Lead Generation 101: creating successful lead gen campaigns

Time to read: 5 minutes

The days of cold calling and door knocking to generate leads are dwindling as organisations deploy increasingly sophisticated ways to find new customers. Increasingly, that means attracting them within digital spaces. 

In this article, we’ll look at the seven steps for creating compelling lead generation campaigns that make it easy to find your future customers – or to help them find you. 

But first, let’s start with what we mean by ‘lead’ and ‘lead generation,’ along with why lead generation is so important to your business and what it means for a lead generation campaign to be successful.


What is a lead?

A lead is someone who has an interest in what your organisation has to offer, meaning they’re at the very beginning of their journey with your brand. Your aim will be to qualify that lead (that is, filter out the leads who are highly unlikely to ever become customers), nurture engagement with your company, and ultimately convert them into customers.

What is lead generation and why is it important to my business?

Lead generation is the process of attracting potential customers to your organisation and igniting their interest in your products or services.

As the first step in the sales journey, lead generation is an essential part of driving success and growth for your business. Whether it’s a startup in its early days, a new or established small business, or a large multinational, every business must generate leads to secure new customers.

What’s the difference between inbound and outbound lead generation?

Outbound lead generation is when sales reps reach out to a contact directly via email, phone, social or call calling. Inbound lead generation is when the lead interacts with your marketing and actively hands over their information.

Outbound lead generation is still important, but it can be challenging or even counterproductive if leads aren’t ready to hear from them yet or if the sales reps don’t yet have all the information they need about who the lead is or what they need. Additionally, customers are also more wary of how their information is used and want transparency from organisations about how they’re protecting their privacy. A cold call from an organisation you’ve never had anything to do with, or emails from a company who pre-checked the ‘Send me updates’ box when you filled in a form, don’t fit well with growing expectations for trust and transparency.

What does a successful lead generation campaign look like?

‘Success’ will depend on what your business is trying to achieve but, put simply, a successful lead generation campaign usually means driving more leads into your sales pipeline and ensuring those leads are more likely to one day turn into customers. Ultimately, the goal is to expand your customer base and increase your revenue, but most lead generation campaigns are a little more focused on the earlier steps of finding and nurturing new leads. 

To make sure you’re getting what you need out of a lead gen campaign, it will be important to define the goals of your campaign early and how you’re going to measure them (more on that in the next section). 

As for what a successful lead generation campaign might look like, let’s say a pet supplies business has done the research and concluded that their most profitable and reachable customer segment are new puppy owners. Because they find that these types of customers are more likely to do lots of research online before bringing a puppy home, the business creates a free guide on how to prepare for a dog’s first week with their new family. In exchange for the guide, users fill out a form with their name, email address and dog breed.

If users fill out the form and consent to marketing communications, then they become leads. The business now knows just enough to be able to email them with relevant follow-up messaging about dog foods, toys and collars. At some point, these leads may decide to purchase products for their new puppies and will convert to customers. 

If enough users download the guide and become leads, the business can say it reached its campaign goal. And, once leads start converting to customers, the business can assess how many customers the campaign helped them reach and whether they’ve achieved the return on investment (ROI) they were hoping for.

This is just one possible example, and there are all kinds of ways to generate leads. The more you know your business and your customers, the better you’ll be at identifying the most successful lead generation strategies to suit them. 

So here are key steps to follow in your lead generation process:

1. Set a clear goal for your campaign

Again, defining success early is important so that you can keep investing in what’s working and adjust anything that’s not.

For example, your goal might be to collect 500 email addresses on a landing page form, downloads of a whitepaper or click-throughs on an Instagram profile link. It could be based on numbers or revenue generated. Either way, it needs to be defined and measurable.

2. Establish your target audience

When growth depends on bringing in lots of new customers, it can be tempting to see your target audience as ‘everyone.’ But this can hamstring your lead generation campaigns.

Instead, try to be as specific as possible to maximise success. This is where being aligned with your sales team and sharing an integrated CRM can really help. The data it provides can give you valuable insights into who is buying the product, when and on what channel or device. Social listening tools can also be a powerful way to analyse demographics and customer preferences so you know exactly who will be responsive to your campaign.

3. Decide where and how your campaign will connect

If you’re aiming to attract leads to your website, then you’ll want to look into optimising key pages for search engines (in other words, SEO). Maybe you’ll be using Google or Facebook ads. Perhaps a shout-out from an Instagram or TikTok influencer is the way to go. Regardless of the route you choose, establishing your target audience as above will help you decide what platform to optimise for your lead gen campaign.

4. Develop your lead magnets

Remember the free guide to puppy’s first week at home? That’s a lead magnet. It’s what you’re offering to convert your prospect to a lead, so it has to be compelling enough for your target audience that they’re willing to offer up some personal details in return. Think free whitepapers or how-to guides, checklists or resource packs, ebooks, video tutorials or audio downloads. A good lead magnet is easy to access, and gives the lead a quick win on a problem they’d like to solve.

5. Qualify your leads

This is where you figure out whether a newly acquired lead is worth spending time and resources nurturing. When it comes down to it, you want to know how likely they are to buy. Your lead generation campaign will have helped you establish this by delivering some key information about your lead. 

That can include information like: 

  • which sorts of topics or products seem to interest them
  • how often they’re interacting with your website, social media or emails
  • how long they’ve been engaging with your business or its channels
  • any relevant demographic information they’ve shared with you, such as age, gender, or if they live internationally.

6. Nurture your high-scoring leads

Not all leads are ready to buy right away. In fact, most leads will require some nurturing, especially if it’s a product or service that requires a little more consideration. 

For instance, a lead who lands on your dental website by searching ‘dental emergency’ or ‘book emergency dentist appointment’ is more likely to become a customer quickly compared to a lead who is researching a more extensive cosmetic procedure. In the latter case, you’d want to keep nurturing the lead with helpful information or free educational material rather than jumping into a sales call with them.

So, once you’ve assessed who in your freshly minted lead pool is a likely customer, keep sharing the love. They might be ready to buy straight away or they might need more time to get to know you better. Use lead generation tools that integrate with your CRM to automate this process and respond more efficiently and accurately to a lead’s changing status. With Pardot, for example, you can change web and email content based on a lead’s score, industry, job title and more. 

7. Close the deal and make things easy for customers

It’s understandable to see a newly converted customer as the happy ending to any lead generation campaign. 

But generating leads is just the beginning of the story. Closing the deal depends on your ability to engage a lead with the right information at the right time. And, even when a lead becomes a customer, you’ll need to continuously deliver relevant messages, add value to their experiences, and ensure every subsequent interaction with your business is a seamless one.

There are many ways to ensure these steps happen, but a CRM solution is one of the most important tools for doing that. CRM technology can unite all the information you have about a lead or customer, giving you a 360-degree view of each one, and can automate the work necessary to ensure personalised experiences at scale. 

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