Lead generation is essential, there’s no other way around it. While different marketing methods promise to deliver results, only the lead generation process can guarantee to help you build a strong sales pipeline that will hopefully end with a sale and brand loyalty.
But it’s also no secret that 61% of marketers struggle with lead generation the most, and more than half of them spend most of their budget on it.
Still, the leads you generate promise to convert as much as other marketing methods, which is why it’s important to know exactly how you can maximize its benefits for your e-commerce business.
Here’s everything you need to know about the lead generation process, its benefits, and the best strategies you can use to make it work for you.
What is a lead?
In marketing, a lead or sales lead is any individual, group, or organization that’s not yet a client but has the potential to buy your product or service.
Leads are usually identified by their interest in what you’re offering because they’ve heard about it through advertising or open communication and not just some cold caller who bought their contact details.
Leads typically go through the sales cycle where they take the journey from being a visitor to a customer. Marketers also categorize leads according to how they were gathered and their level of knowledge about a product or service.
“What Is Lead Tracking”, source
What is lead generation?
With traditional marketing methods, you typically promote your product or service to a bigger market hoping that you’ll catch the interest of a few people and get an inquiry or purchase from them.
Although this strategy does gain customers, it’s not as efficient as marketing to people who are already interested in what you’re offering.
The lead generation process works on attracting leads and converting them into customers using different strategies like email marketing, blogging, promotions, and events. What you’re going to use for your e-commerce business will depend on factors like your niche, target market, and, of course, budget.
Why does lead generation matter for your e-commerce business?
E-commerce lead generation works around the idea that it’s easier to convince someone who already has an interest in your product or service than a stranger.
Unlike traditional marketing where you’re throwing your budget without the guarantee of success, lead generation allows you to work only with a targeted audience that gives you a higher chance of getting a conversion.
But why exactly does the lead generation process matter for your e-commerce business?
- It helps you focus on the right people.
With effective e-commerce lead generation, you’ll know you are maximizing your resources by marketing to the right people. This will not only help you save money but also improve your ROI by focusing all your efforts on the right target audience.
- It allows you to get to know your target audience.
The lead generation process involves gathering important marketing information about your prospects, which includes their needs, preferences, and other data that will help you create the best marketing strategies for them. Unlike marketing to a bigger market, you have the opportunity to get to know your target audience so you can be more effective in promoting your products to them and even offering the best experience throughout their lifecycle.
- It helps you build your brand.
With branding being such an important part of long-term marketing, lead generation allows you to supply the right information to your prospects so they can have a more personalized experience as opposed to making cold calls, which can easily ruin your brand. With this process, you can ensure a higher conversion rate.
“A study by AWR”, source
With e-commerce lead generation, you’re using a more organic approach in marketing compared to other types of advertising. This also makes the transition from lead to the customer more natural than forcing your marketing efforts on strangers.
What are the main channels for lead generation?
Generating leads can be quite tricky and overwhelming if you’re new to it. But even if you work with a professional team, you still need to learn about the lead generation process, especially the most common channels that you can use for lead generation marketing.
Also known as a lead bait or lead generation offer, a lead magnet is a type of channel that’s part of a direct response campaign. Some examples include sending out newsletters, offering free consultations, and providing subscriptions on a trial basis.
This then hopefully, leads to people offering their contact information or attracting them to go to a landing page where you can focus more on selling your product or service.
Email marketing is still considered the most effective channel for generating leads. In fact, any seasoned marketer will tell you to invest in email marketing as your main lead generation channel first because it has been proven effective for almost two decades now.
A study by the Content Marketing Institute in 2018 revealed that 79% of all B2B marketers still consider email as the most effective channel for demand generation and 42% of businesses believe that it’s the most important lead generation channel in their arsenal.
Marketing automation is the hottest trend in email marketing today because it allows you to capture more data and organize it properly so it’s easier to determine which leads are the best and what strategies are ideal to use for them.
Here are the basic steps for it to work effectively:
- design or choose an ideal email template that’s consistent with your brand
- segregate your mailing list properly
- nurture leads by sending milestone emails
- provide automatic upsells
- bring them back to their shopping cart
It is also when it counts to have a good email validator that will help you filter down your leads to those that have a valid email address. This helps you avoid wasting time sending content and chasing after leads that will not give you the conversions that you need.
