The world is online and online lead generation has become essential. Online leads generation is not only important, it’s effective.
Before we get into some online lead generation techniques that make it easy to take action with your online lead generation, let’s define a lead generation and take a look at what kind of leads are important.
Online Lead Generation (Full Guide)
What is Online Lead Generation?
Online lead generation is the act of building consumer interest in your products and services on the internet.
Lead generation also refers to the act of identifying and cultivating potential customers, or qualified leads, for your business.
Before making a purchase, customers go online to research products and services, compare competitor offerings and learn more about their interests. Learning how to capture that online traffic and convert it into actionable leads is essential to grow your business.
Online lead generation, specifically, acquires new leads through online or digital marketing means.
Online Lead Generation (Full Guide)
Who is a lead ?
A lead is someone (either an individual or an organisation) who has an interest in the product or service you are selling.
A person or a company showing interest in your product or service is a “lead.” The process of proactively attracting the leads, with the aim of converting them into paying customers, is called “lead generation.”
Lead generation isn’t only about finding these individuals. It’s also about cultivating a relationship with them and stimulating their interest in whatever you have.
Lead generation is an essential part of any marketing funnel. After all, if you never generated any leads, you would never have any business.
In this guide, we will discuss what lead generation is, why it’s important, and how you can start generating leads online for your business today.
Lead generation primarily consists of two types.
Inbound Lead Generation
Any prospect or lead who is attracted by your marketing and comes to you is an inbound lead. The exhibition of interest could be through:
Filling out the inquiry form after reading content on your websiteDownloading an e-bookRequesting a demo after watching a webinarFilling out a survey
Inbound lead generation strategy is called “inbound marketing.”
Outbound Lead Generation
Sending messages to the target audience, whether they have expressed interest or not, is called “outbound lead generation.” This can take the form of:
- Cold calling
- Direct advertising
- Social media advertising
- Cold emailing
- Mass emailing
Outbound lead generation strategy is also called “outbound marketing.”
Online Lead Generation (Full Guide)
Inbound vs. Outbound: Which Strategy Is Right for You?
Each of these two strategies has its own advantages and limitations. Outbound marketing gives you better control over how and when the prospects engage with your brand. With inbound strategies, you allow the prospects to choose how they wish to engage.
Outbound lead generation works best in the short term but inbound lead generation works over a long period of time. These campaigns have higher costs because advertising or cold calling is typically expensive. Inbound campaigns have lower costs and, since they work for a long time, the cost per lead reduces significantly as time progresses. It is also cheaper to start with and has lower risks.
It is up to you to choose the right strategy that fits your business needs. If you have the budget, you can start with outbound strategies for quicker impact and keep building on inbound assets in parallel. Once inbound lead generation gains momentum, you can start cutting on outbound strategies.
In this article, we will focus more on inbound lead generation strategies because they have a low barrier to entry and all businesses—whatever their size or maturity level—should give them a try.
Online Lead Generation (Full Guide)
Types of Leads
There are multiple types of leads, depending upon the source. Here are four of the most common:
Marketing qualified leads
These are leads that have interacted with your marketing team and shown interest. However, they are not yet ready for sales and need to be nurtured further.
Sales qualified leads
These are contacts who want to buy a product or service. The interest could have been expressed by sending an inquiry, filling out a form to ask more about your product or services or calling up your sales help desk. They are often the easiest leads to convert.
Product qualified leads
Customers who have already tried out your product and shown interest in upgrading to a paid version are called product qualified leads. They are typically people who signed up for your free or trial product version and now want to upgrade to a paid tier.
Service qualified leads
These are customers who are interested in your product or service. For instance, say you offer five products to your customers. During a service request, one of your customers tells your service representative that they are interested in two of your other products.
Online Lead Generation (Full Guide)
How Online Lead Generation Works: 4 Simple Steps
This is how the online lead generation process for gathering inbound leads typically works:
Prospects discover your business through one of your marketing channels (social media, blog, website, webinar, etc.)They read your posts or blogs and then follow through with your call to action (CTA)This CTA takes the visitor to a landing page on your websiteOn the landing page, you collect their information in exchange for an offer. This offer may be an e-book, case study, research, white paper, cheat sheet, newsletter subscription, etc.
Collecting contact information is the first step toward converting the lead into a paying customer because it takes multiple contact points before they are ready to purchase. You need to cultivate a relationship with them over a period of time. Engaging with the leads, supporting them and maintaining continuous communication to prime them for making a purchase is called “lead nurturing.”
You should store all leads in customer relationship management (CRM) software so that it is easy for you to nurture the lead. There are many CRM software options available. Explore some of the best ones and you can choose the one that’s best for you.
Five Ways Lead Generation Helps Small Businesses
Inbound lead generation helps small businesses in multiple ways. Here are just a few:
Build brand awareness and visibility
Online lead generation activities help you in building brand awareness and generating customer interest in your products and services. Once the prospects start trusting your brand, they will be more willing to share their contact information in exchange for an offer and eventually make a purchase.
Generate business opportunities
Besides providing you with a list of qualified prospects, lead generation activities can generate other business opportunities such as collaboration and building partnerships.
Improve the quality of leads
The quality of leads is often higher when you facilitate inbound lead generation activities rather than buying leads. Needless to say, higher-quality leads mean more value per customer and lead to business growth.
