A lead is anyone that a company is able to contact, meaning they have their details and they have permission or at least legal right to contact that person. Anyone you can contact, you can potentially sell to, but the problem is that people don’t like giving away contact details. Changing this is what lead generation is all about.
And then there’s the process of nurturing and converting those leads.
A lead is someone that you are able to contact: it is that simple. The fact that you are able to contact them though, of course means that you are to sell to them. And that means that you can increase your profits.
So how do you generate leads? The answer of course is that you collect their details. That of course is where the difficult part is though, as many people aren’t willing to hand over their contact details to a website that they’ve just visited. But if they don’t do it now, then there’s a good chance they’ll never come back and get the chance again!
This then is the central idea behind lead generation marketing: to grow your list of contacts by convincing visitors to sign up. As we’ll see further on though, there is also more to it than this.
A lead is a potential customer who has shown an interest in your business and who has given you their contact details thus enabling you to reach them with further marketing messages. Leads are incredibly valuable to businesses, because they represent business that they are likely to get. While a lead isn’t quite as good as cash in the bank, it can at least be seen as one step closer to getting that cash. And in fact if it leads to repeat business, you may even get more from it…
But to turn someone who is snooping around your stall at a tradeshow, or chatting with you about your business into a lead, you need to be able to entice them into giving you their details. Here we will look at how you can do that and how to give your business many more avenues and potential customers in future.
When you ask for the details from a potential customer, they know that you’re then probably going to pester them with offers and marketing until they eventually use your business. This won’t tend to appeal to many people, seeing as we all get enough junk mail as it is – and seeing as they would be perfectly capable of contacting you should they want to do business.
Thus, you need to give them an incentive to give you their details that makes it the smarter choice compared with just waiting. One way to do this is to offer them a deal of some sort for signing up with you there and then. Tell them that they’ll not only be the first to hear about your discounts and new products, but that they’ll also get them for even less than anyone else.
Alternatively, you could even give them a free product or free trial for giving you their details right away on the spot. For instance, if they give you their e-mail address on your website, you could send them a free eBook (or chapter from an eBook) for their troubles. Likewise, you could even provide them with a trial or sample of your service – sell the fact that they get the first month free, then ask them for their e-mail address if they want to sign up.
Best of all though, is to conduct your business in such a way that your customers don’t mind hearing from you. Most of us have companies that we love – whether it’s Apple, Nintendo or Marvel – and in those cases we’re often perfectly happy to receive news of promotions and new releases. If you want to really grow your collection of leads then, make sure that your passion for your business comes across when you talk to people (and in your marketing). Make sure that you are doing things that are exciting and different, and make sure that you care about your customers and put them first. This way you’ll find that even when someone doesn’t have the money to give you right away, they’ll still be willing to hear from you in future.
But there is yet a step in-between building leads and gaining paying customers. That’s because a lead is only someone you can contact and they don’t yet have any reason to be interested in buying your products.
This is where the lead lifecycle comes in. Once you have someone’s contact details, you have a cold lead. It’s only once they’ve shown an interest in your brand, by visiting your site and by engaging with your email correspondence, that they will be elevated to the status of warm lead. A warm lead of course is far more likely to buy from you than a cold lead.
Better yet though is a qualified lead. This is someone that has handed over their details and demonstrated an interest in a specific product – perhaps even having placed a preorder for instance.
Promoting your business online is a fantastic way to get customers in an almost automated manner that can help you to keep overheads low. By using the net to attract visitors you can make more people aware of your products and services than might otherwise have been possible and then give them the ability to make purchases and browser through your offers without requiring any member of staff to help them.
But just getting people to view your products isn't going to boost your sales the way you might hope - you also need to convert that traffic into custom so that the people who find your sites don’t just read them but actually commit to buy or order something. Here we will look at some of the ways you can improve your conversion rates and turn visitors into paying customers. The aim is to turn your website into an input-output machine, so that visitors come in and qualified leads/customers leave.
A business colleague of mine once asked me what the first thing I wanted visitors to click on was when they visited my site. To my dismay I found that I was actually unable to answer the question with anything concrete or more useful than 'errm, just browse around really...' which I realised there and then wasn't good enough.
When someone visits your site, you have a very small window of opportunity to get them to see what you want them to see, to sign up for more information or to make a purchase. As such then every aspect of your site should be designed to push the visitor to sign up to your mailing list or click buy and that means you should avoid any elements that distract from this. Forget putting Google AdSense on your page - that just sends your visitors away so that someone else can profit from them. Forget using large reams of text, that will just make your visitors bored quickly meaning they end up looking elsewhere. Everything should be designed to get them to where you want them to be - like a funnel.
Pointing that funnel at a mailing list sign-up page is a good strategy if you think you're unlikely to get many people to part with their cash right away. This is an invaluable tool as it means you can then amass leads and promote your products and future endeavours to them right in their inboxes where they will be a captive audience. Better yet, a mailing list will mean that you have permission to message that person which will mean that they'll be highly 'receptive' to your marketing message. E-mail someone without that permission and they'd be much more likely to hit delete. Once you have these e-mails there is a plethora of email marketing services out there to help you make the most of them.
Another great tool you can use to turn visitors into customers is Google's 'remarketing' which means that your AdWords will be targeted specifically to traffic that has already visited your site using cookies. This way you can market directly to people who have already shown an interest in your business (rather than wasting money on those with no interest whatsoever) and you can remind people about you who had maybe gone away to 'think' about making a purchase.
At the end of the day, much of the process remains the same as it would for content marketing etc., but the emphasis and details are changed significantly.