The 4 Pillars of a Lead Generation Machine

by | Sep 17, 2020

Sitting in my cubicle, sipping company coffee, I was a super freak in managing Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and LinkedIn Ads but I always had a “designer” to build the ad graphics and landing pages.  Additionally, my ad copywriting was basic, to say the least.  I was too into the technical details (all science, no art) and missing that digital marketing is just reaching the right audience with a message that connects with them.

The fact is that I was well over 10 years into a corporate marketing career before grasping what it took to consistently generate a pipeline of ready buyers online.

Fortunately, I finally had my breakthrough moment.

After joining a startup (later acquired for $550M!), I didn’t have all the resources of an enterprise or brand recognition. I had to get back to the basics of marketing and really focus on being efficient with every marketing dollar.  Because I also didn’t have a big marketing team – that meant increasing automation and reducing pipeline touchpoints.

Too many direct response marketers get sucked into the technical details of digital marketing… keyword bidding, audience targeting, ad testing and rotation, day-parting….

But at the end of the day, it’s still the practice of compelling actual people that what you’re marketing will help them to thrive.

It’s not overly complicated to just launch ads on Google Ads or LinkedIn Ads, and get basic returns and a slow drip of leads – some qualified, some not.

But if you want to see the type of growth that might actually please executives and investors, then you need to get more strategic (see our case studies to see the type of growth I’m talking about — i.e. 795% in 90 days).  Fortunately for you, we have managed dozens of clients and millions of dollars in ad spend with constant testing.

Through this we have developed 4 key pillars to unlock uncommon growth opportunities:

Here are the core pillars to building a lead machine that we follow at Upgrow:

  • Deeply Understand the Customer – knowing your audience personas and the problems that your solution solves for them is key. That’s why we start every new client engagement with a detailed questionnaire, discovery research, and analytics review.
  • Follow a Checklist System – for each channel (i.e. SEO, SEM, Social Ads) we go down a detailed checklist every day, week, and month. This disciplined approach ensures no element goes “unoptimized”.
  • Build a Better Landing Page – rather than just deliver traffic to your website, we go a step further than most agencies to plan, design, and optimize marketing landing pages as well. With more influence on the full marketing funnel, we can rapidly improve performance and scale.
  • Segmentation and Relevance – building a series of audiences, ads, and landing pages that resonate with different customer segments is the best way we’ve found to increase relevance which leads to higher conversion rates.

Deeply Understand the Customer

Launching ads before getting to know the target customer is a dangerous and expensive approach.  Digital marketers can sometimes forget about the basics of marketing.  We need to understand our customers’ problem that they’re trying to solve, and then show them who our product is the best, if not only, solution to that problem.

We also need to know WHO our customer is. More specifically, we need to know:

  • What’s important to them
  • Where do they go online
  • Who do they trust
  • Other details in building a customer persona.

Through this research we can then target them effectively and build ads, offers, and landing pages that will connect with them as well as show them how we can scratch their very specific type of itch.

Follow at Checklist System

If you logged into a Google Ads or LinkedIn Ads account then you know just how many dials there are to turn within these platforms.  There are endless tasks to be completed to keep things running smoothly while steadily getting efficient and scaling.

Just for starters with digital ads:

  • Bid optimization
  • Budget reallocation
  • Copy testing
  • Landing page testing
  • Keyword and audience expansion
  • Keyword and audience exclusion
  • Keyword and audience segmentation
  • Day and week parting
  • QA of ad placements
  • QA of conversion tracking
  • Identifying new channel opportunities
  • The list goes on and on…

And while SEO is a different beast, it may have even more knobs to turn…

  • Checking for technical errors
  • Ensuring all pages have META tags
  • Image tagging
  • Page speed testing and optimization
  • Link-building strategy and management
  • Content gaps
  • Rank tracking

So how do you make sure that everything is well optimized?

By staying organized!  That’s why we maintain a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly list of standard optimizations and checks.  This is the only way we can ensure that a base-level grooming is consistently done, instead of just when performance starts dipping.

