Lead generation is the critical driver of growth for B2B businesses. It’s your key to cutting through the noise, building a relationship with your customer and influencing the buying process.
Unfortunately, getting it right is the biggest challenge marketers face.
61% of marketers identified generating traffic and leads as their biggest challenge.
We understand why it’s daunting. You need to develop a model for creating content, attracting traffic, converting it, and then qualifying it to hand over to your sales teams.
And you need to do all this at scale, while fighting for your buyer’s attention in a cluttered media landscape.
But it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it seems. In this detailed guide, we’ve broken down each stage of creating a lead generation strategy into actionable steps you can take one at a time.
Whether you’re a complete beginner starting from scratch or an expert looking to tweak an existing strategy, you’ll find straightforward explanations and actionable advice to help you generate more quality leads.
Ready to jump in? Great, let’s get started.
What is lead generation?
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let's make sure we're talking about the same things. In this section, we're going to define the basics of lead generation.
What is a lead?
A lead is anyone who expresses an interest in the goods or services your company offers but may not be ready to buy yet.
This interest is represented as an exchange of information, such as providing a name and email address for a piece of content.
Don’t confuse leads with prospects. There’s a difference. A lead is a potential customer who still needs to be qualified to become a prospect. (This means they’re a good fit for your business and may want to do business with you in the future.)
What is lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of attracting and engaging your target audience to the point where they want to give you their information.
This process works by driving targeted traffic to your website, capturing visitor information and nurturing those who fit your buyer personas.
This is the first step in building a meaningful relationship with a potential customer.
Why is lead generation important?
90% of B2B sales take more than one month to close, while 10% take more than one year.
Lead generation is critical for B2B success. Why? The answer can be summed up in two words: sales cycle.
A study by Marketing Sherpa, found that 90 percent of B2B sales take more than one month to close, while 10 percent take more than one year.
Why does this matter? Because capturing a potential customer’s information at the beginning of this process gives you the opportunity to influence it. And with buyers facing more distractions than ever, you’re going to need all the influence you can get.
What’s more, once you’ve captured a lead’s information—you can qualify them. This means you figure out which ones are most likely to generate revenue for your business and focus your time and energy on converting those.
If you can establish a strategy that generates high quality leads and scales, then you’ve found the key to delivering sustainable growth for your business.
The lead generation funnel
At first sight, it may seem that your potential buyers take a rather random approach at buying. Sometimes they make a purchase, and sometimes they don't. But this couldn't be further from the truth.
While there are a lot of differences in the way each individual makes a purchase, there's still a process leading up to your buyer's decision. Marketers have developed the concept of a lead generation funnel so they can visualize the entire process and become capable of influencing it.
B2B companies need a lead generation funnel for the simple reason that, in most cases, a purchase takes a long time to develop. A 2016 survey found that 48% of companies say leads require a long cycle before making a purchase.
48% of companies say leads require a long sales cycle before making a purchase.
Your company needs a patient, steady approach to sales.
Instead of focusing on making a sale right away, as may happen with a B2C company, a B2B marketer needs to develop a long-term approach to their sales process. This allows them to segment potential clients, nurture them properly, and hand them over to the sales teams once they're ready to buy.
Unfortunately, 68% of companies haven’t even identified their funnel yet.
In this chapter, we’ll show you what a lead generation funnel is, how to define it, and how you can start working on it.
What is a lead generation funnel?
A lead generation funnel represents the journey a person takes from the moment they give you their information to the moment they make a purchase.
Defining this is super important, because 50% of qualified leads aren’t ready to purchase at first contact. Your funnel provides the roadmap to get them there.
It’s represented as a funnel because at each stage fewer people will meet the criteria needed to do business with your company.
Eventually, only a small percentage of those initial leads will become customers.
Content is critical to your funnel. But before we get into the specifics of what content works and why, let's cover why it’s so important.
