From Cold to Hot: Lead Generation 101

Lead generation is one of the more challenging aspects of marketing, and is beholden to the same turn around, expectations, and ROI as any other branch of business. How you begin to sort and target leads will determine how quickly leads are nurtured, and will significantly impact the overall time and money spent to acquire them.

Every business is unique and requires a different set of lead generation tools and platforms. And there are many! The terms ‘cold’ and ‘warm’ lead (and every temperature in between) are used to describe the likelihood of a prospect converting to a sale or taking another directive action. There’s ongoing debate as to which type of lead is most effective to target outright.

Some businesses see return right away from targeting cold leads. A cold lead is a prospect that a company or organization has no existing connection to. They may or may not be open to being contacted. In the case of B2C, a cold lead is equivalent to picking a random name from the white pages, or in today’s market, an online directory. A B2B cold lead may likely indicate that your business is not yet talking to the right person – one who is able to make executive and financial decisions that affect your sales and bottom line. There are other factors that would keep a cold lead cold, but that may have more to do with the way an individual salesperson approaches cold leads.

The key question any business should ask is where their sales funnel starts. It definitely does not start at the product details page or shopping cart! The quality and quantity of leads is dependent on the value of the content your business distributes. So while some lead generation solution providers will hype their conversion tracking software, a reliable lead generation firm will also address content and overall marketing strategy.Content is the key to establishing warm leads because it establishes brand trust. It creates the connection between brand and prospect that increases the chances of the prospect opting in to a more direct conversion tactic, like email marketing. Content may include a blog post, video, whitepaper, social profile, press release, contest, etc. Quality, informative content can help move prospects to the next stage of the funnel. And interestingly enough, good content is also one of the most important benchmarks for SEO and social media – so you can see how lead generation must work synergistically with the other arms of business.

Warm leads are prospects that have taken an action that brings them closer to buying: requesting information in response to a campaign or promotion, opting in to receive a company newsletter, attending a seminar or webinar hosted by the company, etc. Providing a complimentary service, such as a free website and SEO evaluation, is a great example of not just “following up”, but proving value up-front. Now that things have warmed up, make it easy for leads to take the most important next steps so you can capture their essential information – name, email address and phone number: direction to an optimized landing page, well-designed lead capture page, and clear call to action (CTA).

Some of the most critical mistakes can be made when prospects are towards the end of the funnel, or are considered hot leads. Once a prospect is classified as a hot lead, it’s up to the company (or company’s website) to convert that prospect to a client or customer.While lead generation is more critical than ever, it needs to be executed alongside and integrated with a company’s website, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media marketing (SMM) plan.

4 comments on “From Cold to Hot: Lead Generation 101

  1. “How you begin to sort and target leads will determine how quickly leads are nurtured, and will significantly impact the overall time and money spent to acquire them.” I find this to be one of the most important parts of the process. Do you have any suggestions on CRM’s, or list management tools?

  2. Content is truly an important part of generating good leads. Look at any website and if the content is not interesting, it is obvious that readers will never visit the site again. Apart from interesting content, social media marketing and SEO strategies will help in greater lead generation.

  3. We don’t specialize in lead generation and marketing automation (we work with a great company for that), but SalesForce comes to mind.

  4. @B2B Marketing, couldn’t agree more. SEO and SMM are an integral part of the sales process.

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