Lead generation is the art of attracting potential leads — and the art actually lies in the balance between not being too annoying and disruptive to potential customers, but still managing to spread the word about your business.
Let’s consider a few examples of badly done lead generation:
- Spamming bought email lists with information about your business — which they’ve never heard of — advertising products people don’t want, or haven’t expressed an interest in.
- Intrusively calling customers who have filled up a registration form for a survey you hosted out of the blue, and trying to sell them your products.
- A content strategy that leads to nowhere — no call to action and no clear sales funnel.
There are miles between the examples above and good lead generation done the right away, but these give lead generation a bad name just the same.
If you’re someone who garners such prejudice towards it, we’ll show you why we don’t think that’s the right approach.
Don’t let its bad name fool you, lead generation is the bread and butter of marketing.
Put your prejudice aside, and let’s learn exactly why is lead generation important and how to do it right.
We’ll start with a few basic definitions first — once we get out of the way what exactly qualifies a lead, and what does online lead generation mean, we’ll cover the reasons why you might need it, and, of course, the good stuff — how to generate leads on different social media platforms successfully.
What Is a Sales Lead?
A sales lead is, at its most simple, a certain someone who has shown interest in your brand or your products in some way and has provided their contact information to your business in some form.
What Is Lead Generation?
Lead generation refers to the process of attracting more «leads» with the aim of converting them to customers when they make a sale. Thousands of lines have been written on the subject, yet lead generation in 2019 proves as elusive as ever.
In this guide, we’ll try to filter out the noise and give you the best, actionable tips in the industry.
Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation
In lead generation, you can take two alternative approaches — inbound and outbound.
Outbound lead generation is the older, more traditional approach to marketing, also called interruption marketing.
It’s the scenario in which you send out messages using a number of different media, such as email for example, directly to your prospects — or leads. This is the strategy behind those disruptive phone calls and emails from businesses that you yourself might get occasionally as a customer, and it’s largely the strategy responsible for the tarnished reputation of lead generation. Nowadays, outbound lead generation has fallen out of favor — it’s considered outdated and not as effective as inbound lead generation.
Inbound lead generation is the complete opposite of outbound. Instead of directly reaching out to your leads, you lay out a strategic trail of content and resources as an incentive for potential prospects to follow, and reach your business themselves.
The advantages of inbound as opposed to outbound?
- This approach lets your leads reach out to you at their own pace, and when they themselves want it.
- It feels much less intrusive (if at all).
- The quality of leads generated this way is generally of a higher quality, as these are leads who have made the step towards your brand and products themselves.
- Inbound lead generation takes more time, as opposed to outbound, which can have short-term and easily quantifiable results.
- Outbound uses more traditional marketing methods such as email marketing, regular mail, and the web, while inbound additionally uses «newer' approaches, such as social media and SEO.
In this guide, we’ll largely prioritize inbound lead generation, not because we think that outbound can’t be effective (if done right), but because we’ll be focusing on how to generate leads on social media, and that largely falls in the domain of inbound.
Inbound lead generation, in our opinion, is the result of marketers growing more attuned to the way people like to buy nowadays. It’s a reflection of the times and the fact that audiences are now more marketing savvy than ever before. In 2019, consumers know they are constantly being marketed to — and they have grown more cautious and skeptical as a result, with generation Z leading the way.
These are the times when a traditional sales copy just simply won’t do, and the research data in the realm of social media marketing shows us that this is true time and time again.
Consumers constantly exposed to marketing and ads have evolved to distrust them and research prior to purchasing a product or service — in fact, 58% of people say that social media influences their purchasing decisions, even if social media is not where they first discovered the product/service (Statista).
So, we’re going for the long-term play — lead generation on social media — and the good news is that it usually comes at a lower cost per lead. But unlike your usual outbound lead generation strategy, it’s not just something you do as a blitzkrieg tactic, it should be an explicit business goal, and it requires a healthy amount of dedication.
Now that we’ve cleared that out of the way, let’s begin!
Reasons Why You Need to Have a Lead Generation Strategy
Nowadays, the general opinion in the marketing world is that all potential customers or leads undertake a journey from first noticing a product or service to actually paying to use it. And marketers like to call this journey the sales funnel.
