Lead Generation: How To Attract High Quality Leads in 2020
Jul 09 2020
32 min read
32 min read
Rather than trying to force the sale too early, you can put in place a process that attracts prospects and incentivizes them to provide contact information - this is Lead Generation
Table of Contents
- What Is Lead Generation?
- Why Is Lead Generation Important?
- Is Lead Generation Sales or Marketing?
- What Are The Different Types Of Leads?
- Lead Generation Process
- YouTube Videos
- Lead Generation Strategies
- 03 - Skip the Landing Page with Facebook Lead Ads
- Next-Level Lead Generation Examples
- Content Marketing & SEO
- Types of Lead Generation
- How to Improve Lead Quality
- Lead Generation Tools
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When someone visits your website or hears about a product you’re selling for the first time, the vast majority aren’t ready to make a purchase yet.
On average, only 1.84% of website visitors make a purchase, and that’s for consumer products. If you’re selling an expensive product or focusing on the SaaS or B2B market, or you promote an expensive affiliate offer, the numbers are even worse.
So how can you make use of the other 98–99% of your website visitors and prospects?
The answer is lead generation
Rather than trying to force the sale too early, you can put in place a process that attracts prospects and incentivizes them to provide contact information.
This is lead generation. It will give you a chance to nurture your prospects over time and monetize leads multiple times over as an affiliate. This approach leads to much better conversion rates and business growth.
This is an in-depth guide of almost 9,000 words, so feel free to jump to the section most useful to you:
What Is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is the process of attracting prospects and incentivizing them to provide your business with contact information.
It’s a common tactic in B2B sales, and it’s essential for affiliate marketers who promote CPA (Cost-per-Acquisition) offers or high-end offers that require more nurturing than promoting a consumer product from Amazon Associates.
Companies use a variety of channels, including company websites, YouTube channels, social media pages, events, conventions, and more, to attract the attention of potential prospects.
To motivate prospects to share their contact information, companies usually offer some sort of incentive — often called a lead magnet.
Lead magnets can range from static content like ebooks, case studies, and white papers, to interactive events like webinars, live product demonstrations, and even in-person events.
Why Is Lead Generation Important?
Many business owners think that just having a social media presence and a website is enough.
They say to themselves, “Sure, less than 2% of visitors will convert, but the prospects who don’t buy right away will come back at a later time and follow through.”
It’s a naive and dangerous way to approach marketing for a business.
The reality is that the majority of visitors just visit your site once, and never come back. Just open your website analytics and see for yourself — chances are at least 80-90% of your traffic is from first-time visitors.
If you only focus on generating attention, and not turning those interested visitors into leads, you won’t have the chance to sell them when they need your product or service the most.
Is Lead Generation Sales or Marketing?
For businesses with a long sales process, lead generation is an integral part of both sales and marketing.
The difference is that lead generation is a conversion goal and performance metric for marketing, while for sales, it’s only the starting point. Once a lead has given their contact information, it’s up to the sales team to follow up.
But whether the generated leads should be immediately added to a sales pipeline, depends on the type of leads your campaign generates. So, in some cases, even after leads are generated, they are more the responsibility of marketing than sales.
For an affiliate marketer, lead generation would also be considered part of sales activities if promoting CPA offers.
What Are The Different Types Of Leads?
There are three different main types of lead you can generate with a lead campaign through your website or social media presence.
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
Marketing qualified leads are contacts who have signed up during a marketing promotion but aren’t ready to receive a sales call just yet.
For example, MQL is someone who has signed up for an ebook or webinar on a topic related to your business.
As an affiliate marketer, most likely, your leads will be marketing qualified, converted through a lead magnet that’s relevant but not directly connected to the affiliate products you are promoting.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
Sales qualified leads are prospects who have expressed interest in your products or services.
For example, an SQL is someone who signed up for a product demo, case study, or coupon on your website and filled in their full contact information, including company, and position.
If you directly promote the offer of another company on your website through a lead gen partnership, you can also generate sales-qualified leads as an affiliate.
Product Qualified Lead (PQL)
Product qualified leads are prospects who have tried a version of your product and demonstrated that they are a potential customer.
These leads are only relevant for SaaS and other companies that offer free trials or a freemium model of their product or service.
For example, a PQL would be an agency that uses a free trial of an automated advertising reporting tool to create a custom report for their client.
As an affiliate marketer, PQLs aren’t relevant except in the fact that some affiliate programs will pay for both trial users and a sales commission if they do end up becoming a paying user as well.
In that case, collaborating closely and helping to nurture trial users yourself is in your best interest.
Lead Generation Process
When creating a lead generation process, it’s essential to match the channel and approach with the appropriate stage in the buyer’s journey.
The first stage of lead generation, attraction, is the same across multiple verticals, including B2B, affiliate, paid lead generation, and B2C marketing.
The later stages in your funnel will vary, and since the latter half of the funnel is the focus of lead nurturing, sales, and customer success, in this section, we’ll only focus on the first two stages — attraction and conversion.
Attract Visitors & Prospects Through Digital Channels
There are many different ways you can attract potential customers to your website, but in this day and age, utilizing digital channels appropriately is essential.
Which channels you should use depend on the offer or product you promote or sell, the price and length of the sales funnel, and what your target customer demographics look like.
