Lead generation is a process of generating interest and ultimately inquiries from potential customers. Historically leads were generated through personal interaction at trade shows, exhibitions, and referrals. However, the growth of the Internet has created new opportunities for companies to attract clients through their websites, social media and various forms of internet marketing. Irrespective of how leads are obtained, effective lead generation means more sales. Here are some sales tips on how to generate leads.
Define the Target Audience
One of the first steps is to define the target audience as this determines lead generation strategy and ensures the process targets the right people. Who is my buyer? This also impacts the methods used, for example, there are noticeable differences in the effectiveness of Web-based marketing between B2B and B2C sales.
Consideration should also be given to the response of the target audience to different forms of marketing. If the target market primarily comprises younger buyers, they are likely to be responsive to the use of social media while B2B customers may make less use of these platforms but rely on advertising material obtained via the Internet.
Once the target audience is defined, the appropriate methods of marketing and lead generation can be selected. Common methods in use include:
- Direct and online advertising
- Use of search engine optimisation (SEO) to attract customers to websites
- Opt-in Email
- Direct mail
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Trade shows and exhibitions
Research by Ascend2 into the effectiveness of different approaches of lead generation indicates that for B2C sales, email marketing, paid online advertising, and SEO were considered most effective. For B2B sales, email marketing and SEO were tops but content marketing was favored above online advertising. What was important is that a high percentage of companies used more than one way to generate leads.
An interesting comparison showing the importance of selecting the most appropriate method is an earlier survey performed in the construction industry that showed for construction, direct methods of lead generation yielded better results than Web-based marketing.
Just as the number of leads generated by the different methods varies, so does the conversion rate, and this is to some extent related to the lead qualification process inherent in the different methods. A survey conducted in 2013 by HubSpot revealed that conversion of leads generated by social media, email marketing, and SEO were higher than for other forms of lead generation.
When evaluating various methods of lead generation, an analysis of the cost of the lead generation process versus the conversion rates and value of sales achieved should be performed. This will to reveal which methods of generating leads are effective in leading to new customers and increased sales.
Lead Generation Increases Sales
It is clear that appropriate lead generation techniques are successful in attracting customers and increasing sales. However, success depends on adopting methods best suited to the particular market. The cost of lead generation and its effectiveness needs to be taken into account and an approach adopted that is likely to yield the best overall sales results. This may be achieved by using professional sales process consultants to analyse the needs and to devise an effective strategy for successful lead generation.