15 Critical Mistakes in Lead Generation You Better Avoid

Throughout my marketing career I have often encountered different visions of what lead generation is and who should be doing it. Was it marketing or sales? Usually sales would demand hot leads from marketing so to close deals, whereas marketing would demand from sales more initiatives to turn cold contacts (often brought from conferences) into closed deals. And that “war” never stops.

The point is that to generate ready-to-buy leads is not an easy thing to do. This process should be done equally by both the sales and marketing people at their level of customer engagement. Moreover, everyone in a customer-facing organization should be generating leads. The big mistake is not understanding that and assigning this task specifically to one team or one individual.

My first experience with lead generation was when I worked at a large IT outsourcing company almost 10 years ago. The notion of leads, leads generation and lead nurturing was something very new to all marketing people. Our lead generation campaign success was heavily based on many trial and error approaches. Each trial was an experiment with content, design, calls-to-action, time, day and anything that was possible to experiment with. Each mistake was a lesson to learn. We gained invaluable experience and knowledge that we would not have received otherwise. The only thing we lost was time.

Actually losing time is what many experts in growth strategies name as the single critical mistake they made. @VioletaNedkova, a marketing consultant regrets for putting off the start of her newsletter initiative for a long time because she wanted it to be perfect.

@Sujan Patel, Co-founder of ContentMarketer.io told me, “The biggest mistake I ever made when it comes to lead generation is not starting early enough. I’ve only recently been doubling down on proactively inviting people to subscribe to my updates on SujanPatel.com. I wish I would have started five years ago. I think a lot of businesses and people either don’t know where to start, or they worry that their list just simply won’t grow. But there are a ton of awesome, cost-effective tools available now that can help with optimizing the entire lead generation process. If you can provide enough value on your blog and in your emails, people will sign up — but you have to be organized, you have to have a strategy, you have to be consistent and you have to start capturing emails now”.

3 common mistakes for technology companies

Many technology companies make similar mistakes in implementing the lead generation strategy. The following are the most common mistakes I noticed:

1. Assigning cold calling to a sales rep. Making the salesperson do cold calling is a complete waste of sales resources. By the way, cold calling is actually a completely ineffective activity for a technology company that offers services such as IT outsourcing.

2. Isolating an individual responsible for lead generation from the rest of the company. No matter how well he/she does the task, information sharing should be open and all updates should be directly communicated in a timely manner.

3. Hiring a call center to do cold calling. Call centers rely on scripts and predictable requests. Technology companies are in a highly dynamic market where communication by a pre-defined scenario is useless. For successful lead generation, the process must be ensured by readily available technology expertise and deep product knowledge.

Serious lead generation mistakes marketers should avoid

If not talk specifically about technology companies, there are many common lead generation mistakes that should be avoided in a client-facing organization.

1. Not defining your Ideal Customer

Basically this is the critical root cause of most (if not all) failures of lead generation initiatives. The lack of a developed customer profile leads to unclear messaging and completely wrong targeting. One of the known industry influencers and a Customer Success Evangelist, @Lincoln Murphy, said that the mistake most of the people do is when rushing into trying out methods and channels that they are most comfortable with instead of concentrating first on developing an Ideal Customer Profile and using it to shape the messaging as well as using the proper channels to communicate with. “It’s never too early to create an ideal customer hypothesis and start testing against that rather than throwing a bunch of random stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks”. @Jake Peters, the influencer and CEO at Contentacle, also agrees with this mistake:

Lead gen’s pretty hard anyway, but if you’re targeting the wrong people, you’re not going to get anywhere. Make sure you know exactly who your ideal prospect is.

2. Lack of content strategy

74% of B2B marketers use content marketing to generate leads. If you have no strategy — all your efforts are in vain. The biggest problem marketers face is focusing heavily on creating a super great content and assuming leads will magically appear and convert into paying customers without managing the process “behind the curtains”. Failing to read the customer data and inability to align it with the content strategy leads to releasing the content irrelevant to a target audience.

3. Landing page with product features instead of benefits

Nobody wants to read about how cool your product is if it does not offer benefits that suit customers’ needs. There are so many websites that still focus on how cool their products are, forgetting about what is in there for potential customers. Often that mistake is due to not knowing your customer.

4. Many Calls-to-Action on a single landing page

Putting a few links or call-to-action buttons on one landing page confuses the visitor and will distract them from converting. Usually such landing pages do not convert at all and are useless for marketers. Landing pages should have only ONE main focus. That means removing navigation or header bars from your page and keeping it simple to maximize conversions.

Or the opposite ….

