An Effective Guide To Lead Generation For Online Businesses
A critical element of running a successful online business relies on creating a lead generation strategy or process. It’s simple, no leads mean no business.
No matter how ground-breaking your product or service is, you won’t be able to thrive if you don’t have buyers. 61% of marketers say generating traffic and leads is their top challenge.
If you’ve been a bit confused about how to go about doing this, here’s a quick guide that explains small business lead generation.
Let’s start by defining a lead, and then we’ll move onto what is lead generation, and why your online business needs it.
What Is A Lead?
Simply put, a lead is a person who has shown an active interest in your business and its products or services. A lead is a prospect who can be converted into a customer.
What is Lead Generation?
The activities, functions, and efforts that are invested to get people to visit your website and take an interest in your core competency are known as lead generation.
According to HubSpot, lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated an interest in your company’s product or service.
Why Is Lead Generation Necessary?
The most crucial element for any business is its customers. While larger companies have designated teams and higher budgets for advertising spends; SMBs and start-ups rely a lot more on small business lead generation.
This helps them achieve their short-term and long-term goals of expanding their reach bit by bit and acquiring more customers to stay afloat.
To ensure the effectiveness of your lead generation strategy, you must facilitate your customers’ buying decisions by providing them with relevant information wherever possible.
This will build their trust in your brand. Once you have successfully grabbed their attention with helpful content, you will be in a better position to convert them from interested users into real customers.
How Does The Lead Generation Process Work?
Now that you’ve understood what a lead is and what a lead generation process is, let’s walk through the steps of the process of lead generation.
- A stranger visits your business website or blog or social media page and discovers your business through one of these marketing channels.
- The visitor then clicks on your call-to-action(CTA) — an image, button, or message that prompts your visitors to take an action of some sort.
- On clicking on your CTA, the visitor is redirected to a landing page. This page is specifically designed to capture the visitor’s information, also known as lead information.
- The visitor is given an offer in exchange for sharing his/her information. The offer should be something of value and something that the visitor finds difficult to pass up. The offer must be compelling enough and valuable enough for a visitor to share their personal information in exchange for it. The form on your landing page should include fields that are easy to fill.
A quick recap: Visitors land on your marketing channel, click on a CTA that takes them to a landing page where they fill out a form to get an offer. Post this, your visitors become leads.
How To Create A Lead Generation Funnel?
The infographic below will help you understand the process of generating leads better as it provides valuable insights along with an overview of tips and best practices to create a lead generation funnel.
What Are The Best Ways To Generate Leads?
While generating leads can be attributed to having a strong social media presence, a solid SEO and content marketing strategy, creative CTAs, and so on, it really isn’t as complicated as it is made out to be.
The following video by Tyson Zahner will help you understand the best ways to generate leads.
Here are 7 small business lead generation tips and tricks which you can follow to turn your potential customers into real ones:
1. Create a buyer persona
A buyer persona is a representation of who your ideal customer is, and what their preferences and lifestyle are.
It is essential for your marketing team to create buyer personas so as to understand what approach to take while planning lead generation strategies.
Once your buyer personas are ready, you will be in a better place to understand the needs and desires of your target audience and create messages that get them to engage with you.
2. Be a thought-leader in your industry
A great way to establish authority within your industry or on a particular subject is to consistently provide your audience with your expertise and insights on it.
You can create content in the form of blogs, webinars, podcasts, ebooks, and more – which aren’t directly intended to sell your product.
Instead, they are meant to serve as an educational resource that your customers can rely on.
You can use sign-up forms that give your audience access to educational material and also allow you to gather customer data.
Regular content creation can help in projecting your brand as a thought-leader, along with bolstering your authority on search engines by targeting the right SEO keywords in the information you provide.
3. Leverage your social media presence
When it comes to small business lead generation, social media is a low-cost and highly effective medium.
Ensure that you add links to your landing page on your well-performing posts to handhold a potential customer to the next step of the sales funnel.
Running contests on social media is another method of generating more leads and expanding your database.
