We're always looking to refine our and your Marketing strategies, and today we're doing so through this article on Lead Generation: what is it? What definition best describes it? What are the actions that characterize it? Find out how to find new customers with one of today's most effective and modern methods.
It's a fact: more and more companies are approaching Web Marketing with the aim of acquiring new customers. This discipline puts at your disposal different paths to follow, many tools to exploit and as many actions to undertake: one of these is called Lead Generation.
What does it consist of? Does it really bring results? How does it integrate into the path to new customer acquisition? Can it be used without the support of an inbound marketing agency? In this article you will find an answer to each of these questions. If you are looking for new contacts, you are thinking of doing it through the online channel and you are curious to know everything about one of the most effective strategies currently in vogue among marketers, continue reading: the secrets of Lead Generation are waiting for you!
A PREMISE: BUYER PERSONAS AND THE ACQUISITION FUNNEL
Before talking in depth about the various techniques of contact acquisition and lead generation, it's worth taking a moment to consider what buyer personas represent and their positioning within the acquisition funnel.
What is the Buyer Persona?
The first advice we give you is to sit down and give a face to your target, that is your ideal customers. Do not limit yourself to describing a category of subjects, then: draw the identikit of real people. Assign them a socio-economic context, a cultural level, a family status, an age. Give each one a face and a psychological profile, maybe even a first name and a last name. Think about the habits of these buyer-persons: how could they come into contact with your product in their daily lives? Where could you intercept them?
You'll soon realize that these ideal customers, although different from each other, have points in common that you can exploit to attract them with less effort. Not to mention that some activities and content may be valuable at different stages and for different people.
WHAT IS THE ACQUISITION FUNNEL?
In a nutshell, with acquisition funnel we want to identify the path that our ideal customer (or person) follows before reaching the actual purchase phase. It is very important that you have a clear understanding of this path before starting with any marketing strategy, including lead generation.
The standard funnel, which we find in the Inbound Marketing strategy, responds to the acronym AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) and can be imagined as a funnel. As you go deeper into the funnel, which gets tighter, a skimming of the number of users takes place. Once the final phase is reached, the user turns into an actual customer.
Let's now look at the various stages of the funnel in more detail. In the first one, Awareness, your buyer persona doesn't know who you are or what you offer. He probably doesn't even have a clear idea of what he's looking for: he perceives a need, but he's still building his awareness of the details.
In the Interest phase, however, you take a small step forward. Something about your Brand has piqued the interest of your target audience. Maybe you've provided some information that has given them a better understanding of what their need of the moment is and they want to explore it further. That's when your buyer person starts to get informed and interested in your Brand.
From interest we move on to Desire. In this phase your buyer person can be converted into a contact (LEAD). Your target is concretely considering solutions that meet their needs, and your product or service is in the running to earn the goal. This phase is very delicate because the user is one step away from taking the action.
The last step is the Action, the final conversion, that is the fulfillment of the goal that we set upstream. This can be of different types: we can, for example, push the user to purchase, or limit ourselves to Lead Generation through the completion of a form and the consequent gain of a new contact to cultivate.
An evolution of the AIDA path is AIDCAS. This second model integrates the basic one with two other aspects, not negligible, and more and more discriminating in the acquisition and maintenance of the contact: Confidence (trust) and Satisfaction (satisfaction).
The buyer person can get in touch with you at any point in the funnel. They could go through the different steps in perfect sequence, from the mouth to the end; but they could also start directly from the Desire phase and proceed directly to the Action. For this reason, each step of the acquisition must be managed independently of the others but, at the same time, in a coordinated manner with them, perhaps using a special Lead Generation software such as the one integrated in the HubSpot platform.
Internet, in this sense, has expanded the possibilities of traditional media channels and has greatly reduced costs. It differs from the logic of Share of Voice to which television and printed paper are subject, and offers a communication method much closer to one-to-one. It allows you to segment with great precision the audience you want to hit and to create ad hoc content designed to fit the need.
