founder of Advantage Media
March 24, 2019
Patrick Foster from Ecommerce Tips wrote this post, but I’d like to add a quick intro.
It seems that nowadays the greatest obstacle businesses stumble upon is generating leads, not just in Australia but all over the world. No lead will ever knock on your door unless you have a spot-on lead generation strategy in place. If you have designed a plan already and still not getting the desired results, it means your strategy is broken.
Let’s see what Patrick thinks the causes could be.
How broken is your Lead Generation strategy?
An excellent lead generation process is the engine of every successful business functioning mainly in the digital sphere. It ensures continuing progress regardless of what happens with existing customers — if you lose customers, you can replace them, and if you keep them, you can expand your business even further.
Fail to optimise your approach to lead generation, and you’ll struggle. You’ll have to spend a lot of time manually hunting down and qualifying leads — something that you really don’t want to be doing when you have a hundred other things to be focusing on for your business. And if your lead generation strategy is particularly bad, it can outright damage your reputation.
What you need to do is understand the most common mistakes businesses make when trying to bring in leads, then make a concerted effort to avoid them. To that end, here are 8 ways in which your lead generation strategy is plausibly broken.
1. You’re not taking context into account
Context, or the broader circumstances of a situation, is absolutely essential in lead generation. It makes the difference between a compelling offer and one that’s easy to pass up. Imagine that you were trying to sell refreshing beverages. Which scenario would be more profitable? Setting up a stall at the finish line of a marathon, or just outside a public bathroom? However good your value proposition may be, it won’t be compelling in every case.
When creating content for the lead generation process, businesses all too often overlook context, either partially or entirely. They go for the all-purpose approach that you’d need for a consistently-airing TV advertisement, assuming nothing about the prospective customer other than that they might be interested.
This is a huge waste because digital content allows you to be far more aware of context. For instance, if you’re building a landing page to push people to download your new guide, you can tweak the content to suit the situation: providing basic details for the version you share on social media, but getting more specific for the one you use in marketing emails (since they’ll be going to people already familiar with your company).
2. You’re talking about features too much
Features are only useful insofar as they confer benefits. It’s a well-established principle of the sales world, yet people creating lead generation content as a strategy will still make the mistake of spending too much time talking about what something does, instead of why that’s something the reader should care about.
Everything should be built around the net gain for the potential customer. How will their life change as a result of investing in what you’re offering? Will it help them overcome a recurring pain point? Save them a lot of time? Increase their profits? Paint them a picture of what their life after taking action will look like, and make it a compelling one.
This is something that you should communicate in every facet of your content, so don’t stop with the copy. Optimise your images to be clear and definite. Show smiling faces, use directional gestures to focus attention, and include glowing testimonials to offer social proof. You can (and should) include features, yes — just don’t make them the most prominent elements.
3. You’re not doing any A/B testing
Trying to optimise print media is fairly tricky because it’s costly to produce and distribute, but there’s no such barrier with digital media. A/B testing — running two versions of something in direct competition to see which one performs better — is often as simple as making a few copy changes and setting a campaign running in minutes.
Unfortunately, plenty of sales teams don’t think to run A/B testing, or assume that it’s too complicated — some imagine that they have the expertise to reach conclusions about material quality without having to get input from the target audience. The result? They never quite know how effective their lead generation strategy is because they have no points of meaningful comparison.
But A/B testing isn’t that hard to implement, mainly through Google Optimize, a completely free platform. Just follow the instructions to create variants and set them live. After that, it’s just a matter of experimenting to achieve steady improvement.
4. You have no consistent branding
Lead generation isn’t always as simple as reaching someone with a compelling case and convincing them in one step to take advantage of what you’re offering. Given how readily and rapidly people dart back and forth across the internet, it’s a lot more realistic to envision someone steadily advancing their interest — learning about you, giving your proposition some thought, and eventually deciding to investigate appropriately.
What this means is that people will often be exposed to numerous parts of your lead generation operation before converting. Someone might see one of your Facebook ads, then see a Twitter promotion, then see a piece of programmatic native advertising on a blog they frequent. What do you suppose happens if those materials feel barely related? It gives the impression that your business is inconsistent and still an unknown quantity.
