Without new leads, your business can't grow. You need new leads like a car needs gasoline—without new leads, your business will slow down and eventually stall. This is especially true for small and medium-size businesses that are trying to expand.
Without an effective lead generation strategy, your business won't achieve its major marketing objectives. According to HubSpot, for example, more than 60% of marketers at both small and large businesses report that lead generation (along with website traffic) is their number one marketing priority—and 85% of B2B marketers say that lead generation is their top content marketing goal.
What Is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is a series of marketing strategies designed to identify consumers who are interested in, and likely to buy, products and services from businesses. Marketers employ strategies like search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click advertising (PPC) and content marketing to generate new leads.
For example, if a company sells refrigerators, they might create an article, "How to Get the Best Refrigerator for the Best Price." They then push that content to consumers, typically through paid or organic search. Consumers who click on the organic or sponsored ad link are taken to a customized landing page where they're asked to provide their email address in exchange for the content. Those who do so are new leads for the company.
Why Is Lead Generation So Important?
It's critically important for businesses to generate enough new leads to fill the top of their sales funnels, and eventually send them to their sales teams. Here's how VSynergize describes the importance of lead generation, and of having strategies that do it effectively:
"Lead generation is very important especially because it enables your business and your businesses' website to create enormous traffic and this leads to more sales and higher conversion rates…When potential clients are actively looking for solutions and your business stands out, the chance of converting from a lead to client rises extremely…If you have a quality lead generation process it will help a lot in finding the right customers your business needs."
Lead Generation Is Your Number One Job—But It's Not the Only One
Without new leads, you can't pass new sales opportunities to your sales team. Unfortunately, far too many marketers give their sales team leads who aren't ready to buy, something which not only hurts sales conversions, but also creates unnecessary tension between your sales and marketing teams.
You Need to Nurture Your Leads
Said differently, it's not enough to generate enough new leads—you also need to effectively nurture those leads to increase the odds your sales team can turn them into new customers.
In fact, lead nurturing (sometimes called lead management) is essential to the success of your business. Consider for example these lead nurturing metrics:
- For about half of businesses, lead nurturing increases sales opportunities by up to 75%
- Lead nurturing is among the top three priorities for content marketers
- Companies which nurture their leads on average generate 50% more sales—and do so for 33% less money
- Businesses that nurture their leads (using marketing automation) see a 10% increase in net revenues within the first 6 to 9 months
Is Outsourcing Lead Generation a Good Idea?
The answer is, it depends. Every business is different, with different marketing goals and challenges, and with different in-house capabilities. So, how do you know if outsourcing lead generation makes sense for your business?
Look in the Mirror
To decide if outsourcing makes sense for your business, you need to assess your in-house marketing team's ability to generate and nurture enough leads. Begin by asking yourself the following 5 questions:
- Are you regularly achieving your sales goals?
- Are your salespeople meeting their sales quotas?
- Are your salespeople satisfied with the quality of the leads they get from marketing?
- Does your marketing team understand how to generate leads with content marketing, PPC and SEO?
- Do your marketers understand how to nurture and qualify leads before sending them to sales (using strategies like email marketing and lead scoring)?
If the answer to one or more of these questions is "no," it's probably a good idea to consider outsourcing lead generation and nurturing. Outsourcing represents an additional outlay of marketing funds, but it can spell the difference between success and failure when it comes to effectively marketing and growing your business.
How Do You Find the Right Agency for Your Outsourcing?
If after carefully assessing your in-house capabilities you decide that outsourcing lead generation and nurturing is a good idea, the next step is to find a marketing agency that can best serve your needs. Of course, that can be a little dicey, but you can identify the best agency for you by following these 3 steps:
- Identify your needs: if you've already assessed your in-house marketing capabilities, you should have a reasonably good sense of your lead generation and nurturing deficiencies. For example, do you need an agency to help you design more effective landing pages? Are your email marketing efforts falling flat? Do you need an agency to help you qualify your leads with lead scoring? Whatever your needs, there's going to be a competent, experienced marketing agency who can help.
- Know each agency's strengths: every marketing agency is especially strong in executing different marketing strategies. Some for example excel at PPC and SEO. Others might be particularly effective with email, social media or content marketing. Take the time to research each agency and, when you meet with them, ask them to provide examples or case studies that demonstrate their strong areas. Finally, make sure your needs and their strengths match.
- Be open and honest: in other words, be blunt—about your weaknesses, their capabilities and the negotiated price. This isn't the time to try to gloss over any deficiencies with your in-house marketing team, or any questions you have regarding their previous clients. If they present a case study that details the work they did, be sure they also tell you what results they achieved. Finally, be upfront when discussing the price for their services, and about what precisely you're getting for your money.
Look for Any Red Flags
Most marketing agencies are reputable and honest in dealing with clients and prospective clients. Some, however, are frankly out to make quick buck—at your expense. That means in meeting with agencies you need to be aware of any signs that they're not going to do what they promise, and that you're not going to get the results you want.
Be wary, for example, of agencies that "promise the moon." An agency that tells you, "Our SEO services will put your business in the first position, page one of search results in just 6 months—" is one you probably don't want to hire, especially if they quote you a much lower price than other agencies doing the same work.
And, as Small Business points out, you also need to make sure that an agency isn't giving you "junk leads." These are leads that contain inaccurate or misleading information, like email addresses which no longer exits.
Finally, take the time to call some of their previous clients before you sign on the dotted line. It's usually a good idea to call both references they provide you and a few they don't.
Effective lead generation and nurturing is critical to the success of your small or medium-size business—so critical, in fact, that you should consider outsourcing these services if your in-house marketing team can't perform them effectively. If you decide to outsource, make sure the agency you select can get the results you want, will work with you and your marketing team collaboratively, and will communicate with you regularly regarding progress on your account.
To learn more about the ways our unified branding, lead generation, sales and customer communications services will help you achieve your principal marketing goals—and help it grow—contact us today.