Lead generation requires good writing…and more. To generate leads, your content also has to be visible and persuasive.
The best lead generation programs integrate what I call the golden triad: SEO, content and customer psychology.
Profitable lead generation programs are responsive to prospects’ processes for learning, evaluating and choosing. They influence customer psychology at each step.
I’ve helped dozens of organizations understand their customers’ psychology of buying. (Whyze Group started in 2001 as a consumer research provider.) I’ve created lead generation programs that dramatically improved sales and profitability.
Here, I explain how to leverage SEO, content and psychology to generate leads for your service business.
Click on any topic to skip ahead.
- What is Lead Generation?
- Avoid the Biggest Mistake in Lead Generation
- How Online Lead Generation Works
- 8 Lead Magnets You Can Use Today
- 5 Benefits of Giving Away Valuable Content
- Use Buyer Personas
- Create Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action
- Boost Your Visibility
- How and When to Followup on a Lead
- 4 Principles of Lead Generation Psychology You Must Use
- Manage from Lead Generation to Customer Acquisition
What is lead generation?
Lead generation consists of attracting strangers to your business. It grows your sales by creating new relationships with future customers.
If your website isn’t getting enough traffic, lead generation will help. That’s because lead generation improves search engine page rank. You become more visible to online shoppers. I’ll explain how below.
Avoid the biggest mistake in lead generation
Here’s a common situation. A business has a website. Some visitors fill out out a contact form. But, it’s not enough to sustain the business.
This is where the biggest misunderstanding of lead generation exists.
Many business people think having a website generates leads. But, it doesn’t. A website is simply a billboard in a forest of online billboards.
A long time ago, I create my first website. It was well-written and visually stunning. But almost no one saw it. Those who visited lingered for only a minute, then left.
If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know it’s disheartening. I was inexperienced then. Not any more.
To generate new customers, two things need to happen: your website has to be visible, and shoppers have to begin interacting with you.
To be found, your website needs to become an valuable resource. An important part of SEO is posting content that shoppers value.
When online shoppers value your content, do does Google. Google determines that value by measuring how many people click on your content and engage with it.
To create leads— new customers—your content needs inform, entertain and engage. That’s what I mean by being valuable.
How Online Lead Generation Works
Lead generation is proactive. You start the exchange.
The process begins with three steps.
Step 1. You create a lead magnet. A lead magnet is a gift for your web visitors.
Step 2. You promote the lead magnet.
Step 3. Shoppers give you their contact information to receive it.
For service businesses, that gift is usually some kind of content. The content is authentically valuable to shoppers. And, you don’t charge money for it.
But, it’s not free.
Shoppers give you three super-valuable things in exchange for your gift. They give you their contact information. They give you their time. And, they give you permission to recontact them.
Those are huge.
That’s what makes lead generation so powerful. And profitable.
9 Lead Magnets You Can Use Today
You can get highly creative with lead magnets. Here are some examples:
Free estimate. These work when your prospect’s need is urgent or simple. Examples are repairs to roofs, plumbing or carpentry. The free estimate gives you a chance to make a great impression. Your personal manner and the content of your estimate are big influences on customers’ choices of providers.
Free consultation. This works well for service professionals and consultants. If you normally bill a hundred dollars or more per hour, then a free consultation provides great value. It can be 15 minutes or 30 minutes. Shoppers value the ability to see if there’s chemistry between you.
New Product. You can announce a limited-time offer. This is often used to test different promotional copy and features. So, in addition to generating interest, you can also get useful feedback from customers.
Discount coupon. Offer a one-time discount to visitors. This works best if you do this for a limited time. It creates a sense of urgency for prospects to get a deal while there’s still time.
Special report. A special report provides unique, insider information that your future customers won’t find anywhere else. One special report I wrote created 186 corporate executive leads its first two weeks. Here it is.
Refer a friend bonus coupons. This is a great way to generate interest among your web visitors and their friends. Offer two 10% discount coupons. One goes to the person making the referral. The other goes to their friend.
