This is a question that we get all the time…

What is lead generation?

In a nutshell, lead generation refers to the process of identifying potential customers for your business’s products or services.

If you’re a sales rep or a founder of a B2B company, you’ll probably have some sort of experience generating leads.

But contrary to what some might think, lead generation isn’t simply about cold-calling, or sending out a bunch of emails. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

In this article, we’ll run you through exactly what lead generation entails, and teach you how to use various lead generation tactics to take your revenue through the roof.

Let’s get started!

What Is Lead Generation?

As mentioned, lead generation refers to the process of identifying potential customers.

While lead generation, by definition, involves using both inbound and outbound tactics to generate leads, most sales reps and marketers find more success with inbound strategies.

If you’re not 100% clear on the difference between inbound and outbound, here’s a quick breakdown:

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Essentially, outbound marketing interrupts your customer’s workflow, and “demands” their attention. On the other hand, inbound marketing draws your customer in to your funnel, and “earns” their attention.

Got it? Great!

Now that you understand what is lead generation, let’s move on to discussing why it’s important.

Why You Should Fine-Tune Your Lead Generation Efforts

Back in the day, lead generation techniques were pretty standard.

Marketers would typically do one of these things:

  • Run a TV commercial
  • Run an advertorial in a magazine, or
  • Buy an email list, and spam the list with promotional offers

Today, the landscape has changed drastically.

The goal is no longer to hit your customers with as many ads as possible. Instead, you’re trying to increase your visibility, so that your customers will come to you.

So, what changed between then and now?

The internet.

Before the internet became easily accessible, consumers experienced a great deal of information scarcity.

But when the internet (and Google) became a thing, information suddenly became abundant.

Fast forward to 2018, and consumers don’t just have information available at their fingertips, they’re also constantly bombarded by brands trying to market to them.

So there’s pressure being applied at both ends: the average consumer’s attention span has shrunk, and they’ve also gotten more selective about what they pay attention to.

Just think about the last time you logged into Facebook, for example.

Did you read every single one of your friends’ status updates while you were scrolling through your newsfeed? Did you pay attention to every sponsored post that you saw?

Probably not.

The same thing applies to consumers, both B2B and B2C. These guys are so sick and tired of getting bombarded by ads evdierywhere they turn, they’re flat out ignoring these ads.

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The same thing goes for print advertising…

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Most consumers say that they see print ads “too frequently”, and automatically ignore them.

So, here’s the bottom line:

Consumers are getting increasingly better at shutting out what they deem “noise”.

Bearing this in mind, simply using outbound techniques to “rent” attention from consumers just won’t cut it anymore - you’ll have to use inbound techniques to “own” your consumers’ attention instead.

The practice of lead generation has been around for quite some time now, but lead generation methods are constantly evolving and getting more advanced.

Don’t want to fall behind? Take a look at these lead generation trends, and consider how you might apply them to your business:

1. Agile Marketing

If you want to do more with less, the answer lies in Agile Marketing.

With Agile Marketing, teams use “sprints” - which are short periods of intensive work - to complete their projects.

Once each sprint is complete, the team measures the success of their project. Using the data on hand, they then tweak their strategies to achieve better results in their next sprint.

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Agile Marketing is all about being flexible, and quick to adapt.

The key principles of Agile Marketing include:

  • Adapting to change instead of blindly following a plan
  • Rapid iterations instead of long drawn out campaigns
  • Testing and data instead of opinion and the status quo
  • Numerous small experiments instead of a few big bets
  • Collaboration instead of silos and hierarchy

A few things to take note of…

While you can decide how long you want each sprint to last, these typically range from two to six weeks. If you’re working on an initiative that doesn’t fit within that time period, then you should break it down into smaller milestones.

Communication is exceptionally important for Agile teams, and one way you can ensure that everyone’s on the same page is to utilize Stand Up Meetings.

The traditional way to do this is to conduct a 10-15 minute meeting in the morning; by having everyone stand up during this meeting, you’re motivated to keep things short and sweet.

That said, you can experiment and see what works best for you. Just make sure you have a meeting agenda planned out, so you can keep everyone on track.

If you’re keen on getting started with Agile Marketing, check out this article on how to create an Agile culture in your company.

2. Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Another lead generation strategy that’s grown immensely popular of late is Account-Based Marketing, also known as ABM.

