Learn about lead generation to develop successful campaigns

An illustration representing lead generation

When you have a product or service to sell, you want to find the right people interested in your unique offerings. The process of gauging consumer interest and turning that interest into a sale is the process of lead generation.

By sharing information about your offerings and enticing people to take action, you can cultivate that interest from general curiosity to seeing how a product or service can be a viable solution — and ultimately a sale.

In this article, you’ll learn how lead generation can help turn consumer interest into loyal customers for your business.

What is lead generation?

Simply put, lead generation is the process of identifying and nurturing potential customers for your business.

A marketing or sales lead is someone who could become a customer because of their interest in a brand’s offerings. Generating that lead is a distinct process of collecting that person’s contact information so marketing and sales can continue to communicate with them regarding the value, services, promotions, and other perks that can ultimately convert the interested individual to a true customer.

Leads can originate from any number of sources where they learn about product and service offerings. Much of this is done through a practice called content marketing, which involves sharing materials that create interest in products or services while extending the value of information and other offers. This can take many forms, including:

What all of these different content types have in common is that they can effectively communicate brand relevance to readers while also resonating with pain points that demonstrate the worth and value of products or services. The goal of all these forms of marketing materials is to entice the consumer to take action — this is a call to action (CTA) — to submit their contact details in exchange for more information that’s of interest.

Why do you need lead generation?

An illustration of lead generation for marketing

Lead generation is a crucial part of marketing strategies for companies of all shapes and sizes because it’s the engine that helps convert consumer interest in your brand into a sale. Generating a lead is the first step in a marketing funnel (or overall sales process), and it is often the most pivotal stage. It’s here that a consumer goes from just a casual observer of your content to someone with a qualified interest in your products or services.

Specifically, qualified lead generation is important to every business model because it helps marketing teams focus on nurturing and converting potentially viable consumers into customers. By taking the action to show interest in your products, the leads you collect can become targeted prospects that are more likely to convert. This helps marketing teams spend their time on the people who are real prospects rather than attempting to appeal to broader audiences. This, in turn, allows brands to build relationships with potential customers and for marketers to pass along pre-qualified leads to sales for a targeted approach.

How lead generation works

Lead generation processes can vary slightly depending on how your assets and sales pipeline are configured. However, there are a few common stages that are universal to the process.

  1. Creation
    Brands develop content in the form of blogs, social media, or other typically web-based formats with an emphasis on search engine optimization (SEO) to help prospective customers with similar interests or needs find their materials online.

  2. Discovery
    Consumers discover the content through various channels, including web search, advertising, and social media, to name a few.

  3. Action
    The content includes a clear CTA that the consumer acts on, typically by clicking a link or a “Contact” button to learn more about a product or service.

  4. Submission
    The consumer provides their contact information in exchange for something in return, such as more information about a product or service, newsletter sign-up, or discounts.

  5. Generation
    The consumer information becomes a lead in your CRM or marketing platform, which can be nurtured effectively moving forward through marketing and sales outreach.

How to improve your lead generation

Lead generation is all about conversions — turning consumers into potential customers by qualifying their interest in your product. To improve your lead generation, you need to follow specific actions to create conversions. There are a few best practices for doing this effectively.

  1. Make your calls to action clear
    Consumers may land on your content for one reason or another based on their interest in a topic, product, or service. Once you have their attention, you need to make it clear what action they should take as a result. This clear CTA should be singular to avoid confusion, repeated to underscore importance, and easy to follow to encourage participation.

  2. Vary your incentives
    Not all offerings will be enticing to all prospective customers. While some people may be motivated by discounts, others could be more prone to take action if you offer additional content or informational assets. It’s important to vary the types of incentives you offer to determine which are most effective with your target audience.

  3. Keep your forms concise
    Content forms offer a variety of fields for data capture, but it’s best to include only the most essential fields for collection at the lead generation stage. The fewer the fields, the more likely the consumer will be to share their information and complete the form in the first place. You can collect additional details about the lead later through the marketing nurture process.

What lead generation tools to use

While content is king when it comes to marketing and lead generation, you don’t have to go it alone. There are several tools you can use to make the process easier when it comes to collecting data, tracking leads, and nurturing prospects once you have their attention.

To start with, you’ll want to streamline your lead generation efforts with a solid marketing automation tool that allows you to control everything from content forms to link tracking. By using the same system from start to finish, from lead generation to customer conversion, you can monitor performance and fine-tune your outreach efforts along the way.

Lead generation software offers many benefits for marketing and sales professionals. Once you collect a lead through a content form, you can capture and store all the pertinent information in a single system for segmentation and outreach. This allows you to find the right leads for the right campaigns at the right time.

Lead generation is a crucial part of marketing strategies for companies of all shapes and sizes because it’s the engine that helps convert consumer interest in your brand into a sale.

What’s more, you can manage leads throughout their lifecycle, sending additional relevant information as they progress through your marketing funnel and different sales stages. The best marketing automation systems also include robust reporting so you can gain valuable insights as a marketer about which campaigns are effective with which audiences.

Adobe Marketo Engage delivers winning, lead-based marketing technology in a robust yet easy-to-use system. Users can target high-quality leads through personalization powered by artificial intelligence, allowing you to connect with customers through web pages, emails, social media, and more.

With Marketo Engage, you can truly engage with leads on an individual basis while automating processes to streamline your workday. Email communications, landing pages, and content forms are all manageable within the system for a seamless transition from lead to prospect and, eventually, to customer.

Designed by marketers for marketers, Marketo Engage is an all-in-one solution that can help you bolster your lead generation efforts and cultivate a more robust prospect database.

Learn more about Adobe Marketo Engage by watching the overview video or taking a free product tour.