In business, leads are good – but targeted leads are the best!
If you’ve ever experienced the feeling that you’re getting too many prospects who aren’t really a good fit for your business, you’ll understand this right away. If your marketing strategies tend to lean more toward a “scattergun” approach, you’ll tend to find that you often miss the mark.
Targeted leads are the holy grail for businesses because it means finding the right people who already are more likely to be interested in what you are selling. Your business would look great because you have more prospects coming in who are warmer to buy.
How do you attract these targeted leads? Let’s look at a few strategies.
KNOW WHAT “IDEAL LEADS” LOOK LIKE
First of all, it’s pretty difficult to attract the “right” customer if you’re unclear on what that actually means for your business. “Know your audience” is 101 level for any business, particularly if you want it to be successful.
Targeting everyone makes it likely you will sell to almost nobody – you create confusion, and as the saying goes, “A confused mind never buys.”
Be very clear about the distinct problem or problems you are solving and for whom. Developing buyer personas is a great technique because they help you to hone in on what really appeals to your ideal customer and to develop messaging that is relatable to them – messaging that addresses their particular wants and needs.
There is so much noise these days that people tend to become jaded to any kind of marketing messages. You can boost your chances of being noticed in a wide sea of generic messages by really speaking to that persona you’ve identified.
Of course, once you’ve identified your ideal target market, it’s what you do to attract (and retain) them that counts. Which strategies will you choose?
UNPAID STRATEGIES FOR ATTRACTING TARGETED LEADS
Just to be clear, of course, you might choose to pay someone for any of these outlined strategies. The point is that you could do any of these yourself without paying anything. The question then becomes whether that is the best use of your time or not.
1. SOCIAL MEDIA
With social media or any other platform you decide to use, you should always come back to that target persona you have identified. A common mistake made by businesses is to try to be on every social media platform. However, this often means they are spread too thin and don’t actually do any of them well.
For better targeting of leads, be choosy about your social media channels. You might only have the capacity to do one or two effectively, so make sure they are the channels where your target customer is most likely to hang out and engage.
Lewis Howes wrote this excellent piece on getting more targeted leads on LinkedIn. Many of the principles he discusses can also be applied to other social media channels. Being specific about who you are, what you do, and who you can help is one of them. All social media profiles should be complete and informative to viewers.
Content marketing is a powerful tool if used well. It’s about creating informative, interesting, high-quality content that your target audience will really get something from. For example, you might choose to regularly write on your blog about common problems your audience has and solutions for getting through them.
Of course, “content” might cover a whole range of different mediums, from blogs, white papers, and ebooks, to infographics, SlideShare presentations, video, or audio. The main point is that to attract targeted leads, your content should always be created with them in mind. Say no to generic and boring!
When you think about brands who develop a cult-like following, they don’t necessarily have the very best or most unique products on the market, but they do often craft a brand story very well that captures followers. Apple is a great example of this.
3. LEAD MAGNETS
A lead magnet in the online world is most often something downloadable – for example a useful piece of content. The idea is to grab the attention of prospects and provide something truly valuable.
Generally speaking, a lead magnet will help them to solve some kind of problem, or at least give them enough pointers to be on the right track. Perhaps you create an email course and explain in detail some best practices related to what you offer. You might create checklists, cheat sheets, or an “ultimate” guide.
Again, it comes back to knowing your ideal customer well in the first place. If you can say, “My customers tend to have a problem with X and Y,” you’ve got material to get started with creating something appealing to them.
4. ONLINE FORUMS
Similar to social media, this is about picking out other online platforms where your target audience hangs out (for example, specialized forums) and getting yourself known there.
To do this, just be useful! Contribute in a genuine way to discussions, ask questions, and provide thoughtful answers to other’s questions.
Lewis Howes talks about a friend of his who brings in around three new customers per month simply by providing a useful answer to their questions on LinkedIn, then later sending a follow-up private message. He spends 15 minutes per day doing this, so it’s something which is achievable for most people.
