Every company needs leads to grow. Leads, or prospects, are new customers - someone whose details you don’t have on your company’s database. Without getting new leads, you will only have your limited database of customers to sell your product or service to, which will ultimately result in either/both: a) exhausting that database with over-messaging so they’ll never buy from you; or b) selling to as many people as you can within that database and plateau-ing as a business, never being able to grow.
So leads are imperative for the growth of any business, but how do you get new leads? Here are a few lead generation (lead gen) tactics that you can adopt. However, it’s important to gauge your capacity to actually do these tactics - you won’t see much of an increase in your new leads if it’s carried out half-baked, and you will have wasted your time. So weigh up each of these lead gen tactics to see which you would best be able to carry out, and which would work best for your brand and your product or service.
Before you start, know the value of your leads, and the process that they will undergo. How much time, effort and money are your leads worth to you? How do you convert your leads? Do you have a customer journey plotted out for that lead to follow? Don’t just let them sit there, they’ll get stagnant and will be less likely to convert. Your leads are like tree saplings. They need nurturing before they can grow to be huge, towering fruit-bearing trees.
Next, you’ll need to find out where your potential customers are in order for you to find them, and capture them as leads. To do this, you’ll need to have conducted thorough market research to determine who your customers are. Do they attend conferences? You should be at that conference. Do they use LinkedIn. Get on LinkedIn. Are they on Instagram? Start posting photos on Insta. Just make sure that the channels that you are using to communicate with your audience are in-keeping with your brand and its values - it should be, considering your audience.
Here are a few quick points to consider before we dive into lead gen tactics:
Qualify your leads. A name and an email address are nothing without more background information. Why should they be considered a lead? What makes them worth your time to convert them? Quality of leads over quantity of leads. A massive pile of leads sounds great, but can be expensive to obtain, and the conversion rate will undoubtedly be poorer than more qualified leads.
Automated emails can be a fantastic time-saving tool for marketers. Once you have captured a lead, they can enter an automated series of emails designed to introduce your company to them, persuading them to convert and become a customer.
Budget wisely. Don’t just throw money into the mix. As I mentioned before, you need to know the value of your leads, so you don’t risk spending more money on leads than they’re actually worth.
Know your limits. This is especially important for new businesses. Don’t do too much too soon. You don’t want to have more leads than you can handle. They’ll end up going cold, and less likely to convert, and you will have wasted your energy on dead leads.
Without further ado, here are some handy lead gen tactics that you can adopt - see which ones work best for you and your business:
Blogs, webinars, articles, videos, reports, infographics, etc.
‘Content marketing’ is a phrase getting used more and more in the marketing scene. While its roots can be traced back as far as the 1700s, the phrase was apparently coined as late as 1996. With the rise of the internet, content marketing has become a staple for marketers around the world. Consumers don’t just want to be sold to anymore, they want to emotionally connect to brands and products.
Content marketing is a great lead gen tactic. Essentially, you are creating content that your customers will want to see, enticing them in, without ‘giving away’ your actual product or service. Content marketing can also be a source of income for some business, with advertising and affiliate/influencer relationships. For example, a cosmetics company might create a makeup tutorial video, and they could collaborate with a celebrity and engage adverts with that video - so it acts as both a lead gen channel and a source of revenue.
A word of warning: don’t create content that isn’t relevant to your customers and your product or service. If it’s not relevant, it can be damaging to your brand, and very confusing to the audience that that lead gen tactic is attracting.
Advertising can work fantastically well with content marketing. If you have a brilliant, engaging, relevant piece of content that you want your potential customers to see, you need to make sure you get it right in front of them. If they’re not yet on your radar, advertising can help get your content, and your brand, right in their line of sight.
Online advertising and social media advertising can be especially useful, as the targeting capacities can be used to hone in on specific audiences. Where before you might spend extortionate amounts of money on television adverts without the guarantee that it would get in front of your target audience, now you can specify demographics, interests, job functions, salaries, activities on other channels, and more, at a much more accessible, trackable, flexible cost.
However, advertising can only really be used as a lead generation tactic if those who see and engage with the advert are asked to provide some personal data - name, email address, phone number… whatever information you need to get in touch with that lead again, and to work towards converting them to a loyal customer.
Every marketer nowadays knows the basics of social media marketing, and most businesses are on at least one social media channel. This is because of the huge number of users - at the time of writing, there are an estimated 2.77 billion users on social media.
You need to make sure that you’re on the right channel(s), however. If you don’t have the ability to create videos, then Youtube isn’t the right channel for your business. If your audience is primarily professionals, then LinkedIn is a more suitable channel for you.
Social media marketing can be used to generate leads through advertising, but also through audience engagement with your brand. The content you post on social media can help to drive your audience to your website, where you can capture their information as leads.
Remember: you cannot (and should not) contact potential customers with marketing messaging directly unless they have consented to receive marketing from you. If someone ‘likes’ your company page on Facebook, you shouldn’t trowl the internet to find their email and phone number, and then push them with marketing messages. They’ll feel pressured, and will perceive your brand in a negative light, and will be less likely to convert, therefore wasting your time and energies. Active engagement and opt-in consent is a more qualified lead, worth your time, and more likely to convert.
