses on creating content to begin a relationship and establish trust with your target audience.
The goal here is to get people to willingly share their contact information, placing them on your customer journey.
Lead generation takes place at the top of your inbound marketing funnel — after you’ve attracted people to your website. Once your lead is generated, your marketing efforts will continue to qualify and nurture the lead and get them ready for your sales team (I.e., turning them into an SQL).
It’s important to take a more granular look and define each step of how the process will look like for your business. This way, you can better visualise and measure your efforts.
Here’s how this process might look for you:
The lead generation process
This is the stage where a visitor will first become aware of your brand. They may have found you through various channels, such as search engines, social media, ads, or referrals from existing customers.
Let’s say you have a consulting business, and someone is looking for consulting services for their startup. So, they search on Google something like, “how to grow my startup business”.
Thanks to a well-targeted ad or SEO efforts, your website shows up, and you’re on their radar.
2. Lead magnet
The next step of the lead generation process is when the visitor clicks on your call to action button that prompts them to access your lead magnet.
A lead magnet is a free resource or offer that a visitor can access in exchange for their contact information.
Your lead magnet can be anything relevant and valuable to your audience; it could take the form of a guide, eBook, template, case study, webinar, and the list goes on.
Back to the previous example, maybe your website visitor with the startup is scrolling through your content and sees something that catches their interest — a case study on “How [Startup Company] Got VC Funding in 14 Days,” with a CTA that says, “Download for free.”
So, they click.
Learn the key tips and tricks your business needs for predictable growth.
3. Landing page
Your CTA will then take your visitor to a dedicated landing page that’s designed to convert them into a lead by capturing their information through a form.
The visitor will need to complete the lead form with their contact information, such as their full name, email, company size, or any other relevant information you’re looking for in order to access your offer.
4. Lead capture
Once the visitor completes your form — just like that — you have a lead.
Now, your new lead can access your lead magnet.
After capturing your lead’s contact information, it’s important to stay top of mind and build trust to get them moving through the funnel.
This can be done through methods like personalised emails, leveraging social media, and retargeted ads that continue to engage with the lead and address any objections they could have about your solutions.
5. Lead scoring and qualification
Not all leads will be ready to buy today. Once you’ve generated a lead, you’ll need to determine where they are in their customer journey.
Lead scoring is a capability in lead generation software, such as a CRM, that helps your marketing and sales teams understand which leads to prioritise.
This works by capturing insights into their intent data — such as their behaviour and engagement with your brand — to see where they are in your customer journey and automatically assign a score based on any qualifications you’ve defined.
Companies might use metrics for lead rating such as job title, decision-making authority, company size, and relevant online behaviour to determine the quality of the lead — I.e., their likelihood of converting.
With good lead scoring, your teams can move more efficiently, knowing which leads to focus their efforts on.
Lead generation examples
Content marketing is one of the most popular lead generation strategies — and for good reason.
Each day, millions of consumers around the world go online to search for tips and solutions for their problems.
When you create informative and valuable content — such as blog posts, whitepapers, and guides — you can leverage the search intent of your target audience and speak directly to them, communicating that you have a solution for them.
In fact, 47% of buyers look at 3 to 5 pieces of content before even speaking with a sales rep, and most of them “expect brands to create content to gain their interest.”
Therefore, you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to engage with your audience during the crucial first stages of their buying journey and establish yourself as their go-to.
Your content will be a key tool to build trust and create a relationship with your target audience — turning visitors, to leads, to customers.
From your content, you can direct interested visitors to your landing page — and with a strong lead magnet and winning CTA, guide them toward conversion.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a must if you want to bring visitors to your website content.
SEO is the process of optimising your online content to rank on the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).
Through SEO, you can increase both the quantity and quality of your website visitors — and potential leads. When your website ranks higher on search engines, it means that your website is seen by more people, increasing the likelihood that they will visit your site.
By creating valuable content that answers the search intent of your audience’s search queries, you can effectively grab their attention and direct a large volume of traffic to the top of your lead generation funnel.
With 3.78 billion active users, social media platforms present a massive opportunity to generate leads.
You can use social media to generate leads by creating shareable content, ads based on user behaviour, and leveraging influencers.
You’ll want to consistently post content that is relevant, engaging, and valuable to help you grow your brand awareness and foster a relationship with your followers.
