So you want to start a lead generation strategy? Here’s what you need to know first…
The traditional buyer’s journey has been disrupted – more of your potential customers are researching and making purchasing decisions before ever even talking to a sales person. To take back some of the control and give your sales team the quality leads they need, you may be thinking about a lead generation strategy.
Lead Generation Strategy and Why You Need It
According to an Accenture study, 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process. And according to Forrester, 59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep because the rep pushes a sales agenda rather than helps solve a problem (their words, not ours!)
So how can you reach your future buyers with the information they are looking for? Through a lead generation strategy, you can attract more potential buyers, provide them the information they need when they need it, and let them tell you when they’re ready to be contacted.
The 6 Key Points You Need to Know For a Strong Lead Generation Strategy
1. Consider Marketing Automation Software
When it comes to the role of marketing in sales, I’ll be frank – it’s a process that takes some time. There is a process to attract, acquire, qualify, and nurture prospects from general awareness to sales-ready, and no step should be ignored or rushed. Utilizing marketing automation software, like Pardot, greatly improves efficiency, helping your team to make data-based decisions and automating lead nurture processes that would normally require more resources and budget to execute.
Keep in mind that even though Pardot makes things much more efficient by removing a lot of manual work, we highly recommend having an experienced team and strategy in place to execute strong lead generation programs with marketing automation software.
2. Define Your Leads and The Lead Process
When building a lead generation program, it’s important for the sales and marketing teams to be involved in a lead process discussion. What does marketing define as a lead (a Marketing Qualified Lead or MQL), and what does sales define as a lead (a Sales Qualified Lead or SQL)?
For the most part, MQLs are leads that fit the overall description of a customer – the right segment, the right industry – and knowing this helps marketing create programs that target the right type of leads. An SQL is usually attained after an MQL has been nurtured through the buyer’s journey, and is warm-hot and ready to be contacted by sales. SQLs typically have a few more boxes checked – the right budget, the right decision-making authority – and defining this helps to create a lead process for when marketing hands leads off to sales. More info on MQLs vs SQLs here.
3. Know Your Buyers
Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you understand your customers (and prospects) better, and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different types of buyers. As we saw from the Accenture and Forrester studies above, if over 50% of your prospects are moving through their buyer’s journey online, how can you ensure they choose you over your competition?
Researching your prospects, through interviews and external sources, gives you all the details you need to know: exactly what information prospects want and how they want to receive it. Once you’ve done the research, use personas to bring it to life and better illustrate your target audience.
4. Revamp Your Website With Lead Generation in Mind
In a strategic lead generation website, every page has a specific purpose. Think about the questions your buyers have as they are considering a purchase. For example, in the beginning of their journey, they are looking for general information; towards the middle, they’ll want to compare choices (i.e. you and your competitors); towards the end they’ll want more information about pricing and how to purchase. Make the process of collecting this information easier for them, and you’ll reap the benefits!
When your website speaks to each of the needs they have, they’ll be able to find all their information in one place and speed up the process of making a purchase.
5. Create Lead Generation Content Specifically for Your Buyers
To create content that supports quality lead generation, it needs to be personalized to the right people, at the right time. This can be achieved through strategic content creation, aligned to the buyer’s journey. i.e. Your website provides the answers your buyers’ questions as they move closer to a purchasing decisions. With this strategy, all content is “mapped” according to:
- The person who is reading it – i.e. your buyer personas
- The buying cycle stage – i.e. if they are just learning more about your business or if they are ready to buy
And as a side note, answering prospect questions through content on your website also directly impacts the success of your search engine optimization. For example, when someone searches for a question that you provide the answers to, your site gets bonus points with the search engine, making your content more findable.
6. Promote Content Directly to Your Audience
Why spend time and resources creating quality content if no one sees it? To expand the reach of content assets, most successful marketing strategies focus on a combination of paid, earned, and owned media promotion.
- Paid: Promotion through paid tactics, such as social media advertising, paid search, and retargeting ads.
- Earned: Promotion through “earned” relationships, such as PR, influencer marketing, and referral marketing.
- Owned: Promotion on your own media channels, such as blogs, social media, and email newsletters.
But it’s not that simple – this is where your research comes in handy again. For the most successful return on your investment, focus promotional strategies on the places where your buyers spend time and consume information. It seems obvious that if your buyers are active on Twitter, you should spend promotional budget on Twitter advertising. However, it takes real in-depth research utilizing the right tools to understand how and where your audience receives information, even if you think you already know (we’re looking at you: “But my buyers aren’t on social media…”)!
These days a strong lead generation strategy is a necessary part of your sales and marketing programs. It may be your answer to attract, acquire, qualify, and nurture more prospects for your business. But before you start, make sure you have the key steps in place to get the most ROI out of your lead generation strategy!