Customers expect a fantastic experience when they engage with your business. Similarly, businesses should also inculcate lead generation ideas and strategies to improve the customer base for their growth. Lead generation is always a hot topic in the marketing world. No matter if you are a small business or a big enterprise, acquiring customers with lead generation ideas play a vital part of any business strategy.
Hubspot says, 74% of companies say converting leads into customers is their top priority. Top expert marketers agree that lead generation ideas and best practices are the most important element in their marketing arsenal.
What is Lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of identifying and targeting potential new customers known as leads with the intention of cultivating their interest in what your business has to offer. It involves understanding the customer journey to refers to developing an interest in prospects by providing them maximum information about your products or services.
Actually developing the interest to that extent that in customers that they will contact you to acquire more information and perhaps even end up with a purchase. Lead generation is one of the most critical steps in sales and marketing for this is where businesses get their precious pool of prospects that can eventually become loyal customers.
Stages of the lead generation process
The lead generation ideas and processes for businesses differ depending upon the complexity or cost of the purchase being considered. For e-commerce businesses it could be online purchases, for some, it could be filling up forms or increasing email subscribers.
However, B2B lead generation ideas include a couple of stages that if done right can deliver a huge ROI at the fastest possible time. It is known as the lead generation funnel by marketers. It comprises of four stages:
- Awareness – The first stage is to make your prospects aware of the key positioning of your business by analyzing their journey and knowing their interests.
- Education – Once you create awareness you must build trust for your products and services. With the help of consistent newsletters, events or seminars/webinars you can educate your leads in the best way. It helps you to showcase your expertise, resources, and experience.
- Evaluation – Usually, in this stage prospects evaluate your brand as a whole. You can further convince your leads with the help of demos, free trial offers, etc. and build trust for your brand. Here you need to deliver much more so that it reaches the final stage.
- Purchase – If the lead generation stages above are followed in the right way to the end result is successful conversion. You need to show your leads – how can they get the desired results with your solution.
The above framework can be used to create a perfect end to end lead generation process.
Note: The four stages of the lead generation process discussed above are to get involved in moving someone from awareness to conversion and at each of these stages, address a prospect’s evolving relationship with your business.
Top lead generation ideas & best practices that work
Understanding the process and stages behind a lead generation funnel are very important as it helps to focus your sales efforts to turn your prospects into customers. The following key lead generation ideas and methods give you valuable insights into understanding the lead generation ideas, process, and best practices to make it work for your business.
#1. Provide real time sales assistance with live chat
In the customer centric era, the focal point of every business is to deliver top-notch services to boost customer satisfaction and loyalty. Live chat software is the best bet to convert your website visitors into loyal customers and increase lead generation.
Live chat is also one of the most preferred channels due to its real time assistance feature. Econsultancy found out that live chat (73%) handily beats both email (61%) and phone (44%) and ranks top channel with the highest customer satisfaction levels. It generates visitor report analytics that helps businesses to track the behavior of the website visitor. The data can be used by the sales team to approach the visitors.
Vtldeaign says, 91% of users, who were invited to have a live chat with any sales reps, like live chat as it helped them in their product purchasing decisions and resolve their product queries instantly.
Live chat helps to increase lead generation by responding instantly to the queries asked by the visitors and improving customer experience.
How live chat acts as a lead generating tool?
- Real time assistance – You cannot take the risk of keeping your customers waiting. With live chat, you can provide real time support and create a better number of leads.
- Scheduling appointments – With live chat, you can empower your customers to book appointments. You can connect directly with prospects when they are actively engaging with your website.
- Enhanced ability to upsell with relevant deals and offers – The sales agents can offer information about the current sale going on, or a discount coupon available for the product they are interested to purchase. It will open the door for upselling.
- Captures customer information – The visitor can be asked to fill up a form for collecting basic details of the prospects and route to the sales team for further follow up.
- Reduces sales cycle – With proactive triggers, you can send personalized messages to prospects who may need to ask a question about your product or price to make a decision for final purchase. Live chat for sales builds trust between the business and audience, helping to generate more leads through customer loyalty.
- Reduced bounce rate – With live chat, you answer your visitor questions instantly and proactively assist them. This reduces the bounce rate for your website and increases engagement with prospects and customers.
Unbounce implemented a chatbot and named it Unbounce that engaged the website visitors by:
- Providing a few basic options for your visitors to choose from.
