Lead Generation: Understanding the Basics

It’s no secret that starting a business is a challenge, and growing one is a puzzle in itself. One of the most common ways businesses go about increasing their growth and conversions is through lead generation. If you’re unclear about this aspect of digital marketing, don’t fret. In this blog, we break down its meaning, examine how it’s done, and explore the ways you can improve your business’s strategies.  

What is a Lead? 

Picture this, you’re walking through a mall when suddenly a savory aroma grabs your attention. It’s a kiosk that’s selling freshly baked cookies. A smiling worker offers you a sample and you willingly oblige. After finishing it you decide to purchase a dozen of their cookies. Does this situation sound familiar? If it does, you, my friend, functioned as a new lead for this business. 

A lead is defined as any interest a person shows in your product or service. In the example above, interest was shown in the cookies when the individual stopped by to try a sample. 

Interest can be shown in numerous ways: When you are interested in a position with a company, you fill out a job application. If you’re open to receiving coupons or sales notifications from your favorite retailer, you might opt into their email list.  

According to Sendpulse, there are three main types of leads in marketing, all of which are determined by their placement within a marketing funnel: 

  • Information Qualified Lead (IQL)   Occurs at the beginning of a buyer’s journey and is also known as a “cold lead.” When a query is made, information is offered in exchange for personal information such as an email address or phone number. 

Example: signing up for a newsletter in exchange for resources regarding a subject area you’d like to learn more about. 

  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) – Also known as a “warm lead.” This happens when an inquirer expresses continual interest in your business and believes your products are the solution to a problem they are experiencing. This type of lead occurs in the middle of a sales funnel. 

Example: After submitting information to a company, they respond to your interest with a call.

  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) – Often referred to as a “hot lead.” This is the final stage of the sales funnel and it is where the inquirer makes a purchase and is then converted into a buyer. 

Example: When a person’s interest in your company is unwavering, they might fill out and send a contact form on your website to initiate the buying process. 

So, we have a pretty good understanding of the varying types of “leads,” but what about the “generation” portion? Here is how the two come together to create what we know as lead generation: 

What is a lead? A lead is defined as any interest a person shows in your product or service.

What is Lead Generation?  

Oftentimes, the titles of digital marketing concepts can be a tad confusing. But thankfully, when it comes to lead generation, the title is quite self-explanatory. As covered above, a lead is any interest that an individual shows in your business. But once we’ve sparked their interest, how do we keep that fire burning? 

In order to “generate” (see what we did there?) continuous interest, you need to create a suitable strategy that mass produces a continuous level of interest amongst consumers. Ideally, you want to create a strategy that is fun and engaging. The goal: pique their interest with a remarkable first impression and have them give in to your initial offer. Whether that be submitting their information, taking a survey or visiting your landing page, you want the user to perform an action that successfully converts them from a distant inquirer to a buyer.

How to improve the success of your lead generation strategy. There are essentially three major components of lead generation: your landing pages, call-to-actions, and offers. These are elements that encourage an individual's progression through the sales funnel.

How it’s Done 

The primary goal of lead generation is to encourage those who are unfamiliar with your brand to embark on a journey that results in them partaking in your services.This journey is known as the buyer funnel, and can be constructed in many different ways. So, how do we get started? 

There are several routes you can take to achieve this objective, but regardless of the platform you choose, the inclusion of a call-to-action (CTA) is imperative. CTA’s are the catalysts that will help produce your desired result, which in this case, is a conversion. 

The process usually goes as follows:

  1. Your business is discovered through one of your marketing channels (i.e social media, blogs, etc.). Ads, boosted posts, or permanent links can also lead to the discovery of your brand. Engaging content is critical for this step, as it will prompt the inquirer to embark upon a buyer’s journey.
  2. During this time, the visitor engages with a call-to-action that is present on your channel. It is here where you will emphasize the value of what is being offered in your CTA. It can be a discount, ebook, whatever you desire. It just needs to be something that is appealing to the prospective customer and capable of being delivered by your business. We don’t want to make any promises we can’t keep.
  3. Clicking a CTA will often redirect the visitor to a landing page that will prompt them to fill out a form in exchange for the offer that was extended to them.
  4. After the form’s submission, a lead is generated. Congratulations!

