In this article, you will learn:
You probably already heard the term lead in a podcast or a meetup. If you googled “lead” on Google, you got thousands of different articles, videos about lead generation techniques, leads on Facebook, marketing leads…
The amount of content about the subject is immense. So, let’s filter it a little and start discussing the definition of lead and understand the different kinds of leads according to their qualifications and which life-cycle stage they’re in.
What's a Lead?
A lead is a person or organization who indicates interest in what you are selling, be it a product or a service. Leads usually share this interest after opening a company’s communication (by sharing contact information, like an email, phone or social media handle).
Let’s say one beautiful morning you answered an online test to understand which vitamins are ideal for you. To receive your results, you need to share your name, age and email information. When you receive your results in a beautiful email, together with the list of supplements resulting from the survey, you receive a little message from the e-commerce that provides them. Yes, you are now a lead and that’s what it feels like.
From a business perspective, the information that the vitamin company collects about you and others from this online test responses helps them personalize communication to address your needs.
Sounds simple, right? But wait. Leads are part of a broader life cycle that involves turning a visitor into a customer.
Let’s take a look at the different types of leads.
They are classified as such according to their qualification and their placement in the marketing funnel.
Information Qualified Lead (IQL)
These leads are located in the very beginning of your buyer’s journey. They are usually called “cold leads” and are looking for more information about a subject or a problem they are facing. At this stage, your company should offer helpful information about a topic relevant to your customers’ query. That’s also the moment you can request personal data like their name, email address, location, etc., in exchange.
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
Marketing Qualified Leads are contacts that are already engaged with your marketing efforts. They already identified their problem and are looking for a way a company can provide a solution. An MQL can be generated through an offer landing page (e-book, white paper offer), after filling a form, for example. These leads are called “warm leads”.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
This is the stage where contacts who’ve taken actions express their interest to make a purchase. An example of an SQL is a contact who fills out a form to ask a question about your product or service. They are the desired “hot leads”.
Product Qualified Lead (PQL)
If your company offers free trials, then the Product Qualified Lead appears in your funnel. The PQL are contacts who’ve used your product and take the action to become a paying customer. PQLs usually contact the company to know more premium options or extra features they can access upon purchase.
Service Qualified Lead (SQL)
If your company offers different service plans, with upgrades and focus on upsales, Service Qualified Leads also appear in your funnel. They are contacts that would like to upgrade from a basic to a premium plan, for example.
Tips for Lead Generation
Now that you know a little bit about the different types of leads, here are a few tips to use when building lead gen campaigns.
Define your ideal lead
Go over your sales history and check which kind of leads close more. Identify characteristics that they have in common: demographics, geography, behaviors, where they were generated (lead generation channels), etc. This way, you start determining and understanding your buyer persona(s), your ideal customer(s) and prospects. Also, knowing who you are talking to makes it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, and develop your product and services.
Create offers for all different stages of the buying cycle
Not everybody that visits your website is ready for an offer or to talk with your sales team. An IQL is more inclined to search for an ebook or a whitepaper while an SQL might want a 14-day trial prior closing a deal. So, make sure to create offers for each phase of your sales funnel, offering CTAs over your site.
I know it isn’t the easiest task, it demands time but, trust me, there is no other way to convert quality leads for your business.
Link your CTA to a dedicated landing page
It might sound weird, but I usually see small businesses and startup owners that don’t create dedicated landing pages for their offers. They drive people to their homepages, for instance. And this is something you want to avoid even if your CTA is about your product or service.
You should be sending people to targeted landing pages that are relevant to what they are looking for and it is explicit in your campaign. Your landing page must include an opt-in form. You don’t want to lose an opportunity to convert a visitor into a lead, right?
Use social media strategically
Social media is still a helpful and low- cost lead generation source. The key here is to use your channels strategically for achieving your goals.
Start by adding links directly to high performing landing pages within your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media posts. Tell visitors that you’re sending them to a landing page.
Stay flexible and be dynamic
Your lead generation needs to be flexible. People change, trends are coming and going, behavior shifts.
Use A/B tests to determine which CTAs perform better, which landing pages have higher conversion, and which copy engages more your personas. Experiment, try out new layouts, new content formats, advertising channels until you find your right formula.