Lead generation and capture is vital to a prolific sales program but is often made up of mysterious, hidden tools and processes. The landscape of lead generation and capture has been transitioning throughout the past several years from in-person lead groups to analyzed user data harvested through online platforms. Furthermore, the age of social distancing has accelerated the transition with the dissolution of in-person networking.
Before we dive into the five questions, let’s look at some lead generation and capture terms. First, the definition of a lead has evolved over time. Technology and data allows us to hone broad audiences into detailed, targeted buyer personas for precision marketing along the buyer’s journey. A lead is a person or business who shows interest in a company or brand in any of a number of ways including following social media channels, engaging in communication, and opening digital distributions.
Lead capture is the fuel that revs the engine of digital marketing programs and CRMs.
Leads enter the sales funnel at the top and move progressively down the funnel to reach a purchasing decision. Like the actual shape of a funnel, with the broad opening at the top and narrow at the spout, a sales funnel functions in a similar way. Messages and marketing targeted at buyers entering the funnel are similarly broad and less tailored.
As a lead progresses through the funnel, a company learns more about each buyer’s needs, behaviors, and motivations. The data collected along the journey refines the approaches and strategies used to move the lead closer to becoming a paying customer. This process hones the channels, cadence, content, and connections deployed to move the lead down the funnel.
For this article, we’re focusing on marketing qualified leads (MQL) and sales qualified leads (SQL). Marketing qualified leads are people or companies who have taken some action that would indicate a susceptibility to additional marketing initiatives.
Once the lead has taken further interest, which would be indicated by further action or feedback, they become a sales qualified lead (SQL). Sales qualified leads show significant interest in becoming a paying customer. Research, financial planning, strategy, and marketing campaigns are all part of developing a lead to the SQL point, so where do you start?
Here are some questions to help guide your lead capture strategy:
#1 WHO IS MY IDEAL BUYER?
This is where you build your buyer persona. A buyer persona goes much deeper than demographic information. Buyer personas compile psychographic details including values, interests, goals, and the day-to-day narrative of your ideal customer’s life.
When creating a buyer persona, it is important to do the research and get inside their thought processes, then source as much data as possible to shape their profile. We often give our buyer personas names like Tennis Pro Pete, Leisure Life Leann, No Time Tim, and Spa Mom Mia. Making buyer personas a fun and collaborative team exercise will give the persona more validity and depth. Building a buyer persona is a process unto itself, and isn’t necessarily intuitive. Reaching out to experts can help ensure this critical step in lead generation is well designed and backed by current research on the trends and traffic in your market.
#2 WHERE DO THEY HANG OUT?
From brick-and-mortar locations to social media channels, your buyers are out there, and it’s your challenge to find them. There is a plethora of possibilities, and as you refer to your buyer persona, you will begin to better understand where to track them down.
You do not have to rely on your sleuthing skills alone. The data and resources offered by many social channels and platforms can be helpful. Or you can go directly to the potential buyer to fill in the gaps: surveys or questionnaires inquiring about the best communication channels and other behavioral questions can help you connect in ways your buyer prefers.
#3 WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO REACH THEM?
One of the most valuable behavioral indicators is timing. When are your buyers online? When do they open emails? When are they traveling and listening to the radio? When do they shop? Again, this comes down to available data, and you will be surprised how much there is at your fingertips.
If you distribute marketing eblasts, experts continually track and hone these timeframes. Marketers and small business owners can leverage this research to optimize open rates and clicks. Business to business (B2B) emails perform better if they are sent at 10 a.m. mid-week. It varies a bit for business to consumer (B2C) eblasts which have a less definitive timeframe. For example, there is some evidence that distributions on Saturday at midnight perform quite well for connecting with some consumers. Do the research for your audience personas, and establish a distribution cadence that works for your campaign.
#4 WHAT SPEAKS TO THEM?
Words matter but so does the delivery method. Traditionally, marketers developed a message then shopped around for the proper audience to deliver it to. An accurate buyer persona informs the messaging that your target wants to hear. Strategic and consistent messaging is the core of integrated marketing communication, which builds every marketing and public relations tactic and asset on carefully crafted marketing language. This language will go through several iterations, focus groups, and A/B testing before it is deployed.
With well refined messaging in your arsenal, now you need to decide how to deliver it. There are traditional and print methods as well as new media and digital delivery. Your buyer persona should be the primary influence for how you deploy your content, however, there are some tactics that continually show the best engagement levels.
- Games and contests are useful early in the funnel. Further down the funnel, buyer will require more nuanced educational and informational material.
- Reviews, referrals, and influencer recommendations are the new media version of word-of-mouth and are powerful tactics for any marketing strategy.
- If pictures are worth a thousand words, what are videos worth? The answer is an awful lot! Your campaign goals, buyer persona, and budget will determine the production levels, but clever and creative video is one of the best mediums for engaging buyers.
#5 WHAT MOTIVATES THEM?
Motivating buyers to make a purchase, or commit to a service, has been researched and tested for decades. The psychology behind making a buying decision is layered and complex. There are a multitude of possible decision drivers, but they all typically stem from an overarching human need.
Emotional and social motivations include status symbols, dream fulfillment, and a general desire to feel good. From high fashion to sports cars, many people have a wish list of items that they “will own one day”. Some of these items are viewed as a sign of an individual’s level of achievement or success, or maybe it is soothing a wounded ego. It is difficult to parse the exact emotional motivation of individual buyers, but we know purchases are directly related to many tiers of emotion.
Aside from emotional reasons, buyers make purchasing decisions based on physical needs. We buy food because we must eat to live. We buy or rent a home because we need shelter and security. From personal hygiene items to clothes to tools for crafting and trade, many consumer products and innovations are invented and marketed because they meet a human need. Tie this with an emotional drive and that’s where the magic happens.
These five questions only scratch the surface of the research necessary for rolling out an effective lead capture strategy. The body of general research on this topic is abundant, but DIY googling cannot replace the advisement of experts. If you are interested in more information regarding lead capture and digital marketing, follow UrbanLink Group on our social media channels or subscribe to our blog. If you would like a tailored consultation with one of our strategists, connect with us today.
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