Free subscription. Subscribers get email updates on special discounts, limited supply items or privileges that no one else has. The possibilities are as unlimited as your imagination.
Special Access Pass. This works well if you’re promoting an event. You can offer a limited number of passes to locations where other attendees can’t go.
Webinar. This is similar to the special access pass, but for events online. Only people who register on your website can attend.
You can email these gifts to shoppers as soon as they sign up for them. This is commonly done through an autoresponder.
An autoresponder is simply an application that automatically emails a thank you note to your website registrants. Your gift is attached to the email. Again, no fuss on your part. It works while you sleep.
Five Benefits of Giving Away Valuable Content
- You’ve given a shopper something of value. You’ve made a good impression.
- You’ve got a lead. The shopper has given you their contact information.
- You’ve learned more about the shopper’s needs.
- You can follow up with this person.
- You can test different lead magnets to see which ones work best.
Use Buyer Personas
You can amp up your lead generation program by addressing different buyer personas. A persona is an archetypal shopper. Your business likely sells to two or more personas.
Here’s what I mean.
Take a law practice, for example. One persona might be someone looking for a divorce lawyer. Another could be someone looking for legal help forming a new business.
A persona goes deeper than the product someone wants. Personas get at shoppers’ psychological and emotional needs. They’re more useful than demographics like age and income.
The divorcee is likely to be upset and depressed. Maybe their kids aren’t speaking to them. Their job performance may be suffering. Their world is upside-down.
How would your content speak to someone going through this?
Now, compare that to how you’d talk with someone starting a new business. They’re energized and ambitious. They’re looking for help with the legal paperwork.
For this law firm, the content for these two personas should be very different. That’s because their psychological needs are completely different.
Whyze Group is a leader in developing personas. We began creating personas in 2001, long before they become mainstream.
Create Attention, Interest, Desire and Action
Turning leads into sales requires that your prospect evolve from shopper to customer. There are lots of models that describe this. I like this simple, four-step model:
Awareness > Interest > Desire > Action
People can buy from you only if you’ve gotten their attention first. Then, you spur their interest and desire to buy.
Personas inform the creation of content. Unique content attracts shoppers at each step.
Boost Your Visibility
To generate attention, you have to be visible. Note: You should not be thinking about paid advertising right now. The reason why will become clear in a minute.
Boosting your visibility starts with your web content.
That’s because Google (and other search engines) show content that best satisfies Google users.
Google users want to find you. But, they may not know your name. They’ll do a Google search, using search terms about the kind of service they’re seeking.
You can make it super easy for Google users to find you with keyword research.
Keyword research tells you what search terms Google users search on. Keyword research is an important part of SEO.
You’ll save promotional dollars if your content uses keyword phrases that Google users search for.
And, this is the best part. By using the right keywords, more shoppers will find you, whether you advertise or not.
That’s because Google prioritizes content that’s most relevant to its users. They do that for organic (non-paid) search as well as for Google paid ads.
Searches on Facebook, Twitter and other social media use keywords, too. You can promote your lead magnet on social media. You can boost your visibility with ads, just like on Google.
You can also use news releases. I wrote a news release about a lead magnet I had created.
It was covered in lots of business publications. It generated 187 executive leads in just two weeks.
How and When to Follow Up on a Lead
Most people don’t buy right away. It usually takes three to ten or more interactions before someone buys. This can depend on the types of services offered.
Three interactions is common for simple consumer purchases. For example, take a homeowner shopping for a plumber. They may go to a 1) website, 2) call and then 3) meet the plumber. That might happen in a matter of hours.
B2B leads can require a lot more nurturing and content. That’s especially true when businesses shop for complex, pricey products like consulting or technology.
Several decision makers weigh in. Budgeting and approval processes can take weeks or months. Follow ups every two weeks might be appropriate.
That’s OK. You’re in the driver’s seat. You’re building customer relationships and you’re set up to grow your business.
If you remember anything here, remember this: do the follow up.
A Harvard Business Review study shows that 71% of qualified leads are never followed up properly. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenkrogue/2012/07/12/the-black-hole-that-executives-dont-know-about/#51aedc6638e3)
You can follow up with email marketing. Continue to impress your prospect with gifts of advice and demonstrations of value.
