A Guide to Lead Generation

Lauren Inggs | 1 May 2017

According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, B2B marketers have nominated lead generation as their most important content marketing goal for the year. Yet, when asked to rate the effectiveness of their organisation’s use of content marketing to achieve this goal, only 30% gave the thumbs up.

The assurance of the report is that if you're struggling with lead generation, you're certainly not alone. While comforting, the communal strife encourages us not to fall into despondency, but to increase our efforts. To contribute to this goal, we’ve put together our most valued lead generation stats, tips, and tactics. We invite you to make use of the points you find helpful, and to contribute your own top tips in the comments below or on social media, #leadgeneration.

There's not a business on Earth that doesn't want to generate an increase in the demand for their products or services. An increase in demand means greater opportunities to earn revenue, taking your business to new levels.

But creating and generating demand, and bringing in better leads, can be a trickier endeavour than you might think. Fortunately, content marketing is a lead generation tool that offers the edge you need to start upping your demand generation and creating a hunger for your offerings. Check out this article by MobileMonkey for more Lead Gen tools

How does content marketing help?

Content marketing is all about building awareness and generating leads for your business. How? By executing a series of content marketing activities that align closely with your potential buyers' interests, subsequently attracting them to your brand, product and services. When you attract the right people, they arrive at your website already partially qualified, and more likely to convert into leads and customers.

This attraction process is facilitated by distributing content and offers that are highly relevant to your target audience. Putting high-value content out there helps you in creating awareness and interest in your business while illustrating to your target personas how you can help them solve their pain points.

First, let's clarify lead generation and demand generation.

It's not uncommon to find businesses confusing lead generation and demand generation with one another when they are two entirely separate concepts.

  • Lead generation refers to your attempts to boost your content's worth resulting in people giving you their information in exchange for access to said content.
  • Demand generation is focused on increasing the desire to buy your product in your target market, with the aim of increasing sales.

If we look at these two activities side by side, the difference between them is evident; lead generation sets its sights on gathering information while demand generation works to create interest in your product or service.

It's not unusual to see marketing campaigns and content strategies lumped with both these tasks, often to the disappointment of marketers expecting to see positive results on both accounts. For you to be effective in both demand and lead generation, it's vital to correctly differentiate between content that will help you increase leads, and that which will boost demand for your brand.

Content Formats to Boost Your Lead Generation

When creating content to increase lead generation, it's important to keep one critical factor in mind: Because lead generation-focused content is gated, you're asking people to surrender their information in exchange for something.

The information you're asking for is most definitely worth something to the prospect, and the fastest way to turn them off your business is by giving them content that doesn't fit their perceived value of their information.

This means prospects are going to expect a little more from gated content, and that you should aim for greater detail, clearer pain point addresses and long-form content.

Some examples of content that will fit this bill are:

  • eBooks
  • Case studies
  • Reports
  • Webinars

Remember that you need to be tracking lead interactions with your content. This way you can ensure you are putting out content that meets expectations, and can remove or tweak content that doesn't perform as well or falls out of date.

Content Ideas to Improve Your Demand Generation

While content for lead generation tends to be more detailed and long-form, content with the goal of generating increased demand tends to focus strongly on boosting awareness of your brand and help secure its positioning.

Great content for demand generation means easily consumable content in formats that are trendy, on-point topic-wise and well-received, not to mention easily socialised via your social media channels.

These can include:

  • Slideshares
  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Lists
  • Infographics
  • Podcasts

Keep in mind that content working towards demand generation should never be gated, and it's also vital to utilise your SEO strategy when distributing this content. If your content and website are well-optimised, you'll likely place more favourably in Google searches. By ranking well you're making yourself more visible to searchers who are more liable to spot your brand.

Another great takeaway is to keep your ear to the ground regarding new content formats and distribution platforms on the rise. Maybe you have a great content idea that might work well when it comes to VR tech (virtual reality), or perhaps you can think of a killer way to use Snapchat in a new campaign. Either way, don't be afraid to experiment and get your business's name out there!

When it comes to either lead or demand generation, you don't need to feel pressured to pick one option over the other. Inbound marketing encompasses both these elements, which overlap as you build your campaigns and marketing activities out.

