The State of Lead Generation in 2018 and Beyond [Ultimate Guide + Expert Tips]

By Naser Alubaidi, Oct 23, 2018

Lead Generation

Many marketers believe that lead generation is easy.


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Lead generation is simple in theory, but it’s definitely not easy to execute effectively. In fact, only 1 in 10 marketers said that their lead generation efforts are highly efficient and effective. Why do you think that is?

Well, 61% of marketers blame the lack of funding, staff, and other resources. But, is that really true? Is the lack of a decent budget and a dedicated sales team the only things stopping you from getting results with your lead generation efforts?

Not necessarily.

The sad reality is, the world is changing, marketing is changing and 90% of marketers are not. It’s tough to point at one magic reason why most lead generation projects fail, but it’s usually because of one (or more) of these mistakes:

  1. They’re using the wrong strategy.
  2. Their content is lacking.
  3. Their landing page sucks.
  4. Their follow-through isn’t good enough.

I know this is general, but don’t worry–I’ll dive into all of these mistakes and offer expert tips for how to solve every one of them.

 

Here’s what I’ll be covering in this ultimate lead generation guide (click to jump ahead):

Understanding Lead Generation in 2018:

The 4 Phases of the Lead Generation Process:

Note: If you’re working on a lead generation project, I recommend bookmarking this post and revisiting it at every phase of the process.

By diving into every step of the process, we’ll uncover the main traps marketers usually fall into. Plus, we’ll get quality tips and tricks from the 10% of marketers who do get optimal results from their lead generation strategies.

But, to be able to understand what the state of lead generation is in 2018, and how YOU can effectively generate leads, we need to go back to the basics.

lead generation

 

A Brief History of Lead Generation

Lead generation is not new. It has literally existed forever.

In fact, it could be traced back to cavemen going cave-to-cave for recommendations on the best round-wheel to buy or the best cave drawing material to get (this is a very accurate recount of human history). It continued evolving generation after generation until cavemen became salesmen and cave-to-cave became door-to-door.


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Throughout these years, we’ve seen how the methods companies generated leads have transformed drastically, usually fuelled by new technologies.

We’ve seen the billboard era take over the marketing world in the 1800s. TV & radio commercials dominating in the early 1900s. Door-to-door “lead generation” risen in popularity in the 1950s.

And of course…call centers in the 1960s.


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Yep, I really don’t like call centers.

(No, I don’t want to talk about the last time I had my windows replaced and I reeeealllyy don’t want to hear more about your new credit card!)

Anyways, technology kept evolving and as a result, so did the techniques used to generate leads. Recently, with the rise of the internet, smartphones, Google and social media, lead generation is not only more competitive than ever…but also much more sophisticated.

 

Lead Generation 101

What is a lead?

According to HubSpot, a lead is “a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service in some way, shape or form.”

Ideally, you’d want that interest to be expressed by them sharing their contact information, such as their email, company name or phone number. For example, a website visitor who filled out a form on your pricing page is a lead. Similarly, a person who downloaded your ebook in exchange for their email is also a lead.

 

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of turning a prospect into a lead.

In a nutshell, a marketer’s main objective is to attract a stranger (prospect), make them interested in your product/service (lead) and then nurture them until they decide to buy from you (customer). Ideally, you’d also want them to love their experience with your product and in turn, become advocates of your business (promoters).

This visual summarizes an individual’s journey with your product:

lead generation


The lead generation process starts on the far left, in the “attract phase” and ends in the “convert phase” when the individual officially turned from a stranger, or prospect, to a lead. But that’s only half the battle.

The other half is what marketers refer to as the “lead nurturing” process. It’s the process where you turn your leads into customers, sales or orders. The key to success here is to educate your potential customers and show them the true value of your product/service effectively.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll cover the WHOLE lead generation and lead nurturing process.

So…


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Alright, let’s do this.

 

Phase 1: The Content Strategy Phase

lead generation

As I mentioned earlier, most lead generation projects fail to produce optimal results due to four main mistakes:

  1. They’re using the wrong strategy.
  2. Their content is lacking.
  3. Their landing page sucks.
  4. Their follow-through isn’t good enough.

The first vital mistake is that they’re simply starting off on the wrong foot. In other words, the problem lies in their strategy.