If you haven’t developed buyer personas yet, you should focus on reliable audience research methods to get started.
Blogging & Content Marketing
One of the most powerful ways to generate leads for B2B is with content marketing.
By providing valuable content up-front, and helping them tackle business challenges that your product will further help them solve, you can give prospects enough of a taste that they want more.
But with over 70 million new blog posts on WordPress sites alone each month, it’s not enough to just write about some random topic and hope your prospects will find it.
You have to take content marketing seriously, and plan your content around different distribution channels, like SEO.
You also need to utilize analytics and keep in touch with your customers, so you can get to know your audience and create the content that they want.
Among B2B marketers, sales team feedback, website analytics, and keyword research were the top three sources for exploring their target audience and coming up with content marketing ideas.
If you are still a content marketing beginner, you should start by developing a strategy that reflects the ideal content marketing funnel.
Content marketing is also a great marketing tool for affiliate marketers who prioritize high-ticket offers or CPA programs.
If you are already dedicating time and resources to create blog content for your website, you need to dive into the world of SEO.
87% of consumers begin their product searches online, and the majority of them start with a search engine.
If you want to attract buyers who are already searching for your product, you need to optimize your content for their search patterns.
By just doing a few things right, you could increase your traffic by up to 652%.
But trying to make adjustments manually is impossible without experience.
You need to start with the SEO basics and find the right suite of SEO tools to help you get started.
Ahrefs Site Explorer, for example, can help you analyze competing sites and your sites to find ideas for keywords to target and other opportunities to grow your organic search traffic.
The majority of SEO experts we interviewed about their favorite keyword research tool highlighted Ahrefs as their favorite solution for keyword research.
You can use competitor data and smart suggestions as the foundation of a scalable SEO strategy, and consistently create content that your target audience is interested in.
With over 2 billion unique users each month, YouTube has become the biggest content platform on the internet.
Many marketers consider it the second largest search engine because many users prefer to search for video content directly on YouTube, rather than Google, especially for how-to guides and other educational content.
83% of marketers in 2020 said video marketing helped them generate more leads.
YouTube is a great place to not just generate traffic, but to start building a trusting relationship with potential customers.
That’s why you’ll find a variety of both companies and affiliate marketers on the platform.
For example, SEMrush uses YouTube to drive top-of-funnel traffic and awareness through generic advice videos on marketing.
But they also educate prospects further on the potential of their platform by showcasing features, as well as case studies and customer success stories in videos.
Use Facebook Groups to Overcome Low Organic Reach
With organic reach on Facebook down to 5.5% of your followers, and other platforms not showing much better results, you might think twice about trying to make organic social media the foundation of your marketing.
But instead of making a static Facebook page that people only follow, you can create an active Facebook group where your members interact with you and each other.
That’s a big part of our social media strategy here at NicheHacks, and it helps us capture and nurture leads more effectively.
Instead of a measly 5.5% reach and low rates of engagement, you can create highly interactive groups with super users that help convince others that your products or services are worth the investment.
Unfortunately, the organic reach of groups is also on the downward turn.
To make sure that your group stays vibrant, you need to take steps like choosing additional admins to help eliminate spam and low-quality posts from your group.
If you can maintain a high quality of content and interactions, you can keep engagement rates high, which will help boost your organic reach and keep users active over the long term.
Quora, Reddit, and Online Community Answers
Reddit has over 430 million monthly active users, neatly divided into subcommunities devoted to specific topics.
So you can easily reach potential prospects by actively participating in online communities, aka subreddits, that they are already active members of.
For example, if your niche site or blog is focused on gardening, you can join the subreddits for r/gardening, r/garden, r/landscaping, and more.
Quora has over 300 million unique visitors per month that look for answers to specific questions. There are probably dozens of Quora questions that are directly related to your products or services waiting to be answered.
The great thing about Quora, as opposed to Reddit, is that you can gain reliable, long-term, targeted traffic by answering high-interest questions on their site.
Many questions rank for relevant Google search terms and only have low-quality or spammy answers that aren’t directly relevant or helpful.
If that is the case, you can use answering questions as an opportunity to brand yourself and start the process of converting strangers into leads.
Make sure that you stay committed to answering the questions adequately, and not just try to promote a barely-related product or service.
Once you have delivered a satisfying answer, you can point to further resources, like an in-depth guide, or case study, that you host on your website.
Advertising: Follow-up With Remarketing
Don’t focus only on organic channels to try to reach your ideal target audience.
Omnichannel campaigns lead to a 287% higher purchase rate than single-channel campaigns.
If you don’t want to invest a lot of money in generating top-of-funnel traffic, you can use paid media to increase the efficiency of the bottom of your funnel.
For example, you can show ads to targeted audiences like previous website visitors, YouTube video or Facebook video viewers, or page followers.
Mixing your organic content marketing and social media strategies with a healthy dose of Facebook Ads and Google Ads spend will help you expand your reach, and retarget previous visitors for another chance to convert them into a lead.
To learn more about advertising that works, read our in-depth guide on digital marketing.
If you are in a B2B market where your buyer profile is specific down to company size and position, LinkedIn can be a powerful lead generation and prospecting tool.
There are over 90 million senior-level influencers and 63 million professionals in decision-making positions.on LinkedIn
Even with the basic free search, you can narrow it down by position and a list of multiple target companies.
