One of the biggest myths among small business owners is that having an attractive company web design is going to generate leads. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While having an up-to-date website is certainly a business necessity in today's market, just having a functioning website does not qualify as a lead generation technique.
Lead generation is an active ongoing process that seeks to attract and convert targeted web visitors into qualified prospects. Lead generation as a process requires multiple tools, marketing services and an investment of time and money. The ultimate goal is to increase sales.
Building a company website is just the beginning of online lead generation. What happens after your website is launched matters most. In this article we will look at several online lead generation techniques that should be considered as part of your lead generation strategy.
What are the top lead generation techniques?
There are numerous lead generation techniques that can be used to generate the right leads to meet your business goals. However, these top lead generation techniques are used by the majority of people who know how to use them effectively.
- SEO Optimization
- Lead Generating Website
- Creating eBooks
- Creating Lead Generation Videos
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
- Utilizing CTAs
- Guess Blog Posting
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Organic search is a process of entering one or more search terms into a search engine. Organic search results are the listings on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) that appear because of their relevance to the search terms that were input into the search engine. These do not include the advertisements appear at the top and bottom of the results page.
Why is organic search important? Because, Google gets over 100 billion searches a month worldwide. (Source: Mashable)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial for your website so that it is ranked higher on the SERP for keywords that are related to you business. When done correctly, this will allow your potential customers to discover your business when searching for the products or solutions you provide.
One of the exciting benefits of SEO, when it is executed properly as a lead generation technique, is that it can bring more targeted and qualified leads to your company website.
71% of B2B researchers (buyers) start their research with a generic search. (Source: Google)
This is good news for small businesses. SEO keyword research allows businesses to target keywords and phrases that potential customers are using to search for solutions to their problems.
The challenge is applying those keywords to your website and internet marketing strategy so that they actually bring you customers. Here are some SEO strategies to consider:
- Pick a primary keyword for each landing page and focus on optimizing that page for that word. Note: If you over saturate a page with too many keywords (or the same keyword several times), the page will lose its importance and authority. This is because search engines will conclude that you are keyword stuffing, or they won’t have a clear idea of what the page is about.
- Place your primary keywords in your headline and sub-headline. These areas of content have greater weight to search engines. The headline should also be an H1 tag, for those of you who have some code experience.
- Include the keywords in the body content, but don’t use them out of context. Make sure that they are relevant with the rest of your content.
- Include keywords in the file name of images. For example, use "lead-generation-ideas", if your keyword is lead generation. You can also use this in the ALT tag.
- Include the keywords in the page URL.
2. Lead Generation Website
Most company websites are designed to be informative and not to generate leads. Does your website tell them how good you are ? And, is it designed to showcase your company like a bright shiny brochure? If so, then you are too focused on yourself and not on your customers. You are too “me centric” or “company-centric.”
When visitors go to a website, they are looking for something. They want to know if you have what they are looking for or if you can help them solve their problem.
When they get to your website, if they do not see what they are looking for, understand what you do or determine whether you can solve their problem, they will go elsewhere.
Contrast this with a lead generation website that is designed to make it easy for clients to understand what your value proposition is, download valuable information or request a proposal. This type of website incorporates tools like content offers, landing pages, calls to action, lead flows and forms. With these tools in place, you will create a website that is set up to generate targeted leads out of visitors who are interested in what you have to offer.
You can learn more in our eBook, The Top 5 Things Your Website Needs To Make Money.
3. Business Blogging
Business blogging, when done consistently is a key source of traffic generation for your website. With each new entry on your blog, you provide an opportunity for your prospects to find you, find a solution to a problem and subsequently learn about the solutions that your company provides.
Here is why it works: Every time you create and publish a new blog post, a new URL is created and added to your website. Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo periodically crawl your website looking for new information and updates. When new pages are found, these search engines organize this new information by indexing it in their database.
Once your new page is added to a search engine index, it has the opportunity to be found when a person enters a search query. With each successive blog entry, you have a new way to be found online. What’s even better, blogging allows you to attract “good traffic.” By writing about topics that your ideal customers are searching for, you have a greater chance of attracting the type of qualified visitors that will be candidates for your product offerings. Do you think blogging is too much work for the return?
Consider these recent stats:
- B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not. (Source: HubSpot)
- By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships without talking to a human. (Source: The Kapost Blog)
- Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website. (Source: Business2Community)
As these statistics illustrate, blogging is no longer just an option for online lead generation. It is quickly becoming a necessity.
More people begin their buying journey by researching online before ever reaching out to a solution provider. By utilizing your blog, you can help influence customer behavior and favorably increase the odds of influencing visitors to your website with well-researched articles.
