How to Create a Lead Generation System for your Business?
Lead generation is a critical driver of growth for eCommerce businesses. It is your key to unlock the door between your brand and buyers to build a relationship, influencing more sales. Unfortunately, generating leads is also one of the biggest challenges that marketers face.
Why? Because the whole process is colossus to begin with: you need a system to create content, attract traffic, convert visitors, and then qualify leads to start contacting and sending an offer. And all these need to work together while you fight for consumers’ attention in a cluttered online environment.
But, I have good news for you: Building a lead generation system is not that complicated. In this guide, I’ve broken down all you need to know and each stage of creating a lead generation process that truly converts. Whether you are just a beginner or a marketing expert looking for a new strategy, you will find straightforward explanations with actionable steps to take once at a time.
Let’s start with defining what a lead is, then we will cover how you can generate leads effectively. Dive in!
Table of Content:
- What is a lead?
- What is a lead generation system?
- Why does your business need a lead generation system?
- How to create the best lead generation system
- Best lead generation approaches
- How to quality your leads
- How to nurture your leads (with emails)
- Some more tips
- Final advice
What is a lead?
A lead is any visitor who shows an interest in the goods or services your company offers but who may not be ready to buy.
This interest is represented in the form of communication, such as consumers providing a name and email address for a piece of content.
Don’t confuse leads to potential customers. There is a difference. A lead is still a potential customer who still needs to be more qualified to become a prospect. (This means they are suitable for your business and may want to buy from you in the future.)
Leads are part of a sales lifecycle that consumers follow as they transition from visitors to customers. Not all leads are the same, nor are they equally qualified. There are different types of leads, depending on how they qualify and their lifecycle stage.
What is a lead generation system?
The process of lead generation is about attracting and converting target audiences into someone who shows interest in your company’s product or service. Some examples of lead generation tools are coupons, blog posts, live events, online content, opt-in form, and even job applications.
This process works by driving the targeted traffic to your eCommerce website, capturing visitor information, and nurturing people who match your potential buyers’ personality. This is the first step in creating a meaningful relationship with your prospects.
That’s exactly what lead generation is about: warming up potential customers to your brand and driving them to giving you their information.
While there are many ways for consumers to make a purchase with your company, there is always a process leading up to the purchase decision. A lead generation funnel will help you visualize the entire buying journey and find where to influence it. This allows you to segment audiences, nurture prospects, and convince them to buy.
A lead generation funnel is essentially the journey a lead takes from the moment they exchange information to the point of becoming a potential customer. We use a funnel model here because each stage will have fewer leads with suitable criterias to buy from you. Eventually, a small percentage of your lead list will become customers.
With marketing automation and retargeting, your content can provide the right messages at the right times to progress your leads. Let’s see the typical stages of a lead generation funnel:
- Top of the funnel: Your funnel starts when an audience first visits your eCommerce website. With a wide audience, your goal is to build awareness and trust by offering content like blogs, guides, podcasts, videos, social media, etc. You should focus on providing value and create trust among readers at this stage.
- Middle of the funnel: This is where visitors are ready to give their information and become leads. This is where you offer content with solutions to their problems, such as white papers, ebooks, newsletters, tools, or webinars. Your offer will depend on your target audience, resources, and offering.
- Bottom of the funnel: When leads reach the bottom of your lead generation funnel, they become prospects. You have nurtured them with relevant solutions and knowledge, now it is time to sell. At this stage, leads have already considered buying from you, so give them the last nudge with discounts, case studies, social proof, comparisons, demos, and FAQs.
Each stage of the lead generation funnel will require different content, from low to high friction. It is paramount to the success of your sales cycle, so you will need some patience. Start by defining the unique needs and offers that your funnel may have in your industry. A clear understanding of how your content for leads fits in each stage is the next step.
As you keep building your lead generation funnel, you will also build the foundation for your lead nurture efforts and lead qualification.
Why does your business need a lead generation system?
Lead generation is always considered critical for eCommerce success. Why? The answer is simple in just two words: Sales cycle. When a stranger initiates a relationship with your brand by showing organic interest, the transition from stranger to buyer is much easier. Your sale cycle therefore gets shorter with more potential for gaining loyal customers.
Lead generation often falls within the second stage of the sales funnel. It occurs after you have attracted the interested audience and are ready to convert visitors into leads. Capturing buyer’s information at the beginning of this process gives you the valuable opportunity to influence the buying decision. With buyers facing more distractions everyday, you would need all the influence you can have.
More than that, you can qualify your leads and figure out which one is most likely to generate revenue for your eCommerce business, then focus your time and energy on these high value leads.
