Lead generation is a vital part of the sales and marketing processes of a B2B business. With the world of business and marketing constantly shifting and evolving, it can sometimes be difficult for SMEs and new businesses to identify and develop the right lead generation strategy to suit their needs, quickly.
There are a lot of different factors, relating to your business, your customers, your market, industry, and more that need to be taken into account when developing your processes for generating qualified leads.
Before going into the details of what you need to consider, I want to touch on the importance of analysing and comparing different marketing strategies.
Why is analysing & comparing the value of different strategies important?
Without taking the time to conduct a thorough analysis or comparison of different marketing tools and methods, you could be jumping feet first into a lead generation strategy that is doomed to fail from the start.
Not only can this be a waste of your marketing budget, but it would also be a waste of your time; time that could have been spent on a more effective strategy that could have yielded a far greater return on investment (ROI).
Whether you are looking at social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, telemarketing, pay-per-click advertising, or something else, conducting research into what these strategies involve and what results you could realistically expect to see from a campaign, is essential for making the most of your lead generation budget.
1. Customer Behaviour
One of, if not the most important factors to consider when developing your lead generation process, is your prospective customers. Particularly, their behaviour in relation to different marketing strategies. Despite customers being a vital factor to consider there are some businesses that do not prioritise this when developing their lead generation process. Failing to consider your target audience can lead to campaigns that have a poor contact rate and very little engagement from the people you are targeting.
Conducting research into your target audience can give you an insight into their behaviour, contact preferences, and pain points which can all help to identify the best marketing channel and approach to engage with them.
The type of questions that you should hope to answer with your research include:
Is the customer reachable via this strategy?
When is the best time to reach them?
How does the customer typically react to this strategy?
Is it a positive reaction? If not, how can I encourage a positive reaction?
Will my approach to this strategy be appropriate for this audience?
When the majority of these questions can be answered positively, then you may have found a strategy that could work for you, and you then should begin to conduct further research to determine whether the strategy can be effectively coordinated within your business.
2. Goals & Objectives
Another detail that needs to be considered when building your approach to lead generation is your business’ goals and objectives. You should look at the targets that you hope to reach in your campaign, as well as the wider business goals that you hope to achieve with your marketing.
These goals could be:
Increase revenue by X% over last quarter
Grow shareholder value by X% by the end of the year
Improve conversion rate by X% within 3 months
Depending on what your goals and objectives are, some strategies may be better suited to achieving them than others. For example, if you are looking to increase revenue within a short period of time, then a lead generation strategy that yields more immediate results, such as telemarketing, should be your main focus.
No matter what your objectives are, you should always focus on finding a long-term, sustainable method of generating leads, and achieving your targets and goals; rather than a quick-fix to your customer acquisition shortfalls.
By maintaining an effective process for generating quality leads and adapting this process in-line with your business’ goals and objectives, you can accelerate your business’ rate of growth through a steady and consistent flow of leads and achieve your sales and marketing objectives faster.
3. Budget & Investment
Another factor to consider is your business’ allocated marketing budget and the maximum investment you are willing to invest in the strategy.
Some marketing methods can require a much larger investment in order to see the desired results. Unfortunately, this means that some small or medium-sized businesses may not have the required budget to fully support their chosen strategy.
If you find yourself in this position, it’s best to put a pin in that strategy for now and revisit it once the business has grown and you have the budget necessary to support it.
What some businesses tend to do is persevere and make do with the budget they have. This can result in the chosen strategy being much lower quality, due to their budget being stretched too thin.
This can not only produce a lack of leads and a disappointing ROI, but you could unintentionally cause damage to your professional reputation and your business’ image. No matter how valuable and effective your chosen strategy can be, if you take a low-quality approach, you can expect low-quality results.
4. Time & Resources
As well as considering the monetary investment that your lead generation process will require, you also need to consider the investment of time and other resources that will be needed.
A good example of a lead generation strategy that can require a more focused amount of time to undertake, is telemarketing. Although telemarketing can be one of the most valuable methods of generating leads and appointments, it requires a much greater investment of your time and more members of your team to run the campaign compared to other strategies such as email marketing.
Considering whether a particular strategy is feasible for you to undertake in terms of time and resources can help you to determine which method of lead generation is right for your business at its current size, and with your current workload.
5. Knowledge & Experience
Some marketing methods require a certain level of knowledge and experience in order to be run successfully. Running a lead generation campaign without the required knowledge associated with the approach, tactics, and the legal aspects, you could not only be spending your time and money on an ineffective campaign, but you could also be putting your business at risk of facing penalties under legislation such as GDPR and PECR.
Those who do not have the required knowledge to successfully run a certain strategy typically have three main choices:
They could avoid the strategy and use something they are more familiar with
They could spend time learning about the strategy and how they can implement it
They could look into outsourcing options so they can still reap the rewards of the strategy
With the first choice, you may have to settle for a strategy that does not provide the same quality or quantity of results, which could slow your business’ rate of growth.
With the second option, it may take a considerable amount of time before you have an understanding deep enough to justify allocating your marketing budget to that particular marketing method.
The third choice, however, means you are able to receive the benefits of a successful lead generation campaign without needing to spend a considerable amount of time or more of your budget on setting it up in-house.
Location plays a big part in your lead generation process, and it can change the structure of your strategy in a number of ways. The location of your target audience is one aspect that you need to consider, especially when acquiring data. If you are targeting businesses in a specific geographical location, then you need to ensure that your data is built around that fact. Otherwise, you may be targeting the wrong people, which could be a waste of both your time and your budget.
Another factor you will need to consider is location in relation to the applicable legislation. Depending on the country that your business operates in, there will be different laws that apply to marketing and data processing activities.
For example, in the UK, this legislation includes the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation, the 2003 Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations, and the updated 2018 Data Protection Act. However, in the USA, different regulations apply, such as the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, the Do Not Call Law of 2003 and a range of data protection and privacy laws.
Familiarising yourself with the appropriate legislation in both the country that you operate in, and the countries of your target audiences, is vital for maintaining compliance with international laws, and developing an honest and trustworthy method of generating new business.
7. Competitor Analysis
Another point to take into consideration is your competition and the strategies that they use. If your competitors are using a particular process to generate new business opportunities, then there’s a good chance that the same or a similar strategy will likely work for your business too.
By conducting a competitor analysis you can begin to understand how your competitors are going about their customer acquisition and help you to plan your own strategy. There may be certain aspects of your competitor’s strategy that don’t seem to gain much traction, which can tell you either to avoid that strategy or attempt a different style or approach.
Competitor analyses can also give you a deeper insight into your market and some of the typical market trends that occur. This can help you to plan your strategy around these trends and capitalise on new opportunities that arise.
8. Changes Within Your Business Environment
Another aspect you will need to consider is whether there have been or are any upcoming changes to your business environment and whether they could have a positive or negative effect on your marketing results.
These changes could be due to legislation, changes within your market, the introduction of new technologies, disruptive innovation, or more. Analysing what the changes could mean for your business and your processes can help to determine whether certain strategies will still be viable for you as your business environment evolves. One example of this is when GDPR came into effect in May 2018. Due to the changes the GDPR brought about regarding how organisations can contact their prospective customers, many businesses had to re-evaluate their marketing strategies and ensure that they were compliant with the new legislation and safe from penalty actions such as fines. The lesson here is to be mindful of potential changes in your business environment that could affect the flow or quality of your leads. Bearing these changes in mind when planning and developing your lead generation strategies can help you to build a sustainable process of customer acquisition.