Understanding Lead Generation


person using magnifying glass to look closer at lead generation

What is Lead Generation?


Lead generation is the process of identifying and engaging with your prospective clients in an effort to promote your business’ services and or products. Lead generation is carried out through various forms of direct marketing methods with the aim of increasing your client base and building a sales pipeline.


Why is lead generation important?


Lead generation is vital to the success of any business. If there are no customers, there is no business, it’s as simple as that. Some businesses will not see as much success from some lead generation methods as others might. Finding the right approach can take a bit of trial and error but once you have found it, you have a method which you can use to generate business leads and increase brand awareness.


What are the methods I can use for lead generation?


There are a range of lead generation methods out there, each with their advantages and disadvantages. Navigating the various methods of lead generation is not a simple task. You may have a method which suits your area of experience, and in some cases, limited budget, but you have to think about an approach that will have a positive impact on your target audience or any money spent will be wasted. Here are some of the most popular lead generation methods:


#1 - Email Marketing


Email marketing is one of the most utilised methods for lead generation. According to emarsys’ omnichannel commerce report, 81% of small and medium-sized businesses rely on email marketing for their main source of customer acquisition and retention. Email marketing is a great way to introduce yourself to your prospects, tell them who you are, what you do and how it will benefit them. With this approach, you need to consider the design and content of your email, or it may get caught in the spam filter or could be perceived as a scam. Despite this, email marketing is a rather simple method that can yield great results, as long as you know the email marketing do’s and don’ts.

#2 - Social Media Marketing


Social media marketing is another method that can bring great results when executed correctly. This method is more time consuming than email because you cannot reach your audience with just one post. Businesses use social media marketing for a range of reasons, not just for lead generation purposes, so finding the right balance is also important. Despite the challenges that social media provides, it is a very popular marketing method.

There are many different approaches to social media marketing depending on what you offer and who your prospects are. For example, some B2B companies might struggle to market on social media platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat but excel on a platform like LinkedIn. The same goes for B2C, LinkedIn may not be the most effective method for them but platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are likely to be more suited to both their needs and the needs of their audience.


Social media has come a long way over the last 15 years, according to We Are Social’s ‘Global Digital Report 2018’, there are now over 3.196 Billion social media users worldwide, which is just over 42% of the entire world’s population. So it’s no surprise that social media is a great place to generate leads.

​#3 - Websites


Your website is the main hub of all your online content. This is where you should give as much detail of your business, your offerings and the benefits that they provide to your prospects. Nearly every online and a lot of offline lead generation methods typically use a website to promote interest and start the conversion process. Using a website for lead generation can be done in many ways; through organic traffic, referring your prospects to your website from emails, social media, blog posts or other methods. Your website is the digital home of your business and should reflect the values and the mission of your business. With a website, the user experience is everything. If your website is a chore to use, then your audience will not want to use it and may end up with a negative perspective of your business. Your website should be easy to navigate, fast, well-structured and appealing to look at. Take a look at the images below. One is of a modern, well-structured and professional website; the other is of a lacklustre site that has little to no website design or consideration for the user. There’s no mistaking which one is which and there is no doubt which one you would rather use and will work better when it comes to generating business.


Screenshot of the Range Rover website, used as an example of good website design

Screenshot of Yale School of Art website, used as an example of bad website design

#4 - Advertising


A lot of businesses use advertising as a method of lead generation. There are many different choices for advertising nowadays. Digital advertising, in particular, can be configured to suit your business’ in either the short-term or the long-term. Advertisement methods such as search engine marketing platforms like Google Ads and social media advertising such as Twitter Ads are paid methods and are typically used by businesses that can allocate a budget for online advertising and marketing.


For the businesses that do not have an allocated advertisement budget, there are organic advertisement methods that you can use but require more effort. If you understand the algorithms of the social media site that you are using, you can use this knowledge to create posts that the algorithm will see as good content and display it in more feeds than a post that is seen as bad content.


One of the easiest, free ways to advertise your business is by creating valuable content. By creating content that people enjoy consuming, you are likely to see more interactions from your audience. These interactions can also be seen by people connected to your audience so the more interactions your content receives, the more people will know about it.


#5 - Telemarketing


Telemarketing is one of the most effective lead generation methods that can be used by a B2B business. It offers a unique opportunity that allows you to speak directly to your prospects in a more personalised and in-depth manner. Telemarketing can often yield faster and more effective results than methods such as email marketing. Having said this, telemarketing and email marketing go hand in hand. Email marketing can be used for an initial interaction or as a follow-up to a telemarketing call.


