What is a Lead?
Posted by Lacey Wilcox | November 3, 2021
At this point in the 21st century, leads are probably something you understand well. Every single business needs leads, because that is how you earn customers. But you can’t just cross your fingers and hope real hard that leads will find your business online. You need a strategy and a plan to attract their attention, earn their trust, and help them make an informed decision about your business.
Just because leads are well known and understood in our world, that doesn't mean everything you’ve learned about them is correct. Today we’re offering a quick refresher on what leads are, and also addressing some misconceptions you might have about them.
Leads: a Quick Refresh
A lead is anyone who comes to your website and fills out a form. This form will include basic contact information such as name, number, and email, but could also include more in-depth information such as job position and specific inquiries or needs. Usually, the lead receives some sort of offer in exchange for filling out the form: either a discount off a purchase or a content offer like an ebook or white page.
Leads are important for any business because they allow you to harness contact information from people who have a more strategic interest in your business beyond just browsing. This matters because it not only helps you identify prospects who are interested in your company, it also helps you identify where they are in their buyer's journey. This allows you to nurture your company’s relationship with a lead and distribute content that helps them make a sound decision about whether or not to trust you.
Leads: Myths and Misconceptions
Leads aren’t anything new or novel. It’s very likely you’ve read this term before (maybe even on this blog) and have probably dug into it at some sort of depth, because leads are important for growing your business and increasing revenue. However, the abundance of information that is available about leads means you’ve probably also absorbed some misinformation about generating leads. Here are some of the most common myths and misconceptions we’ve encountered in our work as a digital agency.
All Leads are Valuable
There are times when quantity absolutely leads to quality. For instance, if you’re trying to improve in content creation and strategy, it benefits you to consistently churn out content so that you develop your writing “muscles.” Over time, you’ll find yourself improving.
But leads don’t work this way. While every business would agree they want more leads, what they really desire (and need) are the right leads. Pursuing leads that are never going to be a good fit for your company is a waste of everyone’s time. To avoid this, it’s really important that your marketing strategy accomplishes two things:
- You are creating content, digital ads, and offers that target the right leads.
- Once you’ve earned a lead, you’re nurturing them intentionally by providing the right content at the right time to help them make their decision. If you’re doing this, the wrong leads will quickly realize that the fit isn’t right.
I Can’t Count Leads I Met in Person
It’s understandable that business owners want to track their exact marketing efforts. But, it’s important to realize that the best marketing strategies incorporate multiple means and methods that should be working together. For example, if you’ve invested in both a strong website and an in-person networking strategy, you might have a lead that comes to your website after meeting one of your salespeople at a conference held by your local chamber of commerce. Some companies are hesitant to count this as a lead earned toward digital goals. We would argue against this for a couple of reasons.
First, a lead that comes to your website is going to be nurtured to become a customer through digital content. If a lead that was met in person wants to focus on that kind of relationship, they are far more likely to call the salesperson or come right in to your location. But a lead that fills out a form on your website is choosing to initiate their relationship with you there and have signaled they are willing to receive emails, offers, etc. from your brand. As you analyze their interactions with your website and your content, you can determine how ready they are for more serious points of contact, like a Zoom meeting or a consultation. Second, your entire company should be united under a shared goal of revenue. Everyone on your team (whether marketing, sales, human resources, or account management) is working together to do one of the following: maintain current revenue, earn new revenue, or cut expenses. This means that leads brought in are part of that goal.
The very best way to keep all of this organized is by using a CRM like Hubspot. This allows you to identify sources for your leads and make easy adjustments to your digital marketing efforts. Even more importantly, a CRM allows you to see where each of your leads are at in their decision making process and distribute content and support to them accordingly.
I Don’t Need Ads to Generate Leads
It’s no secret we’re passionate about digital marketing. We believe it’s an incredible way to reach your prospects and grow your business authentically and intentionally. But, that doesn’t mean it won’t require any spending on things like digital ads.
It takes about 2.5 seconds on the internet to realize that things are pretty saturated. Your brand has to stand out against industry competitors, but also things like dog videos, bloopers from beloved TV shows, and news clips. The best way to help your business earn the attention of prospects who are a good fit for your company is by creating an intentional, targeted digital ad strategy. Digital ads allow you to reach your intended buyer persona on a very doable budget, and they tie in beautifully with your digital content strategy (for example, your digital ad can click to a page on your website with a form for interested viewers to fill out).
Unlike traditional ads (such as a billboard or a radio spot), it’s very easy to tell when your ads are working and when they are not. Our recommendation to our clients is to include a budget for ads as part of their entire retainer. This budget can be used for Google Ads or ads on social media. Each month, our team analyzes the performance of these ads, and makes changes to make sure every cent spent on digital advertising is being used to full advantage.
Leads, Lead Generation, and Your Digital Ecosystem
Regardless of your business or industry, your company needs leads. The best way to earn them is with a healthy, strong digital presence. We cover everything you could ever want to know about this in our ebook, Building a Healthy Digital Ecosystem. Grab yours below!