lead generation machineGenerating leads – both high in quantity and quality – is a marketer’s most important objective. A successful lead generation engine is what keeps the funnel full of sales prospects. Surprisingly, only 1 in 10 marketers feel their lead generation campaigns are effective. What’s up with that?

An effective lead generation campaign has lots of moving parts. It can sometimes be difficult to know which parts need a little fine tuning. But what does a best-of-class lead generation engine look like? Let’s get under the hood and take a look at the mechanics of a high performing lead generation campaign.

The best lead generation campaigns contain most, if not all, of these components. From a tactical perspective, a marketer needs four essential components to make inbound lead generation happen. These include:

The Offer

An offer is a piece of content that is considered of high value to a website visitor. Offers include such items as eBooks, whitepapers, free consultations, coupons and product demonstrations.

The job of the marketers is, ultimately, to get people to say “yes” to our offers. When an offer is exclusive, scarce, or in high demand, it becomes more appealing to the visitor. Whether they are whitepapers, free trials, memberships, sales promotions, or downloads, these irresistible elements can overcome the typical friction, doubt, or concern that a sales lead may have.

These elements work because they trigger a physiological reaction that makes the offer more valuable. People need to perceive the value of your offer to be greater than what you’re asking from them in return, in this case their contact information. The higher the perceived value, the more irresistible the offer.

The Call-to-Action

A call-to-action (CTA) is a button, image or text that links directly to a landing page so people can find and download the offer. They are the secret sauce that drives people to your offers. If your CTAs do not effectively capture people’s attention and persuade them to click, then they make the offer useless.

CTAs can be used in any of your marketing channels, product web pages (non-landing pages, in display ads, email, social media, direct mail and nearly anywhere else you market your offer.

But not all CTAs are created equal. In a world where every brand is fighting for consumer’s attention, it is critical that your prospects choose your offer over your competitor’s. How?

  • Place your CTAs in obvious places on your website.
  • Design CTAs so that they stand out from all the other elements on your website.
  • Link your CTAs to a dedicated landing page.

The Landing Page

A landing page is a special type of web page. Unlike normal website pages, the landing page is a specially designed to contain information about a single particular offer, and a form to download that offer.

Landing pages are one of the most important elements of lead generation, since this is where the web visitor converts into a lead. In fact, according research from MarketingSherpa, landing pages are effective for 94% of B2B and B2C companies. The use of landing pages enables marketers to direct website visitors to targeted pages and capture leads at a much higher rate.

What’s great about landing pages is that they direct your visitors to one particular offer without the distractions of everything else on your website. Visitors are on a landing page for one and only purpose: to complete the lead capture form.

The Form

You can’t capture leads without forms. They are the keys to visitor to lead conversion, since the web form collects contact information from a visitor in exchange for the offer. Without forms there is no way to “convert” a visitor into a lead. Forms come in handy when it’s time for people to sign up, subscribe to your site or download your offer.

Short forms will receive more conversions. Longer forms require the visitor to provide more personal information that can discourage some from filling it out. On the other hand, the more fields you require, the better qualified those leads might be. The best lead generation forms require enough information to provide good lead intelligence to the sales team, without turning away prospective leads. The best way to determine what works best is to test your forms.

These four components make up the core of a highly tuned inbound lead generation engine. While marketers likely use a mix of marketing channels to maximize lead generation efforts, such as a retail store, direct mail, website or email marketing, the objective is to make it easy for buyers to research, evaluate and purchase products in a way that is most appropriate for them.