In principle lead generation is a straightforward process that goes like this – find out who’s interested in your products and/or services, collect their details, and close the deal.
In practise, of course, things can get more complicated. Each of the steps above is really a starting point for a host of other steps. For example – “find out who’s interested” requires a clear definition of ‘interested’. And it also requires a coherent and workable strategy for ‘finding out’ – the world’s a big place, and prospective customers could be hiding anywhere. Locating them is not necessarily straightforward.
Whatever shape your lead generation process ends up taking (here’s a tip – it should be a streamlined shape), and however you end up answering the many questions needed to really lock down that strategy, there are certain fundamentals for success that are common to every single campaign. Get these three things right, and you’re in good stead.
Fast Follow Up
We talk about it a lot, but with good reason. There’s a huge correlation between response time and lead propensity-to-convert. A lead generation campaign is flawed from the start if there’s no process in place for responding to an expression of interest as quickly as possible. Why? If someone is interested in your products or services, they could easily be interested in your competitor’s products or services too. The longer you leave them waiting to hear back from you, the longer you’re giving them to take their business elsewhere.
Remember your GCSE physics? Your leads have a kind of half-life. Leave them sitting around and they’ll diminish in value quickly, and that value doesn’t come back.
This is about continuity in your communications, and understanding what the customer’s expression of interest actually means. It’s common sense, but mustn’t be overlooked – respond in the right way. If the prospective customer responded to an email, for instance, about your new line in shoes, then don’t follow up by offering them some shirts. If they checked the box saying ‘contact me by email’, don’t call them on the phone. Irrelevant or unwelcome follow up can rapidly turn a customer off.
Two things are needed to facilitate this – the relevant data needs to be collected, and then it needs to be paid attention to. Designing a follow up process that takes into account the individual needs of the user will pay dividends when the campaign starts rolling.
An ill-informed customer won’t be a customer for long. In exchange for their attention and engagement, customers want to know what they can expect, and when. Communications in the lead generation process need to include this information, and regularly.
There’s a reason that train companies have invested thousands of pounds putting up digital displays that tell passengers when to expect their train to turn up. Passengers who know when their train is arriving are less likely to complain if it’s late. It’s being kept in the loop that they appreciate – once they have the information, they can manage their life accordingly. Buy a coffee. Read the paper. Check some emails whilst they wait.
Customers want to know when they’re going to hear from you, what you’ll be discussing, and what the next steps will be. Uncertainty in the process will breed uncertainty in the buying decision too. Planning and communicating a consistent journey for the customer is a great foundation to lay for your lead generation efforts.