With ABM, you’re basically taking your sales funnel and turning it on its head.

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Instead of casting a wide net with your marketing campaigns, ABM marketers concentrate their resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts, and take it from there.

Now, ABM requires a lot more account-level personalization than traditional B2B marketing. With this strategy, marketers will definitely have to invest more time into each account that they’re handling.

On the bright side, this personalization brings about a whole host of benefits:

First, personalized campaigns are more likely to resonate with your target audience.

Seeing as you’re serving up content that’s tailored specifically to your lead, there’s a higher chance that said lead will engage with your content, and respond favorably to you.

Also, companies who use ABM strategies typically experience less alignment problems between their sales and marketing teams.

Why is this so?

In companies which utilize traditional B2B strategies, the marketers’ jobs are to generate as many leads as possible, and sales reps are tasked with qualifying and closing these leads.

Both teams are operating on different wavelengths - which leads to a huge distinction in what counts as a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) vs Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).

In companies which use an ABM strategy, on the other hand, marketers no longer adopt the “more is more” mentality.

Instead, they reach out to their key target with a more personalized approach, and throughout all of their interactions, keep the end goal of achieving a sale in mind.

This bridges the gap between marketing and sales, and makes everyone happy.

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And according to statistics, ABM delivers the highest ROI of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic. Pretty impressive, huh?

To learn how to get started with ABM, check out this guide by Wordstream.

3. Chatbots

Take it from us: chatbots are crazy useful.

Media platforms use them to serve their readers daily news reports.

eCommerce stores use them to provide product recommendations for customers.

And marketers can now use them to generate leads!

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Say you have a chatbot on your website. This bot can…

  • Ask your visitors what they’re interested in, and direct them to the relevant section of your website
  • Ask your visitors if they’d like a trial or product demo
  • Ask your visitors what stage of their Buyer’s Journey they’re at (whether they’re still researching options, or if they’re ready to make a purchase)
  • Recommend your visitor a product or pricing plan based on their needs

The sky’s the limit.

At this point, you might be wondering:

Well, what’s the difference between having a chatbot and a live chat function on my site?

Application-wise, they’re more or less the same.

But the difference lies in the execution:

Chatbots are faster, and they can reply multiple people at the same time without breaking a sweat. They’re a lot more cost-effective, too.

Some companies like to install chatbots on their Facebook pages, as well.

If a new lead is checking out your Facebook page and decides to message you, your chatbot can answer their question, and go on to give them more materials, direct them to your website, or prospect them.

Here’s where things get interesting:

Say you have a lead who’s signed up for a free trial, but didn’t convert into a paying user.

Your Facebook chatbot can reach out to them and offer to extend their trial, or offer them a promo code for 10% off.

Sure, you could email your lead with the same offer instead, but consider this:

Facebook Messenger messages have a 286% higher open rate and a 768% higher click-through rate as compared to emails.

With numbers like that, who wouldn’t jump on the chatbot wagon?

Now, marketers and business owners who aren’t techies might feel intimidated at the thought of working with chatbots…

…but the truth is that you don’t need any technical expertise to build your own chatbots.

Just use these free tools to create a chatbot without any coding. While you’re at it, check out this case study of a SaaS company that used a chatbot to grow their lead conversion by 4x.

Lead Generation Challenges

Now that you’re up to speed on what is lead generation marketing, and the latest lead generation marketing trends, let’s take a look at some of the common challenges that marketers face in this realm.

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1. Coming Up With The Right Offer

Top on the list is… coming up with an offer that gets the attention of potential leads.

Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter how charismatic your sales reps are, or how amazing their product knowledge is.

If they’re pushing a product or solution that isn’t relevant or attractive to your lead, then they have zero chance of closing that sale.

Bearing this in mind, make sure you know your target audience like the back of your hand.

Yes, you probably understand the basic demographics of the folks you’re looking to target, including their…

  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Position / title
  • Geographical location

But that’s not enough.

You should also do a deep-dive on your target customers, and learn about their:

  • Day to day tasks
  • Work-related goals
  • Work-related challenges
  • KPIs and metrics
  • Publications and media consumed

In particular, the one area that you’ll want to focus on is your customer’s goals.

Many marketers tend to assume that a customer’s goals maps directly onto their company’s sales goals, but your customer might have one or more secondary goals that they want to achieve as well.

