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Lead generation

The Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation

Last edited: 09.06.2022

what is lead generation

Lead generation is a tricky topic, because it’s a team effort between the Sales and the Marketing Team. (Or at least it should be). If your lead generation process isn’t worked on by both teams, frustrations arise on both sides.

The problem is that:

  • Sales teams want high-quality leads
  • Marketing works the best they can to produce as much leads as possible

Their aims are essentially the same: to increase sales and overall revenue. Furthermore, when sales and marketing are in sync, the chances of closing deals are 67% higher.

sales and marketing work together

By having an effective lead generation strategy that both teams are happy with, you’ll be able to:

  1. Target only your ideal customer profile (ICP)
    1. This is a real boost for the sales team: They get to contact people that could become customers instead of calling people with celiac disease and offering them rye bread. 
  2. Build brand awareness 
    1. It’s all about educating the masses on what you do and who you are. This stage is about offering a solution to the problems your potential customers are facing. In some cases, this is also about creating a need or making them aware of a problem. 
  3. Gain insights on your customers and industry
    1. When you are enriching your leads, you’re getting to know who they actually are and what they’re looking for. This information will help you improve your business which, in turn, gives you a leg up against your competitors.
  4. Grow revenue 
    1. It’s obvious that when you get to pitch your product to people who have already heard about you and/or your products or services, they are much more likely to buy than if they’ve never heard of anything about you.

What Is a Lead?

Let’s start with defining what a lead is before we move on to defining lead generation.

Defining What a Lead Is

Lead refers to an individual or a company that is potentially interested in what you offer. Every lead contains all the information you have on them.

Leads can contain:

  • Name
  • Contact details
  • Job title
  • Company name 
  • Location

Common Misconceptions on Lead Generation

The problem is that because the marketing isn’t actually doing anything with the leads themselves, it’s hard for them to determine if they are high quality leads or not. 

  • Salespeople blame marketing for generating bad quality leads
  • Marketing blames sales team for not being able “to do their job”
  • Salespeople believe that marketing doesn’t understand their work at all
  • Marketing feels undervalued, because they’re creating a good number of leads, but still get the blame when sales aren’t flowing in
why lead generation is tricky

Qualify Your Leads

Leads can be divided into three distinct categories based on interest, enrichment, and qualification.

Based on Interest

This is one of the most common ways to define leads. 

inbound vs outbound leads
  • Inbound leads = Warm leads 
    • are people that found you on their own and willingly gave their contact information, for example, by signing up for your newsletter after reading your insightful blog.
  • Outbound leads = Cold leads 
    • consist of all the ideal customer profiles (ICP) that haven’t contacted you themselves, but you were able to find their contact information.

Why is this one of the most used ways to define leads?

Warm leads are, well, warm, as these people are in some way expecting you to contact them. Cold leads are always taken by surprise and interrupted with what you have to say, as they have never asked to be contacted by you. 

Many B2B and B2C companies work with both kinds of leads, but there’s some online debate on whether cold calling (the process of systematically calling cold leads) is dead or not. 

Even though calling warm leads might be easier, because you don’t need to start from scratch, cold calling is still seen as one of the most effective B2B marketing techniques. That’s because you have the chance to make a good first impression on a new prospect which might make them interested in you as a company. 

When was the last time you received a cold call and were impressed by the caller? Even though you had never heard from them or their company and didn’t even book a meeting or buy anything from them. Let everyone know your most memorable coldcall story in the comments!

Based on Enrichment

Depending on how much information you have about your leads, you can divide them into two groups:

  • Non-Enriched leads provide you very little detail. They usually consist of the name of the lead and one way to contact them (phone number or email address)
  • Enriched leads give you a lot more to work with in terms of personalization and marketing in many channels. In addition to the name and one way to contact, enriched leads can tell you: where your leads are geographically, their job title, company they work for or what they were previously interested in/bought from you.

Why should you focus on enriching your leads?

By focusing on enriching your lead data, you’ll be able to target your marketing better. It’s more meaningful to market a new feature you launched to someone who is already subscribed to your service than to explain that feature in detail to someone who has never used your service before.

One great example of a successful enriched lead generation campaign I came across was when Ruokaboksi expanded their business to new markets. 

If you’re not familiar with Ruokaboksi, they are a company that delivers consumers a carton box to their doors which is filled with three to five recipes and the fresh ingredients one needs to cook those delicious meals.

How it went:

  • They launched an ad campaign which were targeting people in new cities (that means cities that they aren’t currently operating in).
  • You could sign up for getting a notification when the boxes are available in your area
  • You needed to fill out: postal code, email address, and phone number
  • After a few weeks I got a call from their salesperson that asked if I’d now like to order one box for next week to try it out.

I’m pretty sure that they were able to optimize the launch of their services to new areas with the help of this campaign. (And to get customers!). They were able to gather warm enriched leads that also gave them an idea of where their potential customers are located and where they should launch their service first. 

Based on Qualification

This is often the pain point between sales and marketing, because sales is (in addition to the warm-cold aspect) mostly interested in whether the leads are of high-quality or not. These definitions will help marketers to understand what sales teams consider to be a good lead.

lead qualification funnel

Next, we’ll go over the following types of leads:

  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
  • Product Qualified Lead (PQL)
  • Service Qualified Lead

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) 

Marketing qualified leads have an interest in you, but aren’t ready to communicate with you. They might have signed up for a newsletter, but aren’t looking to buy anything – at least not yet. 

As the name suggests, these leads are for marketing purposes, in other words, not to be given to sales to contact. 

Examples of MQLs

  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Adding items to a shopping cart in online store
  • Downloading an e-book or other materials
  • Submitting contact information to take part in a lottery
  • Spending a considerable amount of time on your site or revisiting
  • Starting a free trial

MQLs need to be nurtured with love and care (=emails and social media marketing) so that they can become sales qualified leads. Not all MQLs become sales qualified, so MQLs are more about quantity, while SQLs are about quality. 

