Looking to expand your customer base?
Let’s face it: who isn’t?
In order to grow, there’s one thing you need to nail: your ability to generate leads consistently.
In a recent report by Hubspot, they found that the top priority for organisations in 2020 is “generating leads”. They also found that 61% of marketers rank lead generation as their #1 challenge.
This intrigued me, so I surveyed my own audience on LinkedIn and found that 66% of business owners didn’t feel they were generating a sufficient number of leads.
The numbers matched up.
You can have an incredible business that provides excellent services to your clients, but if you’re not able to generate high-quality leads consistently, then your efforts to expand simply won’t rise to the occasion.
If your lead generation efforts are performing like a flaccid souffle in a Brownies’ cookery competition, it’s time to think about hiring experts who can turn around your fortunes.
But in a marketing world filled with hucksters, HOW do you choose the best lead generation agency?
Luckily, you’ve clicked on the right article!
What is a lead generation agency?
This is going to sound super-simplistic but:
A lead generation agency is a company that generates and delivers sales leads for businesses.
A great lead generation agency should be able to hook you up with people who already want your services – a bit like Tinder for customers, without the swiping… 🤔
In an ideal world: you hire them, they work their magic, you get leads flowing into your pipeline.
Types of lead generation agencies:
Depending on your goals, there are different types of lead generation agencies that can help you generate leads and make customers aware of your products or services.
First, we can differentiate the different types of agencies based on:
- B2B – they only generate business-to-business leads
- B2C – they focus on business-to-consumer leads
Secondly, we then differentiate based on the channels they use, such as:
- Facebook advertising
- Conversion rate optimisation (CRO)
- Email marketing
- Cold calling
- LinkedIn messaging
- And lots more
Some agencies will use a blend of the above, whereas others will focus on precise channels and approaches.
For example, some agencies may focus solely on B2B leads via LinkedIn. In contrast, others might be experts for B2C via email marketing.
What does a lead generation agency do?
The best lead gen agencies should have a set process they can walk you through, but essentially their work will be split into three phases:
- Research phase
- Campaign phase
Before any marketing campaign, the agency needs to do a huge amount of research. They need to explore your current marketing efforts – learning from both the things that work and don’t work.
They should also research your competition to see what other offers and campaigns your competitors are using.
If you are having problems with your current lead gen efforts, the agency should be able to identify those and create a better campaign that has high-quality leads knocking on your door.
Once they’ve done their research and understand what’s already working and what’s not, they should put together their campaign. What that campaign looks like will be determined by their channel and approach (as above).
Once their campaign is live, they should clearly report back on the campaign performance. Communication is key in any good lead gen agency partnership.
When working with an agency, make sure you’re both clear on the reporting and communication expectations. This is where many relationships breakdown, and it can almost always be prevented.
Lead Generation Agencies – Pricing Models:
Let’s talk about how the best lead gen agencies price their services.
They typically operate in one of two ways:
- Charge on a pay-per-lead basis, or
- Charge a set-rate/retainer
Of those two options, neither is better or worse. Both can work if you have a clearly defined partnership with your lead generation agency. So let’s dive into which one you might want to choose.
Agencies charging on a pay-per-lead basis means that you pay the agency for every lead they generate as part of their campaign. This can be a very appealing option for you – the business owner – because there’s little risk upfront (unless they charge a set-up fee).
If their campaigns don’t generate leads, you don’t pay. However, there’s also a strong chance it could cost you a lot more going forward.
With this model, the agency might charge you £20 per lead, but they might generate that lead for £10 – they keep the difference.
They, of course, want to generate leads at the lowest cost – which could mean cutting corners in lead quality.
If you can convert those leads into paying customers, then every penny is well spent. Good call.
But if those leads are damp squibs, then they’re not worth the… well – non-existent paper that they weren’t written on.
Agencies charging a set monthly fee is an attractive option for many businesses. You know how much you’re spending each month, making it easier to plan and allocate funds to specific parts of your business.
With this model, it’s as much in the agency’s interests to be successful as it is for your business.
You pay the agency a fee for their work, and they spend your ad budget in a way that they believe will generate the best results.
They know if they don’t get results, you will cancel the contract.
We decided to operate on this model, so our clients know exactly what they’re spending each month (without any of the complicated pricing structures).
Are lead generation agencies worth it?
You’d hardly be reading this article if you weren’t a little curious.
Of course, it depends on your chosen agency.
If you choose a good lead generation agency, yes. They can help you grow your brand, generate more leads and ultimately prosper.
Don’t spend a penny on one until you’ve got the fundamentals of your business in place.
Things you need to have in place before hiring a lead gen agency
Let’s start with the nitty-gritty. To be blunt, you’re wasting your money on lead generation if your business isn’t ready to drum up new trade.
Here’s a checklist to make sure you’re ready:
- Proof of concept
- Ability to quickly service leads
- Ability to close leads
Proof of concept
Having proof of concept is essential before you spend any money with a lead generation agency. You don’t want to flog a dead horse.
Lead generation agencies can only use what you’ve given them… and if nobody actually wants the service you provide, then no matter how good they are, they won’t help you grow.
So, as a quick check: Do you have proof people actually want your product/service?
It might sound overly basic, but it’s often overlooked. I’ve seen too many businesses lose a ton of money after agencies promise them the world (only to deliver peanuts).
