For a business to succeed and make a profit, they need to be able to make consistent sales and generate revenue. It is this revenue that is used to run the company by paying staff, improving, and creating new products and services, running marketing campaigns, and so on. But to make sales, the business needs to have people they can sell to, people who are interested in what they have to offer. Therefore, companies invest a lot in marketing campaigns that help to produce leads. The more leads a business has, the higher its chance of making a sale and generating revenue. Click here to learn more about marketing campaigns. What are Leads? Leads are potential customers that have shown interest in a company’s product or service in one way, form, or the other. They are products of successful marketing campaigns and are on track to becoming loyal paying customers. A lead, unlike other potential customers, is in a buying state but is yet to decide which brand or company to buy from. Not all leads are the same and they vary depending on how they qualify and the stage of the customer lifecycle they are in. There are different types of leads include: \tMarketing Qualified Leads: These are prospects that have interacted with your marketing efforts but are not ready for a sales call. \tSales Qualified Leads: Prospects that have shown much more interest in your product or service. For instance, making a further inquiry about what you marketed to them. \tProduct/Service Qualified Leads: Contacts that have shown interest in becoming a paying customer of your product or service. What is Lead Generation? Lead generation is the process of generating and nurturing the interest of prospective customers in a product or service, intending to turn their interest into sales. In digital marketing, this is done by collecting the prospects’ contact online through a web form, usually tied to an ad. Like sales, lead generation plays a crucial role in the success of every business, especially in the B2B space. Without qualified leads, it is almost impossible to make sales. Most B2B products and services can be expensive, costing several thousand dollars. To get another business to buy, these businesses need to nurture from the moment they indicate interest till they make the purchase. Marketing qualified leads are nurtured or followed up through series of email marketing. Email marketing is a type of marketing done by sending series of emails to prospects, warming them up for a sales call. Lead generation is also relied upon by other businesses like eCommerce as email marketing remains one of the most effective online marketing channels. Having the contact info of prospects allows the business to market to them later, even if a purchase is not made immediately. How Does it Work? Lead generation has two main components which are, one, attracting and sending traffic to your site, and two, convincing the traffic to share their contact information with you. To generate prospects online, a functional website is needed. Once you have a website set up, the next step is getting traffic to the site. There are several ways by which this can be done and the method you choose depends on your goals as a business and budget. The following methods are the most effective in sending traffic to a website: Search Engine Marketing (SEM) This is a type of online marketing and advertising strategy that involves the use of search engines like Google and Bing. Basically, marketers pay these search engines to display a company’s ads on their search engine results pages (SERPS). People navigate the internet through search engines which makes them the best places to raise awareness for a product or service among your target audience. When users click on the display ads, they are directed to your website or a landing page where they fill a form indicating their interest in what you are selling. SEM is very effective because it is often only people who are actively looking for products like yours that get to see these ads. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Like SEM, SEO also makes use of the power of search engines to drive traffic to a website. However, unlike SEM, money is not spent as search engine optimization is an organic way of generating traffic. In SEO, every element of your website is optimized so that the site naturally ranks high in organic search results. Algorithms are the backbone of search engines, and they are responsible for ranking websites. There are several practices one can employ to ensure that these algorithms favor their website. Some of these practices include the use of relevant keywords, site maps, and updating of website content, among others. Social Media Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are incredibly popular and have millions of daily active users. In the past decade, they have proven to be effective sources of traffic, just like search engines. Regardless of the type of business you run, you can find your target audience on one or several social media platforms. Once you have located which platform(s) your target market is on, you can begin engaging with them by sharing relevant content. You can also run paid ads on these platforms to reach other prospects that are not yet followers of your brand’s official account. Retaining and Converting Generated Leads Once your lead generation efforts begin to pay off and your website is now receiving a steady flow of traffic, you will have to engage them to keep them within your lead funnel. If you have been going about leads generation without a funnel, you have been going about the practice the wrong way. You will need to create a lead funnel to track the journey of your leads from their first contact with your brand till they are converted. To keep leads within your funnel, you will need to engage them with relevant content. This can be done by sending out regular emails, updating the content on your website, or upselling those that have already made a purchase. Final Thoughts If you are new to lead generation, you may become discouraged by low conversion rates. However, you should understand that this is normal as only about 5 to 10% of leads convert to paying customers. That said, there are several ways you can go about increasing your conversion rate. One is by personalizing the messages you pass across to your prospects.