Lead Generation Strategy

Matt Fenn on Lead generation,


So, you've spent time Googling around for an effective lead generation strategy for your B2B small business. And what have you found?

Lists of tactics!

Articles by landing page specialists will give you 'strategies' to improve conversion rates.

Articles by email specialists will give you 'strategies' to improve opens and clicks.

Articles by social media specialists give you 'strategies' for increasing engagement.

Articles by content marketers give you 'strategies' for blogging.

I read a lot of them, and they do contain valuable advice. But they aren't strategies.

A strategy needs to combine tactics to achieve your aim.



Tactic is a means by which a strategy is carried out; planned and ad hoc activities meant to deal with the demands of the moment, and to move from one milestone to other in pursuit of the overall goal(s).
Business Dictionary



I know it sounds like I'm being picky, but it's important.

When you have a strategy you can make decisions about the tactics you want to use to move forward. With lists of tactics you have no framework to measure and improve.

In this article I'm going to describe an effective lead generation strategy that will help you slot those tactics into place. So that you can use them in combination, to greater effect!

So what do we want from our strategy?

Our lead generation strategy requirements

If I'm going to invest time and effort in a small business lead generation strategy I need to tick some boxes first.

I want to know that the principles are sound.

I want to know that this strategy is working for other businesses.

I want it to give me control over the process of generating leads and customers.

I want to be able to extend and experiment with tactics to improve results.

Agreed? Good stuff. So let's get to grips with our strategy!

Lead generation strategy

For our lead generation strategy we're going to create a sales funnel that we can map our marketing activity to. Then we can look at each step of our funnel process and use the best tactics for each.

Our steps will be:

1. Attract

Attract visitors to our website.

2. Convert

Convert our visitors into leads we can contact.

3. Nurture

Nurture and educate our contacts

4. Close.

Make the sale.

These 4 steps provide the framework. And it's easy to see how some of the tactics you might have read about would fit into this process.

But is this process sound and does it work for other businesses?

Yes. In fact the process is common to a few marketing disciplines:

Marketing Automation.


79% of top-performing companies have been using marketing automation for more than 2 years.
Gleanster


Content Marketing.


32% of brands are decreasing spending on outbound marketing to spend more on content marketing.
Inbound Marketing Agents


Inbound Marketing.


Companies that spend more than 50% of their lead generation budget on inbound marketing report a significantly lower cost-per-lead.
HubSpot


Per dollar, content marketing produces 3 times more leads.
Eloqua


Permission Marketing.


80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.
Content Marketing Institute


Let's walk through our Lead Generation Funnel

Seth Godin described the process as:

"Turning strangers into friends, and friends into customers".

This is how it breaks down:

1. Attract visitors to your website.

Right now your potential customers are out there. Searching for the products and services they need.

Your first step is to get seen and become part of their research and decision process.

Your best shot at this first step is to use content marketing.

People consume content when they are solving a problem. You need to know what that content is and how you make yours part of their research.

This is where those blogging, infographic and content marketing tactics come into play.

2. Convert visitors to leads

So you got found and visitors are hitting your website. Great! but that's only the first step.

Most of the visitors who find you aren't ready to buy, and the likelihood is they won't come back. Or even remember the name of your website the next day.

The solution to this problem is to convert them into a contact that you can email.

This is the all important conversion rate.

For that you need landing pages and conversion forms. Backed up with high value content that your visitors are willing to give you their email address for.

There are loads of tactics that you can use here, but make sure what you do is relevant to your buyers.

Now you've got this far you might be feeling pleased with yourself.

After all you've got website visitors. You're tracking your conversion rates for your lead magnets and improving conversion rates.

But think about this. Even when someone converts on your website they may be 6 months away from making a purchase.

Given that you have their email address and permission to stay in touch, you are in a good position.

That brings us to...

3. Nurture and educate your contacts

On a basic level you can throw every email address into a list and 'email blast' the same thing to everyone once a month.

This would provide a very basic level of nurturing.

But to make the most of each one of those hard won leads we need to be relevant to their individual needs.

Personalisation is the key focus at this nurturing phase.



74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement.
Econsultancy


When asked to prioritize one capability that will be most important to marketing in the future, one-third of marketers answered: "personalization."
Advertising Age


Personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates, but 70% of brands fail to use them.
Marketing Land



You could follow up each of your new leads in person and suggest further content and offers.

Or you can use Marketing Automation to follow up people in unique and personalised ways. Many people assume that marketing automation is out of reach due to cost, but you can get hold of lead generation software designed for SMB businesses.

Using marketing automation allows you to score and track each contact. Like a CRM system that delivers personalised messages at the right time for each lead.

Plus, most marketing automation systems include integrated conversion forms and landing pages. Making setup of your lead generation process easier and quicker.

4. Close the sale.

Sales efforts are better focused upon leads that are better educated through marketing.



50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting
The B2B Lead



With marketing automation you can set a stage for each contact. Then progress the stage when they take actions you feel qualifies them better for sales.

Taking a look at your contacts by their stage might highlight backlog of leads at a particular stage. And so an email campaign to move them on, re-engaging them with a new offer could give you a sales boost.

Marketing automation alerts sales teams when a contact reaches a qualified sales stage. Ensuring sales time is more effective.

Conclusion

There are so many things that you can do to generate leads and convert them into customers.

But without a lead generation flow or process it can be hard to make the right decisions about where to invest.

Understanding these steps will help you to focus on what's important. And what needs to happen to be successful.

