Lead Generation 101 — Start Here If You Want Lots Of Leads But Find It’s All Too Complicated
In a world where everything is digital, it is easy to forget that not so long ago the only way to generate sales leads was through offline methods. While online lead generation is the most common avenue, offline methods remain powerful and in some cases are more suitable and will out-perform online efforts.
If you’re looking to kick off or boost your lead generation but you’re not sure where to start, this article may help. We’ll be taking a look at different types of leads and ways to generate leads
A lead is a person or entity with an interest in purchasing a product or service. Identifying the lead is the first stage of a sales process.
Leads may come from a wide variety of sources and activities, e.g. online by submitting a query or in response to advertising; through personal referrals; from inbound and outbound telephone enquiries; from sales representatives, through direct mail and print/tv advertisements; from promotions and events.
Leads are generally categorized into two types: sales leads and marketing leads. A good sales lead would be someone who fits your target audience and has shown interest. Marketing leads have expressed interest but may not be your audience. They are typically followed up to qualify them as potential customers and rated according to their fit with your business. There is no universal agreement about which better.
Every business has a minimum number of people it relies on to generate consistent income. In many cases, these people are already customers. But customers’ needs and appetites change, they may move away, go out of business, give their business to a competitor.
To stay in business you are constantly looking for ways to increase the number of customers you have. This process is known as lead generation. Having a steady stream of leads is the lifeblood of your business. But different businesses have different needs when it comes to the types of leads they generate, and how they go about generating them.
A lot of new entrepreneurs are so eager to get their business off the ground that they forget to do the most important thing of all: generate leads. Without leads, you can’t close sales — and without sales, you can’t make money.
There is a wide variety of online lead generation methods to choose from. We’ll focus on a few that can be utilized by businesses large and small alike and that have been proven to deliver the best Return on Investment (ROI).
1. Search engine marketing or paid search
A great option for generating leads online is pay per click (PPC) advertising. With Google AdWords you can create an account today, spend $10 and have your ad in front of 1000’s of people searching for your product or service. It’s amazing how quickly you can generate leads with PPC advertising. Bing advertising is also effective but significantly smaller than Google
2. Facebook Marketing
Facebook is another great place to target your market with ads based on demographic information such as age, area code, gender and interests. Facebook Ads are extremely affordable and can be very effective at generating online sales leads if used properly.
3. YouTube Advertising
YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine, behind Google (both are owned by the same company). It has the same powerful targeting functionality as Google and Facebook and is a very cost effective means of advertising.
4. Social Media
YouTube channels, Facebook pages and groups, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, etc. can all be used to generate and capture leads. However, they have a fraction of the reach of the top 3. A common mistake entrepreneurs make is spreading themselves too thin, trying to be on too many platforms, and often failing on them all instead of succeeding with one.
5. Email Marketing
Another great method for generating internet sales leads is through email marketing. Most businesses now use opt-in email lists as an integral part of their overall marketing plan. While email marketing has been around for some time now, it is still one of the best ways to generate sales leads.
The key advantages of online lead generation:
- No need to travel
- Accessible 24/7
- No limit on how many leads you can generate
- Can be done by anyone with a credit card and an internet connection-
- Global reach
Some disadvantages are:
- Can be very expensive if not tightly defined and controlled
- Quality of leads can be poor
- Costs can be driven up by fake/bot clicks
Online lead generation is great, but it doesn’t have to be your only option. In fact, depending on your business, you may have better results offline.
Offline lead generation doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. There are several no-cost or low-cost resources to get your name out there in your area and build relationships with potential customers. These include community groups and notice boards, sponsoring events, hosting open days or evenings, window signage and sandwich boards etc. and running competitions or promotions with prizes.
For a reasonable investment you have many more options available such as leaflet drops, direct mail campaigns, print ads in local newspapers and magazines, local radio and television commercials, telemarketing campaigns and billboards. Nowadays advertising nationally on tv, radio and print is significantly cheaper than before, largely due to competition from online advertising. This can be to your advantage.
No matter whether you focus on low or no-cost methods; local, national or global; online or offline; or how you choose to mix and match, at the end of the day what you are working on is acquiring more leads. The measure of success then is the increase in the number of leads you are getting by day, week, month or year.
Turning those leads into sales and customers is the next step!