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What is Lead Generation?

August 22, 2018
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So, what is lead generation and why is it important? “Generating leads, duh” might be your first thought. You wouldn’t be wrong. It seems pretty self-evident.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Or even most of it. Sure, the most basic endgame of lead generation is to generate leads (duh), but there are layers of complexity that become apparent once you start digging into it. This sentiment rings doubly true when talking about lead generation in the field of digital marketing.

First, we need to give lead generation a better definition than ‘generating leads’. Lead generation is the act of attracting relevant visitors to your site or social page who then give you their information in exchange for something from you.

Let’s unpack this a bit further. This article is going to answer the question, “What is lead generation” so you can have a better idea of how it affects your overall digital marketing strategy.

‘Attracting Relevant Visitors’

Easy. Part of all digital marketing efforts. Get people to your site who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Attracting a quality lead can be done in a number of different ways. Whether it’s done through content marketing, a blog post, or through social media, the main job of a marketer who is working on lead generation marketing is to entice their target audience to come to their site.

‘Give You Their Information’

This can be anything from just an email to filling out a full-fledged application. The information you’re asking your potential customer for entirely depends on what the end goal of your offering is. We have clients who run Lead Gen marketing campaigns to build out their email marketing campaigns with the goal of converting each prospective customer into purchasers down the road.

Related: Why Awareness Is an Important Step in the Buyer’s Journey

We also have some higher-education clients who want their visitors to submit an application to become a student. (This is a much bigger ask than ‘Enter your email for XX!”, and you need to adjust your messaging accordingly.)

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‘In Exchange For Something From You’

Here’s where we see the most variety from client to client. Every lead gen campaign’s end goal is to affect the company’s bottom line one way or another, but the emphasis is on how we get to that point. A big chunk of our lead gen clients are looking to capture visitors email addresses and put them into their email sales funnel, usually offering one of a few things in exchange. This is called a lead magnet.

  • Downloadable – could be anything from cutting-edge industry-specific research, a few new recipes, or even some printable in-store coupons.
  • Special offer – similar to the in-store coupons, but a promo-code or discount more focused toward e-commerce sales than in-store.
  • Application follow-up – a little different than the first two examples, but this is the core focus of many of our higher-education clients. Students submit an application to be apart of X institution and in exchange, they expect follow-up from you. A discovery call, an email, an in-person interview, whatever. In general, you’re asking people to invest several thousands of dollars in you to help them advance in whatever field you specialize in. This should be the case for all leads, but be sure to tread these leads like gold.

There it is. ‘Lead Generation’ in a nutshell. It’d be unfair to you to leave it just there – I haven’t quite told the whole story.

You know what inbound lead generation is, but now it’s time to talk about how to market for lead generation and in turn, get high-quality leads to your site.

The way that you communicate to your target audience has to be inherently different than the way you communicate for e-commerce. Remember, it’s not as black-and-white as asking someone to give you money in exchange for a product. I think it requires a bit more finesse. It can be surprising how unwilling people can be to give up their personal information versus spending their money on a product or service, especially in this day and age.

Related: How to Deliver Value at Every Stage of the Customer Journey

You need to clearly state exactly what your visitors will receive in exchange for their information at the point of lead conversion. Dress it up a little to make it interesting, but don’t sacrifice quality of communication to be more flashy. Each qualified lead is trusting you with their personal information – do not trivialize that.

What your marketing team does with your qualified leads is entirely up to you and your business, but it’s important that you understand the full picture of what a new lead can mean to your business and set up a B2B lead scoring system before you start an inbound lead generation campaign. Treat each potential client with respect, and they’ll treat you with respect back. One of the biggest mistakes that I see is when a company treats a new lead like it’s just a number in a database. People are very sensitive when it comes to being sold, and being genuine always wins.

Do you have any experience with running lead generation campaigns? Have any questions for me? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

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