Posted by on February 20, 2018

Lead generation (lead gen) can feel like a moving target or a black hole no matter what industry you are in. There seem to be a multitude of approaches and gurus out there ready to tell you what the “right” way to approach lead gen is. Through experience, metric observation, and research, i would offer a few constants in most approaches, and some basic theories that will allow you to envision the lead generation approach that works best for your purposes.

Lead Gen Best Practice

The truth is that lead generation can be done successfully by tailoring the approach to the audience, the service or product, and the medium. In other words, who, what, where. Simple.

There are really three basic steps to any lead gen strategy and campaign. These can be described simply as audience, delivery, and structure. In it’s most basic form this is simply a set of data collection fields (structure) hosted on a webpage (delivery) that is designed to appeal to or be seem by a particular demographic (audience). So audience is the “who” the form is the “what” and the delivery medium is the “where”.

To construct your best lead generation approach you should work from the most broad and least tangible layer (the audience) down to the most granular and practical layer (the form structure), just like you would with any research project.

1. Define the audience

Audience research can come in many forms. A good place to start is to record your own assumptions and first hand knowledge of the audience you want to target. Build a structured table of the audience you think you are targeting and begin to adjust it and layer on more data as you discover it. Be sure to include age, gender, and geographic region or cities. Then include the behavior mapped to your specific interest along the other axis. Things like popular search terms, social media behaviors, and purchasing patterns.

I would also say it is important to include some global information that would apply to most users along with your audience. Things like mobile adoption and popular devices, color theory for buttons and calls to action, and global trends and emerging content topics.

2. Choosing the delivery method

Picking the right distribution channel, and optimal medium or device for an end user is key to making sure your data collection is presented to the right people. You want to be where your audience is. From your audience research you should know if search, social, or email, is the correct distribution method for your audience.

3. Build the form structure

Now that you know who you are targeting and how you will be delivering your form to them you can build the form that is best for your collection of variables.

If it is an email campaign you will want to drive users with a large nd visible call to action that clearly states your value proposition. Since you don’t what to embed a form in email as this will be flagged as spam activity by most email clients you will need an appealing prize or value proposition to get your audience to engage with the extra steps to get to your form.

If you are on social you will want to use some of the native tools for each platform to provide the most seamless experience and harvest the already existent audience data.

And if this is a search based play you will want to spend a lot of time constructing the surrounding content for your form that will capture the most valuable search phrases and provide a value proposition that includes free content and information.

Building on This

Once you have that basic workflow worked out you can begin to layer on the more complex strategies from game theory and psychology.

Game Theory

To apply the traditional game theory practice to your lead gen campaign you will want to first decide what kind of game you are proposing with the user. Is this a zero sum game where the choices and resources are finite? Like a single entry, submit to win sweepstakes or a form the user can fill out to receive some attractive guide or packaged information. Or are you proposing a combinatorial game where the user can keep expanding the amount of “moves”? Like a social submission campaign where a winning photo or post promoting your product is the ask and the prize is variable and will include recognition from a powerful channel (i.e. your brand).

Zero Sum

Keep the options to one.

  1. Only provide the user with the best possible move for you, don’t give options when you don’y have to just to give the appearance of choice. Users are not looking for choice all the time.
  2. Fewer steps to complete the ask means you have to offer less in your value proposition.


Engage with a challenge, and give examples.

  1. Users respond to a challenge with a bar within reach
  2. Giving examples helps guide your users to give you more specifically what you are looking for and provides a spark of inspiration.

A few other basic concepts to keep in mind when mapping out the optimal path you want a user to take and using the structure of your form and the choices offered through your game theory application are some ways in which we predict behavior.

  1. Simple learning: the strongest reward is the variable award…think “gambling”.
  2. The value proposition: it is always best to be transparent with the value proposition. Tell them what you want and why you think it is worth the exchange you are offering. this can remove the “perfect/imperfect information” problem that can complicate your game theory and turn off some users.
  3. Barrier to entry: keep the number of clicks to the bare minimum. Most people drop off a form when they are asked to many things.


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