What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation involves marketing tactics that ultimately result in the origination of some level of expressed interest in the products and/or services of the said company. Leads are captured in a quantifiable format, often rated for their likelihood of immediate consumer action, and either contacted by a sales representative or presented with additional marketing collateral that nurtures a lead deeper into the sales funnel. Online lead generation marketing is the most common form of lead generation and it is powered by digital strategies including but not limited to organic and paid search, content marketing, and social media marketing.
Over the course of its limited history, paid digital advertising models were the early entry drivers of online lead generation. As saturation, competition, and escalated costs continue to increase in the paid digital marketing arena, online lead generation models have been forced to pursue a broader base of inbound marketing and other innovative strategies to generate cost effective leads. Typically, leads are either generated in-house or purchased through a third party lead generation company. Leads that are purchased from a third party source are usually sold in a Cost-Per-Lead (CPL) or Cost-Per-Inbound-Call (CPIC) model. More often than not, third party lead generation companies will offer non-exclusive leads that are sold to multiple companies in the same vertical. Additionally, at a much higher rate of cost, these companies will also offer exclusive leads.
Lead Qualification, Lead Scoring, Lead Nurturing
The first step in any lead generation campaign is to ensure the integrity of the lead qualification process. This step is critical because it represents the lead capture phase and as is the case with any input/output scenario, what information is gathered is inherently tied to the ultimate quality of resulting lead. Lead qualification begins with demographic, vertical market, and keyword research. The results of this research will answer the questions of whom to target and where to focus the strategic marketing efforts. Additionally, the data can be used to help identify and craft the most pertinent qualifying questions for that targeted audience within the marketing platforms of choice.
Lead scoring is the second step in a lead generation campaign. Lead scoring applies a rating system that categorizes the value of inbound leads. For example, once a qualified lead has been generated, it is critical to identify the difference between a prospect lead who is expressing fleeting interest versus a sales qualified lead who is prepared to make an immediate purchase. Clearly, there are tremendous differences between these two types of qualified leads so it is important to have a rating or scoring system that at the very least clearly indicates the stage of interest that the lead is currently exhibiting. The more leads an organization generates the more important it becomes to have a lead scoring system in place.
Once a lead has been qualified and scored, the third step known as lead nurturing comes into play. Lead nurturing is the process of using the lead score to determine where a lead is within the context of the sales funnel and presenting them with the appropriate messaging to move the lead deeper into the funnel and ultimately to conversion. Using the aforementioned example from the description of lead scoring, the prospect who expressed fleeting interest may not want to speak to a sales representative. In all likelihood, they want or feel the need to consume more information (often on their own) about the industry, products or services, and the benefits and costs of using those products or services. These prospects need to be nurtured before they elect to buy. Rather than having a sales representative contact them, waste the time of the sales team member, and potentially irritate the prospect, present the prospect with articles, videos, case studies, webinars, infographics, and other resourceful information. On the other hand, the sales qualified lead who is ready to make an immediate purchase and has a lead score that indicates this probability can be immediately routed to a sales team member who can effectively execute the closure and conversion of that prospect.
Landing Page Optimization & Form Strategy
Landing page optimization and form strategy are two fundamental components of online lead generation and the lead qualification process. Effective landing page optimization strategies gather only the minimal amount of information that is necessary to accurately qualify and score a lead. Using on page seo tactics as well as clear and concise messaging, the goal is to drive end user interaction seamlessly into the completing the form. Inundating the potential prospect with too much messaging or too many questions will reduce the number of leads that are generated from that landing page. It is of the utmost importance to keep forms short and the number of actions required to complete a form at a minimum. Finding the perfect balance is the key.
Lead Generation Form Requirements
- Email Contact
- Phone number (if necessary)
Example Qualifying Questions for a Residential Real Estate Agent Website
- When are you interested in purchasing your new living space? (establishes urgency)
- What type of living space are you seeking to purchase (condo, patio home, single family home, other)? (isolates market research)
- What is your comfort price range? (qualifies size of transaction)
If you were a real estate agent and you received answers to the aforementioned form requirements and qualifying questions, you would have a solid lead on your hands.
Mobile Lead Generation
Mobile lead generation that incorporates a click-to-call model is the most dynamic form of lead generation… Period. The consumer contact rate of click-to-call mobile lead generation is 100%. That is not a misprint. If a consumer takes an action in a click-to-call environment, the phones at the business that is buying that lead will in fact ring and a qualified prospect will be on the other end of the line ready to talk to a sales representative.
In a mobile lead generation model that is based on form fill outs, the concepts of short form strategy are only further exacerbated by the smaller screen sizes of mobile devices. The need to limit call to action messaging, questionnaires, and data capture fields must be further reduced to a skin and bones model. Short, sweet, and to the point is the way to go with mobile form strategy. Get the customers contact information and further qualify them in your first round of post lead generation engagement.
Lead Generation = Inbound Marketing Magic
The days of substantial outbound sales representatives and call centers are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Push selling and disruptive marketing are dinosaur tactics. Lead generation is about being in the right place, at the right time, asking the right questions. At their own pace, potential customers can qualify themselves and move toward the bottom of the sales funnel. Behind the power of inbound marketing, lead generation is automated marketing magic.