When it comes to acquiring customers, many businesses aren’t sure which marketing tactics they should use to fill the sales funnel. A successful lead-generation tactic has to meet several criteria:
- It generates large numbers of qualified leads for your company;
- It helps you reach a specific audience of your target customers;
- It tracks the number of leads you get; and
- It measures the costs and ROI.
There are seven marketing tactics that meet these criteria. They are proven tactics because they are the best ways for producing large numbers of actionable leads.
First, there are the online lead-generation advertising tactics:
Search engine marketing (SEM) involves setting up ad campaigns on Google and Bing. When your target customer searches for certain search terms (e.g., “golf shoes”), your SEM ad will appear at the top of their search results.
Display ads (aka banner ads) are the most widely used form of digital marketing. They are used on websites that are frequented by the ad’s target audience and are used to generate leads. Also, marketers are now getting high response rates with interactive mobile ads on customers’ iPhones and iPads.
Social media advertising uses banner ads to target users on Facebook and LinkedIn (e.g., a “honeymoon cruises” ad will appear on the Facebook pages of users whose status is Engaged). Even Twitter now offers social advertising through Promoted Tweets.
Email marketing is another effective online lead-generation tactic. Many businesses are reluctant to try it, because they’re afraid their marketing emails will be mistaken for spam. But if you use targeted, permission-based mailing lists and follow the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act guidelines, you can help to ensure that your emails will get through to your target customers.
Before the digital era, these three tried-and-true tactics reigned, and they still bring in thousands of leads for companies that use them:
Direct mail is a great tactic for explaining the benefits of a complex product or service in detail. But it’s an expensive tactic, so use it only if you’re selling something that gives you a high return on marketing investment (e.g., cars), or if your customer has a long-term lifetime value (e.g., insurance) through a renewable contract or repeat sales.
Cold calling works best today if you’re selling products or services to other businesses. In cold calling, you use a targeted call list of customers (e.g., business executives) who might have a need for your products or services.
Trade shows are still a great way to collect leads, because they bring you face-to-face with customers who may be looking to buyyour products or services.
Which of these tactics should you be using? As many as will work successfully for your type of business and provide a positive ROI. Ideally, you should test all seven lead-generation tactics and use the ones that work best and are the most cost-effective for your business.
David T. Scott has served as chief marketing officer and head of marketing for startups, Fortune 500 companies and billion-dollar organizations, including GE, AT&T Wireless, PeopleSoft, Foresee and Intermec. While working at these companies, he developed a set of strategies designed to help marketing organizations increase their lead-generation results. He is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business and the author of “The New Rules of Lead Generation” (AMACOM, 2013).