“Arun, can you help us systemize our lead generation campaign. We are doing a number of things – but I have no clear sense of what is happening. I have no idea which campaigns are generating better leads, which are giving better close rates, how many leads are in the pipeline, and what is the percentage probability of them closing — and the list goes on. We are doing a number of things but there doesn’t seem to be any overarching theme and process which unites them.”
I was speaking to Ashutosh – CEO of a successful mid-size software company who also happened to be my friend from college. I could clearly understand his frustration because it was something which I deal with on a daily basis. Instead of a lead generation campaign which works through the year like a well-oiled machine with each part of the campaign feeding into another , most of the companies where I am called in, have haphazard lead generation activities, happening in spurts, with no coordination between one another.
So to solve this perennial problem, I decided to write this post which explains clearly what constitutes a successful lead generation campaign and how to execute it
What are the components of a lead generation campaign?
Consider customers as the outcome/ fruit of any business and lead generation campaign as the seed, fertiliser, water which helps plant bear the fruit. Just as in nature for the tree to bear fruits it needs regular care fertiliser and water, so does the business to get customers in the form of regular lead generation campaign .It is something which has to keep running regularly month after month, year after year to deliver a steady stream of leads to the business out of which, some will turn into customers.
- Objective: This is an extremely important first step. Is it the number of leads that you want to generate in a specific time period? Is it the type of lead that you wish to generate – industry, size of customer, geography … And there can be so many different criteria? Set this objective very clearly, because everything else will follow from it.
- Market: Based on the campaign objective chose the right target audience. Where can these target audience be found? What are the characteristics of these target audience? What are their pain points? What are their demographics and psychographics?
- Medium: Determine which is the best medium which can reach out to the target audience. Medium is the vehicle which carries your message to the target audience. The mediums can be online or offline. Online may include email, social media platforms, google and many other online publishers. Offline vary from Print, Radio, TV, bill boards to tradeshows and exhibitions. The right kind of media mix is necessary to optimize and get the best return on investment.
- Message: This step can make or break the whole campaign. Even if you have chosen the right market and medium, if your message does not address the pain points and the desires of your target market, it will not be able to entice the prospective customer to contact you. The right message along with the correct offer will help you capture leads
- Lead nurturing process: This includes what your follow-up process will look like, who will respond to the leads, what kinds of material will you share, how you will nurture them, how you will contact them, and everything in between
What is a lead generation funnel?
As part of the lead generation campaign it is necessary to understand the lead generation funnel. Leads are part of the broader lifecycle that consumers follow when they transition from just interested in your offering to becoming a customer Not all leads are equal and not all leads are at the same stage in terms of their purchase intent. It is therefore necessary to set up the criteria for classifying the leads at different stages of the funnel
- Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): These are contacts who have engaged with your marketing team’s efforts but aren’t ready to receive a sales call. An example of an MQL is a contact who fills out a landing page form
- Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): These are contacts who’ve taken actions that expressly indicate their interest in becoming a paying customer. An example of an SQL is a contact who fills out a form to ask a question about your product or service.
- Product Qualified Lead (PQL): These are contacts who’ve used your product and taken actions that indicate interest in becoming a paying customer. PQLs typically exist for companies who offer a product trial with options to upgrade, which is where your sales team comes in. An example of a PQL is a customer who uses your free version but engages or asks about features that are only available upon payment.
Should you do it in house or hire a lead generation agency?
This is another very important decision every company needs to make. This decision is based on the company’s capabilities, expertise and comfort level. Both the approaches have their pros and cons.
The advantage of in house is the level of control and flexibility that it provides. Also the product knowledge which is available in house cannot be matched by an external lead generation agency. But besides the product knowledge a successful lead generation campaign needs expertise in all the areas discussed above besides launching, monitoring and reporting the results of the campaign.
Also as the shift has become increasingly towards online, it is necessary to have a very good understanding of using various tools, marketing platforms, installing various tracking codes and ability to do crunch data and do marketing analytics. Not all the companies can afford to have this kind of talent or find a person or team of persons with this skill at a cost which is affordable.
A lead generation agency has expertise in all these areas. Also since they work with many different clients, they are able to apply the learnings from one customer to another. Also lead generation agencies work on different compensation methods ranging from retainer, per lead to performance based.
So based on the company’s objective and capability it may decide to do it in house or outsource.
Looking at all the elements of a successful lead generation campaign can make your head spin a bit. So in conclusion, make sure your campaign includes a clear understanding of your target market, multiple media channels to capture and narrow down your leads, compelling offers, and a strong strategy that tracks performance. If you have all of these then you are good to go!