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How lead generation is changing

Marketing approaches can change with the times like leaves blowing in the wind. What works beautifully for a while eventually stops working as cultural changes affect the way people interact with marketing messages. It used to take decades for changes like this to manifest themselves, but now it can be mere months before we have to throw away previously effective methods.

Lead generation is no different. Just a few years ago you could slap an eBook onto a website and offer it to people as a download in exchange for an Email address. People didn’t mind and you could get impressive click-through rates to rapidly grow your Email list. It was new. It was exciting. Today, that approach generates virtually no response.

So what can we do in today’s environment to generate Email addresses and leads?

People want relationships

People have always wanted relationships with the brands they use. From Rolex to Apple to Tesla, from Coca Cola to Starbucks to Netflix, brands draw loyalty when they mean something because of the connection they have through authenticity, consistency and quality.

Back when downloadable white papers still worked, there was little value placed on Email addresses. Many people threw away addresses every week, creating new ones on a whim. That has changed. Addresses today are used up. livelovelaugh@gmail.com is long gone. Nobody wants to be stuck with livelovelaugh32768@gmail.com because, let’s face it, that’s simply not cool.

As Email addresses become more stable they gain value, and with that comes a desire to protect them. A simple download is no longer enough to build sufficient rapport with a first-time visitor to part with their Email address and risk being spammed with promotional messages. People are tired of commercial content and tired of wasting time on messaging that doesn’t contain anything of value.

I believe this has been amplified with the recent Covid-19 pandemic and the social behavioral changes that the health crisis ushered in. With people no longer able to congregate at networking events, at sports arenas or even around a noisy table in the bar, isolation has extended from interpersonal space to digital spacing.

The need for relationships hasn’t changed, but our filters are getting more selective. Just witness how many people have been culling their Facebook friend lists over the past few months and you can see the impact.

The need for relationships hasn’t changed, but our filters are getting more selective.

Authenticity and value

So if relationships still matter, how do marketers create sufficient influence to get started? The latest approach is something called “evergreen lead magnets.” I’m not a fan of the phrase, but the strategy is sound.

In essence, the concept amounts to providing even more value than before by promising something really unique. You have to prove that there’s value before people will respond.

Probably one of the reasons the eBooks of the past fell out of favor is because far too many of them were obvious gimmicks. People took a bit of a blog post, slapped it into a cheap-looking layout and hyped it as ground breaking. No wonder people got jaded!

So, because of poor experiences caused by cheap marketing tricks, everyone now has to work harder. Instead of a cheezy eBook, you have to prove that your offer is worth the exchange of an Email address. Think about how you can come alongside the prospect and offer them something that is an authentic effort to help them improve their business or personal life. It could be a free membership in a club providing access to special content others can’t get. It could be a series of video tutorials to help achieve a goal. It might be an add-on digital product with information on how to make the best use of it. Whatever approach you take, it needs to go a step further then before and it needs to be instantly accessible. You can’t have it take time to arrive or be accessible.

The bottom line is that for marketers, the cost has increased. You have to be willing to give away something of genuine value to get back something of value in return.

If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch.

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George Pytlik

George Pytlik has been involved in the advertising industry for over 30 years and designed his first website when the Internet was one year old. He was an internationally recognized speaker on advertising and branding and served on a number of communication committees at various times throughout his career, as well as writing a regular column for Marketing magazine.

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