Written by Michael Keenan

April 1, 2020

About 61% of marketers say generating leads and traffic is their top challenge. 

As more marketing channels and data enter the landscape, it only gets harder to reach new customers and run a successful lead generation campaign. Winning new customers might sound tough, but running an effective lead generation strategy for your business can help attract the right customers and boost profits. 

The hard part is figuring out what strategies and tactics work best for you. In this beginner’s guide to lead generation, we’ll cover the basics of lead generation, different strategies you can test including Messenger marketing, plus, tips on how to maximize your marketing efforts. 

What is a lead?

A lead is a person who’s shown interest in your business by providing information you or your marketing team can use to follow up with them.

When people mention leads, they’re either talking about prospects or qualified leads who are ready to buy — but the prospects and qualified leads are different. Prospects show more interest in buying your products or services, whereas a lead can be someone who shows interest or joins your subscriber list, but may not have the intention of buying from you. 

Identifying different types of leads can help you make better connections with people — regardless of where they are in your sales funnel. Here are a few examples of common lead types:

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

A marketing qualified lead is someone who is interested enough in your offering to have taken some action. An MQL may have subscribed to your Messenger bot in exchange for a lead magnet

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

A sales lead is a person who shows interest in becoming a paying customer. SQLs may have reached out through Live Chat with a question about your product or service, or filled out a contact form on your website. 

Conversation Qualified Lead (CQL)

A conversation qualified lead is someone who expresses intent to buy during a one-to-one conversation through a bot or employee at your company. 

Product Qualified Lead (PQL)

Product qualified leads are people who use your products and indicate interest in buying them. These leads are more for software as a service (SaaS) businesses like ManyChat. An example of this is customers who use a free version of your product or service and ask about paid features. 

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is a process that attracts prospects and converts their interest in your business’ products or services into a potential sale. A good lead-generation strategy provides your entire marketing team with a repeatable and measurable way to get more customers, and build personal, long-term relationships. Examples of successful lead generation tactics include blog posts, chatbots, coupons, webinars, and live events. 

Lead generation uses digital channels like social media and content marketing to turn people into qualified leads. Marketers tailor each campaign to their ideal customers, their products or services, and more. If you’re a B2C or B2B company, you can select from different lead generation tools to help you create successful digital marketing campaigns. 

Lead generation process

Lead generation process

Now that you have a better understanding of how lead generation and Chat Marketing work, let’s go through a five-step lead generation process. First, you’ll want to learn how to build a Messenger bot.

  • Step 1: A visitor finds your business through your website, social media profile, blog post, Facebook Live, or giveaway campaign. They click a call-to-action (CTA) that encourages website visitors to sign up for your Messenger, SMS, or email list — usually in exchange for an offer.
  • Step 2: Your bot determines if the visitor is a qualified lead by asking a series of questions.
  • Step 3: Qualified leads enter your nurture campaign to become paying customers. Here’s where you can provide offers and valuable content upgrades to keep them around.  
  • Step 4: You can then track high-quality leads based on their interactions with your company, through lead scoring. 
  • Step 5: Once they surpass a certain lead score, you can send personalized offers or recommendations, or hand them off to a sales team to close the deal. 

In short: A visitor signs up for your Messenger bot, you get their email address and/or phone number. They become a lead. Then you nurture them until they are sales-ready, or closer to buying.

The basics of lead gen marketing

Lead gen marketing isn’t only about a great process: it’s about driving traffic to different channels to collect leads. Your source for leads is up to you. Determine what channels your ideal customers use, then set yourself up on them and start communications. 

The following chart shows the flow that Chat Marketers use to generate leads for their business.

Lead generation flow

When it comes to finding your target audiences, you have a lot of channels to choose from:

Live streams

Live streaming platforms like Facebook Live are a great place to generate leads. Typically, you schedule a live event where you help visitors with a problem they’re having. For example, you can educate them on a product, offer a tutorial, or even open up the floor for questions. The key here is to offer something free, such as a coupon or a free trial or content upgrade, to encourage sign-ups and start generating leads.

Resource: How One Facebook Live Turned in $90K in Sales

SMS

SMS makes it easy to communicate with people on their phones, and since leads need to give you permission to text, they’re more likely to engage with the messages you send. Text messages are short and snappy, so make sure your CTAs are compelling and that you send people over to another channel like Messenger or to your website.