If you are able to establish a sales strategy that generates quality leads and can convert, you’ve unlocked the key to have sustainable growth for your eCommerce business. In short, lead generation is the fundamental point in your buyer’s journey to become a delighted customer.
How to create the best lead generation system
To succeed in lead generation, you need a structured, repeatable, and consistent system that regularly puts leads into the sales pipeline. The start point always seems a little daunting with a lot of work. But, don’t worry, most marketers and entrepreneurs have trouble facing the challenge of generating leads.
With these next five simple steps, you will have an efficient lead generation system and capture visitor’s interest to your business:
Understand the target audience
Throughout the lead generation system, you will need a laser focus on the target audience to transform them from visitors into leads and leads into new customers. If you want to drive people into giving you their personal information, you will need personalized messages and content to meet their needs or problems.
If you can address the pain points of your visitors and invite them to attain solutions, you have a foundation for a successful lead generation system. To identify and understand the target audience more, you will need one thing: buyer personas.
Buyer personas is a marketing term that describes the idealized versions of your potential customers. The goal of the buyer persona is to identify the characteristics of your common buyers and keep you focused on their needs. The datas that you can use to build these personas are:
- Job title
- Challenges on a daily basis
- Words to describe problems
- Desires to improve the current situations
With these datas, you have an in-depth persona with unique parameters to create useful and actionable next steps. Once you’ve built the buyer personas, you should have a clear understanding of the key challenges your target audience has and how to position your brand to solve them.
Create engaging content
One common challenge for eCommerce marketers is how to personalize the customer communication. Unfortunately, 83% of marketers are struggling with creating personalized contents because they can’t understand their customers. With built buyer personas, you can create more relatable content to different audiences. No more one size fits all content, now you are able to create something far more special.
The content you create for each stage of the sales funnel will have different length, type, and level of detail. It should also reflect the data you have on the buyer personas. The goal of your content is to highlight your business’s value and their potential solution for the price. If your buyers can’t understand the context behind the price, they won’t make the buying decision.
If you’ve attracted them through an interesting blog article and an ebook, you will need new content to convert them with comparison articles, product tiers, or providing discounts. Understanding what is stopping customers’ progress from one stage of the funnel to the next, you will create more engaging content.
In addition to the personalization, your content should be delivered at the right time and the right channel - where buyers spend time online researching and making purchase decisions.
You can include CTAs in your content to test whether they are ready to be a lead or not. The more enjoyable visitor is with your site’s content, the more likely they will click your call to action.
Tools to capture the audience’s information
No matter how great your piece of content is, if you can’t get visitors to exchange their personal information, you won’t generate any leads. The way you ask for their information and the amount of information they need to give will have a huge impact on your lead generation rate.
Here are the best methods to capture leads’ information and what situations they work the best for:
- Email opt-in form: Your popup form will be upfront and clear about what information you are asking for in exchange for your services. Often used on eCommerce websites, opt-in forms can be your most useful tool to capture visitor’s information. Create double opt-int easily to collect quality leads for your stores.
- Site’s live chat: Live support is a great way to help visitors answer questions and doubts, all while capturing leads in a conversational way. By asking a few specific questions (you can even automate live chat), visitors will provide more detailed information and more accurate needs.
- Ads: Advertising pieces focus on getting people to take action. Your ads should be crystal clear in the action you want the visitors to take and offer what you promised in the ad. You can have both online and offline ads for lead generation.
- Content: Useful content will guide visitors to solve their problems and check out your landing page. Having a CTA anywhere in the content would increase the chance of you getting more leads.
- Blog posts: You can tailor your entire content to the end goal and make the desired action highly relevant and easy to click. For example: If your offer is a discount on the latest Spring collection, you can write a blog post about how to select the best outfits for spring.
- Product trials: Once a prospect starts using your product, you can entice them with additional resources and offers, encouraging them to buy. You can also include your branding in the free version and capture other potential customers. If your products can’t have a free trial, think of creating a subscription service.
- Referral: Word of mouth is always useful for lead generation. A referral program can get your brand in front of a larger audience, increasing your chances of getting more quality leads.
- Social media: Social media makes it easy for your followers to take action and access your offer, landing pages, contents, etc. You can promote your offers on social media posts and include a call to action.
Here, you may ask: Why don’t we buy leads instead? Buying leads would take less time and effort, while giving you a list of leads to start sending offers right away. However, your purchased leads may bring other problems:
First, these leads don’t know about your brand, so any offer you send them will become irrelevant and unwanted messages. This leads to the second problem, receivers who feel intrusive may flag your messages as spam - which will obviously hurt your campaign’s result. If you go on a blacklist, your email address and the IP reputation will get harmed, making it really hard for future campaigns.
