What is lead generation? A Strategic Lead Generation Guide

Lead generation is the process of maintaining a healthy funnel, by constant influx of potential customers who really have a chance of becoming a (paying) customer of your company. Let's see how you can do it.

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What is lead generation

What is lead generation?

With lead generation you should think of all activities that are aimed at generating new leads; adding new prospects (potential customers) to your database / CRM and funnel.

Why do you need to do lead generation?

Without an active lead generation plan it can be quite difficult to get in touch with new prospects who are interested in your products and / or services. And you have to hope that potential customers will contact you themselves.

New leads therefore ensure an influx of prospects in what we call a "funnel". Such marketing funnel or sales funnel can be seen as an imaginary funnel.

This funnel visualizes the path that your prospects, your potential customers take before they become customers. Potential customers go through a process and are guided until a conversion takes place in this 'funnel' at the bottom.

marketing-sales-funnel-1

Lead generation vs lead nurturing

Lead generation and lead nurturing are two different phases in such a funnel. 

Lead generation ensures that new leads end up in that funnel (and your database), more specifically at the top of the funnel (TOF, Top Of the Funnel).

Lead nurturing is the next phase in the process: by 'educating' and informing existing leads, they evolve into marketing qualified leads (MOF = Middle Of the Funnel). Some of these will eventually also develop into sales qualified leads (BOF = Bottom Of the Funnel).

By continuously qualifying your leads during this process, you can perfectly check who is ready for a conversation with your sales team. That removes the guesswork for your sales colleagues and ensures more relevant offers for your prospects.

Lead generation is part of a larger strategy: Inbound Marketing

In the meantime, you understand the importance of providing a continuous flow of leads in your marketing funnel. And of course you must have a process, a system to further qualify and inform those leads. These processes together are called Inbound Marketing.

Inbound Marketing is all about building a relationship with your potential customers. You provide them with appealing and relevant information that helps them to make a good purchasing decision. You don't do that by advertising, but by publishing content that attracts them to your website.

In short: you attract visitors to your website, convert them into leads (lead generation!), convert them into customers and then turn them into promoters.

Lead generation and content

Within this Inbound Marketing philosophy, content is very important. With the right content you attract your target group to your website when they are looking for information about a specific question, need or problem that they want to solve. And you send them into your funnel with a corresponding content.

buyer-journey-funnel-tofu-mofu-bofu

What you focus on (lead generation vs lead nurturing) will have a strong influence on the type of content you will offer on your website:

  • Lead generation emphasizes the Top Of the Funnel (TOF). For this you post content that is practical and useful for your buyer persona, the 'ideal buyer' of your product or service. Tips, troubleshooting or answers to frequently asked questions are popular examples of this type of content.

    What you are not (yet) doing here is selling. However, it is important that you offer a next step here that takes visitors a step further into the funnel, on their purchase path: a downloadable ebook, for example. Or a product demo.
  • Lead nurturing shifts the focus to the Middle Of the Funnel (MOF) and Bottom Of the Funnel . Here your content gets a more in-depth and / or more exclusive character, with solutions or expertise that convinces your customers that you are the party to work with. Think of offering case studies, ebooks, demos, handy checklists or free assessments.

    Include that content in your newsletters (your regular mails, but also trigger mails or drip campaigns), where you educate customers about your offer and immediately qualify them.

How do you make a lead generation plan?

If you want to make serious efforts of lead generation, we advise you to make a specific inbound / content plan.

You mainly include Top Of Funnel (TOF) content in your planning, supplemented with useful follow-up steps that further draw visitors into the funnel through strong call-to-actions (CTA). This is possible, for example, with gated content, which is only available to visitors who leave their details.

Specifically, such a content plan can look like this:

  • Within 6 months: Publish 25 blog posts (publish 1 per week), focus on the Top Of the Funnel.
  • Within a few weeks: Publish 1 ebook or checklist, aimed at the Middle Of the Funnel.
  • After 2 months: publish a few case studies, focusing on the Bottom Of the Funnel.
  • After 2 months: Publish 1 tool, such as a calculator, simulator or demo, again focused on the Bottom Of the Funnel.

Depending on the desired mix, you can shift the focus according to your preference from TOF to MOF and BOF content.

Also provide space for optimized landing pages in your planning, because a well-designed landing page significantly increases the chance of conversion!

Also consider a wide distribution of your content (see below!).

Is lead generation only limited to your own website?

The importance of custom content planning for your Inbound Marketing efforts cannot be underlined enough, but besides content and Inbound, there are of course many other tactics that you can use in your hunt for new leads.

For example by also looking up new leads on 'rented land' (= not on your own medium) and addressing them with relevant content and offers, for which they click through to your website.

earned-paid-owned

Popular ways to interact with new audiences or showcase your product in a different way include:

  • Social media: with organic or paid posts on social media platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn, you can easily reach the right audience, which you refer to (a custom landing page on) your website. However, messages and shareable content tailored to the (very) specific target group that you can look up here is a must.
  • Influencer marketing: by benefiting from the reach and authority of influential people, you bring your product or service to the attention in an authentic way. Influencer marketing can be used in various ways, both online and offline.
  • Collabs: Collaboration with other companies can also be a way to promote your brand or product to a new audience. It is important that both companies are a match - by offering complementary services or products, for example.
  • Guest posts: As a guest author writing a blog post on an external website is not only a good way to showcase your expertise to the rest of the world, you also get the opportunity to - directly or indirectly - draw attention to your own brand or product to a new audience.
  • ...etc

It is often also a very good idea to support your content with paid ads SEA. For example on Facebook or LinkedIn...etc

Lead generation tools

Essential for generating new leads is having a good website with a blog (where your leads can inform themselves in a good way), and where you can also capture them (with a landing page and form). Behind this you need a central database for both marketing and sales purposes.

lead generation tools


Why would I search for leads myself if I can also buy them ready-made?

In some industries, it's easy or common to buy leads from a third party rather than generate them yourself. For example, from administrators of websites where you can request 5 different quotes for windows and doors for free as a consumer, simply by leaving your details.

Those leads are offered for sale, with (hefty) rates sometimes applied. So if you manage to get one paying customer out of every 20 leads, you probably paid a penny. And then we don't even count your own time and expenses. Plus, four of your competitors are guaranteed to bombard that same lead with quotes at the same time, because of course you have no exclusive right to leads that you purchase from a third party. Not a nice starting point, right?

Conclusion

If you want a healthy influx of prospects, you have to focus on lead generation. Where you actively recruit leads on your own website. A good website, with content that appeals to your target group, is essential. Also a strategy to follow up on those leads.