Lead generation is one of the primary roles of your marketing organization and the greatest demand of your sales force. As markets become more globalized your marketing team needs to make greater use of the web in generating leads for your sales team to follow up on and close.
Here’s a list of 10 key steps to take in generating those leads.
1. Identify Your Prospects
List the key characteristics of your target customers in order to find where they are on the web, what they are interested in, and what is likely to make them take time out of their day to visit your site and provide their contact information. This last point should tie back to your value proposition.
2. Give to Get
While many sales professionals refer to the first stage of the sales process as “Lead Generation” we’re really talking about “Contact Generation”. We want our prospects to visit our website and then provide their contact information in exchange for something of value. So we have to create something that would be interesting or useful to our prospects. Such as a Case Study, Tutorial, Whitepaper, or maybe you have the budget for an iPad giveaway. Whatever you determine to give your prospects make it available on your website with a simple sign-up form.
3. Write a Blog Post
You or someone in your company should already be contributing to a blog, so write a blog post that talks to the subject of your giveaway. The less it is about your product and more about your customers the better. Your blog post helps with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but also gives you an additional link to be used for subsequent steps.
Very little about marketing is discussed without “Tweet” or “Twitter” being mentioned. Unless you have a very targeted audience (targeted using hashtags or your carefully nurtured list of followers) this may not be an immediately rewarding channel. However, post a comment with a link to your giveaway or blog post in order to build up that marketing channel at the least. These links will drive your targeted prospects to your sign-up page.
5. Post to LinkedIn Group
Especially if your business is B2B, you should be using LinkedIn as a way to find and engage your target audience. Search LinkedIn’s groups, join them (if you haven’t already), and start a discussion or join one. Then, in a non-spammy way, post a link to your giveaway.
6. Post to Facebook
While the value of Facebook to B2B companies is still patchy, it is an essential channel for B2C businesses. Search for groups that focus on your customers and post a link to your giveaway here.
7. Join a Conversation
Ideally you should be participating in online discussions important to your customers. Either way, using tools such as Technorati, BlogPulse, or Google Alerts, find blog posts or articles from publications that serve your community (market). Engage in the conversation by making posts. You can add a link with your comments, but again - don’t make it spammy!
8. Answer a Question
Sometimes, within LinkedIn or Quora, your customers are asking explicitly for your help. The question could be related to your value proposition, the problem you solve, or the field you’re in. Perform searches on these platforms, answer the question in a meaningful way and include your link as a source of additional information. But make sure that your giveaway content is indeed related to the question and your answer.
9. Buy Contacts & Engage
You can buy contact information using services such as Jigsaw. But if you do, a best practice would be to enable your customers to opt-in to your marketing program. Use an email marketing tool like ConstantContact of Mail Chimp to reach out to your new contacts with a “value rich” email and link to your giveway. The same could be done with a purchased or rented email list.
Here’s an interesting perspective on evaluating the quality of your list.
Last but not least, if your budget allows, purchase adwords from Google and include a link to your content and sign-up sheet. It sounds pretty straight forward, but this alone is an art and a science.
This post was written by James Colgan on November 22, 2011