"Your greatest asset is your earning ability. Your greatest resource is your time." – Brian Tracy
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This is a long and thorough guide on lead generation from A to Z, catered specifically to internet marketers interested in affiliate marketing, network marketing, and even enterprise-level digital marketing.
Because this is quite a long guide (over 11,000 words), I have created jump links for you below for easier navigation if you would prefer to skip farther down the page to the topic of your choice.
Once you click on a jump link, simply click on the back button in your browser to return to the top of the page.
Finally, if you have not signed up for the members portion of Earning Ability yet, please do so here if making actual money online is something that interests you.
Here are the contents of this guide:
The best internet marketers and businesses know that the single most important activity they can engage in is building leads.
This is the difference between success and failure, and it’s even more true in today’s world of online business than it perhaps ever has been.
So just what exactly is a lead? Why does it matter so much? And how do you go about building one?
Put simply, a lead is someone who might become a customer. A lead is someone who has had some kind of contact with your business and some sort of interest in your brand.
They are interested, they are tempted and it only takes a little effort on your part to then push them over the edge so that they will become buyers.
But wait a moment: if a lead is just someone who might one day become a buyer, then how can a lead possibly be more important than a buyer?
And what does this have to do with the state of business today? Surely a lead today is the same as it always has been?
Essentially, what makes a lead so important is that a lead is someone who might go on to make many more purchases in future.
A lead is someone who has unlimited potential for you as far as your business is concerned.
Now, a buyer is a type of lead in some cases, but not every buyer is always going to become a lead in the future.
If you have a lead before you have a buyer, though, this suggests they are engaged with your brand and thus potentially likely to come back and buy from you more in future.
Instead of thinking, “How can I make a quick sale?” – the question should be, “How can I increase my customer lifetime value?”
There’s another reason that leads are so important when compared with customers: a lead is much easier to make than a customer.
If you emphasize trying to make as many customers as you possibly can and if you try and force the issue, then your site is essentially just going to become a horrible exercise in sales talk.
This might generate some revenue for you, but it’s also going to turn a lot of people away from your site and away from your brand, never to return!
Creating a lead, on the other hand, simply means encouraging someone to provide their contact details and crucially to give you permission to contact them again in the future.
That is much easier to convince someone to do, meaning that you don’t need to use heavy-handed sales techniques, and because of that, you’re not going to drive anyone away from your site.
This creates a subtle shift in your approach to business, too. Suddenly, you’re no longer trying to do everything that you possibly can do to convince people to buy from you.
Instead, you’re just trying to build a relationship with them and establish trust so that they’ll provide their details.
And then, once you have those details, you can be much smarter about the way you try and sell to them.
You can time your attempt better so that you are selling to them at a point when they’re likely to want to buy, and you can build up their interest more and more in whatever products you have.
So simply switching your focus from sales to lead acquisition is going to transform the way you approach business and give you a much more value-centric approach.
In turn, this will ensure that you build an army of loyal customers that you can sell to again and again.
What’s more is that this will also change the way you approach marketing your site. This means a shift from overt SEO and sales talk and a switch to better social media marketing and content marketing.
It means providing value at every possible opportunity, and ultimately, this will all lead to happier customers and more revenue.
Changing from a sales-oriented approach to a leads-driven approach then is one of the very best decisions you can make for your business, and it will affect much more than just your immediate revenue.
With that in mind, this guide is going to teach you everything you could need to know about building and using your leads. You will learn:
In internet marketing, the term lead can be used fairly broadly to encompass a number of different things.
In fact, though, the term “lead” actually comes from sales, and sales teams around the world have done a lot of work to define the term, categorize it, and break it down.
This is useful for reading for anyone interested in making more leads for their business, as it will help you better understand what you’re trying to do and how you can measure your success.
In sales, we talk about leads as having a “life cycle.”
That is to say that a lead will develop from one “type” of lead to another as they become more engaged with your brand and as they become more likely to buy from you.
Generally, the lifecycle is as follows:
So what does this mean?
First we have the cold lead.
The cold lead is the lead that you have only just acquired who knows nothing about your business and who, as of yet, has no interest in your product or service.
This person is a lead, though, because you have his or her details/contact, and he or she fits into your target demographic and your buyer persona.
You know all those calls that you get from companies trying to sell you insurance, PPI, and other services you don’t want?
They are calling you because you are a cold lead. In other words, they bought your details (most likely) from another company, because they know you fit their demographic.
Now that they know who you are, they have the means to contact you, and you are someone who is likely to want to buy from them.
