Have you ever heard marketers say that a certain lead generation tactic is the best?
And no matter what, you should be using that tactic?
There are numerous examples of tactics that marketers herald as being “the best” – but I disagree.
Here’s the truth:
The best lead generation tactics are those that align perfectly with the needs of your business – not someone else’s.
So how can you figure out which lead generation tactics are right for you?
In this post, I’ll show you the exact questions that you need to ask yourself to decide what’s right for your business.
This will help you gain clarity and ensure your next campaign is a massive success.
Let’s dive in:
Understanding the lead generation process
Before we get into the meat of how to decide on which tactics to use, let’s take a quick look at how the lead generation process works online.
Broadly speaking, there are typically five key stages:
1. Identify your target audience
The first step is to figure out what kind of audience you want to attract for your campaign.
This will be a subset of the broad customer-type you want in your business – often referred to as an audience (or marketing) persona.
For example, suppose you run a video game store. If you were to describe your audience, it might sound like this: “12-35 year olds who like video games.”
Your target audience for a specific campaign, however, would be more detailed: “20-24 year olds who own a Nintendo, play Zelda, and live in California.
2. Create an offer
An offer is anything you’re offering in exchange for a person’s (the “lead”) contact information – downloadable content, coupons, giveaways etc. Often referred to as a lead magnet.
For a lead gen campaign to be successful, you have to align the offer with the target audience.
For example, if you’re targeting 22 year old video gamers, offer them a discount coupon for GameStop, not a whitepaper on virtual currencies.
3. Create conversion assets
The third step is to create all of your “conversion assets” – assets you use to attract and capture leads and email subscribers.
This includes everything like:
- Landing page variations
- Ad creatives
4. Drive traffic to the offer
The fourth step is all about getting eyeballs on your conversion assets.
This isn’t about just getting any traffic – you need targeted traffic.
Exactly how you tackle this step will depend on your:
- Which traffic sources you have experience with – PPC, blogging, social media, etc.
- Where your target audience hangs out online.
- Your budget.
- Your offer type. Giveaways, for example, work better on social media than AdWords.
5. Optimize your campaign
The fifth and final step is to track the campaign performance and run a split test to improve conversions.
Although this step isn’t necessary (you can still capture leads without optimization), you will see a far better return on your investment if you do. A small bump in conversion rates can mean hundreds and even thousands more leads over a campaign’s lifetime.
But it’s important to note that while conversion rates are important, they don’t necessarily mean more profitable.
Here’s what I mean:
It’s possible to generate more revenue from a campaign that converts lower than another campaign.
This is generally due to a higher average order value – so bear this in mind when working on your campaign.
How to choose the right lead generation tactics for your business
The lead generation process is fairly straightforward from a conceptual point of view.
The tricky part is deciding on which lead generation tactics to use.
Below, I’ll walk you through a series of questions that will help you choose. And to make these questions easier to work through, each one is broken up into the same five stages we discussed above.
Identify your target audience
In the first stage, here are some good questions to ask:
Q: Do you have clear demographical data for your audience?
Your demographics data will tell you your customers age, household income, education level, ethnicity, marital status, and gender.
For example, here are the demographics of Lifehacker’s audience:
The above data was generated by a website called Quantcast. You can search any domain to pull in some demographical data. The only snag is that the website in question needs to be ‘quantized.’ Which in a nutshell, means a tracking code has to be live on the website.
You could potentially use this to research your direct competitors. Although, it’s worth mentioning that these results can be skewed by traffic that doesn’t align with a website’s target audience.
Alternatively, you could use Facebook Audience Insights. However, this only works if you have a large existing audience.
Another alternative would be to use the Demographics and Interests part of Google Analytics.
Ultimately, knowing this data will help you in two main ways:
- Create more targeted offers
- Advertise to them on the right platforms
For example, if you’re targeting 45 year old married men, LinkedIn would likely provide better results than Snap Chat.
Q: Have you interviewed customers or conducted surveys?
Your demographical data will tell you what your audience looks like in terms of age, gender, and ethnicity. It won’t tell you why, how, what and where they want to buy.
These insights only come from truly understanding your audience. The best way to do that is by using:
- In-depth surveys to get statistically backed audience insights.
- Interviews to get subjective insights about your audience motivations, likes and dislikes.
You can then use these insights to inform your offer creation and choice of marketing tactics.
An additional method would be to search for discussions about your business in online forums and groups etc. However, this won’t always provide the insights you need. The great thing about this is that it’s raw and unfiltered which can sometimes be useful.
Q: Do you have clear buyer personas?
A “buyer persona” is a fictionalized profile of your “ideal” customer. This includes both objective and subjective information.
Here’s a great example via OptinMonster:
Top performing lead gen campaigns usually fit closely with a specific persona. This means that knowing your personas inside and out is key to crafting better offers and marketing messages.
If you don’t have in-depth personas, you should at least be able to describe your target audience in one sentence.