What is Lead Generation? A Definition
Lead Generation is a Web Marketing technique through which a company generates new contacts (leads) by identifying potential customers. This is fundamental to increase the business of a company, provided that the contacts collected are the good ones: that's why we talked about Buyer Persona.
Having clear which are the contacts that have value for your company allows you to go to interact directly with them, intercepting profiled subjects already upstream and without wasting energy and resources in dead ends. Lead Generation acts on the funnel and targets your target audience based on their interests, habits, needs and requirements.
Normally, a Lead Generation process can have two types of macro-goals: Branding (Brand Reputation, Engagement, Loyalty and the like) or Sales. It is important that the goals set are SMART, that is:
- Specific: they should be as unique as possible and targeted to a single factor. If your goal is, for example, to collect contacts, you will have to put in place operations centered only on that. The communication must be clear, simple and direct: giving too many stimuli to your target will only disperse its attention, not leading to any result. Think, for example, of a user who fills out an online form to subscribe to a newsletter. He is probably interested in the information you offer, but he might still be far away from the purchase phase of your product or service. In this case, advertising your product in the newsletter could not only be useless, but also negative and lead the user to unsubscribe.
- Measurable: in order to know how much an action has brought benefits and made the investment return you must be able to analytically evaluate the results. You will have to establish KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that allow you to measure and quantify the results. These performance indicators will help you not only to evaluate the success of your campaign, but also to decide whether to replicate or suspend it.
- Assign yourself: there must be a manager who takes charge of the campaign and has complete responsibility for it. A controlled and precise organization is critical to achieving your goal.
- Realistic: your goals must be objectively within the reach of your resources and the skills you have access to. Setting an unattainable goal cannot bring positive results; on the contrary, it will undoubtedly lead to an understandable state of frustration that will disrupt your ability to react proactively to future challenges.
- Time-Related: give your goals a time limit. Time is money, so the result you're aiming for must be achieved within a time frame that is precisely established in advance. In this way you will avoid unnecessary rambling and dispersion of resources.
LEAD GENERATION MARKETING ACTIONS
Content is the key to lead generation. If you have valuable material to offer your target audience, you will also have their attention. The specific topic is not important as long as it remains of interest to your ideal customer. That's why, once again, defining the Buyer Persona is critical. Keep in mind that your potential customer may be completely different from you; therefore, don't think about what you like, but try to put yourself in his or her shoes and identify what he or she might appreciate to the point of wanting to continue down the funnel.
One feature that increases the value of a piece of content is what is known as liquidity, a concept that likens the content itself to a fluid.
Just as a liquid fits into the vessel that contains it so should your content fit as closely as possible into the container that collects it.
Following this maxim, a single topic can be declined in several different contents. I could thus optimize your writing time, allowing you to perform a single thematic research reusable in several contexts aimed at subjects who are in different moments of the funnel. The same topic can become an in-depth article for your blog, a short infographic, an engaging video, a downloadable pdf, an e-book or a Facebook post.
Using the blog to answer your target audience's questions is the first action you can take. Think like the user, find a keyword to focus on and see what answers your target audience has access to. In all of this, of course, aim to do better than your competitors. Produce something more complete, more readable, for example a definitive Guide to...: This will be your Pillar Content.
Once you've made the pillar, take advantage of paid tools and promote it with Google campaigns or on Social Networks (always remember to think about how your user). Give your content visibility. In the meantime, create other, shorter, more specific blog articles that support it and cover part of the topic in depth. These articles will link to each other thus increasing their respective value. Your Pillar Content will start climbing Google search results and users will also be able to access it semantically from contingent keywords.
Developing premium content for subscribers is the next step in lead generation. Once the user has done a Google search, found your content in answer to their question, and read the blog post (Pillar Content), perhaps they will look for more information. He may choose to delve deeper into the same topic or search for the answer to another question, but it really doesn't make much difference. The mechanism that has been established in his mind is that he can find answers on your site: in the wake of this, he will have no problem leaving you his details to download an in-depth study.
