You’ve got an amazing brand. A product that will solve your customers’ pain points. Industry expertise that puts you ahead of the competition. You’ve got all the ingredients that go into a recipe for success…
But if you don’t have leads, all that effort will fall flatter than an overbaked soufflé.
No matter how great your product, your team, or your marketing, none of it will work without a lead generation campaign. Lead generation is a method for attracting and nurturing your audience into and through your sales funnel, so you can turn them into conversions and repeat/referring customers.
If you want to get all the inside scoop on how to launch a successful lead generation plan, stick around because we’ve got the 17 steps you need to take to get leads and keep them. But first…
What Is a Lead Generation Campaign?
A lead generation campaign really is your recipe for marketing success. The aim of a lead gen campaign is to get leads into your funnel, score them and qualify them, and then nurture them through the buyer’s journey.
But how do you know you have all the ingredients you need to achieve your goals? Before you begin, ask yourself these questions:
Once you understand what a lead means to you, how you’ll implement your process, how much you can budget per lead, the kind of content you’ll create, and how you’ll manage sales enablement, you’re ready to begin.
This knowledge will equip you to plot out your lead gen campaign, following a process that takes you from the initial audience research through the execution of the campaign, to its analysis.
There are few things to keep in mind when planning your lead gen campaign. First, lead generation is not the same as demand generation. Most of the time, you’ll want to use both for maximum impact. Also, your lead gen campaign has to work in conjunction with your other marketing channels, especially content and SEO, if you want the best results.
17 Tips to Create and Execute a Lead Generation Campaign Strategy
Now that you know what a lead gen campaign is and how it should be structured, let’s dive into the details of how to create and manage your campaign. Here are the 17 top tips from our experts on how to do it:
#1: Establish campaign objectives
Your campaign objectives are the goals you want to meet by the time your campaign has ended. It’s easy to say you want “more leads” and “more revenue,” but you first have to understand exactly what that means to you. Are you looking for a certain level of lead qualification (IQL, MQL, or SQL)? Are sales your only conversions, or can that be a downloaded piece of gated content or a form fill?
Once you know the answers to those questions, you can start to outline your campaign objectives against your lead gen funnel.
As you see above, your audience may be at various stages within the funnel, and your objectives will change depending on where they are and where you want them to end up. For instance, if your goal is to guide leads who are already aware of your brand toward the consideration stage, you’re going to want to see increases in traffic, views, and engagement. But if you want to raise brand awareness, that may be the hardest objective to measure. In that case, you’ll look mainly at reach and impressions.
Once you’ve got a good handle on your goals, it’s time to start analyzing your audience.
#2: Research your audience
You may already have a good idea of who your buyer persona is or which target audience you’re aiming for. But if you’re a startup growing your brand, expanding into a new market, or just need new leads in your funnel, you’ll want to really dive into the research here.
There are many ways to research your audience. You could survey existing customers, invite loyal customers to participate in a focus group, or check out your competitors’ followers on social media.
Remember, you want your audience research and your buyer persona to be as detailed as possible. This should go well beyond demographics and should include psychographic and behavioral attitudes.
#3: Choose campaign targets
Once you know who your buyer persona is, you can break that down even further into your campaign target. This is an incredibly specific and narrow segment of your audience that you plan to aim for directly.
Your campaign target will be a combination of several factors — your ideal buyer, their position in the funnel, and where you want them to be in the buyer’s journey. Then, you’ll need to consider how to reach that specific audience in order to achieve your campaign objectives.
#4: Choose a campaign type
There are a wide variety of lead gen campaign types, and the one you choose will usually depend on the other factors you’ve considered up to this point — target audience, funnel, objectives, etc.
Let’s take a closer look at varying types of lead gen campaigns and how they can work for your brand.
The advice we generally give to brands is this: Give your best stuff away for free.
That usually gets us a few confused looks (and maybe some language not quite suitable for this blog).
But it works.
