Finding effective ways to generate leads online is much easier than you may think. The beauty of internet marketing is that many lead generation strategies are free or nearly free to implement. Whether you own an offline small business or are joining the ranks of successful online entrepreneurs, the list below will help you find the best ways to generate more leads by taking advantage of the Internet.
#1: Get a Website
An online presence begins with a well designed website. Offline businesses can use a number of online marketing tactics to get leads without a website, but having a home on the web can make your efforts much more effective. A website is obviously a must for businesses that operate solely online. Focus on making is easy to use and simple to navigate.
#2: Optimize Your Site for Search Engines
The key to generating leads with a website is to fill the site with content and articles that are not just informative and well written, but are focused on keywords that will drive potential customers to you. A search friendly website with optimized content is the best way to drive search engine traffic directly to your site with little additional effort.
#3: Start a Blog
Once a personal community, the blogosphere is now home to a diverse population including personal users as well as businesses. Many individuals generate income from their blogs and use it as their primary website but most businesses, especially offline companies, have a blog to supplement their main site. Remember to update it regularly with content.
#4: Publish More Content
Blogs are good ways to generate leads because new content is typically published frequently. A website that ranks well for 100 pages will obviously draw in more traffic than a site with just a few pages on the first page of Google. Sites with more relevant indexed pages also garner more authority with search engines and tend to rank better.
#5: Provide an Online Resource
Rather than publishing hundreds of pages of mediocre, uninteresting content for SEO, focus on creating a resource that answers questions, offers solutions, and provides advice to the members of your target audience. Create original, informative articles that deliver what your visitors are looking for and your leads will multiply exponentially.
#6: Spend Time on Headlines
One of the simplest ways to generate leads online is to create better headlines (or titles) for your articles, blog posts, and web pages. A good title should not only pique the interest of potential readers, it should also grab the attention of the search engines. Integrate your primary keyword into the title and be sure it clearly sets the stage for the content.
#7: Perfect Your Call to Action
Effective web content should inform and enlighten the reader, but it should also persuade them to take action. Whether it’s clicking a link, entering an email address, or making a purchase, all of your articles and pages should guide your visitors to this point by subtly convincing them that it is a worthwhile decision.
#8: Build Quality Backlinks
Links to your website from other sites are crucial to SEO as well as lead generation. There are many ways to gain backlinks – some of them are mentioned in this list – but the best strategy is to publish unique, high quality content that other webmasters will naturally want to link to and share with their own readers.
#9: Use AdWords Correctly
New websites may take time to start generating leads through organic search results. Paid search listings are a great way to improve traffic and get conversions. For the best results, create landing pages specifically for each of your ads and be sure that the content provides exactly what the searcher is looking for when they click.
#10: Build Your Online Brand
One of the most successful ways to generate leads online and off is to build the awareness and visibility of your brand. Branding is not only about improving the visibility of your product or service; it is also about creating a loyalty between your customers and your company. Most of the ideas mentioned here will help you accomplish this.
#11: Take Time to Socialize
Social media is one of the best tools for online branding. It’s easy to connect with your target audience and to let their social power take your business to new levels. But this will only happen if you remember that social media isn’t merely a backdrop for your advertisements; think of it as a virtual global convention of consumers and business owners.
#12: Make the Most of Twitter
The best social network depends on your business and its customers, but using a combination of these venues will typically bring better results. The tendency for Twitter users to share posts with their own followers creates a lot of potential for possible leads. Businesses using Twitter usually generate at least twice as many leads as those who don’t.
#13: Create Shareable Posts
To get the full benefits of marketing with Twitter, or any other social media network, you have to create catchy posts that make people want to click the links that you share. You can have 10,000 Twitter followers, but if no one is clicking through to your website or blog, you’re not generating leads – you’re just wasting time.
#14: Become Part of the Social Community
Your interaction in social circles also plays a part in the number of leads you get. Social media provides a convenient, widespread opportunity to communicate with your customers. But communication is a two-way street so it is vital that you listen and respond to the posts of others just as often, if not more so, than you post for yourself.
#15: Become Active on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is often overlooked in the many different options for social marketing, but it is one of the most effective ways to generate leads online for some businesses. A professional network, LinkedIn is an excellent resource for individuals in the business-to-business sector, but can be beneficial to the B2C industry as well, particularly by building credibility.
#16: Don’t Forget Social Bookmarking Sites
Sites like Digg, del.icio.us, and Reddit can have a big impact on lead generation, especially if interesting, high quality content is shared. Pinterest is a magnificent marketing resource for businesses in certain sectors. Females are the predominant users, making it a great outlet for businesses in home and gardening, weddings, and similar markets.
#17: Gain Credibility as an Expert
Credibility is extremely important if you want relevant leads that result in easy conversions and repeat customers. Using the right techniques to get leads will also continuously build the credibility and trustworthiness of your brand. The best way to achieve this is to focus on always providing reliable information that is useful to your target audience.
