Lead … who is it exactly?

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Although many people use the concepts of cold lead, warm lead or qualified lead on a daily basis not everyone knows exactly what hides behind these terms. Who exactly is a lead? Is it worth using the generally accepted definition of a lead?

Let’s check it!

According to Wikipedia, a lead is usually the contact information and in some cases, demographic information of a customer who is interested in a specific product or service.

In a similarly simple way, the lead is defined by the Sendpulse marketing glossary, indicating that lead is a person who shows interest in the products or services of a given brand, which makes them a potential customer.

According to Leadsquared.com, lead is a natural person or organisation interested in what you sell. Interest is expressed by providing contact information, such as email address, telephone number, and even a nickname on social media.

Is any of the definitions correct? From the point of view of marketing theory, it may be, but your company works in quite a non-theoretical reality! In this article we will try to explain how to best define a lead for your own use in order to achieve maximum results of lead acquisition and minimize costs.

Let’s start!

How to define the lead correctly?

To avoid misunderstandings, it’s better not to use the generally accepted definition of a lead. Every company should have its own definition of a qualified lead. It’s best to take time and precisely define the needs of your organisation, customer characteristics, acceptable marketing practices, and sales targets. This will make it easier to precisely identify the key features and metrics that turn a contact into a qualified lead.

There are two main lead criteria categories: demographic and behavioural. The demographic criterion should include the following:

  • lead age,
  • lead sex,
  • company size,
  • lead status (career stage of financial status depending on the industry),
  • sometimes location (typically for service businesses)

Behavioural criteria, in turn, should determine the key actions that the lead should perform to elicit a strong enough of a sales signal for the sales team to start working. The activity catalog is open, and includes:

  • form submission,
  • survey submission,
  • subscription for a consultation or webinar,
  • providing correct personal data and GDPR consent,
  • LinkedIn page subscription

Becoming a qualified lead takes time. The moment of a person’s first formal signup and the becoming of an actual lead may vary. It’s often the case that contact becomes a lead even up to one month after registration, once he finally meets all behavioural criteria. The process of performing these key activities and “becoming” the lead is called lead qualification. A lead that has fulfilled certain behavioural and demographic criteria will be called qualified (qualified lead) or simply a quality lead.

As your company has probably learned multiple times, contacting cold leads is a waste of time of the marketing and sales team. On the other hand, it’s not the case that obtaining qualified leads must be a huge investment. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that the cost of acquiring any lead is 5 to 6 times lower than the lead tailored to your own unique criteria.

Creating the ideal lead profile is always the first step in our work with the clients. Internally, we call this process “lead profiling”. This is the most important step for any lead generation campaign, because it has a big impact on the channels, campaign strategy, as well as the creative side. If you to check the pricing of your custom lead profile, make sure to check out the lead profile configurator and instant quote.

In the next part of the article, we’ll share our key criteria for qualified leads across 4 market segments: B2B, commercial real estate, beauty, and education.

B2B Leads

Brands operating in the B2B industry need their own set of qualification criteria.

When choosing the criteria for qualified leads in the B2B industry, here’s what you need to pay attention to:

  • lead company size,
  • lead company industry
  • career stage,
  • location,

What parameters should you choose for the behavioural criterion? Here are some suggestions.

  • mailing list subscription,
  • free consultation signup,
  • demo signup or trial version of the product,
  • conversation over a company chat or asking for contact,
  • commercial offer request.

Ask you sales team for input too. It’s wise to tap into their knowledge and opinions, because they can sense the lead quality from miles away. One thing for sure: the better the ratio of hot to cold leads, the more time and effort you’ll save them!

If you’re intrigued by our approach, check out more information about the B2B lead generation!

Commercial real estate leads

Lead generation is the key aspect of growing a company in the commercial real estate space. The amount of time, resources, and energy wasted on the fiasco-leads can be frustrating. What if you only met with people who actually have a real interest in your offering, wouldn’t that be awesome? The right definition of the lead for your business can be helpful in solidifying this dream. Make sure to get absolutely clear about the criteria that make the contact a fully qualified lead in terms of demography and behaviours, and with that – hit the streets of online marketing!