The sales funnel is the series of steps leads take from the moment they first stumble upon your brand, and it includes:
- Becoming aware of a product or a service.
- Expressing interest in a product or a service.
- Evaluating whether they want to pay its value — researching, comparing competitors.
- Deciding whether it’s the best option for them.
- Purchasing the product or service.
- Reevaluating whether they made a good purchasing decision, whether they will renew their subscription or re-order for example.
- Repurchasing the product or service again.
But we won’t concern ourselves with those for the time being.
Instead, we’ll focus on helping you devise a social media lead generation strategy, as that will make all the difference between having your customers fumble about and try to determine what’s your value by themselves, and actually guiding them through your sales funnel with a firm and gentle hand.
To do that, you’ll have to optimize your strategy for the best results every step of the way.
Buying Leads vs. Generating Organic Leads
Before we continue, let’s just cover one distasteful question that manages to rear its head time and time again — is buying leads worth it?
The short answer is no — never.
If you do, not only will you be in direct violation of the GDPR — the General Data Protection Regulation, adopted in May, 2018 (and don’t let the fact that it’s EU legislation fool you — if any of your recipients live in the EU, they are protected by it) — you’ll just be buying yourself a quick «band-aid» solution. It might give you some additional numbers to show at your next company meeting but is unlikely to do anything for your business in the long run.
Ideally, you’ll want to look at metrics other than your usual cost-per-lead and focus on quality over quantity, and the lead numbers you’ll be getting when you’re buying leads will most definitely be inflated. Those will be the kind of «leads» that never quite make the leap to customers.
Inbound Lead Generation Marketing Using Social Media
Social media has been the beginning of every sales funnel almost from the get-go, but nowadays, there’s no other place like it. The amount of information people willingly share on it is insane — which makes for great targeting. That’s only one of the reasons getting on social media is crucial for generating leads:
- Social media offers advanced audience targeting.
- People on social media are always ready to have conversations.
What are the ways in which you can generate leads on social media?
The Importance of Social Selling
Social selling is a must for every business — digital or brick-and-mortar. It provides amazing ways for audience segmentation (income and education level, user behavior, job title, etc), it lets you build a straightforward relationship with your consumer base, and more importantly — it’s the type of relationship that lasts.
You see, selling on social does not only help you acquire new leads, it’s a sure way to stay in touch with your customer post-purchase.
Do Your Social Listening First
An important factor in figuring out your social media approach and plucking out leads from the sea of social voices is social listening — but it’s often overlooked.
What social listening allows you to do is to tune in to who’s talking about your products or services on social media instead of relying on sending out posts with the hopes that they’ll catch the eye of your ideal customer.
There are a number of free and paid social monitoring tools that allow you to track your main keyword and its related keywords on various networks. Once there’s a fly in your net (a certain someone who posts about a problem that your product or service is able to solve), you can decide whether they are a viable lead — and reach out to them if they are.
However, a word of caution: don’t take it too far — be polite and moderate. Keep in mind that whoever’s posting doesn’t think about the fact that brands may be tracking keywords, so to them, you’ll be appearing out of the blue.
Are you on multiple social media platforms? Sign up to Amplifr to manage your accounts with a single dashboard and receive the best analytical insights and posting time suggestions.
Devising a Lead Generation Strategy
Chart Your Customer’s Journey
Businesses who reflect on their decisions from a customer’s perspective generally find it easier to lay out the groundwork for a successful marketing strategy.
It’s no rocket science — in today’s consumer society we’re all customers first and then a lucky few get to be business owners and entrepreneurs second.
So don’t be afraid to walk in your customer’s shoes — after all, you’ve been there — you know what affects your buying decisions and you know where to look when you want to find out if a product or a service is worth it.
Your customer does too.
Maybe you and them don’t come from the same demographic, you might not share the same interests or knowledge, but that’s where identifying your ideal buying persona comes in. That being said, you still respond to CTAs, check reviews, respond positively to social proof, and you want to feel secure when paying or buying online.
So take it from there. Try to understand the stages your particular lead guy or gal goes through from realizing they have a need (or a desire) for a product or service, to picking out your particular brand among the sea of competition.