Building a Better Landing Page

Most digital marketers, including most digital agencies, leave the landing page work to the web design team.  And while having an attractive, user-friendly design in your landing page is important, that alone isn’t going to give you the booming conversion rates that you desire, my friend.

So what makes an incredible, earth-shattering landing page that can turn just about any rogue clicker into a red hot, ready-to-buy lead?

Well, I’ve got a massive post covering that along with a video webinar recording just for that: How Marketers Can Build a Landing Page that Converts.

But since you’re already here, I’ll lay out a few of the components of nearly all the high converters:

  • Instantly shows relevance to what you do
  • Builds trust (i.e. client logos, awards, impressive stats)
  • Has a compelling and bold call-to-action button
  • States the customer’s problem shows them how you have the solution, and tells them what life is like afterward.
  • Easy to scan (images, bulleted lists, no huge walls of text)

Segmentation and Relevance

That leads us to the final pillar, but an absolutely crucial one.  If your ads all drive to one generic landing page with one generic creative and copy, then you are missing a monster opportunity.

In before the time of the web when advertising was constrained to billboards, TV ads, or radio ads, advertisers didn’t have nearly the ability to deliver different messages that speak more specifically to different customer groups.  But today we do!

The benefits of segmentation are many, I’ll mention the big 3 as well as give examples:

Highlight relevant features of your product that each segment cares most about.

  • B2C example: users in Hartford, CT searching for a “winter coat” are looking for a totally different product than someone searching “winter coat” in San Diego, CA.
  • B2B example: a big-ticket B2B technology investment has multiple decision-makers.  For something like a database, the CTO is looking for different hooks like price and scalability where the Software Engineer at the same company would be more interested in a different message about speed, usability, and the free SWAG.  Segmenting these roles and delivering different messages that speak to both groups will engage with what they care about.
  • Retargeting example: a user who has visited your website 9 times in the last week and engaged with 14 social media posts in the last week is a hotter audience to retarget than a user that visited and bounced after 4 seconds 3 weeks ago.

Allocate budget or bid based on the value and conversion-likelihood of each segment.

  • B2C example: In the “winter coat” search example, we can assume the Hartford, CT heavy coat is more expensive (and necessary) so putting more budget and a higher bid there makes sense.
  • B2B example: In the database search example, the CTO has more influence than a Software Engineer, so paying a premium to reach them may be a smart strategy.
  • Retargeting example: going beyond just a single 30-days all visitors audience to focus on users highly and recently engaged more than the stale ones.  Also using social media engagement like video views, Likes, and comments is another way to retarget interested users.

Discover your best and worst audiences by singling them out.

  • B2C example: Segment age groups when marketing a video game to see which is more likely to buy.
  • B2B example: Segment users in the energy sector and those in the finance sector to see which are in more need of your IT support services.
  • Retargeting example: See which page visited shows the highest intent to buy.

There are many, many ways to segment and customize each group’s experience.  The more you can break down your audience into groups the more ideal their experience will be translating into a higher conversion rate and lower cost-per-conversion.

Now don’t get carried away.  You should only segment groups when they’re large enough to justify the additional creative resources.

Final Thoughts

So now the 4 power pillars for turning your lead generation program into a consistent and efficient machine have been revealed to you.  My life’s work condensed down to a 6-page e-book!

To recap:

  • We covered why we need to deeply understand the customer in order to address their problem with an ideal solution.
  • We emphasized the importance of consistency in optimization by implementing a checklist system.
  • Then we went into the elements of a great landing page that converts.
  • Finally, we hit on why segmentation of our audience is important to create relevant experiences.

It took me many years in the trenches of digital marketing to understand these crucial elements that set a great direct response marketing program apart from the average ones.  Like so many marketers, I forgot that good advertising is both art and science.  Bringing in more of the creative art side is how you move beyond only converting users already seeking you out and start reaching a much larger pool of potential customers who just didn’t know they needed you yet.

I wish you great success in incorporating these tactics into your digital marketing efforts and should you need additional firepower from an agency that lives by these rules, then book a conversation any time at www.Upgrow.io/contact.

To your success!