Here’s a specific example:
“30 year old unmarried male who leads a technology startup’s engineering team, is based out of San Francisco, and likes to spend time on Reddit.”
Developing your offer
Want to create an irresistible offer? Just ask yourself these questions:
Q: What kind of content can you create?
Giving away content is one of the most popular ways to capture leads, especially in B2B markets. But before you can do that, you need to understand what kind of content you’re able to create.
Here’s the thing:
Different content-types require different skills. Writing a 20,000 word ebook is very different from writing a 1,000 word blog post. You need strong outlining skills, topical expertize and the ability to format/design a document into a publishable book.
Depending on your skills, here are a few options:
- Ebooks and long-form content (10k+ words): Pick these if you have strong writing, researching and editing skills. It’s also helpful to have some design talent.
- Checklists and cheatsheets: These work great as content upgrades. Create them if you have strong design skills and can summarize complex content into an easy to digest format.
- Infographics: You’ll need strong design and illustration skills.
- Videos: Create these if you’re comfortable in front of a camera and have the necessary equipment (camera, microphone, editing software etc).
- Whitepapers: These are typically data intensive so you’ll need strong research skills.
- Quizzes and surveys: Time to create the content is minimal but the results, particularly from personality style quizzes can be remarkable. And there are a bunch of online quiz makers and WordPress quiz plugins you can use.
And of course, all of these can be outsourced if you don’t have the skills in-house (we’ll talk about outsourcing to freelancers in more depth in a moment).
Q: What kind of content do your customers like?
While evaluating your own skills is important, any offer you create must place customers first. You might be great at creating in-depth guides, but if your users don’t want them, your efforts will go to waste.
So before you create an offer, figure out what kind of content your readers are willing to give away their personal details for.
- Research your competitor’s content offerings: If a successful competitor keeps creating the same type of content, it’s a good indication that this content-type works in your industry. This isn’t foolproof by any means but it’s a good start.
- Interview your existing customers (or email subscribers): Ask them what kind of content they would like to see more of. Also consider what kind of constraints they have (if they are on mobile; they don’t have time for lengths downloadables etc.) and pick something accordingly.
- Research niche forums and online communities: Regularly visit the online communities your ideal customer visits. Look at which questions pop-up regularly, then create content that answers those questions. For example, if you see a lot of beginner-level questions, a beginner-friendly guide would do better than an advanced-level cheatsheet. If you see requests for “quick” answers, create a cheatsheet instead.
Q: Do you have easy access to freelance talent?
Creating a quality offer requires multiple skills. You won’t always have access to all these skills in-house.
This is where freelancers come into play.
If you already have access to a team of vetted freelancers, content creation becomes much easier. You can outsource parts of content creation (such as making the cover for an ebook) and focus on what you do best.
If you have to find and hire freelancers from scratch, it can easily add dollars and days to your content creation process. You’ll need to put up ads, go through applications, and run tests/interviews before you can hire someone. Even then, there is no guarantee that the freelancer will be reliable.
Factor this into the equation before you settle on an offer.
Before starting the search for a freelancer, it’s worth getting in-touch with your business contacts to see if they have recommendations for reliable and talented freelancers. Referrals are one of the main ways I hire freelancers and most of the time works out better than sifting through applications, etc.
Q: Do you have easy access to content development tools?
Depending on what you want to create, you’ll need one or more content development tools, such as:
- Word processor for creating documents and PDFs.
- Design tools for creating ebook covers, illustrations, infographics etc.
- Video recording and editing software for creating videos
- Viral offer creation tools for creating giveaways, sweepstakes etc.
Also consider whether you need to buy additional equipment (such as camera and microphone for videos). All of this can easily eat into your budget.
Developing your conversion assets
Your “conversion assets” include everything you need to capture and convert a visitor on your website. We’re talking about landing pages, copy, lead capture forms etc.
Your conversion assets are crucial for the lead generation process. The design of your landing pages and the strength of your copy will often decide your conversion rates, more so than the offer.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
Q: Can you write compelling copy?
Landing pages can be design-heavy like this:
Or they can be copy-heavy like this:
If you have access to strong copywriting talent (freelance or in-house), copy heavy landing pages are worth considering.
There’s a lot of debate around which style of landing pages to use but it all comes down to what converts best. If possible, it’s worth creating both and split testing them against each other.
To split test your landing pages you could landing page software such as Leadpages which has the functionality built-in or use a dedicated split-testing tool such as Google Optimize.
Q: Do you have access to landing page creation tools?
Landing pages are similar to regular web pages, the only difference is that they’re created with a singular focus – to compel your visitors to take a specific action.
It used to be a case of having to hire a web developer to create landing pages, fortunately there are tools available that can help you create a high converting page quickly.
Dedicated tools such as Instapage and Leadpages often work best. Check out our article on landing page software for the full lowdown.
Q: How much data are your customers willing to share?
Another way to frame this question would be: how long should your forms be?
A longer form means more data. It also means more effort on the part of the reader, which usually lowers conversion rates.
