How to Generate Leads [Infographic]

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Andy Crestodina
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This may be the most common web marketing challenge: how to generate leads. Some do it very well, and others never seem to figure it out. When lead generation isn’t working, everyone seems to have a different opinion as to why.

There are a lot of factors – at least 40! Let’s take a giant step back and look at all the things required to create a lead generating machine.

Here is our all-in-one, super huge, print-this-and-hang-it-up explanation of everything you need to know about how to generate leads. Do not skip any steps. Miss something here and you’ll miss opportunities to connect with customers.

Note for e-commerce sites: this process is very similar for sites that sell things, which are less about generating leads and more about generating customers.

how to generate leads

Strategy & Branding

Why are you in business? How you deliver value to your customers? Answering these questions is the first step to generating leads. Branding is the perception of your position in the market, including all your content and imagery. It must be consistent from the first impression through the entire experience of each of your customers.

1. Mission, Vision, and Values

Why are you in business? What is your core offering? For what does your company stand? Know these first or you’re building your business on sand.

2. Research: Audience Needs, Market Size, Competitive Analysis

Know your niche. How do you meet the demands of your audience? What is your place in the market? Are you up against big, consolidated competitors? Or are you in a fragmented market? Content strategy is what bait to use, but audience strategy is what pond in which to fish.

3. Position

Now you can get specific about your target audience and their unmet needs. What is your unique point of difference? Use a positioning process to guide you through the positioning process.

4. Messaging

How do you best describe the value you provide? What evidence do you have to support your unique point of difference? Align your message with your position and your values. Find a clear and concise voice.

5. Visual Standards

Create a visual continuity through colors, styles, and type. Carry this through your website, your offline materials, your social networks, your email marketing, and each piece of your content.

Web Design

The website is both the platform for publishing and the machine for generating leads. A great lead generation website will pull in traffic like a magnet. It needs to build trust, give valuable information to visitors and be easy to update.

6. Requirements Gathering

Step one in a great site is knowing what the scope will be. What features need to be included? What kinds of changes may be needed down the road? How many types of page templates will there be?

7. Keyword Research

People are looking for you right now. If we find out what they’re searching for, we can align pages on the website with phrases for which they’re searching. Research keywords before making the sitemap.

8. Sitemap

The organization of the pages determines how the site will be navigated by visitors. What information do visitors need in what order before they become a lead? The sitemap also affects how search-friendly the pages are. What page labels best indicate your relevance? Ideally, you make a sitemap with both visitors and search engines in mind.

9. Wireframes

The wireframes are the black-and-white layouts for the page templates. Like the sitemap, wireframes have several purposes. They are a planning tool for the user experience. But these layouts also affect search-friendliness and ease-of-updates. This is also where responsive web design is planned. One is created for each type of page.

10. Moodboards

If the wireframes are about structure, the moodboards are about style. Here’s where the visual standards are executed online. Colors, background treatments, button styles, and type treatments are set for headers, links, and body text.

11. Design

Next the wireframes and moodboards are combined into the storyboard designs. Now all the planning comes to life. The visual prominence of the elements are balanced against each other, as usability and the brand come together.

12. Development

Final designs are converted into web pages first through front-end programming: HTML and CSS. Next comes back-end programming: custom features, integration, the content management system and database development.

13. Browser Testing and Final Review

Everything must be double checked to ensure it works properly on desktop and mobile devices. Pages should load quickly and each feature must be bug-free.

Website Content

Website content development happens during the design process. Once the sitemap is final, the full scope of content requirements are set. Content must be finalized before development is complete or the process will be delayed.

14. Strategy

What questions does your audience have? What concerns? What do they desire, fear, trust, and love? The website content must be aligned with the people who will be reading it. Create personas if necessary. Align the topics and tone with the audience.

15. Write

Write with these readers in mind. Respect the time of the readers, and be concise. Think ahead about traffic, and use the target phrases. Pay close attention to formatting and internal linking. Select images and create videos that build credibility. Put your best foot forward, but be humble.

16. Edit

Make sure the content is accurate and on-target, but don’t delay the launch while you wordsmith that paragraph for two weeks. Web content is easy, free, and fast to change at any time.

17. Content Entry

All final content is added to the content management system, including images, videos, meta data, and page titles. All formatting, including headers, bullets, and links, are checked one last time.

18. LAUNCH!

The big day. For most businesses, it comes just once every four to five years. Hopefully, the design, programming, and content are ready to go. But again, don’t let small issues delay the launch. Digital ink is never dry. You can (and should) change the site as times goes by.

Now the platform is in place, and we’re ready to start content marketing.

Create Content

A website without a steady stream of useful content is just an online brochure. It has no pulse. It is simply an online advertisement. But add useful content, and suddenly, the brand is helpful to the visitor. There’s a reason to share, to link, and to open the newsletters. Content generates the trust that generates the leads.

