We all want to generate more qualified leads for our businesses. But how do we actually do it? For many companies, this is literally a million-dollar question.
This post breaks down how to think about qualified lead generation, which is important because the wrong mentality will cause you to spend enormous amounts of time and money pursuing the wrong goals. I’ve also included effective strategies out there for generating qualified leads.
Here’s what to think about before generating more qualified leads.
The value being delivered.
As much as we would like them to, qualified leads don’t appear out of thin air. They are real people, just like you and me, who find out about your business on the internet. Putting ourselves in their shoes is a critical first step to generating qualified leads.
When was the last time you input your email address into a form field either unprompted or without wanting what was behind the form? I’m guessing the answer is somewhere close to “never.” Many companies do not take the time to determine what value they can deliver to prospects in exchange for an email address. Others do not stop and consider if what they’re offering is actually valuable.
In short, generating a lead happens through a transaction: You give the prospect value; they give you their email address and lead information.
How that value is delivered.
Equally important is how you get that value into the hands of prospects. Creating valuable content is not enough. Plenty of companies write an ebook and throw it behind a form. But again, put yourself in the prospect’s shoes: How often do you stumble upon the perfect ebook or content piece for your needs? I’m betting rarely.
No, you find content through search, social media, links on other relevant sites, ads or via email (whether as part of a newsletter or from someone in your network).
The lesson here is that if you don’t promote the content you create, you may as well not create it. It must be promoted to current contacts in your database to better qualify them. And, if you want new leads, it must be promoted to people not yet in that database.
This means practically that, unless you have a large audience who will share your content, you must earn or pay for an audience. Otherwise, you’ll continue to see low levels of qualified leads come in, and the reason is simple: Nobody knows you exist.
How to generate more qualified leads.
Now that we have a solid foundation to frame lead generation, let’s look at several effective strategies you can use to generate more qualified leads.
1. Get your online house in order.
Most websites are not optimized as well as they could be to move users through a marketing and sales funnel. In short, you’re likely leaving tons of leads on the table because people don’t know what to do when they arrive at your site.
Volumes have been written about UX design. But the quick and dirty way to immediately increase lead generation on your site comes from asking yourself the following questions:
- Is it immediately apparent where new and return visitors click to download content? If it isn’t crystal clear the moment your page loads, the page could be better optimized. The value you’re offering in exchange for an email address should stand front and center.
- Is it immediately apparent where new and return visitors click to consume blog content and other content marketing assets? If visitors can’t determine the location of content that answers their questions and resolves their pain points, there is little reason to create this content.
- Is it immediately apparent what the next step is for a visitor on every page? Don’t lead your visitors into the deep dark woods and then leave them there. Every single page on the site must have a next step: whether that’s a download, second conversion, redirect to ungated content, redirect to a product or testimonial page, etc. Make it so easy that your grandmother could easily figure it out.
If any of the above take more than a second to figure out, you can optimize them better. Being ruthless, relentless and uncompromising on this first step is the single greatest immediate win you can achieve.
2. Create the content you want to consume.
Too many companies believe that they can create any type of content—even self-promotional content—and put it behind a form to generate qualified leads. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When was the last time you Googled a term or clicked on a Facebook link that promoted a product you didn’t care about, or a topic in which you had no interest?
The same holds true for lead generation, no matter what industry you’re in. Your content should be relentlessly buyer-focused. Here’s a great way to brainstorm a winning topic: Pick a challenge buyers face that your company’s experts can help solve. Write a comprehensive resource about the solution and give it away in exchange for lead information. If you provide enough value, prospects will be overjoyed to exchange such information for the resource.
If necessary, go direct to the source. Ask your buyers about their top three pain points. Ask enough of them, and the same topics will crop up again and again. Start with those topics.
3. Promote content where your audience actually lives.
Without promotion, content may as well not exist. In fact, some experts argue for an 80/20 approach to content creation and promotion: 80% of your efforts should be spent promoting content; 20% should be spent creating it.
But how do you promote content? Which channels do you push it out on?
To put it simply, not everyone needs a Google+ page. Or an Instagram account. And you don’t always need to catch up with the Joneses on Pinterest. Every single online community and social network is priceless or useless, depending on your audience.
This seems like an obvious point, right? You wouldn’t attend an air show to market a social media app designed for people afraid of heights. But too many businesses act this way when confronted with online channels. Each and every online community and platform caters to one or more specific audiences. But many businesses use a “spray and pray” approach that pushes their content out on every single channel they can find. Naturally, this leads to poor results. Why would two completely different audiences on two completely different channels find any value in a piece of content designed for neither audience?
In fact, the opposite approach to lead generation is needed. You must research deeply and actually test many platforms to determine the handful where your audience actually lives, works, plays and engages. It’s not easy, but it’s the only way to consistently build an engaged, qualified audience that is actually interested in your product or service, either now or in the future.
The rest is just noise.
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