For example, you could search for product managers in a specific area, or that work for specific companies, like product managers in San Francisco.
Not only can you find prospective customers, but you can also initiate the first touchpoint without leaving the platform or having to pay any money.
Convert Visitors Into Leads With The Right Incentives
At the conversion stage, the path for affiliate marketers and in-house demand generation or sales and marketing teams start to split ways.
For example, if an affiliate is marketing a CPA offer to drive free leads, they can use the landing pages, forms, and other lead capture materials prepared by the affiliate program.
Companies, and affiliates focused on high-ticket products or lead gen partnerships, need to prepare their own landing pages, forms, and other tools for capturing contact information.
A landing page asking for an email address and a name is the most basic platform for converting a prospective customer into a lead.
After they’ve signed up, you can reliably communicate with them through email or other similar channels like SMS or Messenger over the long term.
A landing page doesn’t have to be a complex work of copywriting and mad CRO science to work. If your offer is good enough, or you have enough social proof, you can skip most of the long sales copy, and go straight for the ask.
Just look at Codecademy’s example above, a single line of social proof-laden copy: “Join the Millions Learning to Code with Codecademy,” and a “Get Started For Free” CTA.
Landing pages don’t have to be complicated.
Lead Capture Forms (Signup)
You can also use float-in signup forms throughout your content to convert more of your first-time visitors into returning readers and targeted leads.
Our favorite tool for inserting hovering in-page and exit lead capture forms is OptinMonster.
With its drag-and-drop builder, it’s easy to create great-looking forms and landing pages that convert visitors into leads.
Static Lead Magnets: Ebooks, Case Studies, Reports, and White Papers
A static lead magnet is a digital product that you can automatically deliver to your leads that sign up, without having to do any active interaction with them.
Our “5 Free Profitable Niche Reports” landing page is an example of using a static lead magnet to entice visitors to sign up.
If you want more inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of 33 irresistible lead magnet ideas to help you drive more leads.
Interactive Lead Magnets: Webinars, Demos, and Coaching Calls
73% of B2B marketers single out webinars as the best approach to generate high-quality leads.
Offering online training on something that is directly related to your product, and that would help high-value potential customers, is the sweet spot of webinar-based lead gen strategies.
For example, Slack offers “Slack Consult” remote screen share sessions to help companies set up their teams to work remotely. Any team that works remotely will also need a collaboration and team chat tool, which is exactly what Slack offers.
As a high-ticket affiliate with entrepreneurs and business owners as your target market, you can also use B2B tactics like this to effectively grow your list of leads.
Track Results And Optimize Conversion Rates
Most companies call it quits once they have a landing page up and running and have started driving targeted traffic to it.
With leads coming in, they often focus on driving more traffic, and less on optimizing the funnel.
That’s a mistake.
Even a tiny, decimal point improvement in landing page and funnel performance can transform the profit margins of your marketing campaigns across all channels.
Install Google Analytics and Set Up Conversion Goals
Being able to track the sources of your conversions will help you make important decisions about which digital marketing channels to prioritize for lead generation in the future.
The first step is to install Google Analytics and follow the basic steps to get started.
Then, you want to set up a conversion goal for leads. If you use a single dedicated thank you page for your lead capture forms and pages, you can specify the goal by URL.
If your signup forms do not redirect the users after the submission, you have to create a custom event or use Google Tag Manager.
Performance Tracking As an Affiliate
As an affiliate, you should also make sure that you track any affiliate links included in blog posts and emails that are part of your lead nurturing program. Then, use Google tag manager to track form submissions if you use a third-party, in-page form for your CPA offers.
You should also use UTM tags to track the performance of different campaigns and sources when it comes to affiliate offer conversions if you also get paid for sales and not just the leads.
Use A/B Tests to Improve Your Landing Pages & Content
A/B tests or split tests are tests that compare two different versions of a site or landing page.
Using A/B tests will not just help you improve conversion rates, but can also help you unlock powerful customer insights that will help you convert a lot more of your customers.
A single A/B test can lead to an increase in converted leads by 34% or more.
If you successfully improve your landing page or sign-up forms through A/B testing, these results will then impact the profitability of every single one of your campaigns.
OptinMonster offers A/B testing features, so if you use it to create lead capture forms or landing pages, you can easily create testable variations and run controlled tests to improve your results.
Affiliates can A/B test campaigns by measuring conversion goals with Google Analytics and using a third-party testing solution like Google Optimize or Optimizely. How to Monetize Lead Generation As An Affiliate Marketer
As an affiliate marketer, it’s possible to monetize leads throughout every stage of the funnel.
You can get paid just to deliver leads to different companies through CPA offers, vet and qualify leads for strategic partners, or even use email to nurture and close leads on high-ticket offers.
Promote CPA Offers - Get Paid to Generate The Lead At Stage #1
Instead of having to set up an email marketing platform, lead capture page, and multi-stage email campaign for your website, you can simply promote someone else’s lead magnet and get paid to do so.
Max Bounty is a CPA-focused affiliate platform that you can use to help you monetize your blog, niche site, or social media following.
By just promoting an offer like a coupon, you can earn $20 or more for every single person that signs up for that offer through your link.
If you’re interested in other CPA opportunities, check out our full post covering 21 of the best affiliate programs on the web.