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) 

Sales qualified leads have expressed actual interest in buying from you. Even though they aren’t quite yet a paying customer, they are pretty close to becoming one.

Examples of SQLs

  • Requested a quote for your services
  • Left their contact information to directly get in touch with sales

Those are some direct ways to get someone to be a SQL right off the back. However, MQLs might become SQLs, but they need to be assessed. More about that a little later on in this article.

Product Qualified Lead (PQL)

This only applies to your business, if you have a service and you offer a free trial or a freemium model of it. If that’s not the case, just skip this section.

Product qualified leads are people or organizations that

  • have started your free trial AND
  • have experienced meaningful value using your service

It’s up to your business to define what that meaningful value is, since only signing up and using your service isn’t meaningful value. Each and every business should be constantly redefining their definition of what qualifies as a PQL.

Let’s look at a few examples of PQLs from well-known companies:

  • For Slack, a PQL is when an account reaches its 2,000 message limit
  • For Facebook, it’s when someone adds 7 friends (and they encourage people to do that immediately after signing up)
  • For Drift, it’s when someone has 100 conversations on their website.

The core idea of PQL is that once someone is a PQL, their likelihood to become either a paying customer or a returning user significantly increases. 

The greatest thing about PQLs is that they have already understood the value of your service by themselves. They don’t need to be sold on the idea anymore, which makes them significantly more likely to become customers than MQLs.

Aspects to Consider When Identifying Your PQL

The core idea is that users are demonstrating buying intent based on product behaviour. In other words, you need to evaluate and analyze which events correlate with upgrading from the free trial to a paid subscription.

identifying product qualified lead

Here are some key behaviors to look at:

  • Product interest
  • Number of users
  • Features used
  • Spending patterns
  • Usage patterns
  • How fast users can adopt the product
  • Number of logins (and if relevant, which devices are used to login)
  • Do they log out or stay logged in 24/7?
  • How often users come back (and what triggers them to come back)
  • Which actions they take after logging in
  • How long are they spending in the app
  • What is the value they got (or aimed to get)

These are just some aspects, but you need to figure out what are the key elements that will make your users experience value. By defining your PQL correctly, you can close a higher percentage of free users and understand what prevents all users from becoming successful in your product.

Service Qualified Lead

Service qualified lead can also be abbreviated as SQL, but in this article, SQL refers only to sales qualified lead. 

Service qualified lead is a customer who has told the customer service team that they would like to be contacted by the sales team about new products or services. 

Self-evidently, these leads are win-win situations to both your customers and your business. That is because:

  • Customers become more successful with the upgrades they get
  • You customer acquisition costs (CAC) are lower
  • You are increasing the customer lifetime value (LTV) by retaining customers
  • Increase in overall revenue thanks to the new purchases or upgrades

To get service qualified leads, your customer service team needs to be actively listening to the customers’ issues and signals. Make sure that your customer service is being trained to notice these subtle signs (and possibly rewarded!)  and then to reconnect the customer with sales.

It’s a never-ending positive cycle:

identifying product qualified lead

A small bonus per lead would be a great incentive to get your customer service team to pay more attention to this. After all, offering your customers excellent service and solving their problems will also increase the overall customer satisfaction which is proven to make them buy even more. 

How to differentiate MQLs from SQLs and stop wasting time and resources?

Not all marketing qualified leads ever become sales qualified leads. A common misconception is that marketing people can just simply turn anyone into a sales qualified lead with enough hard work.

If someone doesn’t have the money to buy your product, how is that on the marketing? 

Yep, it’s not. 

It’s more useful to start defining the leads you get to figure out which team should take care of them.

Here are two different methods you can use to score your leads successfully. 

  1. The BANT method
  2. Creating a lead score system

BANT method:

The BANT method weighs in four different key aspects to figure out whether a lead is really qualified for sales.

  • Budget: How much does someone have to spend and how much are they willing to?
  • Authority: Can this person in question actually make decisions within their organization?
  • Need: Is your product or service solving a problem this client is facing?
  • Timeframe: When does the specific problem need to be solved?

If even one of those factors is a “no” or “not at the moment”, then that lead isn’t a sales lead. However, don’t throw those ones away, as you’ve worked hard to get them in the first place. Keep providing them information about your products and services and how they are used. 

Lead Scoring System 

Lead scoring system refers to a predetermined methodology that is used to rank the sales-readiness of each lead. This will prevent any confusion on whose responsibility it is to react to potential leads.It only works, if it’s set up correctly and used consistently 

lead scoring system

Benefits of Having a Lead Scoring System

  • Overall increase in productivity in both Sales and Marketing
  • Less wasted resources on unpotential leads
  • Higher conversion rate
  • Higher close rate

How Lead Scoring Works?

  1. Identify what are the actions your prospective leads can take in your sales funnel. 
  2. Each action needs to have a predetermined point value
  3. Once a lead gets a point total by taking different actions, they’re considered hot prospects and are sent directly to sales.

