Lead Generation: Not As Hard As You Think
Summary – Discover why lead generation isn’t as difficult as you think and how to up your marketing game with new tools in this article by TechInformed.
Lead generation can be a demanding process for marketers; finding and converting prospects takes time, good content and a well thought out strategy. Yet, data from HubSpot shows lead gen budgets will increase in 2023, meaning the competition over your customers is set to rise further.
If you’re looking to get ahead in lead generation, this is the article for you. In this blog, we discuss marketing to qualified leads in depth and examine which type of lead generation is best for your business. We also consider what strategy you’d need to conduct in order to streamline your lead generation process as best as possible. Read on to learn more about outbound and inbound lead generation, and discover new ways to engage qualified leads with clever marketing strategies.
What is lead generation and why is it important?
Lead generation is the process of gaining customer interest in a product or service in the hopes of increasing future sales. The process doesn’t necessarily have to involve converting interested prospects into active customers – rather, simply making them aware of your brand and interested in learning more.
Lead generation is a hugely important part of the sales funnel. It’s the first step to making sales, generating revenue and enabling company growth – but it’s also becoming more important as a strategic objective for firms, too.
According to the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) latest report on B2B Marketing Trends, 71% of B2B content marketers say inbound lead generation is more important than last year. As the global economic landscape shifts, companies can no longer rely on debt-fuelled growth and are turning to revenue-generating tools like lead generation to survive.
However, there are a few different approaches to lead generation, so understanding which strategy is more appropriate and effective for your business is vital. Choosing the right tools to engage and attract prospects is crucial to generating quality leads with high purchase intent and the budget to match.
For example, the same report from the CMI found 80% of marketers use inbound lead generation and content marketing to create brand awareness, 75% to build credibility/trust and 70% to educate their audience. But, outbound lead generation techniques still very much have their place. In the next section, we explore the two main strategies within lead generation and what they each offer.
What’s the difference between inbound and outbound lead generation?
When marketing to qualified leads, you have two main options: inbound or outbound lead generation. The direction here, ‘inbound’ vs ‘outbound’, refers to who contacts who.
In inbound lead generation, qualified leads contact you after consuming a piece of content you’ve shared or after being referred by someone they know. By contrast, in outbound lead generation, marketers proactively reach out to potential leads using direct contact. The difference between outbound vs inbound lead generation becomes clearer when you look at specific methods of each and what resources they use:
Outbound lead generation strategies use channels like:
- Traditional advertising on television, radio, print media, etc.
- Trade shows and seminars.
- Cold calling.
These outbound lead gen tactics can be a great way to connect with customers directly and give a human touch to your lead gen process. Unfortunately, they may also be difficult to maintain if your organisation is smaller, since in-person events and cold calling in particular can be labour-intensive tasks.
On the other hand, inbound lead generation strategies use methods like:
- Content marketing (blogging, podcasting, etc.).
- Search engine optimisation.
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns.
Inbound methods are typically easier to scale because they rely on digital platforms. However, your organisation may lack some of the expertise necessary (like SEO skills) to utilise them effectively.
Whether you choose to utilise inbound or outbound lead generation (or a touch of both), you’ll likely come across a few key terms:
- MQL, SQL and PQL
These acronyms stand for ‘marketing’, ‘sales’ and ‘product qualified lead’ respectively. Each refers to which channel a particular lead came from and helps you understand their needs. For instance, PQLs will likely already be using your product or service and are open to upselling opportunities. Conversely, MQLs need more information and support ahead of making a purchase. Finally, SQLs sits somewhere in between; more than interested in your product but not quite ready to buy yet.
- CTA and landing page
The ‘call to action’ and the website page you link to – these are vital ingredients in any lead generation strategy since they help transition website users from reading your blog to potential prospects learning about the good or service you offer.
- Convert and conversion rate
This is the act of and the rate at which you turn prospects into active customers. Note that the responsibility for doing so and maximising this KPI may lie more with your sales team depending on how big your organisation is.
