Lead Temperature: Hot Leads and Cold Leads

One of the myths, or should we say the generalizations, in the field of Lead Generation is to think of the activity of lead acquisition as aimed exclusively at the acquisition of e-mail addresses to be included in an automated process of email marketing.

As effective as this strategy may be, not only does it not exhaust what is the activity of the Lead Generationbut it's also only appropriate in certain contextsIn fact, there are cases in which the classic strategy eBook > mail > workflow of email marketing it can be confusing.

The underlying reason, as we shall see in a moment, lies in the different user intent, who may be further away from conversion and need to be accompanied gradually or be in a hurry or have a pressing need and therefore be close to conversion or at least be clear about what he wants.

The difference between the two cases described is equivalent to the Difference between hot leads and cold leads or rather what I like to call the temperature of the lead.

Lead Temperature

As far as the common misconception often lead acquisition rhymes with what is effectively cold lead acquisition, there is also another type of lead, warm leads.

Depending on the type of Lead I want to acquire they will change:

  • strategy
  • sources of traffic
  • communication mode
lead temperature

Let's start with the cold leads.

Cold Lead

We can define cold lead as a contact further away from becoming a customer, from choosing your product or service.

As I anticipated, the classic strategy of acquiring a cold involves:

  • a lead magnet, or literally the magnet, the commodity of exchange between the user contact that can be represented by a content of informative but not only depending on the intent of the user;
  • a landing page traditionally called squeeze page or a optinsometimes rendered by a Pop Up;
  • an automated system (traditionally email marketing, but you can also implement it with a Messenger BOT) that, once the user has filled out the contact form with his name and email, sends a series of emails that follow one another with some trigger temporal or related to the user's action, i.e., to speak plainly, the lead receives a prefixed email every few days or only if he/she clicks / doesn't click on the link, opens / doesn't open the email...and so on.

From the point of view of the communication mode the acquisition of a cold lead is often based on the curiosity, attention-seeking.

The reason, if you think about it, is common sense: at this stage our user is not consciously looking for a solution to your problem, nor our product or servicebut it possesses a number of characteristics, to put it mildly... markettese, is part of a Buyer Person who might need us.

I mean, it falls under the so-called latent question: the preferable traffic sources for the acquisition of cold leads are in fact those that fall within the context of latent demand and therefore space to Facebook AdvertisingThe Display Network of Google Ads and why not the SEO, especially on information type queries, and other social advertising tools such as LinkedIn ADS.

Here's a diagram summarizing the classic method (not even a Prosecco 😉 ) of acquiring cold leads:

Cold leads: the classic strategy

Hot leads

On the other hand, a hot lead can be defined as a contact closer to conversion, to becoming a customer of your product or service.

If in the case of cold leads a typical example is the newsletter subscriber, a warm lead can be represented by the classic request for quote.

A hot lead can:

  • be acquired directlye.g. at transactional queries or in emergency markets or,
  • become such after a phase of lead nurturing.

Let's try to understand this better.

As we anticipated we find hot leads in correspondence with queries or transactional keywords, i.e. linked to a more or less explicit purchase intent and therefore often containing terms like "prices", "quote", or in emergency markets such as "emergency plumbing service".

This very last example makes you understand how a generalist approach to lead generation that, in correspondence of a query such as "emergency plumbing service" responds with an ebook on how to repair the toilet or a series of 3 videos could be dispersive...what do you think?

Think of someone who types "emergency plumbing service" into Google: the last thing they need and can think of is downloading informative content to be inserted into an endless email marketing workflow.

You're more likely to need contact plumber quickly and so in this case it will be important to use quick contact methods, such as the call-only announcements or message extensions of Google ADS.

Here we have a user with a specific, clear or even compelling need and consequently it will be important to create a Communication based on consistency between Search Intent, Ad and landing page, maybe keeping a headline coincident with the query thanks to the Dynamic Text Replacement which can also implement with some of the landing page such as Unbounce (here you will find an invitation to sign up with -20% for the first 3 months).

From the point of view of traffic sources the hot leads fall under the so-called demand aware and consequently the preferred traffic sources will be Google ADS Search Network, the SEO on transactional and navigational queries this time and retargeting/remarketing with Google ADS and Facebook Advertising.

One last note: if before the cold lead was inserted in an automated process to bring it away to conversion, here we have a user who has clear ideas and maybe in a hurry,

From this point of view, the advice is one: contact him as soon as possible.

Here's a diagram that summarizes the classic method of acquiring warm leads:

Warm leads: the classic strategy


As in web marketing in general, also in lead generation not everything goes well and before starting with a lead acquisition activity you have to ask yourself: do I want to acquire cold or hot leads?

In the first case:

  • you'll probably have an easier time acquiring leads;
  • you'll need content as a bargaining chip;
  • you'll need to set up an automated email marketing workflow.

On the other hand you are aware that you are going to Acquire the contact of a user who does not know you yet, is not actively looking for your product or service and is therefore further away from becoming your customer.

In the case of hot leads however you may find more competition, on the other hand you are acquiring contacts with much clearer ideas and much closer to becoming your paying customers.

What strategies do you use for cold and warm lead acquisition?

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