A lead is a person who has shown interest in a brand, product or service in one way, shape or form. Lead generation involves the use of programs, databases, the internet or a particular service to get information on leads. This information can then be used to market a brand or business, make sales or conduct research. Leads can be names and contacts of individuals, agencies, companies or institutions that form a target group. Lists of leads can be obtained or filtered from databases such as telephone and online directories.
On the internet, leads can be generated from websites and search engines. There are websites that are set up just for the purpose of obtaining leads. These websites do the research and provide clients with a list of leads that they can use to connect with those they are targeting.
Lead generation services are often sought by brands and businesses in various sectors like insurance companies, real estate agents, marketing companies, private investigators, market researchers and educational institutions to name just a few.
Lead generation falls into two main categories: Inbound and Outbound lead generation
Inbound marketing helps potential customers to find you even before they start looking to make a purchase. The goal is to activate this potential and turn it into preference for your brand so that the lead becomes revenue. Reaching today’s consumer means representing yourself as the best option by offering relevant content that is informative and entertaining. Success also relies on putting your content on the right channels where you buyers spend their time.
Common methods for Inbound Marketing
- Content and SEO – Content is the pillar of inbound marketing. It has to have impact and make your target audience want to share it. Outstanding content is the way to stand out from the rest and begin building a relationship that will lead to the completion of the desired action, which may be a purchase, subscription or other action. Content should also be optimized, for a high ranking from search engines that puts you ahead of competitors. Mix things up with visual content and make use of social media platforms to promote yourself.
- Websites – Your website is where you need your audience to complete the desired action like buy, subscribe to a newsletter or sign up for an event. Optimize your website for conversion into actual leads by paying attention to forms, calls to action (CTAs) and of course, great content.
- Blogs – Blogs are a fantastic way to connect with your target audience. Use search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to promote it and highlight CTAs. A captivating blog will keep readers engaged and should lead them to the rest of your website. Use it as a gateway to conversion.
- Social Media – Consumers use social media to research on products and services through peers and fellow consumers who have left posts about them. Get on the popular social media platforms so that consumers can find you and so that you can interact directly with them and get feedback.
Outbound marketing channels use outbound channels to reach your target audience using rented attention instead of using your own properties like your blogs and websites. Outbound communication is typically highly targeted and has a prominent CTA so it can push a potential buyer to conversion faster. It can be done in different ways including;
- Email marketing
- Display Ads
- Pay-per-click ads
- Content syndication
- Direct mail
- Events like trade shows or webinars
- Engaging sales development reps (SDRs), also known as Inside Sales or Lead Qualification reps.
Lead generation metrics
It is important to have a way to evaluate the success of a marketing program. The lead generation metrics that companies use include:
- The percentage of revenue generated from the lead generation efforts
- The percentage revenue in closed won deals (paid orders) from lead generation efforts
- The quantity of sales qualified leads (SQLs), which are the sales made from leads sent to the sales team
- The quality of SQLs, which is the percentage not rejected by sales
- The cost of lead acquisition in total
- The cost per lead, which is the total marketing costs divided by the quantity of leads
- Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) to Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
- SQL to opportunity which is the conversion from SQL to opportunity to make a sale
- Inquiry to marketing qualified lead (MQL), which is conversion of an inquiry to a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
- MQL to sales accepted lead (SAL), which is conversion from MQL to sales accepted lead
The right way and the wrong way
There are right and wrong ways to go about lead generation. It is important to stick to ethical practices. Gathering information on individuals and businesses without their knowledge and consent using spyware, Trojans or other means that are intrusive is unethical and illegal. Unsolicited email advertising or spam is also unethical and can be blacklisted.
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