Consistent branding is about ensuring that every piece of promotional material you put out there exhibits your brand style. The colour scheme should be the same, as should the tone, and the formatting. Each piece should build upon the rhetoric of the last, working together to make your brand seem more appealing.
5. Your “leads” are vaguely defined
What do you actually consider to be a lead? It might be something as simple as someone signing up to your email newsletter, but that won’t always be a viable thing to aim for. In other cases, it might make more sense to consider a direct social media message to be a lead, or even someone downloading a free guide you produced.
Here’s the main takeaway: even though every business can (and should) have a unique definition of a lead, some businesses never really bother setting out what precisely a lead is. As a result, they end up conflating a range of different actions. Get a phone call? That’s a lead. Homepage visit? That’s a lead. When you don’t clearly define what a lead is (or why it’s valuable), then you have no chance of measuring success.
Think carefully about what actions from members of your target audience are most likely to lead to conversions (and profits), and use your conclusions to outline your qualified leads. Only then can you run a lead generation campaign with legitimate stakes and inarguable value.
6. You’re overlooking valuable channels
Where can leads come from? Given the reach of the internet, the correct answer is “almost anywhere” — so if you’re focusing exclusively (or near-exclusively) on a single channel, you’re majorly hampering your efforts. The reach of social media and forums is such that you can bring in leads from completely fresh audiences if you take a multi-channel approach.
After all, e-commerce as a whole as already adapted to the presence of so many potential customer sources, and adopting a multi-channel strategy has become a priority for every seller with lofty ambitions. If there are prospective buyers out there on Reddit or Pinterest, why expect them to find their way to your website when you can target them directly where they are?
There’s no shortage of social media monitoring tools out there, from Mention to HootSuite, and there are plenty of more niche tools as well. Something like Notifier for Reddit is a prime example. Free to use for up to two searchers, you can use it to monitor Reddit posts for specific keywords. It’s a great way to track down top influencers.
Ideally, every aspect of your operation should be multi-channel: starting with your lead generation strategy, advancing to your sales process, and advancing all the way to your customer support. And instead of presenting a monolithic front, you can customize your presentation for your audience — essentially putting out a new lure to suit each type of fish you’re trying to land.
For an example of how this works, look to the B2B industry. With each prospective customer potentially being a high-value company in its own right, it’s not viable to use catch-all content. This is why enterprise-level B2B e-commerce software is designed to support bespoke gated channels. Remember: it’s ultimately impractical to sit back and let people come to you. Proactive business is the future.
7. You’re relying on a single conversion point
As noted, the lead generation process can be long and complicated. Someone can encounter numerous parts of it (some more than once) before finally deciding to take action — and the point of action might not be when you expect it. Despite this, it’s quite common for companies to build around single conversion points.
What do I mean by this? Well, imagine that you’re reading through a marketing email from a store you’ve used before. There are ten distinct panels, each with a different message, and they all lead up to a CTA (call to action) at the bottom of the email. Now imagine that you’re convinced right away. You love the store, and the very first panel hooks your interest. How do you proceed? How do you take action?
Well, if there’s just the one CTA, then you must first scroll all the way to the bottom. This is a waste because it’s likely that some people will miss the CTA entirely — and those convinced by panel 1 may find that their minds have changed by the time they reach the bottom. Not only should you scatter CTAs throughout your materials for convenience, but you should also mix them up. A newsletter signup, a purchase button, a social media share: not only are there different types of leads, but there are also various valuable actions someone can take.
8. You’re sending mixed messages
Message match is a core demand of multi-step marketing processes. You might plan out a sequence very carefully: your social media Ad leads to a landing page which then leads to your website (or something along those lines). This can work very well, but only if every message leads gracefully into the next.
What can happen when teams work independently is that everything gets done in isolation, and a PPC ad leads to a landing page that barely resembles it. If you see (and click on) an ad promising 50% off every item in a range, but arrive at the target page to discover that the maximum discount present is just 10% off, you’ll feel swindled and want to leave.
Consequently, you must review your lead generation strategy as a whole to check that it makes sense as a cohesive whole. If you’re leaning on a particular offer, it should be given top billing on every landing page. This will minimise friction in the consideration process and ultimately lead to more qualified leads.
These 8 lead generation issues are common, but can hugely reduce your ability to bring in fresh and relevant leads. Adjust your strategy to minimise or even eliminate them, and you’ll soon see the benefits.