Why content is critical for your lead generation funnel
Content is the common denominator throughout the lead generation funnel. Whether that’s a blog, an ebook, or a case study, your content will be the tool to turn your lead; into a prospect; into a customer.
The key lies in the segmentation. Use your content as the basis for identifying where someone is in the buying process then provide them with unique content that fits their needs to get them to the next stage.
With marketing automation systems and retargeting, you can deliver timely content that solves your lead’s problems. With each piece of engaged content, your lead will progress through your funnel to purchase.
Let’s take a look at the different types of content you can use at each step.
Top of the funnel (TOFU)
A lead generation funnel starts when your audience first visits your website.
The top of your lead generation funnel should concentrate on attracting a wide audience of potential customers. The goal is to build awareness and trust without focusing on your products.
There are many marketing tactics you can leverage in order for you to attract people at this stage of the funnel, including:
- Social media
Your focus should be on providing value so you can create a connection with your audience.
You want the reader to feel enough trust in order for them to eventually give you their personal information.
Middle of the funnel (MOFU)
The middle of the funnel is the stage where the visitors are ready to convert into leads.
While the previous step of the funnel created a personal connection with the visitor, this is where you use that trust to build a business relationship.
In order for the visitor to give you their personal information, you need to offer a piece of gated content that solves a problem or satisfies a need.
After you first capture their information, you can then begin to engage and educate your leads further. Ultimately, establishing your offering as the solution to their problems.
Leverage your market research and find a pain point big enough that could interest your readers.
Then create content that addresses this directly, including:
- White papers
The content you choose to use will depend on your resources, target audience, and offering.
Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)
By the time a lead reaches the bottom of your lead generation funnel, they’re a prospect. They’ve been nurtured about the potential solutions to their problems; a solution that should involve your product or service.
You’re now their go-to-resource. It’s time to sell.
Bottom of the funnel content is tailored to getting your prospects to purchase. They’re almost there, you just need to help them overcome any objections.
The types of content that you can use in the bottom of the funnel include:
- Case studies
At this stage, they know you, trust you, and like you enough to consider doing business with you. What they need now is the reassurance that their purchase decision will be the right one.
Each and every content type helps to lower objections and motivate the prospect to convert into a customer.
Closing the Deal: How Content Marketing Can Turn Your B2B Leads into Customers
Throughout each step of the lead generation funnel, there's content. Each stage of this process requires different approaches to content; at first, you need low-touch, educational content that engages people, while at the later stages you need high-touch, transactional content that lowers the barriers to purchase.
It's paramount to the success of your organization that you get your own lead generation funnel set up. Remember that this is a long-term process that requires patience; the sooner you start, the better it will be.
Start by defining your funnel adapted to your unique needs, offers, and industry. Get a clear understanding of where your content fits in each step of the funnel so you can plan it correctly.
As you start creating the content and adapting it to your funnel, you will build the foundations of your lead generation and lead nurture efforts.
How to generate leads
Now you’ve learned the basics of what a lead generation strategy looks like, it’s time for the exciting stuff—the process of generating leads.
To start with, it might seem a little daunting. But don’t sweat it, you’re not alone.
63% of marketers say generating traffic and leads is their biggest challenge. Even more say their lead generation efforts are only slightly effective.
80% of marketers say their lead generation efforts are only slightly or somewhat effective.
It doesn't have to be that way.
The entire process of lead generation can be summed up in five simple steps:
- Understand your buyer persona
- Create engaging content
- Attract the right audience
- Capture their information
- Qualify your leads
If all of this sounds new or hard to grasp, then worry not. In this chapter you’ll learn how to apply the first two steps, and in the following three chapters, we’ll cover how to attract, capture and qualify your leads.
Let's get started.
Understand your buyer personas
Throughout the lead generation funnel, content plays a critical role in transforming visitors into leads and leads into customers.
But content alone can't motivate people to give you their personal information. Your content needs to tap into an unmet need or problem they have.
