Lead generation has always been a marketing pain point for new and small businesses. It’s an activity that is both time and resource intensive and the everyday running of a business often gets in the way of doing it successfully.

In this article we’ll look at how lead generation is evolving. We’ll explore how traditional outbound marketing methods like cold calling have fallen away and how more advanced tactics such as content marketing, visitor tracking and other intuitive, inbound marketing methods are being embraced.

What is Lead Generation?

Finding and attracting people to introduce to your business is lead generation. Every marketing and promotional activity you carry out is part of this process.

The ultimate aim is the start a potential customer along a journey (or conversion funnel). This will differ slightly for different businesses but the fundamentals steps are the same.

The buyers journey in marketing

Awareness – Consideration – Decision (Bonus=Retention)

There was a time when the majority of companies had no option but to be 100% outbound marketing focused. Before digital marketing evolved, a sales team would consist of a bank of telephones and a sky-high pile of paper business directories. Cold calling was king.

The cold calling method attempts to force people to enter and embrace customer journey in one go. Whilst there was a time that this was (relatively) successful, it rarely works these days. Brands require numerous touch points to build and nurture trust.

Customers in the modern day want to be informed and educated. They want to be convinced by long term solutions rather than quick fixes. Impulse or emotion driven purchases very rarely occur in the B2B environment.

With return on investment and increased efficiency at the forefront of buying intent, sellers have to be prepared for the long game. This is where intent focused, inbound marketing is taking over!

Generating Leads with Inbound marketing

 A website’s ultimate aim is to generate visitors. It then has to convert visitors to customers.

Onsite conversion tools include tailored landing pages, call to action buttons and contact detail gathering methods. Consumers are still happy and prepared to fill in online forms when they realise the potential value, gains and benefits that a company offers.

More recently, online Marketing specialist, like Neil Patel has championed Lead Generation Games that offer immediate incentives in exchange for an email marketing address. This is both lead generation and lead capture at work!

Lead generation game example from Neil Patel

Email, online adverts and retargeting, your blog, content marketing, webinars, social media engagement and all your offline promotional efforts can help enhance your lead generation.

Experimenting with them all to see which ones are the most successful will help you to define your sales funnel and how to encourage your customers through it.

Lead Nurturing

All leads are not created equal. It has been widely suggested that a mere 2-3% of website visitors ever become customers. So how can you influence those numbers?

Make sure you are targeting your potential customers in the right ways. Take a little time to identify who your ideal customer is (often called a persona) and create the ideal journey for them.

Identify pain and/or pleasure points and promote how you can help or enhance them. Always approach your marketing with the focus on the customer first and not from your own business perspective.

Have a plan ready to deal with your leads:

When you get an email or phone number then how are these leads going to be nurtured? Ensure you have processes in place to respond efficiently to these potential customers.

Ideally at this point there should be a degree of automation and a CRM software will help streamline the process. (Salesforce is a global leader in this area)

In the absence of automation ensure that you follow a simple process and strict time frame when a prospect is at their most open to interact further with your company. Establish a lead scoring system that will help you to identify the value of each potential contact.

Can I Just Buy a List of Leads?

Buying business leads can quickly give you access to thousands of potential customers in your business niche. However, there are significant disadvantages to using this method.

You can never really be sure of the quality of the data, it’s initial source or accuracy. The list may already be 6 months old, incomplete and full of very low potential prospects. It’s a real shot in the dark to employ this method.

It’s true that there may be a golden customer in the haystack but there will be a lot of hay to wade through first. Contacting these businesses on the list can also, at best, be construed as intrusive and at worst be considered spam.

If you do take the option of buying a list be sure to know exactly what you’re getting and where you’re getting it from. If the data selling company can’t answer all your questions then run a mile in the opposite direction!

The Future of Lead Generation

With your website set up perfectly, with your strong, fresh content and responsive CTAs firing, there’s still no guarantee of converting traffic to sales.

Marketing challenges graph with lead generation showing as the biggest challenge

Google offers a lot of help with its analytics platform. This enables you to analyse the behaviour of users when they land on your website but this stops short of specific user information and intent data.

Facebook has further revolutionised the ability to re-target prospects with the FB Pixel. This method explores a level deeper but users are still only identified by unique references and no specific identifiable data is revealed.

The challenge is to take customer data intelligence to the next level whilst operating within the increasingly strict parameters of user privacy. Potentially this is where website visitor tracking may be a game changer.

Swift Tracker provide a highly integrated website visitor tracking solution, that successfully identifies real users in real time that are accessing your website.

It then connects this to existing, public domain, company data and presents you with the contact details you need to nurture the lead. LinkedIn Social profile identification and up to date company emails provide powerful, accurate and time saving information.

This cutting-edge lead generation company will help identify the highest quality potential visitors that are viable to your business. Scoring systems are calculated by analysing different metrics on your site (such as number of visits and key pages visited) to enable quick identification of high potential leads.

Working in conjunction with your existing digital marketing campaigns it can quickly become a strong and effective tool for lead generation. It could be the end of cold calling!

In addition to helping with lead generation the software can provide up to date statistics on the performance of pages on your site. This analysis management is a powerful tool to enable you to quickly update your website to reflect real time data feedback.

The Best Way for You

 All marketing is about testing what works for you. No two companies will have the exact same requirements, resources or budget. Having a strong inbound marketing strategy will always form the foundations for successful lead generation.

If it’s not for you,  concentrate on getting your website, SEO, CRO and other inbound marketing techniques working for you and your business. Then relook at your lead generation strategy and take advantage of your strengths and value propositions.