Different Lead Scoring actions may include:

  • Demographic information
    • Location
    • Age
    • Company size and industry
    • Job title and department
  • Pageviews
    • Which pages have they visited? 
    • Going to the pricing page should have a higher value
    • Career page visitors are most likely looking for a job so that should lower their score
    • Did they look at case stories or testimonials? That is always a great sign and should have a high value.
    • Did they request a demo? This is a definite sign of interest!
  • Site search
    • What are they looking for? Which keywords lead them there in the first place?
  • Downloads
    • Are they downloading your brochures? Or case studies? Research you’ve done?
    • Identifying what they have downloaded is an indicator of where they are in the purchasing process (awareness, consideration, close to purchase)
  • Email actions
    • Are they opening the emails? 
    • How many and what links or content are they reacting to?
    • Are they visiting your website based on emails?
    • Did they unsubscribe from the list?
  • Landing pages
    • Which landing pages are they visiting in general?
    • Which products or services spark their interest?
  • Webinars
    • Are they taking part in your webinars? 
    • As webinar have very specific topics, this will reveal what their pain points are
  • Link clicks
    • Use custom clicks to figure out which stage (awareness, consideration, close to purchase) the leads are in 
  • Videos
    • Share high-quality videos and see how often they open the video and for how long they watch it
    • Showcases their pain points

So, each action prospective leads can take, they earn points. Here’s one example of how you could assign points for different actions:

Points for different actions

Marketing
Channel
Behavior Score
Email Opened email Influencing factor (+10)
Click within email Influencing factor (+10)
Forwarded email Important factor (+20)
Unsubscribed Negative factor (-10)
Website Visited landing page Influencing factor
(+5)
Visited multiple pages Influencing factor
(+5)
Visited careers page Negative factor (-15)
Requested a demo Important factor (+35)
Visited pricing page Important factor (+20)
Watched a product video Influencing factor (+15)
Webinar Signed up for a webinar Influencing factor (+20)
Attended webinar Influencing factor (+15)
Active participation in the conversation online Important factor (+25)
Event Attended an event Influencing factor (+5)
Had a conversation with sales Influencing factor (+15)
Asked for a handout Influencing factor (+10)
Watched the video on the handout Influencing factor (+15)
Opened the QR code in the handout Important factor (+25)
Content Downloaded white paper Influencing factor (+10)
Downloaded specific white paper Important factor (+20)
Filled in the survey / Spinned the wheel / Played a game Influencing factor (+5)
Signed up for newsletter Important factor (+15)

Once a lead has reached a certain score, it should automatically be transferred to the Sales Team to be contacted. 

Conclusion on Defining Leads:

Lead qualification is what every company should start with, when it comes to the lead generation process. After all, your Sales and Marketing need to be on the same page about what high quality leads (or leads in general!) are before you can start working on being more effective.

The next part of this article will focus on lead generation and showcasing different lead generation strategies.

Defining Lead Generation

Lead Generation refers to the process of 

  1. Finding the people and companies that might be interested in your company’s product or service
  2. Getting these people to request more information from you

As a result, you get a list of potential customers.

Traditionally, people think that lead generation is either cold-calling or sending out emails (and some advanced thinkers think it’s a combination of both, but that’s not actually the case. It’s true that both of those are ways of generating leads, but that’s just one part of the process.

When you start generating leads, you need to figure out which strategies work the best for you. Are you more interested in getting people to find you (inbound) or actively getting leads yourself (outbound)?

Let’s go over the different types of lead generation methods.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing

Aka. the heated topic of what is the most effective way to attract potential customers.

Inbound marketing means that you produce valuable content for your prospective customers to find. You draw them into your sales funnel by earning their attention with relevant content.

Examples of Inbound marketing include:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Blogging
  • Video content
  • Content creation and marketing
  • Influencer outreach

Outbound marketing refers to a situation where you interrupt the flow or activity of your potential customer by demanding their attention.

Examples of Outbound marketing:

  • Social media advertising
  • Video ads
  • Paid email lists
  • All types of ads (TV, radio, print, billboards)
  • Cold calls made by sales
differences in inbound and outbound marketing

Even though these can be seen as opposites to one another, you should use both inbound and outbound tactics to attract quality leads.

Lead Generation Strategy

Lead generation strategy can be divided into four stages and each of them require a different tactic or tactics. 

  1. Lead capture
    • Refers to collecting information from a lead, such as, their name and contact information and other relevant details about them or their organization
  2. Lead magnet
    • Drives visitors into becoming new leads. Lead magnet is kind of like the free samples you get at a fair or in a grocery store. They can be free trials, samples, discount codes, free consultation, white papers, …. Anything that makes people want to trade their information for what you have to offer.
  3. Lead qualification
    • You use a method to figure out how likely individual leads are to buy from you. (Detailed information of this can be found if you scroll up a bit)
  4. Lead segmentation
    • You analyze all the information you have gathered with the three aforementioned steps and draw conclusions based on your analysis. This will help you in figuring out which lead generation techniques work best for you.

Now that we have the basics covered, let’s jump down the rabbit hole into the world of lead generation.

11 Effective Lead Generation Strategies

There are as many ways to do lead generation as there are cereals in the average full cereal bowl. Every business needs to go through trial and error to find the most suitable hybrid strategy for their needs. 

If you have no clue where to start, here’s a list of effective strategies with real-life examples. Or if you have a tech company, check out these 14 best lead gen strategies.

1. Website Lead Capture aka Landing Pages

Landing pages are specifically designed to capture information about your leads.

Here are four different ways to optimize your landing pages to improve lead generation:

1. Lead Generation Forms

Lead generation forms are the tool with which you need to start gathering leads. They can be contact forms, registration forms or newsletter signup forms.

Gathered information ranges from email address to multi-page forms. Keep in mind what your goal is and don’t add any unnecessary fields. The simpler you keep things, the more lead you’re likely to get.

2. Lead Generation Pop up

Lead Generation pop-ups are here to stay, because they work. Once you enter almost any website, you get pop-ups that offer you something for free and all you need to do is give your email address or other relevant information.¨

Different types of pop-ups include:

  1. Exit-intent pop-up
  2. Slide-in scroll box
  3. Inline forms
  4. Fullscreen takeover
  5. Quiz or custom survey
  6. Coupons wheels
  7. Social proof popups (These are excellent for building trust in your potential leads!)