Reduce outbound lead generation efforts
As discussed earlier, outbound lead generation efforts are more expensive. As inbound lead generation efforts take hold, you can cut back on outbound marketing and reduce your cost per lead.
Targeting desired customers
If you have multiple demographic sets to target, you can create lead generation campaigns targeted specifically for each segment.
How To Generate Leads Online: 10 Time-Tested Techniques
1) SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Many potential clients want to learn how to solve the challenges they face. If a prospect is even remotely computer literate (and these days what executive doesn’t have a computer or a smartphone?) one of the first things they do is Google their question, problem or issue. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) gives you the tools to match qualified clients with your online content. And if you play your cards right, you’ll end up on their short list when they are looking to purchase services.
2) ONLINE NETWORKING
Online marketing is the component of marketing that uses the Internet and online based digital technologies such as desktop computers, mobile phones and other digital media and platforms to promote products and services.
The essence of social media is not which platform you choose. It’s the quality and reach of the networking you do. While the style of interaction may vary greatly from Twitter to LinkedIn to Facebook, it is still about making the right connections with the right people. Online networking can produce the reputation and referrals associated with traditional business networking. Expect to get results in proportion to the level of your investment of time and attention.
A webinar is the online equivalent of a seminar or other educational event. The lead generating webinar is typically offered free of charge. Because it requires registration, you can collect basic information on a session’s attendees.
Like its offline cousin, a webinar should be educational — not a thinly-veiled sales pitch. The key to a successful webinar is to select topics that are of great interest and value to your ideal target client. Over time, attendees come to trust your firm and will be likely to consider you when they have a relevant need.
Blogging refers to writing, photography, and other media that’s self-published online. blogging is probably the most effective driver of leads to your website.
Because a blog allows you to create a wide range of keyword-laden content that can be found in the search engines, it can draw a lot of qualified prospects to your website. You can further promote your blog posts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Without a blog, your SEO efforts will be handicapped.
5) INDUSTRY RESEARCH REPORTS
An industry analysis report is a document that evaluates a given industry and the companies involved in it. Often included as part of a business plan, an industry analysis report seeks to establish how your company can gain an advantage in an industry by understanding the industry’s history, trends, competitors, products, and customer bases.
A proven online lead generating strategy is to offer executive summaries or full research reports on the industries you serve. You benefit in two ways. First, these documents are an excellent lead generator.
Second, they boost your credibility and strengthen your online brand. Be sure your research topics are of exceptional interest to your target client group.
In addition, these research studies can be an excellent vehicle for partnering with a trade association or a noncompeting firm to reduce your marketing cost and increase your credibility.
6) ONLINE MARKETING VIDEOS
Video marketing is the act of using videos to promote and market your product or service, increase engagement on your digital and social channels, educate your consumers and customers, and reach your audience with a new medium.
Videos are everywhere today, and for good reason. It is an ideal marketing medium for professional services firms. Nothing builds credibility like a flagship client explaining how your firm solved their problem. It’s almost like automating the referral process. Video can be used to present your firm, explain complex services or introduce your team. In each of these roles, video can play an important lead generating and lead nurturing function.
7) WHITE PAPERS OR E-BOOKS
Many brands consider publishing eBooks and whitepapers to engage and educate their target audiences.
One of the most common online lead generating techniques, white papers can establish credibility and generate qualified leads. You can offer the white paper on your website (either available free or behind a registration screen), or you can distribute it through third-party services.
White papers also make great pay-per-click offers. A variation on the white paper is the e-book. Typically longer than a white paper, it serves a similar function. If your ebook goes into great depth on a subject, it can generate a great deal of buzz and establish your reputation.
8) PAY PER CLICK ADVERTISING
Pay-per-click (PPC) is a type of advertising model commonly seen in internet marketing in which advertisers only pay a fee when an ad is clicked on.
Another proven way to get on your prospects’ radar is to buy your way onto search engine results pages for relevant keywords. This technique gives you greater control over the keywords with which you want to be associated.
As the name implies you only pay when someone clicks on your link. Many times, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) leads are of higher quality because the potential client is often searching for a specific solution. In addition, PPC is completely trackable and typically less expensive than traditional print advertising. That’s an attractive combination.
An e-newsletter is an email that is sent to your subscribers regularly to keep them informed about the latest news and updates about your product or brand.
If your e-newsletter offers high-quality, educational content, you can generate a significant number of new leads when people sign up. And your e-newsletter is a great way to nurture the existing leads on your list. Many firms also use e-newsletters to announce new services and make specific offers. To build your subscriber list, offer a free e-newsletter subscription on your website or in your email signature block. Just remember, the better your content, the more people will read it and remember you — and the less likely it will be deemed spam.
10) LEAD GENERATING WEBSITE
A lead generation website helps site visitors while gathering information about them for your company. It’s more than just a digital brochure; it’s an experience that educates and nurtures prospects.
Most professional services websites are not designed to generate leads. As a matter of fact many are almost “anti-lead generators.” Jargon-filled, firm-centric websites abound in the professional services — and they are completely passive and unhelpful. If visitors do not understand what you do or what problems you can solve for them, they will go elsewhere. Contrast this with a lead generating website that is designed to make it easy for clients to understand your value proposition, download valuable information and request a proposal. The impact on online lead generation can be dramatic.
Online lead generation is necessary in building a business or brand because the way customers make buying decisions has changed. Use the above ten techniques we have discussed in this article to start generating leads online. Explore each of them and then decide on the one that best fits your brand or business needs. Success!