It is always better to generate organic leads. Remember that.
Qualify your leads
Now, you have a list of people who have shown real interest in your company’s products or services. But this is only the beginning of your sales funnel, many of the leads may not be ready to buy or think your brand is the right fit. By qualifying leads, you will be able to determine which ones are suitable for your product and their chance of conversion.
The lead generation system varies from company to company, and business to business. You will need to have enough information before deciding if someone has a valid interest in your products. For this is a complicated process, I will get into more details of the lead qualification process in the later part of the article.
Best lead generation approaches
Now, you have understood the structure of your lead generation funnel, had buyer personas, and created the right content. The next step is to reach your audience and generate traffic to get more leads. In this chapter, I will cover the best lead generation strategies to make your funnel filled with leads.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is your way of increasing the number and quality of visitors from organic search results. SEO can help you get large numbers of visitors to the top of the lead generation funnel.
When you have a piece of content that ranks high for a relevant search query, it will drive sustained traffic. More importantly, this type of traffic is free. When people search for your brand and products, they naturally have the buyer’s intent and are near to the purchase decision.
What you need is a set of unique keywords that are related to your products and also is worth competing for. Then, you create content around these keywords and optimize them for the search engine. After gaining the traffic from your content, your lead magnets would turn visitors into leads by offering content that continues to help the reader.
SEO provides a low friction way to capture leads’ information and make sure they have solid interest in your business.
Strategic partnerships with co-branded content
The goal of co-creating content is to build a genuine relationship with companies that share your group of audience but don’t directly compete with you. So you both can leverage the other’s expertise for content creation and attract more audience for lead generation. Both are gaining benefit from the trust the partner’s customers have.
You want to start by taking a look at your industry and find companies that have the same audience but offer different products. Check their content, offertings, and mission statement to make sure your company and them are a good fit. Then, you should think of potential partnership ideas and the suitable funnel stage for them.
Once you’ve had some potential ideas, contact your potential partners and pitch your plan. Make sure to be clear about what they can get and provide data about your site as well - website traffic, email list size, audience, social following. Ideally, just one email can show your partners the value of a partnership.
After joining force in creating content, start promoting it to both groups of audience. You can utilize all owned media channels like email marketing, live chat, social media, website content, and blogs. The key is that both companies can promote content to the target audience.
This is a fantastic opportunity to generate leads from targeted and interested audiences - who already trust one of the two brands.
A no-brainer strategy to generate leads is by asking for referrals. The method comes with trust baked in since your referral network already knows about your brand. The easiest way is to utilize your existing client base and ask if they know who may also be a fit for your product or service.
Building a affiliate network is one of the most effective ways to generate leads. Be specific about your target customers, and your network will be a great source for high quality leads. If someone refers to your brand directly, you have the first conversation at the top of the pipe.
To encourage more referrals, you can include a small incentive for your network and existing customers.
Nowadays, if you have any interest, there is guaranteed an online group to talk about it. Facebook, Reddit, Quora, LinkedIn, and more are the social media platforms that you can find groups with engaged members that discuss relevant topics to your company.
There are many approaches to communicate with a target community. You can join as a member with the same interest and build your reputation from the knowledge you have, then your group’s friends would check which company you are on. Or you can build your own brand’s community with promise of good deals, first access, and more in-depth information.
The best thing about these communities is that they are in their safe space to talk about any topics, so you have many chances to jump in the conversation. However, make sure you know what their languages are to communicate in the right way. Also, don’t oversell your business, or you may get banned soon.
Google PPC lead generation
Google gets billions of searches everyday, making it a prime channel for any ad campaign, including lead generation. Paid channels like PPC (Pay per click) are perfect to have some short term wins and gain more organic traffic in the long term. With a robust targeting tool, Google PPC helps you find where your audiences are and present the lead magnet.
The effectiveness of your Google PPC campaign relies on a seamless user experience, your budget, target keywords, and more factors. Which is why I list this method less effective than other organic methods, since you are not sure about the quality of the leads.
That is also a good reason for us to have a lead qualification process, telling us which leads to focus more effort and have a better conversion rate.
How to quality your leads
Many of your leads are not ready to purchase or find your company’s products worth buying. That sounds scary, but it is true. A lead qualification process will help you determine which leads are more likely to convert. To do that, you need something called “lead scoring.”
