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The two most effective lead generation techniques

Posted by Sheera Eby on April 3, 2014

There are a number of different techniques that generate hand raisers and leads for your products and services. These techniques span a multitude of online and offline channels. Most people are familiar with the sales funnel concept: that prospects and customers are moved through a number of stages based on their readiness to buy. Another common framework is the AIDA, where the process starts with generating awareness and interest.



The reality is that not all prospects move through the stages at the same rate, and in today’s world, with the available technology, very few people move through any process linearly. So in today’s complex communications world, what are the most effective lead generation techniques? For the purposes of this article, I’m going to use lead interchangeably with hand raisers. Additionally, I’ll be using a lead to represent anyone who actively provides contact information, such as an email address, as well as a user who completes a lead or any online form. Leads will also be used to designate any group that has been identified through a targeting approach such as predictive modeling.


The two techniques that rise to the surface as the most effective are as opposite as night and day. One technique is push and the other pull. The pull technique is inbound marketing and is predicated on being in the right place at the right time. The push technique focuses on outbound communications and targets the most likely prospects. We’ll do a quick rundown of each describing the pros and cons, as well as how the optimal marketing strategy encompasses a mix of both techniques.



Pull lead generation techniques.

Content or inbound marketing is proven to be one of the most effective strategies for improving your company’s website ranking and converting those visitors to leads. Tactics such as digital banner ads and search engine marketing can be drivers in creating web traffic. What makes content marketing the most effective pull-based lead generation technique is its ability to do more than just drive traffic to your website? When utilized correctly, content marketing can cohesively drive traffic to your site and transform that traffic into bonafide leads.


So how does this work? Content marketing includes ebooks, downloads, blog articles, checklists, videos and web pages. The core of an effective content-driven lead generation strategy is analytically keyword-driven blog articles. Blog articles drive people to your site, in an engaging and educational format. Simple web pages that simply deliver streamlined copy, equating to 200-300 words, aren’t necessarily large, positive contributors to search engine optimization and therefore aren’t used as an effective lead generation technique.


Once a visitor is on your site, landing pages with lead forms are utilized to capture critical contact information. The key is to ensure the call-to-action is reader-centric and based on some type of offer. Provide the reader with a mechanism to learn more about the topic, with a drive to an ebook, a webinar, demo or other opportunities to learn more about what drove them to you in the first place. The fundamental driver in ensuring effectiveness of this lead generation technique includes:

1. Providing an offer.
2. Ensuring relevancy to how they got to this page.
3. Capturing data. Just putting up a “contact us” page on your website doesn’t count as a lead generation technique.


Don’t give any information, outside of blog articles, away for free. Ensure users provide an email address to gain access to information and downloads. This gate is critical and a key to ensuring your website is transformed into an effective lead generation tool. Furthermore, apply direct marketing best practices. End each blog article with a call-to-action. Incorporate a call-to-action that leads the reader to other relevant content or to whatever next step is desired.

This summarizes how content marketing can serve as an effective pull-based lead generation technique. Now let’s explore how outbound marketing works for lead generation.



Outbound marketing might sound old school but it works.

Outbound marketing is predicated on targeting potential prospects with targeted and relevant communications. Direct mail is the most effective lead generation technique for engaging with a prospect universe. It is a tried-and-true ice breaker, but typically doesn’t work on its own. Like its inbound counterparts, it requires follow-up and ongoing nurturing for those who don’t convert on the first touch point. Direct mail can provide necessary information to engage a colder, or less qualified prospect and drive them into the sales funnel to learn more.


Email is one of the most common, most effective and most efficient communication channels. Email, however, is not an effective lead generation technique and should be reserved for lead nurturing and customer marketing. Once a relationship is established, email is a solid ongoing communications approach.

Cold emails to acquisition lists for prospecting are typically weak performers (click here to check out my article on why you shouldn’t email for acquisition). While, according to the DMA, direct mail response rates remain steady. The key to ensuring direct mail is an effective lead generation technique is to apply direct marketing best practices. Targeting must be in place. Mail to those who have the greatest likelihood to respond. Don’t fall prey to mass mailing approaches; this is a lead generation technique doomed for failure. To learn more about direct mail best practices, check out my blog article 10 best practices for direct mail. 

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Direct Response Marketing

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