This is exactly why you need to start off by developing an effective strategy. A marketing strategy forces you to think through every step of the process. Even better, it’ll help you decide what not to focus on.

To develop an effective marketing strategy, start by answering these 3 questions:


1) Who’s your ideal audience?
2) How will you attract & convert that audience?
3) What’s your lead magnet?

 

Question 1: Who’s your ideal audience?

A common trap marketers and business owners frequently fall into is trying to attract everyone to their product instead of focusing on attracting the right people.

When it comes to lead generation,

it’s better to be loved by few than liked by many.

The reason for that is simply because not all leads are created equal. Your goal shouldn’t be to get as many leads as possible, but to instead get the highest quality leads and eventually propel them down the path to becoming a customer.

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Developing the overall strategy allows you to identify exactly who you’re going after (and who you’re not going after). Be as detailed as possible here, because knowing exactly who your audience is will help you create the type of content that’ll develop a real interest in learning more from you and hopefully, more about your company.

An example of a poor target audience: “marketers and small business owners”.

An example of a great, detailed and targeted audience: “Female marketing managers/head of marketing (28-34 years old) managing a team of at least 5 marketers. She’s struggling with implementing change in a large company and would like to learn more about driving corporate productivity and improving employee retention.”

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Visualizing your audience with a detailed audience persona allows you to understand your potential reader (and user) and helps you align your overall message to that specific person (this will be really important in the next 3 phases).


According to Andy Pitre, VP of Product at HubSpot:

Don’t think of your “leads as “leads”. Instead, think of them as people who are frustrated because understanding and buying your product is too hard. Your job is to make it easy for them to learn your product and get started.

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Question 2: How will you attract & convert that audience?

The next challenge is to figure out how to attract and convert your target audience into leads and eventually customers. Typically, you would do this using a lead generator like an ebook, white paper, webinar, or any type of content that you can gate.

We asked a few experts what they think makes a good piece of content and here are a few of their insights:

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“Consider your audience’s pain points and create clear and concise visuals that soothe them quickly.”  

– Eseosa Eke, Marketing Manager at RM Friedland.

“The less words you type and the more visual you get, the more engagement you will achieve.”

José Cabal, CEO at Expresa 3.

“Educate and inform instead of interrupt and sell.”

– David Meerman Scott , Marketing Strategist and Bestselling Author of 10 Books Including The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

“My biggest tip is that everything that comes out of your brand should feel like YOU.”

– Christine Gritmon, Social Media Strategist at Christine Gritmon Inc.

“Less is more! It’s all about adding value as soon as possible and create content that empathizes with your desired audience.”

– Flora Wang, Sales Engineer at HubSpot

“Repurpose your content! You can easily take a time-sensitive piece of content, like a live webinar, and gate a summary document of it behind a landing page for evergreen lead generation.”

 Kristian Romero, Marketing Manager at VirtualHealth

“Visual content can be highly effective by ensuring the message is thoughtful, educational, engaging and most importantly – specifically targeted to your specific audience.” 

– Rowena Alphonso, Head of Client Services at Titan Creative Inc

“People LOVE original research. Visual content that represents original research will generate the most leads, the most backlinks, and the most interest from your audience.” 

Jessica Vionas-Singer, Marketing Strategist at SmartBug Media

“Mix it up! Incorporate visuals and text that convey a mix of the following four themes: Informational, Inspirational, Personal, Promotional.”

– Charlene “Ignites” DeCesare, CEO at Charlene Ignites LLC

“Your content has to create a straight connection with your public.

– Caio Donald Gusmão, Inbound Specialist at Mkt4Edu

The common theme here is that you clearly want your offer or piece of content to be irresistible. The higher the value you’re providing your audience, the more desirable it’ll be.

That doesn’t necessarily mean writing an original white paper that solves every single problem in your industry. As long as you’re…

  • adding value to your specific audience
  • solving a real problem they face frequently
  • and offering content that is quick to digest and instantly accessible…

…you have a pretty good chance of attracting your audience.

Another option, which I personally love, is repurposing content, as Kristian Romero pointed out. That means taking your top-performing content and reformatting, recycling and repromoting it across multiple channels.

lead generation

Here the strategy to repurpose content that Ed Fry, “Ed of Growth” at Hull.io, uses:

“With a basic brand style guide, I like to create quick diagrams of data flows at Hull and add them within blog posts to break up text. With a 16:9 layout, I can use/reuse the same images in slide decks and on social to maximize distribution from the time I’ve put in.

