Lead generation is like physics.
Right when you think you get it, someone makes a new discovery that challenges your previous understanding — quantum physics, exit-intent pop ups, beauty quarks, sales funnels…
You get the point 😉
It’s hard to keep up.
To help, we’ve put together this list of 12 lead generation best practices for 2021. These tactics work for both B2C and B2B companies. In fact, we’ve found a ton of success at ClickFunnels by using these exact strategies.
1. Identify Your Dream Customer
The first “best practice” behind an effective lead-gen strategy — and this goes for B2B, B2C, and just about every other type of startup on the planet — is to understand your dream customer.
This is the person that you most want to work with.
More specifically, your dream customer is a person who fits into these two buckets.
- They want what you’re selling.
- They can afford what you’re selling.
Ideally, they want what you’re selling so bad that they’re happy to pay for it.
To identify who your dream customer is, let’s start with your niche.
Which one of the three markets does your business fall into: health, wealth, or relationships?
90% of businesses fall into one of those three markets.
Now choose a submarket. There are an unlimited number of submarkets that exist within these three markets. For example, if you chose wealth as your market, then you might choose real estate as your submarket.
But we want to go one more layer deep — this is where you choose your niche.
If you chose wealth as your market and real estate as your submarket, then you might choose real estate investor online marketing as your niche.
Again, this will all depend on the type of business you’re building.
(You can learn more about this process in Traffic Secrets — get your free copy at that link)
Now that you know which niche your business belongs to, the next step is to identify your dream customer within that niche. Here are some questions to ask yourself…
- What is their deepest fear?
- What do they want more than anything?
- Why do they want what you’re selling?
- What is their demographic (age, gender, location, etc)?
- How much money do they make per year?
It’s worth going through the process of creating a detailed customer avatar if you haven’t already. Knowing who you’re targeting will make the rest of the lead-gen process 1,000 times easier (and more effective).
2. Create Your Dream 100
Once you know who your dream customers are, the next lead-gen question you should ask is, “Where are they hanging out?”
If you know where they’re already congregating online, then all you have to do is get your message in front of them, either organically or by paying for advertisements (more on that later).
We call this process the “Dream 100”.
Essentially, it’s the 100 places where your target market congregates that, if you were able to stand on the stage for just a few moments, it’d be a game-changer for your business.
(Of course, it doesn’t need to be exactly 100 places)
Here are some benchmarks to start with. See if you can identify the following (put ‘em in a spreadsheet)…
- 10 websites and forums where your dream customers engage
- 15 active Facebook groups your dream customers participate in
- 50 influencers your dream customers follow on Facebook and Instagram
- 30 podcasts your dream customers listen to
- 40 newsletter your dream customers read
If you want to go further, you could also find magazines, YouTube channels, and blogs that your dream customers enjoy.
Try to make at least a little bit of headway on your Dream 100 before tackling the other best practices in this article.
It’ll make it a lot easier.
3. Understand Your Value Ladder
By this point you know who your dream customers are and you know where to find them.
The next most important lead-gen step is to understand the journey your business is going to take them on.
For instance, how are you going to get the dream customer’s email address? Once you have it, what’s the first product you’re going to try and sell them? After they’ve purchased the first product, what’s the most natural upsell? Ultimately, what’s the end-goal product you are trying to guide them toward?
Without answers to those questions, a lead-gen strategy is basically useless… because you won’t know what to do with those leads.
We call this process a “value ladder”.
Here’s what it looks like…
Each step represents a product or service that you’re going to try and sell to your customer. As you can see, the customer journey goes from least expensive and least valuable product to more expensive and most valuable product.
In the meantime, it’s a good idea to have some sort of continuity program (a monthly subscription, for instance) that creates financial predictability for your business.
Here are the questions you need to answer to create your own value ladder…
- How are you going to get people in the door? This is the first step of your value ladder… it could be a free resource, a free trial, or a low-ticket product.
- In what order are you expecting people to buy your products? These will create the middle steps on your value ladder.
- What’s the ultimate product or service that you want people to purchase? This is the top of the ladder, where you’re leading all of your customers.
- What continuity program will you offer? This will help create predictably finances for your business.
To give you a few examples of what this looks like, here’s a possible value ladder for a dentist’s office…
And here’s a glimpse of one of our value ladders at ClickFunnels…
Grab a piece of paper and create your own value ladder.
This will allow you to not only know how you’re going to generate leads, but also to know what you’re going to do with them.
4. Build a Sales Funnel
This is where the magic happens.
You know where to find your dream customers and you understand what the customer journey is going to look like — now you can start building a lead-gen sales funnel.
A sales funnel is just a series of pages that are built to drive people toward taking a specific action.
