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Should I Hire a Lead Generation Agency, or a Marketing Agency?

Not getting the growth you were hoping for? More often than not, the problem that causes the slow growth is not about what the company has been doing but how it engages its target. That’s why hiring a lead generation agency in the UK or a traditional marketing agency is crucial for your business. Simple, right? Not at all.

Defining the right agency for your business is a strategic decision that needs to be taken based on your objectives and long-term strategies. A lead generation agency in the UK differs from a traditional marketing agency, but what is the difference?

The big difference is in how they attract leads, the type of lead they bring, and the time it takes to generate those leads. Lead generation is a service within digital marketing, but it’s so important that sometimes it is viewed as a separate activity. You even have agencies that focus on nothing but lead generation.

A lead is not a customer

Now you might be wondering what exactly a lead is. A common understanding is that a lead is a customer, but that needs to be corrected. A lead is any person (or business, if you are in a B2B industry) considering buying something from you and who gives their contact info. A customer, in its turn, is someone who has already decided to buy something from you.

A lead generation agency in the UK has the sole goal of… you got it: generating leads. It sits at the bottom of the marketing funnel. 

Wait, what?

The marketing funnel is pivotal to understanding the difference

A marketing funnel is a series of phases to guide prospects through the customer journey. It comprises awareness, interest, consideration, intent and purchase. 

A traditional marketing agency works in all these phases, whereas a lead generation agency in the UK focuses on the bottom of the funnel. There is no guarantee that someone who is made aware of your company will become a lead. You may, for instance, have a situation where a person knows your company (awareness) and wants to buy something from you (interest), but your product is too expensive for them to use (lack of intent). A good example is someone who travels a lot but would never access your “first-class seats” landing page simply because they know they can’t afford it. 

On the other hand, a lead is someone who became aware of your offer and has the means and the will to acquire it (intent and, hopefully, purchase). This hypothetical qualified lead constantly searches Google for plane tickets and visits websites specialising in luxury travel. Once you acquire their contact information, it’s game on! This is the lead your travel agency was looking for!

The above example is a gross simplification of the process. Still, it gives you a good understanding of how a lead generation agency in the UK differs from a marketing agency. 

Strategies used by a lead generation agency in the UK

There are several strategies available for lead generation. The most common ones are SEO optimisation, gated content, social media, whitepapers, case studies, webinars and infographics. The goal is to collect the visitor’s name, email or phone number. 

The business can then use this information to get in touch with the lead, provide more information about a product and persuade them to buy something. 

A combination of gated content and social media strategy is excellent for obtaining leads. An agency can, for instance, publish a post with a guide about the 5 best attractions in New York. To download the guide, the user must provide their name and email. Once they do it, they become a lead and will be approached to initiate a sales pitch.

Lead generation campaigns are normally quite time-sensitive. The investment is calculated using a cost-per-lead model (the client pays for each lead obtained by the agency) and has a budget for ads. Once the agreed amount of leads is received, the campaign is paused (or adjusted).

Strategies used by marketing agencies

For marketing agencies, the ultimate objective is to maximise brand awareness and audience, generating more leads at the end of the process. Their strategies involve brand awareness campaigns, content marketing, buyer personas development, customer journey maps, and thought leadership publications. 

Advantages of each type of agency

Hiring a lead generation agency has the advantage of delivering results relatively quickly. It’s a fast, short-term solution that provides rapid growth. 

It’s ideal when you have a product or service that you want to sell quickly, provided you have a sales team to act at the right moment. 

Long-term planning, however, is the speciality of marketing agencies. Compared to lead generation agencies, the growth is slower but more stable and predictable. Using, for instance, content strategies, an agency creates a constant flow of visitors to your website and positions your company as an authority in your industry. 

Evergreen content (in-depth content that stays relevant for a long time) generates organic traffic to your website, enhancing the connection between your brand and consumers. Even if the visitor is not ready to buy your product now, you’ll remain in their mind and, once he is prepared to purchase, he will look for you. 

What to consider before hiring a lead generation agency

As with any other business, you must thoroughly analyse an agency before hiring. Prioritise agencies that have experience in your industry. Check what platforms they use and if they have a flexible approach. It’s also important to ask about their fee model and how much you’ll pay for each lead. 

There are a lot of differences between the types of work done by agencies, so ensure you understand their scope of responsibilities. Liverpool-based Activate Digital, for instance, handle the entire campaign, from ads that drive interest to bespoke landing pages that convert, but does not get involved with the sale. 

Also, be careful with agencies that deliver unqualified leads. It’s a waste of time and money. Request leads that are targeted and relevant, avoiding spam submissions. 

Finally, short-term campaigns don’t mean your relationship with the agency will be short-lived. Ideally, as the business grows, you’ll have several short campaigns over a prolonged time, so look for a lead generation agency in the UK that builds a long-last partnership and works closely with their clients, keeping them up-to-date and informed.

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