As digital marketers, when we look across the landscape of the businesses we’ve helped become profitable via internet marketing, we can’t help but notice a trend. It seems as if those businesses who have most heavily relied on word-of-mouth advertising or family/friend recommendations in the past , are the slowest to adopt a solid online marketing strategy for lead generation.
More often than not, these are the businesses that need to adjust their sails the most when it comes marketing and lead generation.
Many brilliant business professionals are still clinging to the idea that the only way to generate a steady stream of clients or at least leads, is through referrals and networking.
If you’re one of those brilliant minds, we aren’t here to judge. You’re here now. So, that’s a good start!
Lead Generation for Changing Times
As the times change, so do consumer habits, and your lead generation strategies should reflect that.
The way the customers find businesses, especially local businesses, changes almost yearly. Consumers now expect so much more from companies that they purchase goods or services from, than they did even five years ago.
If you have a solid product line or service that just isn’t getting the traction you believe it deserves, take a look at your online marketing strategy. What are you doing to secure as many qualified leads as possible?
You can create the best product in the world, but without customers or prospects, you have no way to sell said product.
The objective is to gain the largest amount of high-quality leads as possible. To achieve this, you’ll need a well thought out strategy for online lead generation.
A successful lead generation system can skyrocket your business by providing your business with a steady flow of qualified leads who are likely to convert.
Let’s get to the brass tacks, now.
What is Online Lead Generation?
The term, “online lead generation” refers to the process of generating leads for your business from the internet.
And, what is a lead?
A lead is someone, a group of people, or an organization, who has shown interest in the product or service that your company offers. Nothing more, nothing less. Don’t get bogged down in the details.
What is the Online Lead Generation Process?
Many business owners and marketers, alike, think of lead generation as a “task”, something to check off at a sales meeting. This really isn’t the right way mindset when working out an online lead generation strategy.
Online lead generation is a process.
For some businesses with shorter buying cycles, it’s a fairly short process. And, for businesses who offer more expensive products or services, the buying cycle is a bit longer. But, in both instances, online lead generation isn’t a single task that can be checked off after one single action.
The Buyer’s Journey
Take a look at the marketing funnel, below. Anyone who has invested a single shred of energy into marketing has seen this. It’s almost cliché, it’s used so frequently.
Now, we’re not saying “Live by the funnel. Die by the funnel,” by any stretch, here. Just take a mental note of the process.
In order to come up with successful strategies for online lead generation, you’ll need to at least recognize that your potential customers will all go through a funnel similar to this one, before committing to a purchase.
Where does lead generation fall on this funnel, though? We’d say right in between “awareness” and “interest”.
In order to start getting more leads, you must first create content that captures the attention of your target audience.
They may not even know that they have a problem, until you shed light onto it. They certainly won’t realize that they want or even need your product or service, without your creative content, bringing this thought to their attention.
We’ve all heard the saying “if you build it, they will come,” and honestly, when it comes to online lead generation strategies, this doesn’t work.
If you build it-it being a high quality product or service-then, market your product creatively, to your target audience, bringing attention to the need that your product or service fulfills, then they will come.
Having a potential customer show interest in your business is only half the battle, though. It’s your job to guide them through the buying process with strategic online marketing.
If lead generation seems to be a struggle for you or your company, you aren’t alone. There are a host of marketing techniques you can use, to start getting some feet in the door, phones ringing, or sales on your website. This is a process that takes some patience and honestly, a bit of marketing experience. If you have the budget for it, consider investing in our digital marketing services, such as SEO services or PPC services.
High-Quality Lead Generation
Leads are great and all, but what do they have to do with your bottom line?
The difference between a good lead is the difference in wasting resources, trying to convert that lead into a customer, over and over, and actually having a good amount of paying clients.
In marketing, we call leads that are more likely to convert, “qualified leads”.
But, what qualifies a lead? It seems like such a grey area between ‘no good’ and ‘qualified’.
Target Audience for Online Lead Generation
To identify who qualifies as a lead, you must first create an ideal buyer persona.
An ideal buyer persona is a somewhat fictional person who embodies similar characteristics to your pre-existing customers: age, gender, likes, dislikes, region, everything. The more demographics you are able to capture for your persona, the better your conversion rate will be, down the line.
Put simply, the pickier you are about which leads your pursue, the higher your lead conversion rate will be.
Now, this is something you’ll have to take with a grain of salt, here. Use common sense. If you’re a restaurant that serves only soups and salads, your ideal persona is going to be vegans, women, and those who can afford to eat out. Most people don’t conduct a ton of research before they spend $10-$12 on a salad. So, you won’t need to hem and haw over your target audience as much as say, a personal injury lawyer.