Creating downloadable content such as guides, e-books, pdfs, research, analysis are a very powerful tool to generate leads. One of the most used and effective ways to make them available is to insert them in a Landing Page designed ad hoc; if you want to find out how to make a functional Landing Page read our article about it. In this page, thanks to an effective call-to-action, the user will have only one possibility of action: fill out a form and leave his details to download the content.
The user has read your posts and downloaded the e-book. And now what? Proposing the subscription to a newsletter with interesting content for users is a way to increase the loyalty of your contacts. Send them ideas, curiosities, news, previews; lead them to come back to your site.
Always remember to monitor all the data related to the newsletter such as the opening rate, the visits generated and the unsubscription percentage. This will be useful to understand if you're going in the right direction or if, instead, you'll have to adjust your focus.
LEAD GENERATION EXAMPLE: THE STRATEGY FROM BUYER PERSONA TO ACTION
Let's now take a practical example. Your company is in the small appliances sector and is preparing to launch a new food processor on the market. The product is super technological: it peels, cuts, mixes and cooks. At the market level it is positioned in a medium-high price range. How do we get qualified leads to accompany the purchase?
BUYER PERSONA IDENTIFICATION
The first thing you need to do is to outline the Buyer Persona that your communication will be aimed at. To do this, you'll need to be clear about your product and think about the needs it could address. At this point you will need to attribute different characteristics to the Persona that are consistent with the robot. Below is a list of the main ones:
- psychological description
- role in the company
- demographic details
- goals and challenges
- elevator pitch
Let's start by defining some Buyer Persona. Below we indicate 3 that are representative of as many categories of consumers of our product.
Person 1. FRANCESCA BIANCHI
Person 2. AUGUSTO ROSSI
Person 3. MAURO VERDI
As you can see, these descriptions already offer hooking cues at first glance. There is no limit to the characteristics we can analyze. There can be Persona even of several pages: the more you go into detail, the easier it will be to plan an effective strategy.
THE ACQUISITION FUNNEL AND CONTENT
Let's see how to structure a Lead Generation based on our Persona's in an AIDCAS funnel.
In the image below, our Buyer Persona are framed along with some possible actions that, depending on your position within the funnel, you can take.
FRANCESCA BIANCHI'S FUNNEL: LEAD GENERATION BETWEEN FACEBOOK, FASHION AND INFLUENCERS
Francesca Bianchi is a young woman strongly attracted by fashion. In her profile there is a strong emotional component that is awakened by the visual, by luxury and by the concept of exclusive status symbol. For her, Awareness passes through lifestyle. In order to reach her, we need to emphasize our position in fashion with emotional photos or videos, exploit visual social networks and activate partnerships.
In this phase of Awareness our product is not there. The goal is to make ourselves known, to draw attention to our trajectory. Once we enter Francesca's world, we can arouse her interest in us. Interest is the field of content, created ad hoc according to the actual interests of our Buyer Persona. In the case of our example, we could publish recipes based on refined ingredients, use of expensive spices, wine pairings. Various SEO tools can direct us in a search for keywords appropriate to our goals.
Once the interest is aroused, we must activate the desire. The figure of the influencer is a good hook for Francesca. Activating partnerships with influencers and having them use our food processor could be an idea to ignite desire. If the influencer attends one of our exclusive events and Francesca can meet him/her, we can combine action with lead generation.
Let's create an effective and ad hoc Landing Page for the event. This can then be promoted for a fee on social networks. The important thing is that there is a clear call-to-action that triggers the next step. We could also ask our influencer to participate in the promotion through their own channels. Francesca will surely be attracted by the possibility of meeting the VIP at a chic evening for a select few.
It is precisely from this exclusive participation that Confidence is given. Francesca has done the whole journey with us, she has given us her trust and she is ready to finally get in touch directly with the product we want to sell her: the food processor. She has already seen it on the influencer's blog, of course; here, however, she can try it out and taste the dishes made thanks to its features. In short, she sees the product contextualized in an evening tailored to her.
