9 Clever Ways to Generate Online Leads That You Actually Want
Unfortunately, there’s no “magic bullet” that can make your website a magnet for prospective buyers, or convince every potential customer that you’re the right choice. Instead, you’ll want to use a combination of lead generation ideas and tools to establish, nurture, and grow relationships with potential buyers — which will ultimately lead to generating Internet leads that offer long-term value.
This compilation of nine strategies for how to get leads, however, can help you get started.
Keep reading to learn more about each of these proven tactics for generating online leads. If you’re struggling with finding leads online, connect with WebFX. We’re an award-winning lead generation agency that’s helped our clients earn more than 7.8 million leads in the past five years.
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1. Optimize your website for high visibility
The very first thing you should do to increase website leads is optimize your site. Search engine optimization (or SEO) is the best way to make your website more visible in search results for targeted keywords or phrases. The process often involves evaluating, adding, and revising written content to ensure it will help a website rank highly.
SEO is hugely important to ensure that your site shows up in the search results for the keywords and phrases most relevant to your business. Let’s say you sell gourmet cupcakes. If someone searches for “gourmet cupcakes,” your website should show up, right? What do you think might happen if the phrase “gourmet cupcakes” is nowhere to be found in your title tag, on-page content, or even in your product descriptions? As you might have guessed, the answer is “nothing.”
On-page optimization can be very tricky, and if there’s a lot of competition for your product or service, you may have a tough time ranking. However, SEO is worth the effort, because it’s both easy and free to update your own website, and ranking highly can both drive traffic and increase website revenue.
If you’re curious about how to generate leads online without advertising, SEO is for you.
2. Optimize your conversion rates to grow leads
Conversion Rate Optimization (or CRO) is the practice of actively optimizing and improving your website’s content with the end goal of converting visitors into leads or customers. CRO often involves A/B tests to compare one version of a page to another to determine which is more effective on driving conversions.
If you’re not familiar with the phrase conversion rate, it’s exactly what it sounds like: the rate at which a website visitor typically performs a specified action. For example, if one out of every four visitors to your ecommerce store makes a purchase, you have a 25 percent conversion rate. Since the goal is to get that percentage as high as possible, marketers often perform numerous tests to find ways to increase conversions and turn leads into customers.
CRO testing can involve large changes to graphics or blocks of copy, or might focus on seemingly insignificant details, like a headline or a single word in a call-to-action phrase. As minor as these tests may seem, sometimes the right combination of graphics and copy can increase conversion rates dramatically.
To generate online leads, you should be prepared to evaluate your pages frequently. Identify pages with poor conversion rates, and set up A/B or multivariate tests to compare and contrast elements that you think may be affecting your conversions. Through continued CRO tests, you’ll be able to identify weak points and get more qualified leads quickly.
3. Deploy targeted paid advertising
Advertising has always been a favored method of lead generation. However, print media is no longer as effective as it once was, and the results are difficult (if not impossible) to track. Instead of relying on magazine ads or brochures, consider deploying highly targeted online advertising.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to generate leads online. Available through popular programs like Google Ads, Microsoft’s Bing Ads, and Facebook Ads, PPC is exactly what it sounds like: an advertising program in which you pay for each click. Depending on the keywords or phrases targeted, you may pay anywhere from pennies to hundreds of dollars for a single click.
PPC is a popular method of generating leads because it allows you to target very specific phrases. For example, if you sell blue industrial tractors with mower attachments, you can create an ad that appears when that phrase (or a similar one) is searched. So if someone searches for “blue industrial tractor with mower attachment,” chances are they’re going to see your ad and click. You may pay a few dollars for that click – but if that person goes on to become a customer, and spends a few thousand dollars, don’t you think it’s worth it?
ROI on PPC ads is typically very good. You can deploy and retire ads on a whim, and adjust budgets anytime you like. If you see that an ad is performing very well, and want to increase its visibility or target more similar phrases, you can increase its daily budget in less than a minute. And because of all the reporting options available, you can see exactly how your ads are performing – and how many leads you’re generating – at a glance.