For example, leads you've gathered and placed in lead lists can be targeted with appropriate content to increase demand amongst them. And it's never a mistake to start putting excellent content out there, as this drives interest in your brand, products and services, and helps channel your target audience along their buyers' journeys.

The 5 Essentials of a lead generating website

1. Optimised for Search

How are you going to convert visitors into leads when they can’t find your site to begin with? These days, the majority of people turn to search engines in their quest to find information online. If you’re not optimising your site for good rankings, you’re leaving the door wide open for your competitors.

With more than 200 factors determining where and how Google will rank your website in search engine results pages, it’s near impossible to address them all. There are a few ‘must-do’s’, however, that you can apply as you go about creating content, which will aid overall SEO efforts.

Address prime on-page SEO elements by:

  • Including your primary keywords in your page title, H1 heading and subheadings
  • Use keywords naturally throughout your copy
  • Ensure any internal links use keyword-based anchor text

Above all, remember to create unique, engaging and interesting content. This will organically attract inbound links that boost SEO.

2. Clear navigation paths

The 2015 B2B Web Usability Report (by Huff Industrial Marketing, KoMarketing and BuyerZone) provides clear direction when it comes to navigation. Their findings report that visitors are predominantly looking to access your products and services pages, find contact details, and company information.

Make their journey easy by using familiar and standard navigational elements that clearly lead them to the content they’re looking for.

This means:

  • A well-structured top navigation (based on a solid content hierarchy)
  • Your logo is linked to your home page
  • Footer navigation links to popular content
  • Your website contains a search function

Don’t forget to review your navigation – especially your menu – in mobile states to ensure the process is simple for your mobile visitors too.

3. Effective Calls-to Action

Your choice of call-to-action has a direct impact on your lead generating potential. It's your opportunity to tell your viewer what action you want them to take after engaging with your content. Too many calls-to-action on a page and your viewer will be confused as to which action you want them to take next. No calls-to-action, and you've wasted an opportunity to engage with your viewer. It's all about striking the right balance. And don't forget about testing your CTAs! Everything about them, from their text to colouring can influence your viewers' interactions.

Create CTAs that convert by:

  • Using words that are actionable and invoke a sense of urgency – e.g. download / subscribe now
  • Using bold and contrasting colours or styles that stand out from the rest of your content
  • Positioning CTAs in relevant places both from a page and content perspective – keep offers tightly aligned to the content

Remember to add CTAs to your A/B testing! The tiniest of tweaks can lead to great lifts in conversion when you find the ‘perfect’ blend of compelling copy, colour, format and placement.  

4. Compelling landing pages

Landing pages are arguably the most critical aspect of an  lead-generating website, and where the real magic happens. Visitors become leads!

Landing pages are the mid-point in the conversion path, i.e. nestled between the CTA and thank-you page, but if you fail to overcome visitor friction, they won’t complete that journey.

The best converting landing pages have a few key elements in common:

  • No navigation; you want to eliminate distractions and keep your visitor focussed on completing the action
  • A clear, compelling heading that’s consistent with the offer presented on the CTA
  • A concise description of the offer on hand (with a focus on the benefit to the reader and what they will gain); bullets points with the key takeaways work well here too
  • Visuals or multimedia that support the message or give a glimpse to the full offer
  • A form for contact detail collection, asking only for the bare minimum of information needed.
  • The amount of information requested must be on par with the value of the offer.

5. Personalised content

Personalised content has become a key focus area for modern marketers. Conversion rates are substantially increased when you can show your visitors you have an in-depth understanding of their needs and challenges and can present them with content tailored to those specific needs.

Develop content for not only each of your different buyer personas, but also content that will satisfy each stage of the buyer journey too, and then strategically position that content for maximum relevance and impact.

By including or implementing the elements outlined above, you'll be well on your way to creating a website that's geared for lead generation, and therefore a valuable marketing asset as opposed to a dusty old space for 'window shoppers'.

3 Tips for optimising your Landing Page Conversion Rate

1. Gain a fresh perspective

Try an exercise in perspective-shifting and consider the world from your buyer persona's point of view. Making your content and marketing message stand out from the hordes of meaningless messaging bombarding your audience can be challenging. It means focusing on who they are, what they need and giving it to them in the most efficient and pithy manner possible.

