How to generate unlimited leads online: set up your lead generation campaigns in 12 steps
How to generate leads online: Larry’s top tips
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Quick guide: setting up a lead generation campaign in 12 steps
- SLAs: Define your Service Level Agreement for the campaign. This involves setting campaign goals and KPIs, clarifying the lead management process (including what automation platform you’ll be using), specifying how reporting will be handled, and making sure that all teams involved are on board, including customer service, marketing, IT, and any senior management stakeholders.
- Budget Setting: Think about how much you have to spend on your lead generation marketing before you accrue any costs. Factor in the costs involved with all campaign creation and management work, as well as your advertising budget.
- Persona Definition: Understand your target customers and divide them into distinct groups (called personas) based on specific criteria, such as their age, sex, job title, industry, interests, goals, objections and which of your products or services would best suit them
- Channel setting: Lead generation marketing can be conducted via a range of online channels, including email, Facebook, LinkedIn, and PPC. You should decide which channels are most appropriate for use in your campaign based on where your personas hang out, which channels they are most responsive to and what your budget is.
- Targeting: Now that you know your persona groups, channels, and budgets, it’s time to translate this information into applicable targeting. This will vary by channel. For instance, if you are running a LinkedIn lead generation campaign, you will likely target by job title, industry, location, groups, and company, whereas on Facebook you may target by age, gender, location, hobbies, and interests. It’s important to build out your targeting lists ahead of time, so you know whether you need to widen or limit the audience.
- Content Strategy: Devise and create irresistible content for each persona, to ensure they will happily provide their contact information in order to access it, therefore entering your database. You’ll need to produce several different pieces of content, including ad copy and a lead magnet to drive engagement and encourage conversions. We discuss lead magnets more below, and in this blog post.
- Buyer’s Journey: Define how your prospects will move from initial ad to lead magnet, and on to convert with you. What are you asking them to do – can they be called directly from LinkedIn? Are they messaging you back on Facebook to book a consultation? Or are they moving from your ad/email to a website page, where they can discover more information and convert? Define the entire, end-to-end journey for your lead generation campaigns to ensure that there are no gaps in your marketing funnels that can cause prospects to drop out.
- Automation: Integrate your database with marketing automation, so that you can have unlimited conversations with potential customers – this can be done without too much complexity, by someone with limited technical skills
- Tracking: Ensure that everything’s set up to track the performance of your lead generation campaign from end-to-end, so you can see at what point your prospects convert or drop off.
- Lead Scoring: As leads start to come in, it’s important to have a system for scoring their quality against various criteria, such as the number of times they’ve engaged with your content, and whether they’ve responded to request a follow-up. Once a lead reaches the maximum score, that prospect is ready for nurturing.
- Lead Nurturing: Once you have reached out to prospects via advertising or email, it is important to nurture them into highly qualified leads. Nurturing can take the form of follow up messages on LinkedIn, a series of informative emails, or even via telephone calls (although we don’t recommend calling leads until they score high enough on your lead scoring scale). Successful nurturing leads to successful conversions.
- Conversion: Now that you’ve nurtured your leads into highly qualified prospects, it’s time to pick up the phone and get that consultation or demo booked in. A smooth sales process will result in a great sale once your prospects are primed and ready to go.
Step-by-step: setting up lead generation campaigns
Before we get started… what is lead generation?
Lead generation is the practice of attracting and nurturing prospective clients/customers via online advertising and follow up nurturing content. Lead Generation campaigns are a bit like fishing for a prized catch – you hook them with an enticing advert, reel them in with a lead magnet, and snap them up with effective lead nurturing. The Brains is a specialist agency that offers a variety of lead generation marketing services – reach out to us for a free consultation.
