There are several online lead generation tools and techniques which can be used by businesses to originate their sales leads. However, there no one single tool or technique that will solve all issues or address all solutions. One or more solutions have to be employed depending on the nature of business, type of product or service offered, competition in the industry and marketing dollars that can be invested in lead generation efforts. The following inbound marketing techniques can be deployed for sales lead generation.
Understand the Prospective Customers
In order to craft a successful lead generation strategy and choose right tools and techniques, we need to understand your prospective customers. Where do they go to learn about the product in the first place? Research studies indicate that over 80% consumers turn to the Internet to do research on their requirements. In other words, most customers start with the internet, whether they are buying online or offline. Then, as a seller you need to go the internet first.
Start with Your Website
Many businesses, especially small businesses, underestimate the need for a good website with right content. It does not matter whether you are selling and taking online orders on the site or not.
When the prospects hit the internet and make a search for a product (sold by you), they are most likely to check out your website.
If you are a local, brick and mortar business, make sure that your business is added to Google Places. Google places show up in the search results along with maps!
Complement with a Blog
Again, whether you are a tiny business or a mega corporation, it does not matter. Also, you may blog once a week or once a month. A blog helps update the contents easily in a chronological fashion. A basic website generally includes static information without any date stamp. Whereas a blog includes updates stories, news, product specs and related information in a time stamped manner, so that prospective customers can put it in right perspective. And search engines such Google and Bing love the blogs and hate stale websites!
Social Media Tools
Social Media tools such as Facebook and Twitter have become part of online marketing channels. While these tools are still in the infancy stage, the adoption rate growth during the past couple of years is phenomenal. You should research how your business can fit into the social graph and plan out suitable strategies.
If you are a selling consumer oriented product or service, social media presence is a must. Large corporate brands leverage social media (including location based services and social games) to a great extent.
Search Engine Marketing
As mentioned above, search engines are the primary research sources for consumers. Following Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are available for generating leads via online marketing.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Pay Per Click Marketing (PPC)
Search Engine Optimization, popularly known as SEO, is the process of optimizing your web properties (including websites, blogs, and social media) for specific keywords or keyword phrases, so that your website links will get displayed when prospects search on the search engines. Search Engines index and list the websites based on certain algorithms in order to determine the relevancy of the contents on the websites.
Pay Per Click marketing, also known as PPC, as the name suggests, involves making payments to the search engines such as Google and Bing, based on key words and clicks. Note that the cost of a click will be higher if the competition is high for the given keyword. This is the easiest lead generation techniques to implement, but you will lose money fast if you don’t know what you are doing!
Other Web 2.0 Tools
As the Search Engine Optimization is one of the leading (free) techniques used to drive traffic to a website from the search engines, the following web 2.0 tools are used to increase the visibility of the websites. Search engines determine the relevancy of websites to be displayed in the search results based on the contents and authority of the website. Hence adding more relevant content is a must for successful SEO.
Text Contents: Articles and discussion forums are used generate quality contents relevant to the product or service being offered. Other web 2.0 sites such as Squidoo, HubPages, DocStoc, Scribd
Video Contents: Video hosting sites such as YouTube and Vimeo has become enormously popular within the past few years. Google shows video contents in the search results on the first page. Hence short video tutorials and how to lessons are created and posted to the video sites linking back to the product sites.
Lead Capture and Management
Once the traffic is generated and directed to the website, converting the web visitor into a prospect is a critical step in the online lead generation process. The traffic is generally driven to a web pages known as Landing Pages whether the prospect’s contact information can be captured for further engagement and follow up. Landing page design and optimization have to be planned to achieve maximum conversion.
The captured leads can be aggregated using a lead distribution and management system or a CRM (customer relationship management) system and added to the lead conversion funnel.