4. Creating eBooks
Through the use of content marketing, leads can be obtained a lot easier if your business is seen as a trusted resource of knowledge in its area of specialization. eBooks are a way for you to demonstrate expertise and thought leadership. They make it easy for the potential customer to learn more about your company, your products or services, and also about the area of business you operate in
Pick subjects that are relevant to the information your target customers are looking for. In other words, provide information regarding their common challenges or needs. This is one of the most common techniques for lead generation because it establishes credibility and attracts qualified leads. You can offer them an eBook on your website for free if they fill out a form. Once they fill in the form, you now have information with which to continue nurturing them.
An important point to remember here is that you don't want to ask for so much information that it becomes too much trouble for them to get the eBook. If they feel like you are asking too much, they won't download it. This is particularly true when it comes to their phone number. Most people are willing to give an email address, but won't give a phone number and risk getting calls.
So, make it easy for them to get information from you.
5. Creating Lead Generation Videos
Video is everywhere today, and for good reason. It is an ideal marketing medium for businesses to attract visitors and prospects. You can use videos to explain how to use a product, solve a problem, explain a concept or tell a story of how you helped a customer solve a problem.
And, if you can be funny or entertaining in the process, that is even better.
Check out these statistics:
- 82% of Twitter users watch video content on Twitter.
- More than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day.
- More video content is uploaded in 30 days than the major U.S. television networks have created in 30 years.
- 87% of online marketers use video content.
Video can play an important role in attracting traffic to your website, generating leads and nurturing leads
6. Email Marketing
Email marketing is dead. Have you heard this before? Not so! The statistics don't bear it out.
Email marketing offers an overwhelming return on investment. Just look at this statistic:
According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing yields an estimated 4,300 percent ROI. That means for every $1 invested, it returns $44. (Source: Entrepreneur)
Many businesses have the misperception that email marketing is only used to communicate with existing customers. However, email can be a great way to develop and nurture new leads.
Here are a few best practices to drive new business:
- Create Great Subject Lines – Your open rate is directly influenced by your subject lines. For many, they don't put much effort into this part of the process. If you want your emails opened, you must have a great subject line.
- Develop Great Opt-in Offers – Create offers that provide value (such as a free download, free trial, product discounts or some form of educational content that solves the problems of your ideal prospects).
- Ask Prospects to Take Action – Make it easy for prospects to follow up. Limit your email to one clear action you want your prospect to take, whether it’s clicking through to a link, hitting the “reply” button, or confirming a time for a phone call. Make it very clear what you are hoping for them to do.
- Make Things Easily Shareable – Make sure that you have social media buttons so that people can easily share your content
Speaking of social media...
7. Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google Places and LinkedIn are on most business owner’s radar screen. However, most small businesses are doing a poor job of capitalizing on the massive numbers of people that flock to these sites on a daily basis.
Here is a sobering statistic:
41% of US small businesses surveyed in Spring 2015 said they didn’t use social media for business. This was up slightly from 38% in Fall 2014 and even with the 41% in Spring 2014. (Source: eMarketer)
For those that are participating in one way or another, many are missing the mark. Incomplete profiles, inconsistent posting and tone-deaf voices are among the many mistakes that small business owners are making with their social media.
While social media marketing can be a time-consuming lead generation technique, it can also help you connect on a deeper level with potential customers. Think of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google Places and LinkedIn as different virtual phone books that can actively be searched for your services using keywords. So, it allows you to engage with people who are great prospects for your products or services.
Social media is growing fast and requires more sophistication and attention to be a successful lead generation tactic. Here are a few best practices to consider:
- Begin with SMART social media goals
- Focus on building a strong network of engaged followers
- Develop relationships with social influencers to help get your content viewed
- Measure your social media objectives with analytical tools
- Social is no longer free. You must pay to play.
8. Utilizing CTAs
Using Calls to Action (CTAs) to drive conversions is paramount. Think of it this way...Let's say your car or phone navigation system said to you after you put in your desired route, "In 1-mile turn," and then said nothing else. How would you know where to go?
That's pretty much what it is like having no CTAs on your website. CTAs are designed to take your website visitors to a specific place on your site and complete an action. Your CTA's should be managed in 3 distinct stages:
- Top of the funnel CTAs
- Middle of the funnel CTAs
- Bottom of the funnel CTAs
The "sales funnel" is the theoretical model for the process a buyer will go through before making a purchase. It is also known as the "buyers journey". Understanding each of these sections will help you determine which CTAs to place on your website.
