Skip to main content

How to attract and convert targeted leads

Sales manager working in office using a laptop

Key takeaways

  • Creating ideal customer profiles will help you identify your target market
  • Use market segmentation to send more personalized communication to targeted leads
  • Reaching out to your target audience on multiple platforms will build brand awareness

Targeted marketing campaigns attract targeted leads—the people who are most likely to need your product or service. And when your leads actually need what you sell, it’s easier to convert them into sales.

According to research by Deloitte, 76% of SMBs describe using personalized ads as an effective strategy to find new customers, and 69% reported they are key to achieving a high return on marketing investments.

Before you can start targeting leads, you’ll need to define your target. Learn how to identify your target market, take aim, and reach your audience (and sales targets) more often.

What are targeted leads?

Targeted leads are people you identify as potential customers because they have characteristics that indicate they need your product or service.

When you market to these people, they’re your target audience. Once they enter your sales funnel—by taking an action like following you on social media, sharing their email address to be added to your email list, or reaching out to you or your sales team—they become targeted leads.

If you market without targeting a specific audience, you might still reach new leads. However, those leads may be harder to convert into sales. Maybe they only followed you on social media or signed up for your newsletter because they like your content but don’t need your product or service.

Without careful targeting, you’ll also spend more money to acquire each lead. If you advertise to a broader audience than necessary, you’ll spend a lot on online advertising just to reach a few people who need your product or service. But if you advertise exclusively to those who are most likely to need your business, you’ll spend less money—and more of the people who see your ads will become leads.

Think of it like this: If you’re playing a game of paintball and you walk out on the field and start spraying paintballs everywhere, you might hit something, but you’ll use a lot of paintballs in the process. It may take 50 paintballs just to hit one thing, so you’ll spend a lot of money buying more and more paintballs.

But if you walk on the field, take the time to identify your target, and take careful aim, you’ll hit your target more often and use significantly fewer paintballs. You may only use 2–3 paintballs to hit one thing, so you’ll spend less money and experience more success per shot.

How to identify your target market

The first step toward hitting your target is to identify it. Figure out your target market by determining which people are most likely to need your product or service. You can use your past customer data, market research, and analytics to discover the characteristics your customers typically have in common (more on this below). Then compile that information to create your ideal customer profile.

Use past customer data

If you’re launching a new business, you might not have past customer data yet. But if you’ve already launched your company and made a few sales, you can look at your past customers to see what they have in common.

Look for the following four types of information:

  • Demographic information: gender, age, race, marital status, income level, and job title
  • Geographic information: local, regional, national, or international
  • Behavioral information: browsing habits, social media usage, spending habits, purchasing habits, brand loyalty
  • Psychographic information: likes, dislikes, interests, hobbies, opinions, and values

If you don’t have all of this information about previous customers, start with what you do have. You can also send out a survey to past clients asking them for more information about themselves. Many people are happy to share information with brands they trust, even more so if they’re incentivized by the outcome of the survey (e.g., their feedback will improve their personal experience) or if they’ll receive a small gift.

Use data analytics and market research

Two marketing managers analyzing data analytics using laptop

Once you’ve collected data on your previous clients, you can analyze it to see what your customers have in common. If you don’t have any past client data or only have a small amount of data, you can conduct your own market research or hire a marketing agency to conduct it for you.

During market research, your goal is to find out what types of customers will be interested in your product or service. You can conduct online polls or anonymous surveys, read industry reports, or analyze what your competitors are doing to win new customers.

Once again, you want to look at demographic, geographic, behavioral, and psychographic information to get a full picture of your ideal customer.

Create ideal customer profiles and buyer personas

An ideal customer profile (ICP) is a high-level explanation of the customers who are likely to need your product. This includes all of the traits that your customers share but doesn’t get into the traits that differentiate one customer from another. (You’ll do that in your buyer personas.)

For example, say you run a vintage thrift store. You have a brick-and-mortar shop in Asheville, North Carolina, but you also have an online store where you ship items to customers throughout the U.S. Your ideal customer profile might be women ages 18 to 37 who are interested in fashion, make at least $40,000 a year, and live in Asheville or the broader U.S.

