What is Lead Generation? A Complete Guide for Small Business Owners in the UK

If you’re looking to expand your startup, you’ll need to grow your customer base. But how do you find potential customers or clients? The key is lead generation

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Every entrepreneur that has launched a business has had the same concern cross their mind: ‘how do I gain new customers?’. However, for a company that seeks to achieve faster growth, or get a foothold in unfamiliar markets, this concern will sound more like ‘how do I generate leads?’.

In this guide, we’ll give you a lead generation crash course. From understanding what lead generation means to understanding why buying leads is a marketing capital sin, you should walk away from this guide feeling confident about sourcing leads quickly and effectively.

The key to nailing lead generation is having a robust digital marketing system in place. Finding the right one can be a tedious task, which is why we’ve put together a free quote finding tool that will help you find the provider that best fits your business’ needs.

What is lead generation?

For sales and marketing people, a lead is a potential customer who has shown interest in purchasing your business’ products or services. As a result, they’ve offered you their contact details, allowing you to follow up and eventually score a sale. Thanks to these contact details, you can then tailor your marketing to that specific lead and maximise the chance of them becoming an actual customer of your business.

Lead generation is the new and improved version of customer relations, which means cold calling is a thing of the past. Customers no longer want to be bothered in the middle of their work day – they only want to be reached out to if they have made an indication of interest. Therefore, it’s important that you get the lead generation process right.

The key to nailing lead generation is having a robust digital marketing system in place. Finding the right one can be a tedious task, which is why we’ve put together a free quote finding tool that will help you find the provider that best fits your business’ needs.

Why do small businesses need lead generation?

When you’re a nascent enterprise, setting up your customer base can be tricky. After all, you’re new to the market and many potential customers have probably never heard about you. Lead generation is a great way to catapult yourself into the eyes of consumers, with the certainty that they already have some sort of interest in your goods and services.

The lead generation process

  1. Discovery: this is where the customer first comes to your business because they discovered you through your marketing channels, which can range from your Instagram page or website, to using SEO intelligently.
  2. Clicking on CTAs: now that you’re on the customer’s radar, they will click on a Call To Action (CTA) button that will encourage them to go further down the customer journey funnel. In other words, you’re a step closer to grabbing their interest.
  3. Landing page: the CTA will lead them onto a landing page, which is a website designed to capture the lead’s information. This will usually look like a webform where the customer will give you more details about why they’re interested in the product or service, and insert their contact details.
  4. Lead generation: You now have a lead! Armed with everything you need to know about your lead, you can go back to the drawing board and understand how to adapt your marketing to convert your lead into an active customer. This could mean you contact them via email or give them a call to learn more about the goods or services they’re interested in.
  5. Qualification: now that you have collected your leads, it’s time to sort them in the right groups to fully understand which ones are quality leads. This will help you put your eggs in the right basket and target the leads that are most likely to convert.
Did you know?

91% of marketers say that lead generation is their most important goal, but 37% found generating high-quality leads to be one of their biggest challenges.

Lead Generation marketing

This is the ‘front end’ of the lead generation process. Some things to consider are: what marketing channels work best for you?; How can you measure the effectiveness of each channel?; and, most importantly, why is buying leads a sin in the marketing and sales world?

Which channels should you use for lead generation marketing

There’s two main types of marketing channels you can use to find leads: inbound and outbound marketing. Here’s what each one means:

📩 Inbound marketing: this is how to generate interest in your company through content creation and content promotion.

  • With content creation, you can create relevant content that draws attention to specific goods or services. In practice, this could be a clever Instagram post or a blogpost.
  • Content promotion is what you can then do to get the content you’ve created onto people’s screens. This can be done with optimised SEO or by using social media.

📬 Outbound marketing: this includes email marketing, events, and ads.

  • Email marketing can help you distribute new content, send out event invitations, share news, and stay directly in touch with your customers. It’s a great way to provide content to potential leads who may not necessarily be looking for you.
  • Event marketing creates an opportunity to share your brand, build personal relationships with customers, and engage with attendees.
  • Display ads can be targeted to customers with certain habits or demographic traits. Since this approach is tailored to a specific audience, the chance of grabbing leads is stronger.
Sales and marketing alignment – why is it important?

Also known as ‘smarketing’, this alignment is key to ensure that both departments are working together to target the right customer base, create more conversions, and make more sales. Strategies like meeting regularly, setting shared goals, as well as defining the content creation and marketing process together can help you create syntony between your sales and marketing teams.

Assessing ROI of different channels for Lead Generation

The last thing you want to do is burn your money on leads that aren’t getting your business anywhere. According to research by Sales Insights Lab, 54% of sales reps think it’s harder to attract new prospects than it was five years ago. This shows that you really need to be smart about where you put your money to make sure you’re getting quality leads that convert.