For those who offer elite services or high price tag items, you may want to spend more time ailing down your target audience. It will definitely pay off to work with a reputable online marketing agency, as they will have access to advanced data and analytics, if you already have a website in place.
Online Lead Generation Strategies That Work
A good online lead generation campaign could contain a variety of different digital marketing tactics. These include, but are not limited to:
Online Lead Generation With Search Engine Optimization
Most of your potential customers want to solve their problems quickly and easily. With Google or other search engines at their fingertips, they typically have a way to accomplish this.
When your potential customer searches for anything related to your business, your website should be there to answer their question, highlighting your services, and providing a way to contact you.
This process should be absolutely seamless for the searcher.
Because the easier you make this process for them, the more likely they will be to convert into a paying customer.
And, when they do, congratulations! You just led someone through the buyer’s journey through online marketing.
Creating a successful SEO strategy for online lead generation may seem like a pretty straightforward task. And, if would be…except for those pesky competitors.
If you’re operating in a competitive market, you’re more than likely going to need to hire a qualified SEO agency-preferably an agency who specializes in marketing for your industry, specifically.
At Digital Logic, we’ve helped businesses across many industries, and this list continues to grow!
A few industries we’ve helped with SEO strategy include:
Lead Generation Through Blogging
Blogging holds a very unique role in online lead generation strategies.
Do blogs generate a ton of direct leads? They certainly can when executed correctly.
Blogging is one of the most effective ways to generate traffic to your website. By deploying a quality content marketing strategy, you could be able to draw a good amount of quality prospects to your website.
Blogging on a regular basis is also a good way to keep your website fresh. By posting relevant content on a continuous basis, you are able to build your visibility on Google keyword searches. Google recognizes those who make an effort to stay relevant and provide its users with valuable content. In exchange, it gives the website a higher ranking opportunity.
By doing this, you make your website more visible to more users, gaining more traffic, and thus, building more trust in your brand, while building credibility as a subject matter expert.
Creating quality content is also an excellent way to nurture leads.
Say, for example, you see a product or service that sparked your interest, but you have never heard of the business responsible for the product or service. So, naturally, you’re skeptical about pulling out your wallet. You turn to Google and find that the company has not just one, but several in-depth articles about the industry. The articles provide you with information that you previously weren’t aware of. You find yourself learning things and are genuinely interested in what this stranger company has to say.
Would you say that experience would make your more willing to spend money on their product/service? Of course, it would.
This is a good example of how lead nurturing through content marketing works!
You want your customers, as well as Google, to view your business as the industry expert. Companies that blog six to eight times a month, tend to double their volume. Creating quality content is one of the best ways to nurture your leads, while growing your business online.
Online Lead Generation With PPC Marketing
One of the fastest ways to get on your potential customers’ radars is through PPC, pay per click, advertising.
Using this form of online lead generation gives you, the business owner, more control over which keywords you want your business to be associated with. Because you’re only paying when someone clicks on your ad, all potential customers who land on your website are considered qualified leads.
With PPC advertising, the leads you generate are looking for a specific solution. And, if your ad copy genuinely reflects the nature of your product or service, this could turn into a conversion fairly quickly.
Everything with PPC is completely trackable and offers a better ROI when compared to traditional advertising. Which, to us, is a pretty good combination for online lead generation.
As with all of the simple things in life, PPC advertising does come with a caveat. Well, two, actually.
The first-you really need to understand what you’re doing when it comes to Google Ads, in order to get a decent return on your marketing investment. And, two, your landing pages need to be set up for conversions.
Landing Pages that Convert
You need to have your landing pages set up so that they’re able to convert website traffic into leads.
Having a good call to action linked to a dedicated landing page is something that is often overlooked by marketers and website developers, alike.
As marketers, we tend to use a bit of psychology when we insert links into our sites.
Here’s a few words or phrases for your landing page that we have found to be effective, and why:
- Get Started. This makes the visitor feel as if they can take immediate action after the click. It’s somewhat empowering, don’t you think?
- Don’t Miss Out. This takes us back to our kindergarten years. Even as adults, no one wants to feel excluded.
- Shop Now. This invites your audience to look, without asking for money.
- Sign Up Free. The word, “free”, always boosts conversions. Numbers never lie.
- Act Now. This may be the gentle push that some of your prospects need, as it creates a sense of urgency.
- Schedule a Visit. This is for your procrastinating audience. This sends the reader to a contact form.
- Join Us Today. Young or old, everyone wants to feel as though they are a part of something bigger. So, let your audience know they can be part of your “group” by using this option!
