Lead Generation for Software Development
Lead generation should be the lifeblood of your business, not an afterthought. But if you’re like most businesses, you’re spending more time chasing leads than nurturing them. And all too often, this chase ends in tears. That’s why we’ve developed our most comprehensive guide yet to lead generation for software development companies.
There are many ways to generate leads for software development companies. In this guide, we will talk about lead generation techniques and how they can be implemented to boost your sales.
Generating leads for software development projects is a slightly different process than generating leads for other businesses. You can find dozens of online articles on improving your lead generation process. Most of them are usually centered around B2C type of marketing. When it comes to lead generation for software development companies, you need to focus on B2B digital marketing capabilities.
What is a lead generation system?
Lead generation software is a time-saving marketing and sales app that lets you automatically generate more leads and route them to the proper team. It helps you increase brand awareness, attract more qualified leads, and close more sales deals.
Lead generation focuses on the top of the sales funnel, typically pulling leads from online channels like email, social media, and landing pages. From these channels, it collects contact information from people who have expressed interest in your product or service.
So you can market to them with better insight. More targeted marketing tactics mean more qualified leads, which ultimately translates to more profitable deals.
Is lead generation a marketing tool or a sales tool?
In some ways, it’s both. It’s the marketing department’s job to create materials that target your ideal customer and attract leads. From there, sales takes over to nurture the lead until the deal is closed. Lead generation programs refine the lead-finding process with both sales and marketing in mind. Often, a lead generation system is a feature of a larger platform, like a CRM. That gives both teams even more useful tools for streamlining productivity and boosting profits.
Why do you need lead generation software?
Competing for consumer attention requires constant effort. But even the most dedicated teams can find it tough to identify and engage with the right customers. Every day, businesses change addresses and phone numbers, contacts leave organizations, and new companies are started.
Lead gen software helps minimize the time your company spends tracking down leads. All by automatically updating contact information. That means you won’t find yourself working with outdated data.
A lead generation system not only helps you find customers, it gives you the tools to find the right ones. The highest value customers are ones who:
- Are genuinely interested in your product or service
- Have the money to invest in your product or service
- Have a problem that you can solve
Lead generation software is highly advantageous because it attracts leads who generate the most profit while requiring you to expend minimal effort. It narrows your sales team’s focus to the customers who are most likely to buy your product or service. That minimizes time wasted on cold leads, and helps you develop a stronger customer base.
How does a lead generation platform work?
Lead generation isn’t a one-size-fits all approach. Depending on if you’re a B2B or B2C business, you’ll use lead generation programs differently. Some lead generation tools are meant to increase customer engagement, while others help you streamline the sales call process.
But no matter which approach is best for your business, the idea is the same. Get your name out to customer leads, and attract them to your door before they go to the competition.
Lead generation can include a lot of different tools, but here are some of the most popular ones:
- Content creation tools: Some lead generation platforms offer templates for creating content like blogs, white papers, infographics, and e-books. Sharing this kind of content on your website and across social media channels boosts engagement. And it establishes you as a knowledgeable source in your industry. You can also require viewers to submit contact information before accessing long form content like e-books or instructional videos.
- Lead nurturing tools: Once someone enters your pipeline, it’s vital to keep the engagement going to turn them into a marketing qualified lead. Lead generation lets you gather enough information to target your contacts with personalized messaging via email campaigns or phone calls.
- How to score leads: Lead generation systems can calculate and assign a numerical value to your contacts. The higher the score, the more likely that contact is to make a purchase. Leads are scored based on several variables, including industry, website activity, and company size. Trying to manually score your leads would be an exhaustive task, which makes it one of lead generation’s most powerful and time-saving tools.
- Lead distribution: Once your program has identified a high-value lead, their information is automatically passed along. Right to the appropriate sales representative to follow up and continue building the relationship.
- Sales analytics and reporting: The simple act of using lead generation isn’t automatically going to boost profits. You’ll need to look at your analytics and reporting to see what’s working and what isn’t. Putting the effort into checking your analytics and making adjustments to your process may take some time, but it’s a necessary step in ensuring your lead gen software is working for you.
What are the features of lead generation software?