If, on the other hand, you run a small digital marketing agency that focuses on marketing for restaurants, your target audience might be small restaurant groups based in the U.S. that own between one and 10 high-end restaurants where the average menu item costs at least $35.

Once you create your ICP, you can break it down further into buyer personas, which provide a more detailed look at the different personalities and interests of people who fit your ICP. Buyer personas can help you segment your audience and create more personalized content for each type of customer you want to target.

Take a look at that vintage thrift store again. Some of the more detailed buyer personas that fit within the thrift store’s ICP might be: the Environmentally Conscious Shopper (she chooses thrifted and vintage goods because it’s better for the environment); the Fashionista (she has an overflowing closet and loves to own unique pieces that no one else has); and the Budgeter (she buys secondhand clothes because of the lower prices).

The digital marketing agency’s buyer personas might be: the New Restaurateur (a restaurant owner or group that is opening its first location); the Growing Group (an established restaurant group opening a new location); and the Ultra-Posh Owner (a restaurateur focused on providing the most high-end and personalized service to every diner).

Segment your audience

Once you know who your target audience is, break it down into smaller segments based on their demographic, geographic, behavioral, or psychographic data. This will help you address each segment of your ICP in a way that’s personalized to their needs. Take the example of the vintage thrift store. Their ICP includes both Millenial and Gen Z women.

These are two different demographics, so they can serve as two different segments. Segmenting them will help you better target each demographic since behavioral data from Pew Research Center shows that Millenials and Gen Z prefer slightly different social media platforms. As such, the thrift store owner can target Gen Z customers on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube and Millennial customers on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

The thrift store owner can also segment their audience based on psychographic data to better address each customer’s values. For example, they might write different ad copy for their environmentally-conscious customers and their fashionista customers.

This strategy will also help the digital ad agency used in the earlier example. A brand-new restaurant owner has different pain points than an established restaurant group that’s trying to expand and scale their business. As such, they need to address each type of business lead differently.

For instance, say the agency is doing outbound lead generation by cold calling restaurant owners that fit their ICP. Knowing which segment of their target audience the owner fits into will help them tailor their messaging and do more effective outreach.

If they’re speaking to a new owner, they can address pain points like not knowing how to market their business or advertise their grand opening. With a growing restaurant group, the agency can discuss other pain points, like whether opening a new location means they no longer have time to run their own social media accounts.

Marketing segmentation ensures that every potential customer feels like you understand their needs—and like your product or service can address those needs.

5 strategies for targeted lead generation

Once you understand your ideal customer profile, buyer personas, and market segments, you’re ready to transform these potential customers into paying customers. But before you can turn your target market into targeted leads, you need to reach them.

These five lead-generation strategies will help you reach your ideal customers and build your targeted lead list.

1. Social media targeting

A young woman checking social media platforms on her phone

Social media platforms collect a lot of information about their users. In addition to the information users share when they sign up (which, depending on the platform can include age, interests, location, job titles, and more), they also monitor users’ browsing behavior and psychographic data.

As a result, running targeted ads on social media platforms is a great way to get your brand in front of your target audience. You can run paid ads or pay to promote (or “boost”) your posts to a wider audience. If members of your target audience follow your account after seeing or clicking on one of these ads, then they’re now at the top of your sales funnel and have become marketing qualified leads.

While they might not be ready to buy your product or service, or to share their contact information with your sales team, they are interested in seeing more from your brand. You (or your marketing team) now have the opportunity to start building a relationship with them by sharing more relevant content and showcasing your industry expertise.

Advertising across multiple social media platforms is often the most successful strategy, but keep your target market in mind when deciding which networks to use. LinkedIn is a good platform for B2B lead generation—80% of B2B leads from social media come from LinkedIn.

But if you’re that vintage thrift store mentioned earlier and your target customers are consumers, not businesses, then LinkedIn Ads won’t help you reach your audience nearly as well as Instagram or TikTok. The key is to use targeted ads on the platforms your demographic uses most frequently.