#18: Start an Article Marketing Campaign
Websites, blogs, and social media all contribute to building your brand as well as your credibility, but establishing yourself as an expert requires a bigger investment. Article marketing is the first step and can generate a multitude of leads long after the pages are first published. Be sure to direct your social networks to your articles for extra impact.
#19: Become a Hubber or a Lensmaster
Community sites like Hubpages and Squidoo are very similar to social networking sites, but articles are the primary medium making it a terrific option for SEO and lead generation through organic search results. A timesaving technique is to rewrite your article marketing content into unique versions and format them for the appropriate site.
#20: Make Guest Posts on High Traffic Websites
In addition to articles published in article directories, hubs, and Squidoo lenses, volunteer to contribute high quality content to websites with a similar target audience. Many webmasters accept posts and articles from guest writers, especially if it is relevant to their topic and will enrich their readers. Be sure to include a brief bio of yourself.
#21: Craft an Effective Author Profile
In article marketing, the resource box or author bio is the call to action and one of the only ways to generate leads online using articles. Take as much care in creating a bio as you would with headlines and content, but make it as concise as possible. Establish your expertise in the field in a sentence or two and include a link to your website.
#22: Build an Opt-In List
The thousands of visitors that your website is receiving from your SEO and article marketing efforts will probably not result in too many true leads without an opt-in list or email subscription signup. Be sure a sign up form is in plain view when readers land on your site and mention your mailing list throughout your website and in your author bio.
#23: Publish a Regular Newsletter
Once you begin collecting email addresses, it is important to use them effectively to not only make sales, but to generate other leads. Useful information in a friendly, easy to read layout is an excellent way to encourage readers visit your website and increases the chance that subscribers will forward the message to a friend.
#24: Set Up Autoresponders
Autoresponders are used by almost every internet marketer. Similar to a newsletter, these short messages are emailed to selected subscribers at various scheduled times. It is a great way to welcome new subscribers and remind them to check out your website or to send updates to a specific group of customers. There are many uses for autoresponders.
#25: Contribute to Other Email Marketing Campaigns
Just like guest posts on related websites and blogs, contributing a newsletter column or a short autoresponder message to an entrepreneur with a similar audience can generate many new leads. Be sure the content is original and informative, and be sure to include your author bio to encourage traffic to your website.
#26: Publish a Press Release
Online press releases have a much broader reach than typical releases in small publications. Well written releases that are of genuine interest to the public are typically published by thousands of websites and printed documents around the world. While press releases are one of the best ways to generate leads online for volume, the results are short lived.
#27: Take Advantage of Free Advertising
The primary advantage of free classified sites like Craigslist is that there’s really nothing to lose. Creating an effective ad that can generate leads only takes a few minutes and there’s no cost involved. This type of online advertising is beneficial to offline businesses, but can be successful for online businesses as well if the site’s guidelines are followed.
#28: Get Listed in Online Directories
Community websites, interest groups, and other sites related to your field may offer a directory of businesses, products, or services that may appeal to their visitors. Many of these listings are free but there are some paid directories that may be a worthwhile investment for lead generation. Read reviews from other users before subscribing to avoid scams.
#29: Write an eBook
An eBook is essentially a well organized series of quality articles that can fulfill a variety of purposes. Some people sell their eBooks as supplemental income, but one of the most popular uses is as an instant bonus gift to new list subscribers. Free eBooks are a great way to increase your list membership as well as generate leads to your website.
#30: Write an eBook for Another Entrepreneur
Affiliate marketers have been exchanging products to increase leads for many years, but this strategy is effective for other businesses as well. An offline landscaper, for instance, can offer his or her eBook on garden design to new list members of a gardening website. The author links within the book will generate relevant, targeted leads to your site.
#31: Create How To Videos
Videos, podcasts, and other multimedia formats are becoming an increasingly popular way for users to get their information online. Take advantage of this by creating your own YouTube channel and uploading videos and tutorials that will benefit your target audience. There are ample opportunities to include a link to your website.
#32: Offer a Free Mini eCourse
The Internet is a favored resource for self-learning. Create an informative series of email messages that will teach your audience how to do something that relates to your industry – you have probably subscribed to this sort of thing yourself! It is a highly effective way to generate leads for your other targeted email correspondences.
#33: Participate in Online Forums
Forums are the predecessor to social media sites and offer a much more focused content stream. Find active forums that are related to your industry and start contributing your expert knowledge. Many forums allow website links within your signature so you can generate leads with your helpful posts and advice.
#34: Read Other People’s Blogs
Read and comment on other popular blogs within your industry. The links that are generated by commenting are not beneficial for SEO purposes, but they can still generate leads and attract new visitors. Avoid promoting yourself, your site, or your products on other sites and concentrate on contributing useful information instead.
