2016 is right around the corner. Chances are you’re still working on finalizing your marketing plans for 2016. Generally speaking companies create a plan and a budget for their marketing campaigns 3-6 months before launching. This is no longer the case. Technology and Digital Marketing is moving way too fast to make such forecasts that far in advance. For Enterprise size companies they have the luxury of working with large teams of marketing professionals and large budgets. Testing online marketing campaigns can be expensive, not to mention hard to understand the data analytics. This is why small to medium size enterprises have no choice but to follow the trends and move quickly. To create a successful Online Lead Generation strategy within your Digital Marketing plan you must first answer the following questions;
- Who & Where is your target audience?
- What CRM will you use to manage the contacts?
- How will you track your online, offline and referral leads?
- Who is responsible for contacting prospects and when?
- Does your product or service offering have a clear benefit to the customer?
- Do you have a process for Online and Offline Customer Service?
- What is the most you’re willing to pay for a lead based on your current lead-to-sales conversion data?
- Do you understand the difference between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?
- How do you nurture leads that do not convert?
- What type of Content Marketing will you be using?
Once you’ve answered these basic questions you should have a better understanding of what kind of strategy you want to create your Online Lead Generation Strategy. If you Google “Online Lead Generation Strategy,” you’re bound to find hundreds of “how to” articles and images illustrating the Attract-Nurture-Convert-type funnels. The problem is that Digital Marketing and Online Lead Generation Strategies are constantly changing so unless you’re reading something that was written within the last 30-90 days then it’s probably outdated. Each company should have a customized Online Lead Generation Strategy. Below are some key steps you need to take in order to create and launch an effective Online Lead Generation Strategy.
Step 1: The first thing any company with a website needs to do is understand the metrics. If you haven’t already installed Google Analytics and studied how to interpret the data included in this free application then you need to do this asap. If you do not understand what’s happening on your website then you can’t properly determine which lead gen campaigns or media channels are generating the clicks or leads. It’s essential that you invest the time to learn the features on Google Analytics so that you can learn how to interpret the data. Once you understand how to read the data you’ll be able to optimize your Online Lead Generation campaigns and website accordingly.
Step 2: Now that you understand how to measure the results of your campaigns your company needs to determine which tools and technologies you need to use in order to manage your Online Lead Generation campaign. Tools & Technologies to consider include the following:
- What type of Marketing Automation software will you use? When it comes to Marketing Automation applications there are dozens of them available on the cloud. Marketing Automation Service Providers: Hubspot, Marketo, Oracle, Act-On, InfusionSoft, SilverPop & Pardot.
- What Email Service? There are hundreds of available. Many of them will offer you a free subscription for a small number of contacts. Contrary to Email Service Providers what others say Email Marketing is still alive and well. Email Service Providers: Constant Contact, MailChimp, Emma, iContact & Get Response.
- What type of CRM? CRM’s are not just for companies managing thousands of customers. Even if you only have a couple dozen clients it will make your job easier and give your customers a better experience. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. In today’s market you’ll find a CRM for just about every industry. A CRM will allow you to manage the contact information, document customer interaction and account activity, set alerts, set important dates, tasks and much more. Most importantly, these CRM’s allow you to manage your contacts on the go using your mobile devices. CRM Service Providers: Salesforce, Insightly, Microsoft, SAP, Sugar & Sage.
- What type of Phone Service? While your company may not need a call center with a complex and expensive PBX Phone System you do need a reliable way of getting in touch with your clients. Make sure that you use call tracking for your campaigns. You can get phone numbers from services like Twillio for as little as $1. If you’re using Google Adwords for your paid search campaigns they’ll issue you phone numbers on your display ads for free. Phone Service Providers: Vonage, Ring Central, eVoice & GrassHopper
Step 3: What channels will you use for your Online Lead Generation Strategy? You can generate leads for your sales team using any of the following digital marketing channels: Social Media, Email Marketing, SEO, Paid Search, Mobile Marketing , Video Marketing, & Inbound Marketing.
- Social Media- you need to understand where your target audience is looking for your type of product or service. It goes without say that you need to be on Facebook. They have the most data and users on the internet. You should definitely test with Twitter, Youtube, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Instagram and others. Then there’s the question of whether you should create content and start posting or create paid campaigns like Facebook Ads and Twitter Lead Cards. You will likely generate leads both ways once you have followers. For Facebook you can take your list of customer emails and upload it to the Power Editor so that you can target those users. For new users you’ll be able to create audiences in the campaign. Make sure that you have a landing page with a great call-to-action on your site. Once a user lands on your landing page you need to have a short form to collect the lead information and deliver it in real time to your CRM.
- Email Marketing is pretty straight forward in that once you have an opted in list you’ll be able to send emails with offers and updates about your products and services on a regular basis. There are email templates readily available on every platform. Upon doing your email blasts you need to work on understand the data like open rates, click through rates and bounce rates.
- SEO- generating leads through Organic Search takes time. You have to make sure your site is Responsive and Mobile Optimized so that the user has a great experience. Then you have to regularly add content and optimize the website for SEO. In the long run organic traffic will generate your best leads at the lowest cost.
- Paid Search will deliver clicks to your website as soon as you create your campaigns and fund it. This does not mean that the clicks will magically convert into leads. It takes expertise to generate leads using Google Adwords, Bing and other Paid Search Engine platforms. You have to manage and optimize the campaigns daily. Once you figure out what your cost per lead needs to be then you can bid on the keywords for your products and services based on the cost per clicks offered.
- Mobile Marketing is changing the way we generate leads online. The rise of mobile usage has brought new opportunities to reach customers. Whether you reach them while they’re playing a game on an app, through an ad on their music service and on their text message service (SMS) you’re likely to tap into a new way of generating leads.
- Video Marketing is a great way to tell your story. Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other channels have all the tools you need in order to set up a Lead Generation campaign with the use of video. Find a local video production company or freelancer who can also edit the video for you.
- Inbound Marketing is defined as an integrated process of creating your company’s brand engagement by earning visitors’ interests instead of pushing traditional interruptive message. A Content Marketing strategy is a crucial component to creating an Inbound Marketing campaign that will generate inbound leads.
The last point you should consider when creating a Digital Marketing and Online Lead Generation Strategy is to attend conferences that teach you about current strategies. Staying ahead of the curve and up on industry trends can be challenging to say the least. When you attend these conferences you’ll meet digital marketers who spend all their time creating proven strategies and building campaigns for companies across all markets and industries. You’re likely to meet other competitors who send their marketing and salespeople to learn how they can generate more leads. Happy Conferencing and good luck creating your 2016 Online Lead Generation Strategy.
Here’s a short list of the must-attend conferences:
- LeadsCon- Las Vegas in January and NYC in August
- PubCon- Las Vegas in October
- SMX– Around the globe. San Jose in March and NYC in September
- ClickZ- Around the globe. NYC in April & Chicago in November
- Ad Tech- Los Angeles in May and NYC in November
- Affiliate Summit- Las Vegas in January and NYC in August