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Lead Generation 101: A Comprehensive Guide

Thousands of potential customers spread all across the country are just a few steps away from discovering and falling in love with your business. 

They have a problem only you can solve. They’re looking for a solution only you can provide.

And it’s up to your marketing and sales team to find (or be found by) these people—through a process known as lead generation.

This blog breaks down the complexities of lead generation, offering insights and actionable strategies for attracting prospects, nurturing their engagement, and achieving conversions.

nimbler lead generation process

Table of Contents

What is a Lead?

A lead is anyone who has expressed an interest in your business’s offering, either directly (filling out a form on your website to request more information) or indirectly (demonstrating an interest in your product category by following a similar page on Facebook).

What is a Qualified Lead?

Sales teams typically put together criteria to identify which leads are most likely to become customers. The leads that fit these criteria are called qualified leads (or sometimes Sales Qualified Leads, or SQLs), and they are prioritized in sales and marketing outreach efforts.

Criteria considered when qualifying leads can include:

  • Budget (How much can they spend?)

  • Authority (Is this person a decision-maker?)

  • Need (Do they have a problem your company can solve?)

  • Timing (Are they actively looking to buy?)

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process of identifying and attracting potential customers. It is typically carried out by a marketing team, but the sales department might also contribute. 

The goal of lead generation is to attract potential customers (leads) to your business and nurture them through the buying process until they are ready to make a purchase. It involves a variety of strategies, tools, and techniques to create interest in goods or services, including content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, social media marketing, and pay-per-click advertising, among others.

The Importance of Lead Generation

Lead generation is crucial in today’s increasingly competitive world.

It’s a crowded marketplace, with millions of companies vying for the attention of millions of consumers. Lead generation empowers you to cut through the noise with highly targeted content that is more likely to stand out to your ideal consumers.

Today’s consumers are savvy, too. They do their research before buying and can sense when a company is trying to trick or manipulate them. That’s why providing useful, informative, and authentic content is an effective strategy for gaining their trust.

The Benefits of an Effective Lead Generation Process

When lead generation is done right—when you create compelling content that attracts your target audience and earns their trust—you’ll see some incredible benefits:

  • Improved Conversion Rates: An effective lead generation strategy will attract consumers who have a genuine interest in your company. These highly qualified leads are more likely to become paying customers.

  • Cost-Efficiency: Digital lead generation strategies typically provide a better ROI than traditional outbound strategies (such as direct mail).

  • Increased Sales and Revenue: By closing more deals in a more cost-efficient manner, you’ll increase your bottom line.

  • Enhanced Brand Awareness: When you produce content and interact with potential customers regularly, you boost your brand’s visibility.

  • Competitive Advantage: You can gain an advantage over your competitors by contributing to conversations and establishing your company as an industry thought leader.

These are just a few of the countless benefits of implementing an effective lead-generation strategy. 

Now that you understand why lead generation is so valuable, let's dive into how the process is implemented.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Lead Generation Process

Implementing a lead generation strategy involves identifying your target audience, creating compelling content, promoting your content, and analyzing your results. This is an ongoing process that can be very effective in generating qualified sales leads.

Below, we have outlined six key steps of the lead generation process. You will also find tips and best practices for getting the most out of your lead generation strategy.

Step 1: Identify Your Target Audience

Before you can begin to attract new leads, you must define your target audience. Try answering the following questions:

  • Who would benefit the most from your product or service?

  • What are their demographics (age, location, job, etc.)?

  • What are their interests and values?

  • What are their biggest challenges (that your company can solve)?

  • Who is buying products/services that are similar to mine?

  • Who are my website/social media visitors? Which content pieces do they like best?

  • What do my current customers like/dislike? What are their challenges?

Once you’ve defined your target audience, you can also create buyer personas (imaginary profiles of your ideal customers) to help you feel a deeper, more personal understanding of your target audience.

Step 2: Create Attractive Lead Magnets

A lead magnet is an enticing offer (typically a piece of content, like an ebook or template) that is provided, free of charge, in exchange for a person’s contact information. The type of lead magnet you offer will depend on your target audience and industry, but some of the most common formats are:

  • Ebooks (long-form, informational content that demonstrates your expertise on a topic)

  • Whitepapers (in-depth research reports) 

  • Checklists (brief, easily digestible content that provides immediate value)

  • Resource Lists (valuable list of tools that help your target audience solve a problem)

  • Templates/Worksheets (tools that can be used by your audience to complete tasks or apply what they’ve learned)

  • Webinars (attendance at a live event or access to a recorded session)

  • Assessments (a free service you will provide, such as an SEO Assessment)

  • Special Offers (discounts, early access, etc.)

  • Email courses (users can sign up to receive a series of valuable, educational emails)

For your lead magnet to effectively attract leads, it must be relevant to your target audience. It must address a specific challenge and make a compelling promise (“triple your sales in one month!”). And it should be incredibly valuable.

Step 3: Promote the Offers

Determine the best way to promote your lead magnets so they can reach—or be found by—your target audience. Whichever method you choose, be sure to include an enticing call to action (CTA) that links to a dedicated landing page for your offer.

Here are four effective methods for promoting your content:

  • Website Optimization: Feature your lead magnet on your homepage, in blog posts, or as pop-ups. Optimize your site’s design, layout, and copy to help visitors find your offer.

  • Social Media Marketing: Share your offer on your social media profiles. Use a beautiful graphic or engaging video to grab attention.

