Lead Generation vs Lead Nurturing - What’s the Difference?

I regularly get emails from clients and prospects asking me how to generate new leads or convert qualified leads to customers more easily.

You're here because you've probably got a decent customer base, but you want to expand. Unfortunately, word-of-mouth marketing only brings in a few new customers a year. You need a lead generation strategy. At least that's what a few marketing friends have suggested.

Great, but what is lead generation? And then what?

Getting prospects on your mailing list is only the first step. Just because they found your business doesn't mean they're going to buy your product or service. That's where lead nurturing comes in.

Now, if all of this sounds like a bunch of marketing mumbo jumbo, don't worry.

Generating leads and building your sales pipeline doesn't need to be difficult. I'm here to explain the difference between lead generation and lead nurturing and why you need both to scale your business, staff, and revenue. Sound good?

So, let's start with the basics.

What is a lead?

A "lead" is a high-value potential customer—someone who has raised their hand and indicated they're interested in learning more about your products and services. You know because they:

  • Input their details into an online form on your website.
  • Sent a message through live chat.
  • Called your business's contact number.
  • Interacted with you on social media.

But how do you generate leads? With a few strategic marketing tactics. I like to focus on direct response marketing, particularly for small businesses. Brush up on your knowledge here.

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process of using a piece of content—it could be a lead magnet, free trial, landing page, podcast, Google Adword, whatever—to attract and capture a potential customers' interest to lead them through the sales funnel.

It's a long-term game. Lead generation is not about closing sales, it's about starting a conversation because conversations lead to sales. And it’s typically done in two ways: inbound and outbound.

Inbound Lead Generation

Inbound lead generation is my preferred process when building a sales funnel.

This allows prospects to go over your website, visit your social media page, and decide what to do next. Your goal with inbound lead generation is to help, not sell.

Outbound Lead Generation

Outbound lead generation, instead of relying on your prospects to find you, you find them. Unlike inbound, this is for closing deals rather than helping or educating.

If you're in the startup phase or you're new to marketing your business, it's a good idea to have a mix of inbound and outbound lead generation. But you can steadily move away from cold calling and cold outreach once you've built brand awareness.

Download the 1PMP Marketing Plan Template

4 benefits of using an effective lead generation program

Benefits of Lead Generation

Here are four benefits of using an effective lead generation program.

  • Brand awareness: Lead generation expands your reach and educates your target market about your products and services.
  • Defined target market: Knowing your target market  is just the first step. With lead generation, you can identify which leads fit your buyer persona.
  • Trust and authority: As you generate leads, you build trust among your prospects. You can also be seen as an expert or authority figure in your niche or industry.
  • Growing customer base: The reason lead generation effectively increases your customer base is that it naturally fits within the buyer's journey. The more leads you generate, the more prospects you can turn into customers.

Five Examples of Lead Generation

I like to have multiple forms of lead generation. At Successwise, we generate leads through my eBook, social media, blog articles, lead magnet (1PMP framework), SEO, speaker events, podcast appearances, PR, and PPC.

1. Lead Magnet

A lead magnet will help you attract high-converting website visitors and get new, paying customers. When using one, you have to offer it for free.  

For example, I've been known for The 1-Page Marketing Plan. Anyone who visits my website can download the 1PMP canvas for free. It's a great headstart for someone who wants to improve their marketing.

Although you might give something valuable for free, this will help you grow your email list and ultimately drive conversions.

2. Blogging

Content is king. I've found that the best way to attract qualified leads is to answer their questions or solve their problems. And writing SEO blog articles is a great way to do just this. With content marketing, you can provide value and build your database of potential customers.

For example, let's say you're in the HVAC industry. Instead of posting promotional blogs, talk about their common problems and build content that will help them.

Then, add a call-to-action (CTA) at the end. Do you want them to call you? Send an email? Set an appointment? Make sure you capture their contact information.

3. Social Media

Everyone's now on social media. Besides building a website, create a social media page where prospects can find you through an instant mobile search.

Most businesses use Facebook. But if you want to define your strategy further, I'd say go for specifics. Instagram and Pinterest are great for visuals. LinkedIn is the best for B2B marketing. Twitter is for short, punchy pitches.

Creating compelling content with a CTA is your perfect combo for this lead generation program.

Why your need lead generation and lead nurturing in your business

4. Referrals

Do you want to get high-quality leads with less effort than it takes to do cold calling? You should consider having a referral strategy.

