- Lead generation is a collection of strategies you use to attract potential customers and move them through your funnel.
- Use lead scoring to understand which leads to prioritize, how to focus your time, and how best to engage with prospects.
- Follow the 17 steps outlined below to learn how to generate leads that turn into customers.
From insurance companies to banks to SaaS companies, leads are the lifeblood of a strong business. More qualified leads translates to a stable company with a better business growth trajectory. So, it’s no surprise marketers lose sleep wondering how to generate leads more consistently.
But, more isn’t always better. You also want qualified leads so that your sales team is constantly booked and engaged with new leads that become customers.
With a constant flow of leads, you can be more selective, achieve pricing premiums, and steer the business towards higher-quality accounts that are better aligned with your strengths.
What is sales lead generation?
Sales Lead Generation
Sales lead generation is the process you use to attract potential customers (prospects) and move them through the funnel until they’re ready to talk to your sales team.
B2C lead gen usually has one buyer and a shorter conversion timeline. On the other hand, B2B lead generation has many buyers and a much longer cycle.
The first step is to generate awareness and capture their contact information. Once they clearly express interest in what you have to offer, they can be considered a warm lead. Then, if they start engaging and you determine they are qualified, they become a marketing qualified lead (“MQL”).
Think of someone seeing a campaign promotion for a new whitepaper. They come to your landing page and submit the form to download the whitepaper. They then click the download link from your autoresponder email, and continue to click on various emails you send as part of your nurturing automated email sequence. That’s an MQL, assuming they fit your targeting criteria.
From the time you capture their contact information, it’s important to build and nurture the relationship. You can achieve this not only through emails, but also through events, ABM ads, direct mail, social media, dynamic web content, retargeting, direct sales outreach, etc.
16 Tested B2B Lead Generation Strategies (2021 Guide)
Once your lead expresses interest in talking with sales or otherwise displays clear purchase intent (and again, fits your targeting criteria), they are labeled as a sales qualified lead (“SQL”) and passed along to sales.
The more you can establish reliable lead generation funnels that consistently produce qualified leads, the stronger your pipeline and the greater your ability to increase sales.
How to generate leads with quality scores
Lead scoring is a methodology for ranking leads according to their quality and readiness for sales. A lead’s score may depend on several factors, including:
- Stage of the funnel
- Interest expressed in your offering
- Level of engagement
- Product fit
- Opportunity size
Your lead scoring system may use demographic information such as industry, company size, and job title. In addition, it should also include behavioral data including clicks, keywords, pages visited, downloads, registrations, etc.
Why score leads?
Assigning a lead score to your leads helps to increase your marketing and sales efficiency, by treating higher priority leads accordingly. In certain cases, a lead should be funneled to sales immediately. In other cases, lead nurturing by marketing is the right next step. Sometimes, you may be weeding out low-quality leads so that your marketing and sales resources are not being wasted.
The more your sales team understands which leads to prioritize, how to focus their time, and how best to engage with prospects, the healthier and more reliable your pipeline will be.
Lead scoring systems typically assign point values to different attributes and/or actions of a prospective customer. This includes someone who signed up for your mailing list, or downloaded a white paper, or registered for a webinar. It can also be someone who is further down the funnel and requested a demo or was looking for a comparison between your offerings and the competition.
You should have clear rules for actions or automations that occur when a lead reaches a certain point total. For example, if they become a “hot lead”, then sales should follow up immediately. If they are still early in the process, offer them deeper-dive content related to the pages they visited on your website.
How to generate leads for your business
As you research how to generate leads online, keep two things top of mind. Build trust, and deliver value to your audience. Most people won’t hand over their contact information or schedule a sales call unless they trust your brand and have already gotten significant value from you.
In other words, before you can get leads for your business, you need to lay the foundation for your lead gen strategy. We cover everything you need to know about that process in our demand generation guide. As a matter of fact, if you you’re unclear on the difference, you may also want to bookmark our explanation of demand generation vs lead generation.
But, if you already have the gist, this guide focuses on 17 effective ways to generate leads for your business that drive revenue.
1. Create buyer personas
In order to figure out how to find leads on the internet, you must first know who your buyers are. Create buyer personas with detailed information about their desires, goals, and frustrations. You should also include key moments that drive your customers to take action.
Here are some examples of personas that other brands developed to get you started. Just remember to think beyond the basic demographics, and work in psychological profiles that bring together the person, their environment, and the moments that prompt behavior changes.
2. Map the customer journey
map the customer journey for each persona within each audience segment you want to target. What causes them to start their journey? What problem or frustration are they trying to solve, or what desire or objective gets them motivated to start searching?
Where do they go for information? What websites do they visit?
What are the questions in their minds, and where do they turn for answers? How do they search for solutions in Google?
How do they go from top-of-funnel general information seeking to the middle of the funnel, where they start looking at specific solutions and comparing them?
What are the factors they consider when making a final purchase decision?