2. Content personalization

According to research by Segment, 52% of consumers say their satisfaction improves as their digital experience with a brand becomes more personalized. When customers see content that reflects their interests and values, they’re more likely to feel a connection with your brand and see the value in your product or service, which makes them more likely to make a purchase.

Moreover, with the buyer personas you already created, personalization doesn’t need to be a time-consuming process. You can use automation to customize your email marketing campaigns with your lead’s name and match each lead with the content that will resonate most with them.

Create different email templates, ads, and blog posts for each of your buyer personas. Then set parameters for your lead generation campaigns so that you only show each lead the content that matches their persona.

3. Content marketing

A content marketing manager sitting on chair using his laptop

Content marketing is the process of creating blog posts, videos, podcasts, landing pages, webinars, white papers, and e-books to educate potential leads about your brand, industry, and product or service.

This inbound marketing strategy helps customers looking for information related to your industry discover your brand. Creating helpful content can improve your search engine rankings and support your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

You can also use your content to build your lead list and move website visitors further down your sales funnel. On blog posts, you can add a pop-up that asks visitors to share their email address and receive your newsletter.

For more in-depth content—like webinars, white papers, and e-books—you can put them behind a “gate” to turn them into lead magnets. To create gated content, give each lead magnet its own landing page that requires visitors to fill out a contact form with their name, email address, phone number, and other information that will benefit your sales team (like their interests or reason for visiting your site). They’ll have to share their contact information before they can download your free resource.

4. Referral programs

Your current customers are your most powerful asset, and referral programs help you harness that power. According to a Nielsen Trust in Advertising Study, 88% of respondents most trust recommendations from people they know.

When you provide your customers with excellent customer care and a good experience, some will leave reviews and refer you to friends, family, and colleagues without you asking. However, you can encourage more of your current customers to become advocates for your brand by creating a referral program.

A referral program offers incentives to your current customers in exchange for recommending your brand. Typically, you would offer a discount on your product or service if someone they refer becomes a paying customer. Many referral programs also offer a discount to the newly referred customer to incentivize them to make a purchase.

This type of program has double the benefits. You get high-quality leads from referrals, and you encourage repeat business from your existing customers when you reward them with a discount.

For salon owner Kristin Near, referrals are everything. People don’t trust just anyone with their hair, makeup, or skin, so she relies on referrals to keep her client list growing. “I want other clients that are like my clients who are already coming, and the best way to do that is referrals,” Kristin said.

Her key to referral success is consistency and persistence: “There [are] so many ways that people can refer people… It’s a little bit from everywhere. Two or three of those little connections equals a customer. Because if they hear about you more than once, then they come in,” she said.

5. Multi-channel targeting

To get the largest number of targeted leads, it’s better to use a combination of strategies instead of just one. There’s a long-standing marketing theory called the Rule of Seven that says a customer has to encounter your brand at least seven times before they make a purchase.

Repeat exposure to your brand helps build trust and moves prospects further down the sales funnel. Content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and a referral program simultaneously make it more likely that your target audience will have multiple encounters with your brand. You can continue to improve your reach by creating a broader online presence and using retargeting ads to reach customers who’ve interacted with your brand at least once before.

To broaden your online presence, create accounts on every relevant social media platform and add your company to online business platforms. When you claim your Yelp Business Page, you make it easier for high-intent customers to contact you. In fact, 83% of users hire or buy from a business they found on Yelp, and 57% of users contact a business they found on Yelp within a day. You can also use Yelp Ads to target customers who are looking for your product or service.

Learn how Rescue Air uses Yelp Ads to capture leads and drive long-term ROI.

Ready to try Yelp Ads?

Put your business in front of more customers.

Start Yelp Ads

How to convert more targeted sales leads

The five marketing strategies above will help you connect with your target market and attract high-quality leads to your brand. But getting a lead is only the first step. The next step is to turn that lead into a sale. These six strategies can help increase your conversion rate.

1. Use a customer relationship management system

A customer relationship management (CRM) system is a customer service and sales team tool that allows you to keep detailed profiles on each of your leads and existing customers. Every time you or one of your customer service or sales reps has a conversation with a potential lead or customer, they’ll make notes in that customer’s file.

