Lead generation is a necessary function for any business that needs to grow. In today’s world that’s essentially every business. The reality is, there are a ton of opinions surrounding the different strategies and options for lead generation. You can utilize intrusive strategies and buy a list of e-mails, phone numbers, or addresses that “seem” to fit your ideal customer profile. You can go door-to-door and personally solicit the customers you want to call on. You can spend lots of money on mass marketing tactics and “push” the benefits of your company. OR you can position yourself as a thought leader and expert in your industry, engage in active discussions and have folks calling your sales reps directly for help! That lead generation strategy is called inbound marketing. And with the exponential growth of social media, it’s quickly becoming one of the best and most cost effective ways to generate qualified leads!
Here’s why. Intrusive strategies like the ones mentioned above typically involve your most talented and high performing sales reps “dialing and smiling.” They’re calling folks they “suspect” are good prospects… and they are spending lots of time working to get that first appointment, whether that be over the phone or in person. That approach sucks valuable time out of your sales reps, time that could be spent better using their talents… like building relationships, solving business problems and actively converting prospects to customers.
It’s true… your business must work hard to generate a strong pool of leads, and only then can you identify them as prospects and then convert them to customers. But having your most talented salesperson on the front line generating those leads is often not the best way to utilize their talents OR your investment in them. That’s like having a brain surgeon check in patients for surgery or like having the engineer who designs cars sell them too. Not that the brain surgeon couldn’t do the administrative work, or that the engineer couldn’t sell a car… it’s just that their talents better serve their patient and company they work for when they’re working in way that best utilizes their skills and those natural talents!
How is your company doing at creating a lead-generating machine that feeds “qualified” prospects to your sales team? How effective are you at getting prospects to raise their hand and say, “I’m interested in your products or services and I want to learn more.”?
Do you feel you have a solid inbound marketing strategy and a platform to disseminate information, spur discussion, offer insight, share opinions, and build a data base of qualified leads? Do you have an effective blog, and how often are you publishing?
Here is an 9 Step Lead Generation Audit you can take to see how you are doing:
- Begin with the end in mind. Do you have a well thought out plan? Is it in writing, and have you shared it with everyone who plays a role in your lead generation strategy? Does it clearly articulate the objectives and goals of your inbound marketing strategy? The best plans have both short term and long term objectives/goals defined.
- Just like a traditional marketing strategy, have you clearly defined the target or persona to whom you'll be writing? It’s essential that you know exactly who you are trying to help “find” your company. Know what kind of information they’re looking for and how can you help them… then write about it.
- Have you identified the important key words that need to be optimized? This will help your company “get found” by the folks specifically looking for help/insight in the areas your company serves. Then make certain that each blog post contains those key words. They should be in the title, in the article and in the tags.
- Have you created a path for potential customers to “find you” and promote your blog posts (not your blog) on relevant social media sites? That means promoting the messages or information within your blog. Do you regularly use sources like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. as a vehicle to drive folks to your blog to get insight and information?
- Do you create useful information for your prospects to download? This should be easily identified as “great information” as it needs to warrant someone giving their name and email in exchange for the download. Don’t get caught up in “I don’t want to give out any information for free." Be smart about it, but make certain it’s useful. This is how you build your data base of qualified leads.
- Have you built nurturing campaigns to develop a relationship with your leads so you can get to know them better? This is the beginning of a two-way relationship. Make sure to only send them information that they’ve expressed interest in AND respect their privacy. Never share their information!
- Are you incorporating a call to action in at least two-thirds of all your posts? That does not necessarily mean asking them to call you for an appointment; it could simply mean asking them to join the discussion, click for more information, give their opinion, share your post in their social network, or share their experiences.
- How often do you stop and analyze the data to see if your strategy is working? That means you need to make certain you have a means to capture the valuable analytics. This is important so you can see which articles are getting the most attention (and which ones aren’t), what topics are drawing in the most readers or creating most discussion, etc. If you’re looking for a system to provide easy analysis, we recommend HubSpot. Their software can help you turn your lead generation system into a well-oiled machine!
- Are you converting leads to customers? Have you created special offers or incentives to help convert prospects to customers? Are you handing-off your qualified prospects (those that are raising their hand asking for more information) to your talented sales reps so they begin to work on converting them to customers?
Once you have completed this 9 Step Audit, you will have a better idea of where your company is regarding lead generation. By implementing the ideas expressed above, you will begin to see significant improvements in your lead generation efforts. If it seem like it’s too much to do at one time, I recommend focusing on just one area and really put your effort behind it so that you can see improvement.
Regardless, if you don’t currently have an inbound marketing strategy you should seriously consider creating one, even if it is to support your current traditional marketing strategies. Your prospects and customers are online (right now) looking for information, insight, expert opinion, and personal experience about the product, service or solution your company offers. And if they’re looking for answers/solutions that your company can provide, you better make sure they can find you before your competition finds them!