Online lead generation is the process of attracting visitors to a website and converting them from suspects into prospects.
There are three main steps:
The first step could be called traffic generation. There are dozens of ways to attract targeted visitors to a website, many of which are discussed on this site. Some methods are more effective than others. Some require an investment of time and/or effort; others may require an investment of money.
The important thing is to make sure that the visitors are targeted – that is, people who are interested in what you are doing. Inviting football supporters to a website which offers information about the history of ballet in 19th century France is unlikely to produce results.
The objective of a lead generation strategy is to convert visitors into leads – suspects into prospects. To do this we need to qualify them. We can do this by asking them to provide us with some information about their needs.
The minimum information we need from them is their email address, so that we can follow up with them.
However, we can ask for any amount of information – a long list of questions, if we want. The more information we ask for, the fewer people will bother to complete it. But the people who answer all our questions are likely to be the best prospects.
We may want to give away something of value in exchange for answering our questions or supplying their contact details.
It’s easy to set up a simple web form which sends an email to your email address whenever someone fills in the form and clicks the submit button. It’s also easy to store their information in a database, so that you can follow up with them.
There are email marketing services available which will manage the database for you, and which will allow you to send emails to everyone on the database, or to a selected group of subscribers. You usually have a choice of sending ‘broadcast’ emails or ‘autoresponder’ emails.
Broadcast emails can be pre-written, usually up to a year in advance, and sent at a predetermined date and time.
Autoresponder emails are always pre-written. They are sent in sequence, with a predetermined delay. For example, you might have an autoresponder sequence which sends different emails one, three and five days after the subscriber signs up. You can write a sequence of hundreds of emails, and the system will automatically send them whenever you want.
The main difference between broadcast and autoresponder emails is that with broadcast emails, everyone receives the same email at (roughly) the same time, whereas with autoresponder emails, subscribers receive different emails depending on how long ago they signed up.