In traditional marketing parlance, lead generation is the term used to talk about how a business can motivate a customer to purchase a product or service, enroll in particular program, or otherwise further the business relationship. Lead generation means much the same thing today as it always has, though the methods used to generate those leads have changed a great deal. Businesses now have to think about lead generation as taking place within a very different customer environment. No longer are sales leads generated only by interactions with customers on the sales floor. The sales floor is now online, on mobile devices, and on social media. A new way of thinking about lead generation is necessary in order to apply this essential piece of sales wisdom to the current marketing environment.
Where Do Leads Develop?
The traditional sales floor is now a decentralized, virtual environment that is, in part, created by the customers themselves. Thus, customers are going to be looking for information about your business is multiple environments. The product reviews, service recommendations, and overall business ratings left by current customers are generally regarded as trustworthy by potential customers researching their next purchasing decision. Though a number of ratings venues already exist in the form of review websites, you can corral some of this sales environment on your own website:
- Incorporate product reviews and customer ratings – Most e-commerce modules have the capacity to accept customer-submitted product reviews and ratings. Though businesses should not censor honest opinions about a product, moderating these submissions for legibility and relevance helps maintain a professional appearance.
- Testimonials – Services are best rated through customer testimonials. Include a space on your website to showcase examples of positive customer reactions to your business. Photos of past projects or a portfolio of your work can be used to illustrate exactly what the included testimonials are referring to.
- Press – Press coverage and reviews should also be included. While customer testimonials speak to the personal dimension of the sales experience, material from established and unbiased sources can be used to build the image of your business as a respected and recognized member of the professional community. If your business has had many examples of positive press over the years, feature the most recent reviews first and then include some special examples of older coverage. You want customers to understand that the work your business is doing is contemporary and relevant to their current needs.
Cultivating In-Bound Lead Generation
In-bound leads are those that inspire customers to seek out your business instead of your competitors’. In the online sales environment, in-bound leads often begin on shared spaces, in particular social media networks. Maintaining a presence on social media networks allows for network users to easily share the content from your account with other people without leaving the site. Remember that any links shared via your social media account should lead directly back to your business’s website. Avoid linking to content created by others. This simply diverts traffic to a different website and dilutes the power of the leads you are trying to cultivate.
A big part of generating leads is generating interest. This can be done through strategic deployment of content over social media networks and it can also be done on your own website. Remember that the sales environment is not limited to a physical location but that any lead cultivation should always draw the customer back to your own online real estate.
Edward Kundahl, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Ed can be reached at (or visit his websites)
855-943-8736 ext. 101