If you can address the problems your visitor faces and help solve them through your content, you’ll have the foundation for a successful lead generation strategy.
This raises a question: how do you identify and address the problems your visitors face?
The answer: use buyer personas.
How to use personas for your lead generation
Personas are a marketing term that describes idealized versions of your customers.
You build personas by leveraging quantitative and qualitative data from your current or desired customers. That means, you can create personas either based on the customers you have, or from customers who you'd like to attract but haven't yet.
The goal of a buyer persona is to identify the common characteristics of your buyers and keep your marketing team focused on their needs. There’s two types of data you can use to build these personas in practice.
Quantitative data helps you crystalize the hard numbers that make up your customers, including:
- Job Title
You can get this type of data through the use of web analytics (e.g., Google Analytics) and visitor identification software (e.g., Leadfeeder).
Qualitative data, on the other hand, helps you bring depth into your personas, adding unique parameters to them, including:
- The words they use to describe their problems
- The challenges they face on a daily basis
- The desires they have to improve their current situations
These types of answers can mean the difference between knowing your personas and understanding them. The former is logical while the latter is emotional. You need both aspects to create useful and actionable personas.
You can extract qualitative data through the use of surveys and interviews. Most importantly, you can use your existing customer support, business development, and sales channels to understand the exact expressions, words, and ideas your buyers use.
Once you’ve built your buyer personas, you should understand the key challenges of your target audience and, more importantly, how to position your company to solve them.
How to use personas in your content creation
If there's one challenge all marketers alike face it’s a lack of personalization in their customer communications.
Consumers are tired of being blasted with ever more impersonal messages, which is why 81% want brands to understand and know how to approach them. Sadly, 83% of marketers struggle with creating personalized content because they don't know their customers.
Personas allow you to create content that is more relatable to your different target customer groups. Instead of creating one-size-fits-all content for each stage of your funnel, you can create something far more personalized.
Here's how you can create personas and use them to guide your content creation.
Step #1: Segment your content based on your personas
As explained in the previous chapter, the content you create for each of the steps—TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU content—will change in length, type, and level of detail. But it should also change based on the data taken from your personas. This is how you personalize to create more impactful messaging.
For example, if one of your personas has a small budget, then a key issue that could slow their progress through your funnel are their price concerns. They may love your product or service, but think it’s too expensive.
The goal of your content for this buyer is to highlight your value and their potential return on investment (ROI). If they don't understand the context behind the price, they can't make the right decision.
Step #2: Create content for each stage of the funnel
For your price conscious buyer to overcome their concerns, you need to create the right content for them when they’re making their buying decision.
After you’ve attracted them with an interesting blog article, captured their information with an ebook, you now need to convert them. This could mean could mean creating comparison articles, highlighting your product tiers, or providing an ROI calculator.
Understand what’s stopping them progress from one stage of the funnel to the next, and create relatable content to address these problems.
Step #3: Deliver the content at the right time
How do you know when to deliver your price conscious buyer your ROI calculator? They’ve visited your pricing page and haven’t converted. They’re ready to buy. Now is the time to remove and address their pricing concerns.
This step requires you to know what content your buyer has already viewed to understand where they are in their journey.
Once they’ve viewed content that aligns with one of your funnel stages, it’s time to deliver content to help guide them to the next stage.
Step #4: Deliver it on the right channel
In addition to delivering your content at the right time, you need to deliver it in the right way.
Your personas should define where your buyers are spending their time online when consuming educational information, researching products and making purchase decisions.
For example, your price conscious buyer may spend time researching competitors on website like G2 or TrustRadius, or even Googling comparison searches. In this instance, paying for ads on such searches or review sites will ensure you can direct your buyer to a tailored piece of content at this crucial stage in the buying process.
The lead generation process you've seen so far represents the foundation of your entire work. For that reason, it's paramount you set it up the right way.
