Most small businesses get stuck with their online lead generation in three areas:
- SEO – They understand the concept of search engine optimization, and do some work there, but they usually give up before great results are achieved.
- PPC – People get a Google AdWords account, invest some money, watch it disappear, and stop.
- Social Media – Here, people just waste time because they don’t know how to do it right.
Online lead generation is a big topic. In this post, I’m going to talk specifically about how to spend money wisely to ensure return on your investment.
Before we begin, I’m going to assume you have a well-defined target market, you understand clearly who your target is, you know where they hang out on the Internet, and you know their psychological triggers. Without this info, you’ll always lose in marketing.
To get started, you need to think outside the box. Yes, your potential customers may search for your product or service–so being listed with a PPC ad can do you some good. But that’s not the only way to reach them. Plus, only a small percentage of your entire target market is searching for what you sell at any given time.
The key is to go where the customers are. Figure out where they hang out on the Internet. Learn what they read. Find out what social networks they visit. Discover industry-specific forums or blogs. You get the picture. Once you know where they are, advertise there.
Sponsoring newsletters or dedicated solo e-mails is an extremely effective method of advertising for many businesses. If you discover that much of your target is subscribing to a certain newsletter, find out if you can sponsor that newsletter or send a dedicated advertisement. A dedicated, or “solo,” e-mail is an e-mail advertisement that a publisher will send to their newsletter list that contains only one piece of content: your ad. These can be golden.
Once you find an area where it makes sense to advertise, contact the publisher or vendor and set up a test. They’ll always want to sell you on a long-term contract. Don’t bite. Your job is to make this process scientific. Take the guesswork out. The only way to do that is to test. I like to limit tests to $2,000. You may want to limit them to less than that.
When you run your test, be sure to split-test. If you’re running a dedicated e-mail, for example, you’ll want to test a couple different subject lines against each other. On your next test, choose the subject line that performed best and then test something in the body of the e-mail. Next test the landing page. Eventually, you get to the point where you’re confident in the number of leads or sales your ad is going to produce every time you run it. Only at that point should you sign a long-term contract.
That’s it. It requires a bit of patience and scientific thinking, but it will produce results.
Lastly, let me just give you a few pointers:
- Always have your landing page mirror the content of your ad. The further the landing page strays from what the ad said, the higher the bounce rate you’ll have on the landing page. I prefer to have my dedicated e-mails and landing pages look almost identical.
- Be sure the important content and your opt-in form (or “buy now” buttons) are above the fold on your landing page.
- Use subject lines and headlines that trigger a psychological response from your target. Talk about the benefits of what you sell first.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. Preferably, you should only have one call to action in your ads and on your landing pages. If you give users other options, they might take them and then you might lose the sale. Help narrow their focus.
- Use lead capture forms to capture lead info on your landing pages if your product is not an impulse-buy product. Offer something of value (a free report, e-book, consultation, etc.) in exchange for contact information. The minimum piece of information should be an e-mail address. Keep in mind, the fewer the number of fields in your form, the higher your opt-in rate. The more fields you have, the lower the opt-in rate. Use the fields to filter your lead flow.
Online advertising is an important marketing strategy for many businesses. This is just a start (and the most important part) of getting it done right. Feel free to ask questions about online advertising in the comments and I’ll answer them in subsequent blog posts.