Other online advertising options include purchasing ad space on popular websites, blogs, or online magazines, but these are more difficult to track, and you may not receive a report on the number of clicks or conversions unless you set up a custom URL in your analytics program.
Nonetheless, advertising is still a great way to increase exposure and get the word out about your brand, plus generate Internet leads that matter to your business.
4. Create a great user experience
You can have the best-looking website in the world, but it won’t mean anything if no one wants to use it. User Experience (also called UX) refers to the way that website visitors search, browse, and use your website. Generally speaking, websites that have good UX convert well, and see longer on-page times with higher interaction rates. Bad UX often leads to high bounce rates and general confusion.
Navigation is one of the most important components of a website with good UX.
Your website navigation should be:
- As simple as possible, with limited menus, sub-menus, and pages
- Easy to understand – “shop” or “store” vs “see what we have to offer”
- Easy to access, typically at the top or side of the website
- Laid out in a sensible hierarchy, with related pages grouped together
If an interested lead happens upon your website and can’t find what they are looking for within a few seconds, chances are high that they’re going to leave. And even those who want to buy your product are likely to abandon you if they can’t find a way to purchase it.
To evaluate your user experience, sit down and browse your website as if you were a lead.
Is everything where you would want it to be, if you were learning about your company for the first time? Is the navigation clear and easy to follow? If not, plan to make changes right away – or, if you want a second opinion, consider having some user experience testing done to determine where your website’s weaknesses are and how to fix them.
5. Offer valuable content
Did you know that 90 percent of consumers find content produced by a brand useful? To get more leads online, you may want to consider giving these potential customers some content that will help them in some way. By educating them or solving a problem before they’ve even made a purchase, you’re likely to create loyalty to your brand.
Content marketing can come in many forms, from blog posts to infographics to whitepapers. As long as it’s relevant to your leads, a content marketing program can be a great way to draw in and keep the attention of visitors to your website. Many brands have found success by creating and promoting content that is relevant to their followers.
For example, let’s say your company sells curtains and curtain rods. You know a blog all about curtains is probably not going to interest anyone – but a “big picture” blog about room decorating and how your curtains improve interior spaces is likely to be a hit. Out of ideas? Create an infographic on the history of curtains, or write an entertaining article on notable curtains from historic paintings or events.
One surefire method of finding leads through content is to create something that you think will be really valuable to your industry or potential customers – like a whitepaper, research study, guide, or book – and placing it behind a form on a landing page.
Those who want to access this content will need to enter their email address to access it. From there, you can begin a lead nurturing email program (which you’ll read about below), or even send a quick “thank you” message.
If they enjoy your content, your lead might return your email, and could eventually convert.
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6. Create a presence on social media
Social media usage can vary from industry to industry. Although some companies may look at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube and wonder how they can possibly obtain leads from these networks, social media is more useful than ever for generating Internet leads.
It may surprise you to learn that 68 percent of shoppers visit a company’s social media channels to read product reviews and customer feedback before buying a product. So if you do not have a social media presence where a shopper can see what others think of you, your leads may not get the information they need to take you seriously.
To create leads with social media, you should have a good idea of which channels to use. Depending on your business, you may not need a presence for every network out there. For example, if you sell software, Facebook and Twitter are a must for customer feedback, starting conversations, and answering questions – but you may not have any use for Pinterest or Instagram.
On the flip side of that, if your product of choice is yummy baked goods, Pinterest is great for sharing recipes, and who wouldn’t love to see pictures of cookies in their Instagram feed? But Twitter might just not cut it for sharing with your fans, who want far more than 280 characters of information on your new products and snack choices.
By evaluating the social media options out there, then building up your profiles, you’ll be able to create a presence that draws in new leads and customers quickly – and at little to no cost.
