By David Scott
When it comes to lead generation, many marketers aren’t sure which tactics they should use to provide their company with qualified leads.
In fact, many marketers aren’t even sure which marketing tactics should be used as lead generation tactics.
A successful lead generation tactic has to meet several criteria:
- It should generate large numbers of qualified leads for your company;
- You can use the tactic to reach a specific audience of your target customers;
- You can measure the number of leads you get each time you use the tactic; and
- You can measure the costs and ROI you get from using that tactic.
There are seven marketing tactics that meet these criteria. I call them the “Magnificent Seven,” because they are the best tactics for providing companies with large numbers of actionable leads.
The Online Lead Generation Tactics
First, there are the “online lead generation advertising” tactics. These tactics involve reaching out to your customers by placing pay-per-click ads on various online venues.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) involves setting up ad campaigns on Google and Bing. When your target customer searches for certain search terms (i.e. “durable golf shoes”), your SEM ad will appear at the top of their search results. It only takes a few minutes to set up an SEM ad campaign, and the results are easier to measure than SEO, thanks to the analytics tools.
With Social Media Advertising, you use banner ads on Facebook and LinkedIn to target social media users who may have an interest in your products (i.e. a “honeymoon cruises” ad will appear on the Facebook pages of people with “engaged” as their marital status).
Even Twitter now offers advertising through “Promoted Tweets,” where you can send out special offers to the Twitter feeds of people who might be interested in your products.
Display Ads (also called banner ads) continue to be an effective lead generation tactic when used on websites. But they are also enjoying a resurgence on mobile devices, as marketers are using video and animation elements in mobile ads to create interactive experiences on the customer’s iPhone or iPad. Some mobile ads now receive click-through rates as high as 15 percent.
Email Marketing is another effective online lead generation tactic. Many marketers are reluctant to try it, afraid their marketing emails will be mistaken for spam. But studies show email marketing works, if done well.
I recommend using targeted permission-based mailing lists, where you send marketing emails to people who have signed up to receive special offers. Also, when creating your marketing emails, you should follow the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act guidelines for legitimacy. Using these guidelines can help to ensure your emails won’t be blocked as spam.
The “Tried-and-True” Tactics
Some marketers argue the “tried and true” lead generation tactics are obsolete. But these three tactics still bring in thousands of legitimate leads for companies using them effectively.
Direct mail is a great tactic to use if you need to explain the features and benefits of a product or service in detail, or if the customer needs time to think seriously about your offer. But it’s an expensive tactic, so it’s best to use direct mail only if you’re selling something with a high return on the cost. Either you’re selling a high-priced item, like a car, or your customer has a lifetime value. Insurance companies still use direct mail, because the customers who accept the offer will pay monthly premiums that provide a long-term return on marketing investment.
Cold calling works best today if you’re selling B2B products to other businesses. Cold calling is different from telemarketing, in that you’re using a targeted calling list of customers (i.e. business executives) who might have a need for your products or services.
Finally, trade shows are still a great way to collect leads, because they bring you face-to-face with customers who may be looking to buy your products or services.
Which of these tactics should you be using? As many as will work successfully for your type of business.
Ideally, you should test all seven lead generation tactics, and then use the tactics that work best and are the most cost effective for your business.