In most business-to-business (B2B), and many business-to-consumer (B2C) scenarios, lead generation is necessary prior to sales, contracts, or customer acquisition.
So what is lead generation, and how can you improve or maximize lead generation?
Great questions! To answer, Modern Marketing Partners (MMP) will share a Definition of Lead Generation, along with some insight into the differences between Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). Then, per the title, MMP will provide a list of 25 Lead Generation Types, along with corresponding tips that you can apply to achieve maximum lead generation effectiveness.
Lead Generation Definition
Fundamentally, Lead Generation is defined as the action or process of identifying and cultivating prospective customers (prospects) for a business’s products or services. There are some related terms including Demand Generation and Customer Acquisition that may have some differences, but for now lets drill deeper into two key Lead Generation sub-categories: Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).
Marketing Qualified Leads or MQLs are defined as individual contacts that can be identified, and that fit a profile or persona of the ideal prospect. For B2B scenarios, MQLs might be industry, company size (revenue or employees), title or department, and geographic location. For B2C scenarios, MQLs might be demographic or psychographic profiles or personas (age, gender, interests, geographic, etc.)
In contrast, Sales Qualified Leads or SQLs or Opportunities begin as MQLs and are converted to SQLs with some type or level of qualification. A popular sales qualification is BANT, an acronym for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing. Intuitively, BANT qualification requires a conversation, interview, or meetings with the “MQL” (prospect) to determine SQL status.
SQLs of course are closer to becoming customers, and are more valuable than MQLs. Typically, marketers identify and measure conversion rates of MQLs to SQLs, and ultimately, SQL conversions to sales or closed deals. For more information on conversion rate, check our our Lead Conversion Rates blog here. Marketing Automation tools or software measure conversion rates and/or “score” leads based on actions or qualifications, which “trigger” different communications, e.g. nurture email campaigns.
So without further ado, following are 25 Lead Generation Types and Tips! (listed from most basic to advanced)
25 Lead Generation Types and Tips
- Inbound telephone calls: make your telephone number prominent in website header and footer; use a toll-free number with memorable word references (e.g. 800-Law-Easy)
- Outbound Telemarketing: no question telemarketing might be less effective than before; but opportunities are plentiful including calling lost or dormant customers, identifying and calling other customer locations, identifying and calling multiple decision-makers at a particular company (dialing for dollars)
- LinkedIn Connections: connecting with relevant contacts on LinkedIn is an easy way to start a conversation; once connected you can obtain the contacts email address from their profile’s Contact Info
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator: for a modest monthly fee, upgrade your free LinkedIn profile to Sales Navigator, a tool that allows more robust searches, list exports, and other lead generation features
- LinkedIn Groups: join/start/manage a specialized LinkedIn Group to access group member contact info; participate in Group discussions with offers and links
- Website Contact Information: make Contact information (telephone, email, Contact page) prominent including website header and footer
- Website Registration Forms: use website forms liberally, balance required information fields and optional information fields to minimize form abandonment, use email privacy statements and Captcha, integrate with CRM systems when applicable
- Website Gated Content: offer valuable, educational resources with the aforementioned registration forms in front of including guides, white papers, how-to-manuals, e-books, podcasts, etc.
- Website Resources Page: offer Resources in primary navigation with videos, guides, white papers, training tools with the aforementioned registration forms
- Use Calls-To-Action (CTAs): use multiple offers or calls-to-action throughout your website, emails, blogs, and related assets; CTA examples include email registrations, educational content, event registrations, and promotional offers
- Publish Case Studies: case studies are a magnet for prospects, so apply liberally; we recommend not gating case studies, with other calls-to-action to capture MQLs
- Publish a Study: conduct a survey or study, and create a professional report that can be gated and added to the aforementioned Resources page, offered as a download, and promoted across channels; data-mine survey respondents for our next tactic
- Email Lists: in the USA email is still a great lead generation tactic, so internally build email lists via inbound calls, website registrations, the aforementioned LinkedIn options, along with ongoing research and data-mining; externally use databases like Hoovers and D&B, identify list brokers, member associations, trade show lists; use www.emailverifier.com to verify email addresses
- Email Campaign Best Practices: most brands target multiple profiles or personas, likewise emails should target specific profiles (one-size-does-not-fit-all); next personalize emails with the recipient’s and/or company name; optimize subject lines via short, provocative “hooks”, with a strong sense of urgency, e.g. Register Today; (experiment with a free tool: www.subjectline.com); email design should include 1-3 topics with brief summaries and “Read More” links or buttons, along with specific CTAs with buttons that go to your website for tracking purposes; resend emails to non-opens with a slightly different subject line
- Email Follow-Up: all email service providers (ESPs), Marketing Automation or CRM systems have great email campaign metrics including Opens and Click-Thru reports; MMP recommends telephoning email recipients that had multiple opens or click-thrus as a fast way to identifying SQLs
- Webcasts: produce a webcast on an interesting subject; get a high-profile customer to be a panelist to attract other customers; promote via PR, blog, social, even PPC; record the webcast to use as on-demand video; data-mine webcast registrants to add to email lists or telemarketing
- Trade Show Contest: when attending or exhibiting at a live event or trade show, use contests to gather sales leads; something as simple as a fishbowl business card drop to receive a premium or “Tchotchke”; or games (putting contest, roulette wheel, etc.) to participate in a daily drawing for something valuable (drones are big now)
- Referral program: establish a referral program with new or top customers, business partners, even employees; offer incentives for referrals including gift cards or commissions, if applicable
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): lead generation is a fraction of website traffic, and traffic is influenced by SEO (and many other tactics); so perfect SEO with available and mostly free tools including the MMP SEO Guide, Google My Business and other Local Citations
- Chatbots or Live Chat: we highly recommend adding to all websites, assign staff to follow-up questions quickly, or employ AI answers; check out Live Chat comparisons
- IP tracking: there are several solutions that can identify the high percentage of anonymous visitors to your website via thru identification of company IP addresses, and corresponding contact information for key titles or roles; check out Resources below for more information on IP Tracking
- Offer a Free Tool: depending on your business, offer a Free Assessment, a Cost Calculator, or a report to qualified prospects in exchange for registration information; for example, check out our tool: MMP Free Website Audit
- Paid Advertising: digital advertising or paid search includes pay-per-click (PPC) including Google AdWords, Remarketing, and display advertising; Social Media Advertising includes Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, and more
- Syndicated Content: many industries have content syndicators that will publish your guide, ebook, blog, etc., for a fee or even free; payers then receive corresponding registrations or sales leads; see Relevant Resources below for a list of content syndication platforms
Lead Generation Should be a Primary Objective of All Marketing Efforts
No question these 25 Lead Generation Types are just the tip of the iceberg. Check out the Resources below for more. If you have Lead Generation Type or Tip, please share via the Comment tool below.
In the end, Lead Generation is the primary objective of marketing, and ultimately supports sales, contracts, and new customer acquisition. Lead Generation is also the bridge between marketing and sales. And is often accompanied by other tools like Customer Relationship management (CRM) software, Marketing Automation software, or Lead Management software.
You are likely implementing many of these Lead Generation tactics. Consider adding some other tactics, and don’t forget to measure and report MQLs, SQLs, and the golden ring, sales conversions.