Say Company X has a revenue target of $2,000,000, and the Marketing Director that you’re speaking to is responsible for generating 500 leads to hit this target.

This lead’s primary goal is getting those leads in - there’s no doubt about that.

But once you get to know them better, they might also tell you that they’re having a problem justifying their marketing spend to the CFO, which makes it hard for them to embark on new campaigns and initiatives.

Bingo - you’ve just realized that their secondary goal is to find a way to calculate and report the ROI of their campaigns more effectively.

So work on knowing your target audience inside-out, then use this knowledge to craft an offer that’s relevant and attractive to them.

2. Having Enough People To Generate Leads

Here’s the second most commonly encountered lead generation challenge:

Having enough people to generate leads.

If you’re facing this problem, the solution is simple:

Stop generating leads manually, and start automating the process instead.

Think about it: if you rely on manual methods of generating leads, this means that the number of leads you get each month is limited by your headcount.

Assuming you’re doing fine when it comes to cash flow, then a possible solution is to scale your team and hire more sales reps.

But how fast can you grow? You’re limited by so many factors, including your physical office space, as well as the speed at which your HR can hire and onboard new team members.

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So save yourself from all that trouble, and start automating your lead generation instead.

Don’t worry - we’re not going to tell you to spend thousands of dollars on a pricey lead generation platform or system.

In fact, the tool that we’re recommending (Albacross!) is 100% free to use.

what is lead generation

In a nutshell, Albacross helps you generate leads from the people who visit your website.

How does it work?

First, you’ll have to create an account, which only takes 30 seconds.

Next, paste Albacross’s tracking script to start tracking data about your website visitors.

Then sit back, and wait for Albacross to do its magic. You’ll get regular reports in your inbox detailing who’s visiting your website and how they’re interacting with your site.

Once you’ve determined who you want to reach out to, simply obtain their contact information (provided by Albacross), and have your sales team get in touch.

Again, Albacross is 100% free to use, and its features include:

  • Unlimited visitors and companies
  • Unlimited users
  • Revenue, profit & contact information
  • Visit details page by page
  • Advanced filtering & tagging

To supercharge your lead gen efforts and productivity with Albacross, click here and sign up for an account.

3. Measuring Success Of Lead Generation Efforts

Finally, the third most common challenge that marketers face is measuring the success of their lead gen efforts.

As management expert Peter Drucker says, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

In this section, we’ll give you a quick overview of several key metrics you’ll want to track and optimize.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Your CTA rate basically tells you how compelling your Call To Action (CTA) is. It also gives you an idea of how effectively you’re moving your customers along your funnel.

Here’s the formula to measure CTR:

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Wherever you have a CTA button present, you should be measuring its CTR.

This applies to not just websites and landing pages, but also PPC ads and email campaigns.

Conversion Rate

Your conversion rate tells you how many of your visitors are performing an action such as filling out a form, or making a purchase.

Here’s the formula to measure conversion rate:

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For B2B marketers, here are the most relevant conversion rates:

  • Visitors to lead
  • Leads to opportunity (an “opportunity” refers to a lead who’s passed on to the sales team)
  • Opportunity to close

What counts as a good conversion rate? Well, this depends on what industry you’re in…

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If you need to work on increasing your website’s conversion rate, check out this article by MixBloom.

Time To Conversion

This tells you how long it takes to turn a visitor into a verified lead.

If you’re selling an extremely pricey product or software, for example, a B2B buyer might spend more time trawling through your website before they convert into a lead.

Assuming you have a complex verification or qualification process, this might also lengthen your time to conversion (specifically from visitor to lead).

Here’s the formula for time to conversion:

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By tracking your time to conversion, you’ll be able to predict your sales cycle length more accurately.

This will help you forecast the number of leads you need to generate and have in the pipeline each month, in order to hit your revenue target at the end of the year.

Cost Per Click (CPC) and Cost Per Mile (CPM)

If you’re running any digital campaigns (Facebook ads and Google ads), you’ll have to keep an eye on your relevant costs as well.

If you’re paying for each click that you get, then that’s CPC. If you’re paying per mille (one thousand impressions), then that’s CPM.

Here are the respective formulas:

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All things being equal, the lower your CPC and CPM, the better.

But if one of your campaigns consistently generates leads that go on to convert into customers with high Customer Lifetime Values (CLVs), then that’s a different story.

