The year 2020 has been a challenging one. The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected almost all industries. It is even estimated that by 2025, this terrible health problem will have cost the whole world between $16 trillion and $35 trillion.
Businesses all over the world have been heavily hit by the effects of numerous restrictive policies to control the spread of the virus. This is evidenced by the global economy shrinking by 4.4% in 2020 – the worst economic decline the modern world has seen since the Great Depression, which happened in the 1930s.
Fortunately, it looks like the world is slowly bouncing back from the pummeling it took in 2020. Businesses should be able to look at this economic recovery as an opportunity to ride the wave, so to speak. As businesses open, they will be keen on making up for the lost time. This is the time to strike.
AI and automation
Artificial intelligence and automation are very common items included in lists of modern business trends. Some would say they are no longer a trend but a reality enterprises have to live with. Still, it is worth mentioning and discussing the benefits they offer especially in terms of lead generation.
AI and automation in lead generation appear in different forms including conversational AI-powered chatbots that provide a more efficient way to sort out the multitude of first-time interactions with customers as well as automated email campaigns. Lead validation can also be automated through automatic AI-driven lead scoring and lead validation audits.
Ilan Kasan, Co-Founder and CEO of Exceed.ai, an AI-powered platform of virtual assistants that helps sales team nurture and qualify leads, had this to say in an interview with Hackernoon:
“AI Assistants can ensure that every lead is followed-up and nurtured. They can identify when a lead is ready to talk to a human, qualify it and even book a meeting directly on the rep’s calendar. All this happens automatically in the background, allowing reps to focus on what they like and know to do best… talk to prospects and close deals.”
Research presented in the Harvard Business Review cites a 50% lead generation increase, up to 60% cost reduction, and up to 70% decrease in call times attributable to the use of artificial intelligence and automation in sales and marketing. Platforms like Exceed.ai, which is advertised to lower customer acquisition costs by up to 70%, provide significant benefits enterprises cannot downplay and ignore.
Lead generation through social media
A recent study found that more than 50% of the world’s population is on social media. Businesses are missing a lot by not taking advantage of this avenue for a huge audience conveniently accessible online. Social media marketing, just like automation, seems hackneyed as far as trends are concerned, but it is still worth mentioning and emphasising.
A Social Media Lead Generation Report reveals that “the more the companies dedicate budget to social media, the more they are satisfied with their social media strategy”. The same study suggests that when sales and marketing use social media in lead generation at the same level, the satisfaction level in the lead generation strategy rises.
Just having a social media presence alone is not enough to generate leads with social media, though. To ensure that these platforms produce the outcomes expected of them, it is crucial to optimise social media profiles or pages by providing contact details and creating call-to-action buttons. Also, it greatly helps to have clickable content, user-friendly or intuitive landing pages, and suitable incentive programs such as contests, raffles, and discount codes.
Virtual events have shot up in popularity last year. While these types of events have already been growing in terms of popularity in the past years, the expected growth rate for it is almost 23.2% between 2020 to 2027. With safety still being top of mind for people, even among those who have already been vaccinated, expect growth to become even more significant for the foreseeable future. In fact, a study recently conducted by BrightTalk showed that as of September 2020, one-third of marketers surveyed now count virtual events as a key part of their overall marketing strategy.
Webinars, virtual networking, virtual classes, and other related online events are all effective ways of generating leads. You can use them to push thought leadership positioning for your company, present products and services, and, most importantly, interact directly with customers.
Another thing about these events is that it is highly cost-effective compared to doing these same activities physically. Hosting a seminar for a specific industry will entail more cost, more logistics, and a high level of coordination. A virtual event can achieve the same objectives at a fraction of the cost.
One of the most effective lead generation magnets that can be done right now is to create attractive and compelling content and then put it behind a virtual gate. Free e-books, whitepapers, webinars, newsletters, and case studies are just some of the content formats that can attract a lot of attention, especially among enterprises that are looking for solutions to specific concerns.
Virtual gates can be used to ask for something from those who want to access certain content. Around 80% of content marketing assets that are geared towards the B2B sector are gated, and some 44% of B2B companies use this strategy to generate leads. Before they grant access to their content, they may ask for specific details like the business name, location, the reason for requesting access to the content, and other information useful for lead generation.
David Laxer, founder and CEO of The Brief Company, a global network of branding strategists, both endorses and warns about gated content, “Obviously gated content is an effective strategy for lead generation, but it can be counter-productive if the content isn’t satisfactory, or doesn’t follow on the promise that brought readers there. Your potential customers will feel cheated, and be much less likely to respond to future approaches from your brand.”
What makes it even better is that it also prequalifies the interested parties. If they can commit to this first step, then it is highly likely that they will proceed deeper into the conversion funnel. It will not be as difficult to convince them to inquire about product offerings and place orders.
It is advisable not to ask for too much information from prospects, though. Doing so can turn off these potential leads. Also, it is recommended to avoid having ads, especially those that keep repeating and require the full focus of the prospective leads.
The global pandemic created many challenges for businesses. But things are slowly going back to normal. Initiating lead generation strategies that are a complementary fit to the realities of the New Normal will ensure that your efforts will be met with successful leads that can be converted into sales for your business.
The best lead generation strategies at present are the ones that are strongly rooted in digital. From the use of AI and automation to social media marketing, gated content, and virtual events, the use of digital and online solutions is a reality enterprises should already be accustomed to by now. Mastering these is a must if businesses were to survive and thrive under a new business landscape.