Lead scoring is a qualification method that allows you to automatically add numeric points to your leads based on predefined criteria.The final score will identify which leads are more relevant to contact or which communication methods to use. The scoring process can be broken down into these steps:
#1: Define the ideal leads
To filter out irrelevant leads that won’t convert into valuable customers, you will need to identify attributes that your most valuable customers have, both when they are in the lead up to purchase and are already customers. These attributes can be:
- Demographic data
- Personal information
- Online behavior
These attributes and values are built through your sales data, analytic, and even some intuition. After you have your set of attributes, assign each one a score - the higher the score when the attribute has more value. The combined score will give a good indication of how a lead fits your product and how far they can come in the buying process.
#2: Collect the relevant information
You will need enough information to gauge whether your leads have a true, valid interest in your brand’s product or service. How much is enough will highly depend on your type of business. In general, here are the information that you should at least have:
- Email address: This is an unique identifier and will be the communication channel for you
- Country: Location information lets you segment your contact by regions, time zones, and languages.
- Name: This is a fundamental piece of information to personalize your messages.
Of course, you can ask for more information, but you should strike for a balance between collecting as much data as possible and having an acceptable conversion rate. The more data you ask, the higher risk your visitors can bound from the idea capture process. Having their email addresses is enough to start a campaign.
#3: Lead scoring
A lead’s score can be based on your lead’s actions, information they provided, and the level of engagement, or any other criteria. For example, you can score a lead higher if they engage with your social media more regularly or if their demographic information matches your brand’s target audience.
The higher score a lead has, the closer they are to becoming sale-qualified leads. You will need to tweak your criteria until you find the formula that works, but yonce you do, your lead generation system will become a customer generation system.
Ultimately, what matters is that you find the right leads so you can focus your effort on those most likely to bring revenue to your eCommerce business. The better you score your leads, the higher quality leads you can find.
How to nurture your leads (with emails)
After qualifying your leads, you have a list of people that fits within the sweet spot of your company. But you can’t ask them to buy yet, since many of them are not ready. You would need a process called lead nurturing - warming up your leads to a point they become customers.
Since buying intentions can get cold pretty quickly, your nurturing effort needs to be consistent so even if your prospects don’t buy yet, they will remember about your company. An automation campaign such as a drip email campaign will be your best opportunity to nurture your leads.
If they aren’t ready to buy, you will need different offers for different parts of the buying process. How about a free template? Or an informative how-to guide? Or letting them have fun in the community? Particularly small eCommerce businesses can really benefit from some lead nurturing emails.
With an platform like AVADA Email Marketing, you can easily send drip emails to provide values throughout the lead generation process. Someone only at the beginning of the buying journey can use interesting information like an ebook or a guide, while someone more familiar with your company can be more interested in a free trial or a coupon, since they are already near the bottom of the journey.
It will take some time to figure out what content to nurture your leads, but if you don’t offer anything, they may never come back to your website. Here are some list nurturing ideas to try out:
- Free apps
- Audio books
You can set timing for your drip email campaign in our app, just make sure your email follow ups are helpful, not a sales pitch, and continually improved. And you don’t need to create all of the content above. Just one at a time and you can already try sending out email campaigns to see which type of content suits your leads or potential customers best.
Some more tips
For any lead generation system, there can be a lot of moving parts. You will need data to see which parts are working and which need fine-tuning. For a best-in-class lead generation system, here are a few tips:
- The right lead generation tools help you organize and store your leads’ information. Some good lead generation tools should help you understand more about the people visiting your website and create different lead gen campaigns to use on your site.
- Link your CTA to a dedicated page: If you have a specific offer, the best way to introduce it is through a landing page. CTAs, even when just on an email, should take visitors to where they can receive the offer, not the homepage of your site.
- Use social media to your advantage: Adding links to your landing pages with offers within your social media accounts and posts. Or you can run a contest to grow your email list and find more leads.
- Drive traffic by ads: Your landing pages don’t have to gain leads only from emails, you can also use Google Ads, Facebook, or Linkedin ads to drive traffic to them.
- Attend a networking event: Offline events may be another great way to generate leads and meet your ideal customers. You can build a personal brand to connect with your leads and give them something of value before offering your products.
- Remain flexible: Trends change, opinion morph, behavior shift, and so would your lead generation system. Use A/B testing to see which CTA, content, email, landing page, or offer is more relevant. Experiment until you have a lead gen system that works for your eCommerce.
There you have it, all you need to know if you want to build the best lead generation system. Keep creating great offers and content to promote in a multi channel environment, then you will see more quality leads in no time. The more you test every stage of your system, the more you will improve your result and increase revenue.
The entire lead generation process can look daunting, but I’m here to help. If you have any questions on building your own system, leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and best of luck with generating leads for your eCommerce!