As you feel pressure around the firm to generate a high number of quality leads, it’s time to make sure you have all the facts straight about online lead generation. Let’s dive right in.
Here are seven critical elements of lead generation every Marketing Director should pay attention to:
1.Your website is critical.
Your website is your most valuable marketing tool. And it often gets less attention than it deserves, getting lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day business operations, business development efforts, and marketing campaigns.
Research shows that 80% of prospects check out your website when researching if a service provider is a good fit.
Before they ask a colleague, Google your firm, or look at your social media presence, prospects go to your website to find out if your firm can help solve their challenges.
Not only is your website the first stop for prospects to check out your firm, your website is also the foundation for generating leads in the first place. This means your website must not only speak to your firm’s professionalism and ability to solve the challenges your audience faces, but it must engage web visitors to move further along the content funnel (more on this in #6).
There are a myriad of marketing techniques to move web visitors further along the content funnel, but one of the most critical is the landing page.
2. Landing pages are essential for conversions.
While many lead generation articles focus on SEO to drive visitors to your website organically, let’s look at what happens when they land on your site.
Someone might land on your website from a social network, referral site, an email campaign, Google search, or directly by typing in your web address. And when a visitor lands on a specific page designed to convert the visitor (such as a Contact Us form, Request for Proposal or a piece of content) the page’s design and words play a big part in the conversion rate.
Here are a few landing page best practices to optimize for conversions:
- Clear, concise copy that tells the reader exactly what they need to know
- A basic form with only 2-4 form fields (name, email, and industry is usually all you will need)
- Visually engaging image
- Uncluttered page layout
- One call-to-action (CTA) per landing page
Check out this infographic landing page from Marketo.
3. Email is undervalued and underutilized.
Email marketing is every marketer’s true asset. Michael Hyatt has “literally built a multi-million dollar business on the strength of [his] email list.” But email marketing often becomes a marketing routine on autopilot, or gets neglected altogether.
There are two essential areas most email marketing campaigns lack: 1) strategy and 2) A/B testing.
Many firms go about email marketing haphazardly and fail to incorporate an overall strategy. When developing a strategy, ask yourself these questions:
- Why are you sending emails in the first place? Is the purpose to inform, promote, or just keep in touch with prospects?
- Who are the emails geared towards?
- How often will the audience want to receive emails from your firm? Once a week or once a month?
- What types of emails will nurture and educate recipients the most?
Second is A/B testing. Testing should be a priority for every Marketing Director in order to know what’s working in your email marketing campaigns – elements like what content is most engaging, what topics prospects are interested in most, and what images encourage click-throughs to your website.
At Hinge, we believe if you’re not A/B testing, you’re not learning anything about your future clients.
4. Social media drives qualified traffic and leads.
That is, assuming you have a strategy in place and a plan to execute. The first step is to figure out where your prospects hang out online. This will help you decide which networks are most appropriate for your firm and determine the level of focus for each network.
For example, an architecture firm might decide to focus on the following networks:
- LinkedIn 50%
- Pinterest 25%
- Facebook 15%
- YouTube 10%
Breaking it down like this can help you figure out where to spend time on social media. Keep in mind, 60% of professional services prospects check you out on social media – and of those individuals, 70% look at LinkedIn.
By determining the right social media strategy, you can drive traffic to your site that’s interested in your content and services. And as long as #1 and #2 are in place to capture those conversions, you’ll be in good shape.
5. Educate, don’t sell.
The saying should be “always be educating.” Research conducted by Hinge and RAIN Group on professional services buyers and sellers showed that the number one characteristic of the firms who won the sale was “the ability to educate prospects.”
How can you educate potential clients? By fully embracing content marketing. This means identifying what the key challenges are that your prospects face and creating content that explains the answers. Don’t be afraid to give away your secrets.
Prospects who are serious about solving their challenges will educate themselves before buying. And the prospects who might read your content, but do not buy services because you gave away the answers were never going to become a client in the first place.
Educating and collaborating with prospects will allow them to fully trust your firm and, most importantly, self-qualify. And when they are ready to buy, your firm will be at the top of their mind.
6. Never forget the content funnel.
Not every web visitor will become a conversion and not every conversion will become a client. This is where the content funnel comes in.
Take each level of the funnel as a step in the process from a prospect first learning your firm’s name to becoming a hot lead – ready to see a proposal.
7. Don’t expect immediate results.
The biggest mistake you can make is quitting content marketing before getting started. Expect a minimum of 6-12 months before you see regular inbound leads from lead nurturing.
How do you know if your lead generation strategy is working during the first 6-12 months? I recommend measuring two key areas of engagement:
- Email list size: Is your list growing? Are people giving email addresses in exchange for content? This study from Marketing Sherpa shows that most marketers experience slow, but positive growth with their email list. This is normal. Obtaining quality emails will not happen overnight.
- Time on site: Are people hanging out on your site for more than two minutes? If so, that’s a good sign. Even better if they are engaged for more than five minutes. This shows web visitors find the content and information on your site useful.
There are many other metrics to measure as well, but these two will help you learn if the audience you’re targeting is engaged and interested in the content you offer.
Online lead generation is where marketing and sales meet – and professional services firms are getting on board. Keep these seven tips in mind as you develop your own lead generation strategy.
Did I miss anything on this list? Please comment below with other lead generation strategies you’ve found successful.