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Online lead generation is the process of generating consumer interest in your products and services on the internet. Before making a purchase, customers go online to research products and services, compare competitor offers, and learn more about their interests. Learning how to capture this online traffic and convert it into actionable leads is essential to growing your business.
In this guide, we'll discuss what lead generation is, why it's important, and how you can start generating leads online for your business today.
What is lead generation?
A person or company that shows interest in your product or service is a lead. The process of proactively acquiring leads with the aim of converting them into paying customers is known as "lead generation".
Lead generation is mainly of two types – inbound and outbound.
Inbound Lead Generation
Any prospect or lead that is attracted to your marketing and comes to you is an inbound lead. The exhibition could be of interest due to:
- Completing the inquiry form after reading content on your website
- Download an e-book
- Request a demo after watching a webinar
- completing a survey
The strategy for generating inbound leads is called "inbound marketing".
Outbound Lead Generation
Sending messages to the target audience, whether they've expressed interest or not, is called "outbound lead generation." This can take the following form:
- Cold Email
- bulk email
- direct mail
- Advertising on social media
The outbound lead generation strategy is also known as "outbound marketing".
Inbound vs. Outbound: Which Strategy is Right for You?
Each of these two strategies has its own pros and cons. Outbound marketing gives you greater control over how and when potential customers interact with your brand. With inbound strategies, you let prospects choose how they want to engage.
Outbound lead generation works best in the short term, but inbound lead generation works over the long term. These campaigns have higher costs as advertising or cold calling is usually expensive. Inbound campaigns have lower costs and because they last long, the cost per lead decreases significantly over time. It's also cheaper to start with and has lower risks.
It's up to you to choose the right strategy that suits your business needs. If you have the budget, you can start with outbound strategies for faster impact while building on inbound assets in parallel. Once inbound lead generation gains momentum, you can start cutting back on outbound strategies.
In this article, we'll focus on inbound lead generation strategies because they have a low barrier to entry and all businesses — regardless of size or maturity — should try them.
types of leads
There are several types of leads depending on the source. Here are four of the most common:
- Market Qualified Leads:These are leads that have interacted with your marketing team and shown interest. However, they are not yet ready for sale and must be maintained.
- Sales Qualified Leads:These are contacts who want to buy a product or service. Interest could be expressed by submitting an inquiry, filling out a form to inquire about your product or service, or by calling your sales helpdesk. They are often the easiest leads to convert.
- Product Qualified Leads:Customers who have already tried your product and expressed an interest in upgrading to a paid version are referred to as Product Qualified Leads. These are typically people who have signed up for your free or trial product and now want to upgrade to a paid tier.
- Service Qualified Leads:These are customers who are interested in your product or service. Suppose you offer your customers five products. During a service request, one of your customers tells your service representative that they are interested in two of your other products.
How online lead generation works: 4 easy steps
Here is how the online lead generation process for collecting inbound leads usually works:
- Prospects discover your business through one of your marketing channels (social media, blog, website, webinar, etc.)
- They read your posts or blogs and then follow your call-to-action (CTA)
- This CTA takes the visitor to a landing page on your website
- On the landing page, you collect their information in exchange for an offer. This offer can be an e-book, case study, study, white paper, cheat sheet, newsletter subscription, etc.
Gathering contact information is the first step in converting the lead into a paying customer, as multiple touchpoints are required before they are ready to purchase. You need to develop a relationship with them over a period of time. Interacting with leads, supporting them, and maintaining ongoing communication to prepare them for a purchase is called lead nurturing.
You should save all leadsCustomer Relationship Management (CRM)Software so you can easily nurture the lead. There are manyCRM-Softwareoptions available. Discover some of the best and you can choose the one that works best for you.
5 Ways Lead Generation Helps Small Businesses
Generating inbound leads helps small businesses in many ways. Here are just a few:
- Build brand awareness and visibility.Online lead generation activities help you build brand awareness and generate customer interest in your products and services. Once prospects begin to trust your brand, they will be more willing to share their contact information in exchange for an offer and ultimately make a purchase.
- Generate business opportunities.Besides providing a list of qualified prospects, lead generation activities can generate other business opportunities such as collaboration and partnership building.
