What is lead generation?

First of all, what is a lead? A lead is someone who has shown an interest in your business in some way. In doing so, they have handed over some of their personal details to allow you to contact them with more information. Most commonly, a lead is someone who has subscribed to your email list, indicating that they would like to hear more from you and to learn more about your products and services.

In order to understand more about what lead generation is, it helps to take a look at the customer life cycle…

The customer life cycle

A customer’s relationship with a business is generally broken down into several stages which put together, form the customer life cycle. These stages can be described in a variety of ways but essentially, they are;

Potential Customer – someone who hasn’t experienced your business yet but is your target market

Interested Customer – someone who has just become aware of your business and wants to know more (these are your leads!)

New Customer – someone who has just bought from you

Repeat Customer – someone who has made multiple purchases from you

Loyal Customer – someone who loves your business and recommends you to their friends and family

Lead generation is the process by which you can introduce your business to potential customers and turn them into interested ones – or ‘leads’.

Why is lead generation important?

Imagine a group of potential customers in one room and a group of interested customers in another. If you were to go into each room and give a sales pitch for your business, it is likely that you will have much more success with your group of interested customers than with your potential ones. That’s because they’re further along in their relationship with your business.

This concept is a key one when creating your marketing strategy. You want to create a pool of as many interested customers as possible rather than putting off potential customers by hitting them with the heavy sales pitch too soon!

Methods of lead generation

There are a number of ways that you can introduce your business to potential customers and turn them into leads. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common ones…

Telemarketing – calling potential customers to let them know about your business and find out if they want to know more

Direct Mail – sending mail directly to potential customers that lets them know about your business and tells them how to find out more

Referral System – ‘refer a friend’ type systems are common and rely on existing loyal customers generating leads for us!

Special Events – holding special ‘VIP’ events which require people to sign up to your email list or provide you with their details in some other way

Promotions & Giveaways – this can take a number of forms and is a common type of lead generation. You might provide an online voucher for people who subscribe or perhaps a free trial to your service. Another option is to create a free gift of some sort for people who sign up – it might be an e-book, video or cheat sheet for example.

Buying B2B data and marketing lists – All of the above lead generation methods require time and resource. If that’s something that you are short of then you can buy the data or mailing lists, ready to go. Here at Experian, we provide just that service. If it sounds like something that would help your small business then visit our B2B Prospector  site and take a look at what we have to offer!

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