Conferences, trade shows and other industry-related events
Show face. Being somewhere in person is bound to be more effective for your brand and for lead conversion than an email or an automated message on LinkedIn. Plus, you can more directly impact the way that your brand is perceived.
At conferences, trade shows or other industry events, you can ground yourself, and your brand, as experts in what you do. You can actively speak about what you know, why you’re the best at what you do, and why people should buy your product or service.
You can also use the opportunity to network with useful contacts - professionals in the same line of business, competitors, potential customers, even contacts to help you improve your service.
There are a few different ways to get involved with conferences, trade shows or industry events: exhibiting, presenting, attending, and sponsoring. To determine which one(s) are more suitable for you primarily depends on your budget and capacity. If you’re exhibiting, don’t do it slap-dash. If you’re presenting, know what you’re talking about. If you’re sponsoring, make sure it’s a worthwhile investment.
SEO and Website Optimisation
SEO (search engine optimisation) is something that all copywriters for online platforms should know about. There are so many hints and tips to conducting good SEO, which we’ll explore in a later blog article, but for now, here are the absolute basics. SEO determines your ranking on search engines, like Google, which can heavily impact the number of visitors you have to your website. Essentially, good copywriting should automatically help your SEO efforts. Think about how people will find your article or landing page - what they will be searching for. Then make sure that you refer to those phrases or words in your copy, without ruining the content with spammy words.
So how can SEO help with lead generation? It has to work hand-in-hand with something. To become a lead, the contact has to engage with your brand in some way, for you to get their contact details. For example, if you’ve written a brilliant piece about Autumnal makeup trends, and you sell the makeup that you’ve referred to in the article, you could add a pop-up form on that page once the reader scrolls to the bottom (i.e. once they have read the article). They will be impressed with your expertise, and will begin to trust your brand. If you throw in a welcome offer as well, then the chance of conversion at this early stage of engagement will be even higher.
Offers, Promotions & Competitions
Offering something to people for them to provide their details and become leads is a great marketing strategy, as long as you have the capacity. It’s basically an exchange - the lead is giving you their personal details in exchange for something from you.
If you’re hosting a competition, just make sure that it’s related to your brand, otherwise, you’ll bring in leads that aren’t relevant, and won’t be likely to convert. Competitions can be especially useful for new brands, looking to gather more leads in a set period of time.
Reviews & Testimonials
For lead gen, reviews and testimonials should be hosted somewhere other than your own platforms, in addition to your website and social media, and in your marketing messaging. By that, I mean reviews by actual customers, on their social media accounts, or on review sites. These can drive potential leads to your website/social media, where you can capture their information with some of the other tactics listed above. This also links in quite closely with...
Influencer Marketing/Partnerships/Affiliate Marketing
Some social media influencers will offer reviews and testimonials of your products or services. While these are usually more of a business partnership, with contracts and caveats, they can be quite impactful, as long as the influencer can be genuinely linked to your brand, and the leads that they can produce are relevant to your brand.
Beware of this lead gen tactic, however, as the actions of the influencer/affiliate marketer will reflect on your own brand. There’s quite a lot of trust needed for this tactic.
If your brand can be translated into a mobile app that can offer more to customers than just your website, this is a good one to consider. While it can be expensive and time-consuming to create a mobile app, it’s a great market to tap into, with an estimated 205 billion app downloads projected for 2019.
Maybe you can simplify your website to a mobile app to make it easier for your customers to purchase, repeat purchase, update their information, and browse your website. Or maybe your app will be different to your website, and used as a promotional device for your product or service, or an additional source of income, like the Pokémon Go app by Nintendo.
This can be a big drain on budget, and isn’t that effective. Think about how many leaflets you get through your door from handymen, pizza companies, and political parties. How many of those end up in the recycling bin?
That being said, it can be a useful awareness tactic, and people are more likely to look over your leaflet if you’re offering them something in return. You need to make sure that the product or service would be useful to the ‘masses’. You don’t really know anything about the customers whose letterbox you’re pushing those leaflets through. So your marketing message has to be more general. Remember, this is leafleting as a lead gen tactic, so you don’t have people’s details to personalise their offering, or even put their name.
Finally, the most effective form of lead generation, but the most difficult to manage: word of mouth. People will take the word of someone they know over your messaging almost every time. I’m sure you can all list companies that you refuse to work with because of a bad review from a friend or colleague. But it can also work in the opposite way - I recently bought a Google Pixel mainly because a friend praised it so much.
Anyone can be a brand ambassador if they truly love, trust and share the same values as the brand. I’ll keep recommending IKEA, Content Beauty & Wellbeing, and The Body Shop, because I love their products, I shop with them all regularly, and I share their brand values.
This is why your interaction with your current customers matters so much - you should know their customer journey, and know what they think of you. Encourage feedback, engage in conversation, make your customers feel appreciated. You can only benefit.
That’s Lead Generation for Beginners - we hope you enjoyed it! Tell us about your most successful lead gen tactics in the comments section below.