| Apr 17, 2024 | | 8 min read

The 8 Critical Phases in the Lead Generation Process


Few things make agency owners happier than a sales pipeline full of promising leads. Knowing you have a steady stream of prospective customers with a good chance of converting makes it much easier to confidently plan for the future of your business. The key to filling your pipeline is a thoughtful lead generation process that systematizes your approach to finding digital marketing clients. With the right sales lead process in place, you can make budget and effort go further and work smarter, not harder, on fueling business growth.

Help your clients make the move to digital. Download “Lessons from the digital chasm” to learn data-backed tips for boosting small business tech adoption.

While agencies and marketing consultancies may put their spin on parts of the lead gen process, the basic blueprint for success remains the same. In this blog post, we’ll cover the complete lead generation process flow from analysis and planning through to optimizing for more conversions and refining your process. If you’re ready to level up your marketing agency strategy with a lead gen process that delivers, this one’s for you.

1. Analysis and planning

The first stage of a winning lead generation process involves analysis and planning. As a marketer, this might sound familiar to you: all great campaigns begin with a solid understanding of your target audience so that you can communicate to them more effectively.

This starts with establishing your agency’s marketing niche. This can be a specific industry, such as dentistry, or a broader business category, such as local professional service businesses. Spend some time getting to know the trends in that niche, and familiarize yourself with recent developments in the digital marketing world more broadly.

At this stage, you should also determine which campaign metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) to track and plan which analytics tools you’ll use to measure them. Important metrics for any sales lead process include conversion rates, cost per lead, and cost per client acquisition. Tracking these from the beginning of your campaign will help you make decisions later about whether your approach needs updating.

2. Research

You’ve already established your niche, now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of your target audience. Consider who the typical decisionmaker purchasing your marketing agency services will be. What matters to them? What makes them tick? What pain points do they face, and what are their business goals? The more you can understand the motivations and challenges of your target audience, the more successful your lead generation process will be.

A helpful exercise when starting a digital marketing company is the creation of an ideal customer profile (ICP). This is a fictionalized character that represents your dream client, complete with information about their demographic and psychographic characteristics, preferences, and behaviors. Using an ICP rather than just listing these characteristics makes it much easier to remember them and keep them top-of-mind as you craft your campaign.

You don’t have to dream up these characteristics. Instead, use research methods to understand your ideal customer. These can include:

  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • Data analysis
  • Existing customer feedback

3. Messaging

Strong, compelling messaging that’s crafted to appeal to your ICP will resonate with your target audience and help them remember your agency brand identity over the competition when it’s decision time.

Keep these elements of a strong message in mind as you develop your strategy:

  • Directly addresses audience pain points: Demonstrate understanding by speaking directly to the challenges and frustrations your audience faces. By acknowledging their pain points, you position your agency as a solution provider rather than just another sales-focused vendor.
  • Highlights your agency’s value proposition: Clearly articulate what sets your agency apart from the competition. Whether it's innovative tech, unparalleled expertise, or around-the-clock customer service, emphasize the unique value proposition that distinguishes your boutique marketing agency from the rest.
  • Uses clear, concise language: To cut through the digital noise, aim for brevity. Workshop your messaging until you get your key value across with clarity and precision, ensuring every word serves a purpose. Stay away from marketing industry jargon, which may confuse your audience.
  • Evokes emotion and inspires action: Whether it's excitement, curiosity, or a sense of urgency, aim to evoke emotion that invites your audience to take the next step toward conversion.

4. Pre-targeting

In the earliest stages of your digital lead generation strategy, you’ll be casting a wider net to capture leads at the top of your funnel. Later, we’ll move on to lead nurturing techniques that move them down the funnel, but first, you need to capture those initial leads.

There are lots of channels you can use to achieve this, and if you’re starting with no experience or client list, using a multi-channel approach is best. Any of these can be great for the pre-targeting stage of your lead generation process:

  • Social media campaigns, both organic and paid
  • Lead magnet content marketing such as blogs and YouTube videos
  • Webinars that showcase your agency skills and thought leadership

5. Landing pages

During the pre-targeting phase of the sales lead process, it’s all about getting clicks—but where should those clicks take users? The answer: a sales-optimized landing page.

Landing pages play an important role in lead generation by collecting visitor contact information and providing them with essential information that can lead to conversions.

To create a winning landing page, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use clear messaging. Just like the pre-targeting stage, don’t inundate visitors with too much information. Keep your messaging snappy.
  • Include a simple form. Most visitors don’t want to fill out a bunch of fields. Instead, collect the minimum information necessary to nurture the lead—usually a name and an email address—and give something valuable in exchange, such as a free digital marketing strategy guide.
  • Use on-brand design. Your lead generation process flow will be much more effective if every touchpoint—including landing pages—reinforces your brand identity in your prospect’s mind.
  • Use intuitive navigation. Don’t make visitors have to look around to take the next step. The page navigation and important buttons should all be easily identifiable.
  • Encourage conversions with clear calls-to-action (CTA). Including a compelling offer on your landing page can create a sense of urgency and encourage an on-the-spot conversion.

6. Lead nurturing

Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and have a quick win where a prospect turns into a paying customer right away. But most of the time, the lead gen process includes a longer sales funnel, with prospects being nurtured with information, guidance, and trust-building until they’re ready to become clients.

You can have a great landing page that captures tons of leads for your digital agency startup, but without a lead nurturing plan in place, most of them will never convert. Lead nurturing is a non-negotiable marketing agency strategy that keeps your business top of mind and helps you build the types of strong relationships that will bolster your business long-term.

Lead nurturing can take many forms. Some of the most effective ones include:

  • Personalized emails and email flows
  • Targeted content
  • Social media engagement campaigns
  • Webinars and workshops
  • Retargeting ads
  • Personal outreach from salespeople

The right tools can help you automate important parts of the lead nurturing phase. Check out this video for a great example:

7. Conversion optimization

Conversion optimization is about fine-tuning your lead generation process to maximize results for your digital agency. It involves analyzing user behavior and making data-driven adjustments to improve conversion rates throughout your sales funnel. By optimizing elements like your landing page layout, forms, and call-to-action buttons, you can iteratively improve your lead gen process and increase the likelihood of conversion.

Data insights play a key role here, allowing you to identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement in your lead generation funnel. Use tools like Google Analytics along with A/B testing strategies to gather insights that will help you improve your flow.

There’s no secret sauce to guarantee conversions: continuous improvement is key if you want to improve conversion rates over time. Keep an eye on the KPIs defined at the beginning of your lead generation process, and experiment with different approaches in the parts of your lead generation process flow that aren’t performing as well as you’d like. For example, tweaking headline copy or adjusting the placement of CTA buttons on your landing pages can be simple fixes that yield significant improvements in conversion rates over time.

8. Review and redefine

Regularly reviewing your lead generation process should be part of your workflow. Data insights are important, but they’re not the only thing that matters. For example, it’s a good idea to check in with yourself and your team about the types of clients you’re attracting. Are they aligned with your agency's goals? Do they tend to have appropriate budgets for your services?

If needed, redefine your target audience based on your team's insights and feedback. If you do this, you’ll also need to adjust campaign tactics, messaging, and targeting to better align with your goals and the needs of your ideal clients. Continuous refinement ensures your lead generation efforts remain effective even in the noisy digital world of marketing.

About the Author

Lawrence Dy is the SEO Strategy Manager at Vendasta. His career spans from starting as a Jr. Copywriter in the automotive industry to becoming a Senior Editorial Content Manager in various digital marketing niches. Outside of work, Lawrence moonlights as a music producer/beatmaker and spends time with friends and family.

Share This