Here are 4 key factors to consider when deciding on form length:
- The number of prior “touches”: First-time visitors are usually less willing to fill out a 10-field form than someone who has already given you details earlier.
- The “want” of the visitor: A casual browser will be less willing to fill out a lengthy form than a desperate user who really needs a solution to an urgent problem. Usually, the more acute and urgent the problem, the more fields users are willing to fill.
- Buyer’s journey stage: Visitors in later stages of the buyer’s journey (i.e. “Decision”) are more willing to share data than early stage visitors.
- Industry norms: In some industries, users have come to expect longer forms because everyone seems to be doing it. The banking industry is a prime example – users are used to filling out lengthy forms to gauge their eligibility for loans/credit cards.
Q: Do you know basic conversion optimization tactics?
If you’re using a landing page creation plugin (or tool), your template would likely already be somewhat optimized for conversions.
To get the most out of it, learning basic conversion rate optimization tactics is a must. Things like how to craft strong calls to action (CTA’s), better headlines etc.
It also helps to have access to testimonials, trust badges and social proof to drive up conversions.
Driving traffic to your offers
Once you’ve setup your conversion assets, it’s time to drive traffic to them.
Here’s what you need to ask before deciding on a traffic source:
Q: Where does your “ideal customer” hang out?
A simple rule of marketing: go where your customers are.
For example, if you’re targeting 18-year old millennials, you’ll want to hit Facebook and Snapchat, not LinkedIn.
If you’ve already defined your audience and buyer personas, you should have a fair idea where your target customers can be found. These should be your starting point.
It also helps to limit the number of traffic sources you go after initially. This will help you evaluate their effectiveness in terms of scaling traffic and how well they convert.
If you’re using paid traffic, this will help to ensure you don’t waste money on traffic that doesn’t convert.
Q: What is your traffic budget for the campaign?
Your budget usually decides what traffic sources you can use. A higher budget opens up the possibility of higher quality but expensive traffic sources (such as AdWords).
- $0 budget: Use existing traffic or free traffic sources (like Reddit). Example: adding an Ebook download form to your blog’s sidebar to turn existing readers into leads.
- Low-budget: Organic traffic (SEO) mixed with PR/outreach, organic social media and content distribution (Outbrain/Taboola).
- Mid-budget: Social media ads, display ads, AdWords etc.
- High-budget: Sponsored content, AdWords etc.
Q: Do you have experience with any specific acquisition channel?
When deciding on a traffic source, it’s better to pick something that you know well rather than something that’s completely new to you (even if it’s within budget).
For example, if you already know how to drive traffic using social media ads, focus on that instead of trying out AdWords.
You can also set aside part of your budget for experimenting with new traffic sources – this will give you an indicator of ROI for those channels.
Q: How do your top competitors drive traffic to their campaigns?
Finally, consider how your top competitors are driving traffic to their campaigns. This will give you a good idea of what works in your niche, and what doesn’t.
Some traffic sources are harder to catch than others. Referral and organic traffic, for example, doesn’t always leave an easily visible footprint.
For other traffic sources, you can get competitive data from these tools:
Measuring and optimizing your campaign
The final step in any lead generation campaign:
Figure out what’s working, what’s not and optimize your campaign for better performance.
Ask yourself these questions to get more clarity in this phase:
Q: Can you easily create test variations of your landing pages?
Creating one-off landing pages is easy; creating dozens of variations for testing and staying organized can be hard.
Before you start optimizing your campaign, ask yourself: can you create multiple test variations easily?
Does your landing page tool allow you to switch elements quickly? Do you have access to designers and copywriters to create page variations?
A ‘yes’ answer to these questions will make optimization far easier.
Q: Do you have access to testing software?
At its most basic, this software will help you run A/B tests by diverting traffic to two-page variations at the same time. Most advanced tools will also let you run more complex multivariate tests.
Besides split testing, you might also want to capture user data in the form of heatmaps, mouse tracking, and even eye tracking to better understand what customers want.
Q: Do you have an ongoing process to gather customer insights?
Optimization is a long-term process. You can’t just run a test, decide on a winner and call it a day. To get the most out of your traffic, you’ll need to optimize as you go.
For better optimization, it’s important to focus on what customers want. An ongoing process to gather customer insight (both objective and subjective) will help you create better landing page variations for testing.
Only embark on an ambitious optimization campaign once you have a process in place to gather customer insights.
Running a successful lead generation campaign requires mastering multiple skills. You’ll need to figure out what your audience wants, create relevant offers, acquire traffic and direct it to high-performing landing pages.
There are a number of factors that will help you decide on which specific lead generation tactics to use. Asking yourself some pointed questions and analyzing your own capabilities can help you zero-down on a specific tactic.
Use this post as a questionnaire to help you get started. This will give you more clarity into your audience, your capabilities and your requirements before you start a lead generation campaign.
Once you’re ready to go, look into tools that will streamline the lead generation process. For example, if you use WordPress, you might find this article on the best WordPress lead generation plugins helpful.