Building A Lead Generation Plan

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This excerpt from the B2B Lead Generation ebook leverages SEJ’s internal expertise in generating leads across various media channels.

Effective communication with leads is crucial for providing a positive experience and progressing towards a sale. The approach should be tailored based on the specific challenges they are encountering, their readiness to make a purchase, and the pathway through which they were acquired as a lead.

Beginning with your business’s ultimate goal and then tracing back to the lead can be highly beneficial.

It’s essential to pinpoint the precise information you require from leads and understand how to leverage it to enhance their experience.

This approach allows you to tailor your interactions based on their initial engagement with your brand and identify appropriate next steps to request.

Moreover, beginning with this strategy enables the creation of compelling content that resonates with leads from the outset. Extending this approach leads to SEO content, where understanding the specific issues and search intents of your audience is crucial groundwork before crafting your materials.

The crucial factor that sets successful content apart from unsuccessful ones is whether you align your business goals with your audience needs through diligent research. Understanding their circumstances, requirements, and definitions of success is key.

“At the start of your content strategy, it’s imperative to consider your business goals,” emphasizes Curtis del Principe, Senior Marketing Manager at HubSpot. “It’s easy to fall into the trap of creating content that garners attention but fails to contribute to return on investment (ROI).”

He further explains, “Even we are not immune to this. There’s an older blog from our early content marketing days (which shall remain unnamed) that still attracts over half a million views per month but converts almost none of them. Moreover, it doesn’t even align with our niche, making the case for brand awareness ineffective as well.

However, we find ourselves investing significant time and resources into maintaining this blog because discontinuing it would severely impact our traffic and key performance indicators (KPIs).

The lesson we’ve gleaned is the necessity of aligning with our business goals – whether that involves generating leads, driving sales, increasing signups, or simply enhancing brand awareness.

When crafting a content strategy, I start by identifying the products or offers we aim to prioritize each month and then delve into the ongoing discussions surrounding them. What inquiries are consumers posing? What comparisons are they making? What pain points are they seeking to address?

Next, I establish a connection between these inquiries and an appropriate conversion goal for their respective decision stages. This could entail downloading a whitepaper, scheduling a demo, or completing a purchase.

I often discover that delineating this connection helps clarify the form and substance of the content piece. It prompts strategic consideration of how best to address these consumer needs.”

Lead Sources

There are various sources of leads, not all of which depend solely on content marketing. Platform ads such as Google Discover and social media ads can significantly contribute to lead generation. Additionally, traditional methods like conferences, cold calling, and direct referrals remain effective and relevant.

When targeting and creating ads to generate leads, you have numerous options. You can often classify leads as marketing qualified leads (MQLs) or sales qualified leads (SQLs) based on their qualification criteria.

Leads generated through direct interactions or referrals typically have already engaged with a sales professional. These are often considered sales qualified leads, though this may not always be the case.

The more direct the lead generation process, the easier it generally is to guide individuals towards your desired outcome.

Typically, leads originating from organic or gated content are handled differently compared to those from other sources.

Leads who convert through content downloads or conversions may have less predictable journeys, underscoring the importance of aligning their intents and needs with the content you offer.

For instance, at SEJ, we offer various lead generation products. Here are details on two of them:


Signing up for a webinar signifies a commitment of time toward learning about a specific topic. Attendees typically seek an interactive experience where they can engage actively and directly with experts, often with questions they want answered promptly.

These interactions are valuable for lead generation since attendees have already engaged with you through the webinar.


Ebooks at SEJ cover a broader range of topics. Depending on their scope and subject matter, an ebook can function as an educational tool, a comprehensive reference guide, or as a resource for developing strategies.

Individuals who download ebooks typically seek a more self-guided learning experience, with their needs often being less immediate.

Moreover, ebooks serve as effective lead generators because they attract individuals who are eager to learn new concepts or require assistance in making informed decisions.

Principe emphasizes, “One effective approach I favor is integrating your offer, tool, or product naturally within a broader educational discussion. For instance, this could involve illustrating how our products or services contribute to achieving our readers’ objectives. Here’s an illustrative example:

Alternatively, it could be presented as a “pro tip.” For example, I might be explaining how to do X, Y, and Z, and then add: “Oh, and pro tip: HubSpot users can accomplish that easily by visiting this link.” Here’s an example:

When executed effectively, this strategy provides viewers with valuable context about your offer that you can’t simply convey through a traditional call to action (CTA). The key is to avoid sounding like a poorly executed 1950s product placement.

He elaborates, “The trick is to ditch the marketing jargon and explain it as you would to a friend. If I’m recommending a great feature to a colleague, I wouldn’t say, ‘Sales Hub’s unique prospecting features enable businesses to optimize your pipeline for conversion,’ would I?

The advantage of this approach lies in attracting highly motivated leads who are already clear about their needs. However, it typically generates fewer overall clicks compared to a traditional call-to-action (CTA), meaning you may sacrifice click-through rate (CTR) for a higher conversion rate (CVR).

This is where considering software solutions becomes valuable. If you’re starting out with lead generation, manually handling lead form responses and organizing them in spreadsheets might suffice. This approach can work well if you’re not yet implementing complex lead scoring and only have a few lead sources.

Nevertheless, as your volume grows, managing leads manually will become cumbersome. Using software brings integration capabilities and enhances quality of life significantly.

Start by listing the sources of leads you intend to engage with and focus on understanding the needs of users on those channels.

