What Is Lead Generation and How Does It Help You Win More Customers?

If you think your business doesn’t need lead generation marketing, think again. You could make up to 133 percent more revenue1 with a successful lead generation strategy. Not doing so means you might as well send those potential customers (leads) to your competitors. 

What is lead generation? It’s the process of attracting leads to your business and funneling them from a prospect who knows nothing of your business to a paying customer. Not everyone will go through the funnel, but those who do will grow revenue and buy again if you treat them well.

Unsurprisingly, ninety-one percent of marketers agree that lead generation is their top priority to help businesses grow2. We’ve broken down the lead gen process and how you can wield it to turn your target audience into paying customers. 

Lead Gen from the Top of the Sales Funnel

Before buying from you, people travel down a sales funnel that converts them from hesitant leads to eager customers. You perform different actions at each level of the funnel to further convince leads and prospects to buy.

Let’s start at the top of the funnel (TOFU). Lead generation starts here by attracting prospects to your website to gain their contact information. This is where you build awareness about your brand and explain your benefits. One of the best ways to attract leads to your brand and benefit is by using lead magnets. 

What Are Lead Magnets? 

Lead magnets are free benefits like discounts or ebooks that encourage your target audience to share their contact information. These offers must be useful to people and relevant to your business. It especially helps if the lead magnet solves your prospects’ problems. 

Picture a potential lead who wants to create a form on their business’s website, but they don’t know how. A company like Tally, for example, provides that form-building tool and uses a freemium subscription model as a lead magnet. 

Customers are motivated to try the free version because it addresses a need and doesn’t cost a penny. Tally has convinced them to offer personal info for using its software.

Once the magnet has caught peoples’ attention, introduce a call to action that clearly directs them to a strategic landing page. As soon as they reach that landing page, ask them to submit their email address, name, phone number, and so on to receive the offered benefit. 

You can choose from dozens of lead magnets. Don’t be afraid to use several different magnets at once. We’ve curated a few effective options below that work especially well at the top of the funnel. 

Content Marketing 

More than 80 percent of B2B businesses use content marketing to generate leads, and 93 percent say it draws in more prospects than traditional marketing strategies3. Content is king for a reason, and the more engaging it is, the more likely you are to attract leads. 

Consider these content-based lead magnets:

  • Blog posts: Educational articles that answer common questions about the problem you solve. You can also use these posts to tell human stories about your founder journey or clients you helped. 
  • Ebooks: Instructional, visual, digital books that provide customers with valuable information about an industry problem or process. 
  • Courses: A tutorial or video course that teaches prospects an important process or concept. 
  • Infographics: Interesting facts or statistics that inform your prospects about your industry or business. 

To attract even more attention, explore interactive lead magnets. Interactive content generates twice as much engagement and conversation as passive content4. The lead feels like they’re building a relationship with your business, which helps convert them later. You can also obtain more data about your lead’s buying behaviors and demographics. 

Interactive content includes: 

  • Quizzes: Fun, engaging questions that paint a picture of your leads based on their responses. 
  • Surveys: Questions that usually require well-thought-out written responses. 
  • Polls: Quick, simple questions people answer from a list of provided responses.
  • Contests: A form that consumers fill out with personal information (or an action they take) to gain a chance of winning prizes. 
  • Checklists: A page that allows leads to track their progress or evaluate their performance for a process. 

No matter which type of content you create, ensure it provides enough value to the person consuming it that they feel comfortable sharing their personal information. 

Discounts, Demos, and Free Trials 

Some leads aren’t motivated by content, however. They might see more value in saving money than reading a blog post or taking a course. That’s where money-saving magnets come in. 

Product-based businesses can offer discounts or coupons for their store. Or, if you want people to subscribe to your product or service, attract them with free trials first. Similarly, service-based businesses can provide a demo of their service to entice prospects. 

Allow them to get a taste of what you’re selling and observe their reaction. Knowing what leads like or dislike is useful when trying to convince them to become a paying customer. 

Social Media 

With social media, choose between two routes: Paid ads that promote lead generation or free curated posts. 

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn offer a lead generation service. You pay to place an ad on that social media site. Then, when a lead clicks on the call to action in your ad, the platform shares that user’s data with you. 

LinkedIn has proven especially fruitful, with more than 80% of leads generated through social media coming from that site5. If you have the funds to run multiple ads on social media, it could result in hundreds or thousands of potential leads. 

If you don’t have those funds, don’t worry. Curated content on your social media accounts can still attract leads. Combine interactive content like quizzes or contests with your social media presence, and you can gain followers and more contact information. 

Email Marketing 

Don’t underestimate the power of email marketing, because for every dollar you spend on it, you gain $42 in return6. A newsletter that curates content your leads are interested in is usually enough incentive for them to give you their email addresses. 

How Do You Score Leads?

You’ve used the lead magnet to draw in tons of leads at the top of the funnel. Now, assess which ones qualify so you can focus your efforts on converting the right person further down.  

By “qualify,” we mean leads that express interest in buying from your business. Leads move through different qualification tiers, and you can score them to decide who’s worth pursuing. Scoring involves assigning points to leads’ actions and adding them up. The higher the score, the more likely they are to buy. 

Assign more points to actions that draw them deeper into the sales funnel. For instance, signing up for your newsletter deserves more points than following your social media page. Using a coupon or starting a free trial should also score higher than visiting your homepage. Pay attention to which leads participate in your interactive content as well – that indicates an eagerness to interact with at least the marketing, if not the sales, teams. 