It’s not as daunting as it seems and you won’t get it right first time. But that’s not the goal. The goal is to get a process in place. Once you have this, you can tweak it, improve it, and replicate it many times over.
As your lead generation process grows in maturity, so will your revenues.
Lead generation marketing strategies
You understand how to structure your lead generation funnel, build buyer personas and create build the right content. Now you need to reach your audience.
So, how do you actually get people to your website and start generating leads?
It’s not as simple as it seems. Generating traffic to power lead generation is the number one challenge for two in three marketers.
With companies publishing more content than ever and ad budgets increasing year on year, the competition for eyeballs is fierce.
To get results you need to be laser-focused on your goal.
In this chapter, we’re going to cover three completely different ways to drive traffic to your lead generation funnel.
1. Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quantity and quality of visitors you receive from organic search results.
Why is SEO so important for lead generation? Because it can help you bring large volumes of visitors to the top of your lead generation funnel.
Once you've done the work to get a piece of content ranking highly for a relevant search query, it will drive a sustained flow of traffic. More importantly, this traffic is free.
There are a large number of factors that contribute to your search engine ranking. We won’t cover them here. But assuming you have the fundamentals in place, here are three steps you can take to ensure organic search traffic starts delivering you valuable leads.
Step #1: Define a set of keywords
The first step requires you to define a set of keywords. These keywords represent queries people use to find content; the more searches a given query has, the more traffic you can expect to attract.
If you have a Google Ads account, you can start your search with Google Keyword Planner. Alternatively, use a paid tool like Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMrush. All of these tools mix Google's data with their own to come up with these estimations which will help you find good keywords.
Here's an example of the search volume and difficulty Ahrefs reports for the keyword "SEO strategy."
By considering both the traffic volume and the competitiveness of a keyword (which in this case is by the number of links pointing to the top 10 results for a given keyword), you can get a more balanced idea of the work you need to do to rank for a given keyword.
The previous example has a large volume of searches and also high competitiveness. As Ahrefs explains above, it would require you to get backlinks from around 99 websites to rank in the top 10 results.
The key when searching for keywords is to be realistic. Strike the right balance between high volume, low competitiveness, and relevancy.
Relevancy is very personal to your own business. Ideally, you are looking for search queries that are related to your product or service. Review your buyer personas and the problems your audience is trying to solve.
If you can help answer a question on these topics, you've taken the first step towards presenting your solution as an answer to their potential problem.
Step #2: Create content and optimize it
After you've done your keyword research, you need to create content to rank for your keywords.
The content you create should help people with questions and problems that aren't directly related to your solution. For example, if your product helps people generate leads (like Leadfeeder), then we'll create a piece of content educating people about lead generation (like this guide).
When coming up with potential content ideas, analyze the search engine results for your chosen keywords. This will help you understand what type of content that is already ranking. Then, create something better.
Before you publish a piece of content, you need to optimize it. For a more detailed view, you can check out this list from Moz's on-page ranking factors page.
To improve the chances of ranking it faster, you should aim to get a few internal and external links to your newly-published post. This lets search engines find your page faster and consider it of higher authority.
Step #3: Offer a lead magnet
After you've started driving organic traffic to your content, the lead generation work begins.
In order to make people go from visitors to leads, you need to offer a "lead magnet." That is, a gated piece of content, like an ebook or webinar, that continues to help the reader.
The lead magnet should provide more depth to the original piece of content your visitor has consumed.
For example, this post from Pipedrive, about defining lead prospects, provides an ebook as a content upgrade:
This lead magnet a great next step for readers. After they’ve read the blog and learned how to define their leads, their next question is likely to be: how do I find those leads? Pipedrive immediately provides the answer.
This is a really low-friction way to capture the reader’s information.
Your Beginner’s Guide to Evergreen Content for B2B Brands
2. LinkedIn advertising
With 645 million users, and in-depth business data on all of them, LinkedIn is the best paid platform for B2B lead generation.