- Learn More. This is perfect for your more skeptical audience. It shows them that there is no commitment necessary. The feel better about clicking because, at this point, they are simply educating themselves.
Social Media Lead Generation Strategy
It should come as no shock that the majority of your audience is on some form of social media.
So, go ahead, bite the bullet and create a calendar. Get in the habit of regularly posting on social media. Take time and plan your posts.
These posts shouldn’t be all about you. Yes, they should contain your own content, but you should also share a decent amount of other’s content, as well. If a blogger or another website has a more helpful link, you will build trust by pointing your followers to the better link, instead of pretending you are the best. Let’s face it: no one is the best at everything.
You want to publish content that helps your audience, not that screams “buy my stuff!”
While social media marketing is absolutely something that can be handled in-house, oftentimes, business owners are too close to the product or service to be ale to market effectively. They sound like blatant advertisers, and that’s the type of marketing you really want to avoid on social media.
Social media interactions need to be organic, natural.
And, here’s where lead nurturing comes back to play. You will attract loyal followers by relationship building. As marketers, we are taught to put our best foot forward, only show the positive, minimize the negative, and spin the conversation whenever it may turn negative. However, because there is so much information readily accessible, there is no room for “spinning”. You need to be genuine, or hire a social media manager who can be!
The Dialogue in Social Media
Social media needs dialogue in order to thrive.
Your social media page is not the place to blast a thousand ads about how great you think your company is (yes, we’re looking at you MLM’s).
The goal is to interact with others, to help others, and build trust, over time.
This is why it is important to share other resources and answer questions honestly. You want to be seen as an industry expert, not like the front man of the late-night infomercials.
“People don’t care about your business. They care about the problems they have. Be the solution they are looking for.”
When it comes to social media dialogue, we often hear terms, such as “brand personality” and “business character”. This is because over the past few years, psychologists have deducted that people make snap judgments based off two categories: warmth and competence.
Your potential customer subconsciously ask themselves, “What are the intentions?” and “Are they capable of carrying out these intentions?”
This is why it’s so important that your social media content is organic. Online lead generation strategy doesn’t magically appear. Like we mentioned, it’s a process that takes work.
Social Media Tracking
As you’re chatting away with your audience, you will at some point want to know if your efforts are actually bringing in more customers. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results right away. You should pick which metrics you want, and stick with those to quantify results.
These things take time. If you need help tracking your progress, tracking tools can save you tons of time.
Some of these include:
- Twitter Analytics
- Facebook Analytics
Website Lead Generation
As digital marketers, we often tell our clients that the website should act as an online salesperson.
If your current website isn’t generating the online leads that it should be, consider hiring a marketing agency who offers conversion rate optimization services.
At Digital Logic, we design websites that are meant to convert leads into customers.
It’s pointless to spend time optimizing your online lead generation strategy if it all comes to a screeching hault when the consumer hits your website, right?
One of the best ways we’ve seen to convert those on the fence is through the use of a website chat bot.
Lead Generating Chat Bots
Ok, I know the idea of live chat services and chatbots can be a little bit intimidating. The little robots can be so cute and can truly warm our hearts, but also, freak us out a little. With a little knowledge, you’ll be able to leverage chatbots for what they truly are: an incredible time-saving tool!
What are chatbots?
Chatbots are programs built to automatically engage with messages sent by your prospects or customers. You can program your bot to respond in the same way every time or to respond differently to different messages. By adding keywords, they are “trained” to generate certain responses to certain questions.
Chatbots typically leverage mediums such as text, chat windows, and social media platforms to receive and respond to messages.
They come in all forms: from cute to downright creepy, but it can’t be denied that business bots are the way of the future!
According to Facebook alone, 2 billion messages are sent between business and clients monthly. 56% of people would rather message than call, and that number grows year over year. 53% of people are more likely to shop with businesses that they can message.
One more time for the people in the back, 53% of people are more likely to shop with businesses that they can message.
That number is stammering when you think about it. Over half of your prospects will choose your business if they can simply message you, over a business that they can call. If that isn’t a reason to employ a chatbot, we don’t know what is!
Some of the chatbot services we like are:
Online Lead Generation Techniques that WORK
Analyze Your Competition
Although spending your time focusing elsewhere may seem counteractive, this actually can be the best use of your time, if done correctly.
Take sports teams, for example. They spend hours huddled around a television, watching the past games of their competition. This allows them to see the strengths and weaknesses of each player and know exactly what needs to be improved in order to win. Instead of casting your efforts all over the place and wasting resources, pinpoint one target to beat and use your recourses in a more condensed but extremely targeted approach, using competitive analysis.