7. Host a webinar
If you consider yourself a subject matter expert, or have a lot of knowledge you can share on a particular topic, consider hosting an online event or webinar. Though sometimes tricky to set up, properly executed and informative webinars are one of the best ways to locate brand new leads and increase website revenue.
If you haven’t attended a webinar before, it’s essentially an online seminar that is (usually) free to attend. Webinars can range in length from fifteen minutes to several hours, and can be held on a wide variety of topics.
Although the ultimate goal of a webinar may be to get leads for your business, you shouldn’t make it all about you. These events should revolve around imparting your knowledge as an industry leader on your attendees. If you do a great job presenting, these attendees may see you as an expert who can be consulted for your services, or as a source for a problem-solving product.
For example, let’s say you are a toy store – and you’re struggling to set yourself apart from the “big box” retailers. If you carry a wide variety of toys for infants and toddlers, you may consider yourself an expert on toy safety and choking hazards. Why not hold an informative webinar on that subject? You could talk about safety standards, and even point out unique toys you carry that are safe for very young children. At the end of the webinar, you might find visitors flocking to your site to see what you have to offer.
At the end of your webinar, be sure you have a Q&A session, and offer attendees a way to contact you directly. You might also consider sending a “thank you for attending” follow-up email, which can serve as a reminder for busy attendees to check out your website on their own time.
8. Nurture your relationships with email
Email marketing is a great way to nurture your online leads. By sending highly targeted messages to a list of subscribers, you can walk interested shoppers through every stage of the buying process, from the initial exposure to your brand to post-purchase feedback.
For B2B companies or those who offer very complex services or products, lead nurturing is often a very important part of the relationship with their customers. There are a variety of ways to nurture a lead, and grow them into a buyer, but email is often considered a failsafe solution. It’s inexpensive, endlessly customizable, and can help you deliver the right message at exactly the right time, opening doors and starting conversations that will eventually create a sale.
Email is fantastic for growing leads into customers. When someone signs up for your list, it means they’re interested in you – and that’s half the battle! From there, consider creating an email schedule or marketing automation program that will send targeted messages to users at important stages of the buying process.
For example, if your company offers business-grade networking systems, you may know that it takes an average of six months for an IT administrator to research solutions, seek approval, and have a final budget granted for a purchase.
You would be wasting time—and probably annoying a potential customer—if you sent a “buy now!” message at the end of their first month on the list. Instead, start them off with what they’re likely to need the most: product information. Then, move into messages about special features, or anything that might convince them that your solution is the best on the market.
Finally, when you’re nearing that six month mark, offer them a way to get in touch with you. Timely emails like this are a great way to give potential customers what they need exactly when they need it.
9. Set up an outreach program
Sometimes the best way to find leads online is to track them down yourself! There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as you go about it in the right way. If you’re surfing the web and find someone who could benefit from your product or service, you should have an outreach program or plan in place to handle this.
However, this does not mean that you should sign up every blogger who looks to be even remotely interested in food to your weekly email about organic apples. That’s just silly (and it also violates the CAN-SPAM Act!). Instead, if you see someone mention on Twitter that they’re having a hard time locating organic apples in their area, consider tweeting back to ask if they’ve seen your online shop. Or drop them a short, polite email asking if you can help them.
Here’s an example:
I stumbled upon your blog post about being unable to find fresh organic apples at your local farmer’s market. I thought you might like to know about Apple-O, my organic apple store, which can ship fresh, locally-grown apples to your house twice a week.
You can check out the site here: http://www.jims-apple-o.com
Thanks for your time!
Jim, Apple-O COO
At the end of the day, nothing beats a personal touch, and you may find that these leads are among the most important – and most qualified – you’ll encounter.
Need help generating online leads?
Let the experts at WebFX help you generate more online leads. From search engine optimization to setting up your social media accounts to a customized online media buying solution, we can grow your leads— and customers—to help you increase revenue and achieve measurable success online.