By Bob Speyer and Eric Pangburn Web Success Team
You can have the flashiest and most visually impressive website on the Internet, but if no one ever visits it, then your site isn’t really doing you that much good. By the same token, an e-commerce site that pulls in a fair amount of traffic but very little actual sales isn’t living up to its potential either. In both cases, the one factor that can tip the scales in your favor is effective lead generation. And not just any leads, mind you; what you want are leads that are targeted specifically to build your business.
While there was a time when leads were typically gathered by way of telemarketing and e-mail databases, these methods have largely been supplanted by more currently accepted methods using online avenues. E-mail marketing is particularly deemed outdated, since this opens you up to accusations of spamming. In most cases, the customers that you’re targeting may simply be annoyed by your marketing efforts. Worse, they may even get you in trouble with your e-mail provider. For this reason, more and more people are turning towards online means of lead generation as opposed to cold calling, telemarketing and e-mail.
Below are some effective ways by which you could generate leads and achieve web success in the face of today’s changing online world.
- Locate the Target: Find out where your customers are and how they can be reached. You can’t go after your target market if you don’t know where it is; it’s that simple. If you have written a book on gardening, the obvious places to look for leads are gardening websites and forums.
- Join Relevant Communities: Once you have figured out where your potential customers hang out online, join in on the community that they are a part of. Resist the temptation to blatantly market your products or services to them, and instead strive to become an active contributor to the online community. This will allow you to build a rapport with your potential market base that can be used as a foundation for a solid marketing campaign effort.
- Advertising and Link Exchange: Find out what other websites your customers visit regularly and check them out as well. They may prove to be fresh ground for your marketing and/or advertising campaign. Find out if the website in question accepts advertising and what their rates are. They may even accept article submissions in which case you will want to find out what the terms and conditions of use are. You may even be able to exchange links with the website owner. Don’t automatically disregard a site just because you deem it as a competitor. You may be surprised at the number of websites that are willing to work with the competition just as long as they can benefit from the arrangement as well.
- Build Your Email List with Value: While unsolicited e-mail can definitely hurt your marketing efforts, a mailing list is almost essential for keeping your existing customers in the loop. Make sure that you do have something extra to offer your customers that are on your mailing list, so that they will feel privileged and being a part of it.
- Paid Search: PPC or pay per click advertising has been around for a number of years now. While it has its fair share of detractors who feel that it is somewhat outdated and ineffective, it is still a pretty viable means of generating leads. Google’s AdWords is still used by many individuals and companies who want to achieve greater visibility on the Internet. The rates for such ads will vary depending on how crowded your particular field is and where on the page your ad will be placed, among other factors. The beauty of AdWords is that they offer you plenty of flexibility with regard to how much you spend on your ads. Furthermore, you only pay a fee when a visitor clicks on your ad.
- Blogging: Developing and maintaining an active blog is critical to your lead generation efforts. Posting relevant articles, tips and tidbits peppered with keywords will help drive qualified traffic to your website. One of the weaknesses of a site owner is never having enough time to blog post. We cannot stress this strongly enough. If you don’t have the time, hire a freelance writer.
- Article Marketing: Get published! A good way to generate new leads is by writing articles that your potential customers may be interested in and getting them published on relevant websites. Most of the websites that allow article submission will feature your author bio as well as a link to your website. There are article aggregators (paid and non-paid) that will circulate your articles on directories, newsletters, blogs, websites to save you time. You submit one article and they distribute it to hundreds of relevant sites.
- Social Media Networking: Finally, don’t neglect the popular social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and even YouTube. Such sites regularly pull in thousands of people every day, so you can imagine just how vast an exploration area that is for your marketing efforts. The field is wide open for you to reap the leads that your online business needs, and you would do well to explore them as a part of a holistic online marketing campaign.
As you can see, lead generation is a multi-faceted discipline that involves several different methods. The key to success is pinpointing which of these methods actually deliver results and focusing your efforts on them. Not all methods will work the same way for your site as it does for another, so you should carefully consider all your options.
The Web Success Team
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