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Lead generation: 4 ways to drive higher performance in 2021

June 29, 2021

By Gina Mossey

79% of marketers say their top priority for 2021 is to generate more quality leads, according to SEMRush’s recent “State of Content Marketing” report. As I’m sure many will point out, the attention should be drawn to the word, “quality”. Time and money spent nurturing, and then weeding out bad quality leads is valuable time sales and marketing teams need to put into leads with a higher chance of conversion. Here are our must-dos to improve your lead nurture and ultimately increase lead quality in 2021.

Smarter insights + measurement = faster improvement

Marketers can reap huge benefits from brand engagement being forced to flip to online-only over the past 12+ months; we have more content and channel performance data than ever to glean insights from. The most important question is – are you serving the right content and messages to your prospective customers at the right stage in their journey? It sounds obvious but many are just missing the mark. If a prospect is in the awareness phase and not too familiar with your brand or products, they need content that talks to their industry challenges and needs. Product features or “tech and spec” at this point is going to turn them off.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of overdoing it on the KPIs, and underdoing it on the insight we draw from them, so stick to 3-4 key performance metrics to tell you whether you’ve got the content journey right. If your top of funnel content isn’t generating clicks something needs tweaking to help it resonate better. If your bottom of funnel content isn’t generating conversions you’ve missed a key step somewhere. SEMRush says 76% of content marketing teams consist of less than 3 people – so make sure your lean team has the data and insights they need to spend time on what matters.

Spend time on the story

With an increased volume of online content still being served daily, your story needs to work harder to cut through the noise. It’s never been more important spend time planning your storytelling and content strategy with your customer’s needs right at the heart. At the top of the funnel, your content needs to hook people in quickly so make sure you have a unique perspective. The topic of your content will likely not be new, but your perspective has to say something new to gain any traction.

At the middle and bottom of the funnel, have a super clear focus on your competitive set and where your offering sits amongst it – how do your products solve your audience’s challenges and what is your point of difference? While your product spec comes further into play here, think about features in terms of emotional benefits: how will your products and solutions help them achieve their goals? Our recent Talk Human To Me research report found a huge 97% of B2B marketers considered it important to humanise their brand and solutions this way – yet only 26% had managed to do so. Customer feedback surveys or focus groups will be a great investment here to find out what people really value about your products and therefore needs to be amplified in your lead gen content.

Carefully consider the format

On the B2B side we’ve seen a swathe of webinars over the past 12 months causing a certain amount of fatigue, but the Demand Gen 2021 Report finds over half of marketers say webinar is still the top-of-the-funnel format that generates the most high-quality leads. But once again this links back to careful consideration of where your prospects are in the funnel, the information they’re looking for, and how they want to digest it.

The buyer’s journey varies between companies but as rules of thumb for 2021:


Content Purpose: Establish Credibility

Content Format: People looking for answers, resources, education, research data, opinions, and insight. Blogs, advertising, social posts, whitepapers and ebooks, short videos and webinars can all work well here, but make sure the information the prospect needs is easy-to-find and engaging.


Content Purpose: Create Differentiation

Content Formats: At this stage, people are interested in what sets you apart and researching whether or not your product or service is a good fit for them. Comparison blogs or guides or deeper dives into the benefits of key features will be well received here.

Action / Decision

Content Purpose: Show Success

Content Formats: Now we’re right into the details of what it would take to become a customer. Case studies or video testimonials, detailed pricing and license information, free trials, and demos should be saved until this final stage.

Personalise, personalise, personalise

In a 2019 study, 79% of consumers surveyed believed companies knew too much about them, yet at the end of 2020, 81% of consumers were willing to share basic personal information to receive a personalised service. Accenture found 64% of consumers who believe they’ve received a personal or invasive brand experience say it was because the brand had information about them that they didn’t share knowingly or directly.

Here we must understand that the landscape has changed and it’s vital to spend time on the groundwork. Ensure your customer database has the correct consent in place, and is clean and rich enough to allow targeted, personalised campaigns that will speak to the hearts and minds of your existing customers. This will prove invaluable in driving quality leads and in the long-term, increasing customer lifetime value.

But there are small optimisations you can test right now. Something as simple as a personalised email subject line can increase open rates by up to 26%, according to Experian, or addressing your prospect by name in the email body. Plan simple A/B tests to identify the right level of personalisation for your customers.

Of course, customer behaviours are likely to evolve as we all adapt over the next few months to return back to offices and potentially take a well-earned holiday – and of course, budgets will remain unsteady as we continue to navigate the pandemic’s impact. Keep being driven by the data to ensure your lead generation efforts are in line with what your customers’ and prospects’ behaviour is telling you, ultimately scoring more better quality leads.

About the author

Gina Mossey is a senior account director in the Marketing Innovation Team Europe, running lead generation programmes for clients across EMEA. Click here to learn how we could help you.


lead generation
Lead Generation Marketing