First and foremost let’s get the definitions out of the way. What exactly is a lead you say? Well, a lead is simply a company or group of companies that you have identified as expressing some kind of interest in your products and/or services. Lead generation is the marketing term for the process of creating and generating the interest of potential prospects. It occurs when a visitor to your site (or other company touchpoints) takes action and makes additional contact with your company. There are several ways to increase lead generation and the main 5 will be discussed in further detail in this post. The purpose is to offer your target audience a wealth of relevant information that will shorten their buying cycle and convert targeted traffic into ‘hot’ prospects. This can be done through establishing your business and your team members as thought leaders in your industry.
*** If you are a construction product manufacturer that has all the necessary (and more) product information on your website, including online applications such as product selectors, pricing guides, downloadable brochures or product specification datasheets, you are making an architects’ or specifiers’ product selection that much easier. Good, relevant technical information creates loyalty amongst those who specify products or require assistance from those who manufacture products.
Lead generation is mostly accomplished through content marketing which includes:
- publishing industry relevant articles,
- blog posts,
- technical or demonstration videos,
- hosting and/or speaking at events and seminars,
- email campaigns
- company newsletters
- selection guides
It may seem that these are very time consuming activities but they are much more cost effective than traditional marketing methods. The number of enquiries generated can be controlled by publishing content on targeted landing pages and making offerings relevant for each stage of the B2B specification and buying cycle.
Savvy construction companies can set themselves apart from the competition by educating prospects about industry relevant topics, thereby solidifying a position as ‘experts’ or ‘specialists’ in their particular market. Generating leads online boils down to giving back to your target audience and ensuring that your business’ products and services are being found.
Here is a list of 5 ways that you can implement to increase your online lead generation:
1. Your Website should clearly state what you do
This ensures more quality traffic because visitors can easily spot whether you are a company that they want to do business with. Having a strong positioning statement and clearly stating what products and services you provide means that the leads generated will be companies with which you want to do business with. It also eliminates a lot of competition as you become specialists in your field instead of agreeing to work with any companies regardless of whether they are part of your target audience or not. Have a focus! Do not simply write about yourself but make sure content is geared towards how to can help your visitors. Writing in a conversational (but still professional tone) will make the visitor feel as though you are speaking directly to them and therefore is more likely to read on. Keep your website up to date and have links to social networks such as Twitter or your company blog so that leads can connect with you there. This helps builds a favourable company personality and increases trust.
2. Search Engine Optimised (SEO) content
Hire an SEO expert that will ensure relevant keywords are present in your website copy so that you will be easily found by your prospects who are searching for those keywords online. Remember to include both long tail and short tail keywords. Improving your search engine rankings will increase your company’s visibility and mean that more prospects will land on your site when they are searching for information. Become a knowledge and resource hub for your target audience and they will keep coming back. Keeping a company blog with industry specific content is loved by search engines like Google and if you include a balance of inbound and outbound links, your search ratings will improve drastically.
3. Compelling Calls to Action
The objective of lead generation is to convert these leads into prospects and finally into customers. Therefore your website, landing pages and other marketing activities need to include compelling calls to action. These will drive the leads further down the buying cycle and motivate them to contact you, download your e-book, sign up to your email newsletter or register for a seminar or event that you are holding. All these offerings should be geared towards lead conversion so do not hide them. Bold colours and buttons that catch the visitors’ eye will push them to action. Below are a few examples. Keep the buttons within your brand guidelines and use colours and shapes that are appropriate for your business and its purposes. You want them to look professional not tacky.
If the call to action requires a user to fill out a contact form, keep it short and only include fields that are necessary. Many leads will leave a site if the form is too long or too complicated. Usually name, email address, phone number, company name (and title if needed) are standard. Other information can be gathered once you have made contact with the prospect and a relationship has begun to form. These data fields will also improve your lead quality, weeding out poor quality leads and leaving only those who are part of your target audience.
4. Specific content for your target audience
Your potential leads could all be members of the same industry who are looking for slightly different information. Your website content must therefore cater for all these various groups and their needs. An architect looking for a product is looking for different information than a specifier. What are you doing to provide relevant information and help to both of these potential leads? A way to solve this problem is to organise your web site by customer type so prospects can easily find what you recommend or have a drop down menu where visitors can enter their profession or what type of information they are looking for. Remember to use phrasing unique to each market you serve. Great example of this is the RIBA product selector.
5. Follow up
This step closes the lead generation cycle. Follow ups are necessary to find out whether you can be of any more assistance. It is not a ‘sales’ call but more like a friendly introduction offering your services and letting them know you are there if they need any help. This makes them feel valued and not under pressure to buy anything just yet, but they will keep you in mind when your products or services are required. Auto – responder emails on sign up, download or registration forms are another good way of making contact with leads and clearly spelling out the next steps of the process. Include links to some of your previous work, to an article that can be downloaded as a gift, encourage them to connect with you on social media platforms or link to blog posts on relevant topics. Good auto response e-mails should also give visitors the chance to opt out in case they submitted the form in error. You don’t want to be sending your marketing message to people who are not interested in your work.
Jeff Bullas wrote an interesting post showing how important social media was for increased lead generation. The ability to share your content through different social channels generates more quality traffic to your website and/or blog, leading to more enquiries and therefore more potential customers.
Following these 5 steps should improve your lead generation and conversion rates if executed correctly. There are several other strategies and tactics that you can employ and we would like to hear from you which ones have worked for your company. How do you generate leads and convert them into loyal customers?