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Dos and Don’ts of Effective Lead Generation

You have a big audience that is ripe with potential leads, but they’re not necessarily volunteering to jump in your sales funnel. How do you generate leads – good leads – out of a crowd?

There are a lot of philosophies and opinions on lead generation. To help you cut through the noise, we spoke to four leading marketing experts and got some of their best insights. Here’s what they had to say about the dos and don’ts of effective lead generation.

Stay Focused

Bryan Eisenberg is a global thought leader and pioneer in online marketing. He has authored three best-selling books, and is a highly sought-after marketing keynote speaker. Eisenberg has been a featured expert in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and has been quoted and recognized by dozens of industry publications and organizations.

Do: Develop content for different stages of your buying process.

From email campaigns to landing pages, and from blog posts to ebooks, your audience is consuming your content from all over your sales funnel. Don’t alienate one group by always talking to another.

“When you’re developing content and landing page strategies, plan different designs based on the different stages of your customers' buying process. Use personas to understand their particular needs during each stage of the process, and develop different offers and calls-to-action that are most appropriate to their needs.” - Eisenberg (@TheGrok)

This will require a well-rounded content development strategy, one that sales and marketing should probably develop together.

Don’t: Let your lead response get lazy.

Even if marketing could herd every qualified lead into your sales funnel, they’ll fall off track if the response from sales isn’t snappy.

“Marketing and sales need to align to use effective content planning, integrate the customer buying process with the company’s sales process, and distribute leads. Then, marketing can provide sales people with details that matter to them about the prospect’s interests and motivations, and distribute those leads effectively. There isn’t a salesperson in the world who wouldn’t respond to that kind of qualified prospect right away.” - Eisenberg (@TheGrok)

Sales and marketing need to get together (again) to develop a robust lead response strategy that everyone can commit to.

Be Direct

Portent Inc. is an internet marketing agency that has been providing a full suite of services for its clients since 1995. Their portfolio includes names like Lucky Brand, Getty Images and Zillow. Ian Lurie is the Founder/Chairman and Principal Consultant at Portent.

Do: Take advantage of direct marketing

If you’re used to going through third parties, consider stepping outside the box with a direct marketing campaign.

“Take advantage of direct marketing. Online and off, if you're selling services to companies, direct marketing is a great way to kick off a lead generation campaign. Direct marketing could be a mailer, an email campaign (not spam, please), a promoted post on Facebook, or any number of other mediums”. - Lurie (@PortentInt)

It might be a little out of your team’s comfort zone, but the ROI has great potential.

Don’t: Purchase leads

Direct marketing requires lists – addresses, emails, etc. There are a lot of ways to build those lists, but don’t purchase them.

I've never in my career seen a purchased list work for a leads-driven company. Ever. And the spam/junk mail complaints you'll get are a huge headache. Instead, build your list with traditional marketing. Lure folks in by being significant. Invite them to stay in touch. Poof. You have a direct marketing list. - Lurie (@PortentInt)

As you nurture these leads, you’re going to engage them in conversation and develop a business relationship with each one. Don’t try to start the relationship by purchasing it.

Use Your Blog

Jeff Bullas is a social media marketing consultant, writer, strategist, and international speaker and panelist. He has been named one of LinkedIn’s “25 Social Media Experts You Need to Know,” and is a bestselling author.

Do: Create great content

By the time a potential lead is ready to engage with your content – whether he is actually reading an email, or he found your blog – he is looking for information. Provide it.

"Create the best content you can that is relevant for your audience. This will build credibility and trust online. That is important for motivating people to hand over their email and make an inquiry. - Bullas (@JeffBullas)

Establish yourself as the expert by providing a steady stream of value, and the leads will come to you.

Don’t: Forget to start building your list immediately

If you’re a startup or small business, you know you have to start marketing somehow, and you want to do it as soon as possible. Some pieces of your website or your social media strategy can be built later, but don’t wait on building your list.

“Don’t forget to start building that email list from day one on your blog or website. That means giving away something for free, like an ebook. Email is still one of the best marketing assets you can grow, even on a social web!” - Bullas (@JeffBullas)

If “collect emails” is further down on your marketing “To Do” list, move it up!

Networks and Numbers

Sazbean Consulting’s CEO and Web Strategist, Sarah Worsham, co-founded her company to work with clients who need a tailored, holistic internet marketing solution. She has an MBA in marketing and strategy, and is an Adjunct Professor of Web Analytics at Lawrence Technological University.