Referral marketing can grow your customer base. The goal is to let your existing customers spread the word about your brand, and you'll expand your reach. This, in turn, will help you gain more customers.

The best time to ask for a referral is right after a customer made a purchase. Send your winning referral script or template, and once you've closed a referral, give a warm "thank you" to the original referrer to encourage them to do more.

5. PPC

Ever heard of pay-per-click? This is where you target the right keywords, make them appear in places like Google Ads, and ensure they're related to your business. You can get leads through clicks from prospects interested in contacting you, sign up in your mailing list.

It's essential to choose the right lead generation techniques to use. Not all of them work for your business, so you have to assess your strategy. Don't be afraid to try and test different strategies. Give them a trial period, and track the leads you get. If you earned more than you paid, it's worth it. If not, go ahead and try something new.

What is Lead Nurturing?

Now that you've got a handful of leads, what's next? You continue the conversation. So, you build relationships with them, move them through each stage of the buyer's journey until they are ready to make a purchase.

It's not as easy as following up with a prospect until they're ready to buy from you. True nurturing is a process. It isn't doesn't happen overnight.

It takes roughly five touch points of contact to become a factor in your prospect's mind. So expect to spend up to twelve emails before your lead trusts you enough to buy from you.

It's all about being customer-centric. You have to get inside their heads and answer these questions:

  • What do they need?
  • What are the pain points that you'd like to address?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What are their hopes and dreams?

The best way to do this is through consistent communication and engagement. You have to listen and get to know more about your target market. The better you understand your target market, the more you'll create a better lead nurturing strategy and get more conversions.

You have to listen and get to know more about your target market

Benefits of Lead Nurturing

The purpose of a lead nurturing sequence is to stay in touch with prospects who're not ready to buy right now.  You want to show up in your prospect's life at least once a week with content that is relevant, valuable, and entertaining. When done right, here's what you can get from it:

  • Maintain and grow relationships: Nurturing leads brings you closer to your prospects. You can establish rapport and eventually develop relationships.
  • Boost sales ratio: Lead nurturing drives conversions. This will increase sales of your products and services too.
  • Automation: The good news is you don't have to spend most of your time qualifying and nurturing leads. You can automate your lead nurturing program by using software like a CRM. For example, you can use a tool to schedule calls, send emails, and guide prospects in your sales funnel.
  • New leads: Satisfied prospects turned into customers will provide word-of-mouth and referrals. This is another way to generate new leads.

Lead Generation vs Lead Nurturing - which is better in marketing?

Neither, really. Lead generation and lead nurturing work hand-in-hand; you need both if you want to consistently attract high-quality leads and move them through the buyer's journey until they're ready to buy.

Once you get new, qualified leads through lead generation, nurture them until they grow into meaningful customer relationships. Educate, entertain, and inspire. I have this saying: Help, don't hustle.

You want to help your prospects. So I like to deliver a result in advance of a sale. It makes the buying process much more fluid.

Then start testing and optimizing methods. If you want to explore content marketing, create a formula that provides value to your target audience. Or, if you're going for email marketing, test different email templates and find out which generates the highest number of leads.

The goal is to drive more sales but focus on the next step in the sales process. When you focus on the end, you don't sell the next step, and you lose potential customers.

But before achieving that:

  • Create and develop valuable customer relationships
  • Analyze your results
  • Update your sales and marketing strategy

If you've done your homework, you've just created a lead nurturing sequence that answers their questions and builds trust. And you'll start raking in dollars.

Next Steps In Your Lead Generation And Lead Nurturing Process

So that's the difference between lead generation and lead nurturing. You need both strategies if you want to attract qualified leads and convert to customers consistently.

Now here's what to do next. Grab a pen and paper or a blank Google doc and write out what marketing assets you currently use to generate leads.

  • Are you solely relying on referrals to grow your business, or do you have a lead magnet?
  • Where are there gaps that you can fill? So, what marketing assets can you build to help attract more qualified leads? Do you need to open a LinkedIn account? Should you invest more time into SEO and crafting video blogs?

Then you need to think about what happens after you’ve acquired a lead.  

  • Are you still relying on quick discovery calls, or have you written an email lead nurturing sequence?
  • Do you manually send these out to your email list, or are you using a CRM to carry the load?
  • How are you converting new leads to new customers?

If you don't have a  yet, I've written a blog article showing you how to quickly convert prospects to customers lead nurturing email sequence yet, I've written a blog article showing you how to quickly convert prospects to customers.

I’d love to hear from you. What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to generating and nurturing leads?  

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