According to a LinkedIn Marketing Solutions report, 61 million LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers while 40 million are in decision-making positions.
As a result, there are some real advantages to using LinkedIn for lead generation:
You can generate leads that are real decision-makers who have influence over the buyer process. The in-depth user data makes it easy to target your buyer personas. Campaigns can bring instant results as you get what you pay for. LinkedIn has a lead generation ad type, which means that people don't need to leave the platform and you don't need to build landing pages.
To start a LinkedIn ads campaign, you have to define an objective like:
- Website visits
- Website conversions
- Lead generation
Since your goal is to generate leads, you should use the website visited or lead generation objectives.
The website visits objective will enable you to drive traffic to a landing page on your website, the lead generation objective will enable you to generate leads directly within LinkedIn.
After the campaign objective has been defined, you need to select the targeting, which can include:
- Job Experience
The choice you make will depend on your company's needs—LinkedIn’s depth of data allows you to accurately target your buyer personas with real precision.
After the targeting, you need to create an ad, for which you have several options to choose from:
- Sponsored content
- Sponsored InMail
- Text ads
As you’re driving traffic to a piece of content, the Sponsored Content ad type is the best fit.
A website visits campaign will lead people to a landing page on your website, where they can enter their information to download your content. Just make sure your ad makes clear that the content is gated, so people aren’t frustrated when people click your ad and land on a download form.
A lead generation campaign, however, will direct people to a lead form within LinkedIn, where their information is pre-populated. This reduces the friction of capturing lead information.
Before you can publish your ad campaign, you need to select a bid and budget. This will define the amount of money you will invest and the amount of traffic you can expect to attract.
As a rule of thumb, the more money you invest in a campaign, the more traffic and leads you can expect to generate.
For more information on how to build a winning LinkedIn campaign, check out our comprehensive LinkedIn ads guide.
How to advertise on LinkedIn: A complete guide
The aim of co-marketing is to build a genuine relationship with companies that share your audience but aren't your direct competition.
Why? You can leverage one another’s expertise for content creation and audience for lead generation.
Instead of attracting "cold" traffic to a TOFU piece of content (i.e., traffic that doesn't know your brand and thus needs to become aware of its existence), you're leveraging the trust the audience has with your partner.
And when 84% of buyers begin the sales process from a trusted referral, your partner’s existing relationship with their audience is invaluable.
To get started with co-marketing, here's what you need to do.
Step #1: Identify potential co-marketing partners
The whole idea of co-marketing is to work with companies that share your target audience.
You want to start by looking in your own industry for companies that cater to the same audience but offer different products. Take some of the following examples:
- If you sell human resources software to sales managers, then consider partnering with sales software companies.
- If you sell email marketing software to brick-and-mortar businesses, then consider partnering with payment processing, accounting, and marketing software companies.
- If you sell analytics software for traditional financial institutions (i.e., banks, insurance companies, etc.), then consider partnering with financial software companies.
Check their offerings, their content, and their mission statement to make sure there's a good complement between your companies.
Step #2: Find potential content ideas
After making a list of partners, you need to start looking for potential partnership ideas. Think about the stage of the funnel you are most interested in improving.
If you want more qualified traffic, then consider writing a guest post or a guide. If you want more leads, then consider writing an ebook. If you want more prospects, consider creating a webinar together.
Once you've defined a few potential ideas, pitch your potential partner. Make sure to be clear about what’s in it for them.
Have some clear data ready about your audience demographics, website traffic, email list size, and social following. You goal is to make sure they see the value in reaching out to your audience too.
Step #3: Promote each other's content
After you've created the content piece with your partner, it's time to promote it to both of your audiences.
Utilize all your owned media channels—and make sure your partner does too. This could include email marketing, social media, live chat, website content and blogs.