2. Focus on engagement over leads

We know that generating leads is critical as inbound marketers, but that doesn't mean we can neglect the quality of our audience engagement in the pursuit of those leads. Your content should never be focused on pure lead generation - it should be lovingly crafted to encourage maximum engagement with your target personas. Create content that entices your audience to want to share their details with you in exchange.

3. Run never-ending Landing Page tests

We've said it before, and we'll say it again - testing your landing pages is critical! Consistently test their layouts, headlines, text volume, images, call-to-actions, bullet points, buttons and form fields, not to mention how they appear on various devices. You should always have an A/B test running and keep your eyes peeled for page-boosting opportunities.

How to improve your forms to increase lead generation

1. Location, location, location

A common mantra in real estate marketing – and equally valid in terms of form placement! Ensure that your form is not hidden below the fold (meaning that your visitor would have to scroll to see it).

Another tip is to give your form a little ‘breathing room’, using white space effectively, to help it stand out from other page content.

Unbounce.com, conversion-rate optimisation experts, report that the upper right-hand corner of a web page is the conversion sweet spot for a form.

2. Creative, clear and compelling copy

There are 3 areas to focus on here:

  • Your headline
  • Your field labels
  • Your call-to-action button

Use your headline to support your call-to-action. Replace dull, default ‘Complete This Form’ type headlines with more action-orientated text. Examples include:

  • Sign Up For XYZ Now
  • Download Your XYZ
  • Yes, I want  XYZ
  • Get Your Free XYZ

Use clear field labels. Formisimo, a form field tracking application, claims that up to 67% of your potential leads who start filling out a form don’t complete it. Reduce abandonment by clearly labelling your form fields. Use terms that your reader will understand and be able to respond to easily.

In your labels indicate which fields are required - usually with an asterisk (*) - as opposed to optional. Determine which fields you absolutely have to have in in order to establish meaningful communication versus those that are a nice-to-have, or that can be collected at a later stage. (I’ll get to this in a bit.)

Swap out ‘submit’. If you think about the word’s meaning, it isn’t very pleasant, is it? Who would want to ‘submit’ to anything? It feels very forced. Opt for more enticing copy that specifically outlines the action the reader is about to take. You can include a shortened version of your newly revised call-to-action headline such as, ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Register’. Anything but ‘Submit’!

3. Use dynamic fields

If you already have certain information about a lead it is possible – using HubSpot’s SMART fields – to show new fields to a known lead when re-converting.

This will allow you to build up a contact profile, collecting information and insight over time as opposed to asking for everything all at once, which may discourage an initial conversion.

4. Address security concerns and data privacy

No one likes spam. As a result people are wary of parting with their personal details online. They may question what you are going to do with their information. Are they going to receive 564 unsolicited emails now? Of course not! You’d never give anyone’s details away, right? So let them know that upfront. 

5. Evaluate your form length

While ‘shorter is better’ is the usual advice here, this isn’t necessarily valid for all of your forms. Long forms asking you everything from your name and address to what you ate for breakfast may deter any potential leads. Ask only for an email address and you may inadvertently be devaluing your offer in their mind. Your ideal form length will depend entirely on the type of offer in question.

People will consume different types of offers throughout their buying cycle (and beyond, as customers). For early research type offers such as checklists or infographics, you might only want to collect the person’s name and email address. For in-depth content offers relevant at later stages in the buying cycle, you can increase the amount of information requested.

The layout of form fields can also impact on the visual ‘length’ of the form. Labels placed alongside a field may help to ‘shorten’ the form while labels above the fields create a ‘longer’ looking form. This obviously doesn’t change the actual number of fields, however, it can impact the length perception in the mind of the reader.

Building trust to improve lead generation

Speaking of trust, here are some tips for improving your lead generation by building trust with visitors who are in two minds about submitting a form on your site.

1. Create a helpful video

Video is among the most consumed mediums today. Statistics show that video consumption on mobile devices is set to grow in 2016 by more than 34%, following statistics this year that noted that an astonishing 78% of people watch videos online every week, with 55% of them watching them every day!

In light of this, it's a great idea to look at your target audience's pain points, and see whether or not there are opportunities for you to create an awesome video to help them solve an issue or two. A great place to search for ideas is online forums, where you can use questions as a springboard for creating helpful videos. You can also use video to demo or outline your products, showcasing their benefits in a visual way.

