If you want a business to thrive, getting its regular customers back through the door is only half the marketing battle. You also need to concentrate on finding new potential customers for your clients — or leads. Here’s everything you need to know as you get started:
What’s a lead?
A lead, or prospect, is someone who has already expressed an interest in the products or service you are promoting. True leads are much more valuable than random names on a list. Instead of a “cold” prospect, a lead gives you access to someone who has already interacted with your client’s company on some level.
What’s lead generation?
Lead generation is the art of finding ways to attract potential customers by engaging their interest and creating positive feelings toward your client’s brand. You aren’t trying to make the customer come to you — but you are trying to make the customer look forward to hearing from you.
In essence, lead generation turns strangers into prospects that are on their way to conversion.
Why is lead generation so important?
Have you ever taken a cold call from a sales representative? So many people find that kind of aggressive marketing distasteful that it’s become the subject of numerous jokes and comedy routines. It only works about 1-3% of the time, which means that 97-99% of the effort doing it is wasted.
Learning to generate leads and focus on those is a much better use of time and energy.
Lead generation helps you create and capitalize on all the organic sparks of interest that people show toward your client’s brand. Unlike a “hot” prospect, a lead may merely be “warm” toward a company — but even a brief amount of engagement can make someone more receptive to a marketing campaign. The fact that a prospect initiated the relationship with you makes it far more natural for them to continue that relationship — and eventually become your client’s customer.
Without lead generation, any marketing campaign is likely to hit a plateau rather quickly. Word-of-mouth may bring some new visitors to your client’s door, but you won’t see the same sort of development that you get from constantly generating the right kinds of leads.
How can you generate good leads?
Good lead generation means finding ways to encourage people to develop enough good feelings toward a brand that they’re actually pleased to hear from you.
You do that by investing your resources in the most effective lead generation channels you have available:
- Email – This has been an effective method for decades. Once you have a prospect’s contact information, you can send highly-personalized, targeted emails that are designed to capture their interest. There are marketing automation tools that can help you capture data on your prospects that will tell you what they are most interested in learning.
- Landing Pages – Your client’s website is one of the best lead generators. A highly-optimized site that pays attention to local marketing concerns and focuses on the customer’s experience can prompt the exchange of information needed to generate more leads.
- SEO – Search engine optimization reaches out toward an unknown number of people at any given moment, many of whom may become new leads. Improving your client’s ranking in SERPs is one of the best ways to help new leads find a website.
- Social Media – Social media is where many people look for referrals and reviews for a product or service. If they’re asking questions that are relevant to your client’s brand, they’re already a lead. These days, companies overlook social media at their own peril.
At its heart, lead generation is finding ways to make connections between a brand and all those yet-unknown prospects — all so you can offer them the magnet you hope will draw them in.
What’s a lead magnet?
This is the “hook” that you offer your leads that starts them down the path to conversion.
For example, a Facebook contest from a restaurant that offers a free dinner is a great lead magnet. A lot of interested people are probably willing to exchange their email for a chance to win. Once you have their email addresses, offers of carry-out specials and free appetizers can further encourage conversion.
There are numerous other lead magnets a client can offer, including free updates to seminars, samples, trial software — whatever works for a client’s business. The key to a successful magnet is that it has to be easy, have a fairly good value, and be specific to the needs of the people you’re trying to cultivate as customers.
There, you now have the concept of lead generation in a nutshell. Armed with this information, you can start finding those leads, using those lead magnets and watching the number of successful campaigns you promote climb.