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From Cold Calls to AI Technology: How to Generate Leads in 2023

Tyra Douyon - September 22, 2023

Lead Generation in 2023

In today’s dynamic and competitive marketing world, generating high-quality leads is crucial for sustainable growth and success. A few decades ago, the most effective means of connecting with potential leads, individuals, or organizations displaying an interest in a company’s products or services was a simple phone call, often made during dinnertime. This strategy was rooted in the belief that people were more inclined to answer their landlines or “home phones” after the workday, especially when they gathered around the dinner table with their families. Before corded house phones, a visit from a traveling salesperson was the preferred strategy. This practice was founded on the adage that it is more challenging to decline someone when they’re engaging with you face-to-face. 

The marketing approach to contact leads has evolved even more over the past 30 years with the popularization of the internet and the onset of the digital global marketplace. In 2023, it has been reported that lead generation strategy will continue to rely on digital platforms. Because potential clients have moved to the internet via websites, social media, and email marketing, key decision-makers for B2B companies prefer the digital landscape. 

To stay competitive in the industry, companies will rely on automation components–-chatbots, video content, and webinars–-to stay ahead of competitors.  Juniper Research says, “By 2024, consumer retail spend via chatbots worldwide will reach $142 billion—up from just $2 billion in 2019. The report from LeadBoxer indicates that 55% of prospects attend a webinar to get more information about a project before accepting a sales meeting. Additionally, with the rapid development of AI technology and its growing sophistication, more businesses are investing their time and resources in AI and are focused on incorporating their lead strategies and business models.  

Lead generation graphic ©Andrey_Popov

Master the Marketing of Lead Generation 

To master the marketing strategy of identifying high-quality leads, businesses and their internal teams must continue to explore the boundaries of lead generation. They should also consider which pathway consistently produces the best results. With the ultimate goal to convert these potential leads into paying customers, it is important to understand your target audience and their needs.

Valuable leads can stem from a myriad of interactions between individuals and your company. Discovering the most lucrative approach for a business and leveraging it to your advantage can significantly bolster the bottom line. A desirable lead for a company might be someone who exhibits the following behaviors:

Reads Digital Blog Content

Signs Up for an Email List 

Clicks on an Internet Ad for a Product or Service 

Interacts on Social Media

Calls Your Company to Ask for More Information

Fills in a Contact Form at an Event

Marketing Team at Work ©fizkes

Types of Leads and What To Do With Them To Improve Your Business 

Leads are integral to helping casual visitors evolve into loyal, life-long customers. Effectively capitalizing on leads involves maintaining timely and appropriate communication that prevents potential customers from being deterred or inadvertently overlooking your company. It’s crucial to evaluate whether a sales call,  follow-up email,  webinar link, or another mode of communication serves as the most effective means to entice potential clients, sustain their interest, and successfully close the sale.

Furthermore, it’s essential to acknowledge that not all leads are created equal. They can vary significantly based on their qualifications and position within the customer journey. Recognizing these distinctions and understanding the appropriate actions at each stage is important.

Types of Leads 

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

Contacts who have engaged with your marketing team but aren’t ready to receive a sales call. This can look like signing up for a newsletter, interacting on social media, or filling out an online form to receive a free quote.  

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

Contacts who have taken specific actions that express their interest in being a paying customer. A sales-qualified lead would fill out an online form and ask for pricing information to be emailed to them. 

Product Qualified Lead (PQL)

Contacts who have used your product and taken steps to indicate they want to be a paying customer. Someone who has signed up for a free trial, accepted a limited-time deal, or bought something with options to upgrade is a PQL.

Service Qualified Lead (SQL) 

Contacts who have indicated to a business service team that they want to become paying customers. A client who is already receiving your services but asks for more or an upgrade to their services is an SQL. 

A lead conversion strategy becoming more popular in 2023 combines traditional communication methods and newer resources. For example, after receiving an MQL through a direct message on social media, an enhanced sales response might involve sending that potential client an email and offering a free webinar link so they can learn more about the company’s products, prices, and exclusive incentives. In the housing industry, something as simple as a mortgage calculator popping up in the chatbot after someone types, “Can I afford the monthly payments on this home with a $75,000 salary?” can be the difference between a reliable lead and someone who just wants to window shop available homes with a busy agent.  

Fish Hook Strategy ©Alii Sher

Building trust by educating your potential customers and offering accessible and convenient digital tools is the new lead generation outlook for 2023 and beyond. 

Marketing professionals must get comfortable and confident using AI technologies to drive sales on the front end. They also must work in summation with developers who need to have website landing pages, security functions, CRM software, and other details up to date and running smoothly for this method to be effective. 

Moreover, as you continue to educate your customers about your business, remember to stay informed on what your target audience is interested in so you can use what Matt Biskup, Rearview’s Digital Marketing Lead, calls the “Fishhook Approach.” He suggests new content types can be used to nurture or qualify customers and recommends regularity in any business approach: “Make sure that the nurturing gets done on a consistent level.”

Apple Inc.® and their new Mother Nature commercial is a prime example of knowing what your target audience cares about, taking action to address their concerns, and informing them that the company is connected and involved in what matters most to them.

Although they’ve received backlash and harsh criticism since dropping this commercial, it was an attempt to let customers know—all 1.36 billion iPhone and 100 million Macbook owners, respectively— that they’re addressing some of their issues regarding sustainable, environmentally safe materials. It was also a way to drive sales for new customers and reassure their current users about the products before they hitch a ride with Samsung® or another technology company.

In response to the commercial, Biskup offered this point, “The [changes in the marketing industry] are increasing the complexity of the marketing challenge. It’s not just NBC, Fox, and CNN anymore. There are TikToks, Instagram posts, YouTube Shorts, et cetera. There are so many avenues to find potential clients.” 

Marketing Professionals ©Gorodenkoff

Final Takeaways for 2023 

Lead generation is an essential component of any successful business strategy. By understanding your target audience and implementing effective lead-generation strategies, you can attract potential customers and then nurture and convert them into loyal customers. Lead generation is an ongoing process that requires adaptability and a commitment to delivering value to your audience. As marketing professionals look to the future, they will need to incorporate more digital tools powered by AI technology and video into their company’s business strategy to stay competitive with the ever-changing market and address client needs. When executed effectively, it can be a powerful driver of business growth and success.

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