Here’s how social proof popups look like in the wild: They’re placed close to a call to action to be the final push to convince the person in question to convert.

social proof popup example

3. Chatbots

Lead generation chatbots are designed to identify your potential leads and customers by conducting surveys or asking questions when customers are seeking assistance on you site.

You can create your own lead generation chatbot with a few clicks by using Trustmary.

4. Live chat

Live chat works the same way with chatbot, but there is an actual human being answering the questions.

Live chats might not be the most cost effective way to generate leads, but it’s a really easy way to get in touch with customers, if they have questions or concerns. 

2. Website Visitor Identification

Website visitor identification means that you can identify website visitors, see which pages they visited (and for how long) and which actions they took by matching their IP address against a database of IP addresses used by companies. This is done by an external service provider. 

As much as 98% of your site visitors won’t become a lead. If you struggle with getting new leads with other strategies, it might be a good idea to invest in such a service. 

Benefits of getting insights of your visitors:

  • Understanding how and why they use your site
  • You’ll know how they found you
  • Number of visits

VisualVisitor gives you, for example, the following information: on possible contacts:

website visitor identification

However, if you have no traffic whatsoever, it’s no good using your time on website visitor identification. As there’s literally no data to analyze. If that’s the case, try strategies that drive traffic to your site first.

3. Leverage Direct Response Marketing

One of the most recent lead generation trends is direct response marketing. It aims to create momentum and to get an immediate response from the people who see it. In other words, to get new leads and grow revenue.

Goals might include:

  • Getting visitors to a certain site
  • Getting many new followers on social media channels
  • Getting sign-ups to newsletters

What usually works:

  • Target a specific buyer persona
  • Add a time limit to your offer to create urgency
  • Hold a contest or a giveaway (for example, with participants on a webinar or among followers)
    • Youtubers are masters in doing this! They often promise a giveaway among followers once they reach a certain number of subscribers. In general, Youtubers and their ability to grow their follower count in across different platforms is admirable. 

4. Create Gated Content

Gated content refers to content that requires filling in a form or even signing up to be able to see it. Instagram is a good example of gated content, as you have to sign in to see more than the overview of someone’s profile.

Lead generation gated content billgates

The sky (and your imagination) is your only limit when you think about what type of gated content you could create for your prospects.

Here are two examples:

1. Training videos 

What could be a better way to create value than teaching your prospects how to do something with the help of a video?

I follow the self-taught baker and digital content creator Matt Adlard on Instagram to get inspiration for my own baking AND to learn to become a better baker by watching his stories which include a ton of tips and tricks.

He also offers an online baking class, but I’m personally not there that far. At least not yet. But he has made me engaged enough to:

  • Follow
  • Like
  • And sometimes even comment on his posts

By creating relevant video content for your target audience you are creating immeasurable value for your prospects which increases their likelihood of buying from you. 

2. Insightful research (or case studies)

HappyOrNot produces many types of gated content on relevant topics to all of us. 

For example, if you want to read the insights HON has gathered on the pandemic’s effect on customer and employee experience

lead generation gated content HON

You need to fill in the following information:

  • Full name
  • Company
  • Professional email
  • Phone
  • Country
  • And whether you’d like to be added to their email list
lead-generation-gated-content-HON2

HON is definitely collecting enriched leads that they can use and segment later on. Plus, when they ask for people’s willingness to join their email list they are keeping their email list free from disqualified leads.

5. SEO Lead Generation

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) lead generation is the process of attracting organic traffic from search engines to your website and making them interested in your product or service.

SEO lead generation has the highest ROI of all the inbound lead generation strategies in 2021. 

Why? Because people receive a satisfying result, when they search for almost anything in Google. The companies that rank high in the search engines are, therefore, very likely to generate leads.

lead-generation-SEO

How SEO Lead Generation works:

  1. Figure out which keywords drive potential customers to your site
  2. Create high-quality content to satisfy the search intent (include the keywords!)
  3. Publish content regularly to stay relevant and to further drive traffic

Doing SEO lead generation will not give you fast results. It takes time to rank (at all or higher) in search engines. This is an area you should keep doing and developing while also actively using other lead generation strategies.

6. Paid Lead Generation Ads

We’re constantly bombarded with online ads in all types and forms. Paid lead generation ads are ads that you can use to collect data about people who clicked on the ad.

Platforms where one can use paid lead gen ads:

Basically, anywhere where you can buy ad space from. The prices range heavily depending on the platform you use and the ad campaign you are running. This tactic may become expensive, if you aren’t monitoring and controlling your ad spend.

However, this can be an effective way to get quality leads, because only people that are interested in you will leave their contact information. 

Reliable examples of lead generation ads on Facebook can be hard to find (or for any other platform for that matter). Get inspired by reading our blog post about it.

7. Social Media Lead Generation

Social media lead generation means that you implement strategic marketing tactics to capture not just potential leads, but quality leads.

With being active in social media, you can:

  • Increase brand awareness 
    • Have you tried TikTok yet? It’s one of the fastest growing new platforms out there and it just reached one billion users.
  • Reach new customers
    • Everyone wants to go viral. Unfortunately, just by wanting to go viral won’t make it happen. Quite the opposite. When you focus on doing your core business well and showing it off in social media, the masses will follow.
    • Share relevant content, interact with your followers and existing customers to build an engaged audience.
  • Increase your traffic
    • Even though the quality of the traffic matters more than the actual number of visitors, you can’t generate leads if no-one’s coming to your site in the first place.
    • Create content that drives people to your dedicated landing page and hook them with the lead magnet. 

Lead generation campaign ideas to try on social media:

  • Run contests to gain followers and raise brand awareness
  • Use relevant influencers to tell about your product or service to their audience
  • Use your social media channels to promote your new product/service/webinar/event
  • Incentivize your existing customers to refer you to their social networks

The more authentic you can be on social media, the better your chances of generating leads are. 

