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Lead generation WHAT WILL WORK IN 2014?

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The world of lead generation has changed rapidly in a short space of time thanks to the digital revolution. There has been a paradigm shift in the buying process, which has caused businesses to fundamentally redefine how they develop their sales pipeline.

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The signal in the noise

We now live in an age of information abundance with almost every facet of our lives being reliant on data in some form or another. This information abundance has led to attention scarcity; people are bombarded with so much information that they are able to tune out much of the noise around them. Conventional advertising has become significantly less effective as a result. In order to develop qualified leads, marketers have had to evolve their tactics to incorporate this new transient way that society interacts with information.

This new era has also changed buyer knowledge. It used to be that buyers had little knowledge of the products and services offered to them and it was up to the sales team to educate them. However, the internet has brought the fountain of knowledge to buyer and now they are likely to have an intimate understanding of products and services before they even consider conversing with a business. Forrester, believes that buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90 per cent through their buying journey before they have any formal contact with the vendor.

BETWEEN

66%-90%

BUYERS BUYING JOURNEY BEFORE HAVING CONTACT WITH THE VENDOR.

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So what does all this mean?

Attention economics

The digital revolution has forced marketers to abandon rented attention in favour of owned attention. Historically, marketers have focused on rented attention - indiscriminately levying attention built by others, such as via magazine advertisements. Of course, this process has been refined over the years using data to drive marketing decisions, but the core concept remained the same marketers would ride the coat-tails of authorities in their domain.

world of marketing are owning attention rather than renting it. How are they doing this? By capturing the attention of potential customers well before the buying cycle begins.

These days, those who are successfully exploiting this new

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Becoming a thought leader

BUY NOW

The key to owning attention is to become a thought leader; an expert of your chosen domain and an impartial advisor to potential buyers, separated from the buying process. This can come as quite a shock to conventional marketers and sales people - after all, how can providing impartial advice to a potential buyer, which may result in a lost sale, be a good idea? As was previously mentioned, buyers are already very much aware of the landscape before they come into contact with a vendor; it is the vendors that

become a resource in this research phase that will have a leg up on the competition. The most effective way to become an authority is to provide valuable content assets that aid buyers well before they approach the sales funnel. The most common formats for content are blogs, industry news, infographics and video; however, any resource which you feel will provide value to prospects should be considered.

engaging the attention of potential buyers; from web design and social media interaction to onpage content and SEO.

Every facet of a business's digital activities should be focused on

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Email

IDG reports that in terms of outbound marketing tradeshows and email are still the most effective channels for lead gen. Email marketing is still an incredibly effective channel. A recent study found that 44 per cent of all email recipients made a purchase based on a promotional email. However, the 'signal amongst the noise' maxim rings true for email too. With spam reaching epic proportions, emails must be expertly crafted in order to generate qualified leads.

While these strategies are critical to the development of substantiated leads, outbound marketing is only one piece of the increasingly intricate puzzle.

44% OF ALL EMAIL RECIPIENTS MADE A PURCHASE BASED ON A PROMOTIONAL EMAIL

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Web design

The IDG report said that by-farand-away the most effective channel for lead generation was a company's website. An aesthetically pleasing website is simply not enough anymore. To quote Steve Jobs: 'Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.' The design of a site needs to treat every visitor as a potential lead. Sites need to be intuitive, callsto-action (CTA) need to be clear and the content needs to provide tangible value to visitors.

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Social media

80% CUSTOMER ACQUIRED BY FACEBOOK ALONE

83% MARKETERS WHO SAY THAT FACEBOOK IS CRITICAL TO LEAD GENERATION, IN 2 YEARS

If there is one word that can be used to

social media, hoping that some of the

define this new era of lead generation,

fairy dust would fall their way.

277%

it is 'engagement'. At the heart of successful lead generation is the ability

Social media has now become

to engage the buyer at every stage of

the ideal breeding ground for lead

the buying cycle; and if there is one

generation. Nearly 80 per cent of

channel that embraces engagement

business-to-consumer marketers

above all others, it is social media.

have acquired a customer through Facebook alone. The number of

From a business perspective social

marketers who say that Facebook

media was initially seen as a brand

is critical to lead generation has

building tool. It allowed companies

increased by 83 per cent in two years.

to interact with their customers and generate interest around new products

For business-to-business marketers,

or services. However, it was - like so

LinkedIn remains the go-to-network.

many advertising channels before it

According to Wishpond, LinkedIn is 277

- simply rented attention; businesses

per cent more effective at generating

were piggybacking on the popularity of

leads than both Facebook and Twitter.