The key is that both companies in the partnership should promote the content they create to their engaged audience. This represents a fantastic opportunity to reach a targeted, interested audience through a brand they already trust. Something that’s difficult to do with other channels such as paid advertising.
The three strategies mentioned above are just a few of the many ideas you can implement. What's important is that you leverage your strengths to fulfill your company's needs.
Developing a channel strategy takes time. Try to balance short and long-term needs. If you do this, you’ll deliver some immediate results to help get your strategy some buy-in and also set yourself up for sustained success.
Now that we've covered this critical aspect of your lead generation strategy, it's time to see how you can actually capture leads.
61 B2B Lead Generation Strategies and Tactics for 2019
How to capture leads
No matter how perfect a piece of content you offer your visitors, if you can't get people to exchange their personal information with you, you won't generate any leads.
With data showing the number of people abandoning forms is steadily increasing, it’s safe to say it’s not getting any easier to capture people’s information.
So what’s the solution?
Well, the way in which you ask for people's information, and the amount of information you ask for will have a huge impact on your conversion rates.
In this chapter, we’ll cover three different lead capture methods and highlight in what situations they work best.
1. Email capture forms
Email capture forms are the most popular way to generate leads.
You get to be upfront and clear about what information you are asking for and why. This transparency is important when you’re asking someone for personal information. Especially when you’re trying to build trust.
But a whopping 81% of people have abandoned a form after they began filling it out. Forms might be common, but that doesn’t mean people like filling them out.
So, if you’re going to use them effectively, you have to get a little creative.
Here are five strategies you can use to improve conversion rates and convert more leads with email forms.
Connect with the content they are reading
Relevancy is at the core of an effective lead capture process. That means, you want to offer a piece of content that's relevant to the piece they're already consuming.
For example, in an article about Instagram statistics, Hootsuite offers their readers a checklist with details on the steps one Instagramer took to grow their following by 600,000.
After clicking on the link, you get a pop up form that asks for personal information and allows Hootsuite to acquire a lead without interrupting the reading experience.
Only ask for the information you need
A big issue that lead capture forms have is the friction they bring to the reader experience. By adding a lead capture form, you're often interrupting the reader, something that can make them bounce from your page or site.
The key to a successful lead capture strategy is to reduce this friction to the lowest possible amount. By asking only for the information you need, you provide a lower level of effort for the user to engage.
For example, blog subscription boxes often ask only for the reader's email. To send a generic blog update, this is all you need.
But at the middle of the funnel, companies often ask for more information, including job title, company size, and name. This information will be vital when personalizing content or feeding leads to your sales team.
According to a survey by Hubspot, the average length of a lead capture form in 2019 is about five form fields. This doesn't mean you can or should use that many fields; several studies have found that the less fields you use, the higher the conversions.
The key is to know how your future communications need to be personalized. This will guide you to the information you need to collect when capturing a lead.
Don’t make your forms look like forms
A good idea to lower your friction and increase your conversion rates is to make your lead capture forms look like a native element of your content. In other words, don't make your lead capture forms look like they're a form.
For example, Typeform’s lead capture forms provide users with a more conversational step by step process, instead of asking for information in one long lead capture form.
Use conditional logic
Another way to increase the effectiveness of your lead capture forms is to use conditional logic. Conditional logic allows you to personalize your capture forms according to the answers the user provides.
With conditional logic, you can ensure you’re only asking the questions relevant to the user.
This lowers the size of your lead capture form and thus reduces the friction they can generate.
Use pop ups wisely
Among the many lead capture forms available, the most common and popular is the pop up.
Sumo found that the average pop up has a conversion rate of 3.09%; a number you can hardly ignore.
The love marketers have for pop ups, however, isn't shared by readers. 73% of Internet users automatically disapprove of pop-up ads.
Despite these challenges, you can still use a pop up if you do it wisely. That means, knowing when to trigger one.