When it comes to shopping for a lead generation system, here are the five key features you should look out for.
Even the most powerful software will be ineffective in your hands if you can’t use it. Marketing teams are experts in marketing, not web development. Look for lead generation programs with an intuitive interface and multiple options for training. Then anyone on your team can use it without suffering technical headaches.
You’re probably already using business apps, so any lead generation software you decide on should include integrations. This will allow you to share data between your lead generation system and your CRM, email apps, and other business-related platforms you’re currently using.
Integrating your lead generation software with your other platforms eliminates the need to constantly switch browsers. Or double-check your data between platforms to make sure it’s accurate.
Having accurate and up-to-date data is vital to strategizing better business practices. Any lead generation software you invest in should have a comprehensive analytics and reporting feature. That way you can always have an eye on the numbers. This lets you make data-driven decisions for improvement, and identify where you’re falling short of your goals.
Automation saves huge amounts of time by responding to leads, analyzing data, and prioritizing leads. You don’t have to automate every task on your to-do list. But having the option means more control over how your teams are spending their time.
Customer relationship management
In your search for lead gen software, you’ll probably come across something called CRM software — customer relationship management. Lead generation is often included as a feature of CRM. Because it all falls under the umbrella of nurturing customers in your sales pipeline and building a loyal customer base.
If you’re worried that CRM sounds too big for you at the moment, don’t be. CRM for small businesses is specifically designed to scale with you. While still providing all the benefits of lead generation, contact management, and sales tracking.
Most CRM platforms will let you add on features as you grow. Meaning you can pick and choose which features you can afford to invest in at any given time.
What are the benefits of using lead generation tools?
Improved customer insight
Your customers aren’t just going to tell you what they’re thinking. You need to ask the right questions and gather the right data to better understand their pain points. And why they are (or aren’t) buying from you.
Lead generation programs allow you to quickly capture more useful data from your potential customers. With better insight into why people show interest in your product or service in the first place, you can lean into the features that people like the most. The better you understand your customers, the better you can tailor your sales pitch and pipeline to their specific needs.
Better qualified leads
Having more leads isn’t always a good thing. More leads means more work, and if most of your leads are cold or lukewarm, you’ll end up working harder for smaller returns.
Lead generation software uses lead scoring to analyze customer data and identify the ones who are most likely to buy from you. It tracks their engagement, personal information, and interactions with your company to determine who’s really worth your time and effort.
Calculating lead value lets you reach out to the best qualified leads faster. While you’re still fresh in their minds. And that sets aside the people who were just browsing.
Refined marketing tactics
With powerful analytics reporting, your team will be able to see exactly which marketing campaigns brought in the highest value leads. With this information, you can continue to build campaigns that resonate with the most qualified leads. Then you’ll attract even more high value customers, and minimize time waste with cold leads.
Save time across the board
All of this adds up to time saved. Lead generation provides your sales reps with the most relevant customer information so they don’t have to spend hours researching leads. Furthermore, your sales reps will spend less time chasing after cold leads. That means more time following-up on the ones who have already ticked off multiple boxes.
Fishing in murky waters isn’t a good use of your time. Guesswork drains your resources, wasting valuable hours and manpower. Imagine your business is a fishing operation. Using a lead generation system would be like seeing exactly where the biggest fish swim, what they like to eat, and when they’re most ready to feast. And that would most certainly put you ahead of the competition.
What types of lead generation are there?
There are two principal types of lead generation software: outbound lead generation, and inbound lead generation. Some lead generation programs will include features for both categories, while others might narrow their focus to just one.
Before committing to a lead generation platform, ask yourself some important questions about how you’re currently finding leads. And how you want to find them in the future. The best approach is to invest in software that includes features for both inbound and outbound lead generation. So you can combine the two approaches for maximum effect.
Outbound lead generation
With outbound lead generation, you initiate contact with people who have little or no knowledge of your company. This involves activities like cold calling, sales prospecting emails, direct mailing, and live events.
Outbound lead generation is more typical when it comes to B2B sales. This is because whatever you’re selling is designed to help people make money. That already puts you in a good position to snag their attention.
