Online lead generation is what we do at Emphasize. The marketing side of the web design business is my specialty, and I have been helping companies find new customers on the web for more than ten years now.
There is a misconception out there that all you need to do to create interest in your business is to put a bunch of money into pay-per-click advertising and stuff your website full of keywords and wham! Your business will be on the first page of search engine results immediately and the customers will be flowing in. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy. Online lead generation requires a combination of intuitive web design, excellent content development, appropriate meta data, and good, old-fashioned customer service.
Hubspot.com’s blog, “Beginner’s Guide to Generating Business Leads the Inbound Way,” by Lindsay Kolowich, speaks of the importance of properly introducing yourself and your business before suggesting a sale. We all hate cold calls, and they rarely work. Think about how many times you’ve hung up on random salespeople who unexpectedly managed to actually get a hold of a real person, only to attempt to offer something you don’t need, want, or understand. And given the prevalence of online and telephone scams these days, people are understandably wary of engaging with a virtual stranger and offering up personal details such as a name, address and yes, credit card information.
Start By Introducing Yourself
A lead is anyone who has shown interest in your business because of communication lines you have opened. This is key to successful online lead generation. Says Kolowich, “Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service. Some examples of lead generators are job applications, blog posts, coupons, live events, and online content.”
So, your website itself can be how you begin to let people know about you. You can sit and hope that they Google your business name and find you organically, but a far better method is to use your social media channels to share relevant pages, such as those leading to your online store or those indicating what sales and specials you have on.
Blog posts are even better for this. Blogs are engaging and interesting articles that add relevance and accountability to your website. If you look at your website, chances are you don’t have many pages. You probably don’t need that many, but this can be detrimental for SEO, as the more pages you have that are indexed, the better your results will be. Blogging for businesses helps build out websites to allow for more indexed pages, which boosts your overall SEO performance.
In addition, Google loves websites that are kept up to date, and blogging is a great way to show that you are engaged with your online content. The worst thing you can do for any website is to forget all about it. Even if you choose not to blog, regularly refreshing your website’s content is a must.
Blogging also results in sharable content. Businesses can post their blogs on the appropriate social media platform, which then brings new attention to who you are and what you do. Posting new blogs also helps keep your social media presence fresh, which is pivotal for building up a positive reputation.
The Next Steps
Now that you have introduced yourself to your lead in a positive way, the next step is to encourage them to take further steps. This is usually done through a call-to-action (or CTA). A CTA is an image, button or message that is enticing enough for someone to click on. Good CTAs can be difficult to create, but we know exactly how it should be done. Your CTA should stand out from the rest of the page, so bolder, larger text and link buttons work well. We use simple, positive language that gets your site visitor interested in finding out more, and we always put offers in clear and concise terms. Good CTAs are enthusiastic, honest, and never exaggerate or mislead.
After a hopefully soon-to-be customer clicks on a CTA, they are taken to a landing page, which contains an online form for your lead to fill in some simple contact information in order to receive your offer. You might be offering a discount, a package, or a whitepaper, or whatever your imagination can come up with, but the most important part of the transaction is to make sure you actually follow through and deliver what you said you will.
Once you have your potential customer or client’s contact information, you can continue to keep in touch with them via email, by phone, or through social media, if possible. A customer relationship management system can help you keep track of everyone and remember what sort of offers you have made. Again, as long as you are providing something of value each time you make contact, your customer-to-be will begin to understand your level of commitment and attention to detail.
Test … And Then Test Again
It’s never good to operate in a vacuum, and so that’s why we keep track of our online lead generation progress through analytics and A/B testing. Both methods allow us to see exactly what is working, and what isn’t, and then make the appropriate adjustments.
If you’re interested in how you can optimize your website for online lead generation, contact us for a sit-down meeting. We look forward to hearing all about you and what you do.