Most small businesses get stuck with their online lead generation in three areas: SEO \u2013 They understand the concept of search engine optimization, and do some work there, but they usually give up before great results are achieved. PPC \u2013 People get a Google AdWords account, invest some money, watch it disappear, and stop. Social Media \u2013 Here, people just waste time because they don\u2019t know how to do it right. Online lead generation is a big topic.\u00a0 In this post, I\u2019m going to talk specifically about how to spend money wisely to ensure return on your investment. Before we begin, I\u2019m 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\u2019ll 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.\u00a0 But that\u2019s not the only way to reach them.\u00a0 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.\u00a0 Learn what they read.\u00a0 Find out what social networks they visit.\u00a0 Discover industry-specific forums or blogs.\u00a0 You get the picture.\u00a0 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.\u00a0 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.\u00a0 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.\u00a0 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\u2019ll always want to sell you on a long-term contract.\u00a0 Don\u2019t bite.\u00a0 Your job is to make this process scientific.\u00a0 Take the guesswork out.\u00a0 The only way to do that is to test.\u00a0 I like to limit tests to $2,000.\u00a0 You may want to limit them to less than that. When you run your test, be sure to split-test. If you\u2019re running a dedicated e-mail, for example, you\u2019ll want to test a couple different subject lines against each other.\u00a0 On your next test, choose the subject line that performed best and then test something in the body of the e-mail.\u00a0 Next test the landing page.\u00a0 Eventually, you get to the point where you\u2019re confident in the number of leads or sales your ad is going to produce every time you run it.\u00a0 Only at that point should you sign a long-term contract. That\u2019s it.\u00a0 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.\u00a0 The further the landing page strays from what the ad said, the higher the bounce rate you\u2019ll have on the landing page.\u00a0 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.\u00a0 Talk about the benefits of what you sell first. Keep distractions to a minimum.\u00a0 Preferably, you should only have one call to action in your ads and on your landing pages.\u00a0 If you give users other options, they might take them and then you might lose the sale.\u00a0 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.\u00a0 Offer something of value (a free report, e-book, consultation, etc.) in exchange for contact information.\u00a0 The minimum piece of information should be an e-mail address. \u00a0Keep in mind, the fewer the number of fields in your form, the higher your opt-in rate.\u00a0 The more fields you have, the lower the opt-in rate.\u00a0 Use the fields to filter your lead flow. Online advertising is an important marketing strategy for many businesses.\u00a0This is just a start (and the most important part) of getting it done right.\u00a0 Feel free to ask questions about online advertising in the comments and I\u2019ll answer them in subsequent blog posts.