- Based on the response, the bot will guide them to information that’s relevant to their needs, interests, and stage in the buying process.
They can be effective for generating leads until they are able to route the visitors to the right content.
For sure, this proves why live chat is a powerful tool for lead generation.
#2. Automate your lead generation with bots
Chatbots have revamped the way brands interact and engage their customers. Undoubtedly, bots are proved to be the best conversational commerce tool but they are being used to automate the sales process for lead generation.
You can configure chatbots to prequalify leads when your sales agents are not available. With bots, you can qualify your sales prospects by asking the right questions and then prompt them to schedule an appointment or transfer them to your sales team.
How do chatbots help in lead generation?
- Segment your audience – With chatbots, you can learn the likes & interests of your customers and further segment them based on their response.
- Qualify leads – Bots can pre qualify leads by asking relevant questions and route them to the sales team for the nurturing process.
- Hybrid chatbot – For businesses those do not automate chat can balance bot support for FAQs and human support for complex issues.
Health Tap, the leading technology company delivering a suite of connected health apps, had implemented bot to answer health-related questions.
It assures accurate virtual care by immediate access to the right doctors. It also helps doctors or clinics looking to pre-screen their appointment.
HubSpot reveals that 74% of companies consider lead nurturing to be their top priority. Businesses that reach out to their potential customers within an hour of receiving queries are nearly 7 times as likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision makers.
If you want your qualified leads to end up with a final sale, you need to nurture them based on their journey. Apparently, nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than those who buy immediately.
For the e-commerce business, chatbot engages the customers by:
- Giving personalized recommendations
- Suggesting combo offers
- Offer discount coupons to improve sales conversions
#3. Use social media to generate more leads
Do not ignore social media as it can be a key driver of new leads to your business. Social media lead generation is all about implementing strategic marketing tactics designed to find and create new leads and invite them into your sales funnel.
Key ways how social media helps to generate leads
- Brand awareness – Social media is a great platform for brands to build the face value of the brand, maintain customer relationships, and getting new leads. Today, it is through social media people learn about new brands and share with their friends.
- Continuous engagement – Social media channels promptly engage customers at every stage of their journey. Whether they are potential leads, new customers, or people you are trying to get back, you can engage them via conversation, retargeting, ads, etc.
- Reach out to new customers – The best way to build an active and engaged audience on social media is to focus on the people who already know you best. You can share relevant content with them, interact and respond to the feedback given by them. This will help to expand your audience and build stronger relationships with them.
- Customer loyalty – With social media, you can boost customer loyalty by maintaining a high level of engagement through the creation and/or release of quality content over social platforms.
As Harvard Business Review says, “The best clients are loyal clients. It takes less money to serve them, and they’re more likely to spend more money than other clients and usually work as “word-of-mouth” publicists.
#4. Plan omnichannel approach to engage customers over their preferred channels
These days connecting with a company only with one channel has faded away. Businesses are adopting an omni channel approach that connects all the channels (phone, email, in-app, website, store, etc.) and helps to gain a better understanding of customer behavior by analyzing the customer journey.
According to Aberdeen Group, businesses that provide a consistent service quality across multiple touch points retain 89% of their customers.
Omni channel communication strategy helps to gain insights into how the customers have interacted with the brand so that you can use customer journey maps to meet or exceed your customer needs. Thus, delivering an optimal omnichannel experience and increase opportunities to interact with customers.
Map your customer journey
- Understand your customer behavior throughout their journey
- Identify the areas where they may need your assistance
- Take proactive actions through the behavior stages.
- Create a process to deliver customer support with the right channel. It could be a self-service portal, live chat support or co-browsing as well
- Collect customer feedback and continuously improve your customer support processes.
When you understand how customers interact with your brand across multiple channels, you can begin to optimize your processes to reduce customer frustration, bridge the gaps in the process, and help nudge customers towards conversion.
According to Google research, 90% of multiple device owners switch between an average of three per day to complete a task. Businesses that can help their customers complete those tasks when and where they want, stand to gain a piece of the $1.8 trillion that cross-channel sales are predicted to reach this year.
According to Google, shoppers who buy through multiple channels have a 30% higher lifetime value than others.
Steps to leverage omnichannel strategy
- Identify your lead generation objectives and measure the activities.
- Determine how will you generate leads by inbound marketing, buying a list or digging new prospects.
- Develop content that is valuable and relevant to your audience.
- Track your leads and offer support across respective channels.