Enter Lead Generation Partnerships - Get Paid to Deliver High-Quality, Vetted Leads to a Specific Company
If you have an online property that garners a fair amount of attention from a high-value audience, like real estate buyers or sellers, website hosting prospects, or small businesses, you might be able to enter unique lead generation partnerships with businesses.
For example, you could do joint webinars with your partner, and use the trust you have earned with your audience to help create leads for their business offering.
The typical payment process is still focused on sales commissions, but the difference is that you actively collaborate on nurturing the leads and generating as much revenue as possible from your targeted audience.
Promote High-Ticket Items And Nurture Through Email
Many SaaS providers and other companies with recurring revenue have high-ticket affiliate programs with payouts of up to thousands of dollars.
For example, Hubspot pays up to $1,000 for a single referred customer.
If you take on part of the closing and customer service responsibilities, you can even get a 20% revenue share through their partnership program as well.
Web hosting companies also typically pay up to several hundred dollars in commissions for premier hosting packages.
You could create a web hosting review site that focuses on high-performance managed hosting, and create a newsletter with “further insights and up-to-date performance statistics.”
From there, you will have multiple chances to sell your targeted leads on affiliate offers worth hundreds of dollars, without appearing overly salesy.
Lead Generation Strategies
There are a lot of different ways you can entice prospects to sign up and become warm leads for your business.
But they fall into two very different major categories; inbound and outbound.
Inbound strategies focus on attracting and converting prospects who are actively searching for a product like yours.
Outbound strategies focus on reaching out to and establishing rapport with members of your target market who aren’t actively looking for products or solutions.
Inbound Lead Generation Strategies
Below, we cover 8 of the most effective inbound lead generation strategies that take full advantage of organic digital marketing channels.
Since these methods are scalable, and most don’t require giant budgets or marketing & sales teams, they are also suitable for affiliate marketers and solopreneurs.
01 - Offer A Free Tool or Freemium Version of Your Product
Instead of trying to convince your visitors to sign up for an ebook, you can give them a free taste of what your product can do for them.
You can either design a separate free product like Moz has done with Link Explorer (previously Open Site Explorer), or offer a free version of your product.
As an affiliate marketer, you could develop a simple free software tool, like a WordPress plugin that integrates with paid solutions, and use that to drive leads and direct affiliate revenue.
For example, if you create a simple floating sign-up form plugin, you could promote both more advanced lead capture solutions like OptinMonster, and autoresponders to use on the back-end, like Aweber.
An inbound lead captured in this way will be extremely targeted, and have relatively high conversion rates for offers and upsells.
02 - Give Away Original Research Relevant to Your Target Industries
Sprout Social does an in-depth yearly survey on the social media landscape every year to share with other professionals in the industry.
Anyone interested in the report is extremely likely to be in their target market as a social media marketer who could use automation solutions to work more efficiently.
Even if you are an entrepreneur or affiliate marketer, you can use your organic channels to survey your audience to create a free survey of an industry, and leverage the results to drive both leads, interest, and backlinks.
03 - Use Webinars to Drive New Leads
91% of B2B professionals say webinars are their preferred content for learning about or exploring work-related topics.
If you’re promoting products or services in a B2B industry, not using webinars is a mistake. With a single webinar, you can not just capture leads, but also close customers live, on-air, which is a powerful form of social proof to help your other leads move down the funnel as well.
Webinars can also be effective in B2C niches if you take the right approach and run them at scale with a premium offer at the end of the funnel.
04 - Dynamic In-Content CTAs
A call to action (CTA) is an effective way to drive visitors to landing pages or signup forms throughout your website content.
But instead of just using a boring text link or button, you can design dynamic CTA content blocks that suit the content it's surrounded by.
In the example above, Optimizely has designed a simple but eye-catching CTA block that is perfect for their case study pages in both design and content.
If you click it, it opens a full-screen form to contact their sales department.
If the prospectuses the form, Optimizely has immediately landed a sales qualified lead that is likely ready to purchase without the need for too much nurturing.
Using appropriate lead magnets and CTAs depending on the content is a necessity for effective lead generation in 2020.
05 - Personalize Your Campaigns & Landing Pages
98% of marketers agree that personalization is key to advancing prospect and customer relationships.
To make sure that you capture as many leads as possible, you should personalize the landing pages based on the traffic source and campaign to fit the likely persona.
For example, if you use SEO and content marketing as a major driver of top-of-the-funnel traffic, you can divide blog posts targeting different keyword groups into “content silos” and make sure to only link to relevant top-level landing pages.
For example, if you cover digital marketing on your website, you don’t want to send people from a Facebook Ads-related post to a landing page promoting a lead magnet called “The 5 Secrets of Keyword Research.”
Structuring your site in this way will not just improve your conversion rates, but also your user experience and your SEO results.
06 - Make Sure You Rank For High-Intent Keywords
High-intent keywords are search phrases that indicate the searcher has a high level of purchase intent.
For example, a user searching for “Italian restaurant near me” is much more likely to be actively looking for a restaurant than someone searching for “Italian food.”
If you sell digital products, these search phrases can also be about specific use cases for your product, rather than location or product searches.
For example, a user searching for a Gmail + Trello integration most likely actively needs a solution ASAP, making it an essential keyword to target for Zapier.