Lead generation marketing jargon buster
Lead – a prospect who may become a client or customer
Lead Generation – the process of acquiring leads through sales or marketing activity
Lead Generation Marketing – a campaign designed to help you acquire leads
Marketing Qualified Lead – a prospect who has indicated an interest in your brand or product offering after seeing your marketing activity
Sales Qualified Lead – a prospect who has passed the lead scoring criteria and is ready to be contacted by your sales team
Sales Accepted Lead – a marketing qualified lead that has been reviewed and passed to the sales team for approval
Lead Scoring – assigning a quality score to your leads so that you can determine which ones are ready to send to the sales team, which still need nurturing with further marketing activity, and which are not viable and need to be removed from your database
Lead Magnet – an incentive offered to prospects in exchange for their contact information, such as a free PDF download, a report, eBook, whitepaper or video
Step 1: SLAs, goal and target setting
Before setting any kind of content strategy for your campaign or deciding which channels to run it on, you need to agree SLAs and campaign goals. This includes KPIs, benchmarks, and monthly, quarterly, and annual goals that your team will be held accountable to.
SLAs, or Service Level Agreements, are an important first step in setting up any marketing campaign. This is because the SLA sets out an agreement between all parties on what the campaign management process will be, how success will be defined, what the KPIs and benchmarks will be, and how reporting will be handled. It’s important to lay out everything clearly before getting started. If you were working with an external lead generation agency, you’d put a contract in place before any lead generation campaigns started, and it’s important to hold your internal team accountable in the same way.
Things to cover off as part of your lead generation SLA:
- Agree definitions and criteria – what do you define as a lead, when does a lead become “marketing qualified”, at what point are they then considered a “sales accepted lead”
- Define your lead scoring process – now you know what a sales accepted lead looks like, how will you score prospects to ensure that only the most viable leads are being sent through to your sales team, in order to avoid lost revenue due to wasted call time?
- Set your KPIs (key performance indicators), this should include benchmarks based on previous campaigns or industry averages, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals. These goals should be realistic but ambitious and should span all departments. Here are some examples of lead generation KPIs for marketing, sales, and customer service teams:
- Sales KPI – a conversion rate of X% for sales qualified leads
- Marketing KPI – deliver X number of sales qualified leads every month
- Customer Service KPI – ensure all queries from marketing qualified leads are responded to within X hours
- Plan your reporting process – now that you know what your KPIs are, define how you will track and report on progress every month, quarter and year. Ensure accountability by agreeing a dedicated report manager and have them set up a dashboard that works for all stakeholders.
Step 2: budget setting
Now that you know what your goals are, it’s time to define what sort of budget you need to achieve them. There are several different costs that need to be factored into the planning for your lead generation campaign – including internal and external ones. In fact, because of the internal cost of planning, setting up and managing your lead generation campaign, it can often be more cost-effective to employ an external agency to run activity for you.
Here are some costs to consider when planning your lead generation marketing budget:
- Marketing – time, effort and assets required to produce ads, emails and lead magnets, which can often be substantial assets, such as a white paper or ebook
- Sales – time and effort involved in calling sales qualified leads
- Customer care – time and effort involved in managing any complaints or queries from leads
- CRM/marketing automation software – cost of purchasing and managing an automation platform
External costs (advertising budget) depending on chosen channels
- LinkedIn Ads – monthly budget for advertising on LinkedIn
- LinkedIn Bots – monthly budget for running 1 or more LinkedIn Bots to acquire connections and feed these into your lead marketing funnel
- Facebook Ads – monthly budget for advertising on Facebook
- Email advertising – monthly budget for sending mass emails to prospects
Wondering how much advertising budget you need to run a lead generation campaign? It depends on how many sales qualified leads you need to deliver each month in order to hit your KPIs.
To give you a bit of an insight:
- The smallest feasible investment for a LinkedIn lead generation campaign is £750. Depending on your industry and offering, this will net you on average around 30 leads and 15 sales qualified leads a month.
- The most common lead generation budget for a combined campaign on LinkedIn and Facebook, is approx. £2000/month. This will net you on average around 100 leads and 50 sales qualified leads a month
- To achieve the best possible results for your lead generation marketing, we recommend advertising on three channels – LinkedIn, Facebook and email (if these channels are relevant for your business) and investing approx. £3000/month. This will net you on average around 130 leads and 15 sales qualified leads a month
The above assumes that your campaigns are set up with a killer content strategy (see below for tips) and your lead magnets are doing a decent job of reeling prospects in.
