2020 Digital Lead Generation Best Practice

2019 is ending and that means just one thing: your marketing and sales goals will reset on January 1 and you’ll be back to zero. It is always a bittersweet moment. A few minutes to savor what was great about the past year and then, right back to “what have you done for me lately”.

As we enter 2020, what are the best practices for generating more high-quality leads online?

What are high-quality leads anyway? My definition: leads that are qualified, who are looking to solve the problem you solve, and who know who you are.

You can’t win what you don’t compete for. Making sure you can present your solution to the people looking for your solution is key. The strategy to do this remains the same, but the tools to play the game are changing rapidly.

If you are willing to adopt, test and adapt to the digital playground of 2020, then the opportunities for growth are practically unlimited.

Target InMarket Leads

Start with your audience.

Marketer’s love to talk about personas, but best practice in 2020 is to move beyond a persona to the actual individual. It is no longer good enough to know the demographics and psychographics of your target audience. Today, we can know the specific individual. His or her name, email, address, phone number.


In the past, a well-crafted persona allowed the marketing team to develop advertising that hit on the what they believed were the top emotional hot buttons. That also meant paying firms like Facebook and Google to identify who should see the message. Today, you have full control over who should see your message and where they see it.

Advertising isn’t free – pay to be in front of leads who are actively looking

Want to grow your business, then you must turn strangers into clients. To get a stranger to pay attention to your message means advertising in one form or another. They are strangers after all and they don’t know who you are, what problems you solve, or why they should buy from you.

There are lots of tactics for getting your message to your target audience. From asking clients for referrals to billboards along the highway. Sooner or later you are going to have to pay to advertise. Resources are limited so don’t waste advertising dollars to put your message in front of people who aren’t interested.

With available digital tools allowing you to be hyper focused on advertising to the right person, you can spend more to reach that prospect then your competition, because you are not wasting ad spending on targeting people who will never buy from you. If you can spend more to acquire a prospect than your competition but spend less on advertising overall, then you have a major competitive advantage.

Focus on their top of mind problem

Marketer’s know that getting someone’s attention is relatively easy. Celebrities, talking animals and attractive models all work to get attention. To keep a prospects attention and get them to engage with your content, means focusing on the problem you solve and the results you deliver.

Education is what all prospects crave. Today, all buyers want control over the buying process. They want to consume content when and where they want and don’t want to engage with a salesperson until they are ready to talk about their specific situation.


Make Every Click a Lead

Identity resolution is the key

Identity resolution means knowing the identity of the people who visit your website. Most marketer’s use multiple methods to resolve the identity of web visitors so they can create a more personalized user experience and so they can improve the targeting of their advertisements.

Up to now, that meant using third party tracking pixels and cookies. All have significant limitations.

Using the Google, Facebook or other pixels allows Google or Facebook to resolve the identity of a visitor to your page. You can use that information to re-target them or to build look-a-like audiences. All are valuable but are limited in that Google and Facebook don’t share the identity of your visitors with you. They are “walled gardens” and you must pay them to access your own data in the future

Cookies are very helpful in recognizing when someone returns to your site with several limiting caveats. They must return on the same devise, and they must return within 30 to 90 days. A cookie is device specific and they expire relatively quickly.

IP address-based identity resolution can be helpful to B2B marketers. You can learn that someone from a specific company (if they have registered their IP address) has visited your website. The downside is you don’t know the specific individual and you won’t know if they come to your site from their mobile phone or home computer.

How many website visitors did you have in 2019? Do you know who they are, by name, and how to reach them on any platform? Today this is possible and it only costs pennies.

Use un-gated content

Why are you hiding your best content behind a gate? Why should I have to give you my personal information just to read a technical document that explains how your product helps me?

At every point in the marketing process there is a value exchange. I will give you some information and it will cost you. The lower the cost, the lower the friction and the more people consume the content. Opt-in forms are big-time friction and with people-based identity resolution are unnecessary.

Allowing access to high-quality un-gated content builds “know, like, and trust”, improves SEO scores, and makes it easy for prospects to do business with you.


With people-based identity resolution, every click becomes a lead. A specific individual you can follow-up with online or offline for as long as it takes to move them through your buyers’ journey.

When you know that a specific customer or prospect acted on your advertisement or consumed your content, then reach out to the prospect or customer in the most appropriate way. Whether that be by phone, email, direct mail or other digital channels.

Maintain TOMA

Focus on results to turn a lead into a prospect

Turning a lead into a prospect takes time, and time means maintaining top of mind awareness (TOMA). How many advertisements did you see yesterday? Studies show that we are bombarded with between 5,000 and 10,000 advertisements every day. Can you name one advertisement you saw yesterday? 95% of people I ask say no. So how will anyone remember you when they are ready to buy?

Turning a lead into a prospect means developing know, like and trust. In person we develop know, like and trust by engaging in conversations, asking questions and offering relevant solutions that solve a problem and produce the result our prospect desires.

Online is no different. Think conversation and not campaigns. Speak to the problem, offer solutions that meet the prospects need, avoid jargon, and be authentic.

Buyers want information

Information is the lubricant of the buyers’ journey. When someone first responds to your advertisement and lands on your website, they are responding to the message in the ad. Now, to help them learn more about their problem, how big it is, how they can solve it, what results they can achieve, how you help them do this and if it is even worth doing, all require education.

No longer is it appropriate of effective to use a “one size fits all” approach to lead nurturing.

You now know the individual user, the content they consume, and therefore where they are in the buyers’ journey. Taking that information and targeting outbound calls, emails, direct mail and digital campaigns that address the needs of the prospect is easy to do leveraging automation tools.

Be where they are for as long as it takes

Studies show that it takes five to seven touches just to achieve top of mind awareness, yet companies and salespeople stop after the second or third touch. Just imagine that you have a process that addresses the prospects specific situation and that process has 10 touch points. I guarantee you that by the 10th touch, you are the only person who is actively nurturing the lead.

Once you have identified a prospect, don’t let them go. If you do, then you just must pay to re-acquire them in the future. Acquiring the prospect is the relatively expensive part. Don’t do it more than once!

The power of using multiple channels. Metcalfe’s Law shows that the power of a network is equal to the number of nodes squared. That means if you are only using email to follow-up your system has the power of one. One node (email) squared is one.

But if you are using email, outbound phone calls, Facebook re-targeting and display ads to nurture leads, then your system has the power of 16. Four nodes squared is 16. Four lead nurture channels is not 4X better than one channel. It is 16X better.


Today, best practice in digital lead generation means using machine learning and identity resolution to put the right message in front of the right prospect at exactly the right time.

  • Machine learning is the key to generating better leads
  • Identity resolution is the key to generating more leads
  • Turning leads to prospects requires education and TOMA

Complimentary Strategic Marketing Review

Schedule a complementary strategic marketing review and we will

  • Review your exposure to your target market
  • Evaluate your process and tools
  • Evaluate your strategic messaging
  • Measure your TOMA
  • Review your options to drive growth.

About the author

Roel Hoekstra is the founder and managing partner at Akela Partners, LLC. He has worked in management consulting, marketing and sales for over 30 years. He is an expert in applying new data-driven technologies to sales and marketing strategies.

A prolific writer and presenter, he has worked on projects for a wide range of companies including: John Hancock, Marsh Inc, TD Bank, Campbell Soup Co, Sunoco, New York Times, McGraw Hill, Educational Testing Service, True Value Corp, Concentus Wealth Management, Strittmatter Wealth Management, MaGrann Engineering, Drexel Management, Bolt on Technologies, Global Stock Lending, and eLocal, among others.