- Lifecycle and sales funnel
These concepts refer to the length of time a customer spends as an active buyer from your business and the stages of the sales process. When combined, they can help you develop a customised marketing strategy to maximise revenues by moving customers along the sales funnel and maintaining brand buy-in effectively.
How to start marketing to qualified leads?
Now that we’ve established the basics of lead generation, we can now look at how all it fits together in a comprehensive lead generation strategy. Here’s a quick guide to improving your lead generation strategy:
Based on your own experience and the above definitions/examples, you probably already have an idea of which lead generation strategy is best for your business.
Outbound lead gen methods can be great at quickly building brand awareness – particularly mass advertising channels, like television and radio, as they’re able to reach lots of people quickly. However, they can’t support an entire lead generation strategy. For example, in-person events like trade shows can be expensive to attend, and cold calling can come off as an aggressive marketing tactic, so the ROI on these channels is less reliable.
On the other hand, inbound methods make your brand more visible to people already looking for the goods/services you offer and educate them on why your product or service is superior at the same time. As a result, inbound lead generation can help you foster higher purchasing intent and attract higher quality leads. However, inbound lead generation requires a more targeted approach- this is because you’re not broadcasting a core brand message to as wide an audience, so you need to have keen digital skills.
In all likelihood, a mixed approach that borrows from both strategies is probably best for your organisation. This hybrid style allows you to create niche content to move customers along the sales funnel effectively while simultaneously building a strong brand presence via in-person events and mass advertising techniques.
The next step is to segment your marketing activity to generate the three lead types mentioned above: MQLs, SQLs and PQLs. You should aim to build a lead generation strategy that attracts MQLs, turns them into SQLs using niche content (discussed in more detail below), and then find ways to upsell to your existing customers who make up your PQLs.
For example, lead gen channels like trade shows and targeted advertising can be a great way to generate MQLs, while cold calling and effective account management can help you identify high quality PQLs. If done well, you should be able to establish a pipeline of leads from across your business that offers a reliable revenue stream and long-term growth opportunities.
Regardless of whether you opt for inbound or outbound lead generation channels, always make sure to talk about your customer’s problems first and foremost. Maintaining this focus in your lead generation strategy is essential since it’ll help customers understand which companies understand their needs the best. Customers are looking to find solutions to business problems, like operating more efficiently and lowering outgoings, and will readily ignore content that fails to tap into these challenges.
Aim to create content centred around why your product or service is the best on the market at what it does. For example, feature updates, industry awards and ‘how to’ guides can help customers become more confident in your brand and how you deliver a cohesive solution to their problems. You can learn more about creating this type of content in our guide: Customer-Centric Content Marketing.
Our final tip is to leverage modern tools and techniques to streamline your lead generation strategy using digital software and trending content mediums.
For example, you can use cloud-enabled CRM platforms to manage leads more efficiently. Similarly, analytics tools offer ways to share targeted adverts more accurately. You can also partner with leading voices in your industry to feature your product or service to their audience (similar to influencer marketing), or experiment with new content mediums, like short-form videos and site direct advertising to reach your target audience more effectively.
We believe in this tip so much, we’ve even written a whole ebook about the power of AI marketing, so if you’re eager to save time and bring in more qualified leads, check it out.
Start marketing to qualified leads with ease
Lead generation is set to become more important in the months ahead as the economic outlook changes, but, with a clear strategy and defined approach, lead generation can be a more manageable part of your operations.
By blending inbound and outbound lead generation strategies and using the latest content creation tools, you can begin marketing to high-quality leads and establishing a revenue pipeline that generates new and exciting growth opportunities for your organisation.
We offer Lead Generation and Sponsorship packages to up-and-coming brands through a variety of flexible advertising packages. We can support the entire content creation process and provide everything from standard MQLs, SQL, and HQLs via advertising banners, sponsored email, interviews, articles, and more.
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