2. Answer some pressing questions

On forums and Q&A sites like Quora, you'll find plenty of questions just calling out to be answered. It's up to you to engage and connect with your buyer personas by answering their queries and providing them with assistance based on your expertise. By doing so you'll establish yourself as a thought leader in your field, along with a reputable and trustworthy source of experience and advice.

3. Use your About Us page

Most websites have an "About Us" page - although this page is often vastly limited in its potential impact. Normally these pages contain the bare minimum of information, just a brief outline of a business's creed, staff members and goals.

However, this shouldn't be all that defines your "About Us" page - there's a whole lot more you can do with it to boost your lead generation. The key is to remember that although it may state "About Us" on the top, it's really not about you at all. It's about reaching out and establishing a relationship with your target audience, whether by utilising well-placed CTAs or value propositions or by showcasing some of your awards (which builds trust with your viewers). Use your page to help your buyer personas move further along the sales funnel.

4. Focus on your social listening

Practising social listening on Twitter and Facebook is an excellent way to find out exactly what your target audience is interested in or struggling with in real-time - and afterwards you can step up your efforts to meet their needs. And it all starts with simply monitoring conversions happening on your social media.

5. Reach out to thought-leaders

Thought leaders are brilliant sources of endorsement for your product or service - so reach out to them and go on the hunt for their approval and input. Make your product available to them for reviews, or ask them to guest blog for you. And be willing to share their content socially and within your linking strategy. After all, building relationships with thought leaders and aligning yourself with them goes a long way towards gaining trust with your potential leads.

6. Choose your words carefully

You may think your words have little effect on your lead generation efforts, but you couldn't be more wrong. Your choice of wording can influence whether or not your potential leads engage and click on your CTAs or complete your forms. It's critical that you continuously A/B test your content and site copy, to ensure your wording is hitting the right mark.

Lead generation is vital to a healthy, thriving business, so if you've noticed a lull in your company's lead stream, perhaps it's time to re-examine your efforts and try something new!

Lead Generation Statistics 

Wow, that’s a mouth full! In case you are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of tips and tactics to add to your to-do list, here’s some statistical motivation to keep you going. (As these statistics show, optimising your online estate will be well worth the efforts!)

Lead Generation from Blogging

  • B2B marketers who use blogs generate 67% more leads per month than those who don't. (HubSpot)
  • 57% of companies with a blog have generated a lead from it. (Impact)
  • Brands that publish 15 blog posts per month average 1,200 new leads per month (HubSpot benchmark data)
  • Companies with over 200 blog articles get more than 5 times the leads than those with 10 or fewer. (HubSpot marketing statistics report)

Using Social Media to Generate Leads

  • LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter, with the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74%. Yet only 47% of B2B marketers say they are actively using LinkedIn. (Forbes online)
  • Businesses active on Twitter generate twice as many leads than those not using the platform. (Digital Media Stream)
  • 43% of B2B enterprises with a Facebook page report generating leads as a result. (Content Marketing Insitute)
  • Social media lead conversion rates are 13% higher than the average lead conversion rate. (Marketing Insider Group)

Email Marketing Lead Generation

  • 64% of marketers say email is their most effective lead generation channel when targeting new customers. (HubSpot marketing statistics report)
  • 42% of B2B businesses make use of email marketing as their most effective lead generation channel, and 88% or marketers cite email as the most effective lead generation tactic overall. (impactbnd)

Generating Leads on Landing Pages

  • 68% of B2B businesses use landing pages to gain new sales leads for future conversion. (MarketingSherpa via HubSpot)
  • Companies with 31 to 40 landing pages generate 7X more leads than those with only 1 to 5 landing pages. (Source: HubSpot)
  • Companies with over 40 landing pages get 12X more leads than those with 5 or less. (HubSpot)

Lead Nurturing

  • 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the most common cause of this poor performance. (MarketingSherpa via HubSpot)
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Forrester Research)
  • Companies that automate lead management see a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months. (Gartner via Web Ascender

A/B Testing

  • According to Econsultancy, for a few consecutive years running, A/B testing is the most used testing method for improving conversion rates. 
  • A/B testing can generate up to 40% more leads for B2B sites. (HubSpot)

Are you generating the volume and quality of leads needed to achieve your business objectives? If not, grab a copy of our free eBook on getting to grips with sales and marketing in an era of digital transformation.

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