We use those images (particularly if they’re a high contrast) to help standout on other platforms, like posting in the GrowthHackers community. The little diagrams get us a ton of mileage for not that much extra effort.”

Let’s take this blog post as an example. If all goes well…

  • I can repurpose individual quotes into Instagram, Facebook & Twitter posts.
  • I can also repurpose the post into a presentation that we can gate and generate leads from.
  • Finally, I can also reuse the content in future eBooks, Youtube videos and a webinar.

Question 3: What’s your lead magnet?

Now that you’ve identified who you’re targeting and what your topic is, the final step is to choose the right type of lead magnet for your project.

A lead magnet is an incentive that you offer your target audience in exchange for their email and/or other contact information.” You absolutely need a lead magnet in order to generate leads online.

lead generation

According to MarketingCharts.com, research reports, video content, social media content, webinars, blogs posts, case studies, and infographics are the highest converting types of content.

There’s no secret formula here. The type of lead magnet you choose for the project depends mainly on your topic and your audience, but we’ll discuss a few of our expert’s favorites in the next section.

 

Phase 2: The Visual Phase

lead generation

This is one of my all-time favorite quotes. Sadly, it does NOT apply to marketing.

In fact, if Albert Einstein was a marketer, his quote would’ve probably been:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting the same results.

The reason behind that, as Andrew Chen puts it, is the Law of Shitty Clickthroughs. “Over time, all marketing strategies result in shitty clickthrough rates.”

In other words, what used to work in 2008 will NOT work in 2018.


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So instead of going through the tactics that used to work, let’s just skip to where we are today and what the future holds for lead generation and content marketing in general.

 

So where are we today?

According to Gartner’s Digital Marketing and Advertising Hype Cycle, content marketing is currently deep in the “Trough of Disillusionment” stage. Like all the marketing strategies that came before it, content marketing peaked in 2015 (when it was in the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” stage), then plummeted to where it is today.

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What that means, is that early adopters to content marketing did so well and as a result, more and more marketers started using the same strategy, resistance started building from customers, but marketer’s expectations remained the same.

And the result? We’re drowning in content!

The bad news is, we’ve been in this stage for the past 3 years.

The good news, however, is that next stage in the Gartner cycle is the “Slope of Enlightenment” stage. That’s the stage where marketers learn from their mistakes, understand the trends of that channel and start getting positive ROIs again!


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So what is the future of content marketing?

By looking at recent trends and noticing the popularity of visual-centric platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest, we can confidently say that the next wave of content marketing is visual content.

It’s the addition of visual content (like GIFs, infographics or videos) along with – or instead – of text and blog posts.

Clearly, we’re advocates of visual content as it helped us increase our traffic and revenue by 400%. It also continues to help thousands of marketers who use Venngage daily to generate leads using visuals.

 

But how do visuals impact reach, engagement and lead generation?

Well, this visual could answer your questions.

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Not only does visual content allow marketers to differentiate their content from the oversupply of content online, but it also allows them to communicate more effectively with their audience.

The reason, according to Carmen Simon, Cognitive Neuroscientist at Memzy is because:

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In a nutshell, visuals are awesome. You absolutely need to incorporate more visuals into your lead generation strategies. Whether that means adding beautiful visuals within your piece of content, or even better, using your visual to generate leads.

This is why Venngage launched it’s newest feature: Content Gating.

Content Gating allows you to blur your visual, requiring readers to enter their contact information to view it! This new feature works for infographics, presentations, ebooks, and any other type of visual you create with Venngage.

lead generation


You can generate leads with your visuals easily by following these steps:

  1. Click on the “Marketing Features” tab in the left menu of the editor.
  2. Click on “Content Gating” and turn the feature on.
  3. Design & Publish your visual.
  4. Embed your visual and start gathering leads.

Okay, so what type of visuals should I use to generate leads?

As we mentioned in the previous stage, there’s no secret formula when choosing your lead magnet and/or your visuals. But, here are some of our favorites:

 

eBooks & Guides

Research-driven ebooks are a great way for you to generate qualified leads. They are also a great way to connect with your audience.

