To grow your business, you need to bring in leads. A few years ago, that meant cold-calling and polishing up your sales pitch. Nowadays though, the best way to grow your business is to generate leads online. Unfortunately, that’s not as easy as it sounds. To really succeed, you need to have lead generation strategies for each stage of your marketing funnel.
Of course, the funnel looks a bit different nowadays. In the early stages, marketing plays a much bigger role than it used to. Today, though, we won’t just be discussing top-of-the-funnel stuff. You need to focus on the bottom of the funnel too – nurturing and engaging with your qualified leads, keeping them interested.
While you want your prospective customers to find and engage with your content online, follow you on social media and sign up for your email list, you also want them to keep coming back. And you don’t want to attract just anyone. Indeed, that can actually do more harm than good. Having a funnel full of tire-kickers will just be a waste of both time and resources. When you generate leads online, you need to focus on finding qualified leads – those who have the ability to purchase from you, as well as the interest.
Why Do You Need to Get More Leads for your Business?
When you first start generating leads for your business, it’s all a numbers game – the more leads you get, the more information you can collect on their behaviour, the more you can improve your lead generation strategy. Of course, you need a reliable tool with which to track what prospective leads do when they land on your website. As you collect information about user behaviour, you can start to put together a marketing funnel, and begin targeting content and offers to your ideal customer.
As shown in the marketing funnel graphic above, marketing has taken over many of the tasks that used to belong to sales. While sales and marketing need to work together, it’s possible to convert a lead at the bottom of the funnel into a customer without ever getting the sales team involved.
The only way to do that, however, is to attract more leads and analyse their behavior. The more you know about the psychology of your users, the easier it will become to present them with the right offer at the right time.
10 Ways to Generate Leads Online
Learning how to generate leads online takes both time and research. Each business is different, and so what works for one won’t necessarily work for the other. While one of your entrepreneur pals may tell you that the only way to generate leads online is email marketing, there’s no guarantee that it will work for you the way it did for them.
So how do you figure out what works for your business?
You continually run tests and analyse the data. This is the only way to determine whether a lead-generation strategy will work for your audience. Before that, though, you need to know the best practices for generating leads across all industries and audiences.
1. Offer Some Kind of Value to Your Visitors
This is almost definitely going to be one of the more obvious ones on the list. You’ve almost definitely heard it before. But let’s focus on this point for a moment.
You need to provide some kind of value for your visitors, or they’ll have no reason to become a lead. Lean Labs posted a case study about their lead-generation strategy for one of their clients – Atlantech Online, Inc. With a multi-variable approach, they were able to increase qualified lead generation by 355 percent. That’s pretty damn impressive.
The way they did this was relatively simple. They offered a lead magnet via exit popup, and used dynamic CTAs.
By offering something that has value to your prospective clients, you initiate reciprocity. This is a simple psychological principle which relies on a person’s desire to return favours.
2. Create and Optimise Your Conversion Funnel
There’s a reason that every business’ conversion funnel will look different.
Imagine you’re training for a marathon and you’re looking to buy a new pair of shoes. You’ll probably Google ‘best running shoes for marathon’, maybe read a few reviews and articles about the best shoes for runners, do some comparison shopping and then buy the pair that looks like they’d be the best fit for your purposes. All of this would involve at least two or three touchpoints with your chosen brand.
Now imagine you’re looking for someone to install a swimming pool or install a new air-conditioning system. A much larger purchase is going to involve much more research – and many more touchpoints with your chosen company.
With online tools and Google Analytics, you can understand how customers touch base with your brand before they finally pull the trigger on a sale. Armed with that knowledge, you can better tailor your marketing to each touchpoint, based on the buyer’s particular position in the conversion funnel.
3. Offer Unique Content
Don’t just regurgitate the same old, boring topics. Take the time to produce thorough, illuminating, and thought-provoking content. Take a look at your customer support email account and see which questions pop up most often? Answer those on your blog.
And don’t be afraid of long-tail keywords which cater to only a small portion of your total audience. These are the articles that will convince prospects to convert into leads.
4. Define the Best Types of Lead Magnets for Your Audience
Just like it says on the tin, a lead magnet attracts leads to your business. It also convinces them to convert. They offer visitors significant value for a low, low price. The price isn’t even monetary, because if your prospects had to pay for your lead magnet, it would just be another product.
