Do you want to increase your influence, be a leader in your space and grow your business?
Lead generation is a great way to succeed at online marketing by establishing authority, activating reciprocity, growing a list of prospects and ultimately creating sales.
In this article I’m going to talk about 5 major lead generation mistakes that industry leaders don’t make…
- Sour Milk Content: Almost no content can be evergreen forever. Most content has an expiry date. You need fresh new content, so let me teach you how to innovate it.
- The Nobody Syndrome: Are you just another voice, or are you special? Showing off your expertise, results and leadership is key not just to getting leads but to sourcing hot leads that easily convert to sales.
- Wrong Audience: Who should you be marketing to? Most businesses fail or barely survive because they don’t reach their prospects- or don’t reach enough of them. If you want to grow your influence, you need to expand your reach and market to your ideal prospects.
- Lazy Landing Page: Do your landing pages convert at an industry-standard rate? Having only one landing page is a major mistake. Our tests show that split-testing multiple versions of your landing pages creates, on average, FIVE TIMES as many leads.
- Cotton Candy Leads: Do you care about the ultimate sale? Focus only on marketing-quality leads but not lead quality and you may not get sales.
Why listen to us about lead generation? The Brian Carter Group has a ton of experience:
- We’ve managed millions of dollars in spend generating leads for companies over the last decade.
- We’ve generated tens of thousands of leads.
- We’ve done it in many industries.
- We’ve done it with and without advertising.
- We’ve innovated lead gen tactics via search, social, organic and more.
I’ve been doing lead generation for my own business since 2004 when I started doing Google AdWords.
- I was driving leads for new business to manage Google AdWords accounts.
- In the beginning I was not good enough. I actually had to take a regular job twice (in 2006 and again in 2008) because I driving enough leads to build my own business.
- But eventually I got good enough at lead gen to sustain a freelance business.
- Then I got so good that we’ve built an agency of multiple practitioners on the strength of these lead gen strategies.
I’m going to teach you these powerful lead gen strategies that are powering our business and our clients’ businesses.
I’ve also created a great free download for you: it’s a cheat-sheet with 8 tips for lead magnets that don’t just get leads but will get you leads that turn into sales. Not only does it give tell you the goals you need to achieve and the 8 tips, but it shows you an example type of lead magnet that’s perfect for this (the 5 mistakes/myths/lies ebook) and two examples of how you’d create them. Get it here.
There are a number of factors that are important to being able to succeed at driving leads and converting them into new business, whether you are a solo service professional, whether you do marketing or advertising or plumbing- no matter what you do.
Shared Lead Services Aren’t Ideal
For certain types of professionals there appear to be shortcuts where you can get access to shared leads. But they’re actually horrible.
What are they?
Let’s say you’re a contractor and somebody wants a quote on roofing… and as soon as a homeowner submits the lead, if you signed up for this service, they’ll send you the lead.
Next you try to call them right away.
But five other roofing people have already called this person!
You don’t get an exclusive shot at the deal. You’re fighting over scraps with ten competitors.
That’s not ideal, because…
You Want To Get YOUR OWN Leads
What you want is for a lead to have contacted you specifically because they want to talk to you.
In our ideal world, they don’t want to just talk to just any roofer or contractor or marketing professional or coach or piano teacher or whatever the heck you are. Why?
The prospects who are talking to tons of your competitors are more likely to price compare you and negotiate your price down until you have no profit leftover. That sucks.
You want leads that want to talk to you. These are great leads. The reason they’re reaching out to you is because they want you specifically. That’s the goal.
That’s a much warmer lead that’s easier to turn into business than someone who thinks, “I just want one of whatever you are.”
When leads reach out for YOU specifically, it puts you in the driver’s seat and increases your profits.
Get Your Leads to Want YOU
Many of my lead gen (and sales) successes come from convincing people before they ever contact me that I am or my agency is really amazing. I know that sounds narcissistic but that’s the thought-leader portion of what I do:
- “Oh, Brian’s best-selling author.”
- “Hey, Brian’s an amazing speaker.”
- “Wow, Brian’s been on TV.”
- “Huh, Brian has worked with Microsoft and NBC.”
- “Look, all these people say great things about Brian’s speaking and agency and course.”
All those little things that are in my bio separate me from the competition, whether I’m a Facebook ads guy, or I’m the guy that’s going to split test your landing pages or I’m going to do your keynote speech.
Use thought leadership to separate yourself from your competition so that they want YOU.
If you think thought-leader is a weird term, just think “being an authority in your field.” It makes a huge difference in your leads and sales.