Match Your Content to That Journey
Only when you have the previous step figured out can you begin devising your content strategy — content used loosely here, as any type of material devised specifically to progress leads from one stage of your funnel to another.
But knowing where your audience is at is absolutely vital — if you haven’t done your research, you’re wasting valuable resources.
Gated content is one of the tried and tested tactics for getting your hands on your prospects' contact information — but don’t let the numbers sway you. The real hard work actually comes after, i.e. how do you make your leads invest themselves even further than that initial sign up?
One way to make sure that they go further down the sales funnel is to provide actually, really valuable resources.
Think whether you yourself would feel that divulging your personal info is a fair deal for the content you’re offering behind the «virtual gate». And think about the type of content you’re offering while you’re at it.
An infographic or a short video belongs in a social media post, while a whole ebook, or a reasonably sized beginner online course is something well fitted for gating, as examples around the internet attest.
But the type of content you gate also largely depends on the type of industry you’re in. Consider the following examples:
- B2B marketers would benefit from gating white paper, case studies or webinars.
- Beauty and fashion brands can use a lead gen form to offer free samples.
Lead Generation Motivated Contests
Okay, so the fact that contests can be a great thing for marketing is as straightforward as it gets. You dangle a prize in front of an audience — a free ebook or a nice giveaway, they stretch their arms to get it, and you get a ton of leads in the meantime — potentially even a new customer (if the prize winner decides the products in your giveaway basket weren’t half bad).
However, there are certain criteria for a quality contest: it shouldn’t be something you do as an afterthought, just because your competition is doing it, instead, you should really think about what you want to achieve.
Whatever that is, you’ll find you need to follow two important criteria:
- The prize has to be valuable so that it provides enough interest for people to enter the contest.
- But, it has to provide that value to your target audience only, and no one else.
If what you’re offering is valuable to just about anyone, like easy Facebook contests where potential prospects enter by following, liking, retweeting, tagging, sharing, etc — the «leads» you get won’t be qualified at all.
Also, be wary when you’re designing contests where leads enter by engagement, especially on Facebook. There’s been a recent crackdown on clickbait and engagement bait (well, as recent as 2017 — although you wouldn’t know it by brands posting on Facebook), and nowadays, engagement bait can actually lead to organic reach penalties if you do it often.
What you can do instead of having them engage on social is make the contestants click through to a landing page — the extra effort that takes will trim your applicants, but the entry form they’ll be filling will turn them into real, qualified leads.
Coupons and Discounts
Discounts and coupons are a great way to generate leads on social media — they are amazing incentives for both first time buyers and long standing customers. They encourage the former to buy by building brand awareness and ensure that the latter come back because they build loyalty. Digital coupons are so popular that they 31 billion of them are projected to be redeemed by 2019 (Statista).
90% of consumers have used coupons in some form or another and leaving them out of you social media lead gen strategy would be a huge mistake.
There’s something to be said about local lead generation, or geotargeting — especially if you are trying to advertise a brick-and-mortar business. Let’s explore it in the context of coupons — wouldn’t popping a coupon that consumers can redeem in the store they’re about to visit be a marvelous tactic for lead generation?
No One Says You Shouldn’t Use Multiple Channels
As straightforward as it would be to just bet your money on the winning horse and focus your resources in one place, diversifying your strategy definitely has its merits.
No two people are the same. Even if they share the same demographic and buyer profile (and everything in between), they still might obtain their information in a completely different way.
Investing in multichannel marketing is a form of A/B testing in itself — you can track progress over time and re-adjust your strategy based on what converts best — for your business in particular.
Setting Up Paid Ads
The question of organic vs. paid has been troubling marketers for ages, and the fact that you’re prompted to choose the latter with every social media post doesn’t help either. We don’t hold the definitive answer, but there are some serious factors to consider before you work out what’s the best direction your business should take.
- Organic works well enough on it’s own, but you’re missing out.
Increased reach and audience targeting are only a couple of the things you’ll be missing out on if you decide to stick with organic, and they’re both very important when it comes to lead generation. The benefits of increased reach are pretty self explanatory, but audience targeting — well, it’s vital that you don’t waste your content by just throwing it to the wind.
Your whole lead generation strategy depends on catching the eye of your ideal target audience. Whether you reach it with targeting by location, a job title, a certain demographic or even user behavior.