If you’re a coach or consultant, then you might try to get people on a call. If you’re SaaS, then you might try to get people signed up for a free trial. If you’re ecommerce, then you might try to get them to buy.
But here, we’re talking about generating leads.
And ground zero for lead-gen is the email address.
Your first goal should be to get people’s email address. Because if you have that, then you can build a follow-up funnel and drive them to other sales funnels up your value ladder.
In other words, an email list is leads that you can sell to more than once.
But how are you going to get people’s email address?
We recommend starting with one of two sales funnels: the squeeze page funnel or the application funnel.
The reverse squeeze page funnelis a dead-simple funnel that consists of just two pages. First, a free and attractive offer (this should be the first step of your value ladder) with a CTA to sign up and second, a “Thank You” page.
This sales funnel can be modified to work for just about any niche. Here’s an example of what the first page looks like…
The application funnelis a sales funnel that secures a bit more information from leads. It starts with a reverse squeeze page — which has an exit-intent pop-up — and then goes to an application page after you’ve secured the person’s email address. It ends with a “Thank You” page.
This is perfect if you’re trying to pre-qualify leads or learn about the people who are signing up for your lead magnet.
Choose the lead-gen funnel that fits your needs and craft a free front-end offer that will appeal to your target market — learn more about that here.
Then it’s time to build your follow-up funnel.
5. Build a Follow-Up Funnel
You’ve got a sales funnel that you’re confident will appeal to your target market and get you to give them your email address.
So… what next?
Well, obviously, you want to turn those leads into customers!
And you can do that by building a follow-up funnel — this is just a series of emails that trigger when someone signs up for your email list.
You can think of it sort of like a welcome sequence or like your first sales sequence that you send to new subscribers.
(You can build follow-up funnels inside of ClickFunnels)
The first email looked like this…
The second email looked like this…
And the third email looked like this…
Jon Morrow sends a total of 8 emails in his welcome sequence. And as you can see, each email builds suspense, makes a promise, and offers free value.
He’s trying to build trust with the new subscriber so that, during his final three emails, he can try to turn them into customers…
Sometimes these initial sales emails are referred to as a “soap opera sequence” because of how they generate attention and create suspense for each next email.
You can learn more about how to craft a compelling soap opera sequence in the video below.
6. Leverage Psychological Principles
As a tip for crafting your lead-gen sales funnel and follow-up funnel that’ll drive new leads toward the second step on your value ladder, don’t forget to use psychology to increase conversion rate.
At ClickFunnels, we are constantly testing our sales funnels to determine what page elements increase conversions.
And here are a few things we’ve learned over the last decade…
Urgency/Scarcity — The fact is, many people in your target market are procrastinators. They might want your products or services but they’re thinking they can wait to buy later. Conversion spikes when you nip that in the bud. Give your offer a limited timeframe or make access available to only a certain number of people (first come first serve). This will get more people to take action now rather than later.
Trust — The biggest question that new leads are going to have about your business is, “Can I trust you?” Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to build trust in your sales funnels and on your sales pages. You can add trust badges, reviews, testimonials, or impressive metrics.
Focus — It’s a simple fact of marketing that websites, with all of their navigation options, don’t perform as well as sales funnels when it comes to getting people to take action. That’s because of a psychological principle called “analysis paralysis”; people get overwhelmed when there are too many options and tend to avoid making a decision altogether for fear of making the wrong decision. That’s why a sales funnel has a single-minded focus.
Hook, Story, Offer — How do you craft a landing page that converts? Well, Russell Brunson came up with a simple formula for writing great sales copy: hook, story, offer. In other words, you hook your dream customers with a great image and headline, you tell a compelling story that leads to your product or service, and then you make a no-brainer offer. Check out this video to learn more about this.
Value Framing — Price is one of the biggest things that stops people from buying. But value framing is a great way to make your price feel less daunting. Essentially, you just explain the value of what you’re offering before you tell the prospect how much it costs. Check out the example below to see what I’m talking about.
Use the above strategies to increase the conversion rate of your sales funnels and follow-up funnels.
7. Create Multiple Doorways
If you’re just getting started with lead-gen, then you might only use one sales funnel or “doorway” to get people onto your email list.
But over time, you’ll want to create multiple access points for people within your target market to join your email list and become a lead.
That might include a sales funnel for advertisements, an exit-intent popup on your website, and in-form CTA on your blog posts.
Different people in your target market will discover you in different ways — some will find you on Facebook, some will find you through Google, and others will hear about you from a friend and go straight to your website.
That’s why having multiple doorways is important.
On our own website, for example, we have sales funnels for lots of different ads…
We have an exit-intent popup on this page…
And we have multiple lead-gen doorways in the side-bar.
All of those access points work together to generate as many leads as possible. We recommend starting with at least three different doorways.
