In the word of digital marketing, there are not very many activities that are done by all marketers regardless of the industry or market you operate in (i.e. Business to Consumer or Business to Business; product or service), how mature your business is, or what your organisation’s level of sophistication is.
But one of those activities is lead generation. If your conversations with your boss include the phrases ‘conversion rate, revenue, traffic’ then it is likely that you are spending a lot of time working on lead generation, even if you don’t realise you are doing so!
Just because lead generation is common doesn’t mean that it is easy. Consider the below questions:
- Where do your prospects hang out online?
- How can you attract more traffic to the website?
- Are you selling to existing customers or finding new ones?
- What tool should you use to talk to this particular person, at this specific time and about this specific subject?
Not easy to answer, right? That is why you need a lead generation strategy. It helps to organise your marketing activity so that you are focusing on the right message at the right time.
There are lots of lead generation strategy models, but the one that we will explore is a 4 point model based around RACE, as used by the digital marketing website Smart Insights: Reach; Attract; Convert; Engage.
But before we get into the model, there is something you need to do – develop a plan. This is going to be specific to your business, and should set out clear and measurable goals, budgets, resource, etc. It can be fairly top-line as there will be some unknowns, but time spent here is time well invested as it sets the direction for the rest of the lead generation strategy.
This is the first stage of actual marketing activity. You will be looking to raise awareness of your product or service and trying to make links between your potential customers and your business. At this stage, the content is likely to be informative and there to help your audience rather than selling to them (remember, they don’t know who you are yet!).
There are a number of tools to enable you to drive your awareness:
Search Engine Optimisation: If you look at your analytics package, you will be able to see how much traffic organic search engine traffic delivers to your site: it is likely to be a lot! So, you should have identified the most important keywords for your site and be in the process of writing some great content to reflect your objectives. If you have got your search engine optimisation right, it can help to build trust and credibility in your potential customers, as they can (rightly) assume that you are a player in the market.
Pay per Click Advertising: SEO does take time to get right, and even though the rewards are enormous, you may want to consider PPC advertising. If you are looking for a relatively quick way to get onto page one of your search engine, PPC may be for you: but remember, if your chosen search terms are highly competitive, what you save in time, you pay for in budget.
Social Media: A great way of generating awareness of your business is through social media. You should first spend some time working out where your audience hang out line, when they are doing so and what is their mind-set – for example, you may be a sales director, but your mind-set on Facebook will be very different from your mind-set on LinkedIn.
Website: When people are starting to explore, is your website answering their questions; for example is terminology explained; is your returns policy very clear? But in order to get people to your website first of all, you will need to attract them with some content (which will help SEO and can be shared on social media) – a blog is a great way of doing this.
The measurement of the Reach phase of your strategy is particularly important. Raising awareness is difficult to measure if you are not measuring the awareness of a huge brand: research into brand recall, brand recognition and brand association are pointless with 99.9% of brands, so you need to think more laterally. If you are promoting your website (and you should be!), what are the visitor numbers looking like? Where is the referral traffic coming from for these new visitors? Is our social media audience growing?
This is the stage where you are really starting to focus on driving traffic to your website. Your audience are aware of you, and it’s time to start helping them take action! As this stage is all about your website or blog, there are a lot of metrics to be measured, most of which will be covered by your analytics package.
Visitors: This is obvious, but you should have an overall view of whether your web traffic is increasing or not
Traffic source: You should be able to link the traffic from your activities in the ‘Reach’ stage to your traffic sources. Here you can see how effective each activity has been. You may also start to employ some affiliate marketing: if you are talking to a specialist audience who are difficult to reach, try advertising with a more specialist website and drive traffic from there. You might also want to keep an eye on the geography of your audience if relevant from your ‘Reach’ stage activities.
On-site engagement: To judge how engaged people are when they are on your website, keep an eye on the ‘time on site’ and ‘pages per visit’ metrics, although their importance can vary – for example, you may only want the user to see the page they land on.
This is the point at which the purchase is made (ideally!). If your product is being sold online through an ecommerce platform, then the emphasis here is all about your website performance.
Conversion rate optimisation is all about making the journey that you want the user to complete as simple as possible. So it is all about making processes simple: if we look at the world’s most popular ecommerce site, Amazon, we can see their navigation is very clear, as well as their check-out process which can be as simple as just one click to purchase. You may not be able to match that, but think of all of the information that you would like to see before purchasing – e.g. return policy, delivery options, product dimensions, product reviews, etc.
Also consider multi-variant testing – with facts to back up which parts of the website work best, you will never have to get into the conversation about whether red, green or blue ‘buy now’ buttons work better again!
The ultimate measure of whether the ‘Convert’ stage is working is cold hard profit. But you should also spend time thinking about the factors which lead to profit – what is your product / service mix, could your basket spend increase, referrals from which source have the highest conversion rate, what was the redemption on the Facebook promotion code?
In theory a simple stage, but in reality it is here where a lead generation strategy is successful or not.
While the ‘Engage’ stage may seem like the end of the journey, it is actually the start of the next journey! Engage is all about customer retention: it is well publicised that the cost of recruiting a new customer is 7 times more expensive than retaining an existing customer (https://blog.kissmetrics.com/retaining-customers/).
The challenge at this stage is to give the customer enough reasons to come back. Now that you have the customer’s details, you are able to engage with them on a regular basis, for example through email, offline direct mail or loyalty schemes. Social media is also a great way of keeping in touch with existing customers to encourage them to come back.
In terms of metrics, you should be looking at customer satisfaction (you should have an automated process to track how happy a customer was with their experience), lifetime value of the customer, and whether they are an advocate of your business on social media.
And once you have done all of this, it is time to start the process again. And just think how good you will be second time around!