So, you've spent time Googling around for an effective lead generation strategy for your B2B small business. And what have you found?

Lists of tactics!

Articles by landing page specialists will give you 'strategies' to improve conversion rates.

Articles by email specialists will give you 'strategies' to improve opens and clicks.

Articles by social media specialists give you 'strategies' for increasing engagement.

Articles by content marketers give you 'strategies' for blogging.

I read a lot of them, and they do contain valuable advice. But they aren't strategies.

A strategy needs to combine tactics to achieve your aim.



Tactic is a means by which a strategy is carried out; planned and ad hoc activities meant to deal with the demands of the moment, and to move from one milestone to other in pursuit of the overall goal(s).
Business Dictionary



I know it sounds like I'm being picky, but it's important.

When you have a strategy you can make decisions about the tactics you want to use to move forward. With lists of tactics you have no framework to measure and improve.

In this article I'm going to describe an effective lead generation strategy that will help you slot those tactics into place. So that you can use them in combination, to greater effect!

So what do we want from our strategy?

Our lead generation strategy requirements

If I'm going to invest time and effort in a small business lead generation strategy I need to tick some boxes first.

I want to know that the principles are sound.

I want to know that this strategy is working for other businesses.

I want it to give me control over the process of generating leads and customers.

I want to be able to extend and experiment with tactics to improve results.

Agreed? Good stuff. So let's get to grips with our strategy!

Lead generation strategy

For our lead generation strategy we're going to create a sales funnel that we can map our marketing activity to. Then we can look at each step of our funnel process and use the best tactics for each.

Our steps will be:

1. Attract

Attract visitors to our website.

2. Convert

Convert our visitors into leads we can contact.

3. Nurture

Nurture and educate our contacts

4. Close.

Make the sale.

These 4 steps provide the framework. And it's easy to see how some of the tactics you might have read about would fit into this process.

But is this process sound and does it work for other businesses?

Yes. In fact the process is common to a few marketing disciplines:

Marketing Automation.


79% of top-performing companies have been using marketing automation for more than 2 years.
Gleanster


Content Marketing.


32% of brands are decreasing spending on outbound marketing to spend more on content marketing.
Inbound Marketing Agents


Inbound Marketing.


Companies that spend more than 50% of their lead generation budget on inbound marketing report a significantly lower cost-per-lead.
HubSpot


Per dollar, content marketing produces 3 times more leads.
Eloqua


Permission Marketing.


80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.
Content Marketing Institute


Let's walk through our Lead Generation Funnel

Seth Godin described the process as:

"Turning strangers into friends, and friends into customers".

This is how it breaks down:

1. Attract visitors to your website.

Right now your potential customers are out there. Searching for the products and services they need.

Your first step is to get seen and become part of their research and decision process.

Your best shot at this first step is to use content marketing.

People consume content when they are solving a problem. You need to know what that content is and how you make yours part of their research.

This is where those blogging, infographic and content marketing tactics come into play.

2. Convert visitors to leads

So you got found and visitors are hitting your website. Great! but that's only the first step.

Most of the visitors who find you aren't ready to buy, and the likelihood is they won't come back. Or even remember the name of your website the next day.

The solution to this problem is to convert them into a contact that you can email.

This is the all important conversion rate.

For that you need landing pages and conversion forms. Backed up with high value content that your visitors are willing to give you their email address for.

There are loads of tactics that you can use here, but make sure what you do is relevant to your buyers.

Now you've got this far you might be feeling pleased with yourself.

After all you've got website visitors. You're tracking your conversion rates for your lead magnets and improving conversion rates.

But think about this. Even when someone converts on your website they may be 6 months away from making a purchase.

Given that you have their email address and permission to stay in touch, you are in a good position.

That brings us to...

3. Nurture and educate your contacts

On a basic level you can throw every email address into a list and 'email blast' the same thing to everyone once a month.

This would provide a very basic level of nurturing.

But to make the most of each one of those hard won leads we need to be relevant to their individual needs.

Personalisation is the key focus at this nurturing phase.



74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement.
Econsultancy


When asked to prioritize one capability that will be most important to marketing in the future, one-third of marketers answered: "personalization."
Advertising Age


Personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates, but 70% of brands fail to use them.
Marketing Land



You could follow up each of your new leads in person and suggest further content and offers.

Or you can use Marketing Automation to follow up people in unique and personalised ways. Many people assume that marketing automation is out of reach due to cost, but you can get hold of lead generation software designed for SMB businesses.

Using marketing automation allows you to score and track each contact. Like a CRM system that delivers personalised messages at the right time for each lead.

Plus, most marketing automation systems include integrated conversion forms and landing pages. Making setup of your lead generation process easier and quicker.

4. Close the sale.

Sales efforts are better focused upon leads that are better educated through marketing.



50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting
The B2B Lead



With marketing automation you can set a stage for each contact. Then progress the stage when they take actions you feel qualifies them better for sales.

Taking a look at your contacts by their stage might highlight backlog of leads at a particular stage. And so an email campaign to move them on, re-engaging them with a new offer could give you a sales boost.

Marketing automation alerts sales teams when a contact reaches a qualified sales stage. Ensuring sales time is more effective.

Conclusion

There are so many things that you can do to generate leads and convert them into customers.

But without a lead generation flow or process it can be hard to make the right decisions about where to invest.

Understanding these steps will help you to focus on what's important. And what needs to happen to be successful.

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