“Oh, Brian has a stand-up comedy background- he’s funny and our people are not going to go to sleep. They’re going to eat their food and then we’re going to have the keynote speaker and if it’s not Brian they might fall asleep! Shoot, we better get Brian because he’s funny. We can get this other speaker to talk about marketing or social media sales or how to lead through digital media, how to write emails and how to remote manage your workers but these other speakers may put our people to sleep after they’ve eaten the chicken. We better get Brian. He’s going to keep people awake, he’s going to get the laughs, he’s got the great takeaways and all that stuff.”
That’s why I get a bunch of the keynote speaking deals I get.
Show your competitive advantage before leads contact you? They’re sold before they even contact you.
Make Them YOUR Leads
You want to get leads that are your leads right?
They’re not just anybody’s leads- they’re your leads.
That makes those leads not just hot to get what you provide- they’re hot for you.
That’s very important.
But something else…
Get Your Leads Ready to BUY
When I talk to salespeople or even chief marketing officers about lead generation, inevitably we talk about the sales department being unhappy with the lead quality. Why?
Because there is more than one type of leads
- Unqualified Leads: Somebody says, “Yay we got a lead!”
- Marketing Qualified Leads: Marketing says, “This person fits our target/persona.”
- Sales Qualified Leads: Sales says, “I think we can sell to this person.”
Obviously there are a lot more leads that come in that are unqualified, and there are more marketing qualified leads than ones that the sales department says are qualified.
One of the reasons some companies have a lot of leads that the marketing department is excited about but the sales department is not excited about is because…
…when the marketing department creates their lead gen program- their marketing materials, their ebook, their quiz, the content, lead magnet, or their advertising- the marketing people aren’t thinking in terms of the sale.
At worst, marketing can get all excited about crazy weird lead gen content pieces that may not bring in people who are ready to buy. The leads might be qualified in the sense that they’re part of the prospect audience but they’re not ready to buy. They’re nowhere near persuaded.
To improve, they need to talk to the salespeople. Interview them and ask them key questions like:
- What gets the prospect to convert?
- What phrases or words convince them?
- What objections do they usually have?
- Who are the worst prospects you talk to?
Marketing is more effective when the marketing department talks to the sales department.
With this blog post, I’m writing and speaking a bunch of mistakes as my content mode because I want you to know that I have enough authority to talk about mistakes and that makes me an expert.
Why would I do that?
It tells you:
- I can help you.
- I’m experienced.
- I’ve gotten results.
- I’ve tried things that didn’t work and
- I’ve tried things that do work.
Telling prospects about mistakes they should avoid doesn’t just get you leads… it gets you leads that turn into sales.
Because if the customer wants someone to lead them through the jungle without you falling into a pit… get past the crocodiles, kill the snakes, get you safely through the jungle and find the treasure, get back to civilization safely so they can have a beer in the tiki hut, well that’s me because I’ve been through the jungle of marketing, sales, social media and communication.
I know the territory. I’ve been there. I’ve made the mistakes myself. I’ve seen my clients and other people make mistakes. I know what works and what doesn’t that.
All of that is implicit when I do a piece of content that tells prospects what mistakes not to make, right?
So with a mistakes piece of content, I’m demonstrating leadership and building trust and credibility.
They don’t want to make those mistakes right? Nobody wants to make mistakes. That’s why people read these blog posts and lead magnets. That’s why this is such an important approach in lead gen.
Other lead gen approaches may get leads but not leads as likely to turn into sales.
Now let’s talk about some specific lead generation mistakes… (that was a long intro!)
Lead Generation Mistake #1: Sour Milk Content
Content has an expiration date.
You need to create new content.
Even if you have lead gen content pieces like eBooks, quizzes and checklists that are already getting you leads, over time they will become less effective. Just like advertisements do, if you go to the same audience, they get burnt out on what you’re showing them.
If you go fish in the same pond too many times, you’re either gonna
- Catch all the fish (run out of prospects)
– or –
- The fish are going to get wise to your lures and start ignoring them (change in prospect perception)
Have you seen this happen yet?
So you need to create new content. You need to do it now before your great content burns out and your stuck with a lull in performance.
Think ahead like a squirrel before Winter.
Or a Game of Thrones fan:
You can’t rest on your laurels, or leads and new business can dry up. You may still get some leads but it can become a trickle.
Content expires like sour milk. You need to create new lead magnets at least quarterly or results can dry up.