Ebook example Venngage

These ebooks are usually gated by a lead generation form, so a reader would have to leave their name, email and other info to be able to download it.

Infographics

Infographics are our bread and butter, so obviously, they are one of our favorites. But recently, infographics became all the rage for marketers worldwide as well.

This is because infographics combine images/graphics with text-based information and allow marketers to summarize complex information into a beautiful visual that communicates all your ideas clearly.

According to Kim Orlesky, President at KO Advantage Group:

lead generation

Infographics seem to be here to stay, so maybe it’s time to start summarizing your best content into easily-read infographics that your audience can enjoy.


 

Webinars & Presentations

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Webinars are also a great way to generate leads. They usually tend to take less time to create than ebooks, reports, and guides. You can also easily repurpose the webinar into blog posts, guest articles, conference talks, etc.

Pro Tip: Webinars with presentations do MUCH better than webinars without presentations. So make sure to have a presentation design included in your webinar.

Video

I had the chance to attend INBOUND18 and hear some of the world’s smartest people speak about the state of lead generation marketing. With every talk I attended, and every conversation I had, I realized how vital video is becoming to your lead generation projects.

It’s no surprise then, that 87% of marketers are currently using video content in their marketing strategy.

What surprised me, however, is how little marketers include videos in their lead generation strategies, even though:

  • 64% of customers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it.
  • 90% of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions.
  • Video is projected to claim more than 80% of all web traffic by 2019.

Here’s what the experts’ said about video content when we asked why we should use videos in our lead generation projects:

lead generation

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a hundred pictures!  When you have a choice, choose video for social media lead generation.”

Dorien Morin-van Dam, Social Media Marketing Consultant, Manager and Owner, More In Media

“Video is a highly effective way to quickly turn a prospect into a customer. Visibility and credibility lead to profitability.”  

– Loren Fogelman, Business Success Coach, Business Success Solution

“Our brains are all designed the same to be attracted to symbols, colors, and emotion. Do not overlook psychological nuances.” 

Hussain Al-Mutawakil, Marketing Manager at SAHOURI.com

“Pull out the best quotes in your video content to repurpose as quote graphics on more visual mediums.” 

Brittany Berger, Content Marketing Consultant, BrittanyBerger.com

So because of how important video seems to be in lead generation, I decided to reach out to the leading video marketing tool in the world, Wistia.com.

We asked our friends at Wistia how we can use videos to boost our lead generation projects and here’s what they said:

“The two main ways to generate leads using video and tracking your results are:

1) Adding a video to your landing pages and tracking its influence on your conversion rates. Here at Wistia, we’ve found that including videos on our landing pages increased the conversion rates of our paid ads and downloadable content.

But don’t just take our word for it! Every business is different, so you should always experiment to find out what works best for your industry. Put your video to the test by making two different versions of the page and seeing which one drives more conversions, the one with or without the video.

2) Adding a form to your video and tracking the total number of leads generated, as well as the conversion rate of video views to leads. Our email collector, Turnstile, provides a pretty simple solution for capturing leads from right within your videos.

You can place a form at the beginning of a video, requiring an email from the viewer in order to watch or even give your viewers a taste of the content by adding a form to the middle of your video. The choice is yours, but we’ve found that there are some significant conversion rate differences depending on where you place the email collector. As always, experimenting is the name of the game!”

Andrew Capland, Director of Marketing at Wistia highlighted the importance of tracking your results and A/B testing everything. He also emphasized that:

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You can read more about using video and understanding video ROI here.

Phase 3: The Promotional Phase

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That brings us to the next phase of the lead generation process, the Promotional phase.

You have an amazing piece of content, written for the perfect audience, designed with beautiful visuals and ready to go.

What now?


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Well, this is where it gets tricky.

You need to attract the right people to your content. But how do you even find them?

And even if you did find them, how do you convince them to give you their email?


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First, you’ll need to start by creating a landing page, then, you’ll drive traffic to that page. Don’t worry we’ll cover both parts of the process.

Let’s start with the landing page.

A landing page, according to Unbounce, is basically a “standalone page, created specifically for marketing or advertising purposes. It’s where a visitor lands when they click on a Google AdWords ad, Facebook ad or similar. Landing pages are designed with a single focused objective, known as a Call to Action.”

So I reached out to the Unbounce team to pick their brain and get expert tips on the topic and they were nice enough to answer a few questions I had about landing pages.