3. Make the right offer for each stage of the journey
If you want to get more leads, you need make the right offer at each stage of the funnel. If they are still at the top of the funnel and simply looking for broad educational information, then be as useful as possible to answer their questions. Provide blog posts, articles and videos that are purely educational in nature.
If they are in the middle of the funnel and looking for a deeper understanding of your solutions and a comparative view of their options, provide them with all the details and key points of differentiation.
At the bottom of the funnel, consider that they are trying to make a final decision. Empower them to make a smart choice with calculators, tools, offers, comparison charts, case studies, and any other content that proves the ROI they can achieve.
4. Leverage creative content marketing
If you’re stuck on how to generate leads, draw inspiration from these content marketing examples.
Content marketing is a powerful lead generation tool, in that you can connect with your target audience on a subconscious level and really engage with them in a memorable way.
What makes content captivating?
Engaging content is copy that draws in your readers. It stimulates emotions, provides actionable advice and keeps users intrigued so they read every last word. Truly captivating content also prompts readers to take action. That’s critical if you want them to share, link, bookmark, or fill out a form.
Want help in identifying ideas for captivating content for your audience? Check out Terakeet’s list of 29 ways to find content ideas that drive traffic and leads.
5. Use video marketing
Aberdeen Group reports that video marketers generate 66% more qualified leads than those who don’t use video. According to a recent Wyzowl state of video marketing survey, 83% of video marketers say video has helped them generate leads while 80% say video has directly helped increase sales.
Well-crafted, optimized video content adds an experiential element to your marketing that is hard to match with other marketing formats. Video is effective at evoking an emotional response from an audience, and at creating memories and higher recall.
Think of Geico, the reigning champion of pop culture-friendly videos that people love to watch and share, and the masterful use of video in the company’s lead generation efforts. Geico may sell insurance (a potentially boring as butter topic!), but they sure as heck understand how to have a consumer-friendly brand voice.
6. Optimize your site and content to drive the right traffic
No other channel aligns with how your audience thinks quite like SEO. Every question, every frustration, every solution they’re looking for: it all comes out in organic search.
When you tap into and optimize for these insights, you create pages and content that are fully aligned with your audience’s needs throughout the purchase funnel. So, you won’t just increase website traffic. You’ll drive the right kind of traffic.
First, you can use content to attract and capture mailing list opt-ins and other types of leads. Beyond the initial capture, you can then further nurture leads through the sales cycle via organic search by aligning with their interests and queries throughout the funnel.
Best of all, SEO lead generation ensures prospects discover your content precisely when they’re actively searching for the topics and solutions you cover. That’s a recipe for receptive, active, high-quality leads. This is evidenced in Google’s Economic Impact Report, in which Google itself finds that ROI on organic search is 5.3X on average.
B2B SEO Strategy: 2021 Guide to Dominate Organic Search
7. Craft your web pages and landing pages for conversions
Start with a conversion-first mindset when you develop web pages and lead gen landing pages. Your pages must align with the audience member’s intent. But, they also present an opportunity to build smarter conversion funnels that help you increase your leads.
Here’s something important to remember about how to generate leads: it’s all about anticipating your ideal customer’s next steps.
From there, you can bake that type of guidance into the page layout, design, messaging, and CTAs.
Want them to sign up for that webinar? Then bring it to their attention in a contextually relevant way, and you can even repeat the CTA on your pages to see if that type of repetition juices your conversion rates higher.
8. Use PR to attract attention
Public relations (PR) is another effective method of how to generate leads. With PR, you’re often targeting the top of the funnel and aiming to increase brand awareness.
When a campaign is creative enough, it becomes buzzworthy in its own right. That means it can generate a massive stream of media coverage, social activity, and impressions, greatly expanding your reach.
Looking at specific ways to use PR for lead generation, byline articles, guest blogging, newsjacking, events, and sponsorships are all effective. Using these PR vehicles, you can get in front of new audiences, establish authority, and bring leads to your doorstep.
For example, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson are the co-founders of the project management software firm Basecamp. They continually publish editorial pieces or get interviewed in third-party websites. In fact, Fried has written more than 75 byline articles for Inc. Magazine alone. He and Hansson have appeared in a long list of interviews in high-profile publications such as the New York Times, CNBC, Vox, The Tim Ferriss Show, and Forbes. Basecamp now has more than three million client accounts and is worth more than $100 million.
9. Focus on referral marketing for high-quality leads
One of the most organic means of generating new leads is word of mouth (WOM) and referral marketing. With the endorsement of someone an individual trusts, the lead has a higher likelihood of converting.
As evidence of this, a Nielsen study revealed that 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family more than advertising. Beyond friends and family, 88% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. On the B2B side, it’s estimated that roughly 91% of purchases are influenced by WOM.
Dropbox famously exploded with growth when it started offering more free storage space to customers when they referred others.
Regardless of the other marketing you are doing, referral marketing can be a strong funnel of new, high-quality, likely-to-close leads for your business.