Outbound lead generation is labor-intensive. But it’s a tried-and-true method of gaining attention from people who otherwise would never hear of your product. It’s also a good way of getting your brand into people’s heads before the competition.
Sometimes the people who need your product or service most aren’t putting themselves in your way, so you have to go to them.
Here are some features you’ll find included in outbound lead generation platforms:
- Sales dialer
- Contact management software
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Sales CRM
- Sales recording
- Templates for sales emails
- Email automation
Inbound lead generation
Inbound lead generation involves creating content and advertising that motivates potential buyers to reach out to you. It’s more popular with B2C industries, where “salesy” tactics can sometimes seem disingenuous or pushy.
Most inbound lead generation activity is digital, which means it tends to be more cost-effective. But inbound lead generation involves waiting for people to find you and reach out, which means they might also be reaching out to the competition at the same time.
With inbound lead generation, you’re constructing materials that organically attract leads to you. If you’re looking for software with inbound lead generation tools, keep an eye out for these features:
- Landing page building
- Web forms
- Live chatbots
- Survey forms
- Visitor tracking
- Content creation & delivery
How lead generation process looks like in B2B and B2C marketing?
In order to implement an appropriate lead generation strategy in a given software development company, the first step is to understand the differences between lead generation in B2B and B2C marketing.
At the first glance, both lead generation processes are alike. The foundation of both approaches is creating a marketing funnel in order to generate leads for business. Nevertheless, to make your strategy work, you need to use different techniques depending on whether you are in B2B or B2C division.
The importance of marketing funnels in lead generation process
A marketing funnel is a series of steps that visitors go through from learning about your business to purchasing your products or services.
The graph represents a typical marketing funnel. As you can see, the funnel narrows after each phase. Only some percentage of visitors will become leads, and only some of these leads will become your customers. Your goal should be to adopt such lead generation strategies that allow you to attract primarily valuable leads who will be the most prone to purchase.
Some marketing experts believe that it is not correct to call any user a lead when they are only in the first phase (namely, ‘awareness’) and have just found out about your business. Digital marketing savvies believe it is more correct to refer as ‘leads’ to those in the third phase (‘consideration’). This is the moment your visitors do get interested in your business, instead of just noticing it in the crowd of similar ones.
Before you start your lead generation process, you need to determine who you will consider leads. This way, you will be able to segment leads into such categories as:
- qualified (most probable to purchase),
- warm (hesitant but promising),
- and cold (rather unlikely to purchase).
Marketing funnels in B2B and B2C
The process of lead generation and turning leads into customers itself is the same both in B2B and B2C approach. In both cases, the process consists of the same phases. However, the two approaches should be centered around different strategies in order to become successful. According to Brian Kardon, CMO of Lattice Engines: B2B purchases are usually expensive and require a significant investment of time, energy and implementation
That makes B2B sales cycles significantly longer than B2C ones. In B2B, going through all the phases can take months while in B2C it can be done within a few days.
When compared to B2C marketing funnels, B2B ones are created for a more narrow audience. It makes B2B lead generation process a little bit easier as it has to be tailored for the preferences of a notably smaller audience, and the market is not that oversaturated like in the case of B2C.
What is important in B2B lead generation process is also the fact that it should be about addressing risk, assisting businesses in finding solutions to improve their services, emphasising on frugality and possibilities of increasing ROI. In order to create successful B2B lead generation campaigns you need to speak to minds and logic instead of emotions like in the case of B2C campaigns.
What are the best lead generation techniques for software development companies?
As already mentioned – lead generation process in a software development company fits into B2B model. Thus, in order to make your lead gen campaign effective, you need to advance your B2B digital marketing capabilities.
Developing compelling content
Your target audience is most probably businesses searching for industry tips and education online. Therefore, in order to demonstrate your or your software development team’s skills, you should write helpful articles of high quality raising technology or industry subjects interesting for your target customers.
Once a certain business discovers informative articles and meaningful content with industry jargon written by you or your team members, and consider you true technology savvies, you have better chances of converting the said business into your customer.
Taking care of SEO
Taking care of SEO is essential for everyone who wants to improve their search presence and build visibility in the digital world. Therefore, you need to properly take care of your SEO strategy.