Q. Why is a landing page important?

lead generation

“The short answer is because landing pages significantly improve your conversion rates.

The reason is that a specific landing page is focused on a single objective which directly matches the promotion or ad that your visitors clicked to reach that page.

If you compare sending your visitors to a specific landing page vs. sending them to your homepage, you’ll notice that your homepage is designed with a general purpose in mind. It highlights your overall brand and message and is typically filled with links to other specific pages on your site.

Every link on your page that doesn’t represent your conversion goal is considered a distraction that’ll dilute your message and negatively impact your conversion rate. Therefore, a specific landing page with a single call to action and a clearly defined message will definitely boost your conversion rate!”

– Unbounce

 

Q. What’s the anatomy of the perfect landing page?

“Landing pages consist of a variety of core elements that can be used as a guide when creating a landing page for your project.

I’d say the 5 core elements of an effective landing page are:

  1. Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
    • The main headline
    • A supporting headline
    • A reinforcement statement
    • A closing argument
  2. The Hero Shot (an image or video that presents your value proposition)
  3. The Benefits of your Offer
    • Bullet points summarizing the benefits/value of what you’re offering
  4. Social Proof (testimonials and/or success stories)
  5. A single conversion goal – your Call-To-Action (CTA)”

The image below can be used as a guide when you’re creating a landing page for your next lead generation project:

lead generation

– Unbounce

 

Q. How do I know if my landing page is good enough?

“The team at Unbounce can actually do that for you with the Unbounce Landing Page Analyzer.

With this tool, all you have to do is add your landing page URL (it doesn’t have to be built on Unbounce), along with a few key details and the Landing Page Analyzer instantly provides a comprehensive report. The report will include an overall grade score for your page and custom recommendations about how you can increase your conversion rates!”

 – Unbounce

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Q. What kind of traffic should you send to your landing pages?

“That’s a great question. Now that you know how a landing page improves your lead generation conversions, it’s time to dive into how you can attract eyeballs to your page.

I mentioned earlier that your homepage should mainly attract organic traffic and have a general message that caters to every type of visitor that lands on that page. On the other hand, your landing page is specifically built for your targeted audience and lead generation project.

You need to link to that specific landing page, every time that you:

  • Post campaign-specific social media posts on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest. Contents and limited-time offers are a great way to attract more clicks to your page.
  • Run pay-per-click (PPC) ads. PPC and landing pages are like peanut butter and jelly—they’re made for each other. PPC ads are your best bet to reaching the right type of prospects because they allow you to build focused and targeted ads to that specific audience. Having a specific landing page also significantly decreases your cost-per-click and improves your CTRs and time-on-page!
  • Send promo emails to direct traffic. If you already have a list of emails of your potential prospects or can get access to their emails, then a targeted email campaign works wonders when trying to get someone to visit your landing page!”

– Unbounce

We also asked a few thought-leaders for tips & tricks on promoting their landing page or lead gen projects and here’s what they said:

lead generation

“We’ve consistently found that putting a video next to a landing page form will increase conversions of said form 80-150%, which is phenomenal.” 

– Marcus Sheridan, President, Marcus Sheridan International

“We run LinkedIn Ads for lead generation, and since LinkedIn’s color scheme is very blue-gray-white, we see success in running ads in contrasting colors (Orange/red/green).”

– AJ Wilcox, LinkedIn Ads Expert & Founder of B2Linked

“Take risks! With so much content to sift through these days, the only way to stand out to your customers is to be bold and risky with your content.”

Dylan Sellberg, Product Manager, HubSpot

“I recommend cross-linking content with SlideShare and a gated piece. For example, “10 Stories to Create a Movement”. We split the piece into 5 Warning stories and 5 Motivating stories. The Motivating stories were posted ungated on SlideShare, and the CTA was to download the 5 Warning stories, which were gated behind a Hubspot landing page form.”

Ashley Faus, Sr. Manager, Integrated Media, Atlassian

“Lead with meaningful content, not just a teaser. When we release our annual benchmarks report, we try to put the major takeaways in an ungated content piece. We find that by releasing more of the content publicly we create better audience engagement and have more people looking to download the full report.” 

