What is Lead Generation? A Beginner’s Guide

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Most people have a passing knowledge of what a business lead is, but what is lead generation? Given the importance of leads, a passing knowledge of both of these important topics isn’t enough. Lead generation strategies can make or break a business in today’s competitive digital warfare between businesses. Without a solid understanding of both of these concepts, you’re going to lose out on business you didn’t even know existed in the first place.

A lead is another word for a prospect. It’s a person who has mildly shown interest in what you have to offer. Maybe it’s a person who read one of your articles and is considering coming back to read another one. Maybe it’s someone who saw a sweater they liked on your eCommerce site, added it to the cart, and then for some inexplicable reason left to another website. Both of these people are important to your business even if they haven’t made the second action yet (reading or buying). Lead generation is what you do to make sure that these two people come back and use your business for what they need. It’s how you capture those prospects and make them customers.

What is Lead Generation

The Beginning: Who is your Lead?

A lead is a person. When you understand this basic fact, you increase your chances of converting that person into a customer. In fact, a good way to describe leads is to define it as a “curious person.” When the person first encounters your content or products, they’re just a person who’s curious about your business and what it has to offer. They’re not a customer yet. It’s what you do between the first engagement and the end game that will determine if this person slips away and never returns or becomes a long-time follower of your business.

Naturally, you want to generate as many leads as possible. They’re absolutely everywhere online right now. A quick look at global internet user statistics reveals that there are almost as many Internet users in the North America as there are people, and other countries are gaining Internet users at an explosive rate. It’s great news for businesses that are seeking leads for their products, services, or content. The people are there. Now how do you gain the attention of these leads (people)?

Answering the What is Lead Generation Question

That’s the short list of what you need to focus on, but nothing in online marketing is ever as simple as a 1-2-3 solution.

A simple way to look at generating leads is to look at is for what it is: digital marketing. You’re doing what all businesses do. You’re trying to turn that curious person into a full-time consumer of what your business has for sale or offer. Let’s look at a 5 important ways that you can successfully generate new leads and turn them into customers. All of these strategies have to do with your main mission online: to be visible. Leads can only be interested in something that’s visible and appealing to them. Here’s are 5 important things you’ll need to master in order to generate more leads:

  • Content marketing
  • Social media posts
  • Paid ad campaigns
  • Guest blogging
  • Email marketing
  • Watch the competition
  • Call-to-action

That’s the short list of what you need to focus on, but nothing in online marketing is ever as simple as a 1-2-3 solution. If it was, most of the millions of pages of content on the Internet about marketing wouldn’t exist in the first place. This is complicated stuff, but it can be mastered with the right attitude and research.

Developing a Sound Strategy that Generates New Leads

Looking at leads

Content Marketing

Your content will almost always be your number one asset online. Even if you sell a physical product, it’s your online content that drives people to the pages listing those products. You can never be visible to leads until you really master the art of content marketing. That’s much easier said than done. A great start is to look at the content that’s hot right now. What are people reading? Are they searching for in major search engines? What keywords are buzzing right now in your industry? Tailor the content to those hotspots of subjects; use them as leverage to bring in new visitors (otherwise known as leads). SEO is how you bring leads in.

Check out this guide: 10 Keys to Great Landing Pages

Quality content and active social media presence are the two things that convert those leads to sales or new followers. With leads, the game plan is to seek, find, and convince. Your content is what convinces them you have a product they want.

generating new leads

Social Media Posts

If your business doesn’t have a strong social media presence, you’re like a baseball player trying to swing and hit a home run without a bat. And how silly would that look or be? Very! Social media is by far your number one area to focus on in terms of interacting with a live audience that wants to actually give you feedback and discuss the things you post about. They follow you voluntarily, and you have tight control over what is posted on your business website. It’s the ideal environment to attract new leads and then convert potential leads who might be keeping up out of curiosity about your content.

using lead magnets

Paid Ad Campaigns

Strategies like PPC advertising still have a place online, although they are now less popular than organic search and intentional content strategies. Even established businesses take out paid ad campaigns, and when they are expertly targeted toward the right audience, they can be one of the most successful ways to get the attention of true blue leads.

Keep in mind that every person on earth isn’t a lead. Just because someone searches for “baseball” doesn’t mean they’re looking for a “baseball jersey” to buy. Your paid ad campaigns aren’t as simple as slapping a PPC text or banner ad up. You have to carefully make sure that your ads will show up only to the people who are going to click because they’re really interested in what you have. When executed properly, a paid PPC or banner ad campaign can really pay off and generate new leads.

