Lead generation is a crucial activity for most businesses. Without a consistent stream of leads pouring in, sales stagnate and growth creeps to a halt. At the same time, its value and purpose are often misunderstood. A one-time investment in your lead generation efforts will, at best, achieve short-term results. Lead generation, done correctly, supplies a steady stream of prospects to convert deals now while filling your sales funnel months into the future. It’s a cyclical process that needs stamina to truly support your business. Lead generation is not a magic bullet solution; it’s a long-term strategy of growth and stability.
Lead Generation is a Process, Not a Quick Fix
If you manage to identify the right leads and contact them with the right message at exactly the right time, you still shouldn’t expect immediate sales. Leads need to be educated, warmed and nurtured in order to convert.
How Long Does It Take to Conduct a Lead Generation Campaign?
The amount of time it takes to generate a campaign varies according to your needs, goals, and resources. Some steps to consider include:
- Set a goal. Your short-term goal may be to get prospects to join your email list, sign up for a free trial of your software, or make an appointment for a free consultation.Your long-term goals may relate to number of new clients, new revenue, or ROI on your lead generation tactics.
- Narrow in on your market. Identify a target audience that’s a good match for your offer, while taking the time to understand their outreach preferences and pain points. Utilize ideal customer profiles and buyer personas to create an effective strategy that suits your audience.
- Create relevant content. You may already have blog posts, videos, white papers, or social media pages designed to educate your audience. For your lead generation strategy, you may need ad copy, imagery, email templates, or cold call scripts.
- Choose your channels. Depending on your buyers, your lead generation outreach may hone in on just a few channels or may extend from email and cold calling to social and paid ads. Remember, the most effective lead generation strategies include a multi-touch sequence.
- Choose your technology. Once you’ve selected your ideal channels, you’ll need to consider what technology you need to automate processes (unless you want to send 2000 emails manually.) From a CRM to a sales enablement and engagement platform, identify your needs and do your research to create a customized tech stack.
- Test your results. You’re not going to get it right the first time. From your ICP to your outreach schedule, your lead generation will require fine-tuning and optimization.
Building a lead generation strategy on your own can take weeks, if not months – and that doesn’t include the initial testing period. At Sapper, we are experts at creating multi-touch email sequences, designed to connect with your audience and convert prospects into sales meetings. Even with our expertise, we don’t create campaigns overnight. In fact, we have a four to six-week ramp-up period to warm up our client’s domain, send emails, and do initial testing. Based on the early results, we can make pivots as we scale, all while ensuring a healthy email domain. Lead generation is not so much a single action as a process that you have to carry out in stages. Put simply, it’s a process that takes time.
Why It Takes Time to See Results
It would be nice if you could send out a single email and immediately convert leads into customers. (Our clients experience this every so often.) It’s more common, however, that you convert a prospect after devoting time to gaining their trust and helping them understand your value.
Most leads don’t convert from a single interaction. It generally takes multiple touchpoints to close a sale. While the exact number varies depending on your campaign, product, and industry, it often takes as many as 7 touchpoints, which may include phone calls, email, social media chats, or other modes of contact. When you first connect with someone, they need time to get to know and trust you. In other words, you need to nurture your leads.
An email drip campaign is often one of the most effective lead nurturing techniques. This allows you to provide information gradually as you send emails daily, every few days, or on whatever schedule you choose. At Sapper, we create drip campaigns that continually nurture prospects (sometimes for months!) to transform them into warm sales meetings.
The more variables you test, the more you can fine-tune your campaigns and achieve better results. Split testing, where you compare two variables head-to-head (such as two images, headlines, or landing pages), helps you see better results in all aspects of your campaigns. We may test:
- Demographics — Who is the ideal target audience for this campaign?
- Value Proposition — What is the solution or benefit?
- Tone — From buttoned-up to casual, what voice best suits your business?
- Time — What is the best time of day and day of the week to send messages?
By tracking these and other metrics, we can determine the best approach for more engagement and higher conversions.
Lead Generation Addresses Both Short and Long-Term Goals
Lead generation focuses on both short-term wins and long-term viability. An effective lead gen model will allow you to fulfill the immediate goal of consistently filling your funnel with fresh leads. You’ll also be able to identify and convert prospects who have an immediate need for your product or service. Not all leads need the same amount of nurturing. At the same time, you’ll continue to warm and nurture the leads who may not have an immediate need but who may buy something in 6 months.
Keep Your Lead Generation Engine Running
As your lead generation system builds momentum, you’ll develop a regular cycle. New leads will constantly come in. Some older leads will convert, others will drop away. Testing as many metrics as possible helps you increase the efficiency of the process.
It’s important to realize that lead generation, to be effective, has to be an ongoing process. If you turn off your lead generation engine, it may not create immediate harm, but it leaves you vulnerable in the future when leads run dry. You need recurring leads to grow your business and to compensate for potential churn.
Lead Generation: A Powerful Tool for Long-Term Growth
If you depend on a steady supply of leads, it’s essential to understand the true role lead generation should play in your business. The following are some guidelines to keep in mind.
- Lead generation is an ongoing process, not a quick-fix solution. In this regard, it’s similar to search engine optimization. It requires constant attention and tweaking to optimize your website for search engines. Similarly, you need to be constantly nurturing your leads and feeding new ones into your pipeline.
- Reach out to prospects using multiple touchpoints. Your prospects are busy and distracted. They may not see all of your messages. People also have different preferences for communicating, such as email, social media, and phone. The more ways you connect, the better your chances of getting your message across.
- Keep testing your results. You want to improve your lead generation strategy over time, getting more qualified leads and learning the best ways to educate and nurture them. Small changes, such as email subject lines, changes in your call-to-action, or widening your audience can make a big difference.
If your team is already at capacity, outsourcing your lead generation may make better use of your resources. To learn more about Sapper’s outsourced lead generation services, click here.