The most effective lead generation tools for online businesses
A comprehensive guide by Icarus Media Digital
At Icarus Media Digital, we spend our time working with online entrepreneurs from the early seeds of new ideas through to launching and scaling impressive businesses.
Effective lead generation is the lifeblood of a scaling business, and yet according to data from Hubspot, 61% of businesses find lead generation the most challenging part of their marketing strategy.
We’ve tried most of the strategies over the years and learned a lot along the way. This article focuses on the lead generation strategies that drive the best return on your investment.
Defining lead generation
In its simplest terms, lead generation is how you bring a prospective client into your sales funnel, capture key information, such as an email address, and help them see you have the expertise, products and services to help them.
A lead generation method provides a positive return on investment (ROI) when it brings more money into the business in sales than it costs to generate the leads.
Build your list with powerful lead magnets
Offering valuable gated content — content that sits behind an email signup process — is an effective means of adding value to prospective clients. This type of content helps prospective clients diagnose an issue or start solving it while your business builds an email list of warm to hot leads who need your services.
The lead magnet may come in the form of a how-to guide or a test that helps the prospect to get clear on their issue. It could be in written, video or even audio format. Crucially it should build trust between the individual and your company and leave them wanting to work with you.
While social media followings are powerful, email lists of ideal clients reduce risks for your business as you are not subject to the challenges of account bans and algorithm changes in the same way as with social channels. At the same time, your social media platforms provide an ideal way to promote your lead magnets.
> The more you personalise the content for your audience, the more your ideal client will feel that your business understands them and can help them through your products and services.
Social media conversations
Social media is a powerful means of extending your reach to untapped prospective clients. Today there are so many options: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, Twitter — the list goes on.
It can be overwhelming to know where to start, and we often see online entrepreneurs trying to be everywhere at once.
Instead, pick the channel you believe resonates with your ideal client the most and the one you feel most comfortable creating content on. As you create a strong following and traction on that platform, add another, and build an email list through a series of lead magnets such as events or free downloads along the way.
> Consistently posting quality content that resonates with your audience is key. Plan out a content strategy that speaks to their pain points and goals and execute it through a realistic posting timetable.
In our experience, one of the most effective yet under-utilised channels for generating new business leads is via referral from your happy clients.
There are few things as powerful as hearing someone you know, like and trust recommending a particular product or service.
Some referrals will naturally happen organically, bringing you hot prospects for free. However, having a designated referral programme that rewards existing clients for bringing in new business helps to encourage this lead generation channel to move from an ad hoc source of leads to a steady pipeline of new ideal clients.
We also recommend that you take the time to encourage written, video or audio testimonials from your satisfied clients that you can share through your communication channels as social proof.
Search engine optimised (SEO) traffic
Organic content that ranks in search engines such as Google can be a really cost-effective and long-term source of leads. Search engine optimised blogs and videos allow you to target keywords your prospective clients use when researching their problem, for example, “how to get more quality leads”. High quality and helpful content will position your business as an expert in the eyes of your ideal clients.
> Typically ranking in search engines will take some time as you build up quality content in your online presence. However, once it’s written or filmed, you can generate new leads on autopilot with little to no additional investment of time or money, providing an attractive ROI.
Guest blogs and interviews
Another way to position you and your brand as experts in a particular space is to seek opportunities to write blogs, provide videos, or interview on communication channels run by other businesses.
If your content adds real value to another audience, these opportunities can be free of charge and just require a time investment. Alternatively, you could design an affiliate relationship whereby any sales from the guest spot generate a commission for the channel owner to incentivise them to feature you. You may also pay for opportunities to get your message in front of an ideal audience through a credible publication.
Add value in targeted online communities
A free but potentially time-intensive way of generating leads for your business is to contribute to established online communities that your ideal clients are a part of in a way that positions your business as having the expertise to help them.
You can add value by answering relevant questions on sites such as Quora or in Facebook groups. Be sure to check the posting rules for any online communities to avoid falling foul of any promotion guidelines, and track the ROI you get on your time invested to ensure it’s worthwhile.
Online events are a fantastic opportunity to display your business expertise through a presentation or online experience. You could consider partnering with businesses that offer non-competing services and want to reach a similar audience.
Online events can be as simple as a webinar question and answer session, through to virtual summits that are more experiential.
> The key to maximising your ROI is to have attendees take some form of action during the event while you have their full attention, such as signing up for a discounted offer or a discovery call with your sales team.
If you want to skyrocket your lead generation and you have a healthy marketing budget, then paid methods that convert can be very effective.
These days the barriers to online advertising are pretty low. Whether it’s display ads, Facebook ads, or Google search ads to get more traffic or convert, there are many options to get your message in front of ideal clients.
> The critical thing is conversion. Run tests before scaling your investment to ensure the ad will generate the desired ROI. Split testing enables you to test differences between ads to find the optimal one for your audience.
Chatbots and AI
Once you have a website receiving traffic, it’s essential to optimise your web presence to encourage visitors to take action when on your site. One effective way of doing this is by installing an intelligent chatbot on your site that can help your prospective clients answer their questions immediately 24/7 and even make sales.
These technologies are becoming increasingly advanced now and can predict what information to display to users to enhance the likelihood of making a sale based on data analytics.
As we’ve outlined, there are many effective strategies for building a pipeline of high-quality new clients in your business. What’s more, as technologies evolve, there are more and more ways to connect with your target audience.
Many of the strategies work hand-in-hand seamlessly together; for example, a lead magnet to build an email list is an excellent addition to your social media strategy.
We recommend that you use a minimum of two to three of these tools over time to build a really robust lead generation strategy that supports your business to scale. Test out different methods for your business, measure the ROI and do more of what works for you.
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