Guest Blogging

If you’ve got an established online business then chances are you have enough web presence to do employ a guest blogging strategy to generate leads. Guest blogging does a few important things for your business. First off, it establishes you as a voice for what you’re selling or communicating. You come across as someone who has something so important to say that another company asked you to say it on their turf. It just looks good. Sometimes people will allow guest blogging via sponsored content, but when it’s done organically, it looks better. If you see invitations for guest blogging on another website, take those chances if it fits in closely with your business. Those links on the other website are backlinks, and they can increase search engine popularity, send referrals your way, and turn into big time lead conversions.

content upgrades

Email Marketing

As long as there’s an Internet, there will be people who use secure emails to communicate with each other.

Billions of people use email. It’s not a thing of the past. It’s a thing of the past, present, and future. As long as there’s an Internet, there will be people who use secure emails to communicate with each other. Email marketing is a great way to generate new leads. You can start a colorful, interesting newsletter and market that way, or you can reach out to customers who might have added an item to cart and then not purchased. A lot of businesses do that these days, and it’s a chance to remind the customer, hey, at one time you were interested in this product. Did you just forget? If done tastefully, email marketing is still one of the easiest, most productive ways to generate new leads.

Watch the Competition

Your competition can teach you a lot about what to do or not do. When you’re in a certain field, you have competitors, and sometimes they will teach you more than just about anyone in your industry. If they fail, you can capitalize on that. If they succeed, you can discover why their strategy is working and the implement a version of it yourself. While you don’t want to spend all day long looking at what your competitors are doing, it’s worthwhile to monitor some competitor behavior, especially if that competitor is winning out against your own strategies. To give you an example, you can search for your industry or category of content. Who comes up first in those results? What’s different about their content that sets it apart from yours and other people trying to be visible for that topic?

Use Call-To-Action Strategy

If you want someone to do something in life, you have to straight out ask them to do it. You might be surprised that they’re actually very persuaded simply because you asked. That’s the principle behind a call-to-action. At the end of a piece of content, you’re going to outright say what the purpose is. For example: we want the opportunity to serve you, and so please call us if you need us.

Many businesses don’t include a lot of call-to-action phrasing in their blog content or educational materials online, and they miss out on a truly exceptional opportunity to reach out and generate a new lead. That person who didn’t see a call-to-action might leave your website forever and never reach out. If there had been that call-to-action, they might have been a lead you could have converted just with a simple phone call. Don’t be afraid to use call-to-action strategies all throughout your content.

New leads

Implementing your Strategy

There are entire seminars online about generating new leads, so don’t feel lost if you don’t see immediate results. Great resources like digital marketing training are well worth the signup fee and time it takes to complete those courses. Once you learn the tricks of the trade, you will find that this type of training truly pays off for years to come. Generating new leads is the heart of every business strategy; you might have called it something different in the past, but seeking new customers means seeking promising new “leads.”

If online seminars aren’t your cup of tea, there are many other ways to kickstart grab some new leads. If you’re a brick and mortar business, one of the things you might forget is that people in your area are just as effective at word of mouth advertising as online users. People you interact with everyday in your business and on the street might form an impression of your business, so make sure to have business cards made up and have advertisements around your local area. Print marketing and promotional products are two other ways local businesses can generate new leads and get the word out. If you have great customer service and a friendly touch in your everyday business, you’ll find that word of mouth spreads in real life as well. It’s just as important as having favorable online reviews.

Leads will always play an important part in business, but they are just one component of succeeding online.

Leads will always play an important part in business, but they are just one component of succeeding online. We’ve by no means covered everything you can do to win over new leads. Once you’ve generated the lead – caught their attention – then you have to convert them into a customer and/or repeat visitor. Your goal isn’t just to make that sale, though. You have got to make sure that customer has a pleasant experience with your business, gets everything you asked for, and feels like they made a good decision by shopping with you. Once you’ve done that, you’ll see that person continue to return when they need what you’re selling or sharing.

This quick beginner’s guide to generating new leads and converting them into sales is just the beginning of your journey. There’s so much more to learn here. The aforementioned training courses are a great way for you to increase your knowledge of leads and marketing in general. They allow you to touch base with people just like you are: starting out with marketing and trying to use it effectively to grow a business. It’s tough to go it alone, so don’t. Learn as much as you can, as often as you can, and use that knowledge to make your business the best it can possibly be. Your leads will thank you for it.

And don’t miss out on The Digital Marketing Summit where our experts will go over all of these strategies and more.

Learn More at the Summit!

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