Providing a free resource that has real, measurable value is one of the most effective ways to attract leads who will eventually convert into customers.
A few examples of free resources include:
- Ultimate guides
- Checklists and how-tos
- Downloadable tools and templates
- Ebooks and whitepapers
- Research reports
The resources you create will depend on the type of leads you want. If you’re looking to get new leads in the funnel, you’ll focus on top of the funnel (TOFU) content. That’s usually ungated, general content designed for a broad audience. As you get further into the funnel, you’ll want to create MOFU and BOFU content, usually gated, in which you receive contact information in exchange for a download.
Free trials are the gold standard for lead generation, especially B2B lead gen because they’re highly effective. When you offer leads a freemium or forever free model, they get to have an authentic experience with your product.
The key is to make sure the trial is long enough to offer real value but limited enough to keep them wanting more. If you’re able to do a no-credit-card-required signup, you’ll get even more leads.
Contests are a great way to get leads to hand over their contact information. The chance of becoming a winner is irresistible, especially if you’ve done the work of targeting the right audience that’s interested and motivated.
You can get even more out of a contest when you incentivize your audience. Offer them more entries for completing simple tasks like sharing on social media, filling out a survey, or referring new entrants.
Quizzes are addictive little content nuggets that everyone seems to enjoy (or at least feels compelled to take). Quizzes also offer a lot of room for creativity and fun within your brand. You can be as silly or as serious as you want as long as the topic appeals to your audience.
Make sure that you require a form fill for quiz-takers to receive their results. And make sure it’s a well-written quiz that offers something valuable (so, not just “What Type of Potato Are You?).
If you’re going after a B2B audience, webinars are basically a must. The B2B crowd seeks out knowledge and looks for learning opportunities. They desire thought leadership, research, and data. A webinar is a great way to get them interested and provide them with a service they find valuable.
Make sure you follow up your webinars with a nurturing campaign. Send them a recorded version of the webinar, or urge them to sign up for another one or for a free course that offers deeper insights.
Timed discount or coupon
Create urgency with personalized, timed offers for existing leads. Use retargeting to go after leads who’ve already visited your website, viewed a particular product, or clicked on an ad.
Countdown timers are a great way to motivate leads to take action, and they prove to be more effective than a simple reminder email.
#5: Plan your content
Content and lead generation go hand-in-hand. You can get all the leads in the world into your funnel, but if you haven’t created the right content, you’ll see them quickly exit.
Consider your audience, your goals, your funnel, and the type of campaign you want to run, then work on plotting out the content you’ll need to support it.
Start thinking now about where you’ll distribute this content. You’ll likely want it on your blog and your social media platforms. But think outside the box as well. You may want to supplement with a paid campaign or look at engaging in forums like Quora and Reddit. You may also want to pursue guest post opportunities, appearances on podcasts, etc.
#6: Create the right offer for each stage of the buying cycle
As we’ve mentioned, what you offer your audience depends quite a bit on where they are in the funnel and what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re at.
You wouldn’t, for example, want to offer a top of the funnel (TOFU) lead an in-depth how-to or product spec sheet. You also wouldn’t want to offer a BOFU lead who’s ready to buy a generic, awareness-focused checklist.
Make sure your offers are strong and that they’re designed for each audience segment at the particular funnel stage you’re trying to target with your campaign.
#7: Design and optimize the campaign
There are three phases to this process if you want to get the best results out of your lead gen campaign:
- First, create the landing page you’ll direct the audience to, where leads will be captured.
- Next, set up email automation to nurture leads once they’ve signed up.
- Finally, monitor your campaign through A/B testing and make adjustments as needed.
Each of these three elements is critical to the performance of your campaign. The landing page will hook the leads with a strong offer and clear CTA. The email nurture campaign will reel them in with other valuable and relevant content. And the A/B testing will keep squirmy leads from wriggling away by narrowing down the strongest content and creative.
