Lead Generation

What is lead generation?

Lead generation describes the marketing process of stimulating and recording the interest of a visitor in a service/product in order to further develop the sales pipeline.

In today's marketing, lead generation has become a popular strategy to create demand and to spread your marketing messages through multiple channels. Lead generation helps your company create brand awareness, build relationships, generate qualified leads and ultimately close the deal!

Through a variety of lead generation strategies, a company can obtain contact details of potential customers and then maintain and convert them into customers. Lead generation is important for all companies, whether B2B, B2C, financial services, healthcare, or automotive.

What is a lead?

To build your lead generation, you need to start with the basics. Generally speaking, a lead is a potential new customer who is interested in a business relationship with you or articulates this interest in some way directly or indirectly (e.g. by downloading product documentation). In inbound marketing, a person is referred to as a lead after a new customer registration or after establishing contact. Thus, if a potential customer has expressed his interest in a service or a non-binding purchase intention by entering his contact data online and sending it, he becomes a lead. In doing so, the customer voluntarily leaves his or her contact data with the respective company.

Lead generation is one of the most important areas in the recruitment of new customers in both online marketing and conventional outbound marketing.

However, the definition of a good lead is usually not the same for sales and marketing. How do you create an agreement? The success of lead generation depends on whether sales and marketing reach an agreement. The magic word for this is Sales and Marketing Alignment.

B2B Lead Generation - Where are the Special Features?

Companies with a focus on the B2B sector, which are active in high-growth industries and want to be successful in the digitally saturated market, or want to grow faster than the competition, are dependent on the constant generation of new leads for their products and services.

However, lead generation, i.e. the acquisition of leads and new customers, is a complex process that poses a permanent challenge to all those responsible in marketing and sales.

The generation of high-quality leads ("qualified leads") is a fundamental task for winning new customers in every company. More and more companies are dealing with the topic of lead generation in order to establish new contacts. They are of fundamental importance for success, which is not least reflected in the budgets for lead generation for sales and marketing, which have been growing for years.

In order to establish new contacts and win customers in the long term, it is important to avoid the conservative way of cold calling and in the best case to rely on the modern marketing strategy "inbound marketing". In this way, they obtain high-quality address lists as well as a strategic and industry-oriented approach to new customers, which is based on the customer and thus does not just steer the interaction in one right direction.

Why is lead generation important?

By generating qualitative leads for sales, you make their job easier and turn leads into revenue faster.

Just because someone has downloaded your whitepaper doesn't mean they want to talk to someone in sales. You don't want to waste your sales resources by cold calling a list of unqualified leads. You should quickly realize that cold calling no longer works in this day and age of information overload for lead generation! You want your sales force to spend their time and resources on selling and closing deals, not on calling a list of cold leads.

Lead generation can help your sales force spend more time closing deals and selling, rather than administrative tasks, because you hand over these warm, qualified leads! In fact, studies have revealed that companies with mature lead generation strategies have higher sales productivity and even higher sales growth.

Mature companies thus generate 133% more revenue than planned. In addition, salespeople in such companies spend 73% of their time selling instead of dealing with administrative tasks, driving to training courses or other activities. In non-mature companies, salespeople spend only 57% of their time selling.

By generating more leads for your sales force, you not only help the company grow, but also ensure marketing credibility! You will no longer be seen as a cost center but as a viable part of the sales team!

How has lead generation changed?

Thanks to new online and social marketing techniques, traditional lead generation has changed significantly in recent years. In particular, the wealth of information available on the Internet has led to the rise of the "self-directed buyer" and thus created new ways of developing and qualifying potential customers before they are passed on to sales.

In the age of the "self-directed buyer", marketers need to find new ways of acquiring leads to reach the potential customer in the stream of all the information on the Internet. Instead of finding the customer through mass advertising and email bombs, a significant shift in lead generation must now be made. Marketers must focus on being found on the Internet and building long-term relationships with customers.

This change in the buyer has triggered an extreme transformation in marketing.

With the rise of the Internet, we have left behind the world of information scarcity and entered the world of information wealth! The problem, however, is that information abundance goes hand in hand with attention shortages. This has changed the buying process permanently and the process of lead generation was born. With so much information available, customers have learned to ignore what they don't want to hear. Now the important information is sought independently.


Lead generation methods

How to generate leads?

There are numerous methods for lead generation. Behind each method of lead generation lies its own unspoken philosophy of how to attract people to a company. For example, anyone who relies on buying completely unknown leads as addresses or email addresses from special providers has to live with the fact that he or she will end up like a cold-calling to unsuspecting people.

