5 Steps to a Lead Generation Process That Gets You More Customers
For a business, effective lead generation is a must. It builds visibility, trust from your audience, and a pipeline full of people waiting to buy from you.That said, over 60% of businesses claim that generating new leads is the most difficult challenge they face.
So, the million dollar question: how do you succeed at lead generation? How do you avoid the common struggle of businesses everywhere, and instead create a dependable system that brings you leads all year long?
By building a process, of course.
The importance of systemizing your lead generation
A systematic lead generation process forces you to get organized with your efforts. I learned how important this is through my time working as a freelance Facebook ads manager. Many of my clients failed to set up a clear system. As a result they were slow and inconsistent in following up with the leads I generated for them and lost out on sales because of it.
A good lead generation process also creates specific roles for team members. This clarifies what each person is responsible for, thus reducing inefficiencies common in less experienced companies.
Take Kaizen as just one example of a working process you might apply. This is the Japanese method of planning that focuses on continual improvement by "taking apart and putting back together again." It was originally made popular by Toyota. The company made Kaizen one of their company’s guiding principles, going on to conquer the Japanese markets and expand internationally.
It’s true that Kaizen itself can be highly effective in application. Still, the story of Toyota demonstrates more generally the power of having a process in place at all. Lead generation or otherwise.
Without one, you are simply hopping from one tactic to another. You are not organized enough to fully understand what works, and are likely functioning within a system that is neither predictable nor sustainable. Sure, maybe you see progress in whatever it is you are pursuing. Still, it’s highly unlikely that you are efficient in the way you spend your time and resources.
Contrast this with an effective process that everybody follows. It focuses on what works, and strives to address bottlenecks. It creates a system that is repeatable, and through this repetition of important actions, one that gives you more guidance. This creates higher-level systems thinking and, as in the case of Kaizen, the conditions necessary for continuous improvement.
Such a process allows you to analyze your actions, judge their effectiveness, and iterate going forward. This breaks down larger processes into smaller, more manageable tasks. It also naturally turns constant examination and improvement into an organizational habit. After all, it’s often not the seemingly massive actions that give you the best results, but small tasks done repeatedly. These habitual yet essential actions are exactly what you are standardizing when you set up a lead generation process.
While there is probably room for most companies to improve their lead generation, you need to figure which process works best for yours. Every business is different, and certain processes will naturally fit better with some more than others.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at one of the more effective lead generation processes below.
Create helpful and targeted content to attract people
We live in the age of content marketing . It’s how you build an audience by educating them, win their trust over time and turn them into customers. Simply put, if you aren’t creating content that helps and informs your audience, you aren’t going to have an audience.
As for where you attract them to? We think a website is your best bet, as this is one of the only assets you truly own. That said, you may very well attract your audience to a platform like Youtube, Instagram, etc. Your choice will be highly dependent on your business model.
This isn’t to say that outbound marketing can’t be a vital piece of your overall process. But at Userlike, we’ve found that inbound marketing builds trust with our audience quicker and typically attracts much higher quality leads. We know this because our content marketing is responsible for much of Userlike’s new customers.
When I say "content marketing," I’m not just talking about throwing up a blog post for the sake of it. Rather, the kind of content that jumpstarts your lead generation process is high quality. It’s also targeted ,or personalized to the person consuming it. In addition, your content shouldn't just be educational, but should also be of proven interest to your audience. To that extent keyword research is essential. We personally use Ahrefs .
Of course, there are other ways to get content ideas. While you might consider conducting customer interviews , tools like live chat can also clarify exactly what it is that your audience is looking for. This makes it easier to create content that connects with your site visitors, addresses the problems they are having, and moves them further down the funnel.
Another strategy for success are content pillars . Not only is this good for longterm, SEO-based lead generation , but it also makes it easier to pair your topics with the most relevant writer. For instance, I’ve written numerous articles on lead generation for Userlike before. It makes sense that I would write about creating a lead generation process.
Remember, your content’s gotta’ be good. Well... great , actually. Only when it is do you build the trust and authority necessary for the next step.
Offer useful lead magnets in exchange for their contact information
You don’t want your audience to forever consume your free content without you getting something in exchange. That’s kind of like having a thousand Facebook friends but nobody showing up for your birthday party. Your connection isn’t so strong after all!
For your lead generation process to work in harmony with your overall business goals, you need to get the contact information of your site visitors. Typically, lead magnets are how you do that. These are pieces of content that solve problems for your audience, and typically do so in a much deeper and detailed way than your freely available content.
At Userlike , for instance, we use a mix of whitepapers, webinars, and free trials of our product to score the email addresses of our most engaged visitors.
For lead magnets that convert well, it’s important to research what your audience’s pain points are. This will allow you to create something engaging enough to earn their contact information.