- A lead magnet on your website
- An exit-intent popup
- An advertisement sales funnel
8. Buy Traffic
Now that you’ve created a lead-gen sales funnel, a follow-up funnel that’ll send to new leads, and created multiple doorways, it’s time to drive traffic.
But how are you going to do that?
Well, if you want the long answer, then pick up Russell Brunson’s free book, Traffic Secrets.
The short answer is that you essentially have two options when it comes to driving traffic toward your sales funnel or website…
You canbuy traffic or you can earn traffic.
Here, we’re going to talk about buying traffic. These are some of your main options…
- Advertisements (Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc)
- Paid influencer mentions
- Website banner ads
- Paid PR
Look at your Dream 100, consider your advertising budget, and choose which opportunities you’ll pursue first.
Try to focus on opportunities that are exciting, but that you can afford. That is, find influencers and sponsorships that fit your budget.
Then give it a try!
And remember: right now, the only goal is to turn paid traffic into traffic that you own (i.e. your email list).
To learn more about traffic that you pay for, I highly recommend getting Russell’s free book, Traffic Secrets — in it, he outlines his Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram paid advertising strategies in detail… which is basically black-and-white paper gold for marketers and entrepreneurs. 😉
9. Earn Traffic
The second way to drive traffic to your website is by earning it.
This means guest blogging for other sites, building relationships with influencers or writers to get mentioned, being a guest on other people’s podcasts, conversing in relevant forums and Facebook groups, creating content to rank in Google, or posting videos to garner organic attention on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or some other social media platform where your dream customers are active.
You’re not paying for it… you’re working for it.
So again, look at your Dream 100 and determine which ones you’d like to try and earn rather than buy — it might be a podcast you think you could get on or an influencer you think you could barter with.
And get to it!
To learn more about traffic that you earn, I highly recommend getting Russell’s free book, Traffic Secrets — in it, he outlines his entire day 1-60 outreach strategy for building relationships with influencers, simple but effective SEO tactics, and lots more.
10. Build an Affiliate Army
What if influencers in your niche would sell your products or services for you?
That wouldn’t just help you generate leads, it’d help you build brand awareness and make sales!
We call this an affiliate army — it’s an army of expert marketers and influencers in your niche who are happy to promote and sell your products or services for a commission.
And it truly is a win-win scenario (which is why we offer up to 40% recurring commission to affiliates at ClickFunnels!).
If you created your Dream 100 at the beginning of this article, then you have already created a list of potential affiliates.
Reach out to those people and ask them if they’d be willing to become affiliates.
Of course, you’ll want to have some more specific information about what that means (i.e. how much are you going to offer, what deals are you going to give their audience, what copy-and-paste scripts will you provide them with to give them the highest chance of success).
So take a little time to outline your plan, reach out to potential affiliates, and start negotiating!
Once you’ve secured some affiliates, give them a tracking link and make it as easy as possible for them to promote your products or services.
11. Send Daily Emails
How often you should email your list is a hotly debated topic among marketers.
Some people believe that you should email once a week, others once a month, and still others once a day.
We sit in the latter camp.
Early on in Russell Brunson’s journey, he realized a simple fact: the more that he emailed his list… the more money he made (sometimes he was even emailing several times per day).
This might not be true for every business but it has certainly been true for ours!
But you’re probably wondering… what should you send?
The answer is “Seinfeld emails”.
In the same way that the famous 1989 sitcom, Seinfeld, was about nothing, your daily emails can be about… well, nothing.
That is to say, every email can be different. You can tell a funny story, share something that inspired you, explain something you learned recently, or issue a challenge to your audience.
The only catch is that each email must connect back to one of your offers… and each email must end with a link to that offer.
My favorite example of Seinfeld emails come from Rachel Pedersen, the “queen of social media marketing”. Here’s an email I received the other day…
And here’s an email I received about a week ago…
Each email is totally different and they feel like they’re coming from a person rather than a business… which makes me pay attention.
So try it out for yourself — start sending daily emails to your list and see what happens!
12. Test Everything
At ClickFunnels, our greatest marketing strength would be how much we test…
We’re always running A/B tests to determine which sales funnel, sales page, or page element converts the best.
We highly recommend doing the same thing for your business.
(You can A/B test any sales funnel using ClickFunnels)
Because ultimately, you’ll have to find what works for you.
There you have it — 12 lead generation best practices for 2021.
Hopefully these tactics have inspired you and given you some ideas for how you can optimize your own lead-gen strategy.
Just remember: test everything.
What works for one company might not work for another company.
You’ve got to try out different tactics, test, stick with what works, and abandon what doesn’t.
That’s the way forward.
And now’s a great time to take the first step. 🙂