If you want a healthy new business pipeline, it’s important at least every quarter at least every three months to come up with some new type of lead gen magnet, whether that’s an e-book or a quiz or a video, a checklist…
There’s a whole bunch of different types of content you can use as lead magnets, and we have a list of the types that get shared the most in different social media outlets. That will help you as well to get a little bit of free shares, although in other mistakes I will explain you are going to have to advertise if you want to reach enough people but shares help.
Quizzes are great on Facebook. Whitepapers are great for LinkedIn but not Facebook. Checklists are pretty good on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
Quizzes, ebooks and checklists are a combo of lead magnets that will do well on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Altogether those three content types are pretty good. A whitepaper may not make sense for every type of business- it’s good for b2b but may not make sense for a B2C company like Nike for example.
And there’s all kinds of outside the box stuff you could do- crazy pieces of the content like the Marketo Thought Leader coloring book that Chris Beuhler of Scorch and Jason Miller (now with LinkedIn) did a few years back- you can get really creative too.
So you need to have a new lead magnet every quarter. Don’t rest on your laurels.
Keep pushing, because not only can you get better results, but the results from even your really good lead gen pieces right now will eventually taper off.
Lead Generation Mistake #2: The Nobody Syndrome
Are you just another voice, or are you special?
How are you special? Are you communicating that?
I talked before about demonstrating not just expertise but also results.
I can list off a whole bunch of results we’ve gotten
- 10-cent B2C leads for cruise company…
- $1.82 B2B leads for a marketing agency…
- $29 B2B leads for a Microsoft cloud hosting partner…
- Job apps for a staffing company 90% cheaper than Careerbuilder…
- $5.28 leads for a home furnishing buying club…
We’ve been able to take the initial cost per lead for all those clients and cut it down quite a bit.
Usually we can cut the cost at least fifty percent if not ninety percent. How?
It’s all about testing…
- Testing multiple lead gen content pieces as bait and
- Testing multiple audiences – even if you only have one target prospect persona there’s still multiple ways to target them with different ad platforms
- Test different ad platforms as well, if you want to get great results, because you never know where it’s going to come from. Sometimes it’s AdWords, sometimes LinkedIn, somtimes Facebook. It depends on the client and campaign. Sometimes B2B Facebook ads are best. Sometimes it surprises you, you really need to have an open mind and test a lot of platforms.
- Test a lot of ad creative and
- Test a lot of targeting if you want to find the best results
So we get a lot of results through testing. That’s one way we’re special.
Do you get results? Are you talking about it?
What other things make you special that you could talk about?
Demonstrate expertise and authority so people know why they should listen, opt-in and buy from you.
Lead Generation Mistake #3: Wrong Audience
The third biggest mistake is not reaching enough the right people.
Who should you be marketing to?
There are two things you need to do:
- You need to reach the right people and
- You have to reach enough of them.
Now I think one of the biggest problems that most businesses have is they don’t reach enough potential customers- period.
Their business is not growing at the rate they want because they simply are not in front of enough people often enough.
Many businesses are failing simply because they\’re starving for visibility and traffic.
As humans, we make this mistake because we see our business and think about it all the time and we assume that other people have seen it, too, right? But they haven’t.
I think you’ve probably experienced this: you’ve been probably talked to a friend and you’re surprised that they haven’t seen what you’re up to lately because you showed it on Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere, but they didn’t see it.
The fact is people are pretty busy, and they’re focused on their own stuff.
So unless you get in front of them somehow, unless you put yourself in front of them on purpose, they’re not going to see it.
And you have to put yourself in front of people in an attention-grabbing way, right?
Your ad or marketing or social or communication needs to get them to think or say, “Oh gosh, the way you put that, that really speaks to my problems and my pains, where I want to go, my goals…”
“Oh, you really showed me a picture or a thing that I really like, that really grabbed my attention!”
Unless you’re doing that…
It’s one thing to put your brand in front of people, but if you haven’t connected your brand to people’s what they care about, then you’re not really going to grab them and hold them, ok?
So you’ve got to:
- Reach out to the right people
- Reach enough of them and
- Reach into their minds and hearts
There are a lot of tools for that… a lot of data out there.
So make sure you’re analyzing your audience’s using the insights available through Twitter and through Facebook audience insights.
Facebook audience insights doesn’t just contain what people have told Facebook about them. It also contains billions of data points from three of the biggest consumer data companies in the U.S.:
- Acxiom has detailed entries for more than 190 million people and 126 million households in the U.S., and about 500 million active consumers worldwide.More than 23,000 servers collect and analyze more than 50 trillion data ‘transactions’ a year. pigeonhole people into one of 70 very specific socioeconomic clusters (personas) in an attempt to predict how they’ll act, what they’ll buy, and how companies can persuade them to buy their products.It gathers its data trove from public records, surveys you’ve filled out, your online behavior, and other disparate sources of information, then sells it to banks, retailers, and other buyers.