#8: Promote your offer
There are many ways to promote your lead gen offer, but most of them fall into two groups: paid or organic. Paid advertising is just as it sounds — you pay for ad placement, whether it’s in search, display ads, or on social media. Organic is unpaid promotion. This usually happens on owned or earned media — your blog, your social media profiles, your website, news releases, etc.
There’s no right answer to which is best for your brand. Often, you’ll want to use a combination of paid and organic channels to get maximum results. Wherever you distribute your content, be sure that it’s aligned with the audience and designed to reach your campaign objectives.
#9: Choose media outlets
As mentioned above, you’ll want to explore all your options for your media outlets, whether that’s paid, earned, or owned. It’s very likely you’ll utilize a combination, but it may also depend on your buyer persona and your industry.
For example, in the past, B2B buyers were much easier to find through in-person and live events, such as conferences and industry networking. Post-2020, that’s changed slightly. B2B buyers have shifted more to online events, video conferencing, and calls as opposed to face-to-face interactions.
However, they still value the engagement and personal connection, so that should guide the decisions you make about where to push out your offer.
A live webinar hosted on your website will appeal to a different audience than a downloadable spec sheet. Knowing the difference and targeting the right audience in the right location is critical to lead gen success.
#10: Use the right lead generation tools
When you’re planning out a lead gen campaign, the good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. There are numerous tools out there designed to help you find and capture the right leads for your brand.
To start, you’ll need a solid CRM, like HubSpot. Then you’ll want a form scraping tool, which gathers all the information from your lead gen forms and compiles it for you. You may also want additional tools, like heat maps that show you what actions visitors take on your page or CTA templates that help you design CTAs that convert.
#11: Ensure your messaging is consistent and delivers on the promise
When you’re putting together an offer and the creative around it (copy, visuals, CTA, etc.), you want to make sure that you’re not overpromising. In this era of slick advertising and savvy consumers, your leads will know when they smell a rat.
Make sure your messaging — from ads to social posts to landing pages and emails — is consistent and accurate. Remember that your end goal isn’t just snagging an email address or a phone number — it’s nurturing a lead that will become a customer — one that will hopefully keep coming back for more and bringing others with them.
#12: Perform lead scoring
Lead scoring is a methodology in which you assign points for certain actions and use those points to qualify your leads on a spectrum from cold to warm.
Your leads should look something like this:
- IQLs: Information Qualified Leads are the coolest and have likely only taken one action on your lead scoring model.
- MQLs: Marketing Qualified Leads are warmer and have taken a couple actions. They are familiar with your brand and are likely in or getting near the consideration stage.
- SQLs: Sales Qualified Leads are the warmest. They’re in or near the decision stage and are ready to choose a brand and make a purchase.
#13: Collaborate with sales team to qualify leads
How do you know what actions take an MQL to SQL? You can’t know if you aren’t working closely with your sales team.
At the same time, if your sales team doesn’t know what you’ve done to nurture the lead to the point they’re handed off to sales, they don’t have the information they need to close the deal.
What you need is a solid sales enablement strategy to ensure that marketing and sales are working together for a seamless transition.
#14: Create a social media strategy for lead generation
You’ve got to be strategic if you want to leverage your existing social media profiles for lead generation. The first and most important consideration is which platform to focus on. You want to be where your audience is already hanging out. So, for instance, your B2B crowd is much more likely to be on LinkedIn instead of Instagram.
Speaking of LinkedIn, it’s an excellent tool to use for lead generation. You can use a combination of organic content distribution, paid posts, and LinkedIn’s lead gen forms to maximize your leads and bolster your brand’s presence.
#15: A/B test all components of your lead gen campaign
A/B testing is one of the surest ways to guide your lead gen campaign to success. In fact, all growth marketing hinges on testing and experimentation, and for good reason — it delivers results.
A/B testing works so well because of its simplicity. You test just one component at a time — headline, CTA, offer, etc. — and then make adjustments as you go.