Do: Respect your network

Once you’ve started building a network, never forget what it took to earn the trust of your audience, or how valuable your audience’s data is.

“Leveraging your network to drive lead generation can be a very tempting way to try to get referrals. While it certainly makes sense to use this resource, it's vital to respect your network.

Spamming with marketing and sales offers is the surest way to lose valuable human connections, and increase the deafness to your message when you really need it. Stick to an 80/20 rule for any marketing you do online, but especially to your networks. Eighty percent of your content should be of value to the audience, and only 20% (or less!) should be direct marketing or advertising.

Providing regular, valuable content to your network will increase their awareness of your services and improve your reputation as an expert.” - Worsham (@SazBean)

It could take weeks or months to earn enough trust from a prospect to qualify them as a lead, but you can lose it again in a matter of minutes.

Don’t: Get caught up in the wrong numbers

There are a lot of metrics to analyze and apply as you work to generate leads, so make sure you know how to wade through the excess to get to the good ones.

“One of the advantages of digital marketing is that is so measurable. We now have access to information that would have been extremely expensive to gather previously, like what customers are saying, what competitors are doing, etc.

With so much data, it is very easy to get caught up in numbers that don't really help lead generation efforts. While numbers like Facebook likes or Twitter followers can provide information on how well our marketing efforts are working, they do little to inform our teams about lead generation efforts. 

Instead, it's vital to tie measurement directly to your lead generation efforts - either by tracking what source leads come from, or by using unique landing pages for different marketing channels. Looking at the right numbers will help you understand what tactics are working and how to improve those which aren't working as well.” - Worsham (@SazBean)

Some numbers will tell you how you’re doing, while others will tell you what to do. Look for and focus on the later.

Generating Good Leads

Whether you’re just getting started, or your business has been developing marketing campaigns for a while now, there is wisdom here for your organization. Stay focused on your content and your leads, don’t be afraid to try direct marketing (the right way), get the most out of your blog, and make sure you’re using your networks and your numbers as best you can.

As your brand starts to take advantage of these insights, you will start to find the good leads in your audience, and your teams will start taking better care of them.

You have a big audience that is ripe with potential leads, but they’re not necessarily volunteering to jump in your sales funnel. How do you generate leads – good leads – out of a crowd?

There are a lot of philosophies and opinions on lead generation. To help you cut through the noise, we spoke to four leading marketing experts and got some of their best insights. Here’s what they had to say about the dos and don’ts of effective lead generation.

Stay Focused

Bryan Eisenberg is a global thought leader and pioneer in online marketing. He has authored three best-selling books, and is a highly sought-after marketing keynote speaker. Eisenberg has been a featured expert in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and has been quoted and recognized by dozens of industry publications and organizations.

Do: Develop content for different stages of your buying process.

From email campaigns to landing pages, and from blog posts to ebooks, your audience is consuming your content from all over your sales funnel. Don’t alienate one group by always talking to another.

“When you’re developing content and landing page strategies, plan different designs based on the different stages of your customers' buying process. Use personas to understand their particular needs during each stage of the process, and develop different offers and calls-to-action that are most appropriate to their needs.” - Eisenberg (@TheGrok)

This will require a well-rounded content development strategy, one that sales and marketing should probably develop together.

Don’t: Let your lead response get lazy.

Even if marketing could herd every qualified lead into your sales funnel, they’ll fall off track if the response from sales isn’t snappy.

“Marketing and sales need to align to use effective content planning, integrate the customer buying process with the company’s sales process, and distribute leads. Then, marketing can provide sales people with details that matter to them about the prospect’s interests and motivations, and distribute those leads effectively. There isn’t a salesperson in the world who wouldn’t respond to that kind of qualified prospect right away.” - Eisenberg (@TheGrok)

Sales and marketing need to get together (again) to develop a robust lead response strategy that everyone can commit to.

Be Direct

Portent Inc. is an internet marketing agency that has been providing a full suite of services for its clients since 1995. Their portfolio includes names like Lucky Brand, Getty Images and Zillow. Ian Lurie is the Founder/Chairman and Principal Consultant at Portent.

Do: Take advantage of direct marketing

If you’re used to going through third parties, consider stepping outside the box with a direct marketing campaign.