19. Content Marketing Strategy

A sustainable content marketing plan is based on the resources available: people, money, and time, both internally and from vendors and partners. An effective content marketing plan is based on topics, tone, and frequency that aligns with the needs of the audience. Personas and publishing calendars will help.

20. Research

A carefully researched article is more useful to your audience than an opinion piece. Thorough “how to” posts are more likely to be searched for, shared, bookmarked, and read. Do your research, and create something valuable. Surveys and original research with evidence are among the highest value content on the web.

21. Create

Write the posts, record the podcasts, or shoot the videos, whichever format is best for your audience. Use a ghost writer, content template, content checklist, or a restaurant napkin, whichever method is best for you and your team.

22. Curate

Repurpose content from other sources, but add your own insights and perspective. Interviews, event recaps, and article round-ups are all efficient ways to produce high-value content quickly.

23. Edit

Your process should include an editorial review to make sure you don’t publish typos and mistakes. Simple errors can hurt credibility and make you look foolish. Take the time to have an editor review the work.

24. PUBLISH!

Make it live. For posts, publish using a URL that includes the target keyphrase. For videos, embed them into your site using a professional hosting service.

Further reading: How to create a marketing funnel that generates sales (with templates). 

Content Promotion

Now we’re ready to promote our content. It’s not enough to just publish. Our focus here is content marketing, not advertising.

That means making your content visible through search engine optimization, social media, and email marketing. It’s time to market your marketing…

Search Engine Optimization

Ranking in search engines can provide a durable, consistent source of traffic. It requires research, careful writing, and having a credible website and domain. This means enough link popularity to compete for the phrases you’re targeting.

25. Keyword Research

As with web page content, blog posts and other content marketing should be aligned with keyphrases. As before, select keyphrases based on search volume, competition, and relevance. You’ll use these keyphrases in your writing using SEO best practices.

26. Guest Blogging

Writing high-quality content and submitting it to relevant blogs is a consistent way to earn inbound links. It’s also a way to put your message in front of a new audience and make new friends.

27. Search-savvy PR

Public relations activity can also create great linking opportunities. PR professionals who know the value of links take advantage of any media attention to seek authoritative links to specific web pages and blog posts.

28. Other Marketing Activity

Of course, this goes beyond search optimization, but it’s worth noting that all kinds of offline marketing has potential search benefits. Events, partnerships, advertising, association memberships, and sponsorships can all create link opportunities.

Social Media

Social media marketing is a powerful channel for promoting content and a tool for online networking. Both of these outcomes are important for lead generation. Great social media includes a content promotion strategy, content curation, and one-to-one conversation.

29. Research

Find specific people to connect with, such as prospects, bloggers, journalists, editors, and influencers. Build lists of people to watch. Carefully research publications and blogs before pitching content.

30. Pitch

For both PR and guest blogging, pitching content goes hand-in-hand with social media. Use social channels to gradually build stronger connections. Submit content with humility and with a sensitivity to the audience of the blog or publication. Always be thoughtful of editors’ time.

31. Social Sharing

Post your content on the social networks where your audience spends time. Use targeted sharing to make it visible to people who will love what you wrote. Don’t be shy. Believe in your content, and share each post multiple times over days, weeks, and months.

32. Conversation

Don’t let your social stream fill up with promotional posts. Talk to people! Use social media as a tool for networking. When possible, move the conversation from casual mentions on Twitter, to email, phone, and face-to-face meetings.

Email Marketing

Search engines and social networks are all owned by companies, but your email list belongs to you and your business. An engaged list of subscribers who look forward to your content is one of the most powerful tools for lead nurturing and lead generation.

33. Design and Production

Your email template should be lightweight, mobile-friendly, and easy to manage. Your subject line should be descriptive but leave room for curiosity. Your teaser text and call-to-action should be crafted to maximize clickthroughs.

34. Timing & Frequency

When is your audience most likely to open? Friday at lunch or Saturday morning? How often should you send email? If your sales cycle is long, you may only need to send something monthly. Focus on quality, not quantity. Nurture leads by politely inviting your current prospects to join your list.

35. Testing

Email marketing is easy to track, so each email is an opportunity for measurement and improvement. A/B test subject lines and timing. Track using the Google URL builder to compare campaigns. Keep experimenting and improving.

36. SEND!

Send emails using a professional service with good deliverability (99%) and easy-to-read reports. Keep your list clean by checking bounces and removing old addresses.

Analytics

Analytics is a decision support tool. Use it to do real analysis, blog optimization, and check the results of experiments. The two most important numbers for lead generation are total traffic and the conversion rate. All efforts are focused on these two numbers.

