The Ultimate Guide to Online Lead Generation and Sales

If you’re looking for an in-depth guide on how to generate more leads and make more sales from your website, you’ve come to the right place. For new businesses, in particular, the process of online lead generation and sales can be difficult to master.

This guide will walk you through:

  • What online lead generation is
  • Some great methods of generating leads online
  • How to convert these leads into customers
  • How to optimise your sales processes

 

What is online lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of identifying potential customers for your business. Online lead generation refers to all methods involving using the internet to acquire these leads, such as content marketing, paid ads and SEO. The aim of lead generation is to build and nurture the prospect’s interest before trying to sell to them, which increases the likelihood of them buying.

 

How do you acquire leads?

The vast majority of your website visitors will leave without making a purchase. That’s just the way it is. But that doesn’t mean that they’ll never convert – many people just need time to weigh up their options and make the decision to buy. AdRoll found that only 2% of consumers convert after their first visit to a store. In fact, on average, it takes between 5 and 7 touch points with a brand before a consumer feels ready to convert. This is particularly true for high-ticket items. You should, therefore, aim to capture leads from those who land on your website, and nurture a relationship with them. You already know these people have at least some interest in your product – you just need to find a way to reach out to them. There are a variety of strategies to acquire leads, but here are a just few:

 

Content marketing

Content marketing may take some time to start generating results, but it’s one of the cheapest and most effective methods. Content marketing pertains to the act of creating helpful, engaging content that your ideal customer would benefit from. Effective content marketing helps these potential customers to view you as a helpful, reliable source, and be more likely to buy from you. It can take some time to build up an archive of great content, but once you’ve achieved this, leads will be coming to you.

Content could be in the form of blog posts, free eBooks, or video tutorials – HubSpot reckon that 90% of their leads come from old blog posts!

 

SEO

Search engine optimisation is the technique of optimising your website so that it is more likely to be found in the search engine results. On a basic level, this involves using keywords related to your industry, and researching what type of queries your target audience would be searching into Google. The copy and content of your website should have these keywords strategically placed throughout. There is a lot more to SEO than this, but it essentially means that users who are looking for your product or service in Google are more likely to find you.

 

Paid ads

Paid ads are a great way to get your brand and message in front of people quickly. Organic reach on social media is declining, meaning that marketers now need to pay if they want their message seen by lots of people. Facebook, in particular, has fantastic targeting capabilities, meaning that you can send adverts directly to your target audience.

Google works a little differently to social media adverts, as your advert appears to users based on the keywords they use, rather than set targeting options. There is a common misconception that Google ads are only for e-commerce websites, but it’s also a great tool for businesses doing online lead generation. According to AdWeek, 81% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase, so appearing at the top of Google is ideal for getting in front of your audience.

 

Proactive live chat

Marketers are beginning to see just how powerful proactive live chat can be in generating leads. You’ve most likely heard of live chat, but proactive live chat allows you to configure targeted chat invites. This means that you can set specific messages to trigger to website visitors who are behaving in a certain way on your website. For example, you could configure a message that says “Hi, would you like some help choosing the perfect running shoes?” when a visitor is browsing the running shoe section of your online shoe store. Website visitors are much more likely to engage than if they had to initiate the chat themselves.

Another great use for proactive live chat is to disrupt users who are abandoning their cart. If you know roughly how long it takes to complete checkout, and the customer has been lingering on the cart page for too long, you can trigger a proactive message asking if they need help. Similarly, proactive chats can trigger on exit intent – if a website visitor is about to leave your cart page, a message can be triggered to attempt to dissuade them from abandoning.

Once you’ve engaged a website visitor in conversation, be sure to ask for their email address early on, so that you can easily follow up if they leave without making a purchase.

 

Qualifying your leads

A qualified lead is someone who has expressed interest in your business and has reached a certain level of engagement. They are essentially prospects who are definitely interested in your product or service, and have perhaps gone on to request quotes, provide their contact details, or sign up to your email newsletter. These prospects likely match your ideal buyer persona and would benefit from the solution your product provides.

Not everyone who is aware of your product, or comes across your website, is a lead. You can qualify your leads by asking them to provide their contact details – most people won’t willingly provide this information if they have no interest in buying from you. You can obtain contact details by offering a free download packed with useful content, such as an eBook or a checklist, in exchange for an email address. Or, if you use live chat, you can ask chatters to provide their contact details so that you can follow up with them. Those who decline are probably not too interested in purchasing from you.