Sometimes the best way to target the keywords will be a top-level landing page, but other times, a simple blog post will be the best idea.
Ranking for competitive keywords is a long-term process, so you need to create an agenda and follow your SERPs for the most important keywords to your business.
High intent keywords are often specific, long-tail keywords that will drive high conversion rates.
Note: For affiliates, middle to late-of-the-funnel keywords like “product A alternative” or “product A vs. product B” can be a great opportunity to drive revenue, especially if all alternatives you cover have an affiliate program.
07 - Use Remarketing to Convert Previous Visitors into Leads
Like we covered already, first-time visitors are very unlikely to just straight up convert and become customers right away.
Unfortunately, it can also be difficult to convince these prospects to even sign up and become leads with a single interaction.
That’s why one of the best tools in your digital marketing arsenal is remarketing.
With remarketing campaigns, you get a second chance to communicate with a potential customer/lead after they have left your site. You can showcase testimonials, awards, and other social proof that will help prospective customers choose your product or service over your competitors’.
Because of these factors, remarketing campaigns, on average, deliver a 43% increase in total conversions.
Remarketing campaigns are the perfect fit for the last stage of an inbound marketing lead generation funnel.
If you want to leave 4 out of 10 potential leads and customers on the table, you can feel free to try your luck with 100% organic methods.
08 - Contact Prospects ASAP After Inquiries
Sales is often a first-come, first-served scenario, especially if your customer has an urgent need. That’s bad news for most companies when you look at the time between form submission and their response.
When 26% of companies contact prospects in less than five minutes and an additional 31% in less than an hour, the pressure is on your company’s sales team to work fast.
And contacts made within 5 minutes are over 10x more likely to reach the prospect and qualify them as a lead.
If you’re an affiliate marketer, you may not be jumping on the phone with your leads or prospects, but you can still learn from these statistics.
Customers expect to be treated as a priority, so if you send personalized, relevant emails after they sign up, you have a much higher chance of vetting, qualifying, and selling the lead at a later time.
Outbound Lead Generation Strategies
Outbound lead generation strategies like cold calling and cold emailing might seem archaic, but they are among the most used touchpoints for B2B sales development teams to reach prospects.
01 - Contact Prospects Directly via LinkedIn Connections or Direct Messages
You can use LinkedIn search to find and connect with or direct message prospects directly, even if they haven’t had any interactions with your company before.
There are two different approaches to LinkedIn lead gen.
The first one is straight-up outreach. When you “connect” with someone, you can send them an elevator pitch of what your company does and why they should be interested.
The second approach is to just reach out politely with a generic “I’m also interested in X, let’s connect!” message, and then use your LinkedIn content to convert your new connections.
Basically, you use connections as a channel to distribute your content.
Because you can control your “followers” by inviting relevant professionals to connect, LinkedIn is the most effective social media channel for sharing your B2B content and drives over half of the social traffic to B2B sites.
Over 80% of B2B marketers consider LinkedIn the most effective social media for lead gen.
02 - Reach an Ultra-Targeted B2B Audience with LinkedIn Ads
With LinkedIn Ads, you can choose your audience based on company industry, category, job titles, and even number of employees.
This makes it the perfect platform for reaching a narrow target audience of potential buyers for your B2B product or service.
The excellent targeting opportunities help keep lead costs down. A recent case study showed a $13.58 cost per lead, with every single lead being a key decision-maker in a company in the client’s target market.
03 - Skip the Landing Page with Facebook Lead Ads
If you have a good enough offer, or you’re advertising to a very targeted custom audience, you can skip the landing pages and go straight to converting leads with Facebook Lead Ads.
They are also a great option for B2C marketers that rely on leads to close deals, for example, a local service business like a cleaning company or dental clinic.
Of course, the fact that it’s so easy to sign up for an offer or download isn’t necessarily a good thing for you.
If you get the targeting wrong or use the wrong creative, you can end up with low-quality leads that won’t convert, no matter what you do.
So make sure you test both lead campaigns and regular conversion campaigns with landing pages when you get started with Facebook Ads.
04 - Leave Voicemails to Give Your Prospect a Choice
Voicemails can be useful as a starting point to introduce yourself to a prospect that doesn’t already know about your company and your services.
It’s the analog equivalent of a cold LinkedIn message or email; your prospects can choose to engage with it on their own terms, whenever they want.
05 - Use a Mix of Cold Emailing and Calling to Reach Your Prospects
For a B2C marketer or affiliate, any form of direct cold prospecting is not a good idea, but in B2B industries, most professionals are used to cold contacts as part of the status quo.
77% of buyers have responded favorably to a cold sales email over the last twelve months.
If you have a reliable list of target companies and buyers, creating a cold email outreach campaign can be one of the cheapest and most effective ways to reach your target customers.
But remember that you only have one chance to make a first impression.
06 - Use Direct Mail Campaigns to Make an Impression
Direct mail is still a leading marketing channel in the US, and it’s not just useful for sending B2C catalogs and promotional magazines.
B2B companies can also use direct mail to make an impression, like sending a physical coupon or invitation to demo your product.
Google has used direct mail extensively in its campaign to get more businesses to use its Google Ads (previously Google AdWords) advertising platform.
