Choosing a lead generation company can often be a monumental task, what with all the providers available and the bewildering array of specializations for an equally wide range of every industry’s requirements.
The goal of this post is not to list down every possible type of lead generation company. Doing so wouldn’t be helpful at all, since nearly all the reputable ones have their own target audience niches. It will, however, help you find the company best fit for your requirements by exposing the right keywords to search for. To top it all off will be some insights as to the best use cases for each category, as well as a few considerations before finally signing dotted lines.
We will focus on the following classifications in this post:
• Inbound vs outbound
• Strategy and approach
• Agency vs Service Provider
Before anything else, it’s important to note that there is no universally correct answer to “which approach to lead generation is best”. As you weigh your options and companies you find presented to you, take note that what is “best” isn’t a matter of who won on survey results or what is generating the most buzz online – rather, it is what works best for you and your prospects. Think with the end in mind, and the end should be the satisfaction of the customer, not that which was used to reach them.
Inbound vs outbound
Marketing activities can be classified as either inbound or outbound. It follows that lead generation companies also associate themselves with either of the two to best describe the nature of their company and strategy.
An inbound approach hinges on three things: content, search engine optimization, and social. The focus is maximizing visibility on organic search results by the (1) strategic creation of helpful content, (2) careful keyword research and targeting for better indexability, and (3) the promotion of content on the right social media platforms. In short, it’s about being found by customers, instead of the marketers finding their prospects.
After being found through inbound, marketing automation takes the spotlight in sending highly-personalized emails at just the right time – and at scale. To picture things out more clearly, the following is a typical conversion process and the players involved in inbound lead generation:
An outbound approach, on the other hand, is traditional. It deals with prospecting and finding the right prospects through the means deemed to be most appropriate for their personas – usually through phone, email, direct mail, and traditional or programmatic display advertising, among others.
Outbound is usually more straightforward than inbound, and tangible results are more visible in the short term. You simply specify your target parameters – geographic region and locations, job titles, industries, company sizes, etc. It’s also a lot faster to deploy, since all that service providers need to do (at the minimum at least) is to match your preferences list against their database.
While outbound may be faster in getting prospects towards a sale in the short term, an inbound approach is more sustainable in the long term. Websites with the right content will continue to drive in leads for as long as they are relevant and available, even if left un-updated for a while. Also, and perhaps an often-overlooked benefit is the opportunity to gain further insights about customers they are attracting besides just those being targeted.
Strategy and approach
Once you decide whether inbound or outbound (or both!) works best for your prospects, pick the strategies and channels you think will be most effective in driving in leads.
Figuring out which channels work best can be deceptively simple task. Instead of doing guesswork, consider creating buyer personas for a more systematic and reproducible approach. Trust us, your bosses will love you!
As a company focused on building partnerships with our clients, we’re huge fans of personas. Buyer personas help you understand your prospects on a personal level by doing in-depth research, facilitating surveys, and interviewing your existing client base. Check out our article on buyer personas for a full discussion on the subject. But as a quick introduction, buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of the segments in your audience. They play a pivotal role in creating personalized messaging that resonates when sent exactly to the right prospects.
Consider creating personas first, then explore the strategies and approach listed below.
Many of these channels work best in tandem with another complementary approach. Inbound marketing, for example, can benefit from search engine marketing in generating top of the funnel leads, video and social in nurturing those leads, and telephone and email in closing them to sales.
The best campaigns will most definitely be employing multiple channels and sources, requiring some management capabilities from the marketer’s side. Which brings us to the last point of consideration…
Agencies and Service Providers
Lead generation companies can come in the form of either full-blown marketing agencies or independent service providers.
Independent service providers are lead generation companies that focus on one or a set of few related channels. They are often specialists in their chosen area of expertise. That being said, their experience and exposure in that specific area leads to a greater understanding of their chosen field compared to those offering a full-stack approach – where attention and resources are spread across multiple services. Common examples include telemarketing companies, content marketing specialists, Google SEM experts, etc.
Marketing agencies, on the other hand, offer multiple services for clients in behalf of independent service providers. The specialization is the integration of the different channels, as well as the high-level strategy formulation, execution management, and analysis and reporting. Many agencies have some of the processes in-house as well to minimize middlemen costs that are usually passed on to clients.
The following is a visualization of the difference between agencies and service providers.
Full disclosure…of sorts
ThinkLogic is a marketing agency with a specialization on what we call ‘allbound marketing’.
As with inbound, content marketing and marketing automation lie at the heart of allbound. Outbound simply fills in the gap between the two by opening up alternative conversion points, speeding up the attract and nurture stage, discovering new market insights, and allowing for the flexibility needed to innovate custom strategies for every client.
It’s not a “full-stack” or “full-service”; it’s a full-human approach as we take only those that matter most to our clients’ prospects.
If you would like to know more about how an allbound approach can work for you, shoot us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a ring at +65-6715-8452. Tell us about your requirements, and we’ll get back to you with an in-depth strategy free of charge.
We hope to hear from you soon!