Lead Generation Methods: Time-tested and Proven Tactics
Lead generation has changed over the last ten years. Consumers are more educated than ever on the things they buy. Learn the time-tested strategies to attract customers in today's digital landscape.
Until only two decades ago, most marketing was done top-to-bottom, where companies decided on products as they saw fit and controlled the flow of information that consumers could access. Now with the internet and social media as integral parts of people's lives, information on any brand, product, and a company is readily available. Information is consumed fast and attention is scarce. Now the consumers are in control, we have entered the information economy.
In this current landscape, marketers fiercely compete for consumer attention because their message has become a small (but still important) part of the buying process. Therefore marketers have adapted by changing their strategy. Now instead of them finding leads, they look for the customers to discover them, and this they call inbound marketing: a strategy designed to pull customers in through content.
So what does this mean for today's businesses?
It means that the way businesses are grown, and leads are nurtured has changed. The successful firm now employs a mix of traditional outbound and modern inbound tactics to generate and collect quality leads.
Some of these tactics have stood the test of time, and have evolved from being fads to proven lead generation methods. Over here, we will showcase 4 solid methods, both inbound and outbound, that have proven to be effective in lead generation.
1. Email Marketing (Lead nurturing)
Email Marketing is an established outbound method for growing and nurturing leads. According to some reports, its return on investment for each dollar spent is around $48.
Traditionally it has been used in the middle of the sales funnel when a consumer is aware of a product, is collecting information but hasn't reached a 'buy/no-buy' decision stage yet. Email in such scenarios is used to nudge the consumer towards a 'buy' decision.
Increasingly though, email marketing is now being used as an inbound technique. Which means it's being used to collect leads from the start of a buyer's journey when the user isn't aware of a product/service or hasn't established what problems a product/service could solve for them.
Email Marketing is used in tandem with opt-in form technologies to collect and nurture leads. The first part of this process is to install opt-in forms on your website. There are great options to choose from, you can design pop-up layover boxes, embedded forms, slide boxes or stand-alone dedicated landing pages. All these tools are used to capture email addresses from people visiting your website. The way to do that is to produce good content or lead magnets (ebooks, checklists, podcasts etc) that people will engage with and find interesting. Content such as how-to guides, tips, and the latest industry information is usually well received. In addition, to turn cold leads into warm ones, it's a good idea to share compelling content through emails, add CTAs that redirect to your website, and social sharing options. Recently, people have started leveraging their email signatures as well, now they add Call to Action buttons or promotion offers in their signature to make them as visible as possible. All these elements of an email make it more engaging and make it more likely for a reader to pay interest. When visitors become leads, its time to nurture them and move them down the sales funnel. Again email marketing comes in handy because you can design email campaigns for different segments in your email lists. For example, you could share newsletters with fresh sign-ups to establish yourself as an authority in your field. But for existing customers, you would send a series of how-to emails, or new product updates to have them keep coming back.
2. Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is an inbound marketing technique designed to improve your SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking. This is an excellent method to have people find you organically and convert them into leads. The higher you rank on a SERP, the more visible you become to curious Googlers, and higher the chances you have of being discovered. SEO-Hacker conducted a study on page rank positions to see how ranking affects click-through rates. Not surprisingly, 73.5% of the clicks are attributed to the top 5 results.
These statistics indicate that if you can push yourself to the top of rankings, you can attract a lot of free traffic and potential leads. The great thing about traffic generated through search results is that such visitors have strong intent to engage/convert because they themselves took the effort to find you out, rather than you blasting them with ads and them lazily clicking on your offer. This makes SEO a great tool for building awareness and consideration for a brand.
Google ranks pages by their relevance and usefulness. So for example, if you want to rank for search phrase 'lead generation tactics', you will have to create content that people find useful and relevant to lead generation tactics. And when people cite your content. I.e provide you backlinks, your chances of ranking higher increase.
A few things you can do to get started with link building are:
- Publish content that interests your target market
- Answer questions on Quora related to your domain and cite your own content to create backlinks
- After publishing on your own website, publish on Medium and LinkedIn with links to the original content
- Guest post for other websites with links back to your own content
- Build internal links, add links to other content on your website so visitors can easily navigate through it
This is a brief overview of how SEO generally works, to learn in depth about the world of SEO, click here.
Referrals are probably the greatest way to warm somebody up towards a product/service. Think about it, when your friends or family vouch for a certain brand, you are inclined to give that brand more weight than others when considering options.
The power of word-of-mouth is great for a simple reason: we listen to people we trust. That's why brands pump thousands of dollars to influencers, they want people who trust these influencers to trust their products as well.
So how can you use referrals to leverage word-of-mouth?
- Create content that people organically share with their social networks
- Incentivize customers by offering them rewards and discounts when they bring their network members on board
- Create a referral program using tools like ReferralCandy to attract new leads
- Reach out to influencers in your industry who can vouch for your products
With referrals, you can attract quality leads with considerably less spending compared to other lead-gen methods
4. Cold Calling
Cold Calling, an obvious outbound sales, and marketing approach is one of those methods that allow for a deep understanding of a target audience.
If you want to use cold calling as an effective lead generation technique, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Don't randomly call people. Do your homework, call only those people that qualify as potential users of your product or service, you don't want to waste both of your time.
- Focus on your client, not yourself. Cold calling is rapport building time and not look-at-me-I'm-so-great time. Take this opportunity to understand their wants and needs so you can deeply qualify them.
- Understand their problems. Learn what sort of issues your prospective clients deal with every day so you can tailor your solution to their specific situation.
Although cold calls offer a low success rate, their real advantage lies in the richness of information one can gather during calls. It allows one-on-one time with the people you want to sell to.
Cold calling is a great opportunity to directly hear from potential customers. The insights gained from such calls can be used to refine marketing strategies, attract better leads and connect better with audiences.
Another advantage of cold calling is that if you do manage to find interested prospects, you can expedite their journey through a sales funnel. Normally with inbound techniques, consumers decide at their own pace when they want to research and buy a product.
With cold calling, you can directly impress and influence their decisions. If they trust you on a phone call, they will throw all their questions and objections at you, and this is a great chance to rid them of their hesitations and get them in a ready-to-buy state of mind.
As mentioned in this article, the constant fast-paced evolution of marketing and consumerism is changing the way businesses grow. Such an environment can create a lot of confusion and often people are left following the latest business trends and lose sight of their own unique essence.
In such a scenario, we showcased lead generation methods that have stood the test of time and offer stability in a time of constant change. Namely, we discussed 4 methods:
- Email Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization
- Cold Calling
These methods have proven to be unwavering tools that are effective in helping businesses grow.