By sending a physical gift card directly to a small business, Google grabs the attention of business owners across the country and skips straight to the end of the sales cycle.
This kind of unscalable outbound marketing is rarely a good idea for affiliates and B2C marketers unless selling high-ticket items to a very specific target customer base.
07 - Participate in Industry Events & Conferences
68% of B2B marketers use in-person events for lead generation initiatives.
Participating in events and conferences as an attendee, and proactively networking and mingling with other professionals in your industry is another outbound approach to generating leads.
In some industries where old-fashioned approaches are valued, it can still be an effective strategy, but it requires a lot of investment of both time and money, and is completely unscalable.
To make it possible to even make the right connections in the first place, you will likely have to send very senior staff, or even an executive.
Next-Level Lead Generation Examples
In this section, we’ll cover four examples of next-level lead generation in detail. From basic marketing strategies to drive top-of-the-funnel traffic, to the numerous ways they convince the visitors to convert into leads.
01 - B2B: HubSpot
HubSpot uses a multi-pronged approach and generates both awareness and leads through a multitude of digital and analog channels.
Content Marketing & SEO
Hubspot is extremely dedicated to content marketing and SEO and has conquered the top SERPs for many important high intent keywords and phrases in their industry.
Dynamic CTAs and Lead Magnets
Instead of just having a single ebook or course that they offer on all pages, Hubspot has created a huge number of different workbooks, reports, and other lead magnets to stay relevant to the content of each landing page.
Facebook & Other Social Media Presence
In addition to a Facebook Page with almost 2,000,000 likes, they also have a variety of Facebook Groups with thousands of members.
They also have an educational YouTube channel to help nurture their existing leads, as well as capture leads at different stages throughout the buying cycle.
HubSpot also uses a wide variety of different retargeting ads targeting users based on their website browsing patterns.
You would only see the ad above if you’ve already visited blog pages directly related to webinars.
Convention (Inbound 2020)
They also arrange a yearly convention called Inbound to generate awareness and meet with their prospects and customers in person.
Anyone willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a convention ticket is very likely a target customer for their CRM and inbound marketing software.
Freemium Product (HubSpot CRM)
The final piece of their lead generation strategy is the free version of their HubSpot CRM product. After teaching companies how to get more inbound traffic and leads, it only makes sense that the same companies will need to use a CRM to manage the contacts.
02 - B2B Affiliate: Cheap Car Insurance
There are a lot of lead-based affiliates within industries with long contracts or high-ticket sales, like car insurance.
CheapCarInsurance.net is a car insurance policy comparison site, designed to help people save money, and get paid by the provider the customer switches to.
SEO to Drive Targeted Traffic
Cheap Car Insurance targets a variety of middle-of-the-funnel keywords like “BMW car insurance” to drive targeted traffic and shorten the lead generation process.
If they tried to promote an offer with Facebook Ads instead, they would first need to convince the customer that they actually need to switch or buy insurance, which would significantly lengthen the funnel and lower lead conversion rates.
Lead Magnet: Insurance Quote Comparison Service
They focus on a single lead magnet, the insurance quote comparison service.
Since this is essentially the same as asking for a quote, this helps them generate sales qualified leads and keep their funnel short and efficient.
Multiple Lead Generation Partners
As you can see, it has deals with multiple providers, which makes it possible to get paid while still keeping customers happy and recommending the best option for them.
03 - B2C: Sumo
Sumo is another marketing software SaaS company that does a great job of attracting prospects and turning them into leads.
It’s also aimed more at a B2C/B2B hybrid market than Hubspot’s pure B2B targeting with their SMB and above pricing.
Swipe Files & Other Customized Lead Magnets
Many of Sumo’s cornerstone content pages also include a custom lead magnet specifically designed for converting any visitors to that page.
This helps the Sumo marketing team increase the conversion rate, and they can easily segment the audiences and create personalized marketing messages from there.
WordPress Plugin to Make Implementation Easier & Drive Awareness
Offering a WordPress and other CMS plugins serve a dual purpose — they make Sumo easier to implement, sure, but they also increase awareness and help drive interest in Sumo through its popular listing in the WordPress plugin directory, with over 100,000 active installations.
04 - B2C Affiliate: Unbox Therapy
If you want to build a loyal following of prospects as part of your B2C affiliate strategy, venturing beyond email alone is probably your best bet.
Unbox Therapy has 16 million subscribers waiting to see cool new gadgets and tech products unboxed — basically, it’s any marketer’s (affiliate or not) dream.
According to its definition, a marketing lead is a person who has demonstrated interest in a company’s products or services, which identifies them as a potential customer.
Depending on how you position your YouTube channel, you could essentially count your subscribers as valuable leads.
Affiliate Links With Dedicated Product Introduction Videos
When reviewing existing products and gadgets, Unbox Therapy includes affiliate links at the very top of the video description as a CTA.
A product review YouTube channel might be a preferable communication channel for product review sites rather than email, as you can put the affiliate links right in product unboxing or review videos as they can lead to other organic traffic than just your subscribers.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to do one and not the other.
Select Products in Amazon Storefront
Unbox Therapy also has an Amazon storefront promoting a variety of technology products and gadgets that helps generate additional revenue.
As part of the Amazon Associates program, you can also easily create a storefront highlighting key products that you recommend, and leave it in your email signatures or promote it throughout your content.