Choose a Platform 

So, how do you determine which channels to utilize to produce significant results? Here are a few ways you can use the following platforms to help your business generate leads: 

Social Media –  In this day and age, advancements in technology are being made at a rapid rate. With the swipe of a finger, you can easily redirect viewers from your content to your landing page. This feature is frequently used in story ads. For more information on this form of advertising, check out our blog, Online Advertising 101: How To Get Started

Email – this avenue is better suited for those who are already acquainted with your brand and are voluntary members of your email list. Because of their familiarity with your business, encouraging them to sign up for exclusive offers or deals might come more naturally, rather than trying to convert someone who has never heard of your brand before. 

Sending cold emails to those who have yet to discover your brand can work as well. But before you extend your services to them be sure to:

  •  Evaluate the verbiage that is being used. Aim for a welcoming yet confident tone. 
  • Gather and present data that demonstrates your business’s success rate. You can’t dispute facts. 
  • Leave room for discussion. Instead of ending your email with a closing statement, offer to answer any questions they might have. 

Blogs – Publishing this type of content is a great way to establish yourself as an authority in the industry your business operates in. Call-to-actions can be inserted within the text itself or added in the form of a pop-up. Offers can include exclusive content like access to a newsletter or an ebook download that delves deeper into the topic at hand. 

Now, if you’ve already created strategies that have incorporated all of the platforms above and you still aren’t seeing significant results, it might be time to give your strategy a tune-up.

How It's Done. The primary goal of lead generation is to encourage those who are unfamiliar with your brand to embark on a journey that results in them partaking in your services. This journey is known as the buyer funnel, and can be constructed in many different ways.

How to Improve the Success of  Your Lead Generation Strategy 

There are essentially three major components of lead generation: your landing pages, call-to-actions, and offers. These are the elements that encourage an individual’s progression through the sales funnel. If you already have an existing funnel but aren’t seeing a significant increase in conversion rates, here are a few ways you can optimize the following components: 

Landing Pages

First impressions are lasting impressions. Did you know that over 90% of customers who read headlines also read CTA copy? When evaluating the quality of your landing pages take the following into consideration: 

  • Do your headlines relate to your CTA? Limit distractions and opportunities for confusion by revising your headlines. Having conflicting messages on a landing page can disrupt the focus of the visitor and result in an unsuccessful conversion.  
  • Do you have a “thank you” page? According to Hubspot, creating one gives you the opportunity to present any other CTA’s you’d like your new lead to engage with. This could be redirects to newsletter opt-in forms, social media pages, or even a blog.  If you decide to include this, it’s imperative to have proper analytics in place. This will create a clear view for your business to see what elements are working and what isn’t. 

Clear Call-To-Actions 

During a buyer’s journey, a bit of direction is required in order to see the individual through the funnel. Revamp your CTA’s with the following tips: 

  • Where are your CTA’s placed? Did you know that CTA’s that are placed after a page’s fold (how far a person can read before scrolling) will only be viewed by 50% of people who visit the page? Try bumping them up before the fold!
  •   Is your copy easy to follow? Keep your copy simple, yet concise by clearly laying out the details of your offer. A simple format you can follow is 1.) headline 2.) brief paragraph explaining the offer 3.) bullet points highlighting the benefits of your offer, and 4.) call-to-action.

Unique Offers 

Extending exclusive content to prospective customers is one way to encourage the development of a lead. So, how do we make them an offer they can’t refuse? Consider this: 

  • Do you have images of what’s being offered? Approximately 75% of online shoppers rely on product images when it comes to making a purchase. If your company offers services instead of tangible items, including case studies can be a great way to highlight your company’s skillset. 
  • Are you emphasizing the benefits? When it comes to offers, it’s best to get straight to the point. The visitor wants to know what they get out of partaking in your products or services. Answering these questions up front can help guide them during decision making. 

Like with most things, you might have to edit a few things along the way before you achieve your desired outcome. Generating leads takes time, but with a solid understanding of the concept, you’ll have a sturdy foundation to build upon. 

Feel like you need a little more guidance? We’re here to help. Contact us today for assistance with developing the most effective lead generation strategy for your business. 


Written by Bryanna Norris
Published on August 10, 2020
Filed Under: Lead Generation