What is a Digital Lead Generation Strategy

Dec 2023
What is a Digital Lead Generation Strategy

What is a digital lead generation strategy, and will it make a difference in my marketing results?

For many business owners, digital lead generation is an afterthought. You can get by on face-to-face interactions, organic referrals, or a mix of inbound and outbound online tactics that aren’t tied together by a cohesive plan. 

Inevitably, however, those channels start to dry up, and a digital lead generation strategy can provide the reliable results that you need.

At KWSM, our full-service team of in-house digital marketing specialists has been helping both B2B and B2C companies generate leads online since we opened our doors in 2010. (The internet was slower then, but you could still use it to find and convert qualified prospects. It just took longer.)

Knowing how online lead generation works and what your business needs is essential for creating a stable sales pipeline and sustainable growth. Let’s start by establishing a common understanding of what lead generation is.

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process of proactively attracting and converting strangers into customers or clients.

Marketing plans typically break lead generation out into four parts that narrow at each stage, much like a funnel. You can target prospects at each stage of the funnel with specific tactics and information that encourages them to take another step toward your desired action.

Four Parts of the Lead Generation Funnel

These are the four phases your audience will move through in this process:

  • Awareness of your product or brand 
  • Interest in your offer
  • Consideration of your offer versus other options
  • Decision to accept your offer or convert

1. Awareness

The awareness stage differentiates your prospects from total strangers. At this point, they may have seen an ad or piece of marketing collateral and know that you and your offer exist. These are the early stages, and they may not be close to making a buying decision yet.

Building awareness is an essential part of lead generation. It’s like fishing – you’ll never catch anything if you don’t have your net in the water. Publishing educational blogs, posting on your social media profiles, or even running paid ads can all help you expand your reach and hook more potential customers.

2. Interest

At the interest stage, prospects go beyond awareness and become a bit more proactive. Instead of just seeing an ad, they’ve clicked on it to visit your website or landing page. Alternatively, they may have found one of your blogs and chosen to sign up for your email newsletter to receive more content from you.

Leads who are interested should find more useful information about your products and services at this stage, either through the aforementioned email newsletter or other collateral like downloadable guides and free trials.

3. Consideration

When leads enter the consideration stage, they’re giving serious thought to signing up for your offer or buying your product. They may be doing comparison shopping or product research, and you can speak to their potential objections at this stage with case studies, testimonials, reviews, and other examples of your brand solving a customer’s pain points.

4. Decision

Another word for the decision stage of the lead generation funnel is commitment – the prospect has finally decided to buy what you’re selling or sign up for your services. 

You can make this phase easier by streamlining your checkout process, making it easy to onboard your services, or taking additional steps to remove potential hangups from the buyer’s perspective.

Two Essentials for Online Lead Generation

As you might imagine, creating effective lead generation campaigns that reach every stage of the funnel requires considerable time, effort, and resources. Any business owner who makes those investments will want to have some assurance that they’ll see results. 

What separates lead generation marketing efforts that work from those that miss the mark? In our experience, two things – a digital marketing strategy to guide the way and the back-end infrastructure necessary to nurture, capture, and convert leads as they proceed through your funnel.

1. Digital Marketing Strategy

A Digital Marketing Strategy will establish a common understanding of who your prospects are, what messages will work to convert them, and which tactics you’ll use to reach them with your message. 

Ideally, the strategy process should also analyze your existing marketing, industry positioning, and competitors to ensure that your tactics and messaging present a compelling and unique story that resonates with your prospects. 

An effective Digital Marketing Strategy will also lay the foundation for our second essential element – marketing infrastructure.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About a Digital Marketing Strategy

2. Infrastructure

Establishing the digital marketing infrastructure to capture leads and convert them into prospects and customers is the most important part of lead generation online. 

Without the right systems in place, you won’t be able to measure results or build on your successes. 

For most businesses, this starts with a modern and functional website that is able to capture user data like email addresses or complete purchases securely, depending on your sales cycle and industry niche. If you’re running paid ads, for example, you’ll need to establish proper campaign structures so that you can track metrics like clicks, impressions and conversions.

Further, your marketing infrastructure should tie into your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or project management system so that you can take action quickly when prospects are engaged. 

If executed correctly, your lead generation funnel should flow seamlessly into your existing sales processes and enhance your internal teams’ abilities to connect with and convert your prospects.

Four Benefits of Online Lead Generation

An effective lead generation strategy can positively impact your business in many ways, but we’ll focus on four specific effects of generating leads with the right strategy and infrastructure in place.

1. Raise Brand Awareness

Making a targeted effort to reach prospects at the top of the funnel raises your brand’s profile in the marketplace and makes it easier to nurture those prospects into customers. 

There’s a long-held belief in marketing circles called the Rule of Seven, which means that a prospect needs to see your message or engage with your brand seven times before they convert. 

Focusing on the top of your lead funnel will help you hit that number more quickly – and if your offer is compelling, you might be able to knock the Rule of Seven down a digit or two for your brand.