- Epsilon has the world’s largest cooperative database (over 1 Petabyte of data across global data centers) with over 8.6 billion consumer transactions and 4.8 billion business transactions. The different data Epsilon sells includes age, profession, residence, ethnic information and political affiliation.
- Datalogix, acquired by Oracle in 2015, now called “the Oracle Data Cloud,” it helps Facebook advertisers find customers on Facebook by onboarding first-party data, target customers through relevant audiences, measure campaign effectiveness based on offline purchases; their expertise spans across all industries including; CPG, Retail, Auto, Travel, Financial Services, Telecommunications, Technology and more.Datalogix aggregates and provides insights on over $3 trillion in consumer spending from 1,500 data partners across 110 million US households… across Auto, CPG and Retail Industries;DLX Auto: 99% of all U.S. Sales Captured, 20+ years of ownership data;DLX CPG: 50+ Grocery Chains; 7,000 brands; 300+ categories;DLX Retail: 10 billion transactions; 1,400 retailers; 1,000+ categories.
Make sure you’re analyzing your fans and email lists.
You don’t really know your audience yet if you haven’t analyzed them with Facebook Audience Insights.
Upload your email list to Facebook ads as a custom audience and analyze it using Facebook Audience Insights to find out who they are:
- What they like
- How much money they make
- What they buy
- What they don’t buy
…so that you know who they are.
Then you have a better chance of grabbing and holding their attention.
Lead Generation Mistake #4: Lazy Landing Pages
Do your landing pages convert at an industry-standard rate? Having only one landing page is a major mistake.
There are a lot of people that do a great job testing a lot of ads and audiences with their advertising but they still don’t test landing pages.
It’s one thing you’re doing e-commerce. It’s harder to split-test that. I understand that.
If you’re doing lead gen, you must split-test landing pages. It’ll get you FIVE times the leads on average.
Unfortunately some companies have policies – but even if you have to send the traffic to your website, there are solutions.
- If you use WordPress some of the great split testing platforms like Unbounce, ClickFunnels and LeadPages have WordPress plugins that will allow you to make the landing pages appear to be on your website domain.
- Even ClickFunnels will give you an HTML page that works as an iframe that can keep appear to be on your website even if it’s not WordPress
…so there are workarounds for this. And you should do this anyway, because Facebook has changed their policies so that your destination URL and your display URL and the URL associated with your Facebook account need to be the same. So you want to do this anyway.
But there’s no excuse not to split-testing landing pages and let me tell you why…
Because in our experience with testing even just two alternates to your initial idea so you have three total variation your landing page meaning
- I’m going to try a different headline a different image maybe a video versus an image different call to action or
- a different layout to the landing page
…just doing that on average gives us five times more leads.
Across all of the lead and campaigns we’ve done… when I did the presentation on this for Content Marketing World I listed out all of our lead gen campaigns for all our clients over the last four years, and how many tests we’ve done and the difference in the cost per lead for the best and the worst…
And the average difference we saw was that if you split-test your landing pages you get five times as many leads.
What does that mean?
Your leads are five times cheaper.
Why is that?
Because your conversion rate is five times higher.
That’s insane. Insane. Why?
Because you’re sending the same people to the same lead magnet, whether it’s an e-book or quiz or whatever but you’re getting five times as many leads.
Why wouldn’t you want that?
So yes it’s a little bit harder. YSu have to figure out how to do landing pages, or you hire somebody like us to do them and it’s not that expensive, right? It’s not that expensive. How much more money are you going to make by having five times as many leads? Let me ask you that- because you’re going to have five times as many prospects… you should have time times many sales or your salespeople are going to be able to be more selective with who they pursue and they’ll be able to call better prospects, ok?
Which means your lead quality just went up, right?
So you have to split-test landing pages, whether it’s leadpages or unbounce or clickfunnels- there are 17 other split testing platform out there- I don’t know anybody who knows how to use all of them- those are the three that we use, and they all have pros and cons.
LeadPages is pretty strict and that you can’t even change an image size on the page of a template. However if you’re new to split testing it is an easier way to start because you don’t have to do an entire design thing.
But if you have brand guidelines that you need to follow I would recommend something like unbounce or clickfunnels because it’s a little bit easier to use the WYSIWYG interface what-you-see-is-what-you-get to make it look like your brand.
It only should the average web savvy person three to five hours to be able to design well enough- maybe eight hours or you hire someone to do it, but it’s worth it if you want five times as many leads for the same ad spend right?
