Do you work at or run a business that lives or dies by the number of qualified leads you bring in? If you’re a services business, especially a B2B business, of any kind then you know the struggle here.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard this from a consultant or business:
“I need more leads!”
“My biggest challenge in growing my business is in generating enough quality leads.”
For one of my many drip email campaigns (which I run through Drip.com), I have an email that asks recipients “What is the biggest challenge you face in growing your business?”
For B2B businesses, it is almost always getting more leads that they can then close into contracts. The second answer is usually “converting more leads to sales”, though this is usually after the business has figured out their top-of-funnel lead generation processes and then is beginning to work out their middle and bottom of funnel conversions to MQLs and SQLs.
If you’re in the first camp, then this post is for you.
How to get more qualified leads
Getting more qualified leads to your business is a combination of the following:
- More qualified traffic coming to your website;
- More of those visitors converting to contact information;
- A followup process that takes them from “aware” to “interested” in what you are selling.
As you can tell, these are very broad buckets that each require many different strategies and tactics in order to be successful.
How to get more traffic
If you want to get more qualified leads through your door, the first place to start is by looking at your website’s traffic. You need to understand the following:
- How much traffic you are receiving;
- Where that traffic is landing;
- How well that traffic is converting.
To understand the first, go to Google Analytics (I am assuming that you have that set up, but if not you can learn how here) and navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium:
You will see a view like this:
Now add a Secondary Dimension of Landing page:
With this setting, you now know:
- What channels are bringing you the most traffic;
- What pages are bringing you the most traffic.
This is where you must start. You have to know where you currently stand before you can undertake the activities needed to increase it.
You now may be wondering “Ok, that’s great that I know how much traffic I am getting but can I see how far behind or ahead of my competitors we are?”
While focusing too much on your competitors can be a fool’s errand, benchmarking your traffic data against a competitor’s can be very useful so that you know how much work is ahead of you to catch up.
To accomplish this, we use SEMrush (use this link to get a free 7 day trial).
When you have a subscription and enter your domain (like https://www.semrush.com/info/site.com) with your domain replacing “site.com”, you will see this dashboard:
You can also use the link https://www.semrush.com/analytics/organic/competitors/?q=site.com (once again replacing “site.com” with your domain) to see the full list, which you can then export to sort by “SE Keywords” to see your search results competitors that have the most traffic:
From here, click into the competitors that you want to analyze or use the SEMrush “Keyword Gap” tool. But the above view should give you a good look into the scale of your competitors and how many keywords they are ranking for, which can help you get a directional understanding of their rankings and how big of a competitor they are to your business. If you want to look at them individually, click on their “SE Keywords” number (it is a link) that will then take you to their individual page where you can look deeply at the keywords that they are ranking for.
This gives you an understand of their search engine rankings, and within SEMrush you can also understand their SEM (Google Ads) strategies. But to understand where they are getting their traffic overall you can use a tool like SimilarWeb (they have a free version as well as a Pro version, which for most is unnecessary) to see SimilarWeb’s best idea of their breakdown of traffic across channels:
You can also read our full guide to competitor analysis in SEMrush.
Now that you know both:
- Where you stand with traffic;
- Who your competitors are and where they are getting their traffic from.
You can now set forth a plan to increase your traffic. First I am going to talk about just getting more traffic to your site as that is what many of you need right now, and in the next section we will talk about getting more qualified traffic.
A disclaimer: below I have outlined the strategies learned over time that can drive more traffic to your business. The most profitable channels for your business will depend on your ability to execute, the competitive landscape, and your industry. That said, each of these also plays into building a brand and if you can be a presence on all of them they begin to feed each other and your business will grow.
More traffic: SEO
When I speak with people who want more traffic to their site through SEO, I can often tell that the reason you don’t have more traffic is not because of a lack of knowledge (all the SEO knowledge you need is out there freely available online), but rather because of a lack of direction and strategy for how to get it done.
At the end of the day, good SEO is:
- A technically sound and fast website (this is surprisingly hard to do by the way) that
- Has pages on it that are targeting the topics and terms that your customers are searching for, and
- Links from strong and relevant websites pointing back to your site as a useful resource or place to go to accomplish something.
One or more of the above in combination is usually the reason why you are not ranking well and driving more traffic.
And this makes sense, because each of the above three requires a very different set of skills.
To have a technically solid website you first need to know how to do an SEO site audit (including everything to look for) and then either the ability or means to hire someone with the ability to implement these discoveries. Over time, this will grow your website/traffic as fixes are made and the search engines recrawl and rerank your site. See about getting an SEO site audit done for your site here.
To have pages on your website that target the topics/terms that your customers are searching for, you first need to do keyword research to discover these terms. Then you need to build out these individual pages on your site using a URL structure that makes sense, and filling those pages with useful content that will not only help you rank but also help you get more people contacting you. To build these page and expand the number of keywords/topics you are targeting takes research, time, and expertise to be able to write well.
Thirdly, you need to have other sites linking to yours. This means having a site with useful content or a unique hook, and then doing outreach to get people to link to your website so that you can rank better. There’s a reason why so many sites invest in content – because it’s easier for someone to link to a piece of content than a product or services page – and why there are companies that only do outreach to other sites to get them to link to you.
If you’re trying to get more SEO traffic, then you should probably first look at if you have pages targeting the topics that you should rank for, then work on optimizing/speeding up your site and building links. After all, the O in “SEO” stands for optimization, and optimization inherently means tweaking/fixing what you already have.
