You’ve probably seen hundreds of articles on the Internet about how to generate leads. Everywhere you look, there are articles about lead generation, focusing on how to get the most leads, the most quality leads, and best inbound lead generation tactics, just to name a few.
About Lead Generation
But for those new to business ownership or marketing, what is lead generation? In the simplest terms possible, lead generation refers to the process in which you gain new customers, new clients, and new business opportunities.
This still may sound a little overwhelming, especially since experts often contend that there is no tried and true method of generating leads. Yet, at the same time, your business depends on generating leads in order to make sales.
Let’s take a look at lead generation in the simplest of terms, from what it means, to how it’s achieved.
What Are Leads?
Let’s start at the very beginning: What is a lead? A “lead” is any person or entity who is interested in your goods or services.
In theory, every living person could be considered a lead, because they could eventually make a purchase from your business. However, you don’t want to spend your time and marketing budget trying to sell to every living person, especially if you’re just starting your business and your time and money are in short supply.
Instead, you want to target your marketing to your niche audience. You’ve probably heard that advice worded a thousand different ways, but it’s very true.
While anybody in the whole wide world could potentially purchase your product or services, you’ll probably have a greater chance of selling to someone who is actively interested in or searching for what you provide. Your audience members are better leads, because they are more likely prospective customers. If you want to learn more about how to find your perfect target audience, have a look at this article.
Not All Leads Are Created Equally
As people start showing interest in your business, they become leads, but as you can see, not all leads are created equally.
Some are strong leads, while others are weak leads. Someone who clicked once on a banner ad but hasn’t been back is a weak lead. Someone who has read and shared your blog on social media, as well as signed up for your newsletter is a much stronger lead.
If you’re selling fish tank supplies, for example, would your marketing dollars best be used on a Super Bowl ad, or by running ads on forums related to fish care, or networking at aquarium conventions?
Paying close attention to your leads and lead generation can help you guide your marketing strategy towards profit and a higher return on investment (ROI) than simply throwing money at everything and hoping it works.
So How Does Lead Generation Happen?
Lead generation is the process through which leads learn about your business and become interested in what you have to offer.
You may be wondering how you’re supposed to generate leads and identify your target market. A myriad of strategic “hows” and “what ifs” might be parading through your mind right now.
These are all very important questions and steps in the process, so let’s take a moment to simplify them a bit.
Lead generation is actually a part of everything you’re doing to market your business. There are two main types of lead generation: Inbound and Outbound.
Outbound Lead Generation
Outbound lead generation is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term: cold calling name after name to tell them about your business, sweating your way through sales pitch after sales pitch.
And while that’s certainly an option, this isn’t your only possible strategy for generating leads.
Pay-per-click advertising, for example through Google Ads or Microsoft Ads, is a form of outbound lead generation. Purchasing email lists is a form of outbound lead generation. In today’s day and age, actually making phone calls is less the standard, and more of an exception primarily used in Business to Business (B2B) connections.
Another example of outbound lead generation is Solo Ads.
Inbound Lead Generation
Most of your lead generation will be inbound generation. You’re probably already working on this without even realizing it.
Do you have social media accounts for your business? Are you working on search engine optimization (SEO) with carefully selected keywords so that those who are searching for your product or service can discover your business? What about your content? Do you have a blog, a web page, landing page or webinar available to share more details with people about your business?
These are all forms of lead generation that don’t require you knocking on every single door on the planet, hoping for your sales pitch to work.
What Are the Benefits of Lead Generation?
Interestingly enough, some forms of inbound, or passive, lead generation will help you gain insight into your target audience, which will help you create a more directed marketing plan.
Sure, you want to leave the door open for everyone, but stronger leads will have a better chance of conversion. Stronger leads will be more engaged with your product and the sales process.
By paying attention to who shares and likes your social media posts, who regularly interacts with your blog, and where your ads are getting the most attention, you can learn more about who your target audience is, and what they’re looking for. This in turn enables you to create even more targeted ads.
Even better, customers who relate deeply to your brand, product, or service are more likely to become lifelong customers.
Brand loyalty is something all businesses aspire to one day achieve, and exploring your target market through lead generation will help you establish a more emotional connection with your prospective customers.
Lead generation may feel very complicated, because there are many moving parts involved with the process.
However, if you focus on questions such as “who is going to react to this marketing” and “why are they reacting to this campaign”, you’ll be able to qualify your strongest leads, which will lead you to more insight and greater opportunities in generating more and more leads to keep your brand thriving.