Someone may already want to buy during the event, so it would be good to offer this possibility. But Francesca hasn't made it to the Action stage yet. However, she left us her contact information, and we will contact her by sending her - for example - the link to download the exclusive recipe book used for the catering of the evening and an invitation to the pre-sale, at favorable conditions, of the food processor. Francesca's participation in the community once the purchase is completed will be a sign of satisfaction.
The Augusto Rossi Funnel: Lead Generation through Automotive
Augusto Rossi is a single man between 40 and 50 years old. We expect him to have a more analytical approach than Francesca. We expect, for example, that at some point he will want to receive technical information about a product. However, we must not overlook the egocentric, emotional and aspirational aspect of improving oneself and meeting new people.
The sector in which we could go for the Awareness phase is automotive. It may seem distant from what the product is, but in reality this has a completely relative weight. What matters to us, we remember, is to attract the attention of our Person looking for it within his interests.
Why the automotive? Statistically, a recently divorced or separated man of our Augusto's age changes cars and points to certain models and makes. Augusto's second interest is getting in shape: here he will start doing sports, attending gyms and reading articles on how to lose weight, tone muscles, choose fat-burning foods and related topics.
Among these topics we can find many ideas that can be transformed into valid content to arouse our Augusto's interest in blogging. Working in a bank, Augusto has a fairly light schedule that allows him to have free time to surf the Internet and watch television. So if for Francesca the testimonial was an influencer, for Augusto it would be more appropriate to choose a figure who is somehow connected to the world of television.
Thinking about our food processor, we could look for a partnership with a sports or prominent chef and build part of the campaign around that. As in the previous example, there will be a targeted promotion activity on blogs and social, and a call-to-action will lead Augusto to leave us his contact by filling out the form to participate in an exclusive happening.
In his case, the event could be a cooking class focused on our appliance and held by the testimonial chef. Again, the exclusive event develops Confidence and puts Augusto in direct contact with the product.
Action can be stimulated through gadgets such as a cookbook, in e-book format, with light dishes designed by the testimonial Chef especially for our food processor. The recipe book can be sent via an e-mail with a link to the product page on the website, which will contain in turn the product data sheet and a call-to-action for the purchase.
Satisfaction can be sought, in the case of Augusto, by inviting him to leave a review, by proposing to share his purchase on Facebook or by reserving a place for him at cooking classes or specific events, even for a fee.
Mauro Verdi's Funnel: B2B Lead Generation for Companies
Mauro is a target that is very different from Francesca and Augusto: as the Food & Beverage Manager of a large hotel chain, he has to be hit with a communication that knows how to address B2B. In the Awareness phase we can rely on trade fairs and the specialized press, where we will communicate our values and optimize our mission according to our target.
Interest can be aroused through content in the form of Executive Summaries, Know How to solve a problem and Best Practices. Even in this case it is not necessary that there is a product, but the content proposed must be of great value. Once we have attracted Mauro's interest, we will cultivate it with Premium contents, accessible only to registered users: we will have Mauro's contact and he will have - for example - a Case History to download.
In this case, Confidence can be reached by the salesperson who, after an initial cognitive contact, will attack with an ad hoc proposal. In order to increase Mauro's Satisfaction, we could propose that he becomes one of our successful Case Histories.
In the previous paragraphs we analyzed the various aspects that leverage the decision-making process of our target, the Buyer Persona, the acquisition funnel and Lead Generation. Through concrete and simplified examples, we have tried to give you a general picture of how it is possible to go from theory to practice: obtaining profiled contacts and using them productively within the funnel is not an impossible process to implement.
Lead Generation is not only an integral part of any Web Marketing strategy, but it is also a pillar of it. Specifically, it fits into those Inbound Marketing operations aimed at getting your customer to come to you. The basic objective is to bring the customer to self-select, making him ready to listen actively and interested in the moment of the actual business contact. Getting profiled contacts is the first step to be able to carry out an effective and productive communication strategy for your company.