- Lead generation refers to specific marketing or sales activities that help you identify potentially interested customers.
- The lead generation process involves content marketing, calls to action and lead capture forms.
- To perfect your lead generation process, look at your content, landing page and lead contact methods.
- This article is for business owners looking to generate more leads and drive sales.
With proper lead generation tactics, your company can forge relationships with consumers whom you can assume are interested, even if not immediately, in your products and services. Strong lead generation prevents you from wasting time on people who aren’t interested in your products or services. Learn more below about lead generation, the lead generation process and how can you perfect your company’s lead generation approach.
What is lead generation?
Lead generation is the use of marketing and sales tactics to identify and draw in potentially interested customers. Your target customer may be a new customer, or it may be current customers whom you want to buy additional products or services. You likely see lead generation efforts every day. They include coupons, blog posts, webinars, downloadable e-books and free samples.
Key takeaway: Lead generation is a marketing or sales campaign geared at identifying potentially interested customers and capturing their interest.
What are the various lead types?
All leads have, by definition, expressed interest in your company, but not all leads have expressed the same amount of interest. Lead generation experts advise grouping your leads into several types based on their interest levels. These types vary based on the lead’s progress along your company’s sales funnel. They include:
- Marketing qualified leads (MQLs). An MQL is someone who has engaged with your company’s marketing campaigns and may be interested in your company. However, you should not yet directly contact these leads to arrange sales calls. You have likely received their information through a form they completed to obtain content or an offer. As such, their interest is relatively low, for now.
- Sales qualified leads (SQLs). An SQL is someone who has explicitly shown interest in your company. You should consider directly contacting these leads to arrange sales calls, since you have likely received an inquiry from them (or their information). These leads are highly interested in your products and services.
- Product qualified leads (PQLs). PQLs are leads who have enjoyed your products or services enough that they will likely purchase them after the promotion ends, such as a free trial user who asks about access to paid features.
- Service qualified leads (SQLs). SQLs are customers who are ready to speak further with your sales team to learn more about the goods and services you provide and what the onboarding process is for new customers.
Key takeaway: There are four main lead types that vary by interest level and progress along the sales funnel.
What is a lead generation process?
A lead generation process is a series of steps through which you attract leads via marketing and present them with a call to action (CTA). The process can be broken down into these three steps:
- Create and market content. Your website, social media pages, blog posts and other original content all have the same goal: attracting new customers. The lead generation process always starts with content marketing.
- Include a CTA. Any content that you market should end with a CTA that encourages the reader to take an action. This action is often claiming an offer, whether it’s a discount or a piece of free content, such as a white paper.
- Link your CTA to a landing page. Your CTA should direct readers to a landing page where visitors can provide their information and, in return, receive the offer you’re providing. This page contains your lead capture form, which your leads will complete to receive your offer.
Key takeaway: Your lead generation process uses specific content marketing pieces that contain compelling calls to action that direct your reader to a lead capture form.
6 ways to perfect your lead generation process
To perfect your lead generation process, take the following steps:
1. Master your content.
Your lead generation process starts with choosing the appropriate form of content, whether that’s a blog, webinar, white paper, and then creating that content.
In addition to creating new content, you should regularly update old content to optimize it for search engine keywords, which exposes your products or services to a wider audience.
In your content, you want to include a CTA that will capture the interest of consumers. Your CTA can be access to another piece of content or some other offer. For example, a blog post can end with a CTA to download a free e-book or webinar.
2. Modify your landing page.
After your lead clicks on your CTA, they will be directed to your landing page. This page is where you provide more information about your products and services, but your primary intent is to encourage them to complete a specific action, which might be to buy your products, provide their email address, or take some other step that moves them further into your sales funnel.
Some of the best practices for landing pages (and lead capture form) are to:
- Keep your word count short and your copy simple.
- Make your CTA crystal clear.
- Maintain consistent messaging from the CTA all the way through your lead capture form.
- Use vivid, specific language to present your value offer.
- Choose colors and designs that clearly highlight your CTA.
- Conduct A/B tests to identify and make possible changes.
3. Keep up with your leads.
After your lead engages with your content and fills out the lead capture form to receive your content or offer, you will receive the lead’s contact information. Although this lead is likely an MQL and thus not ready for a sales call, you should still maintain regular contact. For example, using marketing automation software, you can set up a customized email outreach campaign that guides your leads along the sales funnel.
4. Qualify your leads.
Let’s suppose you receive two leads: One lead acted on your offer after following a CTA from your blog. Another lead contacted you to ask a question. You can safely assume that the latter is an SQL, and the former is an MQL. Once you qualify your leads, you can adopt a strategy to keep them engaged with your company.
5. Distinguish your sales and lead generation teams.
As you determine which of your leads is most likely to become a customer, you’ll focus your efforts on converting these leads to customers. This work differs from your efforts in generating leads. Think of lead generation as discovering leads and sales as converting leads.
As part of your lead generation process, you should include a step in which a lead is handed over to your sales team.
6. Reassess regularly.
A perfect lead generation process doesn’t exist because your customers’ needs are constantly changing, the marketplace is continually evolving, and your products and services change, too. That’s why you should regularly reexamine your lead generation process and identify its strengths and where it could be improved.
A major component of content marketing is content auditing, which is useful in lead generation, too. When auditing your content, you will assess your existing content for opportunities to improve your SEO and rankings, incorporate new content that addresses trending topics, and more. All of these approaches can place your company in front of people who might not otherwise find you.
You can also use Google Analytics on your landing page to determine key performance indicators such as your conversion rate and bounce rate. That data can help you determine how to improve your landing page so that more leads submit their info.
Google Analytics and content auditing are just two ways to reassess your efforts and strategize. If you get creative with how you adjust your approach, then as long as your choices are based on sound logic, more leads might result.
Key takeaway: The steps involved in perfecting your lead generation process include mastering your content, modifying your landing pages, keeping leads engaged and regularly reassessing your efforts.