The ability to quickly service leads
The ability to quickly service leads is just as important. Once those leads have been introduced into your sales funnel, do you have the capacity to contact every person while the iron remains scorchio?
There’s little point in generating 1,000’s of leads if you can’t follow them up.
Sales leads go dead and cold quicker than a lemming perched on the edge of a cliff after listening to an Adele album.
A recent study of 1.25 million sales leads for B2B and B2C companies in the US demonstrated that leads contacted within the hour were SEVEN TIMES more successful than those left to stupor.
Ability to close any leads generated
Contacting your leads while the iron is hot is important. But just as important is your ability to close any leads generated. If you can’t close your leads, you’re not going to make any money, regardless of the number of leads that come in.
That doesn’t mean you need to convert them straight away. In fact, 63% of consumers that request information on your company will not purchase for at least three months. That means you need to have the ability to nurture any leads over time.
Preparation for your partnership with a high-performing lead generation agency is essential.
Consider yourself told! 🙂
Things to look out for when hiring a lead generation agency
One of the things about salespeople is that the good ones are excellent at winning you around.
Do they have the true credentials to back up their own claims?
It’s all very well having a portfolio of successful campaigns but do they have experience in your industry? Do they understand the specifics of your area of business? Do they know HOW to connect with people likely to be interested in your products or services?
In the past, they might have demonstrated results in the banking sector, but if you build cisterns for hotel bathrooms, you could be flushing your money down the loo if they don’t understand your market (see what I did there?)
How To Choose a Lead Generation Agency
With all of that out the way, let’s talk about how to actually choose a good lead generation agency. Below are some things you’ll want to keep in mind when talking to them.
They focus on lead quality as much as lead quantity
Ultimately, anyone can create a basic campaign and get clicks. That part isn’t hard. The hard part is ensuring that relevant people are clicking and then taking the desired action: signing up for your offer and becoming customers.
Getting traffic to your website is very different from good quality leads. A good quality lead is somebody with a high likelihood of conversion. No one wants traffic that bounces, so getting the right people into your marketing funnel is critical. Questions you can ask your agency:
How do you plan on generating high-quality leads?
How can we ensure the leads we generate are becoming customers further down the line?
Understand your required cost-per-lead
Although it’s a lead generation agency you’re hiring, the ultimate goal has to be increased profit. Nothing else matters.
It’s a numbers game. And for you to have a successful relationship, the agency (and you!) needs to know and understand numbers such as:
- Target cost per lead
- Conversion rate of lead -> sale
- Lifetime value of customer (LTV)
If they don’t understand these numbers, they can’t determine whether their service is actually generating you a profit or not.
The best lead gen agencies will ask you questions about your target cost per lead/acquisition. If they don’t, ask them how they plan on tracking it.
Their communication and transparency
If your lead generation agency wants to run your ads through THEIR Facebook ad account, run a mile. There is no good reason for this, other than trying to hold your data hostage if you want to end the relationship.
Insist that they run YOUR campaigns from YOUR account. That way, you’ll own the data gathered as part of the campaign; you’ve paid for it, after all.
Agencies are often not the best communicators.
No agency should ever leave you in the dark. If they’re not replying to your emails or answering the phone, you should think about moving to a more responsive company.
Transparency should be a given. If you feel like you’re spending money and there’s little accountability, you should demand an explanation.
Likewise, communication is a two-way thing. Marketing campaigns often require quick decisions at crucial moments, and if your lead gen agency is stalling for action because they’re waiting on agreement from you, your campaign could suffer. Questions to ask:
How will we keep in touch regularly?
Do you provide reporting?
Your ability to track all the way to the sale
Much like I’ve mentioned above, any good lead generation agency should help you understand how the work they’re doing enables you to generate sales. Not just that, but they should take responsibility for it.
I recently asked a group of agency owners how they make sure their clients are profiting from their services.
Specifically, I asked: If you’re offering lead gen services, how do you track those leads right through to the sale?
Some of the responses I got back shocked me.
One guy said, “You’re not in the business of making clients money.”
Another said, “Don’t take responsibility for these things… just focus on getting them leads…”
This is everything wrong with the “agency” world.
Make sure they are going to take responsibility.
Do they have a proven process & track record?
The best lead generation agencies will have a proven process they’ve developed over time – with case studies and testimonials to back it up.
Ask for a walk-through of their proven processes. A cheap lead gen agency with no track record probably isn’t going to bring you bang for your buck. Although they may be cheaper, it could cost you more in the long run.
Ask them to explain their documented processes. It’s magicians who should never share how they executed the trick – if lead gen agencies show reluctance to share their strategies, you might wonder if they’ve actually got any.
So, are you ready to choose a lead gen agency?
You’ve made it down to the bottom of this article, so I hope you now have a good understanding of all things lead generation agencies: what they are, what they do, their pricing structures and how to choose the right one.
At Yatter, we’ve been offering cutting-edge lead generation services to businesses across the world for years. We believe in long-term partnerships, and we’re passionate about growing our clients’ businesses.
We’re official Facebook marketing partners, so if you’re looking for the best lead gen agency with their finger on the pulse, look no further. #humblebrag over.
If you’re interested in learning what it’s like to partner with us, you can book a free strategy call here.
Thanks for reading. 🙂