“One of the most important elements of getting more highly targeted referrals is to make it EASY for others to open the right doors by being crystal clear about what you want.” Matt Anderson, Duct Tape Marketing.
This quote is exactly right. If you’re vague and saying, “Send anyone my way who you think will benefit from my services,” you’re leaving it wide open to interpretation. Give any referral partners a good description of what you’re looking for, such as, “I (solve X problem) for people who (description of your ideal customer).”
Where are you going to find appropriate referral partners? One good strategy is to look for those who are not a direct competitor but have a similar target audience to yours. Make it a reciprocal agreement where you also send clients their way who you’ve identified as good candidates for their services.
Good point. You need to be networking to find those referral partners! This is also a great way to directly meet new clients.
Online networking might look like participation in social media groups or forums, but don’t neglect offline methods where appropriate. For example, attend conferences or trade shows which serve your ideal clients, join your local Chamber of Commerce or SCORE chapter, or even community groups such as Rotary.
PAID STRATEGIES FOR ATTRACTING TARGETED LEADS
Paid strategies can be a bit of a mixed bag in terms of really attracting targeted leads, but let’s take a look at some which can help narrow down the field.
7. PAID ADVERTISING
If you’ve ever run PPC ads through a platform such as Google Adwords, you’ve probably found you can get mixed results with your leads. PPC works by targeting certain keywords. You can get great results if you put enough time into the keyword research, monitoring results, and tweaking campaigns. But choosing the right keywords in the first place is crucial – and it can also be tricky.
Paid advertising on social media gives you a few more options to really narrow down a target audience. Facebook advertising allows you to hone in on very targeted audiences by choosing from a wide range of demographics and interests. You can also use Custom Audiences to target existing or previous customers on Facebook, or Lookalike Audiences to target a group similar to those who are your best customers.
8. DIRECT MAIL
The old-school formula for direct mail was a mass-marketing model. Scatter your marketing materials far and wide, then hopefully you’ll hit some warm targets somewhere. This is an expensive and often unsustainable model for smaller businesses. So to get better-targeted leads, direct mail needs to be done smarter.
Quite simply, you need a mailing list that is made up of businesses or individuals who have been identified as fitting the characteristics of your ideal audience. You could purchase that list from a company such as Experian who specializes in putting together targeted mailing lists. You could mail out to current or past customers for whom you have an address, or you could put together a list of potential new leads yourself and mail to them (obviously the most time-consuming method).
Direct mail may seem old-fashioned, but studies show it does work when done well. Craig Simpson wrote an article for Entrepreneur where he outlined reasons to go with direct mail over email. Among those is that inboxes are becoming too overcrowded, so emails often get missed. On the other hand, 77% of people sort through their physical mail and 98% check their physical mail every day.
Much like the reasoning behind our other methods, not just any sponsorship will do. The reason you see companies like Salesforce sponsoring events is that those events attract audiences which include large numbers of potential clients for them.
Look for conferences, trade shows, or even community events that are likely to involve your target audience. You might even find online events such as web summits looking for sponsors in return for displaying your link and logo.
10. CONTENT DISCOVERY PLATFORMS
Have you ever clicked on one of those links underneath an article you were reading that sits under a headline like, “From Around the Web” or “Related Posts”? Those are content discovery platforms at work. And surprisingly, they are available to smaller businesses if you’re able to pay for them.
This means links to your content could appear on very large websites such as CNN or Huffington Post. Targeting is all about subject matter – so they try to link posts to articles which are related or show a similar line of interest.
Platforms such as Outbrain or Taboola are among those you can try.
Actually bringing in leads is great, but you will save a lot of time and potentially money if those leads are well-targeted.
Mass-marketing is really becoming a thing of the past. There is simply too much noise for consumers and businesses these days, so they will look for material that is obviously relevant to them.
There are strategies for getting targeted leads that are suitable for any business budget. But, remember, the payoff for anything that’s free will usually involve some time and commitment in order to truly see results.
Which strategies appeal to you?