The very first thing one usually does when in need of a reliable software development company, is to google it. And you need to make sure you are easy to be googled by them.
Consequently, you should analyze the effectiveness of keywords in your niche and use the most prominent ones that will direct organic traffic to your sites. Also, you should consider putting the common phrases and words into headings, as they will be better ranked by Google and facilitate potential customers to notice your business.
Optimizing your page for conversions
The best way to optimize your page for higher conversions is to create a specific B2B promotion landing page. This way, you are able to focus on creating a powerful value proposition and to clearly present potential customers with the benefits your software could provide them with.
When creating your landing page (you can do this with a landing page builder) and quoting the benefits of your software development products or services, you should focus on measurable and rational aspects. Your customers want products that can assist them with increasing ROI, limiting risk, and saving time or resources.
In B2B promotion, the logic and characteristics are more valued than personal preferences, so you should make your products or services look highly professional and reliable.
What is more, in order to optimize your landing pages, remember about all the necessary elements:
- a simple and concise headline,
- clear landing page copy,
- an eye-catching demo or a video,
- customized CTA (call to action).
For the sake of the success of your future marketing campaigns, you should also gather data about your leads. This way, you have a great starting point to kick off with your next marketing campaigns.
If you run a software development company, it may be troublesome to unanimously define your model customer. Check what kind of industries your visitors come from and how big of a budget they have at their disposal. It will enable you to improve the personalization aspect of your marketing approach.
Developing lead nurturing strategy
Generating leads and turning them into customers is already a huge success. Still, you should never forget about the lead nurturing process – maintaining a continuous relationship with your customers.
It is an essential practice when it comes to software development projects, as sales cycles there are much longer when compared to B2C ones. After your customers purchase your software development products or services, they need information and ongoing support. In B2B purchasing model, sales are based on long relationships, so you should take care of every one of them in order to keep your customers satisfied.
A vast majority of software development companies ignore the lead nurturing concept, as they see it as useless. However, frankly speaking – it usually results in missed opportunities (customers may resign from your services or share negative testimonials about your products) and significant losses.
Which is the best way to generate leads for a software development company?#
How to Generate Leads for Software Development Projects
The software development market is competitive. Many organizations use sales development teams to attempt to hit their numbers. For most organizations, outbound lead generation isn’t sustainable, and it often has diminishing returns if organizations get labeled as spammers.
To generate leads for software development projects at a more accelerated rate, your organization should strongly consider advancing it’s B2B digital marketing capabilities and building a solid inbound pipeline.
Your ideal customers are searching for solutions, answers, tips, and education online. Software development companies need to develop content that is compelling. Firms need to improve their search presence, create helpful content, and build visibility.
In this post, we’ll show you the interlinking steps for a software marketing strategy that generates B2B leads for your product.
A CMO’s Guide to B2B Lead Generation [Free eBook PDF]
1. Create Cornerstone Content
Cornerstone content pages are landing pages for SEO that focus on core keywords. For example, if a core function of your business is point-of-sale software for small businesses, your cornerstone page may be “POS Software for Small Business,” a Google keyword target. This page will capture leads who search for that term. And search engine, or organic, leads are highly valuable:
SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate (Search Engine Journal).
Your cornerstone pages should include “contact us” forms, or content offers in exchange for submitting the form, such as a free eBook or white paper. Utilize conversion forms to generate leads. Ideally, you will use content offers instead of simply “contact us” to generate interest.
One major goal for your online marketing is to rank highly for these cornerstone pages. First, you can prioritize these pages for Google by making them your website navigation pages, instead of “About us” or “Products,” which don’t carry much search engine value.
Second, you should publish supplementary content that links back to cornerstone content — we’ll explain this tactic next. Related article: How to Create a High-Ranking Technology Content Marketing Strategy
2. Frequently Publish Supplementary Content
Posting continual blog posts that link to your cornerstone content helps bring search engine authority to your cornerstone content — and that means more leads!
Companies that blog have 434% more indexed pages and companies with more indexed pages get far more leads.
