Glossary Index

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Glossary Index

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Glossary Index

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Glossary term

Lead generation

Quick definition

Lead generation is the process of identifying and nurturing potential customers for your business.

Key takeaways


●     Lead generation means acquiring the identity and contact information of someone who is interested in your product or service and preparing them to talk to a salesperson.

●     Your lead generation strategy will be unique based on your target audience and demographics. Start by developing a complete customer profile — or a list of key insights a lead must have before it’s passed on to a sales rep.

●     Leads can be developed in a variety of ways including content syndication, hosting and sponsoring events and webinars, and display ads.

●     The number one challenge for lead generation is keeping sales and marketing teams aligned. Both teams must work together for success.

●     A scoring system may be useful to quantify the quality of a lead based on demographics and behavioral factors.

Kindra Lewis is a marketing and demand generation expert with over 10 years of experience managing marketing teams and developing demand generation strategy. As head of demand generation for Adobe’s Digital Experience business, she leads a team of marketers who are responsible for planning and executing campaigns.  

Q: What is lead generation?

A: Lead generation, or lead gen, is the process of identifying and nurturing potential customers for your business. It involves acquiring the name and contact information of someone who is interested in your product or service and preparing them to talk to a salesperson. Effective lead gen means creating interest at different stages of the customer journey.

Q: What are different lead generation strategies? 

A: There are many different ways to approach lead generation. Your lead generation strategy will be unique based on your target audience and demographics.

No matter what strategy you choose, you should start by developing a complete customer profile. This is a list of key insights you need before passing a potential customer to a sales rep.

It would be ideal to create a complete customer profile all at once. But potential customers aren’t always willing to share all their information on first contact. As long as you know what your profile should look like upfront, you can use multiple tactics to acquire the pieces of that profile along the way — a strategy known as progressive profiling.

Content syndication is also a great way to acquire new leads. With this strategy, your marketing team negotiates with vendors who own multiple web properties — usually designed for SEO purposes — and offers white papers or lead magnet content assets that can be shared across their sites. The vendor agrees to generate a set number of leads for a set price from that content. This can be a reliable source of referrals, since marketers can forecast how much lead volume they will see over a designated period of time. Plus, as part of the negotiation process, marketers and sales teams can define what data points they want to acquire from each lead. That means you could acquire your entire customer profile externally without sacrificing conversion rates on your own website.

You can also find new leads by hosting or sponsoring webinars and live events, or by tapping into your organization’s social networks. Decision makers are much more likely to share valuable information like phone numbers if they feel their experience is personalized and relevant and that they are forming a real connection with your brand.

Marketers could also use display ads as part of a marketing campaign for creating new leads. Personalized online advertising on web pages, social media, and pop ups can make potential customers feel comfortable sharing their contact information and exploring the buying process. However, compared to other elements of your marketing strategy, the click-through rates for display ads are typically quite low.

Another common lead generation strategy is list buying — though it’s not always effective. With list buying, marketers or salespeople go to a data company and buy names and contact information. The challenge with this strategy is that these leads have never interacted with your brand before, and they most likely won’t be interested in receiving a cold email or being cold called. You can, however, use data vendors to round out incomplete profiles in your database. If you have an email and a location but don’t have a name, you may be able to buy that missing piece of information to create a finished sales lead.

Q: How do you know if a lead is good?

A: Typically in digital marketing, your sales team uses a lead scoring process to determine if a lead is ready to be handed to a sales rep. Scoring systems can consider demographics like location and job level, as well as information like the size of the company a person works for or how much money is in their budget. Your scoring system may also consider behavioral factors like what source the lead came through and what web pages on your site the individual visits. Generally, the more you know about a potential customer, the higher the score is. Once a new lead achieves the minimum score set by your sales team and the information is verified as accurate, it becomes a qualified lead.

Your scoring model may need to be adjusted based on the feedback you receive from your sales team. When planning your scoring model, you should consider questions like, “What percentage of our leads are being turned into sales?” “What are the commonalities for leads that don’t pan out?” “What makes a high-quality lead?”[NF1] 

Q: How do you know if your lead generation strategy is successful?

A: The traditional way is to look at your sales funnel. What are the conversion rates from each stage of the funnel? How many responses are you generating, and what percentage of those responses have enough data to be scored? What percentage of those leads become sales?

Marketing teams can also look at the cost per lead against the cost per opportunity. What is your return on investment (ROI)? Another point of analysis is your sales velocity. How fast are deals closing?

Q: What are the benefits of lead generation?

A: Lead generation raises awareness for your product or service while increasing sales. You’ll find quality customers that bring long-term value to your company and retain paying customers.

Q: What are common lead generation challenges?

A: The number one challenge with lead generation is sales and marketing alignment. Too often marketing teams and sales teams will disagree about lead quality and lead generation strategy. Both teams need to agree about the metrics that define a qualified lead and how quickly the follow up on each lead should happen.

Another challenge is generating leads in a cost-effective way. Lead gen can become very expensive. Managing resources efficiently and reducing wasted budget is important.

Q: What tools can you use for lead generation?

A: Account identification tools are crucial. You must be able to serve personalized content to potential customers and identify who those customers are. You’ll also need a flexible forms framework that you can embed directly on your website and integrate with your content management platform.

A marketing automation platform is also essential. If you’re a business-to-business (B2B) company, that platform needs to do lead management as well. Adobe Campaign is ideal for business-to-customer (B2C) companies looking to automate customer journeys. Marketo Engage is built to sit on top of your customer relationship management (CRM) system and manage leads for B2B salespeople and marketing teams.

Lead gen also depends on a data management platform (DMP) like Adobe Audience Manager. This tool integrates with Adobe Experience Manager and Adobe Campaign. Marketers can create segmented audiences and send those audiences directly to a marketing automation platform while simultaneously planning marketing campaigns and messaging based on that data. Adobe Target allows you to personalize those promotions even further.

With these tools in place, you can successfully target audiences with relevant communications. Doing this saves money on your ad spend and creates a better customer experience.

Q: How will lead generation evolve in the future?

A: Lead generation depends on being able to detect data from cookies and use it to target customers. But the future will be cookieless, Marketers have to figure out how to generate leads, reduce advertising waste, and find new ways to deliver personalized experiences without cookies.

Adobe can help

Put this knowledge into action with Adobe Experience Cloud.