What is lead generation and why is it so vital to your business?

By Published 3 February 2014

Lead generation describes the marketing process of stimulating and capturing interest in your product or service for the purpose of developing your sales funnel.

Most sites on the internet convert at less than 5%. This means that 95% (and more) are not buying into your product or service on their first visit. Selling is often about trust and relationship building. The process of relationship building is essential to getting the customer to trust you, to try out your offering without the pressure of a tough sell.

In today’s complex marketing climate, lead generation has become a popular strategy to help create demand and get your marketing messages heard across multiple channels. Lead generation helps your company increase brand awareness, build relationships, generate qualified leads, and ultimately close deals.

Through the various lead generation tactics applied, a company can collect the contact information of potential targets in order to nurture them to eventually become customers. Lead generation is useful for all types of businesses, both small and large, and in both B2B and B2C companies.

If you can generate quality leads it will make the job of selling easier and more of your leads will be turned into revenue faster. You don’t want to waste time cold-calling from a list of unqualified leads. Instead, you should try to capture your visitors email address and start forming a relationship.

What are lead magnets?

A lead magnet is the (free) offer you make to get visitors’ email addresses. Having an attractive lead magnet will accelerate your email list building like it’s on steroids. Getting their email is a transaction. You want their email, so you have to offer something they want in return – something of value. If what you offer is something people want and it seems to be worth going through the hassle (typing the email address, worrying about spam etc), you will get their email.

If you’re currently getting 5 subscribers a day, and you’re able merely to increase it to 8 per day – the difference in 30 days would be almost a hundred new subscribers (150 vs 250). If even small improvements like that can make a difference, imagine what a killer magnet can do for your list building.

The speed of your list building depends mostly on the lead magnet. Unattractive lead magnet = very few sign-ups. Attractive lead magnet = tons of sign-ups. Yes, the design, location and usability of the email capture form all matter – but the content of the lead magnet is what makes the biggest difference.

This is NOT a lead magnet:

Why? Because there’s nothing magnetic about it – no reason whatsoever given for joining.  Probably a good indicator that they don’t take email marketing seriously.

bad sign up form

This IS a lead magnet: There’s a clear offer in place and its communicating the value the subscriber will receive. It has a somewhat spammy feel to it (a bit too much hype), but all in all it’s pretty good. Naturally you need to deliver on your promise of value. Under delivering will result in useless emails – money is not just in the list, but in the relationship with your list. You want to have an impressive head-start.

good lead magnet

How to build an attractive lead magnet

Ask yourself: what’s the one thing that would be insanely useful to your audience, and that you could even charge money for (but won’t)?

The truth is that a lot of websites try to capture leads. Many have a lead magnet in place, and out of those most offer “free reports” or whitepapers. “Me-too” is a terrible strategy and you don’t want to sound like everyone else. Be a rebel and a contrarian. See what your competitors are doing, and do something different.

5 steps to an attractive magnet

Understanding what your ideal customer wants is essential and goes without saying. You want people to go through the lead magnet, and learn something – gain something useful, experience “aha” moments.

The bigger the positive impact of your lead magnet, the better push you have given the prospect down your sales funnel. Take your current lead magnet or the new idea that you have for one and check it against this list, and improve it.

  1. It has to add as much value as possible. The better the offer, the more people will take it. A free car to every subscriber? That’d be a guaranteed 90+ percent conversion (there are always skeptics that won’t believe a good offer when they see one). As this one is not that targeted and might get a bit expensive, try something less extravagant – but start with the best possible idea and downgrade from there, rather than thinking what’s one notch above “join to get free updates”.
  2. For free, really!? I want that! That’s the reaction you want them to have when they see it. Emotional reaction is very important.
  3. Be ready to work hard. There are no shortcuts. The more effort you put in, the better the outcome. If you want to create a killer magnet, be ready to sweat.
  4. Do not lie or set false expectations. Nothing worse than broken promises.
  5. Is this really the best possible idea? Look at the lead magnet idea you’ve got and ask yourself whether it’s possible to come up with a better one? If yes, go back to 1.

Building the best possible magnet takes time. It’s okay to start with something NOT as good as it ideally could be – so you can capture at least some emails while you’re working on the killer magnet. That one will take time, and you’d just be losing the visitors that are coming now if you have nothing while you are working. Temporary solutions have the annoying ability to become permanent ones. Don’t settle for a mediocre magnet.

Get the ball rolling

Here is a short list of suggestions for different categories, so you can get the idea. All of the listed items are what you could give in exchange for an email address.

Experts

These are coaches, trainers, consultants and everybody else who sells intellectual capital.

  • E-books and whitepapers
  • Minicourses via email
  • Video or video series
  • Audo recording, podcast
  • (Free education in any format)
  • Free course / webinar
  • Assessment or test

E-commerce

Getting the very first purchase is the biggest challenge. This is especially true for smaller stores that the buyer has never heard of. If their first buying experience is positive, they’re much more likely to repeat it.

  • Free coupon
  • Free postage
  • Free gift with the first order
  • Educational content on how to achieve / build stuff with what you sell
  • Guide to saving money when shopping for X
  • Membership (make prospects feel special, invite them into your VIP group that provides bonuses, advice etc)
  • Educational material related to the need they will solve with your product.

Service business

Hair salons, vets, plumbers, mechanics and others who trade parts and labour for money.

  • Free coupons / vouchers
  • Educational content for DIY projects
  • How to be a smart buyer of X
  • Things you need to know before buying Y
  • Free online tools (home decortion planner, optimal pet nutrition calculator etc.)

Software

  • Free trial
  • Freemium account
  • Product demo

 

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Author: Sarah Boyle

With a flair for creativity since childhood, Sarah has always sought out new styles using inspiration from her love of the web. Writing, drawing and design are her specialities, along with a healthy eye for attention to detail. WordPress, content and design fast becoming second nature.

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