Types of Lead Generation
While the basic foundational steps of lead generation are the same across industries — driving awareness, earning a prospect’s trust, and getting them to convert — the approach and channels are different.
The biggest differences can be seen in what is effective for B2C companies and B2B companies.
B2B Lead Generation
For B2B markets, four out of the five most effective channels are digital.
So for B2B lead generation, you will likely see a marketing mix that looks something like this:
A mix of LinkedIn and cold emails for prospecting and contacting buyers situated in high-value target companies.
Content marketing strategy targeting important search terms, combined with a PPC campaign to get complete coverage.
Using social media to drive general awareness, and help drive potential leads further down the funnel with social proof and benefits-driven posts.
Affiliate marketing - Paying affiliates with existing, relevant audiences to deliver high-quality leads.
Events and Conferences
Participating in important industry events, conferences, and trade shows.
Using LinkedIn and email to line up meetings with potential buyers and business partners who are attending the same event.
Using Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media to drive interest and foot traffic to your booth or presentation.
B2C Lead Generation
For B2C companies, lead generation takes place mostly on inbound digital channels and through word of mouth.
There is virtually no focus on in-person events, or prospecting through cold emails, calling, or LinkedIn messaging.
Let’s take a close look at what a B2C lead generation marketing mix might look like.
With B2C lead gen, it rarely pays off to try to manually prospect and reach out to potential customers, so the focus is mostly on attracting interest through organic methods.
Targeting high-intent keywords with SEO, content marketing, and PCC campaigns.
Using keyword-targeted YouTube videos to show up for relevant searches on the YouTube platform. (Particularly useful in DIY, how-to, or technology niches.)
Growing a social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.
Using Facebook Groups to maintain organic reach and grow a loyal customer base.
Closing leads with relevant, dynamic in-content lead magnets.
Word of Mouth
The X factor here is word of mouth — 83% of American consumers say a word of mouth recommendation makes them more likely to purchase a product or service.
So maintaining a close connection with your customer service teams and monitoring NPS (net promoter scores) and CSAT (customer satisfaction) scores can help you multiply the effectiveness of your awareness campaigns in other areas.
As an affiliate marketer, you might not think word of mouth matters beyond backlinks, but that changes when you dedicate yourself to building an audience and collecting leads.
If you focus on delivering value both up-front, before the sale, and after, like showing customers how to use the product, you can also benefit from a significant marketing lift from recommendations.
Even in 2020, word of mouth is still a part of any long-term, sustainable demand generation strategy, because of online reviews and the mobility of ideas on social media.
How to Improve Lead Quality
A successful lead generation campaign doesn’t just mean a high conversion rate and lots of incoming leads.
If those leads are of low quality, if they aren’t ready to buy, or if they are outside of your target market, then they won’t do your sales team any good.
So quantifying the quality of a lead is an essential part of any lead generation strategy.
That’s why focusing on lead quality is a top priority for 73% of marketing professionals.
Integrate Your CRM Solution with Your Website Analytics & Ad Platforms
Using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution can help you contextualize not just your customers, but also your prospects.
But you will only have the necessary information if you integrate your CRM solution with your website analytics or ad platforms.
It will help you follow up every step of the journey. Instead of just generating leads and tracking the conversion rate of each platform, you can trace leads that convert into sales and leads that don’t back to a platform or campaign.
By looking at the lead to sales conversion rate for different lead sources, you can identify which channels and marketing approaches you need to readjust.
If you integrate your CRM system with your website analytics and marketing automation tools, you can go way beyond whether the lead converts or not.
You can also use lead scoring to predict whether prospects are likely to purchase and use the information to adapt your marketing and sales approach on an individual basis.
Lead scoring basically means assigning a value to certain actions, like browsing a product page or signing up for a webinar. The lead's history of making valued actions will decide their score.
With leads scored right, your marketing department will be able to send relevant emails, and B2B salespeople will know which leads are warmed up and likely to respond positively to a sales call or product demo.
If you are in B2B, you can even use firmographics data based on a reverse IP lookup to fill out company data for lead profiles that only include names and email addresses.
But that’s not all lead scoring can be used for.
When brands personalize their content, consumers are 51% more likely to buy a product or service.
Despite the risk that 26% of your customers will stop paying attention to your content, 26% will become less likely to purchase, and 19% will be less likely to recommend your company to others, many marketers are still postponing their personalization efforts.
The majority of marketing content consumers receive is still unpersonalized, with 84% of consumers responding that they still see content from brands that isn’t relevant to them.
What category of blog posts do they usually interact with?
What product pages have they visited without buying?
Use this kind of information to tailor email segments and marketing campaigns.
Maintain Close Collaboration between Sales & Marketing Teams
When sales and marketing teams collaborate efficiently, they see 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates.
Thankfully, modern software solutions like marketing automation tools have made this a lot easier.
The advent of marketing automation tools has helped increase accountability across both departments, improved and sped up lead routing, and helped establish a congruent business funnel.
But it’s not just about integrating different software solutions like CRM and analytics; it’s also about having meetings and agreeing on the same set of core goals.
When the data is on the table, it makes sense for a sales team to double back and inform the marketing team of particularly big deals they closed or leads that didn’t pan out at all.