Bank of America, a globally acclaimed brand delivers consistent omni channel service to its customers.
The bank allows for everything starting from depositing checks to scheduling an appointment to be handled by the company’s mobile and desktop apps.
#5. Provide real-time assistance with live engagement tools
At times visual interaction takes over textual conversations. When customers are on your website, they might face some issues such as difficulty in understanding the product demo video, product subscription queries or information about completing a form or application.
In such scenarios, you can wisely use the live customer engagement tools like co-browsing, video and voice chat to deliver real time assistance to your customers. Aberdeen Group shows that co-browsing is helping companies accomplish far greater annual improvements to customer satisfaction, achieved by reducing customer effort in real time.
How to use live engagement tools for generating leads?
- Provide sales demo – Live video chat or co-browsing can be used to offer a sales demo to deliver a thorough understanding of the products or services. It helps customers to make a quick sales decision.
- Guide through the form fill up process – With co-browsing solution, you can collaborate with your customer browser and jointly navigate the fields of the form or application to fill up accurately to complete the sales process.
- Personalized conversations – Live engagement tools allow face to face interaction that develops personal communication with the customers. You build trust with your customers and vice – versa.
#6. Write high value content to attract customers
Marketo research found out 93% of B2B companies say content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing strategies.
Content marketing is more effective for your business and smart content marketers know that diving in with a clear strategy is key to your success. But your success depends on the kind of content you are able to produce on a regular basis. When the content is interactive it will engage your customers and capture interested leads.
Here is a roadmap for creating content that generates leads and sales
- Research your target audience – If you try to create content that appeals to everyone, you will end up appealing to no one. So, it is vital to identify your target audience to create content that is relevant to them.
- Choose the right type of content – There are different types of content but you need to focus on lead and traffic generating content.
- Traffic generating content like social media posts, blogs, videos, infographics, etc.
- Lead generating content webinars, discounts & coupons, free trial, etc.
- Identify your content distribution channels – You can shape up your content plan by distributing it in the right channels. The two distinct channels of distribution are:
- Organic channels such as Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
- Paid channels such as social media paid ads, Google AdWords, banner ads, etc.
- Map your content plan – A good content plan maps how frequently, by whom, what content you will publish. How many days a week you will publish a blog and how often you will share your content on social platforms.
- Create high value blog posts – You must focus on writing high converting blog posts that can be made effective by following the characteristics:
- Give an attractive headline or title
- Maintain a standard length of the content
- It should be educative and useful
- Check relevant linking, add visuals, and incorporate keywords
- Write content keeping your target audience in mind. Content can be in the form of blog posts, guides, videos, quiz content.
- Distribute your content across various channels, groups, and forums where your customers hang out. You can also run paid promotions on platforms such as LinkedIn and Quora to reach out to a wider audience.
#7. Make your Call To Action (CTA) stand out
Have you ever come across a “Sign up for a Free Trial” or “Add to Your Shopping Cart” button?
I am quite sure that you have seen it. These are call to actions or CTAs that act as prompts for your visitors to do specific tasks.
The orange button in the below image below represents a clickable CTA.
If you notice, WordStream uses contrasting colors with their CTA to make it stand out against the entire blue site. They also reiterate the fact that their product is free to use twice further enticing you to try it out.
CTAs should be prudently used across the website to boost customer engagement. You can direct your visitors to comment on your articles, ask them to subscribe to your email list. You can also ask them to connect with you via social media.
How can an effective call to action boost your conversions?
- Color matter a lot so stand out with contrasting colors
- Make sure about the shape and size of the button. It should be able to draw the attention of the visitor instantly.
- In order to grab the attention of the user tailor CTA copy with unique words.
- Include the element of value proposition in call-to-action button
For e.g., incorporating value proposition elements like ‘Free Guide’, ‘Save up to 25%’ in a call to action button clearly explains to the visitor what they are going to get in return for their action.
The key to making your CTAs stand out is using the right language according to situations and consider their placement carefully. The business profits and revenue greatly depend on the judiciously using CTAs.
#8. Introduce an educational webinar
Webinars are a great tool for B2B lead generation. It is a very good medium for sharing and retaining knowledge. With the use of webinars, you not only reach your target audience better but also deliver a database filled with leads.
Research has shown that there is a 75% better chance of people watching a video than reading a text. 73% of B2B marketers and sales leaders say a webinar is the best way to generate high-quality leads.