This way, you can keep track of each customer’s interests, values, and pain points. And every time that you or one of your salespeople contacts a lead, you can personalize your communication and build on the last interaction you had.

The data you collect in your CRM can also help you fine-tune your ideal customer profile and buyer personas, which will make you more successful when creating targeted marketing campaigns in the future.

2. Set up marketing automation

Automation tools can streamline your sales process and ensure that no leads get lost. You can set up lead nurturing campaigns, like an email welcome series or a scheduled follow-up phone call, that trigger automatically when one of your targeted prospects take a specific action.

For example, your email welcome series can be sent out automatically (and personalized with the lead’s name) when they first join your email list. The follow-up sales call can also be automatically added to your or a sales rep’s calendar for two days after your initial consultation.

Automation takes away the busy work of doing these tasks manually, but more importantly, it ensures that every lead is contacted with the correct follow-up at the correct point in their buyer’s journey.

3. Create a lead scoring and qualification process

With a lead scoring process, you’ll assign a certain number of points to your targeted leads based on the actions they take. For example, if someone follows your brand on one social media platform, they could be assigned 10 points. If they visit a page on your website, it could be another 10 points. If they download a lead magnet and share their contact information, that could be 25 points.

Once your leads reach a certain number of points, they can become a qualified lead. There are two types of qualified leads:

  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs): Prospects who are ready to see more marketing materials from your brand, like educational content or boosted social media posts.
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs): Prospects who are ready to see stronger sales pitches from your brand, like product demos or a sales phone call.

You’ll need to determine how many points make someone an MQL and how many points make them a SQL so you can send them the right type of content at the right time.

4. Test and optimize your strategies

A marketing professional presenting a lead generation meeting

Targeted lead generation is not a set-it-and-forget-it tactic. Some of your lead generation campaigns will be more successful than others. The success of each campaign will teach you more about your target audience, which will make your targeted marketing campaigns more successful in the future.

Test out different strategies for the best results. Try moving half of your targeted leads from MQL to SQL at 50 points and the other half at 100 points and see which group has a higher conversion rate. Or use A/B testing to try out two different landing pages and see which one entices more website visitors to share their email addresses.

You can also start by running a small number of ads on every social media platform to see which one leads to the largest number of leads. Then optimize your social media marketing budget so you’re running more ads on the platform that was the most successful.

Crystal Chase, digital marketing consultant at C. Chase Consulting, gives this advice for evaluating performance: “After you put content out there, you have to play detective. You need to go back and say, ‘When I posted this on Monday at 5:55 consistently, no one engaged with it, but when I posted every Tuesday at 3 p.m., I saw a spike.’ You have to have some insights of what has worked for you in the past, what hasn’t, and how you can pivot.”

5. Measure the success of your campaigns

You can’t optimize your campaigns unless you know which ones are working. Before you run a targeted lead generation campaign, decide which factors will indicate its success.

If you’re paying to boost your social media posts to your target audience, then maybe the goal is to get more followers. You’ll determine your success based on the number of followers you get during that time.

If you start a blog, the goal might be to bring more traffic to your website. With an e-book, you may want to grow your email list. Growing your audience is the first step toward increasing your sales revenue, so try measuring multiple success metrics, not just your conversion rate.

6. Write case studies and customer success stories

When it’s time to turn a lead into a sale, case studies and customer success stories will help your sales team demonstrate the value of your product. Partner with a satisfied customer—or a few satisfied customers—to share their experience with your product or service.

Cover the pain points those customers had before they started working with you and how your business solved their problem. Make sure to include data. If your product saved a client $5,000, share that. If it decreased the amount of time they spent doing a task by 25%, include that information. Case studies can give leads the final incentive they need to make a purchase.

Stay on target

A targeted lead generation strategy is one of the most cost-effective ways to market your business and reach potential customers.

You won’t waste money advertising to people who don’t need your product or service. Instead, you’ll focus on marketing to those who need you most.

It’s a strategy that puts your brand in front of fewer people but produces higher-quality leads who are more likely to turn into paying customers. Learn more about converting leads into sales and lead generation tools to accelerate business growth.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.