How to create an effective lead generation process

Your business will have a steady stream of clients across various services in an ideal world. But this is often not the case. According to Salesforce, 68% of companies have not identified or measured a lead generation funnel. At the same time, 79% of marketing leads are never converted.

Having a website alone doesn’t engage and build awareness for your business.

And posting on social media won’t guarantee conversions.

As the internet develops, individual marketing tactics won’t cut it for bringing in qualified, convertible clients. But, if done right, having an effective lead generation process can bring about spectacular results in a short timeframe and is a vital piece of your digital marketing. 

You can develop and implement a strategy that lets you turn people from casual browsers into your most loyal customers and clients by knowing the process.

We wouldn’t recommend overlooking it.

Having an effective lead generation funnel is not complicated. After this post, you’ll not only know how lead generation and sales funnels work but know how they can grow the sales and revenue of your business. By applying the most appropriate tactics at the right stage of the buyer’s journey, you’ll soon start to see results.

But before we begin, let’s discuss the basics of lead generation, starting with its definition.

What is lead generation?

A lead is any stranger who has shown any interest in your service or business. It could be liking your social media post or a reader to your blog.

Effective lead generation starts the interaction process of identifying, attracting, filtering, and streamlining this interested person towards a sale.

Lead generation vs. demand generation

People often confuse lead generation with demand generation and with good reason. Demand generation aims to establish a foundation with your target audience, establish trust, and spark an interest in your company.

Demand generation campaign assets are created to improve your brand positioning and visibility. These assets are often blog articles, social media posts, press releases, podcasts, and resources pages.

But, a lead generation campaign goes a step further than demand generation. It assists businesses in converting their target audience into marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). At its simplest, it’s an effective way to generate leads using a repeatable, process-driven approach.

As a result, businesses are drawing in people ready to actively engage with their brands, if not become their customers.

Usually, 50% of all prospects are filtered out of the funnel due to a lack of qualification.

Fundamentally, lead generation funnels are processes of identifying leads from all interactions and nurturing them to the point of purchase.

Why generate leads?

Leads are the lifeblood of a business; without them, they’ll lack the sales and customer base needed to grow and survive.

So you know what lead generation is, but what’s the point?

Companies can’t rely on their intuition or customers’ desire alone to get them from awareness to conversion. The best bet is collecting highly qualified leads and holding the prospect’s hand down the road to a sale. An effective lead generation process helps increase brand awareness, build relationships, generate qualified leads, and ultimately close deals. Therefore, it’s an excellent idea to have one.

But, of course, any lead capturing and retaining requires a thought-out process to lead them to conversion. And that’s what this whole article is about.

Understanding the Lead Generation Funnel

Image Source: Paperform

Depending on how aware the prospective customer is of your product solution’s needs and they could find themselves in three funnel stages.

It would help if you were mindful of where people are in the journey from learning about your business to becoming one of its loyal customers. Remember that not everybody in your target audience wants to become your customers yet. Some of them may not have even heard of your brand before.

  1. TOFU – Top of Funnel
  2. MOFU – Middle of Funnel
  3. BOFU – Bottom of Funnel

A buyer’s journey is composed of different stages in the sales funnel. Each step accommodates the various segments of your target audience. From there, you can implement the most appropriate lead generation tactics for each stage to maximize conversion stages and successfully bring them down your sales funnel.

TOFU – Awareness Stage (Content Strategy)

TOFU, also known as the top of the funnel, is the awareness stage.

At this stage, the prospect barely understands their problem or your product. Here is where you can launch your demand generation strategy where most of your audience will learn about your brand. This is where online reputation management, your company’s reputation online, becomes a critical part of your marketing strategy.

Here, the prospect will:

  • Read your blog posts
  • Listen to your podcasts
  • See your infographics

Step 1: Know your target audience

Your TOFU is where you must have a clear definition of your target audience. Only then will you be able to draw in the right people with the highest chance of becoming your customer.

You can do this by:

  1. Mapping out your buyer persona and breaking it down according to demographics and psychographics.
  2. Researching your existing customers, past customers, competitor’s customers, user forum, and social media platforms.
  3. Break the persona down to know the fears and frustrations, hope and ambitions, and the fundamental reasons that push them towards your business.

Step 2: Create bespoke, super-useful content based on the buyer persona

From your avatar, you need to determine its most common pain points concerning your industry and use them as topics for your informative content. This content should be in the format that resonates best with your audience, whether infographics on Pinterest, white papers on LinkedIn, or how-to blog posts.

At this stage, these posts are available for public consumption since the intention is to reach as many people as you can.

The more that goes into the top of your funnel, the more conversions you get. 

And the better you understand your customer needs and the journey they take, the better your funnel will perform.

Step 3: Drive traffic to your content resource

You’ll most likely end up using one or more combinations of the below tactics to drive traffic:

  • Paid advertising (PPC) on social media and search engines: You’ll get traffic instantly with this tactic, and it’s also undoubtedly easy to track your Return on Investment (ROI).
  • Owned media – Search engine optimization: Unlike PPC, SEO is organic, and you’ll only see results in the long term. However, by improving the ranking of your website, the more traffic to your site.
  • Owned media – Content: This could be a blog or social media post. Regularly post links to your high-quality content on platforms your target audience likes to frequent. 

Step 4: Collect leads

Take a look at your website.

Do you offer a gated download on your home page?