Step 3: persona definition
Personas are prospects who have been segmented into target audiences based on their goals, motivations, and lifestyle. We always recommend defining personas before creating any marketing campaign, as this allows you to create campaign assets and messaging that is uniquely designed to appeal to your prospect’s sensibilities.
Elements we typically factor into our persona definitions:
- Basic profiling information: Age, gender, location
- Professional information: Job title, seniority, years of experience, career level, sector, industry
- Personal information: Living situation, kids yes/no, hobbies, interests, causes
- Motivations: Personal and professional goals and objectives, drives, ambitions and objections
For more advice on persona creation, read our in-depth blog post, “How To Create Powerful Marketing Personas”.
Top tip: Don’t apply more than 3 main personas to any lead generation campaign. It becomes too complicated to manage campaigns with many personas and you can take your targeting too granular, adding cost and complexity to the campaign.
Step 4: channel setting
Once you know who your personas are, you will be able to ascertain which social networks and communication methods are most effective for these target groups. Typically, lead generation activity is most successful on Facebook, LinkedIn, and email. Most of our clients run multi-channel campaigns spanning two or more of these channels, in order to allow retargeting of prospects and maximise exposure to messages across channels.
- If you are a B2B business, LinkedIn lead generation is often the most effective
- If you are a BC2 company, Facebook lead generation usually works well
- Email marketing is an effective follow up for both B2B and B2C lead gen campaigns
Remember, you can always start out advertising on one channel and then test another. This “test and learn” approach often works best for our clients; we have seen great success branching out onto other channels once a campaign has matured.
Step 5: targeting
Arguably, effective targeting is the single most important part of a lead generation campaign. You need to ensure you are marketing to an interested audience, taking into consideration your persona groups and excluding anyone who does not meet the targeting criteria that you set. You could create highly impactful content, but if you are not showing it to the right audience, they will not convert.
Here are some factors to consider when planning the targeting for each channel.
Years in Job
Remember that you can also set exclusions based on criteria, as well as manually adding any contacts to the exclusion list that you do not wish to contact, such as existing, lapsed, or previous clients/customers, or competitors.
Step 6: content strategy
It’s important that you define targeting and persona groups before creating your content strategy. This is because you can’t design impactful content unless you know who you are creating it for. Your lead generation content strategy is intended to:
- Attract potential prospects
- Convince them to exchange their contact details in exchange for information
- Convert them from leads into sales qualified leads, ready for your sales team to call
With your personas and targeting in mind, design content that is likely to appeal to your audience, answer their objections, and appeal to their motivations.
Have a think about what sort of topic would be most impactful for your lead magnets – what are your competitors already offering? What sort of information is freely available? If your prospects were to ask you one question about your products or services, what is it likely to be?
Here are some tips to help you design your content strategy:
- Create distinct content for each persona group
- Provide at least three ad variants per persona so you can test different messaging and quickly update less successful variants or move budget to the best performing ad group
- Offer an irresistible asset as your lead magnet, one your prospects can’t get anywhere else and would happily exchange their information for
- Each persona group should have its own lead magnet, to maximise engagement with your content
- Ensure that your copy and imagery work together in harmony and that the imagery you choose is appropriate in theme and style for your persona group
The Brains offers a content strategy service to help you plan out your lead generation activity. We also provide an Introductory Guide to Lead Magnets, which you can read to learn more about creating them.
Step 7: buyer’s journey
If you have a highly impactful lead generation campaign, but a poor buyer’s journey, you risk all your hard work draining away due to a leaky funnel. Ensure that you are covering all bases to make it easy for your leads to convert into customers or clients. It is well worth taking another look at your website’s user journey, to ensure that everything is up to scratch.
Things to check:
- Are the links in my ads or emails working?
- When someone lands on a lead magnet, can they navigate to the rest of my website?
- If I am sending “no-reply” emails, am I always providing an email signature with a telephone number?
- If I am prompting prospects to book a call back, am I providing a form for them to do this?
- If I am linking someone to a page on my website, is that page optimised for conversions – does it link to other relevant pages / does it have a call to action?