Some other benefits of webinars are that they are much cheaper to organize in relation to physical events. Using webinars saves on travel and accommodation costs.
Examples of effective webinar formats
- Educational webinars – The educational webinar provides action steps to solve the problem of the prospect. Assets.cdn getgo research shows webinar titles containing a list or the words “how to” drive higher attendance rates, showing the power of practical information to garner new leads.
- Case studies – Case studies are an effective webinar format because sales ready leads look for concrete details on product ROI and benefits. Case studies provide social proof that your product can deliver. In fact, 42% of B2B buyers find case studies to be valuable in the buying process.
- Product demos – Prospects expect more in-depth information about your product. Product demos can engage those leads by showing clear solutions to their queries.
Pro tip: Steer away from delivering a sales pitch. Instead, keep the webinar informative with tutorials, training, or workshops.
#9. Use email lists to reach your target audience
Email marketing remains one of the best ways for small businesses to reach and engage their audiences. It is still the most effective way to market your products, services and getting the word out about your business.
According to Marketing Sherpa, 72% of U.S. adults prefer to communicate with brands through email as opposed to other marketing channels.
One of the reasons why email marketing remains so effective is that consumers are comfortable with this marketing channel. In fact, many actually enjoy getting email communications from their favorite brands. You can easily communicate with your target audience through a reliable channel.
But how can you generate new leads for your business through email?
- Qualify whom to reach to create email lists – You have to identify your target audience whom you can reach out with your emails to educate and engage them about your product or services.
- Segment email lists by buyer personas – You can use different types of email subscriptions or attributes like industry, use cases to specific segments of your marketing personas.
- Personalize your email communication – Usually, the recipients are likely to click through emails that cater to their specific interests. If you personalize the emails, you will increase the chance that visitors will subscribe to one of them.
- Follow-up emails – Once you send the email it is crucial to follow-up, at least 2-3 times weekly.
#10. Create exciting popups to engage with your visitors
It is vital to use the latest technology to engage your visitors. Popup technology can help you learn what engages your visitors. It is one of the best practices for capturing the attention of your prospects.
You can extend using popup technology to do more for your website. Here is how:
Popups can be used to:
- Promote a giveaway – Who does not like things for free. Offering a free giveaway as an incentive is a great way to use popup technology to engage your visitors. And an ebook can be one of the best free giveaways.
- Promote your products or plans – When you want to showcase any specific content or product, you can use popup technology. The product or content can be popular with a wide-range of your audience, or something new that you want prospects to see.
- Create your email subscriber list – Popups work so well to build your email subscriber list. A visitor may not have time to read every article on your site. When they sign up for your email list, they can read more articles and topics. Also, you get another chance to market to these visitors.
- Ask for customer feedback – You can use popups for asking customer feedback after the conversation is over to measure the customer satisfaction level.
Using the latest popup technology allows you to fine tune your popups so they don’t bother your visitors. You get a chance to learn about your audience or promote an ebook, and you never have to worry about annoying your visitors.
#11. Offer discounts & deals
Whether you are a small business or an enterprise, if you are looking to move your sales figures, one of the most common approaches is to offer discounts, coupons or deals. Offering discounts or deals can be a powerful weapon in your conversion arsenal to drive customer loyalty.
How these strategies can drive sales volume to your business?
- Your customers feel positive about your business. Mediapost research says when people receive a coupon or savings offer, they become happier and more relaxed.
- Offers and discounts help your customers choose your products over other brands, giving you a foot in the door.
Here are several types of discounts and offers you have at your disposal. Some of the most common are:
- Percentage-based discount
- Dollar value discount
- Free shipping
- Free gift
Best practices to improve the coupons and discounts positioning on your website
- Loyalty reward programs and bonus discount offers to improve customer loyalty as well as retention.
- Provide coupon offers to your customers for sharing their reviews and stories
- You can offer coupons – discount offers exclusively for newsletter sign-ups and for email alerts.
- Offering discounts on the next purchase is also a good way to incentivize your customers.
#12. Highlight your social proof
“Users spend an average of 5.94 seconds looking at a website’s main image”
Researchers found that their subjects spent about 2.6 seconds scanning a website before focusing on a particular section.
One of the biggest challenges when designing a website is not only creating a flawless experience for all devices but also one that engages the visitors and holds their attention in the right way.
Including distinctive elements such as reviews, testimonials, video based customer stories provide the opportunity to influence the visitor by striking a balance between regular content and important details.
