There are many ways to achieve valuable lead generation in the marketplace, but it’s important that you know how to use them effectively.
The power of advertising has been used for many years. This uses the simple strategy of bombarding you with the same content repeatedly to attract your attention, but the rise of the Internet has broadened the range of strategies that can be now be used.
Here are five easy ways to improve the quality of those leads that should be pouring into your sales funnel:
Pillar #1: Email Auto Responders
One of the most powerful of lead generation offers these days is an informational e-series that utilizes the power of an email auto responder. This is a system that allows you to pre-populate messages to be sent to an opted-in subscriber over a series of days, months or even years.
If you set up an auto responder, you can spoon feed little bits of useful information over a series of days instead of burdening your potential customer with a white paper or a PDF that’s 20 some-odd pages.
Your auto responder gradually feeds information over a number of days and thereby increases the chances of your content actually being seen and read. Your potential customers may not open every email in the series, but they are likely to open up the most interesting ones and you can track the opening rates.
This means that you can track the bits of information which were the most interesting to them and either eliminate some instalments of the e-series, reconfigure or re-title them to make sure that you keep the offering very interesting to customers.
The Unread Download
While PDFs and e-books can work really well to generate leads by getting people to download them and request information, there’s a surprising number of people who don’t ever open up what they downloaded.
They download it to their Downloads folder with every intention of opening it up and reading it, but then they simply forget about it. They’ve taken the action to download it and their brain checks it off their mental checklist, so they never double back to read it.
An email series is a different because you have a little bit of a nag factor and I mean that in the most positive way! It drips over a period of time. So even if they missed yesterday’s instalment, today’s instalment arrives and the title looks interesting so they check it out.
This works even better if it’s a problem they’re working on right now or something that they need addressed today, but the system gives you have a number of opportunities to really target and hit on a nerve that is a client pain point.
Ease of Entry
Furthermore, with an e-series you can cultivate an audience that may not be ready to give you many details about themselves. Although it is nice to have their first name, all you really need is their email address and for them to opt in.
People view subscribing to an e-series as a lot less threatening than filling out a long form to request information, where they may get contacted by a sales person as the next logical step.
Another fantastically powerful element of an auto responder is the familiarity that develops when somebody repeatedly pops up into your mailbox on a scheduled basis. If you see somebody once, they need to make quite an impression, but over a period of time the familiarity that develops through an e-series helps to foster trust. This is a critical component to getting people to become leads and to agree to be contacted by you.
Some outstanding systems can be found at strategicleadgeneration.com, including A-Webber, Get Response, and Constant Contact.
Pillar #2: Tracking Phone Numbers
You’re going to want to track phone numbers. Why? The Internet revolves around email and it is an outstanding platform which people are heavily focused on. However, in my findings, particularly for higher-priced sales, my customers notice a huge difference in prospects who call on the phone.
Customers using the phone are more interested and they want answers now. They don’t want to fill out a form and wait. So therefore, getting those customers to a telephone is critical. You want to be able to provide your lead generation efforts with a phone number.
However, this poses another problem for companies who struggle with tracking offline activities like phone calls. It can be difficult to track activities in their leads if they simply put in their company’s phone number.
Ask the Question
So they decide to ask every caller how they found out about them. It’s a good step, but unfortunately people forget to ask and even if they do, customers don’t accurately report this information.
Customers might say they found you on the Internet, Google or on your website, which is great. But what if the offer has been promoted on multiple websites? Pretty soon you start asking your prospect several probing questions before the conversation even begins and at this point the customer starts to get irritated.
Their time is precious and they’re calling to ask you questions. They really don’t want to be processed six ways from Sunday!
Prospecting for Gold
The answer is that it can all happen automatically by using tracking numbers. When I first started in this business, I thought tracking numbers were some huge deal that I had to go to the phone company for, sign a very long agreement and then lease these phone numbers. That’s no longer the case.
There are several companies on the Internet who will have you up and running within minutes, providing you with one or more phone numbers that track your advertising offers. One of them is called phone.com. It’s fantastic and we use this service ourselves. It’s very scalable.
They have a great back end that allows you to secure numbers, create voicemail boxes or simply reroute the calls. They’ll even transcribe messages left on different lines and send them to you as an email or a text. They’ll record the messages left or they will forward the phone calls to the appropriate line that you want tracked.
All of this at the end of the day provides fantastic reporting.
Pillar #3: Marketing R&D
When they asked Thomas Edison about the many failures he endured while trying to invent the light bulb, he replied: “I did not fail. I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”
That’s pretty well what Marketing R&D is all about. It’s not a term that many people use. But it’s the terminology that I use because I want people to understand that just like investing in research and development for science, marketing research is important too. We have to test the systems we use.
The results you get back are extremely valuable to your organization’s marketing efforts. All too often people view failed marketing campaigns as an excuse to say something doesn’t work. Well, we did some pay-per-click advertising, but we didn’t get a lot of sales from it, so it doesn’t work for us. We did some email advertising, but that didn’t work either.
I challenge that. I think it’s healthier to look at it as an investment in marketing R&D because you will almost always learn something from a campaign.
