We've all been through it. You know, the moment you're about to dig into the best plate of spaghetti and meatballs you've ever seen.
Just as you twist your fork in the pasta, spear a mouth-watering meatball, and go in for the first savoury bite ... the phone rings. "May I speak to Dominique Fur-son?" asks the telemarketer on the other end. "This is an important message about your oven preferences."
This frustrating interruption is exactly why we're here to discuss inbound lead generation. What is inbound lead generation? It's a solution that can save your business or organisation from being that annoying, disruptive cold caller who is ruining spaghetti nights for pasta lovers all over the world.
Let's start with defining a lead, and then we'll cover what online lead generation is, why you need lead generation, how you qualify someone as a lead, how you generate leads, and why inbound lead generation is much more effective than simply buying leads.
What is a Lead?
A lead is a person who has indicated interest in your company's product or service in some way, shape, or form.
As a lead, you'd hear from a business or organisation with which you've already opened communication instead of getting a random cold call from someone who purchased your contact information.
For example, maybe you took an online survey to learn more about how to take care of your car. If you got an email from the auto company that hosted the survey on their website about how they could help you take care of your car, it'd be far less intrusive and irrelevant than if they'd just called you out of the blue with no knowledge of whether you even care about car maintenance, right?
What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated interest in your company's product or service. Some examples of lead generators are job applications, blog posts, coupons, live events, and online content.
Whenever someone outside the marketing world asks me what I do, I can't simply say, "I create content for lead generation." It'd be totally lost on them, and I'd get some really confused looks.
So instead, I say, "I work on finding unique ways to attract people to my business. I want to offer them enough goodies to get them naturally interested in my company so they eventually warm up to the brand enough to want to hear from us!"
That usually resonates better, and that's exactly what lead generation is: It's a way of warming up potential customers to your business and getting them on the path to eventually buying.
That's it for part number one! If you'd like to know more about how lead generation fits into the whole inbound marketing methodology, take a look at part two as I'll walk you through the steps of the lead generation process.