Don’t let a poor buyer’s journey be the reason your lead generation campaigns are unsuccessful.
Step 8: automation
At The Brains, we’re passionate about marketing automation. It’s the best way to save time, minimise effort, and reduce resource drain. With lead generation marketing, automation is even more important, because it allows you to reach an unlimited number of prospects and keep re-engaging them by sending valuable content.
If you would like to discuss how automation could improve your lead generation strategies, give us a call – or for more information, visit our marketing automation services page.
Here are some ways that marketing automation can improve your lead generation campaigns:
- LinkedIn Ads Automation: Automatically display ads to relevant prospects and retarget them with a follow up if they do not convert
- Facebook Automation: Automatically show ads to prospects based on targeting criteria, then retarget with follow up ads
- Email automation: Automatically send a series of nurturing emails to prospects and steadily convert them into sales qualified leads through consistent messaging
- Lead management: Automatically manage lead scoring and get alerted when a prospect meets all criteria and has a high enough score to be passed on to the sales team for contact
- LinkedIn Bots Automation: Automatically send connection requests, connection acceptance messages and follow up messages to your prospects without having to manage individual communications
Remember you can always request a FREE consultation with our marketing automation experts for personalised advice on setting up your automated lead gen activity.
Step 9: tracking
Now that you know who you’re targeting, which channels you’re using, what content you’ll be showing them, and how much you’re spending, you’re ready to start setting up your campaigns. Make sure that you carefully implement tracking across the entire campaign, tracking movement between channels, onto your website, and into your sales pipeline. Google Analytics is a must for all lead generation campaigns that drive prospects to your website. Many CRMs and marketing automation platforms also have powerful built-in tracking systems of their own, allowing you to plot your prospect’s journey from A to Z. Just make sure to implement any pixels, cookies, or code necessary to get these elements working!
Now you’re ready to launch your campaign!
Here are a few extra steps to follow once your campaign is up and running.
Step 10: lead scoring
We spoke earlier about the importance of defining criteria for lead scoring before you begin to execute your campaign. Now that you’ve got some leads coming in, it’s time to score them! Scoring leads allows you to understand which prospects are primed and ready for a call with the sales team. The more a prospect interacts with you, the higher their lead score. As they increase their clicks, time on site, and scrolls, they slowly increase their score in your lead management system, until you are alerted that they are ready to be passed on to the sales team. Effective nurturing will quickly move your prospect through the stages of contact towards a sales qualified score.
Step 11: lead nurturing
Lead nurturing is the process of improving your lead score over time by increasing a prospect’s interaction with your brand. You do this by serving them useful and interesting information, via email. Retaining their interest as they move through your sales funnel is vital, so consider lead nurturing to be one of the most important elements of your lead gen campaign.
Here are some ways to build trust and loyalty through effective lead nurturing:
- Set up email autoresponders that trigger customised emails which are sent to a lead once they download a certain amount of information, try a product trial, make a purchase or when you have a time-limited offer to promote
- Be patient – lead nurturing can take anywhere from 1 month to 12 months depending on your purchasing cycle
- Be consistent – send updates and information at regular intervals; you may not be seeing interactions with this content initially, but it’s quite common for a prospect to take several months to start actively engaging with information you send
- Be interesting – send a variety of information for your prospects to engage with, including blog posts, infographics, video, polls, research, whitepapers, ebooks – anything your persona research tells you will be well received!
Step 12: conversion
Now that your campaigns are running, tracked, and nurtured, you’ll be starting to see leads move through the scoring process and you might have gained your first few sales qualified leads.
When a lead is sales qualified, pass it on to the sales team for contacting. Make sure that your sales managers are provided with enough relevant information about the lead, their persona profile, and the content they’ve viewed to make the conversation a positive one and increase the chances of conversion.
And that’s about it! You should see some positive interactions and good sales figures coming from your lead generation campaigns if you carefully follow the above steps.
Don’t forget to refresh your messaging, update your lead magnets, and try different supporting content every now and again. Take learnings from your reporting, apply insights, and you’ll be gaining new clients or customers quicker than you can handle them.