Lead generation is the lifeblood of any business. Without a steady supply of high-quality leads that can be nurtured towards a purchase, your sales team will be forced to waste its time making cold calls and sending cold emails to people who don’t want to talk to them. This article tells you how to generate leads in 10 straightforward steps so you can easily plan, execute and evaluate your efforts.
Steps 1 to 3 in our lead generation process are strategic. They take a high-level view of your efforts and may even extend beyond lead generation to include deeper relationship-building both prior to and after the sale. Steps 4 to 10 are about producing the digital content necessary to execute your strategy, ensuring everything links together and evaluating your lead generation efforts.
Step 1: Develop a buyer persona.
Not all strangers make great leads. Creating a buyer persona will help you attract the strangers you want.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on real data and educated guesses about behaviour, motivations and goals.
To develop your buyer persona, talk to your sales team and real customers. Do online research via LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Go beyond demographics to what gets your buyer out of bed in the morning and what keeps them up at night. Put it all together in a document that becomes an ongoing and ever-evolving reference as you identify the content you should create and platforms it should live on.
Step 2: Map your buyer’s journey.
Once you understand your persona, you can map their journey to purchase and beyond. (If you’d like more information on lead generation and the buyer's journey, check out our lead generation guide.)
Think of the kinds of questions they’d ask, the places they’d look for information and the types of experiences you could give them at each stage of their journey that they would appreciate.
Step 3: Develop a content strategy.
Once you understand your persona’s buyer’s journey, you can more easily identify the kind of information they’ll be interested in at each stage. Since attracting the right strangers to your website is critical to lead generation, keyword research for SEO is an extremely important component of this step.
Your content strategy should identify a pillar page (a comprehensive page on a topic your persona is interested in that you want to be known for), a list of priority keywords, and suggested topics and types of content you will develop over time for each stage in the buyer’s journey.
This is also a perfect time to determine how you’ll measure the performance of your content.
Step 4: Create an offer.
An “offer” is something you put on your website that a visitor has to fill out a form to receive. Use your buyer’s journey map and content strategy document to determine the best topic and format for your first offer, then create it. Examples of offers include:
- product demos
- free consultations
- free trials
Step 5: Create a landing page with a form for your offer.
A “landing page” is a page with one purpose only: to convince your persona that your offer is worth their time and potential loss of privacy to share their contact information with you.
Keep your form as short as possible, and only ask for information that’s relevant and in keeping with the value of the offer to your persona.
Step 6: Develop supporting content for your site.
Some people will go directly to your offer, clicking right from an ad, search engine results page, or button on your site. Others will need to be taken on a bit of a content journey before they're ready to fill out your form.
Once you have your offer and landing page, use your content strategy as a guide to create new content that would relate to your offer. You can also add links to existing content on your site. Think of this content as nudging your visitors towards your offer. Make it “free” (in other words, no form needs to be filled out to access it). That way it's simply helping to engage your visitors and prove to them that the next step—clicking through to your landing page and filling out your form—is worthwhile.
Don’t forget to add one or more calls-to-actions, such as text links and buttons, on these upstream pages so your persona is encouraged to take the next step.
Step 7: Promote your offer.
It’s often said that you should spend as much time promoting your offer as you do creating it. Post a link to the landing page on your social media channels and create digital ads. Use your persona as a guide when choosing the platforms and determining the ad targeting.
Step 8: Repeat steps 4 through 7 for other offers.
One offer is rarely enough—after all, you have a whole buyer’s journey to cover! Choose the next most important stage in the buyer’s journey and develop an offer, landing page and supporting content. Then promote the heck out of it.
Step 9: Link your content.
Create a natural journey for your persona to travel from one stage in the buyer’s journey to the next using strategically placed CTAs, emails, “smart” content on your website and other techniques to connect the dots and nurture your leads.
Step 10: Measure and adjust.
One of the great advantages of online lead generation is the ability to track progress and adjust your approach based on data. Set up reports using the key performance indicators you decided on in Step 3, then analyze the performance of your lead generation. Let the numbers tell you where your efforts are working and where they need work, adjust your approach and measure again.
Use these 10 steps to generate your leads and you’ll be well on your way to keeping your sales team busy doing what they do best—nurturing high-quality, qualified leads towards a sale.