#35: Buy Advertisements
Purchasing advertising spots on other websites that target your market is obviously more expensive than some of the other ways to generate leads online that are mentioned here, but it is much less time intensive. Choose your sites wisely based on traffic and growth statistics. Higher volume websites typically charge more for ad spots.
#36: Set Up an Affiliate Program
Recruiting others to market a product or service is an age-old practice in the sales industry and it is just as effective in online marketing. Affiliates are like salespeople who work around the clock using their own online marketing techniques to promote your brand. A small commission is generally paid to the affiliate based on the sales or clicks generated.
#37: Have a Contest
Giveaways, especially those with a bit of value, are a big attraction in the online realm. Hold a drawing to boost your social media presence, giving one entry to each new follower, or sponsor a giveaway on another website with similar conditions for entry. Using your own products or services as prizes increases the marketing impact of this strategy.
#38: Offer Discounts or Other Special Offers
Rather than entries to a contest, reward new signups with discounts or coupons toward your products or services. Trial offers are a great enticement for membership sites; trial sizes of products attract new leads as well. Special offers are great lead generators, but they also provide a significant increase in your sales.
#39: Provide Discounts or Bonuses to a Partner’s List Members
Expanding your offers or trials to other lists that target your market can dramatically increase the results of your efforts. Ask a partner with a good list to publish your discount in his or her newsletter or create a coupon that can be included in another marketer’s bonus package. Not all of these will result in an immediate sale, but many will generate leads.
#40: Give Referral Gifts to Existing Customers
Recommendations from trusted friends and family members are one of the most powerful types of lead generation. Encourage your loyal customers to spread the word by rewarding them with a discount on future purchases or a free gift with each referral. This is well worth the cost to you, especially if the referral turns into another loyal customer.
#41: Create Special Reports and User Guides
Free reports and informative user guides are great ways to generate leads online when you include links to your website within them. A well written report with accurate facts and data, or an extensive guide that walks users through every step of using something, are both effective ideas with excellent potential.
#42: Write Reviews
Depending on the focus of your business, reviews of various products and services can build credibility and generate leads. Many consumer shopping sites, such as Amazon, encourage shoppers to review their purchases or you can review products and services directly on your website. This is a terrific technique for affiliate marketing leads.
#43: Post Relative Responses on Yahoo! Answers
Anyone who has conducted an online search has probably visited Yahoo! Answers to learn more about their search inquiry. Because of the site’s visibility in search engines, it is a great place to generate leads for your business. Post detailed and useful responses to questions in your area of expertise and include your website in the resource box.
#44: Become Active on Sites Your Target Audience Visits
Choose the forums, blogs, and social media sites that you frequent based on the habits of your clientele. This also applies to websites that you partner with by contributing content, bonus gifts, or other lead generating incentives. Sharing links from popular websites relating to your field through your social networks can also increase leads.
#45: Make Networking a Priority
During lead generation, the primary focus is on building connections and developing relationships with potential customers; the priority during this stage of marketing is not making a sale. Don’t promote your products or services without first gaining the lead or your efforts will be worthless.
#46: Be Persistent and Don’t Give Up
Even using the best ways to generate leads online, it’s a process that takes time. Patience is very important in an effective online marketing campaign. Don’t give in to the temptation of using a quick and easy lead generating tool; while the results may be more immediate, they don’t last as long and can damage your credibility in the long run.
#47: Analyze Your Strategies
Monitor the various lead generation techniques you’re using very closely. Compare different methods to see what seems to bring the best results for the effort and make note of any campaigns that are not creating any traffic. Basic A/B tests are an excellent way to examine the effectiveness of different tactics and to perfect the best approach.
#48: Make Changes to Improve Your Techniques
Based on your analysis and test findings, adjust your current strategies to get the best possible results. Consumer habits and internet trends are constantly changing, so your lead generation techniques must evolve as well. Even after you have established an effective system, keep a close eye on its performance and adapt it as needed.
#49: Follow Up with Potential Leads
The biggest mistake made by online entrepreneurs is to put effort into generating leads, and then to expect sales and conversions to just naturally follow. Whether it’s with autoresponders, a newsletter, or a personal phone call, be sure to continue the relationship you have started if you want to turn leads into repeat customers.
#50: Don’t Neglect Existing Customers
Regardless of how many leads you generate online or how many new clients you gain, a base of loyal customers that return to your website and increase your income on a regular basis are irreplaceable. Existing customers are the lifeline of any business and are the absolute best source for effortless lead generation.
There are many ways to generate leads online, but not every technique will be effective for every business. Consider the ideas and tips above when you develop a personal online marketing strategy that incorporates a combination of lead generation methods to best meet the needs of your business.