8. B2B Prospecting Tools

If you have only started developing your inbound lead generation process, it might be a good idea to start using a prospecting tool to build up a cold lead list to contact

There are plenty of intelligent tools out there that you can use to build your list. 

By using prospecting tools, you can:

  • Find marketing leads 
  • Get a lot of lead information
  • Find sales leads
  • Ease sales team’s workload, when they don’t have to manually look for prospects

I’ve personally always liked Vainu, because they give you real-time company information which can be connected directly to CRM and marketing systems. It’s easy to build a cold email campaign and connect it directly to your sales pipeline.

But there are plenty of other options to choose from, such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Lead Forensics, and Lusha. You have to do a little research to find the best fit for your lead gen needs.

9. Cold outreach

Cold outreach means that you contact someone who has no idea that you will contact them. They might know you, but it’s highly likely that they don’t. 

You can contact cold prospects via:

  • Emails
  • Calling over the phone
  • Direct messages on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram,…)
  • In person at events
  • Website contact forms

The goal of contacting them is to get their attention and make them consider buying your product or service. This tactic requires plenty of human resources so it isn’t a scalable model unless you start using automations.

However, you shouldn’t automate cold calls with robots (I’ve received a few calls from robots and they are CREEPY), but rather let your sales team do this part. The benefit of making cold calls is that you get to make a good first impression on people who haven’t considered using your services before. 

As cold emails are one of the most used cold outreach methods, let’s have a brief look at best practices on them.

Cold Emails Can Help You Get New Leads (Even in 2022)

We all tend to get a lot of cold emails offering us this or that so you might be a little hesitant about creating cold email campaigns. However, the average open rate for cold emails is 21,33%. That means that you are getting the attention of one person out of five that you contact.

cold-email-open-rates

If you have a sales team, you can align marketing campaigns with their efforts by sending a cold email first and calling them the next day.

5 Steps to Take Before Sending Cold Emails

before-sending-cold-emails
  1. Figure out your ideal customer profile
  2. Research which of their pain points you can solve
  3. Come up with a compelling subject line (If this is not well thought out, your emails won’t be opened)
  4. Personalize the message
  5. Include a clear call to action (Book a demo/meeting, “let me know if you want to know more”, anything!)

Once you have sent your first emails:

  1. Follow up! Maybe they were too busy to answer?
  2. Create a campaign.
  3. Test and measure different approaches
  4. Start using automation tools

Even though these practices were specifically designed for cold email campaigns, the same principles apply to other types of contact as well. The core idea is to research your target audience and offer them a solution that will solve their problems.

10. Offer Free Trials

If you can, offer a free trial, freemium or freebie of your service. This will make your target audience realize the value of your service without you having to use your sales team’s resources. 

Once your prospective customers have signed up for a free trial, they have already taken the first step into your sales pipeline. Once they experience meaningful value by using your services, they’re highly likely to upgrade to a paid plan or to get in touch with your sales. 

Otter.ai is a startup that offers an AI solution which can be used for creating rich notes for meetings, interviews and lectures. It automatically transcribes everything that is being said (or you can upload a file). 

They offer a free plan where you have 600 free minutes every month. This offers a great way to test out the product after which the user can determine if this is their cup of tea or not. In other words, they either see the value – or they don’t.

free-trial-otter

Free trial users are worth their weight in gold. Not only do they offer you information about what makes them succeed and what hinders that, but they are also likely to become quality leads. When you improve lead quality, you can focus more on upselling than on cold calling people that have possibly never even heard of your product or service.

11. Offer a Coupon or a Discount

This is one of the most used tactics in the modern world. I mean, when is the last time you visited an online shop and they DIDN’T offer a discount code “to get 10% off from your first purchase”?

It’s one of the most common ways to collect leads, because it serves two purposes:

  1. You can build your email base for further marketing
  2. You are incentivizing people to buy from you now (if the code has a time-limit)

I took out my phone and opened instagram to find ads that would offer me discount codes.
Here’s the first result from PupSocks.

disount-code-gopupsocks

However, I personally use my old email address (which I used until I got married and changed my last name. But I know many people even create new fake email addresses just for this purpose!) to subscribe to such email lists. I haven’t yet come across a company that I’d willingly give my private email address to.

Conclusion on Lead Generation Strategies:

In order to do a successful lead generation campaign, you need to be aware of your ICP, goals for the campaign and use versatile lead generation tools. In fact, you shouldn’t think in “campaigns”, but rather about creating a lead generation process that you keep on improving. 

However, if these aren’t what you were looking for, we have identified further 15 different lead generation strategies for real estate.

The next chapter focuses on how to choose the best method to get more leads.

How to Choose the Best Methods for Lead Generation?

When your goal is to generate leads, you might feel a little overwhelmed at times when it comes to choosing the best tactic for your purposes. In this section, we’ll go over which aspects you should take into account when building your own lead gen strategy..

Differences Between B2C and B2B Lead Generation

First aspect to consider is whether you’re trying to generate leads from consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B). 

lead gen differences b2b b2c

Typical Characteristics for B2C Lead Generation

  • Short sales cycles
  • Customers are already ready to buy → Unique offers, promotions are used to convert leads 
  • Broader audience as everyone has purchasing power
  • Leads can be found on social media (Facebook, Youtube, Instagram)
  • Cold calls are considered annoying and not many use them
  • Cold emailing is not used as it’s hard to find email addresses to private people

Typical Characteristics for B2B Lead Generation

  • Long(ish) sales cycles (even months or years)
  • Businesses might not be aware of their problem, so it’s more about creating high-quality content than giving discounts
  • Narrower market
  • Leads can be found on business platforms, such as LinkedIn
  • Not all the leads have purchasing power, you need to please and convince possibly multiple individuals
  • Cold calls, emails and direct messages are common
  • Customers often have a budget they need to stick to

What do B2C and B2B Lead Generation Have in Common?