You can also promote your offering and lead magnets, such as eBooks, webinars, and guides, and include a CTA in your post captions.
Social media makes it easy for viewers to take action from your posts, leading them right to your landing page.
And through social media listening, you can monitor mentions, comments, and conversations to inform the content you create and target your potential leads more precisely.
Online advertising and retargeting
Well-targeted ads can directly reach and communicate to your dream leads the action you want them to take.
Paid search ads:
With paid search, you can place your ads directly at the top of search engine results pages to capture the attention of potential customers who are actively searching online for specific solutions.
Display ads are online advertisements that appear in various forms, such as banners, videos, and pop-ups on relevant websites, apps, and social media.
With display ads, your business can target specific audiences and showcase your offering in a visually appealing manner — improving brand visibility and attracting potential customers.
Retargeting involves showing ads to people who have previously interacted with your website or other online content. This method is highly effective because it keeps your brand top of mind to people who have already shown interest.
By using retargeting, you can remind potential customers about your products or services and address any objections they might have to warm them toward conversion.
To effectively use ads and retargeting as a lead generation strategy, make sure that your copy and visuals are compelling and that your offer and landing page align well with your ad’s message.
Finally, ensure your CTA is optimised and clearly directs the action you want the viewer to take… and you’ll be golden.
Creating your lead generation strategy
In order to attract great leads on repeat, you’ll need to establish a few things first.
With a solid lead generation strategy in your toolbelt, you’ll have a working blueprint to create brand awareness, attract your ideal leads, and ultimately increase your sales.
Of course, creating a winning lead generation strategy takes careful planning and execution.
Let’s go over three key ingredients to set your efforts up for success:
Identify your target audience
Identifying your target audience is a crucial first step in lead generation. Who do you want to reach? Are they right for your product?
This research can involve assessing your existing customer base and previous conversion data, researching who your competition is talking to, conducting market research, and creating buyer personas.
Determining attributes such as demographics and firmographics — as well as an individual’s online behaviour, interests, and objectives — can help you identify and target your ideal buyer with precision.
Once you have a clear understanding of the audience you want to attract, you can start creating personalised marketing campaigns that address their needs and pain points.
Map out the customer journey
Understanding the customer journey is key to successful lead generation.
The customer journey represents each time an individual will interact with your brand — from stranger to customer.
You need to know what steps your potential customers will take before they make a purchase. This will help you create effective content and offers that target them at each stage of the journey.
Map out each of the different steps a customer will take with your business, starting from when they first become aware of your business to when they become a customer, and beyond, when and how you can get them to become your biggest advocates.
Once you know the stages, map out the content you need to create for each one, such as blog posts, white papers, email campaigns, and more. Be sure to align your lead generation strategies to your overall customer journey.
As you go, you can leverage lead generation tools, like efficy’s, to help you track and analyse each customer interaction, making it easy to identify potential leads and create personalised marketing campaigns.
Target the right channels
Once you’ve identified your target audience, you’ll need to be strategic about choosing the right lead generation channels to reach them.
Targeting your efforts to the right channels with the right content and ads can drastically improve the quality of your lead generation and increase your ROI.
Keep in mind that the digital landscape is constantly changing, so keep a pulse on where your audience is hanging out and stay adaptable as trends shift.
Proven tips to maximise your lead generation efforts
Create compelling content at each stage of the buying journey
Creating valuable content and offers at each stage of the buying journey will help keep your leads engaged and moving through the sales funnel.
“By providing relevant and helpful information at every touchpoint, you can establish your brand as a trusted authority and increase the likelihood of conversions,” shares Matuk.
Leverage content upgrades and lead magnets
Content upgrades and lead magnets are valuable resources that you can offer your leads in exchange for their contact information.
These resources can be anything from e-books to webinars to a free video course. Offering something of value to your leads will increase the chances of them converting into paying customers.
Optimise your landing pages and forms
Dedicated landing pages are a powerful tool for converting strangers into leads — and ultimately, paying customers.
By creating a specific page for each of your offers, you can provide a clear, focused message that’s tailored to the needs of your target audience to help increase conversions.
Don’t complicate it; just use one CTA and make it clear and easy for them to put in their relevant contact information and convert.