- It depends on the platform.
Take into account that organic reach has dropped significantly over the last few years — nowadays, it’s more platform-specific. For example, organic reach still holds its own on LinkedIn and Twitter, but Facebook is practically a no-go — unless you kill it with the originality of your content.
- Can you afford the spend?
Paid lead generation is not cheap, considering you’ll spend even more to get it right. For businesses with big advertising budgets it’s a no brainer, but for smaller enterprises it might be smarter to invest time and money in an organic strategy. It’s safer, and no one call tell you that it won’t work.
Social Media Lead Generation Strategies
Now without further ado, let’s get even more hands-on with social media lead generation for each individual platform. It’s time for some actionable tips and strategies for picking up leads on social media, and we’ll start with the king.
Facebook Lead Generation
Facebook Lead Gen Ads
The question of how to maximize ad spend has existed since what now seems like the dawn of time (digital time anyway). There’s no definitive answer, but there are quite a few guidelines.
- Send all your lead gen ad traffic to a single landing page designed for conversion.
- Design your offer so it’s consistent from ad to landing page.
- Don’t promise people the stars and set them up for disappointment.
- Use the same headline, the same language, the same colors and visuals.
- Optimize your ads for mobile.
- Do A/B testing (Split Testing).
A/B testing is basically a method in which you create multiple variations of a single ad, and then eliminate all but the strongest one. Facebook’s ad structure differentiates between individual ads, ad sets, and ad campaigns — the latter being a pool of multiple ad sets. Your goal with A/B testing is to create variations in each individual ad set, as they all, by definition, advertise to a different audience.
If you don’t run multiple ad sets you’ll have no way of knowing whether there’s a way in which your ad can perform even better for that particular audience. If you haven’t done A/B testing before, don’t worry — Facebook has a feature that can walk you through split testing automatically.
- Track your conversions accurately.
Make sure you place the Facebook Tracking Pixel on a thank you page and not on your landing page. That way, you’ll know exactly how many people actually converted, as opposed to how many people only landed on your website (as that’s not a conversion yet).
Optimizing Your Business Page
The key here is to treat your page like a website and allow visitors to find as much information about your business as possible — from contact information to physical location (if you’re a brick-and-mortar business) — you should even think about ecommerce integration if you’re running a store.
Instagram Lead Generation
A CTA Leading to Your Website (And Active Buttons)
Your bio is the prime place where you can host your Website URL along with a catching CTA. This might seem basic, but it shouldn’t be left out. Another important thing you need to think about is adding Action Buttons to your Instagram profile.
Instagram Lead Gen Ads
Don’t ever forget that with Instagram it’s all about branding — visual branding. Make sure that your voice resonates with your audience and, for lack of a better word, keep it real. And double check whether your ads follow Instagram’s design requirements.
Twitter Lead Generation
Despite its (relatively low) position in the social media hierarchy (when it comes to user base), Twitter has remained firmly embedded in the lives of particular audiences.
Social media marketers themselves often rally there, as an example of one of the many vibrant communities networking, sharing resources and thoughts, and providing value to each other. In fact, according to Twitter’s own stats, users on the platform are in a «discovery mindset» — as 66.4% of their survey respondents stated they have discovered a new SMB (small to medium business) on Twitter. 69% of the people that took part in the survey stated they bought something because of a tweet, while 94% plan on purchasing from a business they follow on Twitter.
Build a Following That’s Relevant to Your Business
Those stats apply to businesses who have managed to tailor their Twitter presence to the exact type of buyer persona they’re after.
Learn how to curate — and stay consistent in the type of content you’re sharing, engaging and retweeting. Your ideal audience will follow you if your account provides value to them or offers a fresh and relevant take on topics of their interest.
Linkedin Lead Generation
The Leader in B2B Lead Generation
LinkedIn has become a force to be reckoned with when it comes to acquiring B2B leads. And that’s no surprise, given that it’s one of the biggest digital hotspots for professionals from all kinds of industries.
So how do you tap into the huge sea of B2B possibilities on this platform?
Let Your Company Page Do The Heavy Lifting
The first thing you can do to stand out from the crowd is to really put an effort into your LinkedIn company page. Instead of doing the same old short company bio, why don’t you treat it as a landing page designed to convert? Structure it!
