indicatorSales and Marketing

How effective lead generation can grow your audience, and in turn your business

By ATB Financial 9 October 2020 5 min read

The end goal of every sales marketing strategy is to convince potential customers to engage and invest in your product or brand. But how can you get their attention in the first place? It all starts with lead generation.

Get online

Gone are the days of sales reps cold calling unsubstantiated leads in efforts of boosting business. Today’s reality is that lead generation increasingly happens online because that’s where customers can be found. And not only that, but it’s more and more where customers go to find you!

The average user according to current research spends upwards of 300 minutes - five hours - doing online activities every day, whether that’s browsing the Web, updating social media channels or streaming the latest show on Netflix.

All that time spent online represents an opportunity for startups to locate their audience, says marketing expert Dan Smith.

“People are spending more and more of their waking time on digital channels,” says Smith, ATB’s Senior Content Marketing Manager. “You want to be where your customer is.”

Build the platform

With the uncertainty of the economy, online marketing is increasingly becoming a central plank in every sales strategy. While traditional efforts aren’t fully obsolete, a digital ad campaign can be far less expensive to produce, and can potentially entice a customer to pay closer attention to your brand with a minimum of exertion in comparison.

An interested user might for example click a company’s website, brought there by an interesting blog or social media post that captured their attention. They might have signed up for a mailing list that delivers content to their inboxes at the same time every day. They might have registered for a webinar and found out something favourable about the company.

The key to sustaining the attraction is creating compelling reasons for the relationship. A potential customer is far more likely to provide a sale when they want to engage with your brand. A newsletter they subscribed to, and look forward to receiving, is a far more effective form of enticement than an unsolicited email that goes straight into their junk folder.

“When you build that platform, you're putting yourself out there, and if you're using it correctly all of a sudden people are just coming to you,” says Smith.

Widen the funnel

While models vary, the goal of a lead generation strategy is attracting leads, or potential customers. Of course not every lead can be persuaded to sign on to your brand, but as long as they stick around there’s an opportunity to one day convert them into actual customers.

The process by which this happens can be explained in its simplest form by picturing a funnel. At its widest point, the top, is where your lead generation efforts take place. That could be achieved by establishing an awareness campaign for example, which gets shared across social media, piquing a lead’s interest and prompting them to learn more about your brand, eventually providing their contact information to stay updated.

The goal is to get your leads to travel through the funnel so that when they emerge at the bottom, the narrowest point, they’re “converted” into consumers of the product, generating revenue for your company.

Of course, not all leads are going to become customers; they will steadily dwindle as the funnel narrows. The goal then is “widening the funnel”, creating a maximum level of interest and enthusiasm at the outset to sustain and grow.

Getting a lead’s attention isn’t easy and there’s no exact science to it. Having a credible brand, says Smith, goes a long way to establishing trust to the point where a direct gateway with a potential customer is established.

Track your leads

It’s not just enough to garner leads, you need to manage and organize them, determining which ones have the highest likelihood of passing all the way through the purchasing funnel. Sales management software and other analytical online tools will allow you to track user behaviour, telling you for example if someone has clicked on 10 help articles related to your company or scope of interest. That’s a positive sign they enjoy your content.

Every click from that user and all others visiting your site can be tracked and compiled with the use of a marketing automation platform, says Smith. Such programs track the inflow of customer data. There are hundreds of email marketing and marketing automation platforms out there, all have varying degrees of capability.

“Maybe I'm interested in this product so I'm going to fill in a form for a demo or a meeting request,” says Smith. “Or maybe there’s a live chat functionality on their website and I can ask some questions of the customer service representative. That information is brought into your marketing automation software.”

With this data you can develop a fuller understanding of your prospect and customize a product pitch that fits their psychology. You might find some of your customers prefer text marketing messages over email, allowing for a customized pitch rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. All of this will help with the end goal of converting them into customers.

The CASL factor

When considering your lead generation strategy, be extremely mindful of governmental regulation so as not to run afoul of legislative guidelines. In Canada, you can’t for example add someone’s email address to a mailing list for your company if they did not agree first. Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) requires commercial message recipients to “opt in” and provide their consent.

Smith strongly recommends automating your campaign, using optimized software that’s regularly updated to reflect changes to the law and easily customized to ensure compliance.

“The benefit of using a good platform is it understands the regulations,” says Smith. “It’s harder to rush a marketing message out (that’s violating the law) since the process is automated it can help you work within the rules for emails and text messages.”

Test and analyze, then test some more

Not every campaign will bear fruit the first- or second, or third, or fourth- time round. You’ll need to continually tweak your strategy, learning from past experiences on what to do better. Be patient! it takes time to establish sufficient trust for a lead to take the step into becoming a customer. The more authentic you are with your efforts, the more likely they are to respond favourably.

“You want to make sure you’re creating the right content for the right audience at the right time,” says Smith.

Done right, lead generation will only help grow the awareness of your business. You’ll continually refresh your pipeline of prospects, and have greater opportunity to make those potential customers real.

If you’re looking for a deep dive on everything you need to know around how to grow your business free to reach out to one of our entrepreneur strategists to explore where you are with your business, where you want to be, and how to get there!

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