Let’s state upfront your businesses’ primary goals are:
- To generate leads
- To convert those leads to sales
Let’s put a fine point on lead generation. In order to convert a lead into a sale, you first have to know where your prospective customers are. These days, they’re on the Internet. While direct mail and traditional advertising still have a place in your marketing strategy toolkit, online lead generation is the most immediate way to connect with and engage those prospects. Your online presence – from social media to your website to your printed pieces – must carry an integrated and consistent message. Let’s look at some of the ways B2B and B2C businesses are using the Internet to generate qualified leads, using both paid and organic resources:
- Social Media: According to a recent infographic from Wishpond, Facebook is still the leader in social media; 77% of B2C companies have gained at least one new customer via Facebook. Twitter, too, has its value in your social media campaign, with 34% of businesses generating leads and a 20% conversion rate. Finally, 77% of B2B companies confirm that they’ve attained at least one new customer from LinkedIn. The bottom line is that 84% of B2Bs use some form of social media to connect and engage with prospects.
- Website: according to the same infographic above, SEO is the most effective way companies have found to generate leads, so the importance of implementing a solid SEO program cannot be overstated. Content-rich websites offer multiple ways to provide meaningful content and capture information. You can include forms for visitors to fill out for newsletters, special offers, or white papers. You can display videos and present testimonials about your business. With Google Analytics installed, you can track key metrics such as the time a visitor spends on a page, links clicked, traffic sources, new vs. returning visitors, and various other stats. Studying these metrics allows you to tweak your page design, layout, and keywords accordingly.
- Blogs: why blog? Because a good blog drives traffic to your website and thus generates leads. It marks your website as active to the search engines and provides specialized and relevant content on a regular basis. It also establishes you as a “thought leader” or expert in your field, which adds to your legitimacy and credibility. If you offer a space for comments, it’s another useful way to connect with and engage readers. In addition, blogs can be posted to and shared via social media, which spreads the message instantaneously to a broader audience.
- Pay-per-click: PPC, or search engine marketing, can be a useful tool in you online lead generation strategy. Create landing pages for each campaign that reflect, both in design and language, the paid ads being placed online. These pages should also include a call-to-action and a form that can be completed easily and quickly. You’ll also want your landing page to contain a sign-up form for a download, free offer or coupon. Track your ads and set goals for each campaign so you can measure the conversion rates per ad. This will help you determine which ads are most effective. Campaigns can be monitored daily, weekly or monthly, providing valuable and immediate information regarding what’s working and what needs to be revamped or replaced.
There are a number of other online lead generation ideas out there, some of which are PURL (personalized URL) programs, article publishing, and teaching webinars. But the winning combination seems to be an integration of social media and SEO (both paid and organic). How often you post or blog is up to you, but consistency is the key. Visitors will return to your site and “like” your page if you’re giving them something like a useful idea, and expert opinion, or a giveaway of some sort. Those visitors will then spread the word to others in their network. Take advantage of this fact and leave them wanting more!