Content marketing is considered the second most effective lead generation channel for marketers—and for good reason. According to a report from Demand Metric, content marketing generates thrice as many leads as compared to outbound marketing at 62% less cost.
But content marketing can also be one of the hardest to execute because you need to plan every content you put out there to ensure that you reach your intended audience organically through search engines and social media.
Since there’s no one-size-fits-all rule in creating the right content material for lead generation, the best way to do it is by experimenting. Most marketers utilize different forms of content including blogs, infographics, videos, podcasts, and even whitepapers to see which ones would best fit their target audience.
It is also when it counts to really identify your client’s persona so you know exactly what their pain points are and create the right content that addresses them.
Social media marketing
Although controversial, there is no denying that social media is now one of the most effective lead generation channels because of its wide reach and cost-efficiency.
In fact, at least 66% of marketers generate good leads from social media while spending only six hours per week on these channels. This means cost-efficiency without sacrificing the quality of your leads.
Some businesses may disagree about the efficiency of social media marketing as a lead generation channel, especially those who experienced difficulties in seeing conversions from their efforts. But it all boils down to successful social media marketing strategies that are implemented well by your team.
You might think that pay-per-click (PPC) is only good for marketing e-commerce websites, but it’s also an effective strategy in generating good leads because most people who click on these ads are already showing interest in your product or service.
PPC is also one of only a few lead generation channels that allow you to be front and center when people search for the product you offer or a solution to their problem that your product can address. Although you are paying for these ads, you’re also spending money on other lead generation channels like blogging, social media, and SEO.
Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is already essential when you have an e-commerce business, but it’s also one of the most efficient lead generation channels that you can invest in. Effective lead generation needs to be organic and one of the best ways to do that is by allowing leads to discover you through search engine results.
In fact, SEO already encompasses most of the elements that you need for effective lead generation, from finding the right keywords to include in your content to building the right links in your website.
What is a lead generation funnel?
Although each customer goes through a unique process when deciding to buy a product, all customers walk through the same stages when making a purchase, a process called the lead generation funnel.
Composed of three stages, the lead generation funnel was created to help marketers understand the process that a customer goes through before a conversion can be made.
Top of the funnel (TOFU)
This stage focuses on building awareness. Since it’s your first point of contact with a potential lead, you need to avoid directly promoting your business and focus on building that sense of trust first. This is when you can use timely, relevant, and informative content that will help a customer see you as an authority in your niche.
TOFU is considered one of the most crucial stages in the lead generation process because it’s where you have the opportunity to set the right impression towards customers so they can move to the next step of the funnel.
Middle of the funnel (MOFU)
In this stage, a consumer already knows about your brand and has already recognized the problem that they need to address and that your product can help solve that problem.
They may also be starting to look for different options to fulfill their needs or wants, which is why this is the perfect opportunity to start introducing the value that your product can offer to them. MOFU is a great way to really convince your target audience to push forward towards conversion without overly promoting your product.
Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)
At the bottom of the sales funnel, a lead is considered a prospect because, at this stage, you have a higher chance of getting a conversion.
Since a customer is set on making a purchase, you can start focusing on selling your product through reviews, case studies, demonstrations, and price comparisons. Just make sure that you’re not overselling your product to avoid being too intrusive to your customer.
As an e-commerce business, it’s essential to get a deeper understanding of these three stages in the lead generation funnel so you can create strategies that will allow you to increase your chances of getting a conversion and giving your customer the best experience possible.
It will also help you make the most of your leads by nurturing them well and making sure that you generate more sales while spending the least amount possible.
The bottom line
The lead generation process is definitely one of the most important stages in the sales lifecycle. So, as an e-commerce owner, it’s a must that you learn about all the basic steps in lead generation to help you make the most out of your marketing efforts and maximize your budget.
At the end of the day, it’s not really about having the biggest marketing budget, but creating the best strategies that work for your business.
With effective lead generation, you are giving your e-commerce business the opportunity to generate more customers, convert them into loyal patrons, and build strong relationships with a clientele to help you nurture and grow your business in the long run. This is one of the most important foundations for the success of your business.