More traffic: referral
Referral traffic is defined as visits coming to your site that originated from another website and came to you through an organic link click. This traffic most often comes from:
- Sites referencing your content/resources that they have found useful
- Answer sites like Quora/Reddit
Referral traffic is a tricky business because it is driven by things like links (that also drive SEO) but also can require manual input because you can be writing answers on sites like Quora or Reddit, appearing on podcasts that reach a larger audience and thus drive traffic to your site, and similar activities.
As a services business that lives or dies based on leads, you may find that your best leads come through referrals from friends/partners in your industry.
More traffic: direct
Direct traffic is driven through brand awareness, which can be done in a number of ways.
Advertising meant specifically to drive brand awareness with cold traffic (aka people who may be your customer but are currently unaware of you) will get more people aware of your business and thus typing it into the URL bar on their phone or laptop. This can be advertising digitally (eg Facebook) or more traditional channels like print or radio (or in our current day and age, podcasts).
Direct traffic is tough because it is impossible to know what is driving that traffic or where they saw your brand, but it is a good opportunity to then retarget them on different advertising channels to segment out what they are interested in and thus how you should market to them.
More traffic: social
The final type of traffic you can look to increase is social media traffic, though this area is the one I know the least about and put the least amount of stock in.
Because social media channels are constantly changing. We know that everyone in the world is on Facebook, but Facebook has also been dramatically reducing the reach of content. Twitter, for some, is a great driver of traffic but that channel has its own challenges of noise and negative sentiment. Pinterest can be great for certain verticals like cooking or health, but they also have been reducing the ability of your content on their site to drive traffic back to your site.
All this said, social media can be a great way to promote your content you are producing for lead-generation reasons and to (gasp!) directly communicate with your audience in conversation-format.
How to get more qualified traffic
Now that you are executing on an SEO, content, and other channel strategy to drive more visitors to your site, how do you get more of the right ones?
Content marketing, for the last 3-5 years, has been talked about as content that is a 1-9 relevance to your business on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is “directly conversion-oriented” and 10 is “not relevant at all”. While this does seem to be changing as I write this post (with recent algorithm updates in Google seeming to target mostly irrelevant content), this is actually a good thing because we as marketers or those caring about business growth (business owners, that’s you too) can now focus directly on the visitors most likely to convert into paying customers.
We are moving beyond the days of traffic for traffic’s sake (unless you have a very specific traffic arbitrage business model) to targeting our best customers.
To get more qualified traffic, you need to:
- Bring them into your site to a page targeted to their needs;
- Get them to do something on your site that shows that they are interested in what you are offering (a micro or macro conversion);
- Have a way of identifying these people so that you can then reach out to them.
Qualified traffic is traffic that either originates on or eventually visits a page on your site that you have deemed to be important/vital to your business. This may be a services page or a pricing page, or it could be a conversion page for a piece of content you have produced in order to take people from being aware of your site and service to actually being potentially interested in hiring you to do that service for them.
To do this, you must shift from a raw traffic acquisition mindset to your potential customer’s specific needs, and then serve them that.
You now much map out your funnel to include:
- What they might be looking to answer before they know what their real need is;
- What their questions are after they know what their need is but before they are ready to convert;
- What they are looking to hear and see before they trust you as the solution to their problem.
When a business isn’t receiving enough qualified traffic, the reason I most often see is that there is no content in the middle and bottom of the funnel including:
- Whitepapers/case studies;
All of this sort of content and pages are meant to bring people from a pure awareness frame of mind down to knowing a lot more about the topic and knowing that they can trust you.
How to convert traffic to a “lead”
Once you have good traffic flowing to your website, to take them from a visitor to a lead and then a qualified lead involves a whole new discipline.
We’ve already talked about the awareness stages, and this is where we get into consideration.
To convert traffic to a lead, meaning their contact information and hopefully their name, you need to:
- Get them to a page that solves their need;
- Upgrade them to something meaningful (like a content guide) that they are willing to “pay for” with their contact info.
Before you think about what you can offer them, think about what your audience really wants to do and what a “lead” means for your business.
If you’re offering high paid strategy, you might need to build a lot of trust with them before they’re willing to even discuss hiring you. And if you’re charging high rates, then even a high percentage that contact you may not be able to afford to hire you. This is totally fine, which is why you should think about:
- A lead – anyone who gives you their contact information
- A marketing qualified lead (MQL) – anyone whose contact information you have who also does specific actions on your site that you have said are what you want someone who is qualified to do;
- A sales qualified lead (SQL) – once you’ve had a conversation with them and deemed them to be a good fit for your services.
To convert someone from a visitor to a top-level lead, you should build out ways for them to increase their knowledge and learn more about what they are looking to solve. The most common way to do this is through content upgrades which provide a lot more value to them than your free content does.
Remember: content is not marketing until there is a next step.
To take them from a lead to an MQL that you then reach out to, you will need to:
- Implement lead scoring (we use Drip for this) and be notified when someone becomes an MQL;
- Have a CRM in place that helps you prioritize and follow up on outreach to them;
- A process for qualifying that lead with specific questions you need them to answer.
To wrap all of this up, if you want to get more qualified leads for your business you need to:
- Increase traffic to your site;
- Identify their needs and build out content to satisfy that through the funnel;
- Have ways for them to give you their contact information in exchange for something useful;
- Have a process for identifying the qualified ones and then following up to them to take them from MQL > SQL.
Hopefully this post has helped you get straighter in your mind what a lead is, what you need to do to get more traffic, and finally what you can do to convert them.
I’d also be remiss to not tell you about our executive’s guide to hiring a marketing provider, because if you know you need to do all of this but don’t have the time or expertise then you probably need help hiring. And we can help you find the right provider.