In online marketing, a "lead" refers to an entity who has expressed interest in a product or service by providing their contact information or taking some other action that indicates their interest.
Leads are typically generated through various marketing channels, such as websites, landing pages, social media platforms, email campaigns, webinars or online advertisements.
The specific action that qualifies someone as a lead can vary depending on the context and goals of your marketing campaign. It could involve filling out a form, subscribing to a newsletter, downloading a resource guide, requesting a quote, booking a call, or initiating contact through a live chat feature. These are just a few of the possibilities.
There is a Difference Between Leads and Customers
A person who buys something is not a lead. They are a customer. This is important to differentiate because the way you handle buyers is very different from the way you deal with leads.
A lead is a "potential" customer who has shown willingness to engage further with a professional or business. Once a lead is obtained, it can be further nurtured and converted into a paying customer through targeted marketing efforts, such as personalized email campaigns, follow-up calls, or offering relevant information and incentives. The ultimate goal is to guide the lead through the sales funnel, eventually leading to a successful conversion or sale.
Customers are put into a communication stream very different from the lead stream. Customers are perhaps encouraged to use the product/service they bought in order to mitigate refunds from no activity (and therefore "no results"). Or they may receive notes of confidence and encouragement. You might send them answers to the most common questions in order to make their experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Or a thousand other possibilities.
So, leads are brought through a journey of maturity to the point where they buy, and customers are given supportive communication.
What's interesting is a customer can once again become a lead for a new product or service they have yet to buy. But still, what is very very important to understand about the difference between leads and customers is their values.
THE IS A GOLDEN RULE: A customer is your most valuable asset. They have shown through action that they are capable, mentally and financially, of parting with their hard-earned money.
They are the rare diamonds in the sea of stones; the needles in the haystacks. And each time you find one, stay in communication with them, treat them as your most valuable assets, and they will reward you over and over again.
It is one thing to find interested people. That in its own right is incredible. But to then find within that group people who can actually take risk and part with their money ... well that is miraculous.
How do you find these rare diamonds in the rough? It all starts with leads. Leads are your first filter because INTEREST is the entry point!
Effective lead generation and management are crucial for your business success in ways such as: expanding your customer base, increasing sales, and fostering customer relationships. Various strategies and techniques are employed in online marketing to attract, capture, and convert leads, ensuring the growth and success of a business.
A "qualified" lead refers to a prospective customer who has demonstrated a higher likelihood of becoming a paying customer compared to a general lead. It signifies that the lead has met specific criteria or exhibited certain behaviors that indicate a genuine interest in your product or service, and therefore has a greater potential for converting from being an onlooker into a buyer.
Qualification criteria can vary depending on the business, industry, or, as an author, what genre you're in. But some common indicators of a qualified lead include things like the following:
Demographic Fit: The lead aligns with your target market and meets specific criteria, such as: age, interests, buying behaviors, income earnings, location, job title, company size ... the list can go on and on. These factors ensure that the lead has the potential to benefit from the product or service being offered.
Engagement Level: The lead has shown active engagement with your brand or marketing efforts. This can include actions like signing up for a newsletter, downloading a whitepaper or eBook, attending a webinar, or interacting with content through comments, likes, or shares.
Specific Need or Pain Point: The lead has expressed a specific need/desire or pain point (difficulty/challenge) that your product or service will address. This may be indicated through comments, inquiries, or engagement with content that revolves around the identified pain point.
Budget and Authority: This truly is a big one when you start getting into setting appointments to talk with prospective customers. The lead possesses the financial resources and decision-making authority necessary to make a purchase. This can be in business-to-business (B2B) scenarios, small business partners, or even one's spouse, where one or more people may be involved in the buying process.
Buying Stage: The lead is in a buying cycle where one is actively considering making a purchase. They may be conducting research, comparing options, and showing a readiness to move forward.
Qualified leads should receive more personalized and targeted communication, allowing you to tailor your messaging to each one and offer relevant solutions that address the lead's specific needs and pain points.
This approach enhances the overall efficiency of the sales process and improves conversion rates, leading to higher customer acquisition and business growth.
Beware of the Unqualified Lead
Regular or general leads are a complete waste of your time, money and energy. Many are seekers of freebies or free information and will never ever buy from you.
That's fine, as it comes with the territory. You have to play the numbers game and understand that goodwill and giving things out is the only way to start the journey for those who will buy.
But the point is that the relationship should start and end with free downloads, emails, and so forth and NOT getting caught up giving away the farm to these non-buyers. They will ask for more and more free information in phone/video calls and not think of giving anything back to you in return.
So, my point is that your efforts in building a list, booking appointments to talk and so forth, has to be geared towards separating out the takers from the real potential buyers—what we call "qualified leads".
This doesn't mean you ignore a potential customer, but rather allocate and prioritize your efforts by only giving away things that do not decrease your time on a regular/continual basis. In other words, give away all of the free digital things you create. These only take as much time as it does to create them once, then you are able to give them away to as many people as you want without spending another second on those items or on people who may not ever buy from you.
You will find, as a result of this, that you will help A LOT more people. Why? Because you can't help anyone who doesn't want it or does not want to take action for their own betterment. Such people will drain the life force out of you.
So what is a qualified lead? It is a person who is mentally and financially capable of biying what you have to offer. This is so important because it tells us how to prioritize the leads we get. There are ways to prequalify leads before getting into time commitments with everyone who comes along. Needless to say, we will have more articles on this for you!
It's All About the Sale
What's important to understand is that everything you do brings you to one vital result—a sale of one kind or another. That's why we work so hard to get conversions.
If we only seek to get traffic or build a list but don't have the intention and strategy to ultimately make sales of one kind or another, we are in for a long and painful existence.
As a quick side note—although it's unnecessary to say, but to be clear, I'll say it anyway—the happiest, most successful entrepreneurs are driven not by money but rather a greater purpose to help others in some valuable and important way.
I've said it many times in the past and will happily say it again right now—if you are not treating your author career as a business, then you shouldn't be surprised or saddened when no one is buying or reading your books.
If you happen to be independently wealthy, have no need for money, and giving your book away makes you feel good, that's great! But the rest of us need to create a sustainable business that pays its own bills (not from your personal bank account) and is profitable.
Better yet, it should grow, if ever so slightly, year after year and make it more possible for you to afford to do more things that increase sales and the size of your business.
To Your Success!
Robert Nahas, CEO
Copyright 2023 Robert Nahas. All Rights Reserved.