Lead Type 1: Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)

At the top of the funnel, you’ll mostly see marketing qualified leads (MQLs). These people have engaged with your marketing team, likely by providing their email for a benefit or offer. They might not be ready to buy, but it’s the marketing team’s job to assess whether these MQLs seem likely to in the future. If they do, they move down the funnel toward the sales team. 

Leads start at the top of the funnel before progressing down as prospects and eventually paying customers. 

Lead Gen in the Middle

Once a lead moves down to the middle of the funnel (MOFU), they’re in the consideration phase of the buyer’s journey. They’re seriously contemplating the benefits of your business and whether it’s worth their time and money to become customers. 

To convince them that it is worth it, nurture them with lead magnets that are personal and encourage interaction, and follow up every interaction consistently. 

Which Lead Magnets Work Best for MOFU?

MOFU lead magnets require a personalized touch to show that you’re engaging with this prospect one-on-one. That means you can’t just send them general, far-reaching lead magnets to push them further down the tunnel. Focus on targeted content instead. 

Targeted and Personalized Content 

If leads have moved this far down the tunnel, they’re more willing to engage with longer, in-depth content that specifically benefits them. So try some of the following nurturing lead magnets: 

  • Whitepapers: An academic-like report that details a relevant problem and outlines a solution to it within your industry. 
  • Webinars: Video presentations where audiences ask you questions as they learn about a process or concept. Demonstrating your knowledge helps build trust in your brand.

Intersperse this content in your email marketing campaign to attract leads’ attention and turn them into customers. 

Drip Email Campaigns 

Drip email campaigns send automated, pre-written messages that increase in frequency as the lead interacts more with your business or website.

The beauty of drip emails is that you can use them to both attract leads and convert them. Be careful not to overload your prospects, however, and always respect their right to unsubscribe.

Continue Scoring Leads in the Middle

MOFU is the most crucial spot to score your leads. At this point, they’ve given you their contact information. Track their actions to see if the sales team should pursue deeper relationships with them. If a lead is worth nurturing, it shifts from a marketing-qualified lead to a sales-qualified lead. 

Lead Type 2: Sales-Qualified Leads (SQLs)

Sales-qualified leads (SQLs) express a clear interest in buying your product or service. They might have added items to a cart or talked with the sales team about a purchase. Most of your energy should fall on these leads as they’re the most likely to buy from you.

Lead Gen at the Bottom

The bottom of the funnel (BOFU) is make-or-break time. Leads have either decided to become paying customers or to take their business elsewhere. 

To encourage conversion, emphasize demos and free trials to give prospects a taste of what you’re offering. Share case studies and reviews to boost credibility. 

Free trials and demos work at both the top and bottom of the funnel. If they do try out your product or service, they become product- or service-qualified leads. 

Lead Type 3: Product-Qualified Leads (PQLs)

Product-qualified leads (PQLs) go beyond SQLs because they use your product in a free trial or freemium subscription model. They’ve experienced it first-hand, at no cost, and can see the benefits of buying. Converting PQLs is especially easy when their payment information is already locked in and ready to charge as soon as the trial ends. 

Lead Type 4: Service-Qualified Leads 

Service-qualified leads are those who already pay for your service. But your goal is to convince them to upsell to a higher-paying tier or cross-sell another service.

Measure Your Lead Gen Progress

Not everyone will make it to the bottom of the funnel, but a lead is never really lost – especially if you delight them in one way or another along the way. 

Track your lead generation metrics to understand what happens to leads after entering the funnel. 

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Your click-through rate draws people in at the top of the funnel. It’s the ratio of consumers who click on your lead magnet’s call to action out of everyone who views it. If your CTR is low, change the call to action or your magnet’s hook. Tracking CTR through paid ads is easy since platforms like Facebook and Google automatically calculate it. 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tools

Once you attract leads with magnets, manage your relationship with them with CRM tools such as Hubspot, SharpSpring, and others. All lead data, from their name to their contact info to their buying behavior, can be stored on these platforms. 

Behavior Tracking Tools

Tools like Hotjar allow you to see the exact actions leads perform on your website. It works like a heat map, with colored areas indicating frequent visits and how long visitors spend browsing specific sections. Tracking these behaviors allows you to see what attracts user attention and what convinces them to buy. 

Happy Lead Generating 

Now that you know what lead generation is, apply these techniques to your own business. Create lead magnets and use software to track consumer behavior. Pay attention to what attracts leads or turns them away as they move down the funnel. And don’t be discouraged if it takes a minute for leads to convert – you’re still building valuable relationships that can benefit you for years to come. 

Sources:

1 53 Key Lead Generation Statistics for B2B Marketers: 2021 Analysis of Data and Market Share – Financesonline.com

2 35 Lead Generation Statistics and Trends for 2022 – Ruler Analytics

3 50 Must-Know Statistics to Improve Your Lead Generation Strategy (marketinginsidergroup.com)

4 Statistics on Interactive Content: Trends and Best Practices [Infographic] (outgrow.co)

5 Top B2B Lead Generation Statistics for 2021 | ZoomInfo6 53 Key Lead Generation Statistics for B2B Marketers: 2021 Analysis of Data and Market Share – Financesonline.com


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