To start, think about using exit intent technology. This shows a pop up only when someone is trying to leave your page. A well written message here can convert someone who has just finished reading some of your content.
The below example from Coschedule acknowledges that the visitor is about to leave, offering them an extra piece of relevant content before they go.
You can also think about triggering your pop ups with other action-based behavior, like the percentage a user has scrolled or after someone clicks on a button. The further the user scrolls down your page, the higher intent they have shown and, therefore, are likely more susceptible to your message.
Forms are still a great method for lead capture, you just need to remove obvious sources of friction. If you don’t, you won’t capture any leads. Keep your forms relevant, brief and, if you can, a little fun.
2. Site chat
Site chat tools are a great way to help your visitors answer their doubts and questions, something that reduces friction and drop-out rates in your lead generation funnel. It's the preferred way for 42% of people to connect with a company.
Besides being a wonderful customer service tool, site chat is an effective way to capture leads in a more conversational way.
What's more, you don’t need a customer service rep speaking in real-time to a potential buyer because nowadays, you can utilize chatbots. Site chat companies like Drift or Intercom can be used to capture leads at a variety of stages across your funnel.
Drift practices what they preach. They use their site chat to capture leads for their ebook on their own website. This is a great way to provide a more informal, conversational approach to lead capture.
Besides being used for middle of funnel lead capture, you can also use site chat to capture more information from high-intent visitors and route them directly to sales. HubSpot does a great job of this on their pricing page.
By asking a few specific automated questions, they can then provide more accurate pricing to the buyer and more detailed information to their sales team.
Site chat is a versatile tool, from helping the reader, to answering questions relevant for the sales process, and even generating leads.
What's more, they make the relationship between the company and the reader a little more personal and conversational, something that breaks the mold of most business relationships.
3. Website visitor identification
Website visitor identification is a way of identifying your visitors even if they don’t fill out one of your lead capture forms.
Visitor identification software like Leadfeeder reveals the companies that have visited your website and enriches this with the contact information of employees.
What makes this different from other forms of content-led lead capture? With visitor identification, you can zero in on leads that have shown intent.
Filter your leads by website pages visited for example, and provide your sales team with a list of companies and contact information for people who are looking at your pricing page.
These are high-intent leads that are looking to buy your product right now. They just need one final push from your sales team.
With an integration to Slack and automated emails you can alert your sales team immediately when a hot lead visits. Your sales team only works in your CRM? No problem. You can create deals, tasks, and deadlines in your CRM with integrations to HubSpot, Salesforce, Pipedrive and more.
If the leads aren’t ready to buy yet, then feed them back into your retargeting campaigns to begin the nurture process.
This is a great way to supplement the traditional lead capture methods mentioned above. Instead of only gathering person-level data on a small percentage of your website visitors, you can gather company level data on a large percentage.
This enables you to automate your lead generation process, with minimal friction to your potential buyer.
The lead capture process boils down to getting the most important information from your visitors and using this to drive lead qualification and inform your sales team's work.
If you feel like you can't get the most critical information from your visitors, you can always add more in the lead nurturing stage or through data enrichment.
When in doubt, carry out tests on your site to see which lead capture method brings the highest quality leads.
Now that you’ve learned how to capture leads, it's time to discover how to qualify them.
Top Lead Generation Tools of 2019
How to qualify leads
Now that you’ve captured your leads, there’s still a little more work to do. It’s time to qualify them.
Lead qualification is a critical component of a successful lead generation strategy. This is where you identify your quality leads.
The importance of focusing your marketing and sales efforts on leads that are likely to convert cannot be overstated. 67% of lost sales result from not properly qualifying leads before taking them through the sales process.
67% of lost sales result from not properly qualifying leads.
Yet 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales.
In this chapter, you’ll learn how a simple lead qualification process works, so you can ensure your sales team focuses on quality leads.
A 3-step process to qualify your leads
Regardless of the efforts to create relevant content and drive targeted traffic, many of your leads won't be ready to buy or the right fit for your company.