- Improve the quality of leads.Lead quality is often higher when you support inbound lead generation activities rather than lead buying. It goes without saying that higher quality leads mean more value per customer and lead to business growth.
- Reduce the effort involved in generating outbound leads.As mentioned earlier, outbound lead generation is more expensive. When inbound lead generation efforts take off, you can limit outbound marketing and lower your cost per lead.
- Addressing desired customers.If you have multiple demographic groups to target, you can create lead generation campaigns that specifically target each segment.
How to Generate Leads Online: 8 Proven Techniques
Here are eight simple techniques you can use to generate online leads.
search engine optimization
Whenever your prospects want to know something or solve a problem, they search online. You can optimize your online presence - website, blog, social media accounts, aggregator platforms, etc. - so that they find their way to you. Since these are people looking for solutions to their problems, they will likely buy a similar product or service from you if your content helps them. Many powerfulSEO-Toolsare available for a low monthly cost.
Content marketing is a great way to drive qualified leads to your landing page. To achieve this, you need to create useful and informative content and distribute it where the target audience is located. Although the content is free to read, you can add calls-to-action anywhere on the page to ask for their contact information in exchange for more relevant information like an e-book, report, or white paper.
If your content solves their exact pain point, they will most likely sign up to receive your offer. Content marketing is a long-term game, and you should expect it to take at least 6-9 months for organic traffic (market-qualified leads) to convert to sales (sales-qualified leads).
If you feel like you're not ready to start content marketing on external platforms, consider starting a blog. Create blog posts on keywords your potential customers are searching for and you can attract organic traffic from multiple search engines. Don't forget to include calls-to-action in blog posts so you can generate leads from organic traffic.
Consistent blogging can get your content in featured snippets and at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), generating quality organic traffic.
Social media platforms are a great way to gain followers by sharing useful content and then guiding them to take appropriate action. You can promote your offers and even include a call to action in your bio, caption or posts. Get something for freeSocial Media Management SoftwarePush content to multiple platforms at the same time.
Informative webinars that solve your target customer's pain points are a great way to create a more personal connection and generate leads. If prospects find your webinar useful, they should be willing to provide their contact information at the end of the webinar for information about your product or service.
Industry Research Reports
Publishing industry research reports is a great way to prove your credibility and share contextual information. You can commission original research studies, collaborate with online research organizations, or curate the latest studies from multiple credible sources. Then get leads by offering a free download of the report in exchange for contact information.
Whitepaper oder E-Books
White papers and e-books that solve problems or provide information for your target audience are good ways to generate leads online. People who share their contact information in exchange for these resources are already searching for solutions that your product or service solves. Therefore, these are highly qualified leads.
Weekly or monthly newsletters are a great way to keep your leads engaged. Set expectations for the newsletter so people on your list know what to expect from you and when. You can share new product releases, promotional offers, surveys and more through the newsletter.
Online lead generation should be a top priority for your business as the way customers make purchasing decisions has changed. Use the techniques we've discussed in this article to start generating leads online. Explore each of them and then decide on the one that best suits your business needs.
frequently asked Questions
Should I buy leads?
Bought leads come from people who have decided to switch to a different product or service. Therefore, they are low-quality leads for you. If you send them a "cold" email, they have no idea who you are and the chances of converting them into paying customers are very slim. Many of them will either send your emails to their spam folder or opt out of receiving communications from you entirely.
How can I generate online leads?
Lead generation mainly falls into two categories: inbound and outbound. Outbound lead generation typically involves cold calling, mailers, and other methods of getting your information directly to prospects. Inbound leads are nurtured by drawing customers to you by creating an online presence that encourages them to provide contact information, sometimes in exchange for exclusive offers.
What types of leads are there?
There are different types of leads you may have, including Marketing Qualified Leads, Sales Qualified Leads, Product Qualified Leads, and Service Qualified Leads. Marketing qualified leads are leads that have contacted your marketing department in some way, e.g. B. by completing an interest form, but have not purchased any goods or services. Sales qualified leads are leads that show they intend to become a customer, for example by asking detailed questions about your services or products. Product qualified leads are those who have used your product before and are willing to continue or expand that use, e.g. B. Those who have availed a free trial and now want to continue after the trial period is over. A service-qualified lead is someone who has contacted you through your customer service department and indicated that they would like to purchase your goods or services.