  • Email Marketing: Use a compelling subject line, engaging email copy, and a visually appealing graphic to promote your offer to your subscriber list.

  • Paid Advertising: Run a paid ad campaign with Facebook or Google Ads to reach a wider audience.

Step 4: Capture Leads

To obtain people’s contact information, you need a landing page with a form. The most effective landing pages will include the following elements:

  • A clear and compelling headline: Your headline should align with the promotional message that drove visitors to the landing page.

  • A prominent call-to-action (CTA): Let your visitors know exactly what to do (“Download the template,” “Subscribe now,” “Get your free ebook,” etc.).

  • Engaging content: Use a combination of text, graphics, and video to address your target audience’s pain points and explain how your offer can help.

  • A concise form to collect contact information: Only ask for the essentials (such as name and email address). The shorter the form, the higher the chances someone will complete it. (You can always use a data enrichment service to obtain additional contact information.)

  • A thank you page or message: Provide instructions on how to download or access the offer. The thank you page also provides an additional call-to-action that will move the lead further along in their buyer journey.

The landing page is just as important as the offer itself. Spend some time making sure your landing page is enticing, user-friendly, and optimized to capture qualified leads.

Step 5: Nurture Leads

Once you’ve generated new leads, you should begin to nurture your relationship with them by providing valuable, useful, relevant content regularly. The goal of a lead nurturing campaign is to move leads through every stage of the buyer journey, from the initial Awareness stage to the Consideration stage to the final Decision stage. 

Here are some examples of the types of content used to nurture leads during each stage of the buyer journey:

  • Awareness stage: Educate your leads on common problems and potential solutions. Share helpful blog posts, ebooks, checklists, how-to videos, webinars, etc.

  • Consideration stage: Help your leads explore different types of solutions. Provide solution comparison guides and case studies.

  • Decision stage: Share the details of your product or service so leads can decide if your solution is right for them. Offer a free trial, live demo, free consultation, or discount code.

Use multiple channels—like email, text messaging, and phone calls—to stay in touch with your leads. You can simplify the process by using a sales and marketing automation platform to run your campaigns on autopilot. 

Be sure to track the effectiveness of your campaigns so you can continue to adjust and optimize your lead nurturing strategy.

Step 6: Evaluate and Optimize Your Strategy

It’s important to continuously measure the results of your lead generation strategy so you can make improvements for the future. To help you determine where to make adjustments in your strategy, you should track specific key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • Visitor-to-lead conversion rate (the percentage of website visitors that fill out a lead capture form)

  • Lead-to-customer conversion rate (the percentage of leads that become customers)

  • Website traffic sources (to identify which website traffic sources bring in the most qualified leads)

  • Page views and time on page (to understand how visitors interact with your web content)

  • Cost-per-lead (CPL) (the cost incurred to acquire each lead)

Tracking these KPIs will allow you to see which elements of your strategy are most successful and which could be improved.

Tools and Technologies to Streamline Your Workflow

There are many digital platforms and services available to help you streamline and enhance your company’s lead generation process.

To expedite the process: 

Some platforms are designed specifically to facilitate your lead gen process. For example, Nimbler gives you access to more than 120 million US business contacts. Using Nimbler’s advanced filtering to search for leads that match your target audience, you can quickly build qualified email lists and start nurturing those leads immediately.

To enhance your data:

Data enrichment allows you to obtain additional information about your leads. This more complete and detailed view of potential customers makes your data more useful and insightful. With Nimbler, you get up to 50 data points per contact. You can also use Nimbler’s LinkedIn extension to pull data directly from people’s LinkedIn profiles, making it an excellent tool for keeping your database accurate, comprehensive, and current.

To store and manage your contacts:

Use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform like Salesforce to manage and organize your lead and customer data. 

To implement your lead nurturing campaigns:

Invest in a powerful marketing automation platform to run your email campaigns on auto-pilot. We recommend HubSpot, which also enables you to build landing pages, forms, and blog posts.

To track metrics and analyze results:

Google Analytics will provide you with insights into your website and campaign performance. You can track your most important KPIs (conversion rates, lead sources, cost per lead, etc.) to assess the effectiveness of your lead generation efforts.

New technologies are becoming available daily, so continue to monitor the industry for the best platforms to help you streamline your lead-generation process.

Lead Generation: The Crucial First Step Toward Lasting Business Success

Understanding and effectively implementing lead generation is crucial for sustained business success. By following the steps outlined in this article—identifying your target audience, creating attractive lead magnets, strategically promoting your offers, capturing leads with effective landing pages and forms, nurturing those leads through the buyer journey, and continually evaluating and optimizing your strategy—you can establish a solid process for generating high-quality sales leads.

Remember, understanding your audience’s needs, offering valuable content, and leveraging the right tools and technologies are keys to success in today’s competitive and fast-paced environment. 

Get the process right, and you’ll be on your way to growth, profitability, and unstoppable success.

Ready to jumpstart your lead generation? Try Nimbler today!

Sign up for a free trial of Nimbler to explore powerful lead generation features:

  • Access to 120M+ US-based B2B leads

  • Mobile phone numbers and email addresses, verified in real-time

  • Advanced filtering: Search by keyword, job title, interests, location, and more!

  • Data enrichment: Enhance your lead data with up to 50 attributes per contact.

Get the best data at the best price. No annual contracts, and no more paying for bad data.

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