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Most marketing and sales organizations thrive on identifying new business opportunities and generating leads. I often wonder if the marketing industry celebrates customer retention nearly to the degree it should. But the reality is leads, prospects and new customers are one of the key priorities for most marketing organizations.
In a recent study we conducted among marketers, customer acquisition and lead generation were cited as the number-one priority for marketers. So what are the best and most proven lead generation techniques that marketers are using?
Many marketers aren’t at the top of a prospect’s mind. While this doesn’t hold true for all brands, many prospects are more engaged with the category as a whole, versus a specific brand. Don’t get me wrong; some brand affinity does exist, but people generally describe their need on a category level first, e.g., “I need a new pair of shoes” or “How do I improve my social media effectiveness?”
As online marketing has grown, there are two differing schools of thought on lead generation. One lead generation technique is focused on helping prospects find you or your website. The other lead generation technique is targeting and reaching out directly to your prospects. This article will discuss these two different lead generation techniques, and how each can be applied to marketing situations.
Get them to your website via content marketing
The goal in this approach is to get the prospects to your site—what I informally call the “right place, at the right time with the right message,” aka “the back-door approach.” This strategy relies on content marketing to be in the right place at the right time. Through keyword analytics, a set of words are determined and content is developed. This process has a few key steps:
• Content is developed around these words. Content initially focuses on blog articles and web page content, but quickly evolves to more robust information in the form of ebooks, white papers and infographics.
• The content is then promoted through search and social media. For extremely competitive keywords, paid search is typically utilized as a mechanism to jump-start the initiative.
• Content links to more content. In other words, the first visit is meant to serve as a gateway to expanding content, education and information.
So does this approach really work? According to HubSpot, companies that blog 20 times per month get five times more traffic than those that blog less than four times per month. Our most recent experience actually generated an increase of inbound visits 10-fold to a website.
It isn’t enough to just drive website traffic. The goal is to convert the visitors to a lead. Here are 2 lead generation techniques that we leverage:
1. Incorporate calls-to-action in articles
Rather than leaving each article with a strong conclusion and “thanks for reading,” incorporate a call-to-action that leads the reader to other relevant information. The key is to ensure the call-to-action is reader-centric. It should benefit the reader, and not be something that is self-serving in any way. Provide the reader with a mechanism to learn more about the topic, with a drive to an ebook, white paper or other related blog articles.
2. Convert visitors with on-site offers and lead forms to capture information
Leverage strong calls-to-action and lead forms within landing pages. It’s important to give reasons for prospects to provide information. You’ll need to provide enticing information and compelling landing page copy with clear calls-to-action to ensure leads complete forms. Furthermore, ensure every aspect of the landing page follows best practices. You have only seconds to capture someone’s attention, so every word counts. Ensure the page is riddled with reasons to act and optimizes for every possible best practice.
Target defined groups via direct mail
Very often marketers can’t wait for prospects to find them, so they need to complement their marketing efforts with outbound targeted efforts. Direct mail is still an effective channel and a proven lead generation technique. According to the DMA, direct mail response rates are actually remaining steady.
Direct mail is a proven lead generation technique. It is most successful for marketers who have a defined audience and a group of past buyers to target. Targeting is the largest contributing factor that determines the success or failure of most direct mail campaigns.
Predictive modeling improves performance of direct mail campaigns. To create a predictive model, you need a group of current customers or past buyers that can be utilized. There are several other factors that can influence response. Check out our ebook on factors that influence direct mail response rates for more information.
Email is one of the most effective channels to marry inbound with outbound marketing, especially for lead nurturing, but we don’t recommend it for cold prospecting and it has not proven to be an effective lead generation technique. Check out our article on emailing cold acquisition lists for more details.
I have presented two completely different lead generation techniques, both viable, depending on your business circumstances. In truth, most marketers will find some combination of inbound and outbound marketing will yield the best results. Check out our infographic on how the two work together to create a comprehensive prospect and lead experience.
To learn about how to evolve your content marketing for lead generation, download our ebook, which offers tips for developing an effective content strategy in 90 days.