Here are a couple of ways to see how you’re performing in the lead generation arena:

  • Click Through Rate (CTR): this is how often people see a piece of marketing and decide to click on it. You can calculate it was (total clicks/total impression) x 100
  • Cost Per Lead (CPL): this tells you how much you spent to acquire each new lead. A high CPL shows your sales funnel is not effective. You can calculate it as (total amount spent on lead acquisition/total leads attributable to acquisition efforts).
  • Cost Per Click: it reveals how much you spent to get each click on your website, social media post, lead magnet, or another piece of marketing. You can calculate it as (total amount spent/total measurable clicks).
  • Conversion by channel: this tells you how many leads you received from each marketing channel that converted into active customers. The best way to get insights on this is to use tools like Google Analytics.
  • Measuring ROI: tells you if a strategy was ‘worth it’. A positive ROI means you made a profit, and a negative ROI means you didn’t make a profit. ((amount gained – amount spent)/amount spent) x 100

Why can’t I buy leads?

We know what you’re thinking, but the answer is don’t do it. Buying leads is one of the biggest mistakes you could make in lead generation marketing. We get that you want to fill your sales funnel quickly and that buying leads seems like the shortcut to the perfect sales destination, but it really doesn’t work like that.

Why? Those leads you’re buying don’t actually know you. Those leads you’re buying opted in at some other site when signing up for something, they didn’t opt-in to hear from you. Therefore, reaching out to those leads you purchased is the modern equivalent of cold calling. The likelihood of being marked as spam is high. If enough people mark you as spam, you could find yourself on an email blacklist that is very difficult to get out of. The bottom line is it’s always better to generate leads organically, rather than buy them.

Identifying and qualifying ideal leads

Not all leads are created equal – some convert to sales while others simply disappear. Stronger prospects tend to have the financial means to make a purchase, a genuine need or desire for what you offer, and an interest in learning more about it.

There are several ways you can find out if your leads are good prospects:

Form criteria

We have talked a lot about obtaining customers’ details, but which details do you need? Ensure your enquiry forms are obtaining information that your sales team will find useful when determining which leads have potential.

First and foremost, ask for contact details, a job title, and the company the person is enquiring from (if any). The job title will hint whether or not the individual has the authority to make the purchase for their company, while a little research on the company should show whether or not they appear to have the financial means for it.

Asking how many employees the company has may give an even clearer idea. You can then go on to ask why they are interested in your offering, whether they have bought from your business before, and more.

Phone verification

Call the lead and talk to them about their enquiry. Ask them what they would like to know about your product or service, and how much they have spent on offerings like yours. With this information, you can send the lead the right information for their requirements.

If your contact is from a company, ensure you are talking to the person who would ultimately make the decision of whether or not to purchase.

How to increase sales

Ultimately, allowing your sales team to focus on their sales skills will likely be a better use of their resources. This will enable them to spend more time selling and less time prospecting.

So, what are the other options for sourcing leads?

Using a lead buying marketing company

When thinking how to get marketing leads, the process can be resource-heavy. There are a number of lead generation marketing companies that can find leads for business owners.

These can vary from a list of potentially relevant prospects based on your target criteria all the way to details of fully engaged, qualified leads for sales teams.

Questions to ask lead generation marketing companies include:

  • Have these leads and businesses requested sales discussions?
  • Have the contact details been verified?
  • Is there integration into your sales or CRM software and process?
  • Is there a long-term contract or can you pay-per-lead?
  • Is there a dedicated account manager?
  • Is the lead generation scalable?

Types of lead generation strategy

✔️ B2B: this is the classic style of generating leads. This is done through a combination of cold calling, outbound emailing, and social media marketing. This is great for businesses that don’t have the strongest social media presence and are more comfortable with leaning on traditional methods.

✔️ Social Media: this is using your social media channels to capture qualified leads, bring them into your sales funnel, and then be converted into customers. This is a fantastic route for conversions because social media platforms have high levels of engagement with users, meaning you’re likely to collect qualified leads. To make sure you nail this channel down, it’ll be useful to have a reliable social media marketing agency by your side.

✔️ PPC: known as pay-per-click advertising, you can strategically place ads on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to drive traffic to a landing page that converts. This is great for ecommerce businesses that are looking to make a push with online lead generation.

Final words: why lead generation is so important

You can’t ignore the riches lead generation can offer in the digital age if you want to attract new customers. With lead generation, you can find customers that have already expressed an interest in your brand and, with the right amount of sweet talking (or marketing), can be swayed to become active buyers.

The next step for you is to figure out how you want to shape your lead generation strategy. Social media, email marketing, or events? Regardless of your choice, it’s likely you won’t be able to avoid digital marketing.

However, to do this successfully, you’ll need a robust digital marketing system. To help you find the right one, use our free quote finding tool that will help you land the right provider that meets your business’ needs.

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