“Take advantage of direct marketing. Online and off, if you're selling services to companies, direct marketing is a great way to kick off a lead generation campaign. Direct marketing could be a mailer, an email campaign (not spam, please), a promoted post on Facebook, or any number of other mediums”. - Lurie (@PortentInt)

It might be a little out of your team’s comfort zone, but the ROI has great potential.

Don’t: Purchase leads

Direct marketing requires lists – addresses, emails, etc. There are a lot of ways to build those lists, but don’t purchase them.

I've never in my career seen a purchased list work for a leads-driven company. Ever. And the spam/junk mail complaints you'll get are a huge headache. Instead, build your list with traditional marketing. Lure folks in by being significant. Invite them to stay in touch. Poof. You have a direct marketing list. - Lurie (@PortentInt)

As you nurture these leads, you’re going to engage them in conversation and develop a business relationship with each one. Don’t try to start the relationship by purchasing it.

Use Your Blog

Jeff Bullas is a social media marketing consultant, writer, strategist, and international speaker and panelist. He has been named one of LinkedIn’s “25 Social Media Experts You Need to Know,” and is a bestselling author.

Do: Create great content

By the time a potential lead is ready to engage with your content – whether he is actually reading an email, or he found your blog – he is looking for information. Provide it.

"Create the best content you can that is relevant for your audience. This will build credibility and trust online. That is important for motivating people to hand over their email and make an inquiry. - Bullas (@JeffBullas)

Establish yourself as the expert by providing a steady stream of value, and the leads will come to you.

Don’t: Forget to start building your list immediately

If you’re a startup or small business, you know you have to start marketing somehow, and you want to do it as soon as possible. Some pieces of your website or your social media strategy can be built later, but don’t wait on building your list.

“Don’t forget to start building that email list from day one on your blog or website. That means giving away something for free, like an ebook. Email is still one of the best marketing assets you can grow, even on a social web!” - Bullas (@JeffBullas)

If “collect emails” is further down on your marketing “To Do” list, move it up!

Networks and Numbers

Sazbean Consulting’s CEO and Web Strategist, Sarah Worsham, co-founded her company to work with clients who need a tailored, holistic internet marketing solution. She has an MBA in marketing and strategy, and is an Adjunct Professor of Web Analytics at Lawrence Technological University.

Do: Respect your network

Once you’ve started building a network, never forget what it took to earn the trust of your audience, or how valuable your audience’s data is.

“Leveraging your network to drive lead generation can be a very tempting way to try to get referrals. While it certainly makes sense to use this resource, it's vital to respect your network.

Spamming with marketing and sales offers is the surest way to lose valuable human connections, and increase the deafness to your message when you really need it. Stick to an 80/20 rule for any marketing you do online, but especially to your networks. Eighty percent of your content should be of value to the audience, and only 20% (or less!) should be direct marketing or advertising.

Providing regular, valuable content to your network will increase their awareness of your services and improve your reputation as an expert.” - Worsham (@SazBean)

It could take weeks or months to earn enough trust from a prospect to qualify them as a lead, but you can lose it again in a matter of minutes.

Don’t: Get caught up in the wrong numbers

There are a lot of metrics to analyze and apply as you work to generate leads, so make sure you know how to wade through the excess to get to the good ones.

“One of the advantages of digital marketing is that is so measurable. We now have access to information that would have been extremely expensive to gather previously, like what customers are saying, what competitors are doing, etc.

With so much data, it is very easy to get caught up in numbers that don't really help lead generation efforts. While numbers like Facebook likes or Twitter followers can provide information on how well our marketing efforts are working, they do little to inform our teams about lead generation efforts. 

Instead, it's vital to tie measurement directly to your lead generation efforts - either by tracking what source leads come from, or by using unique landing pages for different marketing channels. Looking at the right numbers will help you understand what tactics are working and how to improve those which aren't working as well.” - Worsham (@SazBean)

Some numbers will tell you how you’re doing, while others will tell you what to do. Look for and focus on the later.

Generating Good Leads

Whether you’re just getting started, or your business has been developing marketing campaigns for a while now, there is wisdom here for your organization. Stay focused on your content and your leads, don’t be afraid to try direct marketing (the right way), get the most out of your blog, and make sure you’re using your networks and your numbers as best you can.

As your brand starts to take advantage of these insights, you will start to find the good leads in your audience, and your teams will start taking better care of them.

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