Unlike print and broadcast media, a well thought-out online strategy can make you instantly visible to potential clients and customers across the globe without paying for air time, or print space. And with the percentage of time potential buyers spend online is increasing, their time spent reading print media, and watching broadcast TV is shrinking, even companies that relied on those media need are following their clients to online venues. And the trend continues.
There are several ways you can leverage the internet to generate leads to grow your business.
But the most direct path to generating a lead online is to get the attention of a prospective client or customer when they are searching the web for the goods or services that you sell, and then converting their attention into action.
Search Engine Visibility
The traditional mechanism used to generate online leads is to make your business, products and services, visible to internet searchers. An internet user searching the web for “widgets” or “widget repair” is most likely in the market to buy a widget or to find someone to help them with one. If you are in the widget business and something about your company appears at the top of the results for those searches, you are in the game.
There are two primary ways to get your business to appear in those search engine results pages (SERPs).
Organic or “Natural” Search
Search engine companies like Google, Yahoo! and Bing, have lead the online industry by scouring all the millions of sites and pages of content on the internet, so they can help searchers find what they are looking for. They use massive amounts of computing power to read and index the information, and sophisticated formulas or algorithms, to sift through it in sub-second times, and find the things that are most relevant to the user’s search criteria.
As a marketer, you want to do everything you can to find out just what keyword phrases your prospective customers are searching for, and then optimizing your site to show up as high in the results as possible. The collection of techniques to achieve that goal are generally referred to under the umbrella Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. They involve many things, starting with having content that used the words found in the search.
This is a huge subject in itself, and every business with a desire to generate leads online needs to learn something about the subject, and adopt an ongoing program to keep their company visible in this manner. But it is not the only way to get found in a search.
The other mechanism for being found online comes under the general heading of paid search. Since you are reading this information online – it is the only way we have published it – then you have almost certainly done web searches. And you have likely seen that the search engine results pages (SERPs) have different sections, some of which are labeled “Ads” or “sponsored results.”
To be found in this way, companies become “advertisers” and pay the search engines to display their advertisements when certain words or phrases are used in searches. This can be a powerful tool in your lead generation mix, and can be combined with organic techniques to help you get more multiple simultaneous mentions for your business on a SERP. Having these multiple mentions creates intuitive credibility with most searchers, and that will greatly increase the chances that they will click on one of your mentions, rather than a competitor’s.
While being found and then getting that “click-thru” are critical steps in online lead generation, they often go for naught if the page(s) they see once they click, don’t satisfy their interests, and guide them to the appropriate next-steps. We refer to the structure of the pages and options the visitor sees as Conversion Architecture. Converting the visitor to a lead or customer.
Our Top 5 Steps Tips for Improving Online Conversion
Here are the top 5 things you can do to improve conversion:
1. The internet is a visual medium, and the pictures or graphics that you use in your pages can resonate with a prospect’s mood, personality, and inclination to act. So pick your colors and images to resonate with your prospect’s motivations, and along with the words you write, help them recognize why they want to buy your product or service. A key point here is that you need to present what you think will be most impactful for the potential buyer, and not your personal favorites of color or image.
2. There are common patterns that are well known for how people scan a web page when they first get to it. Put your images and calls to action in the places where the visitor will expect to see them, and make it easy for them find what you want them to do next, and how to do it.
3. Make your contact information abundantly clear and visible. If you are attracting customers to a physical location, make the address and a map easy for them to find. If you want them to call, make it impossible for them to miss your phone number. And if you want interested people to be able to email you, make a clear and simple form available to them so that you can track inquiries, and reduce spam.
4. Make your content clear, and concise. Your content should be straight to the point, and easy to skim without reading every word. Use titles and bullets make key points obvious and quick to absorb.
5. Make sure you have a clear call-to-action (CTA). Help visitors confirm if they found what they were looking for, and make sure they know if you want them to call, or write, or order online, or subscribe to your newsetter, or like them on Facebook…. C