Online marketing is a whole arena encompassing many effective forms of promotion. At every turn you come face to face with a new development, strategy, or platform. Keeping up with this world of digital marketing may sound daunting at first, but having spot-on information about the different ways of generating leads online certainly makes it easier.
Just like the inner workings of businesses differ according to their industry, so too do their online marketing efforts. Knowing how to navigate the different techniques and what to focus on is the root of the strategy. What works for a retail company does not necessarily work for a marketing firm. To help you identify what is out there and what works for your business, I’ve compiled a list of effective methods of generating leads online. Diving into the “what,” “how,” and “why” will give you a better understanding of the different techniques available to attract valuable customers.
Pay-Per-Click is a form of paid advertising where you pay for either search or display ads visible on other web properties. It is a great way to get instant traffic, although at a higher cost when compared to organic traffic, which is free but harder to garner. PPC works great for companies in various industries. You can run different campaigns depending on where and how you would like customers to see your ads. You can start exploring more about PPC adverting here.
2. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
The Internet is at the top of the pyramid of most relied on resources for information. People turn to the Internet to search for products, services, and any other kind of information. Your online presence determines how you are found, and it all begins with your website. SEO comprises a large pool of website optimization practices ranging from on-page keywords to the links to and from your site to improve your page ranking.
The search algorithm today is very different from what it used to be – it has become more and more sophisticated. Nowadays the adage is that there is no need to bluntly over-optimize your content, but rather simply write about who you are and what you do, otherwise your site could get penalized. Use descriptive keywords for your products or services; it is like mapping out the purpose of your site to the search engines. Key page elements such as title, description, and body content covers 90% of on-page SEO. Of course there is a lot more to it, but that should get the ball rolling. For more information about SEO best practices, click here.
3. Content Distribution
Through thoughtful content that covers interesting topics which your readers would most likely want to read, you can generate visits to your website. Writing the content is one thing, but having the content distributed and seen by your target audience is another. Below I touch up on a variety of distribution channels. Knowing which are more effective at reaching your audience will provide you with the basis for successful content delivery and circulation.
A good tactic to circulate your content is to build relations with influencers in your industry who have a large social following. Start communication by sharing your content with them and asking for their feedback. They may be interested in sharing your content. Most likely their followers will be excited to see what they have to say. Here is a good article that consolidates multiple tools to find and manage this: http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/02/9-influencer-discovery-tools/
Another form of content distribution is guest blogging. Through guest blogging, you publish content on other industry thought leaders’ blogs. The blogs you choose to publish your content in should be relevant to your target audience to increase the chances of driving sales. The goal here is to get visibility and build new relationships. Simply outreach bloggers in your industry and ask to write on their blog. They will enjoy quality content and you will see increase in exposure.
Do you belong to any group in Facebook or LinkedIn? Groups offer a great way to network with group members, stay current in your niche, and of course, share your content. Share that great piece of content you wrote about your industry, but only if it is relevant to them. The number one rule is to share only what your target audience would be interested in.
Do you have something you are passionate about and certain your customers/followers would love to hear? Whatever your passion is, it is highly likely others share your interests too and will want to hear what you have to say. Podcasting allows you to share your content, promote your brand, and gain prospects. To start, not only do you have to brainstorm the best possible topic, but also the best site to host it for others to find. When delving into the realm of podcasting, advertising across other channels about your podcast is essential to start getting subscribers. Look at some of the marketing methods mentioned throughout this article. You might find something that fits perfect with your business.
Who are your followers on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus? Check out what they like, what they retweet, where they subscribe and make sure you formulate your content around their interests. Social media is not just about sharing, but also engaging. Respond to questions and comments after sharing something. People love it when a company responds to them. Think about what would encourage your fans/followers to share your video, tweet, Facebook post and start implementing it, making sure you are always testing.
A press release acts as a gateway to putting the word about your company out there. Generally, a press release should center on important and interesting information. Writing just about anything won’t cut it. Mapping out things like visual content, audience, relevancy, and time sensitivity will increase the chances your press release will be read, shared and hopefully picked up by a magazine or popular news site.
4. Email Marketing
Email is a very effective way to keep in touch with your customers. Sending newsletters periodically about new and interesting tidbits of information, discounts, etc., will remind them about your services/product, and increase the chances that they will convert into repeat customers. Also, if they like what they see, they will be happy to open your email once it reaches their inbox every time.
Collecting opt-in email addresses through your website is the first step to creating an effective, relevant email list. Add a friendly popup contact form. the form should be geared towards benefiting the customer, either by offering interesting news, exclusive updates, and/or coupons. Another way of capturing visitors’ information is through a price quote form. Visitors are already interested in your product and are inquiring about pricing. Take advantage of this and ask for permission to include them in your list of subscribers. Again, give them a good reason to why they should join.
Retargeting is an effective online advertising method that can help you bring some visitors back after they left your website. There are a variety of platforms that allow you to run a retargeting campaign; a few include Google, Adroll, and Criteo. The idea behind is that you focus your attention on those individuals who already demonstrated some interest. In order for retargeting to be successful, you need to have some other form of online marketing that focuses on bringing the customers to your site for the first time. Only then does re-marketing work.
6. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing involves working with widely recognized brands and websites centered on your niche, like blogs, products review sites, etc., and displaying your products or services in their sites via links, creatives, data feed banners, or text ads. When you partner with these brands, you are basically agreeing to pay them on commission for any sales they generate through their sites. The best way to jump into affiliate marketing is by signing up with an affiliate program platform. A few top names in the industry include Commission Junction, Share-A-Sale, Rakuten, Affiliate Traction, and Ebay Enterprise.
Webinars are unique compared to other forms of lead generation methods since they provide a more personal experience to visitors. A webinar is a very engaging meeting that often involves connecting with hundreds of people, sharing your screen, talking over the phone, and answering questions. Businesses often use their expertise or their services as the sales pitch, uncovering a solution to their customers’ various problems. For the most part, webinars are informative, geared towards converting participants into potential buyers.
8. Social Media Advertising
Where are your customers hanging out? Are they on Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? LinkedIn? If so, advertising on social networks is a good idea. On Twitter alone, there are 500 million tweets a day with over 240 million active users. On Facebook, 699 million people daily. This tells us people spend time on these platforms. Most social media platforms offer multiple Ad campaign options to fit to your goals. Whether your goal is to gather emails, garner website clicks, or grow your followers, there is a big pool of options to dive into and start navigating the waters.
9. Site Interviews
Another way to generate leads online includes being interviewed on relevant sites as a thought leader in your industry. Reach out to those sites that appeal to your customer base, and provide them with information about your company. Ask to be interviewed on their website, and provide them with a good reason why. A good reason often involves something that provides value not just to your company, but to theirs as well.
Running contests, giveaways, and promotions is not only fun but also very effective at attracting entries. People love giveaways; who doesn’t want to win something free? Having a giveaway also tells your community about your brand. It expresses that your company cares and wants to give back
Online reviews work as a form of worth of mouth. Potential customers seek online reviews for local businesses, products, and services. Reviews are highly relied on, and therefore impact the final decision of buyers. To tip the scales in your favor, make it easy for people to write a review. Start by asking your customers for reviews as part of your marketing strategy. You can do this after they’ve made a purchase, downloaded content, or as part of your newsletter. Reviews aren’t guaranteed and can be hard to gather at first, but simply asking is a great start.
Generating leads online is all about increasing your visibility. The above methods I use regularly with my clients can be developed and optimized and adjusted to fit the needs of the target audience.