Even though B2B and B2C customers can be found in different channels and convinced to buy in different ways, their common denominator is that you need to know exactly what your customers want and offer it to them. 

It might be about educating them about how to solve their problems or to build awareness that such products and services exist. It might also be about offering them the best deal on the market.

It’s not a walk in the part to attract leads, but once you get to know your customers, you can lure them in (and possibly their social networks too!) as inbound leads or start reaching out to them yourself. 

The most important thing is to start doing lead generation marketing right now and to constantly improve your strategy after starting. 

Aspects to Consider When Choosing the Right Lead Gen Process

Here are some aspects you need to take into account when you’re building the most effective lead generation strategy for your business.

Your Sales Process

Sales cycles can be anything from minutes to years and they can be straightforward or complex.

There are two main influencing factors:

  1. The type of product or service offered
  2. The price point

The more expensive the product or service is, the longer the sales cycle typically becomes.

Some products or services can be impulse purchases (a new pillow case from a popup store you happen to walk by or a new subscription to yet another streaming service), whereas switching from one ERP system to another isn’t normally done without extensive research. 

By figuring out the key points of contact in your own sales process where to grab the attention of your customers, you’re well on your way to creating your lead generating strategy. 

Sales Resources Available

Aka how many employees you have doing sales. This is a key factor in determining how much resources you have for doing outbound cold calling. 

Even though using human resources to get quality leads might be effective, it most definitely isn’t scalable in the big picture. Therefore, put emphasis on recognizing at which stage a lead becomes a quality lead. Before it becomes that, let marketing do the heavy lifting and focus the efforts of your sales team on leads that are further down your sales funnel.

customer journey in lead generation

If they are in the “need” phase, they might not be ready for being contacted by your sales team. Let the marketing team nurture them and help them move closer to the 1st sales meeting.

Competitive Situation

It’s important to establish how you stack up against your competitors to be able to do effective lead generation marketing.

Ask yourself:

  1. How competitive is my market? 
  2. Who are my competitors? 
  3. What makes me stand out from them? 

Once you are aware of what makes you unique, leverage that in your marketing and sales. If your products are cruelty-free, and that is also a factor that makes you stand out from the crowd, promote that. Or if your software solves problems that no-one else is solving yet, that’s your main selling point.

Few things to keep in mind:

  1. Never bash your competitors
  2. Focus on emphasizing your strengths
  3. Be authentic and genuine in all communication
  4. Think closely whether discounts are a good strategy

Price might not be the best factor to start competing with against your competitors. By offering constant discounts, you are constantly getting less profits from the sales you make and it might make regular customers wait for discounts before repurchasing. 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve become rather wary about discounts especially on high-end products. I recently discovered a new high-end cosmetics brand. Their products are developed based on the results of a research project of two universities. I was excited about them. Then I visited their social media account and saw that their marketing is all about discount campaigns.

It made me think twice whether I should buy from them now (I would like to try the products) or wait for a new discount campaign to start (to get them cheaper). It also had a rather negative impact on the way I see the whole brand and their pricing. If they can constantly lower their prices, are they even worth the full price? 

That being said, think carefully about which tactic works best in the market you operate in.

Search Volumes and Any Related Searches

Already in 1966, Eugene Schwartz introduced the five levels of market sophistication in his book Breakthrough Advertising. The core idea is that you need to understand how well your customers are familiar with the solutions available to their specific needs.

Levels are:

  1. Pioneer Level
    1. Keep things simple and direct. Name what you have to offer.
  2. Out-doing the Competition
    1. Make your company stand out from the competition
  3. Showing Customers How It Works
    1. Educate your leads and customers how your solution works
  4. Arms-Race Level
    1. Keep on out-doing any competition by improving your offerings.
  5. Story-Telling Level
    1. Your prospects are well-aware of the market, its offerings and possibilities. Make your prospects trust and choose you over others by offering them content they find relatable.
five-levels-market-sophistication-search-volumes

If your leads are at just the beginning of the five levels, it won’t do much good to bombard them with “Your neighbor Susan just bought this knick-knack and likes it”-type of messages, if they aren’t yet even looking for that specific knick-knack. 

You should ensure that you’re using lead magnets that work on all of these levels – separately, not simultaneously. 

Paying close attention to search volumes and all related searches will help you identify what types of content you should be putting out there and to which channels. 

Conclusion on Building the Best Lead Gen Strategy

No matter what you do, you should always start with identifying: 

  1. Who your leads are
  2. Where they come from 
  3. What type of content drives them in

If you are unsure of the answer to any of these questions, then try to answer them first before venturing deeply into lead management and measuring key performance indicators in lead generation.

You can find over 20 actionable strategies in lead generation for B2B Business in a recent blog post we made.

7 KPIs to Measure in Lead Generation

In order for you to know how effective each of your campaigns as well as sales and marketing efforts have been, you need to measure at least the following seven key performance indicators (KPI)

The better you are doing across these KPIs, the more opportunities you have to do sales. 

Even though the first few on the list are sometimes often referred to as “vanity metrics”, because they don’t tell you anything about how many people actually converted into a lead, they shouldn’t be disregarded or overlooked.

They form the foundation on which the more complex KPIs are built on. If you don’t know how many clicks and visitors you had in the first place, there’s no way to figure out what the conversion rate is.

1. Number of Visitors, Clicks and Sessions

These are one of the most basic KPIs to track. 

They’ll tell you:

  1. Total number of visitors
  2. What they clicked
  3. Total number of new and repeat visits to your site

By tracking these metrics, you’ll be able to see what drives a lot of visitors, which CTAs and lead magnets work and how many people come back. It’s vital to know these statistics, so that you can start identifying what works and what needs to be improved. 

