For small businesses selling services, collecting qualified leads and building an email list ensures a steady stream of future customers. Lead generation is the process or pipeline for converting anonymous web traffic into contacts, so you can continue to proactively market to those contacts in the future.
But you’re not just collecting a visitor’s contact information. You’re connecting with your audience and providing them with something of value in exchange for their information. Once visitors have shown interest and requested to join your email list, you’re in a position to actively nurture those leads until they’re ready to buy.
As the leader in conversion marketing, Leadpages has long been at the forefront of lead generation for small businesses. So we created this Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation as a compilation of proven strategies and tactics, gathered from tens of thousands of businesses over the past several years.
Whether you’re looking to learn the basics of lead generations, or need some new and creative ideas, we’ll cover it all in this guide.
Lead generation means something different depending on the type of business you run and the industry that you’re in. Where they come from, how they’re collected, and what they’re ‘worth’ changes from one business to the next. That being said, the principles are largely the same.
A 'lead' is someone who:
A lot of marketers define a lead just by the first part of that definition. But they’re not really a lead unless you have their contact information to follow up with them.
For example, an online retailer offers new customers the opportunity to enter an email address and receive a 10-percent off discount for their first purchase.
Whether or not the visitors use the coupon, they are now subscribed to the retailer’s email list. This allows the business owner to keep in touch until the lead is ready to buy. Lead generation involves collecting the contact information of potential customers so that you can nurture those leads until they’re ready to buy.
Lead generation is the process for qualifying and capturing the contact information of people that show interest in your business.
But it’s more than just collecting a prospect’s information. Lead generation is about building a relationship with the person who shows interest. You want to turn them from a stranger or “cold” prospect into a warm lead (someone who could potentially buy in the near future).
There are a lot of different methods of lead generation. A lead could come through your online marketing (like paid or social ads), through in-person conversations (with a salesperson at a pop-up shop), or even through referrals and word of mouth (from your former clients). In this guide, we’re going to focus on the role your landing pages and website play in your online lead generation.
A lead magnet is a piece of free content that you offer in exchange for a visitor’s contact information. Like a magnet, it pulls people in to pique their interest and encourage them to give you their email address.
Why use a lead magnet? Because nothing comes for free. Most people won’t just give you their email address for nothing. They’ll give you their information in exchange for some sort of value that they want. This could be a downloadable guide, a free webinar, or a special discount code, for example.
Where is lead generation in the marketing journey?
Lead generation is often the second stage of ‘inbound’ marketing. It happens after you’ve pulled traffic to your page and before you convert them into a viable potential customer.
Lead generation is the process of turning traffic into interested prospects.
Here’s what the typical process looks like:
Landing pages are the most common and effective means of digital lead generation, but you can also do a similar process with website pages. We’ll talk about both landing pages and website pages in this guide.
Strangers seldom become customers after one visit or interaction with a brand. They need multiple impressions from your brand to make a purchasing decision.
If you don’t have your visitor’s information, you lose all control over these impressions. You have to just cross your fingers and hope that they’ll find their way back to your website or social media page (which is rare).
But if you grab the visitor’s information, you control their future impressions of your business, both in quality and quantity. You can send them more offers, remind them how great your brand is, and pull them further through your sales journey.
What are the benefits of lead generation?
A qualified lead is someone who has actively shown potential to buy from you, as opposed to any old name and email address.
Why does this matter? Because you’re not wasting time or money or resources contacting people who have no interest in buying. You’re only marketing to those people who could potentially buy. Qualified leads make sure you’re spending your marketing budget on people who could and would move to the next step of your sales journey.
Qualifying a lead is a big part of what lead generation is. In most cases, “qualifying” means that the visitor is proving their interest by not only joining your email list but staying actively engaged.
If leads are so important, can’t I just buy them from companies that sell lead lists and save myself the trouble? There are a lot of services out there that will sell you a list of email addresses or phone numbers.
But those leads are not qualified.
If you reach out to those “leads,” you’re essentially cold calling a stranger who’s probably never heard of you before.
You’re spending money to buy leads who have no idea who you are, who may not be interested in what you’re selling, and who may even get mad that you “bought” their information.
After you’ve generated a lead, you’ll want to “nurture” them. Nurturing a lead is the process of reaching out to leads after they’ve given you their information. You’re basically keeping the lead “warm” until they’re ready to purchase.
Check out these 5 steps to increase the value of your leads.
In most cases, the next step in the journey is email marketing. An email address isn’t a huge barrier to entry, especially in exchange for some sort of offer like the lead magnet. Since it’s not too hard to grab their email address, it makes sense to reach out to them (and nurture them) by email.
Get more info about email marketing and the best email marketing platform to nurture your leads with just a click on the link.
B2C and B2B lead generation pretty much work the same way. You might just need to alter the information you grab and the lead magnets you offer.
For B2C (business to consumer) lead generation, you’re likely focused on selling some sort of product or service. So this lead is a potential customer. That means you’ll want to tailor your marketing towards sales.
B2B (business to business) lead generation can also be about making a sale, but not always. Sometimes, you’re looking for business partners or connections. Also, B2B marketing, in general, can be a little more nuanced than B2C, because you have to adjust your traffic sources and lead magnets to find relevant decision-makers at qualified businesses.
Either way, lead generation functions similarly for both B2B and B2C, as long as you know who your leads are and what they want. Then you can design your campaign accordingly! We’ll get more in-depth about lead generation strategies in the next chapter.
SEO (search engine optimization) is about bringing more traffic to your page or site. You’re crafting the page in a way that Google likes, so its algorithm can acknowledge the authority, credibility, and relevance of your site.
SEO boosts the page’s ranking for certain keywords or phrases, so you appear higher up in search results. This gives you more visibility and reach, which brings more people to your page.
More organic traffic on your page means more potential leads and leads come at a lower cost than paid traffic since it’s happening organically.
That means SEO helps make lead generation possible by bringing people to your site. But it’s its own ball game entirely.
Check out our Landing Page SEO resource to learn everything you need to know about crafting pages that convert and rank on search engines.
On the left side of this guide, you can toggle through the chapters to find the information that you’re interested in. Or follow each chapter one at a time, and we’ll guide you through to the next section at the end of the page.
The rest of this guide is chock full of awesome tips and tricks that will make lead generation easy for your landing pages and websites, so keep reading.