Blogs can use longer-tail keywords that are related to your cornerstone keywords and that discuss buyer questions, pain points, and industry concerns. This content should not simply talk about your product but rather provide unique insights into your industry as a whole. This image shows how your blog topics might link to your cornerstone content, encouraging conversions site-wide. This is a solid SEO strategy for building authority.
Another type of content could be third-party articles written by an executive at your firm. These articles should always include a link to your cornerstone content and discuss the industry at large, instead of promotional.
According to Google, 71% of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search, which means only publishing branded content is not the best way forward.
Researchers want to read about the industry and the different options before diving into a company, so having third-party outlets publish content under your brand’s name is key. Related article: Content Marketing Strategy for Software Companies
3. Create a Social Media Strategy
Next, extend the reach of your content by posting regularly on social media channels. Use these platforms to promote your content — both blog posts, and sometimes cornerstone content pages — and engage with others in your industry by sharing their content, too. If you struggle to post regularly, schedule ahead of time with a social scheduling tool like Buffer or HootSuite. Identify key influencers in your software industry and see which hashtags they use and content they share.
Depending on the industry target for your product, use hashtags to enter different user groups on Twitter. For example, if your software is in the analytics world, then #datamining, #bigdata, and even #data would be good hashtags to promote your content with — These are all popular, trusted hashtags in that community.
In order to gain initial traction, employees too should share content and post on social media. For example, they can help answer troublesome development questions using #answer on Twitter to help other programmers.
By spending as little as six hours per week, 66% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media. (Social Media Examiner).
4. Use Paid Ads
Next, you can amplify your message with a popular demand generation strategy: Paid advertising. Paid advertising is best when you start small to gain insight:
- Identify a targeted audience (possible with AdWords and several social media ad platforms)
- Drive visitors to a cornerstone content page with a custom URL link, so you can track how many visitors came from your ad campaign
- Test different variations
- Utilize a small budget, until you’ve identified what works
- Analyze your result: How many qualified leads did we generate?
Then, continue iterating over time. This will ensure that you’re not overspending on unqualified leads or bad campaigns.
According to Social Media Examiner, when it comes to paid social media ads, the overwhelming majority use Facebook ads (84%), followed by Google ads (41%) and LinkedIn ads (18%).
Related article: Digital Advertising Trends and Forecasts to Watch This Year
5. Optimize your Website for Conversions
Only about 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates (Econsultancy).
But there are many ways to optimize a website to increase the number of conversions — that is, website visitors who submit contact information and convert into business leads.
- Add calls-to-action (CTAs) on all pages, so users can navigate swiftly to conversion pages.
- Customize your CTAs to the page’s content — that is, sales-focused calls-to-action on a sales page, etc.
- Write focusing on a strong value proposition (i.e., what are your software product’s benefits to the consumer) instead of focusing on features.
- Show demos and videos, which can inspire the user to take action.
- Test different messaging and designs for your calls-to-action, to gain insight on what’s working well, and optimize what isn’t.
Most importantly, think of your website as a continuous project, not a one-and-done event. You will see the most success from your website if you stay close to the analytics, and continually optimize it. Add calls-to-action on all of your pages, ideally above the fold (aka, on the top of the page before a downward scroll is necessary).
6. Develop a Lead Nurturing Strategy
Once your company has generated leads, it’s time to nurture them into customers.
67% of B2B marketers say they see at least a 10% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, with 15% seeing opportunities increase by 30% or more (Demand Gen Report).
Often, companies forget this part of the sales process, which results in missed opportunities. Use different content offers to nurture leads through the sales funnel.
Working with the sales team, you can identify pain points and hesitations and address these concerns through content such as targeted email or blogs. Once leads engage, send their contact information to your sales team. Use a CRM like Hubspot which has automatic lead scoring to identify where each person or company is in the sales cycle. Then, use targeted content to nurture them in the funnel
Software development agencies don’t have time to waste. The need for qualified leads is essential for their continued success and growth. Lead generated through the sales resume generation process are great for software development companies because they come with valuable information straight from the candidate that the agency can use to create a precise custom proposal.
To generate leads for software development projects, it’s important to nurture continually and build relationships with potential customers. The sales cycle is much longer compared to B2C products, and buyers want more information in the form of blogs or newsletters that can help them with their purchasing decision.