Tracing those back can lead to valuable marketing insights for future campaigns.
Affiliate Equivalent: Collaborate Closely With Affiliate Partners
If you are a successful affiliate, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to companies running the affiliate program for more information on your performance.
If they don’t already support UTM tags for separating campaign results, you could request such features to help deliver them, even more, leads or sell even more of their product.
A productive affiliate is essentially like an external marketing team or agency, so the company has every reason to collaborate with you towards the common goal of more sales and money.
Use The Right Lead Magnets For Your Target Market
Attracting prospective customers to your landing page is only the first step of the sales funnel. There is still plenty of room for things to go wrong because of misalignments in the process.
One major mistake that can upset the balance is using landing pages and lead magnets that drive a lot of conversions, but don’t appeal to your target customers.
You have to remember that the lead signup isn’t the end goal of your funnel; it’s simply the start of another funnel stage.
People who sign up through the lead magnet page must be likely to interact with the rest of your funnel and ultimately make a purchase. Otherwise, there is no point.
For example, if you offer an A/B testing and visitor insights SaaS solution, you will probably write content about improving landing page conversion rates.
A typical lead magnet might be a collection of headlines that have proven to improve conversion rates. But that lead magnet appeals to copywriters, at best a creative lead, not founders or executives in large advertising agencies.
Instead, you might want to offer webinars on creating a repeatable process for CRO within an agency, to appeal to the right audience.
Good Lead Quality is Crucial for Maintaining Lead Generation Partnerships
Even if you are an affiliate marketer or have a lead generation partnership, lead quality is key.
If you generate a large volume of low-quality leads, the amount you get paid for each lead will reflect that.
If you generate targeted, high-quality leads that are likely to make high-value purchases, your payment will reflect that.
After all, the goal of your partners is not to buy a long list of email addresses; it’s to make as many sales as possible.
Lead Generation Tools
There are a variety of lead generation software tools and apps you can use to improve the results of your various marketing campaigns and efforts.
From landing page creation to website analytics, to email campaigns, and more, using the right combination of platforms will make it easy to get started with lead generation.
Landing Page Tools
These tools will help you create a great-looking, high-converting landing page without a team of designers:
Leadpages: A landing page and website builder and hosting platform, focused on high-converting layouts and designs.
InstaPage: Landing page builder and advanced personalization and marketing automation platform.
Unbounce: Landing page and exit page popup form builder to help
Email Capture Tools
The following tools will help help you create hover-in, page load and exit page popup lead capture forms to generate more leads:
OptinMonster: Create high-converting exit-intent popup forms or reduce cart abandonment with behavior-based offers.
Sumo: Lead capture solution with advanced personalization and A/B testing of landing page forms and content.
Typeform: Interactive full-page lead capture form solution perfect for when you want customers to answer with more information than just an email and a name.
Autoresponders & Email Marketing Automation Tools
These tools will help you nurture leads and send segmented, personalized email marketing messages over time to aid the sales process:
Aweber: Simple and user-friendly, yet powerful email marketing solution with segmentation, personalization, and eCommerce integration capabilities.
MailChimp: Email marketing and marketing automation platform with remarketing, personalization, and other advanced features.
ConvertKit: Email marketing software tailor-made for creatives and solopreneurs, which makes it easy to set up advanced workflows and segmentation.
Analytics & A/B Testing
These tools will give you insights into user behavior on your landing pages and website, and improve the conversion rates.
Google Analytics: 100% free analytics platform with user flows, conversion tracking, remarketing audience capabilities, and more.
Hotjar: Advanced analytics beyond basic metrics like a click-through rate, with heatmaps and other user journey recordings, and automated polls and surveys.
Sumo: Includes analytics tracking like essential metrics like conversion rates to help improve the results of your lead capturing efforts.
Lead generation is an essential part of the marketing strategy of any B2B or B2C company with a long sales funnel.
It’s also a valuable tool for affiliate marketers who are looking to diversify their income sources.
Any sales team will struggle to get results unless they have a list of interested prospects to talk to.
By creating a robust lead generation process, using the right strategies and tools, you will be able to create a self-replenishing list of leads for your sales reps.
By focusing on maintaining a high quality of leads, and using lead scoring to assess their readiness to convert, you can improve sales and make sure your reps spend as much of their time close as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How is lead generation measured?
The success of lead generation campaigns is often judged based on shallow metrics, like the number of leads. But, for the best results, you should also use CRM and integrations to track generated sales and revenue as well.
What is a lead generation tool?
A lead generation tool is a tool that helps you convert more website visitors into leads. For example, landing page tools that help you create or improve a landing page, or a lead capture form tool.
What is the difference between demand generation and lead generation?
Demand generation is about creating demand for your product, i.e., pioneering a market, while lead generation is all about finding potential buyers and getting them to sign up with their contact information.
What is the first step in lead generation?
The first step in lead generation is to generate awareness and interest in your product and services. This is often done indirectly by creating valuable content on a blog or YouTube channel.
What is a lead funnel?
A lead funnel is a marketing process where you divide your marketing messages based on the stages a lead will pass through from the time of opt-in until the lead makes a purchase.
How do you make a lead generation funnel?
You can create a lead generation funnel using a specific tool like ClickFunnels, or by integrating your email marketing tools with your analytics and ad platforms.