Lead generation and TOFU (top-of-funnel) marketing are terms that marketers are guaranteed to throw at you at some point in your entrepreneurial journey. This can be overwhelming for business owners who are just looking for a way to secure new clients. You might wonder, what are leads, actually? Why do you need them, and where do you get them? Let us explain.
Simply speaking, a lead is someone who has become interested in your business and the solution it offers. That means lead generation is the process of warming up strangers to your brand, so they eventually want to hear and buy from you.
In the customer lifecycle, lead generation spans the first two phases: attracting interest and capturing leads. (Check out this blog post for an in-depth explanation of the whole customer lifecycle.)
In this post, we’ll get into the weeds of the lead generation process. We’ll tell you exactly why it’s important, how it works, and show you a simple step-by-step process to set up your first “lead generation machine.” Let’s get to it.
Why you need lead generation
If you’re serious about growing your business then lead generation is not optional. Period. In fact, your business might not even survive without it. Here’s why.
Stabilise and grow your business
Now, you might say “I do get some referrals. Why do I need new leads?” That’s great, but relying on external factors that are largely out of your control to get new customers can trap you in a feast and famine cycle. Sometimes you’ll have more than enough clients and hit your revenue goals. And sometimes you might barely scrape by because no new leads are coming in. Lead generation can ensure that you’re getting a constant stream of clients, automatically, that you can fully rely on.
Win the war for attention
You know it … we’re all being bombarded every second of the day with new information on our smartphones, TV’s, the radio, you name it. Our attention has become a scarce resource, and we’re getting more and more careful about who we give it to. We’re getting pretty good at ignoring what we don’t want to hear and see. What that means for your business is if you’re not visible in a way that appeals to your target audience, you’ll ultimately become invisible and will have a hard time converting new clients.
Adapt to the way people buy
Just a couple of decades ago, selling was easy. Information was scarce and inaccessible, so businesses held all the power. Potential customers were still eager to talk to salesmen and learn more about the best products on the market.
Today though, what do you do when you are looking for a solution? You google it, duh! You can already learn almost everything there is to know about your problem and potential businesses that solve it. 60 – 90% of the decision-making process is already completed before most people even speak to a salesperson. That means for your business, if you’re not showing up in this research process, your potential customers will have already made up their mind before they even hear about you.
How the lead generation process works
It might seem confusing at first, but it is actually pretty straightforward. First, a prospect discovers your business through one of your marketing channels (like your website, blog, or social media).
Then, this person clicks on a call-to-action (CTA). This could be a button, a message, or an image in an ad that asks them to take action.
This CTA takes your prospect to a landing page which is designed to capture your lead’s information in exchange for a lead magnet.
A lead magnet is a free offer such as a guide, an ebook, or a template that holds some value for your potential clients. It should solve at least one of their problems right away.
A form on your landing page records the information of your new lead, for example, their name and email address. This form transmits the data directly into your CRM software and creates a new contact.
You got yourself a new lead! Congrats!
Set up your lead generation step by step
Now, we’ll show you the 6 easy steps to setting up and automating your lead generation process so you can start capturing new leads in no time.
1. Decide your marketing channels
Marketing channels are the different platforms and ways on which your audience can discover you and your business. Which channel works best for you will entirely depend on where your ideal clients typically hang out. Maybe they’re all on Facebook or prefer to read blogs.
Consistency is key when it comes to marketing on your channels. Choose channels where you can commit to staying active. For example, it would be a waste of your time and resources to start a podcast and then publish only 2 episodes because you’re too busy or ran out of ideas.
Here is an overview of the most important marketing channels:
Your website might be the most underrated marketing channel. This is where all of your prospects will eventually end up to learn more about your business (and to find out if you’re legit). It should create a positive first impression and answer your audience’s questions quickly.
Blog & SEO
Think of your blog as the savings account of your business. As you publish more content, you’ll receive more interest that will compound over time, making it more valuable. When you optimize your blog posts for search engines (SEO), then you’ll have the chance to be found organically. Every blog post should offer value to your audience and be high-quality. No one wants to read shallow, boring content.
This is a big one! No business can afford to not be present on social media anymore. That doesn’t mean that you have to jump onto every platform. As consistency in posting is key, it would be exhausting to be present everywhere. Pick the ones that your target audience is frequenting the most and focus on nailing it there.
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is a great way to build an audience quickly. The dominating players are Google and Facebook/Instagram ads. It can be a bit intimidating to start an ad campaign if you’ve never done it before and there’s certainly a learning curve to it.
Starting your own podcast has never been easier. Grab your smartphone, start recording, and soon you could be found on iTunes (soon to be Apple Podcasts) or other platforms. For entrepreneurs, it’s the perfect place to practice their public speaking skills and gain more confidence. Also, it will build your authority in your industry and make you look like THE expert.
Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine? It’s where plenty of us spend hours every day discovering new content … like, ahem, cat videos …. and new businesses, of course. Video has become an incredibly important medium that’s extremely effective at engaging audiences and is a must for entrepreneurs who want to show and not only tell.
2. Warm up your audience
Imagine going on a first date and immediately being proposed to. Sounds crazy, right? But this is exactly how many businesses act when they bombard their target audience right off the bat with sales messages and offers. They think they are being smart and will save time and marketing budget, only to be discouraged by meagre results.
Fact is, your audience needs some time to get to know you first (and vice versa). How do you achieve that? By putting out highly shareable and easy to consume pieces of content that is relevant for your ideal clients. Those could be high-quality blog posts, short videos, pictures, or social media messages like Facebook updates and Tweets.
At this time, the focus is on building a relationship with your prospects. And here’s how to achieve that:
- Be transparent, accessible, and outgoing.
- Ask questions and listen carefully to how your ideal clients respond.
- Answer any questions that your prospects might have for you.
- Keep adding value and be as helpful as you can.
3. Create your lead magnet
Now that your audience has warmed up to you, it’s time to create something that’ll grab their attention. Consider the following questions when you brainstorm ideas for your lead magnet:
- How can I solve a real problem that my audience is struggling with right now?
- How can I get them a quick win?
- How can I be as specific as possible?
- How can I make it easy to digest?
- How can I show my expertise?
- How can I add value for my prospects?
You have a ton of options when it comes to packaging your lead magnet. There’s something for everyone. Here are the most popular formats:
Very important: At the very end of your lead magnet, include a CTA for your leads to take the next step in the process. What is that next step? Read our next blog post here.
4. Set up your landing page
When you’re lead magnet is ready to go, you’ll need a way to deliver it to your new leads. That will happen via a landing page which tells them about your lead magnet (making it super enticing), and then collects your prospect’s contact information. In order to record this information, you’ll need to embed a form in your landing page (We’ll discuss this in the next step. Btw, we’d recommend Clickfunnels for setting up your landing page.
When you cover these essential elements in your landing page, you’ll create a high-converting lead generation machine:
5. Connect your CRM
Your CRM is the backbone of your sales and marketing efforts. It’s THE central place to organize all your leads and customer’s information and keep track of their stage in your customer lifecycle.
When you started your business and had just a handful of clients, it was still possible to store that information in a spreadsheet. But if you truly want to grow and automate your business, a CRM is indispensable. It makes maintaining a relationship with your audience so much easier and less time-consuming.
We recommend Keap by Infusionsoft, the all-in-one CRM, sales, & marketing automation software.
For now, you’ll be setting up a form in your CRM that can collect your lead’s contact information on your landing page. When the form is completed, your lead magnet should be delivered. That can be done either via direct download or through an email with a link to download.
6. Let your lead magnet loose
Let’s briefly recap what you’ve accomplished so far: You’ve selected the marketing channels that you want to leverage to reach your target audience. You’ve been active on those channels, and your prospects are slowly warming up to you. Your lead magnet is ready to go, and your landing page is set up and connected to your CRM. Awesome!
Now it’s time to flip the switch and turn on your lead generation machine. That means publishing the CTA that’ll draw people to your landing page to get your lead magnet. Basically, you could put this CTA on all of your marketing channels to get the most out of it. For example, add it at the end of every blog post and to the homepage of your website.
A very effective way to create traffic to your landing page is Facebook ads. These let you target highly specific audiences, based on criteria such as location, age, gender, interests, and behaviours. You’ll need to set aside a little budget for this, but it’s worth trying to increase your reach. If you’re new to Facebook ads, here’s a guide on how to set them up.
But how do you actually write an ad? Check out our tips for creating your first Facebook ad that’ll promote your lead magnet:
Now it’s your turn
Setting up your lead generation process is the first step to automating and growing your business. Now you’ve got all the information and tools to make it happen. It might seem like a lot of work, but when you’ve automated this process once, it will benefit you for years to come. Also, you don’t have to create a 40-page ebook as a lead magnet or post a video every day on Facebook. Keep it simple for a start and get more sophisticated as you go along.
Looking for some more guidance on lead generation and business automation? We’ve got you covered. Imagine you could have a step-by-step strategy that’s tailored to your business and target audience, with the exact steps and right tools to bring you new leads on end. Wouldn’t that make things much easier? Because you’re already here and reading this, we have a pretty good feeling that you’re ready to take action and transform your business to reach the next level. And for that reason, we’d like to invite you to join us for a FREE Business Automation Roadmap Call. Simply click the button below to secure your call, and we can get you on the way to more clients and revenue.