It’s important to carefully determine which pieces of contact information you ask for in your lead form. You’ll want to gather enough information to gauge whether someone is actually interested in your offer and will be a great fit for your product.
Take a look at efficy’s demo landing page, for example:
Put your data to work
If you want to set your lead generation efforts up for success, start with the data you already have and put it to work for you.
Take a look at your content and ads that have performed well and what isn’t working for you and use these insights to fuel your efforts going forward.
Lead generator software, like a CRM, can inform your efforts with key data insights and help you track and measure your results to uncover areas for improvement and optimise your strategy.
A/B testing enables you to experiment with different variations of your messaging and offers to see what works best.
Test out different CTAs, headlines, copy, ad lengths, visuals, and more — just be sure to only experiment with one change at a time.
A/B testing can help you optimise your lead generation strategy by identifying the most effective elements and refining your approach.
Building great customer relationships is a key foundation for any B2B business. And, one of the best ways to make connections is through networking.
Networking can take place both online — in spaces like LinkedIn — or at in-person events and is a personal and effective method to expand your reach.
By networking with other businesses, you can gain insights into industry trends, identify potential customers and partnerships, and increase your brand awareness.
Keep your messaging consistent
“Consistency is key when it comes to messaging,” Matuk begins, “It’s the glue that holds your content together and helps your audience connect the dots.”
Ensuring your messaging stays consistent across your channels will help you establish trust with your audience and build brand recognition.
Be sure to align your sales messages with your marketing, too. By using a CRM like efficy’s with a 360-degree customer view, your teams can access relevant customer data throughout their entire lifecycle with your business to ensure your external communication stays aligned.
With a consistent and trustworthy brand voice, you’ll increase improve the customer experience and, ultimately, conversions.
Leverage partnerships with other companies
Partnership marketing is a powerful way to expand your reach and generate new leads.
This could involve working together to promote each other’s complementary products, an affiliate marketing partnership, or even a strategic alliance.
With these methods, you can pool your resources and lower costs while maximising your impact and increasing your credibility in new markets — creating opportunities to reach new, valuable leads.
How to generate high-quality leads with a CRM?
A Customer Relationship Management platform is a powerful tool that can help you organise and manage your lead generation efforts.
When used effectively, a lead generator software can make your efforts more successful and propel your business to grow faster.
How? Here are some ways a CRM helps you master your end-to-end lead management:
Centralised lead inbox
A CRM allows you to collect, manage, and analyse all lead and customer data in one centralised inbox, providing a 360-degree view of their customer journey with you.
This way, you can move confidently and maximise the potential of every lead, going from lead to customer faster.
Lead tracking and qualification
Today, lead management takes careful monitoring; you need to be able to track your leads throughout your sales pipeline.
With a good CRM, you can easily track and qualify your leads accurately.
By tracking your leads’ interactions with your brand, you can better understand their needs and interests and tailor your communications accordingly.
Plus, it will keep you in the know on who your best leads are and allow you to prioritise your follow-ups accordingly.
This data is invaluable in identifying hot leads and nurturing them through the sales funnel.
Automated follow-ups with personalised communication
You can use a CRM to set up and trigger automatic, personalised messages to reach out to leads at the right time. This will allow you to stay top-of-mind and increase your chances of converting the lead into a sale.
With a CRM, you’ll be able to maximise your efforts by creating personalised communication that engages potential leads.
By leveraging data like their company size, industry, online behaviour, and location, you can tailor your content to their interests and needs — and moreover, increase the chances of them converting into paying customers.
Ready for growth?
There are many opportunities for lead generation — it all comes down to meeting your ideal customers where they are, with the right message, at the right time.
By creating optimised content, offers, landing pages, and CTAs — and communicating them through the right channels — you’ll be on the path to capturing more and more stellar leads.
And better yet, placing them on an escalator to become paying customers.
If you want to enhance your lead generation efforts and growth, then leveraging the benefits of a CRM is your best bet.
With efficy’s CRM, we help you streamline marketing to sales to generate the most qualified leads and turn them into customers faster.
Take a holistic view of your leads, understand which ones to prioritise, and capture them faster — all with one simple platform.
Ready to generate more leads and grow your business to where you want and beyond? Get your free demo of efficy today!
Find out how Efficy is the best option for your business!