Ask any great company, consultant or coach how they get most of their business, and they'll answer "Referrals" or "Word-of-Mouth". After all, when you provide great customer service, and have a product that does exactly what it's supposed to (and what you say it does), then word inevitably gets out. That's great for an established business, and for those businesses for whom word-of-mouth is even possible - let's face it, some topics are just too taboo.
For those businesses, and the ones that are just starting out, lead generation requires some effort. If you've tried cold calling or telemarketing services, as well as email shots, advertising, and direct mail, then you'll know the amount of work and budget that's required, on order to make even the slightest impact. If you're using one or more of those techniques, by the way, and generating a positive return on your investment, then I congratulate you - it's not easy.
So how does lead generation feature in the digital age, and what can early-stage businesses and those for whom the word-of-mouth is lacking do to generate more enquiries. Here are 4 ways to kick-start the top of your funnel this year...
1. Get More Tech Savvy
That's a scary one right there, huh?! Fear not, we're not talking about Google Glass or Amazon's amazing delivery drones. I'm talking analytics and website functionality. Success starts with knowing when it's happening (and when it's not), and there are a great many free tools at your disposal, to give you improved visibility over who's seeing, liking, and acting upon your "stuff" across the web. Start with Google Analytics, and get to grips with a few key metrics - Bounce Rate and Visitor Flow will show you how visitors are interacting with your content, what's turning them off, and what's making them stay. Couple this with a rounded knowledge of social insights such as those presented by Facebook and LinkedIn, and you can see just what topics and tone of voice resonates best with your target audience. Do more of what works, and drop what doesn't!
2. Write, Write, and Write Some More
Whether it's blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers, video scripts, or 140 characters for your latest Tweet, content attracts the interest of your audience, is your best chance of generating traffic to your website, and is your only chance of building credibility amongst your peers. The more content you create, the more discoverable you'll be. Now, an important caveat, here, and one that should be obvious ... don't create crap! I'm not just talking about the quality of the content, spelling, grammar, tone, etc. but also the COLOUR of the piece. If you want to be grey, then you'll be lumping yourself in with the majority of businesses on the social web. You have to create content in amazing technicolour, and stand above the rest. Only then will you grab the right person's attention, amongst the ocean of Tweets, status updates, blogs and web pages. Get creative - What can you do to stand out? Check out your competitors ... and do the opposite!
3. Reach More People
Social platforms such as Facebook reward those users with interesting content. Their algorithm now works in such as way as to show your page updates to a fraction of your fans - unless you pay Facebook to reach more fans and friends of fans - but you can "earn" improved reach, by being more compelling with your content. Using the most eye-catching images, and straying away from too many transactional calls-to-action, you can get more Likes, more Shares, more Comments, and hence reach more people.
4. Activate Your Visitors
First-time visitors rarely buy your services. They need to experience you and your experise on more than one occasion, and build up a familiarity with you and your brand, before they will open the purse strings. That's why retention is so key to the success of your online strategy. Build offers that attract your perfect clients, and have them opt-in, thereby giving you permission to market to them via email or telephone. The Newsletter has dies a death, so think of ever-more creative ways to capture leads - value-packed eBook, apps, thought-leading whitepapers - whatever it is, be sure to match the content and the headline offer with the client persona you wish to attract. You'll thank me for the conversion rates you'll enjoy later.
Start today. What areas of lead generation will you focus on this year? Use the comments section below to commit to your goals in 2014!