Do you have CRO tools such as pop-ups and opt-in forms that gently nudge them down the funnel?

When someone calls you for an inquiry, do you capture their data?

Each of these lead capture techniques has in common: they make every point of contact facilitate the conversion from a stranger to a qualified lead. They do this by exchanging the visitor’s email address for something of greater value to the prospect.

Some examples of effective lead generation tactics you can use for your brand are:

  • Gated content (eBooks, PDFs) – Create content addressing your audience’s pain points in PDF format. They can only get their hands on your content is to sign up to your email list. Tip: It is often worth using a tool like Hunter to verify their email address before adding them to your email marketing campaign. 
  • Free-trials – Allows your audience to sign up for a limited-day trial of your software (or a freemium version but with locked premium features).
  • Email Subscriptions – Encourage people to receive exclusive content and discount codes straight to their inbox by signing up to your list.
  • Product Demos – Get people to sign up for a scheduled demo or webinar of your product presentation and discuss questions about it.
  • Courses – Provide a free course that expertly tackles a subject. People can also access its content if they sign up for access.
  • Events – Hold an event related to your business and get your audience to join and attend

The key with each of these is to create a landing page for each of the magnets with opt-in forms to capture the details. You also want to include thank you pages to promote social sharing. Once you have done this, you can nurture them through the decision process into becoming a customer.

MOFU: Nurture: Visual Phase:

MOFU or the middle of the funnel is also known as the interest stage.

Lead nurturing is the process of developing and reinforcing your relationship with the buyer.

Your audience is fully aware of your business, and by this stage, you have often collected lead information from them. It’s important to remember that most people aren’t ready to buy straight out of the awareness phase. In fact, on average, 50% of leads in any given system are not ready to buy.

Businesses will often find themselves with many dormant leads in their database, a reduction in engagement, and a low conversion rate.

Lead nurturing can reduce these problems. It increases the inclination to buy by maintaining a good relationship while building brand loyalty and trust, reducing the number of dormant leads and the length of the sales cycle. You’ll be the first ones on their mind when it comes time to buy.

Some key components of lead nurturing are:

  1. Content marketing: Create relevant and valuable content with the intent of building a relationship and earning trust with your followers. This can include setting up an email campaign, using your social media channels to engage with them actively. 2021 saw a significant rise in voice search.
  2. Multi-channel distribution: Today’s buyers take more time to explore their options and educate themselves before making a purchase. Using all your channels, you can maintain contact with leads across the board
  3. Marketing automation: This will streamline your efforts and scale your business processes. Possible options include an advanced contact list segmentation, lead enrichment tools, automated email welcome sequence, and marketing workflow automation templates.
  4. Website: Dynamically personalized content to reinforce and extend the visitor’s dialogue. Your website’s landing page acts as a point of entry. Each landing page should capture the visitor’s attention and convince them to stay and explore further.  
  5. Retargeting Ads: Display ads can help create personalized ads that keep you in the visitor’s mind.

BOFU Conversion: Promotional phases

Finally, we have BOFU or the bottom of the funnel. Also known as the consideration and purchase stage.

You need to develop campaigns that specifically tie into this phase. For example, you can optimize landing pages for keywords with commercial intent, i.e., queries that contain “buy,” “best,” “discount,” and similar. This way, people interested in purchasing your tool can find them on search engines (assuming that your page ranks for the keyword).

Your landing page serves as the campaign’s endgame when these campaigns. Since you want subscribers to become your customers eventually, you must draft your content to convince them that buying your product is the best way to solve their problems.

To maximize the conversion rate of your landing page, you must observe the best practice of creating it. Below are some of the more critical factors to keep in mind:

  • Eliminate friction points:  reduce any friction points that might prevent your customers from purchasing something from you. In today’s digital world, your audience expects that they’ll be able to find the items that they need and purchase them immediately. Some of the common problems are: complicated checkout process, hidden CTA, complex form, lack no trust signals
  • Test your CTAs – Play around with the button size, color, test, and copy of the page’s call to action. The goal is to make the CTA stand out so people won’t miss it and encourage them to click on it.
  • Include social proofs – Leverage testimonials and glowing reviews from customers and influencers by featuring them on your landing page. They help establish trust with your audience and get them to convert much quicker.
  • Monitor performance – You need to check your landing pages’ conversion and click-through rates over time. A good rule of thumb is that your conversion rate should be 2.35%, the average rate among websites. From here, find ways to improve the rate to generate more customers.

TIP: As a general guide, a 4-5% conversion rate is considered good. The more comprehensive your awareness base, the more leads make it to the conversion stage, the higher your conversion rate.

Creating your lead generation funnel

Here is a summary of what you need to do to build out your lead generation process to be effective:

  1. Map out your customer journey for the business
  2. Create bespoke, super-useful content based on the buyer persona
  3. Map out the points of contact you have with your customers and create tailored lead magnets for each of them
  4. Drive traffic to your content resource
  5. Collect leads through opt-in forms, pop-ups, gated content, and email capture tools
  6. Create effective lead generation campaigns specific to the stage in the funnel and buying persona
  7. Always nurture leads before trying to convert them

This guest blog past was written by Kayleigh Berry, a search engine optimization marketer at Paperform. Her strong history in psychology, marketing, and creativity keeps her up to date with all the latest trends in the new and changing digital marketing industry. You’ll find Kayleigh surfing or training her Australian Shepherd puppy outside of work. You can follow her on LinkedIn.