Liz Cain, Partner at OpenView Venture Partners

“A/B test everything. You may think you know what people are drawn to, but never assume that you do. Design is subjective and everyone has their own opinion! A/B testing is a great way to test your content and see what small changes can improve performance.”

Brie Wolf, Digital Marketing Specialist, Unilog

So there you have it, everything that you need to know about promoting your landing page or your lead generation project.

Now it’s finally time to turn these leads into customers.

 

Phase 4: The Nurturing Phase

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Finally, you’ve launched your lead generation project, pushed out an optimized landing page and gathered the leads you were aiming to get.

That’s only half the battle though. None of that means anything if you can’t convert these leads into customers. This brings us to the final stage of the process: the Nurturing Phase.

“Lead nurturing” refers to the process of developing a relationship with your potential customers at every stage of their journey with your product/service.

In this stage, you want to “enlighten” your leads about how your product offering will empower them and their business. This doesn’t mean bombarding them with emails about your product’s features and the benefits of upgrading.


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Instead, you need to focus on their unique needs and provide them with the right information to solve these problems. 
To do so effectively, you have to:

  • Gain the trust of your leads
  • Add as much value upfront
  • Educate them

Then you can slowly nurture them until they understand how your product will solve the specific problems they’re facing.

I mentioned earlier that I had the chance to attend the INBOUND18 conference this year. I got the chance to listen to marketing geniuses explaining their strategies and providing a deep dive into what worked and what hasn’t worked for them over the years.

One strategy, presented by HubSpot is what caught my eyes the most. They call this strategy the “Pick Your Own Adventure” strategy. This nurturing strategy resulted in a 1000% increase in engagement for HubSpot!


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Yep, you read that right. 1000%!!

So I reached out to HubSpot’s Nurturing & Automation team and asked them to share more details about their strategy so I can share it with all of you. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

 

Q. What would you say are some “fundamental truths” about email nurturing that you can share with us?


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“Lead nurturing has gone through major transformations over the last 5 years, mainly fueled by an increased need for personalization. In fact, 89% of marketers say their customers today expect and demand a personalized experience. However, if I had to share a few “truths” that remain essential for the success of any lead nurturing campaign, I’d say that your email flow:

  • Should be helpful. Don’t underestimate the importance of this fundamental truth. You need to provide as much value as possible up front before asking your readers for anything.
  • Should not be about your company. If your campaign is all about your business, achievements, awards, and features, your leads will simply tune you out.
  • Should be centered around your customer. You want your leads to feeling empowered by your content and offer.
  • Should not be a sales pitch. This is a common pitfall that marketers fall into. The fastest way to lose your leads’ interest is to constantly send them emails highlighting your “great” features, prices and offers.
  • Should be continually improved. Never leave your campaigns on auto-pilot. In order for your nurturing to truly be effective, you need to continuously analyze your campaign’s performance, reflect on the results and use your learnings to iterate and optimize your nurturing flow.”

– HubSpot

Q. How did your email nurturing strategy change over the last few years at HubSpot?

“To understand how our strategy changed over the last few years, I’ll have to take you guys for a quick trip back in time.

In 2015, our nurturing strategy was a content-based strategy. For example, let’s say you downloaded an ebook we created about social media marketing and gave us your contact information in return. Since we know that you were specifically interested in social media marketing, we’d send you emails based primarily on the content you downloaded.

Every single email we’d send you would be about social media marketing, whether it’s additional resources we think you’d be interested in or solutions to the main problems marketers face with social media marketing.

This strategy worked well for us. Our emails had a 30% open rate and a 14% click-through-rate (CTR) on average.

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In 2016, however, we decided to change this strategy. We felt like the content-based strategy was too narrow and marketers today do more than ONE single job. We decided to aim for a goal-based strategy.

With a goal-based strategy, we identified the 3 main problems HubSpot solves and created 3 campaigns around each of these problems. When a lead downloads our ebook, we enrolled them into the nurturing campaign that was closest to their goals.

This strategy worked well too. Our open rates jumped to 37% and our CTR increased to 17%.

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Fast forward to this year, we reflected on our results and felt like we still had work to do. We realized that we made assumptions about our leads’ struggles and challenges. So this year, instead of assuming, we decided to ask.

As soon as we started listening to our leads, something crazy happened. Our newest strategy (The Pick Your Own Adventure strategy) was born and our engagement skyrocketed as a result!”