Pro tip: Look for questions pertaining to your product, service, or industry on Quora, and provide answers that solve the problem and also drive traffic to a landing page or relevant blog links.
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4. Incentivize the buyer’s journey
A small incentive can go a long way in engaging a prospect, be it signing up for your email newsletter or subscribing to your YouTube channel.
Offers, discounts, and gifts rule the roost when it comes to small business lead generation as they give your audience something in return for taking an action that is beneficial for you.
For example, you can give the first 50 newsletter subscribers a special coupon code offering a 50% discount upon purchasing a product.
You can throw in a free trial for an online class or a complimentary ebook or tutorial video if they sign up for your mailing list.
Make sure you systematically store the data you receive from these leads so you can retarget them in the future.
5. Befriend email marketing
Email marketing is a tried and tested approach to scale up small business lead generation efforts.
Email newsletters are considered to be lead magnets that open up a plethora of opportunities to reach out to potential and existing customers as well as keep them updated and engaged.
Content marketers can share personalized emails when targeting a specific segment of the audience with an offer.
By using the right call to action (CTA), brands can redirect email recipients to their websites’ landing pages or product pages.
6. Use the right call-to-action
Call-to-action or CTA buttons guide a visitor towards the ultimate goal, i.e., conversion.
Examples of CTA buttons are: Read More, Download, Call Now, Add To Cart, Place Order.
Content creators must ensure that the CTA is interesting and engaging so that customers feel like clicking on it.
The purpose of these buttons is to elicit an action; therefore, they should be placed above the fold, i.e., in the first half of the landing page so that they are easily visible without the need to scroll.
Speaking of visibility, these buttons should stand-out on the page. You can use clickable images or bold button colors and fonts to grab the visitor’s attention.
7. Test and track
No matter how efficient your marketing strategy is, there is always more room for improvement.
A/B test your landing pages, email subject lines and body text, images, popup opt-in forms, CTA buttons, and other elements to ensure you’re doing what it takes to convert potential customers.
After you have run these tests, monitor the progress of your efforts by tracking your click-through rates and using the right metrics to attribute your qualified leads to marketing.
You could also ask your customers and website users to drop in quick feedback so that you have a starting point for making further improvements.
The Importance Of A Lead Management System
An effective lead management system can lead to long-lasting relationships with clients.
These long last relationships not only ensure the first-time conversion but also repeat business, which has a much higher ROI than that from new prospects – potentially 3 times more, in terms of revenue.
Every relationship manager (or a salesperson) needs to develop a set of strategies that work best with them to convert potentials into clients.
While the approach may be unique from person-to-person, there are a number of lead management yeses that every business needs to adhere to and nos that need to be avoided.
7 Lead Management Mistakes To Avoid
We’ve listed the lead management mistakes 101 that, if taken into cognizance, can help any business generate more client relationships, faster.
1. You Disregard The 3 Rs: Research, Relate & Repeat
One of the biggest lead management mistakes is not fully knowing the needs of your lead.
This is especially true when representing a B2B company because each potential client carries a great individual monetary value.
Before selling your product or service to a client, you need to understand what value it will add to their lives, what problem it will solve for them.
To know that you need to know who your client is. It can be as simple as knowing their age, their family dynamics, their hobbies, and more.
Similarly while converting leads in a B2B, it is vital to know the needs of the business you’re dealing with and their history with your competitors.
Having such information allows you to relate to your leads. It helps you understand how your product/ service can improve their lives or business processes.
That being said, relating to a potential client, be it an individual or a business, is never a static process.
Individuals and businesses change and evolve with time. That is why research is a never-ending process when it comes to managing leads, for both existing clientele and new leads.
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2. You’re Not On Top Of Your Email Game
The Internet of Things (IoT) has put unparalleled power in the hands of consumers by giving them more options than they ever had.
Every business has a local, national and international competitor now. Consumers of most products and services have access to all three.
That is why a relationship manager or salesperson needs to be prompt and clear with their communication.