37. Visitors and Overall Traffic Levels

Adjusting for seasonality, is traffic up or down? Is your content attracting more visitors over time? Are the visitors bouncing after one page or going deeper into your website?

38. Traffic Sources

Where are visitors coming from? Which of your promotion channels are effective? Which keyphrases, email campaigns, and social channels are pulling in visitors?

39. Content Performance

Which pages are connecting with visitors? Which topics are getting traction? Which are most successful at generating traffic and conversions?

40. Conversions

The bottom line number is total leads generated. The total traffic times your conversion rate equals leads. Other conversions include newsletter subscribers, job applicants, and event registrants. Social follows are also conversions, but they don’t appear in Analytics.

Is that all?

So that’s how to generate leads. Yes, there are a lot of steps involved. But it’s worth it. A steady flow of high-quality leads can transform a business. Generate enough demand, and you’ll have no choice but to grow your business.

What did we miss? Leave a comment and inform your fellow readers with your own lead generation insights.

I’d like to give a shout out to Christian Jackson of Sinch Art & Design for the flowchart. Thank you so much!

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Comments (27)
  • What an awesome write-up. And a great info-graphic. Will this be an insert in the next edition of Content Chemistry?

    • Maybe! It’s such a big topic, it could be it’s own book. We’ll see…

  • Fabulous new look and feel of the website — first-class design! And congratulations on being featuring in Inc. What a fantastic accomplishment. Kudos to everyone at Orbit Media Studios.

    Finally, thank you for sharing this comprehensive post on how to generate leads. I would add that it’s important to be authentic and community with your audience/market in a clear and concise manner.

    • Oops! I meant to type, “it’s important to be authentic and communicate.”

    • They’re so good, aren’t they? Believe it or not, I had very little to do with the redesign. The team ran with it and I’m super impressed. Grateful and honored!

  • Tons of valuable tips here, Andy. I especially appreciate the timing since we’re in final throes of shiny, new website development process ourselves. Fun to compare notes!

    • Thanks, Carmen! I hope this is useful. But you’re a pro. You already know this stuff! 🙂

  • Andy I LOVE the final info-graphic! I agree with Amandah, I think being genuine and building relationships along the way is always important – especially when tied in to your key points. Can’t wait to share this with clients!

  • I have a bias against infographics (don’t ask me why) but this one contains actual useful information! Thanks Andy, and I love the website!

    • I’m gonna win you over one of these days = )

    • I agree. People have overdone it with the infographics. But this is kind of more of a diagram. It needs to go with the text or it’s not as useful. In any case, nice to see you here, Rosemary!

  • Great post Andy!

  • LOVE this! I’m in the process of launching my life coaching business, so this is SUPER helpful on helping me get clear on next steps. Thank you for your generosity and expertise 😀

  • This is great Andy, sharing with the team here.

    Congrats on the new site as well

    • Thank you, Joe! And thanks for your willingness to help on such short notice. It’s our destiny to collaborate again soon. Maybe another beer infographic, or maybe just a beer.

      For those of you who missed it, Joe led the effort on this little jewel: “If your blog was a beer…”
      https://www.orbitmedia.com/blog/beer-blogging/

      Still one of my favorites. The crew at Visual.ly are amazing.

  • Do you sell this chart? How much?

  • So, is lead generation something one does to build traffic to one’s website?
    We take a little longer to understand, here at jjslist.com, but we do get there!
    Sincerely,
    Slow Joe in the Back Row

  • this is really valuable. Well done. I generally loathe infographics but this is quite brilliant. Thanks

  • Brilliant

  • How do I get hold of this infographic?

  • WOW!!! Thanks. And thanks to Barry Feldman for getting me here.

  • Great post, Andy! This is as clearly and completely as I have seen this information presented anywhere. Keep up the great work!

  • Good stuff here, sir.

  • I remember when you first outlined this to me a few months ago. I loved it then, I’m crazy about it now. It’s as clear an example of our own value-add as a top of the flow-chart solution much clearer than I’ve been selling. Once again, you’ve managed to show-off while being totally cool, gracious, and masterful at the same time. If Orbit has kool-aid, I’m a drinkin’ it.

  • Andy, this is fantastic!! Totally sharing with my peeps! Very comprehensive, yet easy to understand the flow. Two thumbs up!

  • Hi Andy,
    What an excellent post you published and thank you for sharing. I liked the flow of infographic, and this is one of the best diagrams I’ve seen when it comes to showing the entire process.
    I also enjoyed your post, especially when it started with Strategy & Branding; the whole process of generating quality leads was well written and concise.

    Will share it on other media channels. Hello to you from Sydney, Australia and have an inspiring weekend. Hana

  • Tons of valuable tips here, Andy !!! thanks

 
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