10. Deploy display advertising for the top of the funnel
If you want to raise awareness and get them entering your funnel, display advertising is one of the fastest ways to reach a broad audience.
There are certainly many challenges associated with display advertising. It’s expensive, and once you stop paying for it, the benefits drop to zero. Literally.
Also, banner blindness is a real thing, and hampers any expectations of strong results from display advertising without spending a fortune.
But if you need to get the word out urgently, display is a highly scalable marketing vehicle.
11. Execute PPC campaigns for the bottom of the funnel
If you’re looking for a similarly fast way to reach your audience, but at the bottom of the funnel, you can count on PPC. Paid search enables you to reach people precisely when they are seeking your types of products, services, or solutions.
But like display advertising, it’s expensive. And also like display advertising, when you stop funding the effort, your results go to zero immediately. So, when thinking of how to generate leads, PPC deserves a place in the mix, but it may not be a sustainable long-term solution.
12. Build relationships with influencers
By working with influencers, you can get your brand in front of a passionate audience listening to a voice they already trust.
Don’t just send your pitch to any influencer you come across, though. The key is to do the research and pitch influencers who truly fit your brand. If B2B, that might mean the following audience attributes: industry, department, title, size of company, geographic location, main business goals, pain points, etc.
And don’t limit yourself to working with only one or two influencers. Terakeet capitalizes on our Chorus platform to scale influencer marketing to precision targeted audiences across multiple influencers. For example, we helped one client achieve 29 million unique brand impressions through partnering with over 1,600 influencers.
13. Use IP detection software to identify site visitors
When thinking about how to generate more leads, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you always need to capture their email on the first site visit. An often overlooked area of lead generation is all the people who visited your website and didn’t submit a form, register for a webinar, request a demo, or otherwise hand off their email address.
That’s where IP detection software comes in.
The software enables you to see which companies are on your website, what those visitors are viewing, how long they view it, and in what order. On top of that, if the individual is already in your CRM database, it identifies them individually, as well.
Many site visitors do not conduct a conversion event while on your site, yet still may be good prospective leads. IP detection software enables you to quickly follow up with site visitors and accounts, with the right contextual message, at precisely the right time.
14. Retarget them
Along the same line of thinking, you can re-engage those who have been to your website but didn’t convert by retargeting them. Show them ads after they leave your site. To make the effort even more effective, make the ads contextually relevant to what they were looking at on your site.
Retargeting is effective in that you already know they are interested in the types of solutions you have to offer. They just may need a nudge or reminder to come back to your site.
15. Engage with them on social media
If you’re stuck on where to find new business leads, social networks could be one strategy — if you approach them properly.
Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter enable you to engage with your audience in a non sales-y environment. This allows you to show your true colors and to let your personality really shine through.
Social media is a useful environment to generate leads by promoting free content, such as white papers, research reports, webinars, other online events, etc.
But, don’t get lazy and just connect with people on LinkedIn to send them an automated sales pitch. Get to know people in your industry. Share their content, and join relevant discussions. When potential customers see you as a leader, they’ll be more open to candid discussions about your services down the road.
Sure, this approach takes longer, but it’s worth it.
16. Automate with email marketing sequences
Once they opt in to your mailing list, they still may not be a qualified sales lead. In order to nudge them towards the actions that increase their lead score and qualify them as “sales-ready”, you can configure various types of automated email marketing sequences. This helps guide the specific behaviors you’ll see from your most promising prospects.
And don’t stop with just one email sequence upon opt-in. To get the most out of email marketing sequences, use behavioral segmentation. This means setting up additional automations based on the following types of buyer behaviors:
- Content consumed
- Website navigation
- Level of engagement
17. Conduct A/B testing
In order to maximize your lead generation results, be sure to conduct a variety of A/B testing. The key with A/B testing is to create a testing plan, think holistically, and test as many different aspects of your lead gen activities as possible.
For example, A/B test your messaging. Test your landing pages. Confirm which CTAs are most effective. Test your online forms. Once they have opted-in, A/B test your lead nurturing emails.
It’s through 360 degree testing that you’ll truly be able to maximize your leads.
Remember this about how to generate leads
The best way to generate leads for your business is to connect with potential buyers at the right moment through search-optimized content.
At the top of the sales funnel you can create valuable content marketing campaigns around infographics and free tools to build awareness. As they move closer to a purchase, publish relevant content about the pros and cons they should consider as well as case studies.
Strategically use pop-ups to capture contact information like phone numbers or email addresses to build your email list. Finally, deploy marketing automation to nurture leads until they’re ready to speak to your sales reps.
Inbound lead generation is an amalgamation of art and science. You should be creative with campaign ideas and messaging. But, you need to meticulously target your audience to cut through all the noise. Furthermore, you need a framework by which to ensure the leads keep flowing over time. To that end, follow the lead generation strategies and tactics outlined above and give your marketing strategy a leg up on the competition.