By Sue McCrossin
Wouldn’t it be great if every morning you turned on your computer and there were several targeted leads waiting for you in your email inbox? Why not position your website to be your 24/7 salesperson, gathering leads for you? No more cold calling – let your website do the dirty work for you, offering you warm leads on a daily basis.
The Internet is the cheapest method of gathering leads, and you should be taking full advantage of it. In addition, Internet leads can be tracked with precision, so you know exactly what you are spending for a lead. So how do you go about using the Internet and your website to generate targeted leads? Here is a short list of effective lead sources:
- Google Adwords
- Industry specific lead generation sites
- Social sites
- Your own website’s landing pages
Keep in mind that the Internet is a limitless resource for leads, and you are only hindered by your own creativity in finding the best lead sources for your business.
Google Adwords is instantly available to anyone who has a credit card and an Internet connection. Google displays ads on search pages as individuals search for relevant information. This is called search targeting. The searcher is looking for a widget, and the ad for widgets appears on the sponsored listing areas of Google. The ad campaign is charged when a visitor clicks through the ad and onto the subsequent Web page. The position of the ad is determined by the bid amount the advertiser is willing to pay, and daily or monthly maximums can be set so advertisers stay within their budgets.
Google Adwords is an excellent lead generation tool if you understand what your online audience is looking for when they search for your products or services. In addition, you need to optimize your ad campaigns by monitoring the results to improve click through rates (CRT). The best way to do this is to create a unique ad, and then test different versions to determine which combination of headline and description gets the highest CTR.
Next, you will want to increase conversions on these ad campaigns by creating specific landing pages for your ads. When someone clicks on your Web page, you have about six seconds to convince them that they have landed in the right spot. Make sure the landing page contains the searched phrase in the top left-hand corner, where the searcher’s eyes first view your page.
BuyerZone and sites like it connect millions of active buyers to a network of suppliers in more than 125 product and service categories. BuyerZone matches buyers with the most appropriate suppliers for their needs. Buyers receive competitive price quotes and can access expert purchasing advice. The service is fast and free. Suppliers receive the buyer’s quote request, which turns out to be extremely targeted leads with high close rates and impressive return on investment (ROI). The supplier network consists of over 2,000 top national and local vendors who represent more than 100 categories of business products and services.
Industry Specific Lead Generation Sites: Use Google search to find specific lead generation sites for your products and services. For instance, search “lead generation automotive,” and you will find sites like dealer.automotive.com. There are similar sites for the mortgage, education, insurance, manufacturing, and communication industries. There are even companies like salesgenie.com with databases of leads that you can purchase. The only caution in trying these services is to do your homework to make sure the leads will be targeted for your business.
Social Sites: You can improve your lead generation by placing ads on social networks. The more specific the network, the more targeted the ad. Many of these social networks have site search capabilities. When a site search brings visitors to a page with targeted ads, the CTRs dramatically increase, because not only can you tailor the ad to the content the person is reading, you can target the ad to the type of person searching. All types of ads can be used on social sites: banner ads, text ads, and video ads. What’s different with social targeting is the ability to reach visitors more precisely and not worry about offending someone with your ad – they will be shown to people with similar interests. It’s been proven that people actually welcome and click through ads about their interests.
Social marketing enables you to reach people who potentially would be interested in your content but might never discover your site. Look at some of the most popular social sites, such as facebook.com, technorati.com, and youtube.com, to review their targeted ad placement.
Your Own Website: Almost all your prospective customers will visit your website before contacting you. Does your website move them along the buying process, or does it turn them away? In many cases, you will need to change your site from an online brochure into a lead-generation funnel. Your website should contain items like success stories, case studies, white papers, FAQs, and other items that instill confidence to convert prospects into warm leads.
Web Analytics Tools: When you have leads coming to your site, you will need to be able to measure the quality of those leads. You’ll need some kind of Web analytic lead-tracking software, a tool to monitor site visitors, referring websites, and what these visitors are doing on your site. For instance, do you know what percentage of visitors fill out a contact form, download something, or at least visit your contact page? This will help you see the percentage of visitors who have started down the sales funnel, and you can begin to track them.
A free Web analytics tool is Google Analytics. Analytics software requires you to place “hidden” code on your website pages, and it is best to place this code at the top of each page so you don’t miss any visitors.
There are even more robust tools, although they are not free, which track Web analytics, such as WebTrends and ClickTracks Professional.
With more than 8 billion people searching the Internet daily, the potential to use it as a lead generation source for your business is limitless. Search the Web yourself, as though you were a potential prospect for your services or products, and see what you find. You may surprise yourself with the potential lead generation sources you find in just a few minutes.
Sue McCrossin is a writer for Answer Center America, Inc., which offers answer center outsourcing services.
[From Connection Magazine – May 2009]