- Use visuals consistent with your company branding to create interest.
- Use the company description to pitch to prospects.
And make sure you focus on the first couple of lines or anything displayed above the «see more» button
- Post regular updates.
Updates should be conversion focused as well, and there should always be a link that a visitor can click on them.
Join and Participate in LinkedIn Groups
Approach LinkedIn groups as targeted clusters of prospects. There are literally millions of them on the platform, so there’s something for every niche. You can do a simple keyword search to find a relevant group (look for groups that are active). Join them, and start engaging, but be careful not to be aggressively salesy — you should be going for helpful and informative.
If you feel that this way of «warming up» prospects suits your business you can even start your own group — as being a moderator can lead you to a new level of authority in your industry.
Targeting Organic Updates
We all understand the importance of marketing to an ideal target audience (especially for lead generation), and LinkedIn is one of the few networks (if not the only one) that lets you target organic page updates. That’s right, you can define your audience by Geography, Language, Job, University, Seniority level, company size, and industry, which is actually quite a lot, considering it’s for organic.
There’s only one criteria for qualifying for targeted updates: your page has to have over 300 followers.
Pinterest Lead Generation
Pinterest is one of the most underestimated social networks — its format is so different than the stereotypical social platform that brands often overlook it for Instagram for example. However, Pinterest can be a first-rate source of qualified leads, and lead generation on the platform is fairly simple.
There are actually just two ways for customer acquisition: pins and boards. By optimizing them correctly you can either acquire direct leads (if you lead them directly to your dedicated landing page) or indirect leads (if you use them as a gate to other types of content down your conversion funnel.
Either way, Pinterest can be amazing.
So how can you use its full potential?
Think Hard Whether It Makes Sense for Your Niche
Food, fashion, wellness, DIY, home organization — these are only a few of the prime niches you should definitely be marketing on Pinterest. And although not all businesses fall in these categories if they learn how to take advantage of the DIY, how-to tutorial niche they can probably make it work for them too.
Optimize Your Pins for Lead Generation
The first thing you need to do is make your pins noticeable.
Pay attention to format: go for the 2:3 image ratio as taller and bigger is better — it captivates attention more easily. Keep in mind that pins without faces get repinned a lot more than pins with faces — as people on Pinterest are after things.
Perfect Your Tone and Branding
Self-promotional content does not do well here, not on its own at least.
Instead, what you’re looking for is helpful, useful, and inspirational.
Don’t just showcase your products, give your followers creative ideas on how to use them, or give them context in a board by showing them as part of a certain lifestyle.
Lead Generation Tips & Best Practices
The Importance of a CTA
- Always link your social media CTA to a dedicated landing page (on your website), specifically designed to draw visitors in and to measure how many visitors you’ve had from that particular social network (so, with an URL that you’ve shared only on one platform).
- Avoid multiple CTAs — if you do have them, format them differently.
- Go for specific rather than general for your CTA.
Reduce Purchasing Anxieties
Always make sure you strategically include:
- Customer testimonials
- Awards or certificates
- Proof that you value privacy
- Some kind of money-back guarantee
Focus On Quality
We’ve already explained why this is important and how easy it is to fall into the trap of cost-per-lead metrics and quantifiable results, but remember: adding as many names to your database as possible is not your end goal, however comforting it may feel.
Social Sharing Buttons
Whatever lead generation strategy you decide to go for, social sharing will always remain your best friend. On social media, leads can «warm up» other leads through word of mouth marketing (especially if you include a referral campaign to sweeten the deal), and that will extend your reach for free.
So, whether you’re generating leads through email marketing, a website survey or a lead generation ad, always include a social sharing button next to your content — on a thank you email or next to valuable information. After all, it doesn’t cost you anything.
Cross-promote Your Channels
Treat your multiple social media profiles as lead generation forms to each other. If you think that’s too much work — automate! There are a number of social media scheduling tools that will allow you to create a content calendar for multiple networks, all in one place.
We hope this article managed to answer all the most pressing questions you had about social media lead generation.
What’s your experience with generating leads on social media? Have you had success? What tactics work best for you? Share your experiences with us!