Their mistake is trying to go straight in for the sale – cold leads haven’t given permission or shown any interest, and so they’re not likely to buy right away.
If you try and make a sale from a cold lead, it will likely lead to a backlash.
If you are an internet marketer, then hopefully you aren’t buying mailing lists or followers – these are marketing methods that are generally doomed to failure.
Our equivalent of this, then, is a visitor to our website – someone who now has access to it, but who may well have just landed there by accident.
However you got your cold leads, your next step is to convert them into warm leads.
Better yet, there are ways of ensuring that your leads are warm when they first reach you, which can save you a lot of trouble and effort.
Warm leads have everything that the cold lead does – they fit your target demographic, you have the means to market to them, and they are statistically likely to buy from you.
Their big difference is that they have shown some actual interest in your brand (if not your product), and hopefully even given you permission to contact them.
This might mean they have followed you on social media, it might mean they’ve joined your mailing list, or it might mean that they have sent you an email praising your site and all your hard work.
These people haven’t necessarily indicated that they want to buy from you, but they have demonstrated some kind of liking for your brand and your ethos.
These people are thereby much more likely to buy in the future when compared to people that you’ve never had any contact with.
A qualified lead is then a lead who has taken the next step and gone from being interested in your brand to being interested in your product.
That means they have somehow shown interest in buying from you – perhaps they have asked for more information about a specific product, for example, or perhaps they have added your product to their cart or to some kind of wish list.
Maybe they backed your product on Kickstarter even. They might have asked for a quote, or they might literally have told you they want your product.
Either way, the qualified lead is now someone who wants to buy and who just needs that tiny push in order to actually take the plunge.
You can also categorize leads as sales qualified leads (SQL) and marketing qualified leads (MQL).
These terms are generally used in businesses with separate sales and marketing departments.
It depends on which team qualified the lead and very often an MQL will be passed immediately onto the sales team to become an SQL.
There are more ways to think about your leads and to categorize them.
For instance, some companies will actually “score” their leads and use this as a measure of how likely they are to buy from you.
Only once the lead has reached a certain level do you then go on to actually try and sell to them by sending a special offer by email or by getting a member of the sales team to give them a call.
How do you score leads as an internet marketer? That’s up to you – but ultimately the more data you can collect, the better.
You might, for instance, score your customer in terms of engagement with your brand (How often do they visit the site? How many of your emails do they open? Do they comment on your posts?) and in terms of the interest they’ve shown in buying from you.
So, for example, a lead with a good score will be someone who has done Google searches for your specific product, who has spent time looking at the item on your ecommerce store, and perhaps who has actually made a purchase in the past.
Finally, you should also categorize your leads based on their demographics. That means thinking about their age, sex, income, location, and more.
This is important because leads who have more money are more likely to spend more money with you, and leads who meet certain criteria will be more likely to buy specific products that fall into categories they’re likely to be interested in.
In the introduction, we looked in some detail at the importance of creating leads versus customers, and we discussed why leads were, on the whole, more valuable.
A good lead is much more likely to have a higher customer lifetime value versus someone who you persuade to buy out of the blue.
Moreover, it is much easier to build a large number of leads than it is to create a large number of customers.
But we also mentioned how leads could impact your business strategy and actually help you to alter your approach to business such that you would have a better brand and be able to offer more value to your visitors and to your customers.
Perhaps a good way to look at this would be to illustrate the point using an example. Let’s imagine two websites – one that focuses on sales and one that focuses on leads.
The website that focuses on sales would most likely have a “Buy Now” button front and center, right on the home page.
The text would be focused on making a sale and would continuously reiterate how great the product was and why people should make a purchase there and then while “stocks last.”
The social media channels would likely take a similar tact and would be full of promotional posts, along the lines of:
“Find out why our tills are second to none!”
“Want to serve customers faster and keep your costs down? Our till system is better than all the rest!”
“Buy now and save $50! Hurry while the offer lasts!”
All this might work to some extent. If people are in the market for that specific product – a till, in this case – then they might see the offer and buy.
The same could be true for a supplement company.
Let’s say you’re selling a protein shake, and you make your home page a single “sales page” telling people to buy your protein shake, raving about the flavor, and listing all the powerful ingredients.
Your social media might read:
“Get buff with Super Shake Plus!”
“50% Offer – Get Muscles for Less!”
And once again, this might help you to convert some sales if people come across your site.
But ultimately, the vast majority of people are going to see these advertisements, and they’re going to want to leave.
