Whether you’re a startup or an established business looking for new customers, generating leads can seem like an insurmountable challenge. There are, however, some tried and tested formulas for you to follow —you just need the right tools and strategies in place! In this post, we’ll look at tactics and tools for both inbound and outbound lead generation, so that you can start with confidence.
- Ideal Customer Profile
- Identifying Key Channels
- Mapping the Journey
- Lead Generation Tactics
- Optimising for Search Engines
- Landing Pages
- Email Marketing
- Cold Outreach
This is where a good lead generation campaign begins. In this stage, we decide who to target, ascertain the best channels to reach them and then map out the sales journey.
Know your audience
Before we can set about building inbound and outbound lead generation campaigns, we need to know exactly who we’re targeting. Having a clearly defined ideal customer profile, or buyer persona will help immeasurably with what comes next.
Buyer personas are a fictional representation of your typical customer. They are a composite of information about the demographics, psychographics, and behaviors of actual customers.
These details help you understand how to communicate with your target audience as well as provide insight into things like messaging tone and imagery selection.
Go in-depth with our customer profile blog or simply think on these points before we progress to the next step.
- Who are you selling to? What is the demographic of your audience?
- What do they want to buy? What is their pain point or problem that needs solving?
- How are they going to buy it? This is where we get into the psychology of why people buy from a certain type of business versus another type of business. A certain type of marketing message might work better for one group but not another so make sure that when designing your lead generation campaign that you keep these things in mind!
Identify key marketing channels
With an ideal customer profile or persona in place, we can begin to identify which channels are best placed to reach individuals who match that persona.
The most common channels are:
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Content marketing (blogs, video)
- Cold outreach (cold emails, cold calls)
- Paid advertising (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, other ad networks)
- Events (conferences, meetups, round tables)
Of course, these categories are broad and will need some extra thought to match channels with personas – you may not want to market your B2B SaaS product on TikTok, where LinkedIn would be more appropriate!
Think about where you customer congregate, which channels they consume content on and what setting they’re in when they consume this. Your B2B customer may well use TikTok, but the chances are that they’re not thinking about work while they do so. As with all sales and marketing, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the customer.
Map the journey
A good lead generation strategy does not silo marketing channels and have them act independently. It’s better to think of lead gen holistically, as a process involving multiple channels at different stages of the process. This process is often referred to as a funnel.
The most commonly known funnel is AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action:
You may have also heard of TOFU, MOFU and BOFU (top of funnel, middle of funnel, bottom of funnel) – it’s a slight variation but the framework is the same.
Funnels are simply a tool that help you plan and visualise the sales journey. Think about your ideal customer again – in fact, think about the last big purchase that you made. It’s likely that you encountered, or sought out, various media in your journey from awareness to purchase.
Let’s say your last purchase was a car. The likelihood is that you didn’t see a TV ad for a new car and call up to buy it right away. Perhaps you saw the TV ad (Awareness) and then headed to Google to learn a little more about it, look at some of the colour options and read reviews (Interest & Desire). Then, you’re hit with some retargeting ads from the manufacturer. Now, when you browse Instagram of an evening with a glass of wine you’re seeing ads for this beautiful car of your dreams as you scroll (Interest & Desire). This builds desire until the point at which you pull the trigger and go and buy the car (Action).
Perhaps for your business this looks more like showing someone a Google ad (Awareness), getting them to read some content (Interest), having them sign up to a mailing list and drip-feeding them content (Desire) to push to conversion (Action).
When you’re creating your campaign, think about where in the funnel each piece of marketing or outreach sits and consider whether it is moving people along the journey and closer to that all important conversion.
Lead Generation Tactics
You’ve prepped your prep, you know who your ideal customer is, where to find them and what the sales journey looks like. Now it’s time to dive into some of the tactics you can use along that journey to maximise your impact.
One of the cornerstones of lead generation, is content. Whether it’s SEO-driven to bring organic traffic to a website, videos or blogs designed to be shared on social media or landing pages for users coming from ads or cold outreach – good content is paramount. Let’s look at some of the primary uses for content within a lead generation strategy.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. SEO content is written, or filmed, with the eventual purpose of driving organic traffic from search engines. In this scenario a prospective lead types in a search term and your blog appears. That may even be how you found this article! If you’re interested in lead generation, it stands to reason that you may be interested in an email-finding tool like Lix. So, I wrote this blog, on a topic that I know very well, with a view to attracting search traffic and hopefully converting some readers into users of my product whilst providing value to all readers.
That last part is crucial – providing value. Readers are not silly and can spot a thinly-veiled advertising a mile away. Poorly-written content that does not provide value will very rarely convince anyone to convert.
Thinking back to our funnel, SEO content can appear anywhere along the journey. Usually, the person searching will have some awareness – so it tends to skew towards MOFU and BOFU – but often people will search for something that they hope exists, without knowing it if does or not! In this instance, your search result would be fulfilling the awareness part of the AIDA framework. To use my company as an example again, this is something we see often. One of the terms we’re often found for is “can I export data from LinkedIn?”. Our goal is to be at the top of Google saying – yes, yes you can!