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– HubSpot

Q. Can you give us a deep dive into the “Pick Your Own Adventure” strategy?

“In a nutshell, with this strategy, you allow your leads to Identify their current challenges, instead of assuming you understand what they are.

As a result, we decided to build a whole strategy around what our customers actually wanted, not what we assumed they wanted.

So let’s say you download a gated piece of content and enter our system as a new lead.

The first email you get from us literally asks you what YOUR biggest challenge is.

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Notice how it’s a very direct email. We personalized it with the lead’s name and also added their company’s name for more personalization.

Let’s say, in this example, you clicked on “Generate More Leads”.

We’ll send you to a thank you page where you can download our most popular offers and pieces of content to help you tackle this specific challenge. We don’t ask you to fill any additional forms.

Next, because you chose “Generating More Leads” as your biggest challenge, you’re enrolled in a nurturing campaign specifically designed to help you tackle your lead generation problems. Here are a few of the emails that follow:

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Notice how our main focus is on building a relationship with our leads, focusing only on their challenges (not on us) and empowering them to address their unique challenges. As a result of that, the last email generated the most meetings for the sales team!”

 

– HubSpot

Q. So how did the Pick Your Own Adventure Strategy perform?

“Drum roll, please …

lead generation

We were extremely happy with the success of this strategy. Our open & clickthrough rates literally skyrocketed. A 67% open rate and a 61% Click through rate!


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You might be wondering where the 1000+% increase in engagement came from? Well, when we compared the performance of this strategy with the content-based and goal-based strategies, we saw an incredible jump in engagement (clickthrough rates).

lead generation

You can also clearly see how much better it performed when comparing it to the years before!”

lead generation

Q. One last question. How can we launch our own “Pick Your Own Adventure” nurturing strategy?

“Every company can create their own version of this nurturing strategy.

To create your own “Pick Your Own Adventure” strategy, you’ll need to:

  1. Identify what your main audience’s challenges are. Don’t assume what their problems are. Instead, ask them!
  2. Determine which of these challenges can your business solve. You’ve just decided what your leads’ “adventures” are going to be.
  3. Gather pieces of content that will help your audience solve their problems. If you don’t have any, don’t worry you just got a few new content ideas!
  4. Send your leads a welcome email listing your “adventures”. Each adventure should be a Call to Action Button. We recommend using 4 options: 3 specific ones and 1 “all of the above” option.
  5. Enroll each user to a personalized nurturing campaign that solves their problem. If a user doesn’t choose any, enroll them in the “all of the above” campaign.
  6. Send your leads a series of emails with the content you gathered above. When crafting those emails, focus on providing as much value up front.
  7. Once you delivered a ton of value, you can now aim for your “main objective”. whether that’s getting them to sign up and try your service or booking a call with your sales team.
  8. Collect data, analyze your results and iterate! Just because you’ve built it, doesn’t mean you’re done!

Once you’ve finished building your strategy, give yourself a pat on the back! This stuff isn’t easy, but following it carefully will guarantee that your engagements will skyrocket, and as a result, so will your conversions! “

I highly recommend following this strategy, not only for your lead nurturing campaigns but also for your general onboarding email campaigns. Customers today demand personalization, so focus on solving their unique problems rather than shoving your product down their throats.” 

– HubSpot

 

Conclusion

The lead generation process might feel overwhelming at first, but, in reality, it all comes down to understanding your audience and catering to their specific persona. Focus on adding as much value to your readers through the piece of content you create, the visuals you design and of course, the nurturing emails you send.

Knowing who you’re really targeting would massively help you align all your messaging, your landing page and your emails to that specific audience. This not only helps you personalize all your effort but also helps you build a connection with your users that would otherwise be impossible to achieve.


If there’s one main takeaway from all of this, it’s this:

“Focus on selling and you’ll get rejections. Focus on value and you’ll get conversions.”

You might also be interested in some of these helpful marketing guides:

Growth Strategy Checklist: Plan Your Business Goals With These 5 Templates

growth strategy and business goals template

How to Create a Marketing Plan For Success (+ Marketing Plan Templates)

marketing plan

About Naser Alubaidi

Naser is a growth marketer at Venngage. He is a tech enthusiast with a B.A in Financial & Business Economics and a background in marketing. Naser is passionate about product marketing, strategy, and growth. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.