Resource: Your Guide to Everything SMS

Email

The best part about email campaigns is that you can send customers longer, recurring content like newsletters or important updates. It’s also a great place to include creative, high-quality images. Email helps round out your omnichannel marketing strategy, is great for retargeting previous customers, and can boost your lead generation efforts when done right. 

Resource: 9 Insanely Creative Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing Strategy

Paid traffic

Paid ads can help you reach potential customers, fast. You can run ads for your business in a search engine like Google, through Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest if that’s where your target audience likes to consume content. To boost your conversion rates, make sure you send them to your bot using a Messenger Ref URL. You can also run click-to-Messenger ads through a Chat Marketing platform like ManyChat to encourage people to take action. If you’re wondering, what is a conversion rate for my business, it’s the percentage of users that complete a desired action on your site. For lead gen businesses, this would include getting a user to enter their information so that your business can contact them. 

Resource: 5 Facebook Ad Marketing Tips

Social Media

Social media channels can be an effective lead generator for your business— and it’s affordable. You can build closer ties with your target audience quickly by posting videos or images and starting conversations. You can also use the swipe-up feature on Instagram to drive people to your bot, Facebook Messenger to have one-to-one conversations with people — the possibilities are endless. Learn more about the different types of social media you can try to generate leads. 

Blog

Blogging is a great way to boost your inbound marketing efforts. You can create helpful, relevant, and free information on your company’s website that people can read at their leisure. You can include call-to-actions anywhere on the blog, from a floating bar to a page takeover or a slide-in. If people like your content, they’ll likely click your CTAs and enter your Messenger bot. 

Word of mouth

Word-of-mouth referrals are a lead-generation tactic that can easily help you spread the word about your business. You can offer recent customers or clients an incentive, like a refer-a-friend discount or free products through social media giveaway campaigns, to promote for you. 

Resource: 6 Word of Mouth Referral Strategies that Actually Work

How to qualify leads

Let’s say you want to buy a new pair of shoes. If the shoe salesperson aggressively and loudly speaks to you the second you walk into the store, chances are, you’re going to get out of there pretty darn quick.

Now imagine that same salesperson gives you a moment to settle in, makes some time to get to know you and your shoe preferences, what you’re really looking for. They could ask your favorite color, what style of shoes you like, why you need them … and then they make a recommendation based on all your interactions together. 

The most effective lead generation tactics don’t force a hard-sales approach onto customers. Instead, a smart strategy will collect information by building trust through helpful tips and advice, when appropriate. At this point, you’ll be better poised to turn the visitors into a sales lead, or someone who’s ready to buy. 

In ManyChat, you can set up lead scoring to track potential customers’ interactions with your business. Every event recorded in your ManyChat bot is given a score. If someone takes a positive action, their score will go up a certain amount of points:

Reasons to increase lead score

If negative, the score will reduce by the amount of points you set:

Reasons to decrease lead score

Once a lead hits a specific score, you can send them special offers to encourage a sale or send them to your sales team to close the deal.

Lead generation strategies

Lead generation tactics aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach. What drives leads for one e-commerce retailer may not work for an agency or local business owner. The goal is the same — to go where your potential customers are — but there are many roads you can follow to get there. 

Here are some lead generation strategies you can try today. 

Facebook lead generation

With more than 2.5 billion monthly active users, Facebook has proven to be one of the fastest lead generators for many businesses around the world. From growing subscriber lists to registrations to pre-orders, email subscriptions, and more, Facebook offers a ton of different options to reach and connect with target audiences with Facebook Lead Ads and click-to-Messenger ads. You can also start conversations with Business Page visitors through a CTA that brings people into a Messenger chat organically. 

Resource: Facebook Lead Generation: 10 Ways to Boost Your Business Page

Instagram lead generation

Nearly 80% of accounts on the this photo-sharing app — with more than 500 million monthly active users worldwide — follow a business on the platform. Basically, if you’re not using Instagram to generate leads, you could be missing out. With Instagram, you can showcase stories, post high-quality images, sell products on your posts, and even direct traffic back to your website or Messenger bot in your bio. You can also send interested people to a landing page right from your story (once your account has 10,000 followers) with Instagram’s “swipe-up” feature.  

Organic search engine lead generation (SEO)

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an effective inbound lead generation strategy for finding potential customers. People can find your page in Google when searching for a specific query, enter your website and take action — whether it be to buy products or sign-up for your bot. 