Lead qualification allows you to determine your leads' suitability to your product and their likelihood to convert. And to do that, marketers often use a process called "lead scoring."
Lead scoring is a method for lead qualification that allows you to automatically add a numeric value to your lead based on a set of pre-defined criteria.
The final value will identify which leads are the most relevant for your sales team.
The entire lead qualification process can be broken down into three steps:
Step #1: Define the ideal lead
The idea behind the lead qualification process is to filter out irrelevant leads that won’t turn into valuable customers. To do this, you need to identify the attributes that are common to your most valuable customers, both when they are customers and in the lead up to purchase.
These attributes can consist of:
- Demographic data
- Online behavior
- Company information
The attributes and the values assigned to each one don’t come out of thin air; they are built through the use of past sales data, analytics, and a bit of intuition.
Start by talking to your sales team and have them tell you what attributes your leads should have. Looking at your past sales, you should see patterns that explain the attributes selected.
Check your CRM to see common attributes of your most valuable customers. At the same time, check your website data to see online behavior leading up to the purchase (such as visiting a pricing page on your website, which could indicate a higher level of intent).
After you've defined a set of attributes, create a matrix and assign each one a score—the more valuable the attribute, the higher the score.
The combined score will give an indication of how good a fit a company is for your product or service and how far along they are in their buying process.
Step #2: Collect the information
After you've done the work of defining the ideal lead, you need to start collecting the information which you will then use to feed your qualification process.
To start, your lead capture form should ask for data that helps kickstart the lead scoring process. Ideally, you should aim to strike a balance between capturing as much data as possible from your leads and getting an acceptable conversion rate. The more data you ask, the more friction you create and thus the more likely your visitors will bounce from your lead capture process.
If you can't obtain some of the key information you need for your lead scoring, you can use data enrichment tools to add some of this data afterward. For example, Leadfeeder can send your website visitor data to your CRM and improve the depth of the lead's data.
As you start to collect data from your leads, integrate it with a single a CRM or marketing automation system where you will score your leads.
Most advanced CRM tools like Hubspot and Salesforce allow for that seamless integration. But in the case such integration isn't available, you can connect your CRM with other tools through the use of an API or a tool like Zapier.
Step #3: Score the leads
Now that you’ve defined your criteria and collected your data, it’s time to start scoring your leads.
Most CRMs and marketing automation systems will have this functionality built in. You just need to set up the rules to automatically score the leads with the criteria you defined in step one.
Once you’ve set this up and are collecting data, identify the scoring thresholds that result in sales for your different audience segments. Once you’ve done this, you can set up notifications to alert your sales team when leads are approaching these scores.
Ultimately, what matters is that you send the right leads to your sales teams so they can focus their time on those most likely to bring value to your business.
How to Decide If a Lead Is Ready for a Sales Call
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking lead generation ends as soon as you capture your lead information. It’s about quality over quantity.
As you qualify and score your leads, your sales team will know which to follow up on and which should be nurtured more by the marketing team.
It’s a learning process that should be continuously refined and improved.
The better you get at it, the higher the quality of leads you’ll generate.
MQL vs. SQL: How Marketers Should Define and Qualify Leads
Throughout this guide, you learned what makes a successful lead generation strategy.
We get it, this entire process looks daunting. You’re not the only one thinking that. Lead generation is the priority of every B2B marketer—and also a major headache. But it doesn’t have to be.
In this guide we’ve broken down the entire process, so you can focus on the key things you need to get right at each step.
By identifying your funnel, understanding your buyers and creating the right content, you’ve got a solid foundation for your lead generation strategy.
Once this is in place, you can focus on driving targeted traffic, capturing lead information and qualifying prospects for your sales team.
It’s an ongoing process that requires constant improvement. As you learn what works best with your audience and your sales team, you’ll start driving quality leads at scale.