Top of the Funnel CTAs - Awareness Stage
The top of the funnel CTAs are designed to keep your web visitor on your website and provide easy access to further knowledge about what they are searching for. CTAs like Learn More, Read More, Quick View, and Download can be utilized to direct visitors to educate themselves further. This is especially important if your product or service requires more education before a purchase is typically made.
Middle of the Funnel CTA's - Consideration Stage
Middle of the funnel CTAs are used to move your visitor from a "just-looking" phase toward a "this is interesting and I want to learn more" phase. At this stage, they move into a new buying position where they will start to consider your product or service as a possible purchase. This is where you can now provide additional information that helps them move from "considering or evaluating" into a "possible purchase" with you. These CTAs might include Get Your Free eBook, Watch the Demo Video, or Free Webinar Sign Up.
Bottom of the Funnel CTAs - Decision
This stage is where you try to close the sale. You will typically use CTAs like Request A Free Quote, Free Trial, Free Estimate" or Add To Cart & Save 25%, Free Product Demo. It's important to remember that if you don't ask for the sale, you may not get it!
Placement of CTAs
It's important to place your CTAs in places that are appropriate. The core concept for the creation and placement of CTAs is Value and Relevance. If you have a blog article designed to provide awareness of your product or service, you would not use a bottom-of-the-funnel CTA like Get A Free Trial in the article. A middle-of-the-funnel CTA would be a better option here since the buyer is just likely becoming aware of your product or service.
Think through the process of how someone will purchase your product or service and place the CTAs that provide the most value and relevance to that specific page.
9. Guest Post Blogging
You can tap into new audiences by accepting guest posts on your own website. There are a couple of approaches you can take when doing this:
- Reach out to influencers or bloggers in your chosen market and ask them to write about your product or service. You'll likely need to offer them some form of compensation to do this, but you can gain access to their following and also get a nice backlink. A few leads from this process may be worth the investment.
- You could give these influencers or bloggers free access to your product in exchange for an honest article and review of your product or service. Again, you'll get some great exposure and a nice backlink.
- You could also accept guest blog posts for your own website. There are lots of writers looking to get exposure for themselves but you will have to be a bit more careful here. Here is a guest post blogging checklist you can use to help plan out your guidelines:
- General Themes: Be specific about the types of posts you will accept. All articles must have concrete examples of source material to back up conclusions and results. "How To" and "Top 10 Lists" are also popular. Try to provide actionable steps in your posts.
- Search Engine Optimization: Do you want the author to provide SEO-friendly content, or will you provide it?
- Limitations: Watch out for writers that provide blatantly promotional material. Links to their website or blog should be included in the bio at the end of the post. Links pointing to relevant content on a blog from the body of the post are acceptable, but shouldn’t be promotional in nature.
- Disclaimer: Make sure you have a clear disclaimer about who owns the content, how it will be used, and if you only want original content.
- Content Guide: Get specific about the details. For example...Article length: 600+ words, Post titles: Initial caps, no more than 70 characters in length, Subheads: Use of subheads (H2, H3, etc.), bulleted lists and unordered lists are encouraged for a positive user experience and readability.
- Links: How many links will you accept in the article and should the links be from only authoritative sources?
- Images & Graphics: Make sure only stock images are used or images that you have created. DO NOT rely on author images taken from Google. This could cost you a lot of money because of copyright infringement. Specify the format you will accept and size.
- Head Shot & Bio: Get a bio from the author and specify what should be included. The number of words in the bio, links in the bio, headshot image dimensions, etc.
- Submission Guidelines: How will they submit the article to you. (HTML, Google Doc, Word Doc, etc.)
Both guest post options will require some investment of time and money on your part to accomplish your goals.
Help Is Near
The techniques above are some of the most important tactics available to business owners today. The inbound marketing process uses all these tactics.
But you may be wondering, Is inbound marketing right for my business?
In a perfect world, you would use all of these lead generation techniques as a part of your internet marketing strategy. For many business owners, the thought of delving into this online territory will be as appealing as having a root canal performed. However, there is help. A great online marketing firm can be a life saver.
You can learn more in our article, Why Should I Hire a Marketing Agency For My Small Business?
These techniques can be accomplished by motivated individual business owners or a small staff, but will most certainly require both time and money to be effective. With that in mind, we created a free business resource to help you create more effective leads for your sales team. Download a copy of “The 30 Greatest Tips, Tricks and Ideas” today to learn more about these strategies and many more available to you. Either way, as the statistics in this article show, you need a strong digital strategy to remain competitive now and in the future.
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!