They’re Sending You a Message
There is almost always a bright spot in the campaign and if you’re looking for it — if you see the clues, or if you can see some patterns — you’ll learn something.
Perhaps it didn’t execute all the way through to the end, or maybe you were able to get visitors to your website, but didn’t get conversions. Or maybe you got conversions, but then for some reason communication channels proved difficult when the sales people tried to close or qualify.
So we need to look at this research and learn things throughout the campaign. It’s not failure, because we will be learning every time we test different campaigns, different approaches, key words, different offers, forms and a whole host of variables. The results of that learning, when put before the right minds, really should yield better campaigns moving forward.
Not as Easy as it Looks
I really urge people not to view any ‘failed’ campaign as an overall failure or a sign that that particular medium does not work, because it’s hard to do something great the first time.
Oftentimes we go to people’s websites and see offers being made on the Internet and things look very easy. But behind the scenes, they’ve put time and energy into the offer. They’ve considered how it’s worded, how the form is structured, the sequence of the offer and what key words it’s showing up under. It looks easy and we don’t get to see the significant R&D work that went into it.
It is very common, especially within companies who have marketing staff wanting to make a name for themselves, that there is a real aversion to testing or doing anything that may fail. Or when it fails, they like to blame something as being the fault of the medium or media selected, or website selected. I’ve seen this time and time again.
One of the reasons why you will so frequently see advertisers publicize in the same place as their competitors is because they’re reluctant to try something new. They feel it is a safe choice if a competitor has made the decision to advertise there as well.
They don’t want to be the ones to try and fail, so they hold back when there’s a new opportunity that they’ve never seen or their competitor may not be aware of. This means they could miss out on a huge opportunity to make an impact on that audience without having to have their competitor there too.
So remember, the word failure does not exist in marketing. There are tests and there are results. Even the lack of results should yield sufficient information about something that needs to be retooled, improved or slightly tested.
Pillar #4: Polling the Marketplace
The same tools that you use to market information can be used to generate leads. This is especially true of leads for a more complex sale because information is what customers want first. Information is what gives them the confidence and puts them in a position to want to buy.
First of all, survey your market place to find out the information they want and then create a page, whether it be on a website or at the end of an article. It needs to be somewhere people who are in your target audience are going to see it.
On this page you need to say something to the effect of, “We’re working on a comprehensive guide for XYZ and we want to make sure we haven’t left anything out. If you’ll take a moment to tell us what key piece of information is most important to you, we’ll send you a free copy of our guide when it’s available.”
Why is that important? Because if you’re going to create a promotional item, special report or an audio series or a webinar, you’ll then know exactly what people are most interested in.
What you’re offering will need to be compelling and align with your target audience and what’s on their mind. This will allow you to frame the conversation that you ultimately hope to have with them about your products or service.
A Simple Question
A good friend of mine and long-time client is an expert proposal writer, has helped companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and NASA land millions of dollars in contracts, and many of them were into the billions of dollars.
He offers training sessions and one of the things that he’ll ask at the beginning of his training sessions is what key questions do you want to have answered by this? He’s polling the marketplace, so he’s quickly aware of what his ‘customers’ need to know.
Pillar #5: Defining Your Leads
“Ask 10 People to Define a Lead and You Will Get 10 Different Answers”
Leads and data are two different things, just as leads and advertising are two different things.
Data or Leads?
My definition of a lead is somebody who has, through an action, indicated an elevated level of interest in the product or service that you are offering. So a lead is a more refined potential prospect.
Data, however, can be purchased in list form and simply provides you with a list of those people who meet certain criteria that you have specified. This could be termed a targeted audience. One of the biggest data companies to offer this in the United States is called Info USA, owned by Info Group.
A targeted audience may not have even heard about you, let alone flagged themselves as being interested in your offering. They’ve simply met your specified criteria and therefore could potentially be interested in your product or service. You may be able to close some of them or make them an offer that they respond to and finally become a lead.
I use two fundamental strategies to typically generate leads. The first strategy is to find out what people who are in certain buying modes are looking for. It may be they are actively looking for what you are offering, e.g. If you sell a product that helps people improve their business profitability, there’s going to be a variety of searches associated with that.
The second way is to get in people’s stream of consciousness or get in touch with people at the appropriate time is when they’re researching a problem. It’s very common that somebody starts researching because they have a problem.
Now if you have a solution to that problem, one of your key strategies should be to create content that better defines the problem. This gives them good, honest tips if they choose to address it themselves, but also highlights that you are an expert should they decide they want somebody local to help them.
The key is, they do want somebody to help them. So the type of content that you offer needs to be informational in nature. Anything from white papers to videos that you can create using your phone or a small camera or a flip cam, can be put on the Internet, YouTube and then embedded in your website. There’s a huge variety of things that you can offer up as information.
So there you have them — 5 ways to improve the quality of your leads. All of them are simple to implement, but the rewards are wonderful to behold as your sales funnel fills up.
Jason is a Web Marketing consultant and the CEO and founder of Digital Harvest, a Tampa-based marketing firm that helps companies increase their online exposure and generate more business.