5. No Call-to-Action on a landing page

Basically every page of your website should have a call-to-action in order to increase the possibility to capture your lead while he/she is on your website. If it is not a specifically crafted landing page (promoting a webinar, eBook etc.), the call-to-action can be as simple as Subscribe, Contact, Let’s talk, or Ask us more, etc. Below is an example of such landing page.

No call-to-action landing page

6. Long and tedious lead capture form

86% of visitors leave a page if the signup form is too long. Time-consuming and over-complicated forms kill conversions. Some marketers want to capture all possible information about their lead in just one form. That definitely makes the marketers’ life easy, but it also makes the user’s life complicated. Use asterisks to show visitors which fields you require and eliminate every field you do not desperately need at the start of your relationship. Better to do a nice follow up email to collect more information later. Some experts advise keeping forms up to five fields, but I say that three is enough. And since now everyone has a social media account, it is good to add a social login option to your regular form. That tactic will increase the chances of converting a lead.

7. Ignoring the specifics of a channel

There are so many channels of communication, especially in social media, that it is easy to get lost there. However, one has to understand that each channel is different and serves different needs specific to the channel. For instance, LinkedIn is the best for B2B marketing and growing professional networking, whereas Facebook is best for building a loyal brand community and Twitter for creating brand awareness and gaining followers. Therefore, to run a successful lead generation campaign, marketers should not ignore that difference and should craft their messages and tone specific to the channel. @Benji Hyam, director of Growth Marketing at Everwise, points out that the biggest mistake he had to deal with was the thinking that the channel does not work for a business instead of adjusting the approach to the channel and testing again.

8. Forgetting mobile users

When creating a lead generation campaign, one may forget that a significant chunk of your website visitors may come via mobile devices. Not having your landing pages mobile responsive greatly decreases the chances for the visitors to convert. To avoid that mistake, marketers should pay attention to content optimization for mobile users, create very simple forms and call-to-action and make their phone number clickable. Here is a good example of mobile responsive landing page:

Mobile responsive landing page

9. Making assumptions about your target audience

We tend to assume that we know our target audience just because we may be one of them. This is a dead wrong approach. Building your lead generation on assumptions that you know the needs and wants of your potential customers is a big mistake. Instead, you better reach out and talk to your customers and prospects. Ask them what they like or dislike, get into open discussions with them. The more you talk, the more insight about them you get.

10. Running for quantity vs quality

Unless your product is a universal thing that fits everybody on the planet, your biggest mistake would be chasing the quantity of leads while ignoring their quality. By quality leads I mean the ones that fit into the description of your ideal buyer profile and have a much higher chance of being converted into a customer. If you offer a high-priced product, you may want to consider the better quality lead as your critical metric. @Joanna Wiebe, a founder of CopyHackers, shares her experience:

The biggest mistake I’ve made is encouraging clients to go for more leads instead of better-quality leads”.

“I’ve run split-tests on lead generation pages in which we experimented with the number of form fields to complete… and our success metric was form completions. So we’d choose a winner based on the number of leads, not how those leads did or did not convert. That’s problematic. Now, the challenge there is that so much influences whether leads end up converting. So it’s not the form’s job to convert. But it is its job to bring in leads that will convert”.

11. Neglect using a CRM system

If you are just starting your lead generation and nurturing campaign and only have up to 20 contacts, it is okay not to invest in complex CRM systems. However, when your Excel spread sheet has over 50 contacts and increasing, your lead communication programs tend to get hectic. Even the simplest CRM systems out there offer enough automaton and planning tools that help in doing effective lead generation and nurturing.

12. Not automating

Basically this mistake is the same as not using a CRM system to manage and nurture your leads. When doing marketing work manually, sooner or later you will run into a routine that inevitably leads to decreasing efficiency of marketing efforts. That is why you need to start automating. There are many marketing automation tools ( e.g. HubSpot, BuzzSumo, Buffer, Hootsuite) servicing various marketers’ needs that collect user’s data and all kinds of useful analytics. You can track a user’s behavior on various channels and your website and nurture your leads in the funnel using email marketing tactics that often are recommended by the software.

If you don’t have time to generate leads you can simply buy them. But I would recommend to be very careful about that. Big listings tend to have a large percentage of contacts that are invalid or do not meet your ideal buyer criteria. However, you can benefit from services that offer targeted leads specifically for your product (e.g. 1000leads).

Anyway, there are tons of big and small mistakes that marketers do. And that is probably good, because no success can be achieved without a single failure. However, the worst thing is not learning from mistakes and keep going the wrong way. In this article, I collected those mistakes that I believe can seriously affect the efforts of lead generation, and not avoiding them can be itself a huge mistake.

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