The hunt for sales leads never ends; new ways to find customers are always being innovated. Here are the pros and cons of the latest techniques to boost leads.
One of the top marketing trends for lead generation today involves content. The Content Marketing Institute breaks down content marketing as: “A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.”
This new approach has become popular because many believe traditional marketing is becoming less effective – today's consumers can easily shut it out using tools such as online advertisement blockers. Content marketing is seen as a game-changer as it involves creating content people want to consume. As digital marketing executive Josh Steimle said: “You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out.”
You can create all kinds of content from videos to infographics and e-books. There are numerous publishing options for them as well from company websites to social networking platforms such as Facebook and media sharing sites such as YouTube and SlideShare.
Singapore-based location intelligence start-up Near uses content marketing by blogging on topics that are not only valuable and relevant for its clients – which include leading brands such as Samsung – but also promote the company as a thought leader. “We put forward our insights showcasing our capabilities to help brands with their marketing, strategy and operational decisions,” said Smriti Kataria, Near’s director for marketing and research. “This helps us widen our visibility amongst our relevant targets and reach across geographies.”
The benefit of content marketing? It can turn leads into sales. Steimle has witnessed this in his own business, saying by the time interested clients get in touch, "they’re already convinced they want to work with us (and) we don't have to engage in any high-pressure sales tactics".
On the downside, it takes time and resources and can be challenging to create the right kind of content. Enterprises hire digital marketers and writers but even those with big budgets sometimes miss the mark. Law communications consultant Lee Feldman believes many top law firms create vast amounts of content but “most of it isn’t very effective and is largely ignored.”
The next trend driving sales is social media marketing, where companies use social networking platforms such as Twitter to raise awareness and trigger purchases.
It’s easy to see why brands invest in social media when you consider the benefits: upselling, cross-selling, improved targeting, higher impressions at lower cost and vastly expanded reach to new customers and territories, as described by PwC. Add to that the fact that social platforms enable you to gain insights into your customers, offering real-time feedback.
As each platform is unique, you need to decide which suits your business and customers – are you targeting executives on LinkedIn or celebrities on Twitter?
You can also leverage special features various platforms have for lead generation, such as Facebook Lead Ads, which include a call-to-action button, allowing interested customers to pre-fill a form with personal information they’ve provided to the network.
The downside of social media marketing? Success takes time. Author Steve McKee pointed out that resources need to be devoted to areas such as trend watching, content development, calendar creation, writing, editing, posting, interacting, responding to readers, photography, graphic design and video production. “It can get hairy fast,” he says.
An old favourite for lead generation, networking has gone multi-platform in today’s digital age.
Small businesses have numerous options to tap leads. LinkedIn is a well-known choice. If you’re targeting start-ups, you can search via CrunchBase, while Bloomberg also lets you find companies and executives.
The upside to networking? There’s a reason business schools promote alumni networks. As a writer for The Economist put it: “Whether searching for jobs, seeking funding for a start-up or on the hunt for someone to help with a project, friendly help is always at hand.”
Location intelligence platform Near sees success while networking at live events. "Meeting the right C-level executives, directors, marketing and data partnership heads at the right events and educating them on our product capabilities has helped us with brand awareness as well as lead generation," said Kataria. "Our product is very unique and we usually do get solid leads if we are able to demo it to the right audience."
On the downside, networking can be time consuming and cost a lot in travel and membership fees. Building networks alone isn’t enough as well. Networks are only useful when they can be leveraged, especially at short notice. Contact management solutions are extremely helpful in such situations, as they allow a company to store all contacts (including personal details of the contact person) in one place, thereby building a steady database as a result of networking.
Finally, consider this advice from Jionghan Ng, founder of marketing and analytics start-up BluePerks in Singapore. "Relying on a single method to generate leads is a grave mistake," he said. "As we are a digital marketing firm, it's more convincing for our clients if we find them online: Google AdWords, Facebook lead generation and content marketing work best."
Now that you know some of the latest ways to generate leads such as content marketing and social media, all that's left to do is decide which method best suits your business and put it into action to drive sales.