In business, lead generation is basically the first introduction of customer interest or inquiry into services or products of an organization. Leads can also be generated for commercial purposes like e-newsletters, direct mail list acquisition or for generating sales leads. Leads are important for generating sales and in particular, targeted sales leads for a specific product line. They are crucial for developing and expanding a new market.
Lead generation by definition has a two phase process. In the first phase, identifying the customers is done by the sales team. In the second phase, contacting the leads is done by the sales team after understanding their preferences and buying needs. In order to make the lead generation process as efficient as possible, the sales team and customer relationship management (CRM) software should have the ability to integrate these two phases within a single application.
CRM is a very important component of the lead generation process. CRM is a complete business platform that allows marketers and sales teams to share and manage information from leads and prospects. The platform allows marketers to segment the potential customers based on their demographic characteristics and past purchases. Marketers can also determine how to contact these individuals on a more personalized basis.
Social media has emerged as a major source of leads for marketers. Social media allows marketers to connect with people through popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This gives the marketer the ability to build trust and credibility with the leads through various channels. This in turn can help in the lead generation process.
Marketing strategies such as email marketing, paid social media advertising and web advertisements are useful in lead generation. Email marketing helps in generating leads at a faster rate. The lead generation process is carried out by collecting emails from the prospects and following up on these leads. The best time to conduct email marketing is just before the launch of a product or service because this is when most people are shopping online.
CRM can provide marketers with several ways to collect contact information from prospects. A good CRM system can provide a series of automated tools that allow marketers to build contact information in a number of ways. Many marketers choose to build contact information in a lead generation format by building a database of leads and then sending unsolicited emails to these leads. This method has proved to be very effective in generating leads, but there are limitations because unsolicited emails are blacklisted by the recipients.
Another way of generating leads is by using B2B lead generation. In this form of marketing the marketers work with different companies that sell a specific product or service. These companies often have contacts with potential customers. In return, these companies allow the marketers to place their advertisements on their websites. When someone visits a company website and clicks on an advertisement placed by the marketers; they are automatically enrolled in the program. The only drawback of this form of lead generation is that it is very expensive because it requires the marketers to purchase expensive software and pay for internet usage and maintenance.
Social media provides another way to generate leads without having to spend a lot. Many marketers who are interested in creating a social media presence will create landing pages on social media sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. They will then post information about their products on these landing pages and encourage their contacts to join their mailing list. When they send out emails to their contacts regarding specials, news or other relevant information about their products, many of these prospects will be interested and may end up becoming real buyers.