BUSINESS OWNERS GUIDE TO LEAD GENERATION
As a business owner, you know that standing still is a good way to get run over. You know that success in the business world means constantly striving to do things better, and you know that growing your sales means seeking out new leads wherever and whenever you can.
If you own your own business, you know the importance of generating new leads, but just what is lead generation and why is it so important? Lead generation involves much more than cold calling potential customers, and in the 21st century business owners have more tools at their disposal than ever before. That is good news for the enterprising business owner, and good news for their profits as well.
WHAT IS LEAD GENERATION?
In its simplest form, lead generation involves capturing the interest of potential customers, creating excitement about the products and services the company offers. In addition, successful lead generation requires the ability to identify the most promising prospects, and the ability to groom those prospects.
Essentially, the process of lead generation involves turning prospective buyers into lifelong customers, and that is easier said than done. In order to be successful at lead generation, business owners need a strong set of skills, including perseverance, deep knowledge of demographics and customer profiles and the ability to connect with prospective customers on a truly personal level.
HOW ARE LEADS GENERATED?
The world of business has changed enormously, and with it the process of lead generation. It was not that long ago that the vast majority of leads were gathered either face to face, through networking events and trade shows, or over the phone, through blind cold calling or lists of purchased prospects.
Over the years, the process of gathering and nurturing leads has changed markedly, and today much of the lead generation takes place online. Business owners use email marketing to reach out to prospective customers, gathering email addresses, purchasing lists and seeking out demographic profiles of the ideal customer.
Business owners use their knowledge to find the most promising leads. They incorporate signup forms into their websites, blogs and social media platforms. They seek out the highest quality information they can, using it to find the most promising leads and making the most of the leads they are able to gather.
In some ways, the process of lead generation is more complicated and far-reaching than ever before, but in other ways lead generation has become simpler and more effective. The huge abundance of readily available information has changed lead generation forever, and largely for the better. In particular, the availability of demographic information and the ease of analytics has made it easier than ever for business owners to identify their ideal customer.
The vast amount of information available today has also created a brand new phenomenon – the self-directed buyer. Today’s buyers do not wait around to be told what they want; they know what they want, and they actively seek it.
This has created both challenges and opportunities for business owners. In some ways, the emergence of the self-directed customer has made lead generation easier, as prospective buyers find the company website, fill out the signup form and learn about the products and services.
In other ways, this new kind of customer has made lead generation more challenging. If the website is not mobile friendly, if the search engine algorithms cannot identify the specific niche and if the wrong keywords are used, those self-directed customers may never find the website, let alone fill out the signup form.
HOW CAN BUSINESS OWNERS TRACK THEIR LEADS?
The lead generation process is an important one for every business owner, but simply generating leads is not enough. Generating those leads is only the beginning of the process, and there is still a long way to go.
If you want to be successful as a business owner and a marketer, you need to track those leads carefully. That means taking a dedicated and comprehensive approach to lead tracking, using the many metrics that are available to the modern business owner.
Did you know, on average, businesses spend $92 to attract a lead to their website and only $1 to convert said lead.
Business owners have never had access to more information, or more customer details, than they do today. Tools like Google Analytics draw in vast amounts of information, analysing that data and putting it into a useful form. This kind of high-level analytics would have been impossible for business owners just a few years ago, but advances in computer technology have made it easier than ever before.
Of course not all of those lead tracking activities take place online. Follow-up phone calls are still an important part of the lead tracking process, and business owners should not abandon time-tested tactics in favour of a completely technical approach. In the end, lead generation and tracking is about building relationships, and many of those relationships take place outside the Internet.
The process of lead tracking ad generation also requires careful attention to detail, including determining which outreach methods and communication channels are providing the best and most consistent results. Tracking lead generation metrics has always been important, and its importance has not diminished in the Internet age.
One of the most important metrics in lead generation is marketing as a percentage of contribution to the sales pipeline. This metric involves tracking the percentage of sales pipeline opportunities that originate from various marketing efforts.
The percentage that marketing contributes to closed revenue is another critical metric, and one that business owners need to track carefully. This metric involves carefully tracking the percentage of company revenue that comes from ongoing and one-time marketing efforts.
DRIVING LEADS ONLINE
As previously stated, the importance of online lead generation has risen markedly in recent years. A few decades ago, the number of leads generated online was negligible. Those were the early days of the Internet, when the enterprise was largely a technical endeavour. Then came the commercial Internet, and the world of marketing was changed forever.
In the 21st century, a large percentage of lead generation and tracking takes place online, and much of the analysis is now automated. Tools like Google Ads allow business owners to strategically target their marketing, adjusting their approaches to reach potential customers in various demographic and purchasing categories.
At the same time, PPC marketing allows business owners to make the most of their limited marketing dollars, increasing their return on investment and helping to generate more leads. This results-driven approach to lead generation and marketing has the potential to lower costs, improve performance and enhance the effectiveness of the sales team.
Social media marketing is a relatively new phenomenon, but one that has enormous potential for the savvy business owner. Just as businesses in general were slow to spot the commercial potential of the original Internet, some business owners were slow to realise the potential of Internet 2.0.
When social media sites like Facebook and Twitter first came online, many business owners dismissed them as a waste of time, but some firms understood the potential that their competitors ignored. Today, social media marketing is an integral part of the lead generation process, and one that no business owner can afford to ignore.
TYPES OF AUDIENCES
When it comes to lead generation and tracking, knowing the audience has always been critically important, but it is even more essential today. Luckily, the ability to know one’s audience has never been easier, and there are plenty of demographic tracking programs and algorithms available.
Smart business owners understand how important it is to identify their ideal customers, and how knowledge of their audiences can drive sales and create new marketing opportunities. There are a number of approaches to customer identification, starting with analysing current customers and extrapolating that information to generate more and higher quality leads.
There are a number of ways to analyse those vast stores of information, including customised algorithms that look for similarities in customer data and generate a demographic profile of the ideal customer. By identifying the ideal customer, those powerful algorithms allow business owners to precisely target a much larger audience, resulting in better leads, higher quality prospects and ultimately more sales.
THE SECRET FORMULA
There is no one right approach to generating and tracking leads. Instead of an overarching secret formula, there is a combination of separate but interrelated techniques.
Relying on one technique alone is unlikely to generate real results, but taking a combination approach can vastly improve the process. By starting small and developing a winning formula, business owners can carefully weigh their results, determining what works and what does not work for their own firms.
Armed with this information, business owners can carefully scale up their lead generation and tracking efforts. Over time, what started off as a small seed continues to grow, allowing smart business owners to scale up to dizzying, and highly profitable, heights.