Setting Up Your Lead Database

To effectively generate leads through content, you should consider the following steps:

  1. Create SEO-optimized and social media content to attract interest and build a subscriber base.
  2. Develop lead-generating content that offers substantial value in exchange for user information.
  3. Utilize forms strategically placed on landing pages to gate lead-generating content or appear alongside and after relevant content, encouraging user engagement.
  4. Integrate these forms seamlessly with your chosen lead management software, whether you prefer a hands-on approach with spreadsheets or use a dedicated service.
  5. Make informed decisions on lead categorization and establish a clear plan for follow-up actions.

It’s beneficial to outline your lead management process from end to start. Define your approach to handling leads and then refine the specifics accordingly.

Determining how to categorize leads and the information you need will shape your database preparation. In B2B contexts, certain lead sources such as referrals, content, or LinkedIn ads often hold greater value. A lead stemming from a free trial of your software typically indicates a stronger potential for conversion compared to someone downloading a white paper.

Your database serves as the hub for qualifying and scoring leads. It also dictates who contacts a lead and the approach taken.

Depending on your project’s scale, you can manage your lead database manually using a spreadsheet or opt for one of many customer relationship management (CRM) software solutions available. CRM software offers automation advantages, especially in integrating various lead sources.

If you’re conducting an experiment or starting out, investing in software might not be practical initially. However, setting up without software may require more technical expertise and involvement from your web development team.

Qualifying Leads & Lead Scoring

Lead qualification determines which team member should contact the lead.

By assessing the lead’s background and their journey into your pipeline, you can tailor your approach to effectively engage and nurture them. Some may be primed for direct sales outreach, while others may prefer further engagement through email campaigns or content review.

Lead scoring holds significant importance in B2B sales as it involves evaluating the relevance and potential value of leads. This process entails assigning numerical scores based on various criteria, which then guide the prioritization of marketing and sales efforts.

This is closely intertwined with lead qualification and aids in resource allocation.

While this process could fill a book on its own, Alex Macura developed a highly effective lead scoring model for us.

We can’t prescribe a specific tool or system, but if you have a clear vision of your goals and the data you require, selecting the appropriate software becomes more straightforward.

At the heart of your model are tags and scores. It’s crucial to identify the precise information you need and how each piece of data contributes to the overall assessment.

Is There Such Thing As Too Much Information?

When it comes to leads.

Some may resist this notion. Current marketing wisdom often emphasizes the necessity of offering personalized experiences and building genuine relationships. To achieve this, thorough knowledge about individuals is crucial.

Data holds significant influence.

To this, I agree—partially. It can be valid, but not always.

A lead represents a transaction. Requesting more information escalates the cost—both in terms of the lead’s monetary value and the value of the information you must reciprocate.

If you demand too much while offering too little, you risk driving away potential customers.

Are you inadvertently setting too high a barrier to entry in your pursuit of personalized experiences?

The answer isn’t straightforward. (Everyone, mark off “It depends” on your SEO bingo cards—it’s right next to “high-quality” and the free space.)

Lead generation inherently involves setting some barriers to entry. This is what distinguishes a lead: the prospect has taken an extra step.

There is no definitive answer to this dilemma. If you’re marketing an expensive product or service exclusively to executives, two strategies could make sense:

  1. Require Detailed Information: By demanding extensive details, you filter out all but the most qualified leads. This minimizes wasting resources on leads that may not convert. However, acquiring such leads is costly, and you risk missing the chance to nurture relationships with users who are farther from making a purchase.
  2. Ask for Minimal Information: Opting for minimal information allows you to capture leads more readily, as even one successful sale can justify the cost of acquiring leads that don’t convert. You can always score and qualify leads later to reduce wastage. However, this approach may result in a cluttered lead database and potential resource inefficiencies.

For instance, excluding Gmail addresses in favor of company domains may increase the perceived value of each lead. Yet, there are valid reasons why a potential customer might use their personal email address.

This approach could be most beneficial if you lack a robust marketing and remarketing strategy to engage leads who are further from making a purchase. It also works effectively if you manage leads manually without a CRM, minimizing the need to filter out irrelevant leads.

As you enhance your content marketing and optimize lead management practices, you may find it advantageous to broaden the types of leads you accept.

Finding the right balance will vary for each individual or organization.

Conversely, requesting more detailed information that screens out a significant number of leads can be crucial for maximizing resource efficiency.

“When evaluating lead capture strategies, it’s important not to focus on the wrong metrics,” Principe advises.

“Lead volume may appear crucial at first glance, but it’s quality leads that truly matter. In my previous role at a medical supply company, our sales team often grumbled about leads from uninsured individuals whom we couldn’t serve.

To address this, we introduced a new field in our lead capture form requesting insurance information. Predictably, our form abandonment rate shot up, and our overall lead volume plummeted. Initially, there was panic among our sales leaders.

However, we soon realized that despite the reduced quantity, the quality of leads skyrocketed. This led to a significant increase in our qualification and conversion rates. Ultimately, we saw a remarkable boost in ROI, even as our total lead count decreased.”

At SEJ, we’ve been navigating this delicate balance for quite some time. By signing up for our ebooks, you’ve opted to become a lead for our sponsors and receive their emails.

We believe that you, our readers, appreciate our approach because we prioritize you as individuals and as readers.

Our business model thrives on the understanding that every reader is valuable, whether or not you choose to engage directly with our sponsors. We demonstrate our respect by consistently delivering valuable content.

Our confidence in our content’s value extends to our confidence in the leads it generates. Readers like you trust us to uphold high standards, ensuring your data and time are valued. By nurturing a community of valued readers through respectful engagement, we aim to cultivate lasting relationships that may ultimately result in transactions.

Original news from SearchEngineJournal