Who doesn’t want five times many leads? That’s ridiculous.
Lead Generation Mistake #5: Cotton Candy Leads
Do you care about the ultimate sale? Not just the leads?
if you focus only on marketing-quality leads but not lead quality and you may not get sales.
If you get 1,000 leads and no sales, who cares? That’s like cotton-candy; sweet but no substance.
If you don’t have any customers at the end of the process, who cares about the lead gen?
So lead quality is critical and you can’t afford to ignore whether they’ll ultimately buy.
The quality of the lead is affected by every step in the process:
- Your understanding of who to target affects that. If you target the wrong people, you’re not going to get sales in the end.
- If you don’t know why they want to buy, then the way you write your ad copy and the content you create (the e-book or the quiz or whatever) will be off… it might be exciting or engaging, but it might not grab the people who are most likely to buy.
Something I learned a long time ago with Google ads, and it’s true of every type of ad is that a high click-through rate ad is not necessarily a high conversion rate ad.
Interest does not equal buying intent.
Some people are window-shoppers. Looky-loo’s.
Just because some people love to click on something doesn’t mean that they’re going to want to buy anything.
It’s like window shopper- some peole love to walk around all the stores but not necessarily buy anything
Now, my typical behavior is, “I need these five things and I’m gonna get in and out as fast as I can!”
Just because someone loves to look at the stuff doesn’t mean they’re going to buy it.
It’s the same with Facebook post interaction: just because you get a fan on your page and they interact with the post does not mean they’re going to buy.
When we’ve done audits of a bunch of different companies’ customers, we’ll upload their email list and analyze them and we’ll look for overlap between the email lists- the difference between loyal buyers and non-loyal buyers, then we look for the overlap between the buyers and the fans and at first we were surprised: “Wow, like only 1% of the fans are buyers! Why is that? Did the buyers not go to the page and like it? Did the fans never go buy?”
So it’s a it’s a myth, a mistaken assumption that just because you like a brand on social media that you are their customer or that because you’re a customer you’re going to like their Facebook page.
Just because you’re walking through the mall doesn’t mean you’re going to buy anything, and just because you fill out a form to buy an e-book does not make you customer.
So marketing departments have to be very careful- and if you are a solo service professional you have to be very careful, because this is your livelihood- don’t create a lead gen campaign that is so exciting that it gets tons and tons of cheap leads but no sales.
You gotta avoid that.
It’s great if they’re excited, but you want to make sure they’re excited about something that is qualifying them as a buyer. And that’s why you have to talk to the sales people here to find out what separates a good prospect from a bad one in the salesperson’s eyes.
How can you work that into your content marketing design?
Get with your sales team talk to them about what makes a quality prospect and then see if you can work that in to your concept for your content… or at least make sure that the direction you’re going with your content doesn’t conflict with what they know about good prospects.
Get input from your salespeople to avoid cotton candy leads and increase lead quality.
Is it a good prospect if they make more money?
What do you know about them?
Can you analyze the difference between buyers and non-buyers?
What you learn may change the way that you design your content. Your content may call out to them.
Conclusion: Thought Leadership and Authority
Those are the five biggest lead gen mistakes people make and if you don’t make those mistakes and you do what I recommend it to you you’re going to do a lot better.
The only other thing I can say to you is it’s a good idea to establish credibility the way that I have.
Look at your bio. Build an impressive bio or company profile. It takes time to do that and it sounds a little narcissistic but more things you have that I call credibility points, credibility factors or credibility markers… the more of those you have the better and they are things like:
- Who you’ve worked with or for
- Media mentions
- How many years you’ve been in business
- Book bestseller status
- Anything where third-party endorses you
- Trust logos in ecommerce
Those are the kind of things you want to be able to add to you or your company’s description on the website, on the landing pages.
All those credibility markers can help quite a bit. As I said in the beginning, you want to make sure that the leads are interested not just in what you offer but in you specifically doing it for them.
This is your lead, not anybody’s lead.
And the way that you do that is by establishing how you are better and different than the other people or companies who offer what you offer, ok?
Credibility markers are very important.
Brian Carter is a popular business expert and keynote speaker with Fortune 500 clients like NBC, Microsoft and Humana as well as small businesses. He delivers motivational keynotes with practical takeaways with the comedic flair of his stand up comedy background. His agency, The Brian Carter Group, creates marketing that excites customers and increases brand visibility, sales and loyalty. Brian is a bestselling author you’ve probably seen on Bloomberg TV or in Inc, Entrepreneur, The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. He has over 250,000 online fans and reaches over 3 million people per year.