PPC lead generation

PPC, or pay-per-click, ads can support your lead generation and inbound marketing objectives. This can include paid ads on platforms such as Google AdWords, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. It relies on smart audience targeting, a budget, and following advertising best practices to help get clicks from this type of lead generation campaign. 

Business-to-business (B2B) Lead generation

Business-to-business (B2B) lead generation often requires a different approach than business-to-customer (B2C) lead generation. Marketers typically collect more information from a potential customer, including name, email, company name, job title, and organization size — anything that could help make a sale. Leads are usually nurtured using marketing automation before becoming qualified for sales. The goal of B2B lead gen is to create a consistent flow of high-quality leads for your business. 

Tips for lead generation

Learning how to build a sales funnel and fill it with qualified leads is no easy task. Depending on how long it takes for someone to convert, customers may stick around for months before buying anything or taking any real action. Here are four tips you can employ to help speed up lead capture in your next campaign:

1. Research your target audience

Knowing your audience is critical to creating a good lead generation program. Find out where your target audience is hanging out, what types of content they read, and what channels of communication they prefer. This knowledge will help you craft effective lead generation ideas and drive better results for your campaigns.

2. Test new channels

Start by focusing on one or two channels you feel will be effective based on your research, be it Facebook, SMS, email, Instagram, SEO. And don’t be afraid to try new channels like Messenger or live streaming. Regardless, test which channels deliver high-quality leads and focus on them. 

3. Use effective lead gen tools

Most channels will have numerous lead generation tools you can use to attract, nurture, and qualify leads. A good tool will make it easy to communicate with your audience across multiple channels, such as SMS, Messenger, and email. For example, you can set up a chatbot to funnel potential leads from your website and Messenger. There are some great chatbot examples from a variety of industries that demonstrate the power of improving conversion rates through messenger marketing. Then create automated campaigns that reach customers through text and other channels to build a relationship. 

4. Create lead magnets for every stage of the customer journey

Lead magnets are how marketers collect information from potential customers or clients, improve lead capture, and get people into the sales pipeline. But you can’t just offer any old piece of content for free. Aim to create a piece of valuable, high-quality content that helps your target audience with their biggest issues. It’s critical to collect information such as phone numbers, email addresses, and personal preferences in order to create relevant and personalized digital marketing campaigns. 

Resources: 

5. Focus on nurturing leads over the hard sales pitch

Highly-converting lead gen campaigns build relationships with customers or clients over time. The goal is to build long-term customers. One key way to achieve this is by answering questions and having real-time conversations with them through marketing automation tools or live chat

Two effective ways to nurture potential leads is through content marketing and Chat Marketing. With content marketing, you can provide educational and informational blog posts and articles for leads that help them win. This helps build trust over time with website visitors. If they like your content, they can sign up for your subscriber lists. Here you can use Chat Marketing to build a connection with them until they become sales leads.

6. Use social media for generating leads

One of the most effective lead generation ideas is using social media to connect with your target audience. Every inbound marketing strategy will include some social media channel, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Your goal is to find the best channels fit for your audience and start talking with them there. 

Lead Generation FAQs

What is the lead generation process? 

Lead generation is the process of attracting leads into a CRM or marketing software and nurturing them throughout the buying process. The goal is to win them over with your products or services and convert them into a paying customer. 

Is lead generation sales or marketing?

Lead generation is part of both sales and marketing. Marketing lead generation is the process of attracting leads and turning them into marketing qualified leads (MQLs) using automation. Sales lead generation refers to turning MQLs into sales qualified leads (SQLs).

Do lead generation services work?

Lead generation services work if they select the right program for your business. For lead generation to work well, you need to have the right strategy and tools in place to get a good return on investment. You also want to make sure the service or program doesn’t buy leads. 

Why is lead generation important?

If you’re trying to figure out how to get traffic to your website, lead generation will do so, which can also lead to more conversions and more sales. If you have an effective lead generation process in place, it can help find the right customers for your business, faster. 

Grow your business with smart lead generation

Now that you’ve got a handle on generating leads for your business, we recommend you test out ManyChat. You can quickly get set up with a lead generation process and can add a Messenger bot to your website and Facebook page to start converting more visitors into leads. 

Armed with this guide, you are ready to continue learning and testing different tactics for your business. Be sure to check out some more articles on lead generation here on the ManyChat blog to learn more strategies and tips.