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What is Lead Generation in Digital Marketing? Strategies, Tools, and Tactics

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Before websites and internet-ready mobile phones, we all tried to win sales in an entirely different way.

Salespeople would pick up the phone and cold-call people or drop into businesses with the latest catalogue. 

They’d even send messages using fax machines!

Lead generation means we no longer have to chase customers to get sales. Rather than directly approaching people, we can entice them to sign up for our services with a well-thought-out lead generation campaign.

If you’re asking the question, ‘what is lead generation in digital marketing?’ We’ve put this comprehensive guide together to get you started.

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What is lead generation in digital marketing?

In sales and marketing, a ‘lead’ is someone who is interested in the product or service you sell.

Lead generation is the process of identifying these people, getting their details, educating them about the features and benefits of your services or products and encouraging them to buy from you.

Here’s a practical example that might help…

Let’s say you get an ad on Facebook inviting you to an online webinar about how to create the perfect social media profile for your business. 

You give your name, email address and phone number in exchange for an invite to the webinar. 

In this situation, the webinar is a ‘lead magnet,’ something that encourages people to provide their information.

A few days later, you get an email from the company that held the webinar, thanking you for attending. As an extra bonus, it has a special deal on its social media scheduling software for all attendees. 

The company used the webinar to identify people who might be interested in buying – businesses that want to improve their social media presence. By doing this, it could directly contact the relevant people, increasing the chances of getting that all-important sale.

Even if customers aren’t at the buying stage, the company can continue sending them relevant information until they are ready to purchase. This is known as lead nurturing.

What’s the importance of lead generation in digital marketing?

The main benefit of lead generation is it can save you time and money. Rather than wasting your salespeople’s time reaching out to prospective customers who may not be interested, they can focus on customers that are the right fit for your business.

This not only frees up your salespeople, but keeps them motivated and happy.

Sale being completed by salesperson

With lead generation, you always have a steady flow of leads for your business. Prospective customers go through a process when buying your products and services. They’ll go from people who have never heard of you to people who have heard of you and are interested in finding out more. Finally, they’ll be in a position to buy and even promote your business to other people.

By having a constant pipeline of leads available, you don’t need to worry about lulls in sales at particular times of the year or if your salespeople need to go on leave.

Lead generation strategies in digital marketing

Lead generation is one of those things that is easy to implement, but hard to master. 

According to HubSpot, six out of ten marketers consider generating the right leads to be their biggest challenge.

Here are some of the top lead generation strategies and techniques to consider in digital marketing.

1. Know your target audience

It’s important to know who you want to focus your lead generation strategy on. 

This will determine the lead magnet you use, the marketing channels you adopt to get people to your website and how you will nurture prospective customers.

Before you start your campaign, think about the demographics of your ideal customer.

2. Consider how you’ll qualify your leads

As well as your target audience, you need to know the criteria you’ll use to qualify your leads.

Qualifying your leads means you’re sorting them into three categories.

  • Customers that are ready to buy from you right away – you’ll want to send these leads to your sales team to action
  • Customers that aren’t ready to buy yet – you’ll want to send these leads to your marketing team so they can nurture them
  • Customers that aren’t a good fit for your business – you can either disregard these leads or keep an eye on them in case circumstances change

You can qualify your leads by asking them additional questions when they give you their contact details. 

For example, if you want to focus on large businesses, you can ask your prospective lead how many people work at their company.

People working in large office space

3. Create bespoke landing pages for the best results

When people visit your website, you want to create a landing page that encourages them to hand over their contact details.

Conversion rate optimisation is the science of making amends to a page that increases the likelihood of customers converting. Everything from the images you upload, the headings you use… even the colours of the buttons on the page, can have an impact.

A/B testing can help identify what landing page design converts best. Create two nearly-identical pages with one slightly different element and send an equal number of prospective customers to each. You can then see which page drives the most conversions. 

By the way, Bubblegum Search provides both landing page design & CRO services, so we can take care of your lead generation, and you can get started with a free marketing plan! 🙂 

4. Use retargeting

Not everyone who visits your website will hand over their contact details the first time around. 

If this is the case, it pays to have advertising in place that encourages prospective leads to come back.

Retargeting is when you serve search ads to customers that have already visited your site. Or If you’ve ever gone to a website and thought it’s a coincidence that you see adverts for products and services you’re already familiar with, that’s display remarketing in action!

Retargeted visitors are 70% more likely to convert on a website compared to those who haven’t been retargeted.

We’re specialists in remarketing and pay-per-click campaigns, so let us know if you want to give remarketing a try.

5. Plan how you’ll keep your customers warm

Lead nurturing is a great way to give leads that aren’t quite ready to buy that nudge into purchasing your product or service. When looking at lead generation for your business, it’s crucial to consider how you’ll nurture those leads.

The best way to do this is through an email sequence. By keeping these leads in the loop and regularly staying in contact, you’ll always be fresh in their thoughts.

Email application open on Mac laptop

Lead generation tools in digital marketing – five free options

There are a lot of lead generation tools out there that can help you find the right customers. 

The good news is that many are low-cost and no-cost… perfect for small businesses!

Here are some of our favourites.

1. Google Analytics

Every website should have Google Analytics installed. Not only does it help you see which pages of your site are the most popular, but you can use it on your lead generation pages to see how they are performing.

By setting up a conversion goal (for example, when someone fills in a form), you can check if you need to make any tweaks to your pages.

2. Mailchimp

You can use Mailchimp to create forms on your website, encouraging prospective customers to give you their information. 

You can then generate email campaigns to help nurture your leads until they’re ready to buy.

Artistic Mailchimp setup with pens and laptop

3. Hello Bar

If you want to add popups to your site that encourage customers to become leads, Hello Bar lets you create a wide range, from bars to full-screen takeovers.

The free account has lots of functionality; however the paid-for version lets you carry out A/B tests to see which popup is most popular with site visitors.

4. Canva

An eBook or white paper can be a great way to generate leads. If you want a lead magnet that looks enticing, Canva can help you create good-looking content.

Just choose your template, pick a design, and get started!

(Don’t forget, if you need a little extra help with your content, we can create eBooks and other lead magnets for you.)

5. Buffer

While creating a high-quality lead generation page on your website is a must, you also need to have marketing in place to ensure customers get there.

A well-thought-out SEO campaign, pay-per-click advertising and social ads can drive traffic to your site, but your social media channels can play a decisive role too.

Social media scheduling software like Buffer allows you to create social media posts in advance and even generate leads outside working hours.

In summary: generating leads in digital marketing doesn’t have to be tough

We hope this guide has helped answer the question: ‘what is lead generation in digital marketing?’ 

Now you should understand more about the lead generation process, and why leads are so important when growing your business.

If you don’t have the time to create and implement a lead generation strategy, Bubblegum Search can help. 

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We have years of experience when it comes to lead generation in digital marketing. 

We’ll work with your team to determine your target audience, create enticing lead magnets or landing pages, and deliver qualified leads to your sales department.

Get your free marketing plan today and take the first steps towards generating fresh new leads for your business.

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