Since you’re getting more revenue out of these leads, it’s perfectly fine to continue acquiring them even if they have a higher CPC or CPM.

Cost Per Lead

CPC and CPM aside, you should also be tracking your Cost Per Lead.

This is the average amount you spend acquiring a lead, with the formula being:

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Many marketers simply equate the amount they spend on capturing leads to variable costs (such as their Facebook Ads budget), but there are other costs to factor in as well.

In particular, you’ll want to add in your one-time costs (costs spent on creating marketing collaterals such as ebook and white papers), as well as recurring costs (such as costs spent on marketing platforms or tools).

ROI

Last but not least, we have ROI, which is basically the most important metric there is.

Here’s how you calculate ROI:

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All campaigns with a positive ROI are profitable for your company, and those with a negative ROI are unprofitable.

Bearing this in mind, you want to constantly fine-tune your lead gen efforts, and invest more time and money into the strategies with high ROI.

That said, do note that some strategies require a longer timeframe to implement. As such, you might not see positive ROI right off the bat.

Lead Generation Tactics

We’ve discussed what is lead generation, and covered the trends and challenges associated with lead generation as well. Now, let’s take a look at how to do lead generation.

1. Email Marketing

Email marketing might not be as sexy as some of the other tactics on this list, but it’s nevertheless a tried-and-tested tactic that many B2B marketers rely on.

Pros Of Email Marketing

Automated email campaigns are crazy powerful in terms of segmenting and targeting. For example, you can set up your campaigns to target:

  • Leads who have opened your last email, but not clicked on a link within the email
  • Leads who haven’t opened your past 5 emails
  • Leads who are in a certain geographical region
  • Leads who have performed a certain action (eg viewing the Pricing page) on your site
  • Leads who have been on your database for more than 6 months

And the list goes on.

Email marketing is also known to generate the highest ROI:

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You can’t really argue with that!

Cons Of Email Marketing

Now that the GDPR is in full swing, you’ll need to make sure that your leads have given their explicit consent before adding them to your email list.

For example, say your lead fills in a form to download your ebook, and the form says “By downloading this ebook, you consent to joining CompanyName’s mailing list.”

Does this count as consent?

Nope, it doesn’t - because you haven’t actually provided your customer with a choice to say yes or no.

To learn more about email marketing and GDPR, check out this guide by Mailjet.

2. SEO

Search Engine Optimization involves using best practices to increase your search engine rankings (thus bringing you more organic traffic).

Pros Of SEO

Leads generated by SEO are significantly easier to convert into paying users (we’re talking a 14.6% close rate, as compared to print advertising’s 1.7%.)

Also, SEO (when done right) can help you increase your revenue by leaps and bounds. Check out this case study to learn how a small business generated over $96,000 worth of revenue using SEO.

Cons Of SEO

SEO doesn’t give you immediate results - far from it, in fact.

If you start optimizing your website for SEO today, you might only see a noticeable change in your search engine 4-6 months down the road.

3. Social Media

While social media is traditionally dominated by B2C companies, B2B marketers shouldn’t shy away from using social media to generate leads.

At the end of the day, it’s all about offering as many touch points as possible. If your competitor is on Facebook, and you aren’t, guess who loses out?

Pros Of Social Media

By amassing a ton of positive reviews on your social media channels, you can build trust with your leads, and nudge them one step closer to making a purchase.

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Of course, you can showcase testimonials on your website as well, but it’s not quite the same thing. These tend to be more well-polished and vetted, and they don’t have the same “authenticity” as, say, Facebook reviews.

Cons Of Social Media

B2B marketers often struggle to adopt a social media strategy which is professional, but not overly corporate and boring.

If you want to learn how to craft a more engaging social media, check out this guide by Sprout Social.

A Final Word On Lead Generation

Congrats! You’ve made it to the end of this bumper guide, and you should now be crystal-clear about what is lead generation, as well as how does lead generation work.

Your next step is to evaluate the various tactics that we’ve discussed above, and decide which you want to apply to your company.

If you’re looking for a strategy that will get you maximum results with the least amount of time/money invested, definitely start by using Albacross.

After all, if someone makes their way to your website, this means they have some sort of interest in your product or service.

So don’t let these website visitors (and potential leads) churn or bounce from your page.

Instead, capture their information so that you can convert them to paying customers!