If you’ve received an email requesting more product information, send that email out as soon as possible. If a client texts you about a query related to your service that you don’t have the answer to, find that answer out and update them at the earliest.
This not only applies to reactive business-related communication.
Being proactive and sending maintenance texts, emails and calls ensure that you and your business are in the minds of your consumers.
Effective communication is key to building long-lasting relationships and improving the customer experience. Not adhering to it is one of the gravest lead management mistakes – a cardinal sin, if you will.
3. You Don’t Read Enough
Keeping up with the industry and intra-company data is just as vital as researching individual customers.
Knowing how your industry and company are faring is crucial to managing your leads. This data includes:
- Industry-wide price points and how consumers respond to them.
- Sales surge or drop-off rates over a period of time for both your company and your competitors.
- The kind of marketing strategies, call to action (CTAs), and touchpoints established by competitor companies to convert leads.
- Product/ service-related research and development happening within the industry.
While the last one is less a lead management, more a company-wide, call, reading up about the first three helps you and your organization stay competitive and more in touch with the needs of potential clients.
Learning the data is half the work. The other half is using it to your advantage.
This can include establishing more attractive price points or working with your organization to add additional value to your products/ services.
One of the biggest lead management mistakes is not being data-driven. It is akin to doing business in a vacuum, which never works out.
Consumers will always choose proactive businesses that understand their needs, over adapters who are late to the party.
4. Your Call To Action Is Not Simple Enough
Developing a relationship with your lead is great. Convincing them to look at your product or service is even better.
However, the step that comes after that communication cannot be convoluted or difficult.
The average attention span of a human is 8 seconds, lesser than that of a goldfish.
While that applies to view content, by the same principle why would a lead go through a plethora of additional steps to get access to a company’s offering?
Employing a complicated CTA makes your company less competitive and your lead management system, archaic.
Be it helping your lead navigate the next steps, or helping change a company-wide CTA policy, getting your lead across that hurdle is vital to lead conversion.
5. You Don’t Work Enough On Marketing Personas
This point is like a macro version of the first point: researching individual leads.
Working with cookie-cutter marketing personas is a lead management mistake that needs to be avoided, in order for you to understand your potential customers better.
Marketing personas need to be developed with the help of thorough marketing research and sales experience.
This can include collecting data about your previous customers and compiling it, or conducting marketing research.
A bespoke set of marketing personas can help you understand your leads better.
A good way to see the difference is to compare the personas you’ve made to the templated ones a marketing student reads about in a business book. The difference is vast.
Marketing personas need to be made and maintained as your products/services and consumers change over time.
Effective personas can make the lead conversion faster, and help you navigate situations that repeat themselves with certain types of leads.
6. You’re Trying To Sell Instead Of Building A Relationship
The objective of a lead management system is to convert a potential client into a customer.
It is to generate revenue and, by virtue, profits.
However, with that being said, acting like a television door-to-door salesman is a lead management mistake.
Your aim should be for the lead to want to convert themselves into a client, rather than you convincing them to do it.
People often buy into personalities, just as much as they do the actual products.
A wise strategy is to develop bonds with your leads so that they return as repeat clients who, as mentioned above, can have an ROI as high as three times that of new clients.
7. You Haven’t Taken The Hint Yet
Persistence isn’t always a positive trait.
If your leads repeatedly need time to think about it’, they haven’t gotten back to your email over a course of a few weeks, or they haven’t filled out that form on your website, despite you asking a few times, you need to move on.
A promising lead is just that unless it is converted into a client or customer.
A fatal lead management mistake is hanging on to a particular lead, instead of focusing on acquiring new clientele.
Communicating regularly and developing a relationship with your lead is always a great idea.
However, allocate a conversion time period for yourself, based on your experiences and the marketing persona you are dealing with. Adhere to that.
For your online business to find success and beat the competition, you need an effective lead generation process in place.
The best way to find customers is to get them to come to you rather than the other way around. Invest in a lead generation strategy and watch your business grow!