Be sure you’re testing every piece of your campaign, from your ads to your landing page to your social media posts — but only ever one element at a time.
#16: Create a communications strategy to follow up with leads
Getting leads into your funnel isn’t worth much if you aren’t following up and communicating with them regularly. Often, the next step in a lead gen campaign is an email campaign. A nurture campaign can be automated to ensure emails are sent whenever the appropriate trigger (a certain action or a period of time) is met.
Just remember how crucial this is. Because if a lead takes an action but doesn’t hear from you again, they’ll be in and out of your funnel at record speed.
#17: Track everything
One of the last but most crucial steps of this process is to monitor and analyze your lead generation campaign metrics. The metrics and KPIs you track will be determined by your original campaign objectives, but some of the most common would include traffic, downloads, and conversions.
However, you likely want to pay attention to micro-conversions as well. Micro-conversions are those that don’t necessarily generate revenue but do move the lead further down the funnel and increase the chances of a full conversion.
Micro-conversions can cover many actions, like downloading a discount code, watching a video, or sharing a social media post.
5 Lead Generation Campaign Examples
Think you’ve got what it takes to launch a successful lead gen campaign? We’re sure you do, but if you still need some inspiration, take a look at these examples:
Freebies can be basically any asset that has some value to your audience. It might be a downloadable guide, a checklist, or an ebook.
Get creative when planning out your freebies, and remember that you don’t need to stick to just the basics.
As we mentioned above, quizzes are fun and creative ways to actively engage leads and persuade them to supply you with their contact information.
Quizzes for lead generation should be valuable to the prospect and give them a direct path toward conversion. While some quizzes can be silly, you’ll want to make sure they’re also providing quiz-takers with a service they need, like the example above.
Overall, interactive content like quizzes provides many benefits that appeal to leads and keep them moving through the funnel.
We’ve already established that B2B audiences love and respond to webinars because they crave knowledge and data, and webinars deliver.
You have a few options when determining how to execute a webinar for lead gen:
- Timely: A live webinar creates a sense of exclusivity and builds FOMO. While it might appeal to prospective leads who prefer events in real time and want to engage, it may also turn others off.
- Evergreen: Pre-recorded webinars are efficient because you can record them at any time and have them ready to send off when a lead is interested. They do not, however, create as much urgency or excitement.
- Combo: Why not get the best of both worlds? Create a live webinar with a limited attendance number to build that exclusive, urgent feeling. But then provide a recording of the webinar as a follow-up for attendees and offer it to leads who weren’t able to make the live event.
Also perfect for the B2B audience, an email course appeals to their love of learning but gives them the flexibility to participate at their own pace. The great thing about email courses is that they can be automated, so participants receive emails based on a set timeline or when they complete an action, like finishing a unit or taking a quiz.
Everyone loves a giveaway. But to get them right, they need to be planned and executed with lead gen in mind. Giving away a free vacation, for example, will probably get you the most leads, but hey, who doesn’t want a free vacation? But will they be the right leads? Maybe not.
However, if you give away your own product or service, you’ll get leads that are interested and warm.
The only caveat is that you probably won’t get as many leads. Still, they’ll be leads that will be much more likely to convert and purchase other products and services from you.
You may want to test different giveaways to find out what works the best or run different types of giveaways depending on your audience and objectives. If you just want brand awareness and lots of leads in your funnel, sure, give away that YETI tumbler. But if you want extremely qualified, warm leads, give away a six-month subscription to your service with a few exclusive upgrades.
Hire a Lead Generation Company to Create and Execute Result-Driven Lead Campaigns
Putting together a lead gen campaign comes with a lot of planning and consideration, and if you don’t have a dedicated lead generation team, it can be pretty overwhelming. It pays off in the end to go with a trusted agency partner and work with them to design a campaign that brings in leads and nurtures them through your funnel.
At FPS, we’ve got a lead generation team working in conjunction with experts in SEO, content, email, paid, and inbound marketing, so we’ve got all your bases covered.