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May 11, 2012 Know How

Generating Leads Online

Seems like everything is going online these days.

If you run a business or work in marketing or sales, no doubt you’ve noticed that more and more organizations are generating sales leads though the Internet.

The growth of online lead generation can be largely attributed to the expansion of web tools and technologies.

But what has driven most companies online is the cost. Online marketing generates leads at a lower cost-per-lead than traditional methods like direct mail. The reason is simple: Most online marketing activities require little or no cash to participate — although you must make an investment of time.

On the flip side, online leads are typically of low quality because you have no control over who visits your website. Most leads will need to be further qualified and nurtured before they’re sales ready.

How online lead generation works

Online means different things to different people. It could mean search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, paid search, paid advertising or social media. For best results, businesses should use all of them.

But these activities alone are not enough. They represent only the front end of a two-step lead-capture process designed to bring visitors and convert them into leads. Here are those two steps:

Step 1: Bring Traffic To Your Site.

One way or another, you need to get people to your website. Online marketing offers a variety of ways to do that.

• Organic (free) search. It’s what we all want: free listings on the search engines. But to get ranked high on Google, Bing or Yahoo, you need a commitment and a solid SEO strategy.

• Your own blog. Blogging is a key part of SEO in that it helps you expand your website with content the search engines like.

• Paid search. Here’s your chance to connect with people in search mode, but you have to pay for your placement.

• Paid advertising. As with traditional advertising, find some media properties — websites, blogs and email newsletters — that reach your target audience, then place advertising on their pages.

• Social media. Social media allows you to build an audience within your individual networks. But for lead generation, you also need to tease your audience with content and bring them back to your website.

Step 2: Convert Traffic Into Leads

Most people who visit your website will leave without taking any action. And you’ll never know who they were.

But with a lead-capture strategy, you can increase the number of people who fill out a form and become a lead.

Key to this strategy is the use of “gated” content — whitepapers, how-to reports, webinars, video tutorials — anything of value to your target audience that you make available only if they fill out the form.

To maximize your conversions, consider using a dedicated landing page instead of your regular website pages. Landing pages allow you to focus on your offer without the distractions of a normal web page.

Quick word of advice: Make sure Step 2 is in place before you begin Step 1. n

Bob McCarthy, lead-generation

and direct marketing specialist,

is president of Milford-based McCarthy & King Marketing


in Milford. Contact him

at 508-473-8643.

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