No, prospects have to pay with information about themselves – including their contact details.
Unfortunately, while there are many articles about lead magnets out there, you can’t use just any old lead magnet. Again, what works for one business may not work for another. For instance, while ebooks and whitepapers are popular and effective lead magnets, and the ones you’ll probably hear about most often, they may not be suitable for your business.
Analyse your target audience to figure out which type of lead magnet will work best for your business. Digital Marketer made use of a template to generate nearly 36,000 leads.
You can even poll your audience. Give them a choice between a few different types of downloads and offer the one which gets the most votes.
5. Optimize Your Most Important Pages
Each page of your website deserves attention, whether it features an opt-in form or a blog post. Optimising your whole website will probably take a while, though, so start with your landing pages and your homepage.
Make use of tools like heatmaps, confetti maps, scroll maps, and overlay maps to better understand the behavior of your users. Which elements draw their eyes? Which do they ignore?
Each page should have a clear desired action and a compelling CTA for the final button. Everything else on the page, from images to the headline to body copy, needs to lead visitors to the CTA. In other words, guide your visitors to conversion. To generate leads online, you need to anticipate what your visitors want, and give them a way to get it.
If you want visitors to sign up for your next online course, present a problem (their lack of knowledge), a solution (the learning tools you’re providing), and a reason to sign up ($20 off your first course). Make sure you’re setting up your visitors to say “yes” every time.
6. A/B Test Your Copy, CTA Buttons, and Design
A/B testing doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as testing one colour against another. You could test the colour of your headline text, the text of your CTA, the shape of your CTA button, or even which images you use on the page. But you shouldn’t stop there. With multiple A/B tests, you can fine-tune every aspect of your page, from the font size to the adjectives you use in your headline. You never know what will have an impact on your conversion rate.
7. Automate Your Digital Marketing
Did you know that nearly half of businesses use digital marketing automation? If you haven’t jumped on this particular bandwagon, you’re missing out on prime opportunities. You can automate tasks such as A/B testing and email marketing, data analysis, and user behavior testing. This can significantly reduce the man hours required to do those tasks manually.
You’re better off spending your time on things that can’t be automated.
8. Be Active On Social Media Channels
Many businesses get social media completely wrong. They set up an account on every social media channel available, even the ones that aren’t really relevant to them. Then, they post infrequently and only interact with their audiences once a week — if not less often.
If you want to generate leads online, you need to try a different approach. Choose only a few channels and set up accounts. Post meaty, interesting content, with links to your blog posts. Interact with your audience and ask insightful questions. Reply to people in your target audience or people in your industry.
Focus on engagement and interaction. You don’t need to post 100 times a day on Twitter, especially if nobody engages with those posts. You need to build up engagement, or you’ve wasted your time.
9. Create a Free Tool
Popular financial website, Bankrate, has created dozens of free calculators for its audience. These simple tools provide huge value to prospects and definitely help them to generate leads online. There’s nothing stopping you from creating a similar tool for your audience.
This could be a template, calculator, a deep analysis of an industry issue, or anything else your audience might find useful. If you’re in the fashion industry, for instance, you could create a sizing tool.
Free tools bring in tons of leads, because everyone wants a shortcut and everybody loves to get something for free. Everyone is always looking for things to make our days simpler and less stressful.
And, it goes without saying, don’t forget to add a CTA and an offer to your free tool.
10. Host a Webinar
Nowadays, webinars are one of the most popular online lead generation tools. Topaz Labs, who creates software for photographers, hosts many free webinars. At the end of each one, attendees get a free coupon code. This strategy has worked extremely well for them.
And just why do webinars work so well?
They operate on the reciprocity trick mentioned earlier. Once you’ve spent an unpaid hour or more teaching people how to do something, they’ll often feel obligated to reciprocate. Secondly, you’re giving your attendees an incentive. A discount or coupon code can convince people to make a purchase rather than wait and miss out on a good deal.
Lastly, they’re reusable. Once your webinar is finished, you can post it on your blog or even use it as a lead magnet. With a recorded webinar, you can continue generating traffic and interest from prospects who might become leads.