Don’t Look Like Big Brother: Lead Gen Strategies

Lead generation is like a party where you don’t know most of the guests. As a brand manager, your objective is to identify prospective new business relationships, an endeavor you can approach in one of two ways. Scenario #1: The party is going smoothly —- until, that is, you notice one of the guests staring at you from across the room. It’s not a “Hi, welcome to the neighborhood” kind of stare either; it’s a lingering, unflinching “I know what you did last summer” kind vibe.
 Outcome: That creepy feeling. Scenario #2: Now imagine that same party, only instead of an uncomfortable stare, the guest in question walks across the room to where you’re standing, smiles genuinely and introduces himself. He asks how you like the party and what brought you there. You strike up a conversation, and quickly realize this person will be a welcome addition to your professional network. It’s as though you’ve always been friends.
 Outcome: Mutual respect and helpfulness—not to mention peace of mind. Port over to the digital world of brand marketing and both scenarios routinely unfold online. We’re getting smarter about how we generate leads, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. Avoid that creepy feeling and instead build genuine relationships by taking the following factors to heart.

Sell with security

Let’s be honest for a moment: Lead generation, at the end of the day, is a sales pitch. You might not be charging anyone a dime, but you’re selling your brand’s insights and expertise in exchange for key information. It might simply be a first name and an email address, but these business relationships nonetheless begin with an exchange of information. Thus, it’s imperative to “apply some common courtesy and good dating etiquette,” notes HiveMind Marketing. Ask permission first, something Big Brother wouldn’t bother doing. In conjunction with permission, use visual indicators to demonstrate your concern for protecting prospects’ information. Be up front about the security of prospects’ information, whether that means linking to your privacy policy or including security certification logos on a lead gen landing page, HubSpot advises. Whether you use a simple form or a quiz to generate leads, remember to build your program on a foundation of honesty. In a recent blog post, custom quiz provider Interact shares as an example a form built by Eastern International College to obtain leads. Its approach is one any brand can adopt: “Their opt-in form is essentially just an exact description of what will be done with the person’s contact information, should they choose to enter it.” Simple can be very successful.

Give generously

Next, remember to return the favor. If a prospective customer is willing to share their information, your brand must be prepared to share something nice in return. Most of us already recognize this, regardless of the industry in which we work. For example, those in the business of real estate can benefit from this listicle with links to creative lead gen solutions that put content creation at the forefront. Whether you provide free webinars, eBooks or product trials, remember to not only be generous with what you give but how you give. Place lead generation across content channels such as a website, blog or social media platform, deploy it often and put your creative team to work to make those invitations for free content fun and engaging, online advertising firm WordStream recommends.

Explain value clearly

Next, it’s time to brush up on that elevator-pitch mentality. You’ve built a great portfolio of free content, and it’s bound to help with the lead gen process. The question is: How do you articulate that value quickly? One of the best ways to communicate in this arena is to weave calls to action into an easy-to-navigate landing page, recommends advertising technology company Nanigans. Calls to action can also be built into ads on social sites such as Facebook. Fields into which prospects will type their information should be clearly labeled, and the return on investment should be spelled out, whether you’re giving away a PDF download or a widget. If your lead gen form proves too complicated, remember you can downsize it for maximum value to prospects and your brand. “Simply moving a contact form or reducing the number of required fields on a form can dramatically increase conversion rate,” notes pay per click expert Pamela Lund in a post for Avalaunch Media. “When you start testing, focus on finding the layout that converts the best.”

Listen And Learn

Go beyond your website to ensure you understand what customers are telling you. Again, it’s easy to make this creepy —- who wants persons unknown scouting for their opinions about “The Voice” or the world’s best flan recipes? Yet if your brand can go beyond creeping and actually engage prospects, it can be an incredible value-add for both parties. As landing page firm Unbounce notes about Twitter: “There is no other place to get this kind of real-time information, and it’s an amazing opportunity to engage with people who are mentioning your product or have a problem you can solve.” Another way of saying this is it’s critical to nurture social leads rather than nag them, Business 2 Community notes. Understand what information prospects are seeking, identify how you can provide value and network based on those factors before any sales transaction occurs.

Take A Holistic Approach

Lastly, bring a mix of real-life humans and technological tools to the table to engage in that nurturing process. Again, the point here is to give prospects a fantastic experience and value, so be aboveboard at all times. One way to do that is by coaching your marketing team to identify and respond to leads in real time. An excellent post by agency Pedowitz Group shares to-dos both for your team and executives that can help you play the role of consultant with prospects. If you understand what it is a prospective customer needs early on, your opportunity to build a business relationship increases significantly. Marketing attribution company Bizible describes the process as a collaborative one and encourages brands to team with fans to create the value-added eBooks and other content we’ve discussed. “Your own story may be interesting, but two companies solving a problem together is an even more compelling story,” Bizible notes. “Customers can bring a perspective on your product features and benefits that you may have missed. They can clue you in on the language and jargon relevant to your vertical.” Automation with technological tools can close the loop by integrating your approach to lead gen across platforms, webinar-based marketing company ON24 points out. These tools illuminate user engagement on multiple levels to tactfully approach prospects as opposed to burying them beneath an avalanche of information. Lead generation doesn’t have to be creepy, nor does it have to be overwhelming. When in doubt, think back to real-life scenarios like the party described at the start. Personal touch and common courtesy will uncover new opportunities faster than just about anything else.

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