Methods of lead generation that target unknown people who have not expressed any interest of their own accord are part of outbound marketing. In contrast, methods that focus on establishing personal contact with people and help where the interests and challenges (painpoints) of this particular person lie are called inbound marketing. Here you will find an overview of the most important methods of lead generation from both camps - outbound marketing and inbound marketing.


Inbound marketing methods for lead generation

Help your potential customers find your company - often before they are even ready to buy - then turn this early awareness into brand presence and ultimately into leads and sales.

The days when a marketer could only rely on outbound techniques such as trade shows, cold calls and ads to generate leads are history. Today the buyer is in control! Because of self-education, it is now your job as a marketer to find the path through the information on the Internet that leads leads to you. To be a successful marketer in today's world, you need to have a solid understanding of inbound marketing to significantly improve your lead generation.

How do you do this best?

For a successful lead generation, you need to offer an interesting mix of informative and entertaining content to build a binding relationship with your target audience. You need to distribute this information through the right channels. So make sure you know where your target group spends time. Below you can read a little about the common tactics of inbound lead generation.


Lead generation through content marketing and SEO

Your content is the basis for your inbound marketing efforts.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is a marketing technique to create and distribute relevant and valuable content to attract a clearly defined target group - with the goal of conducting profitable customer promotions.

See content as the fuel for all your marketing campaigns, from email to social media. Create high-quality content to gain the trust of your potential buyers.

Since search engines equate quality content with a quality website, it is more important to create content with value. Perform a content audit to find out which content category your content belongs in.

Thought Leader Content or Advertiser? Many companies are jumping on this content bandwagon right now, but do it right: quality over quantity. Focus on delivering useful, not advertising content!

Once you've created a good mix of quality content, including a good visual presentation, you can start targeting the social media channels. The more exposure you get, the more attention Google will give to your content, and that in turn will help you move up in the SERPS. Google also searches for backlinks in its ranking. The more informative your content is, the more likely people will link to your site.


Lead generation through your own website

Here your visitors have to be converted to leads. The key is to optimize your website to convert visitors into leads, whether it is by newsletter subscription, filling out a form, or similar.

Therefore pay attention to usability, intelligent forms, CTA's, layout, design, and content.


Lead generation through the blog

The blog is the ideal place to generate trust among visitors and is ideally suited for lead generation. Visitors can access your blog from anywhere on the Internet, so it must be search engine optimized. Remember that someone who reads something on the blog does not want to register immediately for a demo or similar, so use CTA's that ask the visitor to subscribe to the newsletter or follow you on the social media channels.

A well-managed blog will generate a "hunger for more" among your visitors, so they will definitely come back and take a look at the rest of your website.

So use your blog as a gateway to convert visitors to leads!


Lead generation in social media channels

The increasing popularity of social media channels has to do with the wealth of information on the net. Through social networks, buyers can obtain information about products and services through colleagues or influencers. Furthermore, there has been a profound change in social media channels. Although social media channels are still important for branding and buzz generation, lead generation is becoming more and more important.

By posting regularly on all social media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, you can be where your potential customers are and build trust!


Outbound marketing methods for lead generation

Although inbound marketing gets a lot of buzz at the moment, you should rely on a balanced marketing mix consisting of inbound and outbound marketing strategies. Inbound creates broad lead generation opportunities for you and outbound is perfect for strengthening your inbound efforts.

But what exactly is outbound marketing?

Outbound marketing uses outbound channels to bring your content and messages to your target groups, usually through "bought attention".

In many cases, outbound techniques are used to get someone who doesn't know your business to think about it. Outbound communication is very targeted. Benefit from a CTA that catches the eye. When visitors are already close to making a purchase decision, outbound marketing can guide them through the funnel faster. Inbound alone often does not make someone buy! Outbound, on the other hand, gives them the extra push to continue the lead in the funnel.

Combining inbound and outbound can multiply the number of your website views, increase the number of your blog posts, and dramatically increase the number of potential buyers reading your content! Since your mix is probably different from ours, you should definitely include a healthy mix of the following outbound tactics in your lead generation strategy.

Outdoor lead generation

Raffle: The "classic" is the new car presented at the station, which can be won by those who hand in their completed participation card. Personal promotion: Everyone knows the stands in pedestrian zones where the staff addresses passers-by in order to attract potential customers.

Lead generation with email marketing

Email marketing is a cornerstone and a key component of any marketing campaign. An email should be one of your main forms of communication, whether you are hosting an event, promoting a new service, bringing new content to people, or just keeping in touch with customers.

