Online lead generation is absolutely essential in today’s business environment. If you’re not taking advantage of the benefits of a well laid out online lead generation campaign, you’re going to be well behind the eight ball.
Starting a small business is the easy part. That only involves coming up with a solid idea and business plan. Turning that start up business into a success means developing business growth strategies that will help you make money both now and in the future.
As the internet has expanded and evolved, so too has entrepreneurship. Depending on your target market, developing leads in modern time now involves a strong effort to succeed online. There are a ton of different options for doing so, which can lead to a lot of confusion.
As a young entrepreneur confusion is your greatest enemy. There are so many articles out there offering you a never ending supply of startup advice and startup tips showing you how to become an entrepreneur. Reading all the startup help out there is impossible and understanding it is an even more difficult task.
To help you, we’ve broken down a list of the online lead generation programs that you can use to jumpstart your leads lists and get you on track to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
How Does Online Lead Generation Work?
Online lead generation basically works exactly like advertising that you might see in a magazine or newspaper.
You put an ad out towards your target market, offer a call to action, and hope that leads are developed from it. Obviously it’s not that easy but that’s the general idea…
Many businesses get themselves in trouble because they mistake lead generation for traffic. Traffic is not what drives your business, unless you’re making money off of advertising from other people of course.
Having a website and online presence has become more and more of a requirement for successful businesses. It’s no longer about simply having that online presence, it’s now about developing consistent leads from it. You can have thousands of viewers a day but how many of those viewers are giving you information that could lead to you selling them your product or service?
Lead generation involves getting that traffic to respond to your ad. That may be through giving you their email, getting them to take a survey or test, or getting them to fill out a quote. It’s about getting information that will allow you to follow up on the lead and possibly generate income from it.
Whichever strategies you decide to use you’ll want to make sure that you keep extremely detailed reports as to which ones work best for you. As we mentioned before, confusion is an entrepreneurs biggest enemy. Having no idea which strategy is helping you most is like throwing darts with your eyes closed.
Make a plan for your online lead generation, keep track of what is working best, and throw your darts with your eyes open.
The Options – A Breakdown of the Strategies
Okay, let’s quickly breakdown the most commonly used online lead generation strategies.
SEO – Search engine optimization basically involves getting your website to show up as high as possible on search engines like Google and Bing.
This needs to be a huge part of your online lead generation plan as it is the quickest and easiest way to generate traffic, especially local traffic, to your site. While we did say that lead generation is more important than traffic, there is no lead generation without first having the traffic. It all works together…
SEO has also become incredibly important as mobile devices continue to be used more for searching and other online purposes.
Google recently made it much more difficult for businesses and websites that stuff keywords into their articles to make the top of their lists. The purpose of this was to gain trust for those businesses and websites that do reach the top, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on how well you handle this strategy.
Pay Per Click Advertising – PPC advertising is usually associated with the Google ad words campaign although Microsoft now also offers a similar campaign for Bing, which is quickly increasing in popularity as a top notch search engine.
Basically what you’re doing is paying Google or Bing to have your ad pop up when specific keywords match. You’ll want to consistently work with the trial and error method on this one since it can get expensive if your traffic isn’t converting.
This is a bit more expensive than other campaigns but it’s the best way to generate traffic in a short period of time. You’ll want to make sure, however, that the plan and ads you have in place work together to convert that traffic into leads.
Some of the more advanced lead generation programs include:
The Display Network – This is a fairly cheap option provided by Google that gives you an array of different options for producing ads. The four most popular options that they offer are text and/or image ads on websites, video ads on websites, or any of those ads on mobile websites.
The Display Network is harder than most other programs simply because the people viewing your ads aren’t always looking for you at that point in time. This isn’t really a program designed around meeting people within their buying cycle so it can be harder to get consistent conversions using this method.
It is, however, one of the cheapest options available so adding this to your plan could result in a solid return of investment.
Re-Targeting – Ever notice an ad for a site that you’ve visited recently constantly popping up on other sites that you visit? That’s basically what re-targeting is. It keeps track of people that have visited your site and then constantly pops your ad on other sites that they visit.
It can be an extremely effective campaign tool simply because it is working to constantly put you in front of people who have already viewed, and therefore shown interest, in your site.
Social Media Marketing – Social media marketing has been dominated by Facebook for quite a while now but places like Twitter and LinkedIn are slowly catching up.
Facebook and Twitter can be effective because they allow you to advertise to your target market and demographic. The issue, however, is that there is no guarantee that anyone that you’re targeting is in their buying cycle at this point in time so it can be difficult to get a solid return on investment.
Social media marketing is a great way to build your brand and get recognized by users but don’t expect a huge initial ROI from this type of campaign. The real benefit of this lies in what it will do for your company’s future.
Final Thoughts on Online Leads Generation Strategies
Obviously this is nothing more than a quick look at some of the different online lead generation opportunities that are out there for you.
At the end of the day you need to think about the things that would persuade you to join that email list, contact that company, or ask for that quote. One of the most vital things that you can do as a young entrepreneur is to understand the perspectives of your clients. Would what you’re currently doing be enticing enough to make you contact your business? If not, what in the world are you doing it for?
This is going to be a trial and error process for you. Find out what works for your business and develop a campaign based around those things.