For leads in the real estate industry, the following demographic criteria should be considered:

  • property type of interest to the lead,
  • type of contract (purchase, rental or sale),
  • type of service needed (space servicing)
  • lead creditworthiness,
  • contract length,
  • square metrage,
  • city,
  • location within the city.

The most commonly used behaviours to qualify a lead are:

  • call request,
  • appointment scheduling
  • request for property value estimation,
  • asking questions over a chat,
  • request for office plans,
  • general offer inquiry.

Of course, each of these behaviours sends a slightly different signal about the lead’s sales potential. For example, our experience shows that the leads that ask for callback through various website widgets exhibit a relatively small sales signal.

Beauty&Med leads

When working with clients in the beauty and aesthetic medicine industry, we often encounter a “quantity-first” approach to leads. Marketing optimisation revolves around getting more leads in total, without giving a second thought to their profile. However, lead quality is certainly something to think about in the beauty space too! It’s very likely that the majority of sales are generated by a group of people corresponding to a rather narrow profile of leads. Thus, it may turn out that most leads are actually “burning” the marketing budget.

In order to improve marketing results, it’s worth to determine which leads we care about the most. The following demographic criteria will be relevant in this sector:

  • age group,
  • pre-service diagnosis result,
  • sex,
  • location,

However, behavioural criteria will be much more important, including:

  • making an appointment for the first visit,
  • making an appointment for the follow-up visit,
  • visiting an offline salon,
  • receiving brand recommendations from friends or influencers,
  • visiting the website, checking the location, other users’ ratings or price list,
  • getting a discount for a visit,
  • visiting online salon,
  • asking for additional information regarding the specialists performing the treatments,
  • filling in a diagnostic quiz.

As you can see, defining specific criteria for good leads facilitates marketing. Channels, tactics, and even creative concepts practically define themselves if the profile of leads we want to acquire is clear. You can find out the cost of a lead that matches your specific profile on the dedicated subpage about Beauty&Med lead generation. All the leads you receive from us are in accordance with your profile and go through the quality control process.

Education leads

Do you run a company providing educational services? Marketers looking for leads in the education industry should also start by clear profiling of the leads they want to acquire. For example, we’ve used our lead profiling methods during our cooperation with Elab Education Laboratory, one of the largest educational agencies in Europe (for details see case study).

Consider qualifying your education leads according to the following demographic criteria:

  • current level of education or skills,
  • the level of education or skills that will be acquired as a result of the service,
  • lead location,
  • lead income level.

Among the behavioural criteria we have:

  • arranging a free online consultation by lead or offline meetings at the office,
  • arranging a meeting for a free offline event, e. g. a meeting with an expert or an educational fair,
  • subscribing to the company page on LinkedIn or Facebook,
  • subscribing to a mailing list or downloading an e-book,
  • filling in a skill assessment quiz,
  • making an appointment for a diagnostic test,
  • starting a chat or requesting a phone call.

It is not always easy to satisfy all of the above criteria, but with the help of the sales team and historical data, it can be done.

If you want to check the estimation of the lead generation campaign, check our campaign calculator. It’s also a good place to see the characteristics of leads that should be taken into account when defining lead criteria in your industry.

Lead profile and acquisition cost

There’s one thing we haven’t mentioned yet. In order to determine the exact cost of acquiring a specific lead profile, it’s also necessary to specify acceptable marketing tactics.

The cost of a lead can be optimized “on credit” by indebting the reputation of the company. For example, offering a refund within 30 days in case of dissatisfaction with the service will attract many leads, both good and unethical, which will reduce the cost of acquiring one lead. Without a good regulation of such a marketing action, you may face large losses in the future. Optimisation of the cost per lead at all costs in the short term does generate a good return on investment, but at the same time, it can seriously damage the trust and, above all, the attention of the target group.

Decide how intensive marketing you want to carry out in your company. When working with us, you mark the acceptable practices at the beginning, just as you specify all other lead criteria you want to acquire. Our lead generation pricing algorithm takes this into account and modifies the cost of obtaining the leads accordingly.