Although telemarketing is one of the most effective lead generation methods, there are many businesses now that disregard it when re-evaluating their lead generation strategy. This is typically due to the stigma surrounding telemarketing and nuisance calls, which is typically a B2C issue. Because of this, there are many B2B marketers that choose not use telemarketing as part of their lead generation strategy, and as a result, could be missing out on a range of business opportunities.


One of the great things about telemarketing is that even if the interaction isn’t successful, you have been able to hear the wants and worries of your prospects from them directly. Also, should the prospect ever have need of your products or services in the future, they are more likely to remember you taking the time to understand their needs and answer any questions they had, rather than a passing advert on social media.


How can I identify which approach is best for me?


Identifying the approach that works for you can be either a really simple task or an arduous one. You may find that the first method that you try works brilliantly and you can sustain your business using that method alone. However, you may find that you end up spending time and money on several methods each with poor results. When finding the right approach, you need to consider what you offer, who you are offering it to and what the best way to reach them might be. First, you will need to think about your buyer persona. Simply put, your buyer persona is a summary of your ideal customer, who they are, what they believe and what they are looking for. For example, if you are a business that offers business accounting and finance solutions, your buyer persona might look similar to the following:


Buyer persona detailing the background, demographics and challenges faced by the prospective client

This is just a basic example of what a buyer persona typically looks like, but it still gives a great deal of information about who Director Dave is, what he does and some of the challenges he faces with his business. This information helps to determine which method and approach would be best for your campaigns or at least helps to rule out a few methods. For example, because Director Dave spends so much time managing his business and could be around 60 years old, he probably doesn’t spend a lot of time using social media, so you could rule out that approach for that particular campaign. Because Director Dave manages a business, he is likely to be using email and be taking phone calls quite regularly. With that in mind, you may decide to trial an email marketing and telemarketing campaign. ​ Establishing your buyer persona also helps when acquiring data for your lead generation campaigns. It enables you to tell your data supplier that you are looking to contact around five hundred people like Director Dave. This means you can run campaigns with data that is consistent with your buyer persona.


Which is better, in-house or outsourced lead generation?


Deciding whether to do your lead generation in-house or to outsource to an external business, depends on a few different factors. One factor is how large your business is. If you have a small team of around ten heads, the chances are that you cannot spare the time or the workforce to fully run lead generation on your own. This is where outsourcing would be your best option. A large company, however, may have multiple departments within the organisation, and would likely have a separate team for lead generation that works with the marketing and sales departments.

Another factor is experience. If you are relatively new to the business world or marketing and sales just aren’t your forte, you will probably find lead generation quite challenging. You could try to educate yourself and your team on the different approaches of lead generation, but this could be a rather lengthy and difficult task, which is rather inconvenient if you need results fast. This is another scenario where outsourcing becomes the best option.


Budget is a factor that heavily influences the decision to run lead generation in-house or to outsource. Running lead generation campaigns is not only a time-consuming activity but is also rather costly.


You will need to regularly acquire regulation compliant data for your campaigns, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management System) to support your lead generation activities, software from which to create and run campaigns, for example MailChimp or Campaign Monitor for email or RingCentral for telemarketing, not to mention the additional salaries for new employees you might need to take on to run the campaigns.


It’s safe to say that the costs mount up and for a new business it can be hard to maintain these campaigns, especially if you have not had a lot of experience with lead generation. Outsourcing is often more the most time and cost-efficient approach to lead generation. Because you no longer have the hassle of running the campaign yourself, you can focus on other areas of your business.


If you outsource to a lead generation company that has a lot of experience and success in your industry you are also likely to see better results than the in-house approach, so not only are you saving both time and money, but your return on investment will more than likely be higher by the end of the campaigns.

Conclusion


To summarise the points I’ve gone over in this article, lead generation is a vital aspect of a business’ customer acquisition and retention process. Without some form of lead generation, businesses will struggle to keep up with their competitors. There are many different direct marketing methods you can use for lead generation, each with their advantages and disadvantages depending on your products and services, your customer’s needs and whether you are a B2B or B2C business.

Finding the right method for your business can be a complex process and isn’t just about what’s best for your business, but rather what’s best for your prospects. If you don’t have the staff, expertise or budget to manage your lead generation activities, you can outsource it to a more experienced company. Depending on the size of your business, the experience you have and how many leads you want to generate, outsourcing is often the more time and cost-effective method of dealing with lead generation.