There’s no one right way to generate sales leads online. Some businesses swear by using Facebook ads, while others have found more success by hosting webinars. Each business has a different target market and communication style. So your lead generation strategy should uniquely reflect those aspects of your business.
Luckily, there are countless different methods for generating those sales leads online. The list below includes different methods you might consider for inclusion in your own strategy.
Create a Destination Website
While other methods can provide a more active approach to generating leads, having a website is still essential. And having the right features set up can help the right people find you, instead of you having to seek them out.
Jill Konrath, author of “Agile Selling” and several other sales-related titles, said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “To me, a website is a dynamic property that supports my evolving business direction. And, today, all my business comes via my website. By that, I mean that people find me through the content on my website. Or, they read my books, think about bringing me in to speak to their sales force — and my website provides serious credibility that I’m a good candidate.”
Offer Free Downloads
One of the features a good lead-generating website can have is some sort of free download. This can be an ebook, template, or other helpful resource that people can fill out a simple form to download.
The digital product should relate to your paid offerings in such a way that those who download them are likely to be interested in your other services. But it should still be a quality piece that is helpful to users and can stand on its own. Once people have downloaded it, you have their information from the form. So, you can follow up with them about your other offerings.
Drive Traffic with Targeted Ads
Aside from your existing network, you’ll need to find people who might be interested in your free downloads and thus, your other products or services. Online advertising tools like Google AdWords and Facebook ads provide you with opportunities to target the specific audience that might fit that description.
For instance, if you wrote an ebook about DIY SEO, you might choose to target people on Google who have searched for SEO services. Or, on Facebook, a local business that sells clothing and accessories could choose to target people within that geographic area who have listed fashion as one of their interests.
Create Content for a Specific Audience
Just as you should target your ads to a specific audience, so should you tailor your other content.
Whether it’s a free download or your weekly blog, you need to create some kind of content with a clear voice and a defined audience. The more specific you get, the more the people who visit are actually going to be interested in what you have to offer.
Konrath explained, “I write for salespeople and entrepreneurs — not sales managers or executives. Plus, I only focus on those who sell to businesses. Not government. Not consumers. With this kind of clarity, when my ideal person pops onto my website, it immediately resonates with them.”
Send Out a Newsletter
Konrath also believes that sending out a newsletter is an essential part of any online lead building strategy. While books and blogs are nice, newsletters actually catch people in a place they’re more likely to check — their inbox.
Plus, those who are interested enough to sign up to receive your helpful content are also more likely to be interested when you update them about that new product or service you just launched.
“Entrepreneurs also need to have a newsletter — and they should be sending out emails to their subscribers at least twice a month,” Konrath said. “A blog is insufficient. Today, your message needs to get in your prospect’s inbox to even have a chance of getting read.”
Create Multi-Purpose Content
However, while creating a newsletter might be one essential part of your strategy, it never hurts to repurpose some of that content.
Some of your potential customers might just be more likely to read blogs. So, you should still update those readers. And luckily, it shouldn’t take much extra time to do so.
“To maximize my time, I post my blog in the morning, then send out a newsletter with the same info later that day. That way one piece of content serves two purposes,” Konrath said.
Host a Webinar
Like free downloads, webinars should offer real value to participants. But in order to sign up, they should have to provide some information that would allow you to follow up with them afterward.
To make use of this method, decide on a topic that would be helpful to your potential customers and then promote it on social media or online advertising.
Build Genuine Relationships on Social Platforms
Social platforms are also great sources for potential leads. But you’ll really have to work to create those bonds.
Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketers has worked for years on building relationships on Twitter and similar sites.
Taylor explained in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “It’s sort of the complicated version of generating leads, but it’s what fits my personality and my communication style. You have to drive the conversation from Twitter to email or a phone call. So you have to be genuine and actually engage with people.”
Participate in Twitter Chats
Building a network of relevant social connections doesn’t happen overnight. One way to find potential leads on Twitter is by participating in Twitter chats that are relevant to your industry or target customers.
Once you make those initial connections, you still have to work hard at building those relationships and eventually converting them into real leads. But chats can help you make those initial connections with influencers and others relevant to your industry.
Reach Out to People in Groups
Some social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook have groups that can help you connect with others in your industry or people with similar interests. These groups can be a great source for potential leads, if you approach members in an effective way.
Taylor doesn’t suggest that you simply send out blanket messages to everyone in a particular set of groups. Instead, she suggests reaching out to people on a more personal level.
“My LinkedIn inbox is ridiculously overcrowded with pitch spam. But some people swear by using LinkedIn to build leads,” Taylor said. “I just think that the people who actually have success with it do so because they reach out to people in other ways first. Ask questions or get involved in conversations with people before just sending out pitches.”
Partner with Others and Cross-Promote
You’ve worked hard at building up a network of loyal customers. And others in your industry have done the same.
But your customer lists are likely at least a bit different. So, by collaborating on a project with another industry influencer, preferably one whose offerings are slightly different than your own, you both can potentially gain some new leads.
Taylor said she has seen plenty of business coaches and similar entrepreneurs using these cross promotion methods effectively. You might connect with someone to host a webinar, contribute to an ebook or host a Twitter chat. Any of those methods can help get your brand in front of some new faces.