What it means is images add depth and significance to a user’s impressions of a website while spicing things up. It also shows that users pay attention to the main image on a web page, so it’s important to make sure that this image communicates effectively and reinforces the brand.
How to make a website appealing to generate leads?
- Select images that are relevant to your product or service offering and will not distract from the overall objective of the website.
Note: Balance the images across the website. Don’t go overboard.
- Depending upon the product if you feel an image slider is a good idea you can do that. It gives you the ability to showcase your brand in multiple different settings. It also allows you to pitch a variety of offers.
Note: There are statistics that show sliders actually having a detrimental impact on conversion and user opinion. Here’s a chart from Instapage showing the massive discrepancy between click-through rates of slider images at different positions.
#13. Be active in communities and forums
Forums or communities are truly the first types of social media that existed online. A great forum is one that helps users to ask questions and connect over similar interests.
Often users turn to forums to ask for technical help, look for information on businesses they may use for a service or just for general knowledge of a subject. This creates great opportunities for business owners to reach out with their services or to resolve any problems that may have happened.
One thing you need to make sure is that you need to be active in these groups, communities or forums in order to create visibility to share your thoughts. This place is where your buying personas are present.
Ways communities help in lead generation
- Organize events or workshops – You can plan events or workshops in order to build and strengthen customer relationships.
- Share your ideas – You need to be active on the forums as they act as social platforms to share your ideas and expertise that matches the interest of your customers.
For example Quora. It is very important for B2B businesses. It allows you to communicate with your customers. Quora might just be the place where you can enhance the customer experience.
On Quora, your prospects and customers are already asking questions — questions that you have the answers to. If you join the platform and play the part of the expert, you’ll quickly enhance your brand’s image in the eyes of your target audience and drive leads to your website.
#14. Attend trade shows and industry specific events
Trade shows or industry-specific events help to target leads. According to the study by Convention Industry Council, there are more than 284,000 conventions, conferences, and tradeshows in the U.S. These events attracted more than 87 million attendees.
Tips to prepare for trade shows and what to do to maximize the ROI
- Choose strategically and set specific trade show goals. Be sure to select the right conference, convention, or trade show for your business goals.
- You have to establish goals. No matter small or large, it’s important to set business goals and map out a lead generation plan prior to attending the show.
- You should focus on ROI Not the size of the trade show or event.
- It is very important that you choose the right location for your trade show.
- Your trade show should not be flashy. Keep your design simple but attractive.
Most trade shows lead capture tools can do the following:
- Analyze event traffic based on date and time of day to highlight your peak lead capture performance hours.
- Provide lead capture data. You can turn those leads into sales and use the data to prove the ROI of an event.
- Establish a uniform system for capturing, organizing, and storing of trade show leads. This way, teams can use the data at multiple events in many different locations.
#15. Keep an eye on competitors
Staying on top of your competitor’s marketing tactics is key to be ahead in the game. This knowledge consists of both knowing what to track and how to be effective at it.
Three critical things online businesses should track about competitors:
- Changes in website – It is a standard practice nowadays to keep an eye on competitor keyword rankings. Rank tracking helps inform us of how our competitors’ tactics are working. What to keep an eye on?
- structural markup or microformats
- meta changes
- to internal linking
- changes to crawlability
- Social media & blog posts – Tracking the social channels and posts of your competition is a good way to gain insight into what they’re sharing and what’s performing well for them. Keeping an eye on the content that performs well is one way to spark ideas of the content of your own. The questions that you need to ask while tracking your competitor’s social media.
- What are they writing about?
- How long are the posts?
- What style do they take?
- How do they engage?
- Promotional email campaigns – Tracking your competitors’ promotional campaigns and special offers provide important insights into their product details and how you can outperform your competitors. The things to note are:
- Are your competitors building a brand?
- How often do these emails come out?
- Are they selling stuff?
- Are they sending long emails or short emails?
How you can implement the above lead generation ideas
Where you are in B2B or B2C focussed industry, you need to understand your buyer personas and choose the right lead generation channels. Lead generation is not an end goal but a continuous process to engage with your customers and prospects too.
Make sure to choose the right lead generation methods and implement it to help your businesses to acquire more customers, retain them and accelerate overall revenue growth.
As some initiatives are more successful at driving immediate conversions than others, and therefore should be measured accordingly in relation to the sales funnel.