Email marketing is the most widely used lead generation tactic and, after Marketing Sherpa, the most effective. By promoting your content this way, you can reach people who haven't even been looking for it.


Lead generation through the placement of ads

Display ads are very much oriented towards demographic actions and behaviour. You can choose where your ads will appear. Choose a location where you know your leads will be or use retargeting ads by giving a cookie to every lead that visits your site.

If you use retargeting ads, a lead that has been given a cookie will see ads from you when they visit other websites. Online ads allow you to reach more people in your audience, educate potential leads, and then convert them.

For lead generation through ad placement, use ads in every section of your funnel. Top of funnel: Brand awareness and visibility; mid-of-funnel: Education and decision support; bottom-of-funnel: conversion.


Telephone lead generation

Cold acquisition: Highly frequented and strictly prescribed scheme service hotlines are well suited to generate leads for an additional, less complex topic. This is also referred to as Interruption Marketing or Outbound Marketing. The customer is disturbed in his approach and associated with non-adapted products.


Lead Generation with the Sales Development Reps

Sales Development Reps (SDRs), also known as Inside Sales or Lead Qualification Reps focus on one thing: Reviewing, contacting, qualifying marketing qualified leads, and forwarding them to the Sales Account Executive. Simply put, they are the link between marketing and sales.

But why do you need such a thing?

You want to make sure that every lead that marketing passes on to sales is as qualified as possible?

For optimal lead generation, SDRs should help each lead to deliver this valuable content, make a positive impression, create future demand, and become a trusted advisor.


The new Sales Funnel

In the old world of information scarcity, "lead generation" meant that the task of marketing was to find potential buyers at an early stage of the Buyers Journey and then hand them over directly to sales. Buyers expected to be informed by the sales force and the sales force, conversely, expected to talk to uninformed and unqualified buyers who were travelling in the early stages of the buyer's journey.

Today, educational resources are easy to find thanks to search engines, social media channels and other resources. This means that buyers can now find out about a wide range of products/services in advance, without even having to exchange a word with the sales department.

Digital presence is more important than ever before! Decision Makers and Influencers will find you sooner than you will! Buyers will probably only seek contact after they have mastered 2/3 of the Buyer's Journey and make it so difficult for sales to influence the buyer's decision significantly.

Fortunately, a solid and mature lead generation strategy will help you build trust and maintain interest during the customer's self-building process before they are ready to contact sales.

Understand the sales funnel of your leads

Top of the funnel in Lead Generation

A person who is in this buying phase is at the beginning of your sales and marketing funnel. He is aware of your services and products but not yet ready to buy them. You should make marketing offers available to these potential customers for self-education.

Name: This indexes an individual person who has entered your name and has thus slipped into your database. However, names are only names, not leads. Names are not engaged by your company, just because you left a business card, for example, does not make them leads.

Engage: We do not act for names until they have had a meaningful interaction with us or our website. Engagede people know that you are in our databases and expect us to send them an email and communicate with them from time to time.

Target: Once a person is engaged, we use the Lead Score to determine if that person is a qualified and potential customer who meets our demographic and behavioral criteria.

Middle of the funnel in Lead Generation

A person is in this lead generation stage after they have shown buying behavior, are interested in your content, and are a potential sales lead. The offers you provide to a person in this step of the Buyers Journey are still educational in nature but should be related to your service/product.

Lead: At this stage of lead generation, a person actually becomes a lead. If the lead scoring is high enough, get in personal contact with this person. After this person has spoken to the sales department, he officially becomes a sales lead. If he is not yet ready to buy, he will be downgraded and maintained.

Sales Lead: The salesperson has seven days to register a sale, on the other hand, the lead is downgraded to a Marketing Qualified Lead and further maintained.

Bottom of the funnel in Lead Generation

In this part of the funnel, your lead is ready to become a customer. The products for these leads are specific to a product/service.

Opportunity: Leads in this part of the Buyers Journey are "accepted" by Sales and are supported by them.

Customer: Those leads that actually made a purchase.

What is a qualified lead?

In the context of lead generation, a qualified lead is usually a lead that begins to show interest in buying.

The terms MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) and SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) primarily describe the degree of qualification of a prospective customer. The degree of qualification is determined by two components: grading and scoring. Whereas grading describes the scope of formal information about the person and company, scoring describes the level of interest. This is derived from the behaviour of the user, for example from the reactions to an e-mailing (example: which topic was clicked on how often?). If the scoring and grading of an MQL reaches a previously defined minimum value, it increases in its qualification level to an SQL.