2. Qualify Prospects

Incorporating useful, educational content about your brand and product will help the right prospects learn what your brand is about at the interest and consideration stages – and help you weed out customers who aren’t a good fit for your business. 

The right lead generation campaigns don’t just bring in leads – they help you establish connections with the right buyers and ensure that they’re the ones who convert when the next opportunity presents itself.

3. Stabilize Lead Flow

Generating leads online adds diversity to your existing sales sources, which can ease the pressure on traditional sales channels that may be subject to market fluctuations or seasonality.

4. Create Transparency in Your Funnel

When you have the right strategy and infrastructure in place, the results of your lead generation campaigns will indicate which tactics are working and which tactics need to be rethought.

After a few weeks or months of tracking results, you’ll have a better understanding of where your ideal audience is and how to reach them – lessons you can apply to the next round of campaigns as you scale and grow.

Types of Online Lead Generation

Online lead generation tactics typically fall into one of two buckets: paid and organic.

Paid lead generation includes pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google or Microsoft, social media platforms, and banner ads on collateral like email or website landing pages. Organic or inbound lead generation tactics cover anything that doesn’t cost money to publish, like blogs, social media posts on your brand’s profiles, and targeted email campaigns.

As you might imagine, there are benefits and drawbacks to both methods, and the right tactics for you will be determined by your goals, strategy, and budget. Also, these categories are not mutually exclusive – many companies choose to invest in both paid and organic lead generation to maximize results, but that’s something for you to talk over with your marketing partner.

Paid Lead Generation Tactics

The first and most obvious benefit of paid lead generation tactics is that they can provide instant results. If you have a funnel in place and you start running ads, for example, you should see results from those ads very quickly after launching your campaign.

Similarly, paying for lead generation makes it easier to track where your leads are coming from. If a prospect reaches your landing page from a Facebook Ad, for example, tracking parameters can indicate the source of that visit and which ad the visitor clicked on.

The pitfall of paid ads, of course, is that when you stop spending money on ad placements, those results stop as quickly as they started. Further, most companies don’t have an unlimited budget for paid lead generation, and costs can become prohibitive depending on marketplace competition.

Organic Lead Generation Tactics

Using organic lead generation opportunities like social media posts, content optimization through blogs and SEO, or email campaigns provides a different set of pluses and minuses.

First, since you aren’t paying for ad space, you can publish as much valuable or engaging content as you want – all you have to do is create the content and add it to your website or social media profiles

(Some brands use their organic content as a testing ground for paid collateral to see how it performs with their existing audience, which is a helpful way to combine paid and organic lead generation – but that’s a whole other post.)

Staking out your own space online, so to speak, also makes it easier to own your customer data. Privacy changes on the iOS platform and impending updates to Google’s cookie policy have made attribution from paid ads more difficult. However, if users are contacting you directly through organic methods, it’s easier to keep track of who they are and where they are in your funnel.

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither is an organic lead generation strategy. It will take time – weeks and months – plus a steady stream of content to have a consistent organic lead pipeline.

Further, you’re still at the mercy of the algorithms to some extent. Instead of relying on the Facebook Ads algorithm to deliver your content to the right audience, you’re leveraging organic search on Google, YouTube, and other channels to find your target audience, and changes to those algorithms can impact your reach.

Case Study: Organic Lead Generation Strategy & Campaigns

Americover, a US-based plastic sheeting supplier, partnered with KWSM to expand their reach to a nationwide audience of growers and builders.

The goal of their lead generation strategy was to work directly with their sales team and increase the number of qualified leads they had to speak to. Their team challenged us to position their organization as the top source for plastic sheeting in the US.

KWSM devised and implemented a strategy to increase organic web traffic, build authority in Google searches, and reach new customers through three lead generation tactics: SEO optimization, blogging, and email marketing. 

After nine months of SEO-focused website updates, blogging, and emails targeting agriculture and construction professionals, Americover’s results included an eye-popping 114% year-over-year increase in organic phone calls

Email marketing alone brought in 88 new qualified phone call leads, and weekly blog posts were directly responsible for a 61% year-over-year increase in phone leads
All of these tactics combined to generate a 48% year-over-year increase in total organic conversions.

“After over a decade of hiring employees, consultants, and agencies, we created a reliable, dependable marketing engine [with KWSM]. Currently, we probably have a 20x return on our investment (Budget  spent on KWSM to revenues produced).”
– Peter O’Sullivan, COO, Americover

Why You Need a Lead Generation Strategy

Committing to a Digital Marketing Strategy for lead generation will give your brand a competitive advantage and a safeguard against shifting industry and economic conditions. 

With the right partner implementing your strategy and guiding you forward, you can make online lead generation an essential pillar of your growing business.

Does your company need a lead generation strategy to increase sales and grow your business? Fill out the form below to schedule a conversation with KWSM about your lead generation needs.

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