531 million! That’s the number of results a simple Google search for the words ‘lead generation’ returns. Let that sink in for a moment – 531,000,000. With that many millions of articles, blogs, videos, etc. on this topic, how do you begin sorting through all that data to find the best marketing diamonds among the fluff?
The task can feel daunting but fear not. We’re here to provide you with a better understanding of this key marketing practice and how it can be used to more effectively shepherd your prospective leads through to conversion.
First things first, you need to know that a lead refers to any person or company that is potentially interested in your product or service. Leads that show interest first are called acquired or warm leads, whereas leads that have no prior knowledge of your business are called sourced, or cold leads.
Lead generation marketing, with its focus on sourcing prospect information and assigning respective priority levels, is the first key step in the sales funnel. It encompasses all the different tactics for convincing leads to willingly hand over their information.
More and more emphasis is being rightfully placed on innovating and incentivizing so that potential customers actually want to be contacted with more information. Then once you’re done collecting, scoring, verifying and enriching leads, the crafting of nurturing marketing communication commences.
Let’s dive into the top lead generation marketing trends of the year that, if borrowed, just might result in the boosted conversion rates you’ve been looking for in 2021:
Trend 1: Conversational marketing
Conversational marketing via the use of chatbots is on the rise. Chatbots are a form of artificial intelligence that can be set up to interact with customers. As of 2018, there were over 300,000 bots created using the Facebook Chatbot platform alone.
People crave quick responses to their questions and chatbots can be automated to greet and guide leads in real-time. This is a fantastic development since, according to a 2018 lead response report, responding to a new lead within five minutes is absolutely critical. Yet, only 7% of companies engage within this time frame.
Chatbots are a great resource when it comes to collecting lead data, whether it be email addresses, names, contact numbers, style preferences, feedback, you name it. All pieces of information relayed during a conversation with your chatbot can be stored and used for future lead scoring.
And if you already have a Facebook page set up for your business, messenger chatbots are a powerful tool you might want to consider trying out first as a trial-run. They’re free, require zero coding experience and help customers feel more at ease since they’re tailored to their preferences.
Always aim to maximize your lead enhancing potential while also automating in a thoughtful manner. Website bots are increasingly gaining a bad rep for spamming visitors with notifications as soon they land on a page. So don’t be that bot – it’s a surefire way to lose a lead’s interest. Aspire for helpful, not annoying.
Trend 2: Voice and search marketing
A recent Canalys survey reported the approximate number of smart speaker owners as 66.4 million in the U.S. and 133 million around the world. Voice search is now one of the top methods of search available. It’s no wonder businesses have begun scrambling to optimize their websites and content for speech search.
There is a great deal of focus on long-tail keywords. This is because they more closely mimic real-life speech patterns of people searching for answers. So instead of simply saying the keywords like “best online invoicing software”, prospective customers are more likely to frame conversational queries such as “Alexa, what online invoicing software is best for freelancers and small businesses?”
To generate more leads, your web content has to become more conversational. You must also focus on phrases that coincide with your target audience’s language. Voice research tools like BuzzSumo’s Question Analyzer can come in handy here. It can be used to discover popular questions across the multitude of forums and Q&A sites. These can prove helpful in order to pinpoint some common ways your audience articulates their searches.
Trend 3: Video content marketing
The trend of video marketing has skyrocketed in 2019, with 81% of businesses using video as a marketing tool, according to HubSpot. This is a marked 18% increase from the previous year’s estimates.
Webinars, webcasts, demos, live streams and short informational videos on websites and social media are on the rise. Why the sudden shift to video, you ask? Well, the fact of the matter is, the majority of consumers prefer video content to reading. So you’re much more likely to engage, impress and convert your leads through the use of creative videos that tap into human psychology.
This blog post provides a great overview of how videos can boost your lead generation efforts. They’re an excellent tool for building up your trust and authority, just remember to configure a lead generation form to get the most out of it.
Trend 4: Influencer marketing
More and more we’re seeing businesses teaming up with influencers from respective niches in attempts to extend their reach. As noted in the infographic below, influencer marketing budgets have nearly doubled in 2019. And with good reason as influencer marketing is a tool that enables you to partner with a social celebrity whose existing audience might be chock full of potential leads. The key is to find the right influencers who share the same values as your brand.
Having an influencer vouch for and actively promote your product/ service goes a long way when it comes to boosting lead generation. It’s important that they mention or link back to your website. And you, in turn, must proudly feature their testimonials so all can see the endorsement. There is one simple rule to get your foot in the door: tailor your approach to the specific influencers and then market directly to other well-aligned influencers.
Tapping into an influencer’s audience is the end goal, but getting the attention of the influencer is the first step. Join their community and build your credibility. This hybrid of old and new marketing tools combines the advantages of natural social interaction provided by social marketing with an emphasis on providing helpful information to new leads through effective content marketing.
Trend 5: Facebook Ad marketing
People’s addiction to scrolling on social media shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, as of August 2019, there were an estimated 2.41 billion monthly active users on Facebook.
Facebook lead ads are a must for any social media marketing strategy and an excellent way of generating qualified leads for your business, especially via mobile devices. Prospects can easily tap your business’ customized ad and a form already pre-populated with their Facebook contact information will pop up. All they need to do is agree to share their details in exchange for the information they want from your ad.
And voila, a new qualified lead who can be directly synced with your existing Customer Relationship Management software is generated. It’s targeting capabilities, ideal page placement and opportunity for a variety of calls to action make Facebook Ads a lead generation dream come true.
Trend 6: Account-based marketing
Account-based marketing has had its time in the sun and still continues to hold strong. Defined as a strategy that “concentrates resources on a set of target accounts’, this strategy for growth focuses on classifying best-fit leads and customizing personalized campaigns or programs for each specific account. In 2016, SiriusDecisions reported that more than 70% of B2B companies have staff that is fully or partially dedicated to ABM programs.
This hot trend has likely persisted because the bottom line is: ABM delivers results. Instead of casting a wide net, it concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts and high-value customers. Research has shown correlations with a clear return on investment. The fact that content is so personalized translates into increased engagement.
A smaller number of target accounts also allows for easier tracking and measurement. Strategic ABM, with its focus on relationship building, seems to be a win-win-win for sales, marketing, and customers alike. Perhaps you can think of a few obvious high-value customer targets you’d like to attempt it with?
At the end of the day…
Converting leads into customers and creating meaningful content are major mountains that marketers have to climb. But generating high-quality leads takes the cake.
Lead generation marketing trends come and go. Your ability to go with the flow, innovate, update and always work to thoughtfully optimize experiences is what will keep you ahead of the game.