2. Engagement

You can measure engagement by tracking how many likes, shares and comments you get. It’s widely used to track the success of social media campaigns. Ultimately, it’ll help you figure out what resonates with your prospects.

That being said, having many likes on a post doesn’t have a direct impact on your sales and won’t tell you how many leads you got. 

If a tree falls down in a forest and no-one hears it, will it make a sound? The same applies to your campaigns. If everyone scrolls past them without even glancing, it’s not resonating with the audience.

3. Conversion Rate

Conversion rate refers to the percentage of people that complete a desired action. (If you’re unfamiliar with conversion rates and how they are measured, you can read more about conversion rates in one of our previous posts.)

In this context, lead generation conversion rate refers to the percentage of people who converted into a lead. It can be calculated by dividing the number of conversions with the total number of visitors.

conversion rate lead generation

The higher your conversion rate is for a specific lead generation campaign, the better it is. Always aim to have a high conversion rate on each campaign. 

What is a good conversion rate? It’s better than your previous conversion rate. You should always aim to outperform yourself. 

4.  Number of Leads

Number of leads includes all the MQLs, SQLs, PQLs and service qualified leads you get through all channels. You need to track the total number of leads in order to notice trends.

Compare how many people visited your website, how long were they there, what did they do while on the site, and which actions or combinations of actions usually lead to them becoming a lead. 

5. Total Lead Value

To be able to make informed decisions on lead generation, you need to track how much each lead is worth. 

lead value formula

With this model, you can even predict your incoming sales based on the number of leads you get. However, you need to first track this for sometime to get an average estimation of how much each lead is worth.

If you happen to find out that the total lead value is less than what it cost to get them, you’re heading for failure. 

6. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Customer acquisition cost refers to the amount of money you have to spend to get new customers. You can calculate it by dividing your marketing spend with the total number of new customers. 

customer acquisition formula

The lower your CAC is, the better. It means that you aren’t spending too much on getting in new customers. If your CAC is high or has a rising trend, you’re eating away your profits.

Don’t confuse CAC with CPA (Cost Per Acquisition). CAC refers to getting new customers and CPA refers to the cost to acquire other aspects that don’t bring in revenue (leads, registrations, trials, activated users). 

7. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

Customer lifetime value means the total amount of revenue generated from a single customer during their time of being a customer.

It can be calculated by multiplying the lifetime value (average sales x number of transaction x retention time) with the profit margin.

customer lifetime value formula

This is one of the most important metrics to track, because it helps you find your best customers and to predict how much money each customer brings you on average. It’ll make forecasting your growth and overall success easier and help you allocate your resources where they need to be. 

Your CLV to CAC ratio needs to be more than 1.0 at all times or you’re headed for a disaster.

CLV to CAC ratio

Conclusion on the 7 KPIs to Measure

Tracking these KPIs can feel tedious and time consuming, (and it is, if you don’t have the right tools), but it’s crucial if you want to base your decisions on data rather than on a feeling. Once you have the right tools for measuring all your lead generation metrics effectively, you can start to draw conclusions and improve your lead generation efforts.

It’s difficult to measure with one single metric if you’re getting quality leads. If you focus on the latter part of the list above (starting from total lead value), you’ll be able to figure out if your efforts are really paying off or not. 

Stop wasting time and money and start improving your lead generation and lead management process by tracking these metrics. Get inspired by these 5 trackable lead generation tactics!

Lead Generation Forms for Websites

You needs for lead generation forms on your website depend on 

  1. The type of business you are in and 
  2. Whether you’re looking for business leads or consumer leads (or both)

Okay, but let’s reverse a little. What are lead generation forms?

Lead gen forms are designed to capture emails or any other relevant information of potential customers directly from your website.

Some examples include:

lead generation forms examples

Next up, we’ll have a closer look at these examples with actionable ways to incorporate them into your own lead generation tactic.

(Multi-step) Lead Generation Forms

Lead generation templates are used to gather as much information as you aim to get from a single visitor. 

Here’s a great example from giosg.

The first page focuses on getting the most important information and the second page is about enriching the business leads. The third page is dedicated to thanking them for submitting their information.

If you decide to create multi-page forms, it might be a good idea to add a percentage (60% done) or page numbers (2/3). Some people might be hesitant to fill in multiple pages, so you can motivate them by letting them know that they’re almost done.

Never ask for unnecessary information. Focus on what’s the most crucial information for you. The more fields you make people fill in, the more likely they are to abandon you without converting. 

Does it really make a difference if you can address people with their full name when they’ve signed up to your generic email list? Not really. But not getting that email in the first place will decrease your chances of getting them to buy from you in the future. 

Use careful consideration when you’re setting up your lead generation forms.

Chatbot Lead Generation

Chatbots are the little chat popups (normally on the lower right corner) of a page. Usually, they’ve been set up to work 24/7 and without having to have a person sit around waiting for messages. 

However, in some cases (normally during business hours) there actually is a real human being answering your questions. I’ve handled my insurance and operator issues and many other problems with these chats. I personally love them.

Chatbots are used to:

  • Help you find what you’re looking for
  • Answer (and gather) frequently asked questions
  • Inform customers about opening hours
  • Get you to give in your email address so a real person can be in touch with you (to solve your problem)
  • Ask for feedback and reviews

There are plenty of operators out there to choose from if you’re on the market for chatbots. The most important thing is to connect it with a lead management software so you’re not missing out on any leads. 

After all, if someone takes the time to open and write in a chat, they’re often really interested in what you have to offer.

