Online Business – Six Steps to Starting Your First Online Business – Part 5

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Online Business – Part 5 – Lead Generation

Lead Generation is the the process of capturing a potential customer and turning them into a customer.  This is the core of the sales process and involves a Six Step Process

  • Find Me
  • Know Me
  • Like Me
  • Trust Me
  • Buy From Me
  • Evangelise Me

It is commonly accepted that you need to make contact with your prospect six or seven times before they will buy from you.  This is the process through which they come to know, like and trust you, before which they will not buy from you.

How Has Lead Generation Changed?

The old days of broadcast advertising have been replaced by 1:1 pull marketing where you build the relationship with your prospect on a personal basis using online marketing strategies.

The good news is that nearly everything you do online is measurable using analytical tools like Google Analytics so you can quickly work out what is working and what is not.

Abundance and Attention

Instead of a scarcity of information about a product or a service, the norm is now an abundance of information.  Correspondingly, your marketing needs to cut through the mass of content competing for your prospects attention.

The most valuable thing your prospect can give you is their time and attention so you had better respect it and use it well when it is granted.  Buyers no longer want to be sold to.  They want to be informed and entertained and only then will they consider putting their hand in their pocket and pulling out their credit card.

Today prospective customers can do their own research and if they are looking for your product or service, they can quickly assess it against your competition by just spending a few minutes in Google.  In many cases, the majority of buyers are well advanced in the buying process before they contact the vendor.

The Online Business Sales Funnel

At the top of the Funnel, your job is to enable your prospect to find you.  You do this by creating content and by having an extensive (and consistent) digital presence.

The heart of this should be your website but you should also be present on the major social media platforms and other places where you know your customers like to be online.

It is likely when they first find you, your prospect will not be ready to buy from you.  This is where the information you provide them and the interaction you have with them builds the Know, Like and Trust.  Timing is everything.

How Can You Generate Leads?

Here are some of the activities (online and offline) you can employ to generate leads for your business.

  • Website Optimisation
  • Social Media Engagement
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Paid Search (PPC)
  • Webinars
  • Direct Mail
  • Trade Shows
  • Print Advertising


Effective Lead Generation Strategies

Your Lead Generation should be a constantly evolving process.  The biggest challenge is to generate good QUALITY leads.  The challenges you need to consider, according to a recent study by IDG,  include:

  • Generating high quality leads
  • Converting your leads into customers
  • Creating meaningful content
  • Demonstrating a return on your marketing investment
  • Sourcing high quality data/lists for leads
  • Generating leads across different types of media
  • Marketing into a lengthening sales cycle
  • Generating Public Relations and Media awareness
  • Communicating product value
  • Keeping up with changes in the market place.

The same IDG study identified several barriers to lead generation success.  These include:

  • Lack of resources in staffing, budgeting or time
  • Lack of high quality data/lists to drive campaigns
  • Lack of budget
  • Lack of ability to generate content
  • Lack of time and band width
  • Lack of sufficient insight into target audience
  • Lack of alignment between sales and marketing
  • Lack of ability to stop executing and think strategically
  • Lack of of reliable data to drive decisions
  • The economic climate
  • Lack of a clear value proposition
  • Lack of insight into competitive research
  • Lack of strategic direction

So What are the Most Effective Lead Generation Tactics

IDG identified that the following were the most effective Lead Generation Tactics

  • Company Website
  • Conferences/Tradeshows
  • Email Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Telemarketing
  • Virtual Events and Webinars

At the bottom end of the effectiveness scale came:

  • Public Relations
  • Paid Search
  • Social Media
  • Online Advertising
  • Direct Mail
  • Print Advertising

Inbound Marketing

Marketo define Inbound Marketing as”the process of helping potential customers find your company – often before they are even looking to make a purchase – and then turning that early awareness into brand preference and ultimately into leads and revenue”

To do that you need to create content which is interesting, informative and entertaining.  And you also need to ensure that you are distributing that content in the right places online where your prospective customers can find it.

The Four Pillars of Inbound Marketing are:

  • Content Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Your own Website and Blog
  • Social Media Marketing and Engagement

Outbound Marketing

As its name suggests, Outbound Marketing is where you send a message out to your prospective audience either by email or through purchasing online and offline advertisements to bring your products and services to their attention.  This can be done by using any or all of the strategies below:

  • Email marketing
  • Display ads
  • Pay per Click Ads
  • Content Syndication
  • Direct Mail
  • Events
  • Sales Representatives

Online Business Part 6 – Scaling Your Business can be found here