 

Nurturing your leads

Obviously, leads are useless if they don’t convert into sales, so once you’ve qualified a lead, and know the prospect is interested, you want to nurture their trust and build a relationship with them. In doing so, you’re helping them to feel ready to buy from you.

One great method of nurturing leads is to set up an automated email campaign. You most likely already have the email addresses of your qualified leads. Send them great content that benefits them; you’re not pushing a sale, you’re simply building a relationship. You want them to view you as helpful, knowledgeable and beneficial. They’ll begin to see you as an authoritative, knowledgeable business who knows a lot about their industry, which is a really important factor in a consumer’s buying decision.

 

Optimising your sales process

Okay, so we’ve discussed the process of acquiring, qualifying and nurturing leads. Now its time to talk about how to convert these leads from prospect to customer. We want to ensure that every step of the customer journey is as convenient, easy and obstacle-free as possible. Gone are the days of sleazy sales tactics; today’s consumers are savvy and are making smarter buying decisions. To nudge your leads into making a buying decision, you could offer a free trial or a discount.

 

Implement a multi-channel communication strategy

Did you know that 89% of consumers want choices for how they communicate with a business? As such, you should provide as many ways as possible for people to contact your business. A multi-channel communication strategy should have a variety of ways for prospects to get in touch, such as phone, email, social media and live chat, so that each individual can choose their preferred method. The key to a good multi-channel communication strategy is to make it easy for customers to switch from channel to channel where necessary.

It’s all about choice. It’s about giving consumers the ability to choose the channel they want to use. If they’re able to do this, then they’re much more likely to convert. It may be that older audiences would prefer to pick up the phone, whereas younger audiences would prefer to use live chat. In fact, 61% of young people under 24 would prefer to use live chat other traditional methods of communication.

 

Guide the buyer through the checkout process

The job of a salesperson should be to be helpful, provide insight, and support the consumer through to check out. One great way of doing this is by providing proactive live chat on your business website. This way, the salesperson is there throughout every step of the customer journey: they can provide initial information, help the customer make a decision, and answer any questions.

A helpful sales process and good customer service thereafter can earn you the most powerful marketing strategy of all – word of mouth marketing. Satisfied customers will recommend you to their friends and family time and time again.

 

Use sales psychology

Sometimes, consumers will need a little psychological nudge to let them know that your product is the best choice. There are a few sales psychology techniques which you could implement into your website copy.

Prove your credibility: We tend to have more trust for those who we know to be authoritative and knowledgable in a subject. As such, be sure to provide details of why you’re an industry expert, so prospects can see why your business is the best choice for the product/service. Do you have a relevant degree? Can you provide statistics on how effective your product is? Are you a published author on the subject?

 Urgency: There may be times when people are ooh-ing and ahh-ing on the checkout page. Help them to make a decision by letting them know that the product has limited stock, or by offering a time-limited incentive, such as a 20% discount which expires in an hour.

Evoke emotion: Have you ever heard the phrase “retail therapy is cheaper than a psychologist?” It’s because people make buying decisions based on emotion. You can stir emotion through storytelling – perhaps you have a heartwarming customer story that your prospects can identify and relate to?

Social proof: We’re social animals. This means that we look to others for confirmation, as we feel more comfortable when we go along with what everyone else is doing. You can apply this social pressure to your sales process by using testimonials to show that lots of people have bought and enjoyed your product. After all, if lots of people are saying that something is good, then chances are, it probably is.

 

Optimising Facebook/Google ads for conversions

You’ll likely want to use paid ads to get your brand and message in front of people. Facebook and Google are two of the most popular choices for advert placement, given that Facebook currently has 2.27 billion monthly active users, and Google yields 3.5 billion search queries every day.

Remember, Facebook users are not usually actively looking to buy. They’re scrolling through their feed, laughing at cat videos and looking at photos of their friends. It would, therefore, make more sense to target your audience with ads that aim to foster brand awareness, rather than trying to force a sale. On the other hand, Google users are actively searching for information, and in many cases, are actively searching for products to purchase. Because buying intent from Google users is usually higher than that of Facebook users, direct sales are more likely.

Regardless of whether it’s a Facebook and Google ad, you’ll still want to try and obtain contact details from these website visitors, so that you can nurture those who didn’t convert.