How do you perform the competitive analysis? First, you must know who your direct competition is. These will have the same industry, target audience, and size, as you do. These competitors are not huge department stores or big box locations. These are the companies sized similarly to your business. From there, you need to check out the competition’s marketing strategy: content marketing, SEO, and social media marketing. See which efforts seem to work the best for them.
If you can figure out what the competition is doing to generate leads and improve their business, you can figure out how to do the same for your business, and learn from other people’s mistakes. You don’t have to jump in head first, on this. Feel free to start simple: A good place to start would be, regularly checking your competitor’s social media for complaints. This is especially true if you start to recognize a trend they don’t seem to be addressing. This shows an area for you to be the hero, so to speak. Find your competition’s weak spot, and capitalize on it.
The means you take to analyze your competition will oftentimes depend on your sector: are you a lawyer, plastic surgeon, orthopedic surgeon, dentist, run a franchise? We have strategies lined out for you specifically.
Optimize Your Email For Conversions
Even though email marketing may seem like a daunting task, think of it this way: you’ve already done half the work. If someone gives you his or her email address, they’ve already shown interest in your product or your business. So, the email begins with initial outreach to potential clients. For this step, you will create a targeted list of potential prospects in your niche and reach out personally. Yes, I said personally. This is a critical step in gaining the trust of the oh-so-fragile lead. Nothing is a bigger turnoff than receiving a “one size fits all” type email. It’s also a good idea to verify email addresses in bulk before you start sending emails
One of the most obvious and also most forgotten points of email marketing is “email opt-in”. You’ve put in the work to get interested leads, and now it’s time to turn them into happy subscribers, that welcome your emails. Implementing an opt-in option ensures your followers receive anticipated updates from you, but it also helps you in the follow-up portion of your marketing efforts.
You want to continue to nurture your email leads, so even though it feels natural to coax your followers, you should never include the word “spam” in your emails. This encompasses all phrases and refers to phrases such as “we promise no spam”. Similar to the food, it shouldn’t be around, ever. Even if you think it will help, it won’t: just the mention of the word, “spam” reduces conversions by 18%.
Calls to Action that Convert
The truth is, if you don’t give people instructions on what to do next, usually, no action will be taken. An SEO-optimized blog from a good website should turn out high-quality leads. However, you don’t simply want an audience to read blogs and leave. You want them to opt-in to your email newsletter or podcast, or whatever free resource you’re offering. Make sure your content is good enough and your CTA is persuasive enough to make this happen!
Inbound links (link back to your site, from another site) are a good place to add a strong call to action. In order to make this successful, you want to make it as easy as possible for the reader to say yes. Including the word, “because”, in your link, is a good psychological trick to employ. The word, “because” is typically followed by the information. Your audience is reading your blog to answer a question they have, so naturally, your audience will want to see ‘reasons why’.
Giving your audience something for free is another way to convert traffic. People who download something free from you are more likely to purchase something in the future. This technique employs the use of the foot-in-the-door technique. Ask for a little first, “yes”, and then gradually build on this.
A good call to action is always short and to the point. Be clear. Be persuasive, but don’t be pushy.
Calls to action can be precise while still being creative. Feel free to use your imagination to tailor your call to action to suit your brand’s needs.
Create an Online Lead Generation Strategy for Your Business
This advice is two-fold. First, you will first need a marketing plan. Don’t just shoot in the dark. This is the biggest waste of time and resources I can think of! Take some time to set goals on how you will reach out and what methods you will utilize to reach clients. Second, being prepared is always advised. It helps to convert sales when your leads do call. A good marketer will always take the time to research, not only his or her product and company, but also, the prospects being reached out to.
The old saying still holds true, “Fail to plan. Plan to fail.”
Keep Moving Forward
The money’s coming in, so you don’t need to continue to “baby” your prospects, right? Wrong. This is one of the biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to their marketing efforts. Never forget the little guys who brought you to the top, and don’t take your foot off the gas when your business is up. Instead, use the momentum to keep pressing forward. As you gain more income, allocate more to your marketing efforts. This is how you grow your business exponentially!
If you don’t feel as though you are able to juggle and utilize email marketing, blogging, and social media, you may need to spend more time in the planning process in order to ensure these things are taken care of, or you may need to hire an expert. It is that important!
In order to make sure your investments are being allocated in the best way possible, you’ll want to create checkpoints, or small goals, to reach along the way. You’ll want to use analytics to see if you are reaching your KPIs (key performance indicators)
As you measure these successes, it is a good practice to use your success stories as leverage. After all, you’re in the business of gaining trust and confidence, why not use the success of “how many people are trusting you” as a way to gain more trust and more followers. It’s truly a snowball effect, in a good way!