Lead magnets are also useful because they act as a natural filter. Anybody that has signed up for one is more likely to respond positively to your marketing messages later on. Compare this to the typical stranger who has had one of your paid ads shoved in front of their face. They just don’t care - they’re distracted enough as it is. With lead magnets, however, you are asking them permission to be marketed to .
In addition, lead magnets also act to filter people from your target audience. For example, we might set up a broad article on the principles of customer service. We could then create a lead magnet on a specific topic that our target audience is interested in, something like a comparison of digital customer service channels. It’s then easy to filter out your target audience and use them for your more specific marketing efforts later.
Hurting for lead magnet ideas? Head on over to our post on website lead generation . The section on lead magnets might just get you inspired!
Nurture your leads with value over time
Once a site visitor has become a lead, it’s important to further develop your relationship with them. This process of "lead nurturing" is based on value: the more value you provide over time, the more likely you are to turn a lead into a customer.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to do this. You have already gotten your lead’s contact information after they downloaded your lead magnet - it’s time to continue the conversation. At Userlike we use MailChimp to stay in frequent contact with our audience. This includes updates on blog posts and company news that we think is useful for them to hear about. It also includes email sequences in which we further educate a lead over time.
This step is essential in your lead generation process because it’s a way of further demonstrating your value. Just because somebody becomes your lead doesn’t mean they’re ready for an aggressive sales pitch.
Your email correspondence is also a chance to "indoctrinate" your customer and get them to adopt your perspective. After all, it takes time and repetition to change minds. Before you can sell someone on the product, you have to sell them on the idea.
Just think about dating. You wouldn’t ask somebody to marry you on your first night out, now would you? You’d get to know them, share some conversations, and see if you’re actually a good match.
Lead nurturing is much the same. Getting what you want out of a relationship (leads or otherwise) takes time, trust, and care. Care for your leads and continue to educate them. Once you do, they will naturally start to trust you more and be more open to your message when it’s time to sell.
Score your leads to see who is most ready to buy
So, you’ve gone through the lead generation process until this point. You’ve attracted an audience through the targeted content you create, converted them into leads, and nurtured them with more value over time.
Time to sell?
Not yet. For a lead generation process that is efficient and gives you the best chance for success with the last step, you need to know which leads are most worth pursuing. This is done through lead scoring.
Lead scoring typically involves assigning your leads a certain value based on the actions they have taken and the demographic groups they are part of. Once they reach a certain value they are (at least in theory) quite receptive to your sales efforts.
At Userlike , for example, we have a wide range of criteria that we use for lead scoring. These include a variety of metrics, although industry, company size, and total website traffic are some of the most important.
This is just the initial qualification. The value of leads change over time, so we approach our lead scoring as an ongoing process. This allows us to stay up-to-date on who our best leads are and pass on only the most qualified to our sales team.
While any method of lead scoring is useful, check out our post on predictive lead scoring for the most accurate way of approaching it.
Of course, there’s no hard and fast rule for when you are allowed to market to your audience. I’m on email lists that do it all the time. Quite literally, I’m fed some sort of sales message on every email they send.
Their saving grace, and the reason I haven’t long ago unsubscribed? The value they provide me. I’m a better marketer because of it, and have learned a ton by being on their lists.
And, wouldn’t you know it, I’ve even bought some of their products!
Close the deal and make a sale
Finally - the moment you’ve been waiting for.
While educating people and building an email list is great, you’re in business for a reason. Thankfully, by following this lead generation process, you will have done two things: gained the trust of your leads, and shown them how your product or service can naturally help them.
They are primed for purchase.
After scoring your leads, you should see that a certain percentage of them are good candidates for buying. It’s now time to complete the natural last step of the lead generation process: converting them into a customer.
Show your lead why spending money on your products or services is the natural solution to their problem. Why pulling out their wallet gets them access to something no amount of free content or lead magnets ever would. Why becoming your customer is the best choice for them...and what their life looks like after they do.
Userlike: The perfect tool for each step of your lead generation process
Userlike’s website chat can help with every step of your lead generation process.
How do I know? Well, many of our customers at Userlike use our chat solution specifically for capturing new leads . In fact, it’s the easiest and most natural way to generate leads from prospects further down the funnel.
That’s because of what the typical buyer’s journey looks like. As people spend more time on your website and build enough trust to become interested in your products, questions relevant to your offerings will naturally pop up. Website chat is the easiest and quickest way for your site visitors to get answers.
However, it doesn’t stop there. Website chat is also effective with brand new site visitors further up in the funnel. It's a great tool for getting to know your customers, what questions they have, and using those insights to produce content that attracts them.
Ready for a lead generation process that brings you leads year-round?Sign up for a free Userlike trial today!