Once multiple touchpoints have been established, and the leads have been warmed up, you can retarget them with further adverts. Make sure you have Facebook pixel installed on your website, so you’re able to track users who have already visited your website, and are aware of your brand. While previous adverts may have failed to convert, they have made the prospect aware of your brand – retargeting gives you another chance to convert. In fact, Criteo found that consumers are 70% more likely to purchase from a brand after seeing a retargeting ad.

Remember, the landing page that visitors arrive to after clicking on your advert is just as important as the advert itself. Be sure to A/B test both the advert and landing page thoroughly to understand exactly what type of messaging resonates best with your target audience.

If you use proactive live chat, you’re able to trigger proactive chat popups to website visitors who clicked through from your Facebook or Google ad. This gives you a chance to encourage them to ask questions and increase the chance of them converting.

 

Optimising your website for conversions

It’s very important to have an intuitive, user-friendly website. We’re pretty demanding when it comes to website design and expect clear navigation and great functionality. A website that causes obstacles in a visitor’s journey to checkout may result in them abandoning the purchase altogether.

Provide an obvious call to action: While things may seem obvious to you, it may not be so obvious to your website visitors. Make it obvious and unambiguous as to what the visitor should be doing on your website. Use a clear call to action in a highly visible location to show visitors what action they should be taking, such as a large “BUY NOW” button.

Provide in-depth and digestible content: Your website visitors want the ability to make an informed purchase decision. As such, your website should provide useful content that helps your visitors do exactly this. If they need to search around for information, they’re likely to get frustrated and leave your website to search for a competitor. In line with this, you should also provide a search box so that visitors can easily search for the content they’re looking for.

Make it easy for your customers to contact you: Sometimes website visitors just cannot find the answers to their questions, no matter how intuitive and in-depth your website is. And, given that over half of consumers will abandon an online purchase if their questions aren’t answered quickly, you’ll need to make it easy for them to contact you.

Ensure you have a fast loading website: People are impatient and usually won’t wait for a website that takes a long time to load. In fact, 53% of us say we will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. That’s a serious problem for your conversion rate. You can use a tool like Google Page Speed Insights to check how fast your website loads.

Remove all distractions from buying pages: Make sure you have little, or even better, no distractions on your sales or checkout pages. You don’t want any links or buttons that could tempt your customer away from clicking on that buy button.

 

The importance of live chat in your lead generation and sales strategies

I want to talk about BlockBuster. You remember, that video rental store? They went under pretty fast, taken as a victim by Digital Darwinism. If you’re wondering what Digital Darwinism is, it’s the process of businesses failing because they weren’t able to keep up with the demands of the new digital climate. The new digital climate makes things super convenient for customers, and BlockBuster just wasn’t convenient enough. Think about how easy it is to subscribe to Netflix, and how convenient to sit back in your pyjamas while you scroll for something entertaining to watch. It’s the same reason why Uber is dominating taxis and Amazon is dominating physical retailers.

Essentially, your lead generation and sales processes should centre around convenience for your customers. We’ve already touched on proactive live chat and its role in acquiring and converting leads, but I want to go into more depth. Proactive live chat is an incredibly valuable tool which can be used at all stages of the customer journey – from enquiry, through to the sale, through to customer support.

Live chat has been voted time and time again as consumers’ preferred method of communication with a business. This is mostly due to its convenience and the ability for customers to multi-task while chatting. Live chat with proactive technology allows businesses to engage with website visitors while they’re browsing and speak to them in real-time. This means that sales representatives can answer any questions, help the visitor to feel positive about the brand, and ultimately guide them through to a purchase.

Furthermore, proactive live chat allows you to configure targeted chat invites. This means that you can set specific messages to trigger to website visitors who are behaving in a certain way on your website. For example, you could configure a message that says “Hi, would you like some help choosing the perfect running shoes?” when a visitor is browsing the running shoe section of your online shoe store. This is proactive customer service, and means that website visitors are much more likely to speak to you than if they had to initiate the chat themselves.

Proactive live chat enables the tables to turn. Website visitors are able to essentially announce themselves as interested prospects by initiating or responding to a chat. This allows salespeople to spark a conversation with potential prospects while they’re on the website. Website visitors who chat are clearly somewhat interested, else they probably wouldn’t have engaged in the first place. This means that salespeople are able to have a conversation with high-quality leads – without having to do the legwork.

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