Lead Gen: Why Your Business Needs a Lead Generation Program
It takes multiple touches for prospects to become customers. The exact number can vary depending on your industry, the complexity of your service or product, the source of the lead and other factors.
Sales, which start life as leads, are of course the lifeline of any brand, which is why it makes sense to have a dedicated lead generation program.
What exactly is lead gen? First, let’s talk about the buying process. That’s changed dramatically thanks to the internet. Because there’s so much information readily available, customers can now delay connecting with a brand until they’re often more than halfway through their decision-making process.
And since the way people buy has changed, the way brands generate leads has changed as well. Rather than one-size-fits-all email blasts or old-school mass advertising, lead gen is a much more targeted method for filling your sales pipeline.
Using a coordinated mix of programmatic advertising, emails, direct mail, blog posts and social media, an effective lead gen program drives traffic to what’s known as a landing page. Rather than dropping a visitor onto your website’s home page, a landing page focuses solely on what grabbed that visitor’s attention, so it’s immediately relevant to their interests.
In a nutshell, lead gen is the process of attracting qualified prospects who’ve demonstrated interest in your product or service, and ultimately converting them into customers.
Filling your sales pipeline
Successful companies know the time for developing a solid customer acquisition strategy comes long before you’re desperate to make a sale. Without a steady flow of leads, brands can’t survive.
In fact, research from marketing automation provider Hubspot found a direct correlation between a company’s number of opportunities in the pipeline each month and their ability to meet their revenue goals. Nearly a third of companies with less than 50 new leads per month failed to achieve their revenue target for that month, compared to just 4% of companies that generated 101 leads or more.
Taking the time to design a lead generation program means that you’re taking a strategic, intentional approach to filling your sales pipeline. We’ve all heard that sales is a numbers game, and lead gen helps generate the volume required to play that game successfully.
Using technology to improve lead gen results
In addition to filling your sales pipeline, lead gen can provide valuable insights into audience behavior and preferences.
One example: the ability to split test an email subject line and quickly identify the one that performs better. By analyzing what a prospect is responding to or ignoring, you can identify what is and isn’t working in your campaign and tweak it for better performance. This reduces wasted campaign spending, helps you develop more relevant content, and ultimately improve results.
Some leads — from an online ad versus a subscriber to your newsletter — require more nurturing than others, so technology that allows you to tag a lead source can be invaluable. Knowing where or how a lead was acquired can help you tailor your message accordingly, and make your campaign that much more effective.
Not sure how to incorporate technology into your lead gen efforts? With so many tools and platforms available, it can be difficult to evaluate what might work best for you. Ask a reputable digital marketing professional for recommendations based on your budget and goals.
7 ways a lead generation program can boost your sales
Still not convinced your brand needs to invest in lead gen? Here are 7 reasons to change your mind:
- Creating brand awareness. A well-designed campaign keeps you in front of prospects with a variety of content. This keeps your brand familiar and recognizable.
- Informing consumers. Your lead generation campaign is a great way to successfully move a prospect along their journey to becoming a customer. When you create specific content for each stage of the buying process, this keeps them engaged.
- Fostering a relationship with your brand. Consistent, relevant content that delivers true value to a prospect helps develop engagement and trust — two more building blocks to convert leads into valued customers.
- Turning inquiries into conversions. By providing content that builds on customer interest and expands their product knowledge, you can accelerate their readiness to buy. Answer key questions and overcome common objections using a mix of content types as well as tools such as live chat.
- Supporting healthy revenue growth. Your lead gen program should be designed to support and enhance your revenue goals. Access to real-time campaign data provides insights to scale successful campaigns quickly or retool your approach as needed.
- Ensuring consistent follow-up. Too many leads are lost because a company doesn’t follow up consistently or often enough. The number of touches needed before a lead becomes a customer depends on the lead source, price or complexity of your offer and other factors. By automating or scheduling follow-up touches, you can increase your chance for success.
- Building cross-channel consistency. Lead generation can be accomplished via a number of marketing tactics including direct mail, telemarketing, print media, social media, paid search, display, email, content marketing and blogging. By being consistent in your messaging regardless of channel, you can meet leads wherever they are to help drive increased conversions.
Don’t just pitch your product; deliver great content at the right time
Successful lead gen campaigns aren’t just hard-sell offers; instead, they offer interesting, high-value content that facilitates interest and makes it easy to take the next step or hit the buy button. For example, a visitor fills out a form to receive a downloadable checklist, comparison chart or “how-to” e-book that moves them one step closer to a buying decision.
Your lead gen program can help ensure you hit or exceed your goals, whether it’s to move the prospect forward, to engage them more deeply or best of all, to simply complete the sale.
The beauty of lead gen is that you can start small and build your efforts over time. Start by creating a program for one product line or service, for example. Once you have a model that works, you can replicate it across the rest of your services or products to easily and quickly build on your initial success.
By generating a steady flow of opportunities, soon your sales pipeline will be the direct line to meeting even the most ambitious revenue goals.