LINKEDIN MORE EFFECTIVE AT GENERATING LEADS THAN BOTH FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.

Twitter has made up significant ground by equipping marketers with tools such as their recently announced 'Lead Generation Cards', which streamlines the process of connecting with and harvesting potential leads.

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Lead nurturing

If there is one consistent theme throughout this whitepaper, it is the buyer cycle has evolved and marketers must ensure that their funnel evolves too. Buyers used to expect a large number of cold calls and hard sales, but the self-directed buyer is no longer willing to play this game. Instead, they are looking for companies that will hold their hand through the decision making process. This is why it is vital to have a solid lead nurturing strategy in place.

The vast majority of new leads are not ready to engage when they show up on the salesperson's radar. If a sales rep pushes for a sale during this initial phase, a lead could well be turned cold at a moment's notice. Lead nurturing builds a relationship with prospects regardless of whereabouts they are in their buying journey and cultivates it so that when it does come time to make a decision, the sale is a no-brainer. A DemandGen report found that nurtured leads produce a 20 per

cent increase in sales compared to non-nurtured leads. The ROI on lead nurturing is clear; research from Forrester finds nurturing can reduce the cost per head on sales-ready leads by 33 per cent, can improve performance of sales representatives and decrease ramp-up time for new sales staff. 'Stay in touch' campaigns will form the core of lead nurturing activities by dripping out information to prospects over time. These communications should be used to build trust and define the

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20%

brand as a credible business. The details of these communications such as timing and frequency should be carefully thought out and there will be a degree of trial and error in order to maximise their effectiveness; but these light touches will ensure that when a prospect is ready to make contact, your business is at the forefront of their mind.

INCREASE IN SALES COMPARED TO NON-NURTURED LEADS PRODUCE BY NURTURED LEADS

33%

NURTURING CAN REDUCE THE COST PER HEAD ON SALESREADY LEADS

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First impressions

ATTRACTS THE EYE

It doesn't matter how brilliant your website and supporting content is if visitors bounce straight out the door after encountering your landing page. First impressions count and nowhere is this truer than on a landing page. Here are three tips to ensure that your landing page generates the maximum number of leads possible: � Include your value proposition in two lines or less and ensure that attracts the eye and is clearly visible

� Make use of enlarged action buttons and scrutinise your web copy to ensure that every word serves a purpose. When it comes to a landing page, less is more so save the epic dialogue for your blog � Keep the number of layout columns to a minimum and ensure that the eye can easily navigate the page

ACTION BUTTONS

NAVIGATION

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Inbound Mobile marketing advertising and rented attention

So far, it would seem that inbound marketing is certainly all the rage. While this is true, it is not the be-all-and-end-all of 21st century marketing. All good strategies make use of both outbound and inbound methods.

If there is one technological phenomenon that has defined the past five years, it is the rise of the mobile. Smart devices are an inescapable part of life and in a short space of time, have weaved themselves into the fabric of society. Marketers are still getting to grips with mobile advertising and this frontier remains relatively unexplored for many; however, as more PCs and laptops are replaced with tablets and phones, marketers will once again have to adapt in order to take advantage of the changing landscape.

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Pay per click (PPC)

An art and a science

ÂŁ PPC has been around for more than a decade now, so it is nothing new. However, its longevity is a testament to its effectiveness as a tool. PPC is an art form in itself, with the ultimate goal being to increase the number of propositions clicking through whilst decreasing the cost per click. The key to successful PPC campaigns is to conduct thorough keyword research, create ultratargeted campaigns, captivating ad copy and beautiful landing pages. Adopt a 'rinse and repeat' approach, getting rid of the things that don't work and expanding on the things that do.

Lead generation is both an art and a science. The truth is that every company is different, as is every buying cycle and every prospect. Marketers and sales staff will always have to use an element of common sense and base decisions on experience of their specific sector. Having said that, the key to success is to create a broad strategy which attracts, assists and nurtures prospects right the way through the funnel. Almost all companies neglect some stage of the buying cycle and even if they don't, a strategy can always be refined to become more effective.

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Lead generation