“We need more leads.”
Isn’t it funny how four simple words strung together this way can be the phrase of nightmares for in-house marketers? That’s because it often represents the schism often found between marketing and sales: sales wants more leads, and marketing wants sales to have a better close rate. Sound familiar?
This all-too-common issue comes from the lack of an effective lead generation strategy. In many cases, marketing has a difficult time identifying leads to hand over to sales. They try a variety of tactics – trade shows, referrals, traditional advertising, online advertising, etc. – and end up with a list of leads that they aren’t really sure are even all that qualified to begin with.
Marketing then passes this list over to the sales reps, who see their close rates take a nosedive because the leads either aren’t sales-ready, or aren’t the right fit. That’s when your sales team turns to you and says those (not so sweet) words, “We need more leads.”
What’s a marketer to do? Just pump even more leads through your process? That may help in the short term, but it isn’t a sustainable long-term solution. If you’d like to craft a lead generation strategy that actually works, it all starts with your website.
An Effective Lead Generation Strategy Begins with Your Website
If your company’s website is essentially just a static, online brochure, you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to generate qualified leads. That’s because 94% of B2B buyers research online before making a purchase decision (or contacting you) and the same goes for over 80% of B2C shoppers.
When your website is static – if you aren’t adding new content to it on a regular basis – it is going to be really hard (near impossible) for these potential leads to find you online. And even if they do, if your website lacks conversion paths and funnels, it isn’t looking too likely that you will convert these people into leads.
The basic model for using your website to generate more leads is all about content. Think of your website as a car (for some of you, that car may look like this, but you wish it looked like this). So content – things like blog posts, case studies, videos, images, eBooks, whitepapers, etc. – is the fuel that allows you to drive that car. It helps you get from point A to point B (where you are now to your goal).
You use content to attract people to your website via search engines and social media (blogs work great here). You use content to convert these people into leads by having them submit a form to access it (eBooks, here). You even use content to nurture that lead through the sales cycle (whitepapers and case studies).
This type of lead generation strategy helps you in three ways:
- Quantity – By positioning your company to rank well in organic searches, more people will find your website. And, the more people who find your website, the more leads you’ll convert (assuming you do it right, of course!)
- Quality – When you get a new lead via your website, you have the opportunity to learn valuable information about them. Things like their budget, challenges, role at their company, and even what pages they viewed can all be factored into qualifying a lead. You can set up a process that only sends qualified leads to the sales team
- Data – Another benefit of the lead data you can record will be experienced in the sales process. Rather than having a rep give John Smith a call or email out of the blue and give some generic sales pitch, your sales team can now craft their messages based on who these leads are, and the data you have on them.
To expand on that last point – let’s say you work for a home remodeling company, and you pass two qualified leads to your sales rep. Your rep sees that one lead, Bob, has been viewing your website pages that talk about bathroom remodeling. The other lead, Susan, has spent quite a bit of time looking at your testimonials of clients who had their kitchen redone.
This type of information allows the sales rep to reach out to Bob and Susan as individuals, with messaging crafted for them based on that data. Here, Bob could receive an email with some before-and-after images of some bathroom projects your company completed, while Susan could receive information on kitchen remodeling timelines and pricing. Having custom, tailored messaging can do wonders for a sales rep’s close rate.
How to Get Started
Shifting to an online-based lead generation strategy can sound daunting. Many marketers are concerned about where to start, the cost involved, and what degree of ROI they can expect. For that, I have good news and bad news. Bad news first, right?
The bad news is that if you are looking for something that is super quick and easy, this type of lead generation isn’t for you.
The good news? If you are looking to drastically improve your lead generation, help your sales team close more leads, and be seen as a marketing rockstar, this is the strategy you’ve been looking for.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Invest in a CRM – having the right tools for the job is key. For a CRM that helps you automate your marketing, track your leads’ behaviour, and see great analytics and data, we often recommend SharpSpring.
- Do your research – Conduct interviews and research to identify who your ideal audience is for your website, and how you can best communicate with them. This is called persona development.
- Identify some keywords – SEO is so much more than just keywords, but knowing what words and phrases your audience uses will help you create content that people can actually find in search engines
- Create content – Blogging, white papers, ebooks, social media posts, videos, infographics…you get it. Create content that helps people, and use it bring them through a marketing and sales funnel
- Look for a partner – Since crafting a scalable and effective lead gen strategy takes a lot of time and energy, many in-house marketers seek out agencies to partner with. Sometimes, this means you bring them in and have them create the strategy while you implement it, and other times, the agency handles it all. It just depends on your unique situation.
And there you have it. A beginner’s guide to online lead generation strategy. Any questions? I’d love to hear them and connect with you in the comments below!