Emails are inexpensive and personalized. You can email hundreds of prospects in minutes. Email is an effective way to keep you top of mind with your prospective customers.
You can also call your prospect to check in with them. Phone calls are more time consuming. Your prospects may not answer unrecognized phone numbers.
4 Principles of Lead Generation Psychology You Must Use
We’ve interviewed tens of thousands of people to understand psychological influences on their purchases. We found dozens of influences.
Some psychological influences on buyer behavior are unique to certain industries. But, many are common to buyers in all industries.
Here are four common psychological insights you should be using to power your lead generation process today:
1. Emotions drive buying decisions.
You already know this. Emotions drive human behavior.
Dozens of psychological studies reveal the dominant influence of emotions on purchase decisions. Information plays a role, though.
Information, presented at the right time in the right way, creates positive buying emotions. I talked earlier about the steps shoppers take with you—from attention to interest, on to desire and then action.
In our consumer research, shoppers’ emotional peaks and valleys correspond with what they do at each step. And, whether they’ll take the next step at all.
Using these insights, we redesign or eliminated customer experiences that created negative emotions. We create new content that creates positive emotions and action.
The next three insights build on creating positive emotions.
2. To stand out, be bold. (And, do it early.)
Yuo cna porbalby raed tihs esaliy desptie teh msispeillgns. That’s because shoppers quickly interpret familiar patterns.
A visitor to your website sizes you up in seconds. They fill in the blanks (right or wrong) instantaneously. And, they form an impression based on partial information.
Do you stand out? If you fit a pattern in your industry, probably not.
Standing out requires breaking from shopper’s expectations. You can’t be subtle. You need to rock their world.
You need to surprise them. A positive surprise is best delivered early in the lead generation process.
Psychologists agree. When you surprise someone in a positive way, they have a novel, emotional experience. You stand out. And, you’re remembered.
Positive emotions also linger long after your interaction with a shopper. They won’t remember everything you said, but they will remember how they felt.
Surprise them early. You may not get a second chance later.
3. Create content in your customer’s language.
You need to speak the language of your prospects. That could be online or in person.
If you’re selling fashion products, you could speak in the language of teen fashion. Or, you could speak in the language of haute couture.
Those are two languages used by two different fashion personas. These personas have different tastes, budgets and usage occasions.
You can help create trust more quickly by speaking your customer’s language.
4. Focus Shoppers’ Choices
We all say we love options. The more the better. Right?
Wrong. It’s not true.
The truth is too many options overwhelm shoppers. And, when shoppers feel overwhelmed, they don’t buy.
Here’s an example.
Researchers set up an experiment in a grocery store. They set up a display of 24 flavors of specialty jams and offered free samples. About 3% of people who tried a jam went on to buy a jar.
Then, they reset the same display with only six flavors of jam instead of 24. The same number of shoppers visited their display. However, 30% went on to buy a jar. That’s ten times more purchases with 18 fewer choices.
Focus your shopper’s on easy choices. You’ll sell more.
These are just four influences on shoppers’ emotions and purchase behavior. We’ve found dozens.
Manage from lead generation to customer acquisition
When people talk about lead generation, they often mean customer acquisition. People want leads to grow their customer bases.
Lead generation morphs into new business by grabbing shoppers’ attention and building interest, desire and action. A portion of shoppers proceed from one step to the next.
Managing that process starts with measuring it.
Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to track each step. And, you’ll learn valuable lessons such as,
- how many prospects advance from one step to the next
- which content works best at each step
- when leads become paying customers
- why certain customers are more profitable
So, with a little measurement and some tweaks, most lead generation programs become more and more profitable.
And, you’re not limited to one lead magnet. You can test two, three…as many as you want.
The great thing is that even mediocre lead magnets can increase web traffic and sales.
Do an SEO audit. If your website isn’t generating enough traffic and sales, an SEO audit can tell you why. (I’ll talk more about an SEO audit in another post).