Creating Lead Generating Content
If you completed part one of this guide and created your ideal customer profile, this is a great jump-off point for planning your content. It’s all about create content that addresses the needs of your desired persona. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of tools available online that can help you find relevant subject matter, such as BuzzSumo or Ahrefs.
Once you have identified a topic, it’s time to get creative! Thinking about the placement of your content (blog, socials, ads) will help you to decide how to create it. For social media, perhaps video will work better than written content. Perhaps it’s a combination of both. Remember that your goal is to provide value with this content – so choosing the medium best suited for your chosen platform is important, because we can’t provide value if it isn’t consumed!
Optimising for search engines
Not au-fait with SEO? Here are some tips (for an in-depth look, read this).
- Use keywords. Keyword research is an important part of SEO, because it helps you find the words and phrases that people are searching for online. You can use a keyword tool like Google’s Keyword Planner or Moz’s Keyword Explorer to find relevant keywords for your business. Use the most popular ones in your content, and include variations on those words as well (like adding an apostrophe at the end of a word).
- Make sure your content is relevant to your target audience. Remember: Your readers want answers—not more questions! So make sure that every piece of content you publish answers one question instead of leaving readers confused about what they should do next or where else they could find information on their topic of interest.
- Use a variety of sources when finding relevant keywords using tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to see how people are searching for information related to what matters most within their lives right now–and then tailor those results accordingly by targeting existing interests with new articles published weekly/monthly depending on how quickly knowledge changes over time (e-newsletters) or special reports published once per quarter/year depending upon when there might be some cause-and effect relationships between different topics evolving over time within society at large (newspaper articles).
I’ve separated landing pages from blogs and social media content because they serve a slightly different purpose. They may be used to educated and inform, in the way that a blog would – but their primary purpose is some form of conversion. Whether that’s booking in a call, requesting a brochure, signing up for a mailing list… Landing pages exist to convert.
Your landing page needs to look the part and give the user a clear idea of what they can expect from your company. Here are some quick tips for landing page (for a more in-depth guide, read this).
- Make sure your landing page is clear and concise.
- Use graphics on the page that help explain what you do, but don’t overwhelm or distract from the main message
- A strong call-to-action should be included in every section of your site. Your call-to-action will be different depending on who you’re targeting, so ask yourself: “What do I want them to do right now?” If you’re trying to sell them something specific like an ebook or webinar, then it might say “Buy Now!” If they’re just learning more about your company before purchasing anything at all, then maybe something else like “Get Started” would be better suited for those situations instead
I’ve separated marketing emails from cold emails, because they serve a different purpose. A cold email will always be TOFU – top of the funnel. It’s there to create awareness and deliver the initial touchpoint. Email marketing is more effective when used to nurture leads. If prospective lead has signed up to receive emails from you, use email marketing to send your leads content that is relevant to them to build interest and create desire over time. Pushing them along the sales journey to the point of Action (conversion).
If marketing emails are a key part of your lead generation funnel, I would advise opting for a planned drip campaign (a set order of emails delivered at predetermined intervals) designed to move customers along the funnel. Simply adding them to your business’ mailing list may yield results eventually, but it won’t be nearly as effective.
When building a drip campaign, think about the mental journey a prospect takes before making a final decision. This could involve pre-empting common objections. It could be providing testimonials or case-studies to help them relate to using your product. This will be largely specific to you and your company, but this is a great guide to help you get started.
When it comes to creating awareness, especially in B2B, a cold email can cut through the noise and reach an intended prospect faster than many other methods. Cold email does get a bad rep, but that primarily due (in my opinion) to people not utilising this medium correctly.
Here are some quick tips for cold emailing – but I also wrote the Complete Guide to Cold Email, if you really want to master the art!
Cold Email Quickfire Guide
Here’s my guide to cold emailing in 2 minutes or less:
Keep your sentences short and sweet, with no more than five sentences in the entire body of your email. The goal here is to communicate only what’s necessary while avoiding unnecessary information that may confuse or clutter up your email.
Remember to write clearly! A lot of people write emails on a smartphone or tablet, so good spelling and grammar are essential when you’re writing an email on one of these devices. Don’t send out an email with any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors—it makes readers think less of both you and your company.
Personalise where possible. Make sure the recipient understands why this email is relevant to them. If you’re emailing a short list, then look into that individual and tie your email to an event, or their experience. Finding a way to relate will cut through the noise. If it’s a larger list, be sure to explain why someone doing their job, with their problem (which you understand) will benefit from what you’re selling.
Show your credentials. Give them a reason to listen to you. Strong credentials are a great way to cut through the noise of a busy inbox. Referencing clients you’ve helped that your prospect will know and respect is a great option. Otherwise perhaps use a qualification, or thought leadership pieces that you feature on… Know your audience and think about what will demonstrate your trustworthiness to them.
By following the guide above, you can generate more leads and grow your business. Remember that it’s important not to get too caught up in the numbers game as you first start out. Instead, focus on creating a quality product or service that you’re proud of and providing value for your customers at every stage of the buyer journey (from awareness through conversion).