Make your chatbot as interactive as possible. Try to include many types of paths to get the most out of the chatbots, such as:

  • Lead qualification (such as, B2B or B2C)
  • Product recommendations
  • Offer advice (on your products or services)
  • Schedule meetings for demos
  • Get signups and upgrades to subscriptions
  • And many more

Popup templates

Popup templates are one of the most used ways to gather leads from websites. With Trustmary, you can easily modify what type of information you’re asking for from visitors.

lead-gen-popup-customization-triggers

In addition, you can also add social proof to your popups to increase lead generation conversion rate. This will increase your credibility (others have bought from you) and help build trust in new prospects.

lead-gen-popup-social-proof

The more targeted you can make your popups, the better. 

For example, you can target returning website visitors with a different offer (Nice to see you again! If you’re interested in hearing more about our services, submit your email here and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!”!) than new visitors (“Hey, stranger. If you would like us to introduce our product palette to you, drop your email here and we’ll get back to you ASAP.)

lead-gen-popup-customization

We recommend doing constant A/B testing to figure out which popups work best for different audiences. This way, you’ll get more quality leads than ever before.

Lead magnet templates

Lead magnets are free downloads that you offer to your visitors. All they have to do is submit their email address (and possibly sign up for your email list.

You can offer:

  • Case studies
  • Planners and Checklists (for specific purposes)
  • White papers
  • Brochures
  • E-books

Lead magnets tend to create high-quality leads, because they’re focusing on a very specific topic and are made for a very specific audience. 

Mekitec has a nice way of displaying their e-book on the safety of using x-ray to inspect food. Their only mandatory field is email and country and they have an opt-in email list subscription.

lead-magnet-example

TANAuses a different tactic. Their brochures can be downloaded without submitting an email address, but you can inquire about a specific product.

tana-lead-gen-brochure
tana-lead-gen-form

As the people who are already very specifically looking at a certain model, they need to fill in more information to become a lead.

In conclusion, think closely about what works and at which stage. You might miss out on getting a quality lead if you make the process too heavy (don’t ask for unnecessary information!), but you might also miss out on getting sales qualified leads if your lead management isn’t on point. 

Conclusion on Lead Generation Forms

Make the user experience of your site as effortless and seamless as possible to increase your chances of getting inbound leads. Test out different approaches to see what triggers visitors to convert into leads.

Pay close attention to the design in everything you do. Most of the time, it pays off to be as simple as possible and to remove any distractions from your sites and forms.

Lead Generation Software

Lead generation is one of the most resource-consuming aspects of marketing and sales. Once you’ve created a lead generation process, you should look into automating parts or all of it for maximum results.

Trust me, your lead generation efforts will result in more high quality leads, if you don’t need to do all of it manually.

Aspects Lead Generation Software Can Help With

  • Lead magnet
  • Lead nurturing
  • Lead capture
  • Lead segmentation
  • Lead qualification
lead generation software

Examples of Benefits when You Use Lead Generation Software

Generating leads isn’t the only benefit you’ll get by using lead gen software, but you’ll be able to enjoy increased conversion rates and even more sales down the line.

Here are some happy customers that have automated their lead generation processes or parts of them.

139.16% more sales with 21.81% lower advertising budget

32% increase in sales

22.6% increase in conversion rate

More leads directly from the website

Great resources about Lead Generation

If you have made it this far, and are still hungry for more information, let us introduce you to a few resources. Use these to further educate yourself on the wonders of lead generation.

Books

Sites

Online courses

  • CXL offers great online marketing courses.
  • DigitalMarketer offers a wide range of workshops, playbooks as well as certification and mastery courses.

Frequently asked questions

As much as you can, if

  1. you know what the return on investment is
  2. The ROI pays off 

This varies between industries and companies. Pay attention to total lead value, customer acquisition costs, and customer lifetime value. Only invest as much as is reasonable. In other words, if you invest a dollar in lead generation and get five back each time, invest as much as possible.

When done right, costs from lead generation should be minimal when compared to Customer Lifetime Value. Limits do not exist when it comes to how much you can invest in lead generation, but we suggest that you track your ROI closely.

Lead generation refers to collecting information about your prospective customers. It can be done, for example, by cold calling or cold emailing your potential customers or by creating content that make them willingly give their contact information.

It’s a joint effort between these two groups. Their goal is the same: to get more customers and to grow revenue. Inbound lead generation is mostly done by marketing and sales does the outbound lead gen. However, that’s not always the case as nothing is set in stone and the most effective lead generation strategy acknowledges this.

Lead generation aims to nurture brand-aware prospects to move onwards on the purchasing journey. Demand generation tries to educate the market, for example, with quality content to realize that they have a problem and a specific company and solution can fix it. In other words, demand generation aims to create the demand and to drive awareness and interest.

If you don’t have any leads, you have no-one to sell your products and services to. 

Getting results varies between seconds to years. Use all types of tactics to get fast results (that might not be that qualified, yet) and long-term results (high-quality sales qualified leads). It’ll take you forever to get results if you never start.

Start doing lead generation with social proof by starting your free 14-trial here.

In case your resources are limited, it might be a good idea to outsource your lead generation. Pick a partner that really knows your industry and has a proven track record.

Anything you can think of! As we’re bombarded with offers, deals and ads on a daily basis, try to be creative in creating your lead generation tool kit.

Track how many of your leads are becoming paying customers or subscribers. That’ll give you first-hand information about lead quality. Furthermore, create a system for measuring your lead quality even during the purchasing process.

Better than your previous conversion rate was the previous month. Anything above 10% is outstanding, unless you had 11% last month. Then you’ve made changes you shouldn’t have.

Can be anything from a few percent to up to 90%. It all depends on:

  • Complexity of your product/service
  • Market sophistication
  • Price point
  • B2B or B2C customers

For example, when we were selling testimonial videos to customers, the average conversion rate from lead to sales was 17%, because the product was easy to understand. When people saw a testimonial video we made, they contacted us because they wanted to have one made for them. The product was easy to understand and they didn’t need convincing about the product, but more about us as a partner.

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