This includes people who run high street stores, and people who want to build muscle.
Unless they’re in the market for your specific product right at the point that they discover your page, they’ll probably just be annoyed by your flagrant attempts to sell to them.
They’ll leave, and they won’t come back. You can expect to make a 5% conversion rate, at the very best, and your customer lifetime value will depend purely on the quality of your product.
The problem is that you’re now trying to take your cold leads and turn them into buyers.
You’re doing nothing to “warm them up” first, and you’ve not demonstrated any value or given them any reason to trust your brand.
Essentially, this is the equivalent of cold calling.
To put this in dating terms, it’s like seeing someone attractive in a bar, walking over to the person, and asking him or her to come back to your place.
You might find that this works once in every one thousand attempts, but it’s going to tarnish your reputation, and it certainly won’t maximize the quality or quantity of positive responses!
Now let’s take a look at the lead-centric approach.
Now your aim is not to try and get people to buy from you, but rather to get them to be interested in your business. You want to take them from a cold lead to a warm lead by getting them to see the value in your business.
In dating terms, this means your aim is now to try and get a phone number rather than to take people home with you – which in the long run is more likely to mean people end up going home with you.
Moreover, you’re not going to ask for that number right away, but instead demonstrate value first by showing how witty and nice you are to spend time with!
So when it comes to lead generation, this means that your website might provide lots of information for small businesses or for people trying to get into shape.
The website will have a strong brand and present itself as a “movement” or a lifestyle. People will want to get involved, and they’ll see that exciting things are going on here.
Your Facebook posts won’t all be about making sales – you’ll share interesting facts, post inspiring pictures, and link to articles that people might find interesting.
You’re now giving them a reason to check back.
This then means that you’ll not only capture the people who are directly looking to buy your product, but you will get the attention of everyone who is interested in your niche/industry.
That means any small business owner or any person interested in fitness might follow you on Facebook or subscribe to your mailing list.
They are now warm leads.
This then means you have the option to repeatedly contact them and to spend a long time gradually trying to turn them into qualified leads.
You’ll do this by continually providing great quality content, so that they stay subscribed and keep coming back.
At the same time, you’ll also let them know that you have these exciting products or you’re working on something new.
Now at any point when they need a new till or a new protein shake, they might think to look into what you’re offering further.
They know you’re able to offer good value, they already trust and recognize your brand, and the option is constantly being offered to them.
You’ve drastically increased that customer lifetime value, because at any point, they can make the option to click buy.
What’s more is that their brand loyalty means they’re more likely to be impressed with your product and they’re more likely to order again and again.
If you’re currently just tweeting about how good your business is and wondering why no one is following you, it’s because you’re essentially cold calling or spamming.
You’re not providing any value and you’re not warming anyone up.
Another example of how focusing on leads rather than sales improves your business can come from the importance of getting your branding right.
This also means understanding what a brand really is and how you should approach creating one.
To a lot of people, a brand simply means a company name and a logo. This is your brand, and it basically means stamping your name on everything so that people know it belongs to you. Right?
Wrong! A brand should be a) a mark of quality, and b) a philosophy.
That philosophy is really important because it’s what will get people to get behind your website, and it’s what will get people to really believe in what you’re doing.
This is how you build loyalty and it’s how you get people to wear your t-shirts, spread the word, and really want you to succeed.
If your brand is all about making money and you give yourself a bland name like “Advanced Systems LTD,” then it’s hardly going to be inspiring.
So instead, start with your mission statement.
This is a single proclamation of what you want your business to achieve in a few words. How are you going to make life better for people? How are you going to differentiate yourself from people?
Don’t just think about what you will make, but why you are making it. What is the value that you intend to offer your users and to the world in general?
Here are some examples:
It is our goal to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
To refresh the world in mind, body, and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions. To create value and make a difference.
Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
At IKEA, our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.
Delight our customers, employees, and shareholders by relentlessly delivering the platform and technology advancements that become essential to the way we work and live.
McDonald’s brand mission is to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink.
Our mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.
To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.
Pret opened the doors of its very first shop with a mission to create handmade, natural food, avoiding the obscure chemicals, additives, and preservatives common to so much of the “prepared” and “fast” food on the market today.
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.
With great courage, integrity and love – we embrace our responsibility to co-create a world where each of us, our communities, and our planet can flourish. All the while, celebrating the sheer love and joy of food.
Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious business.
So why does this matter so much, and what does it have to do with lead generation?
Simple: if you want your visitors to be interested in your brand, to engage with your content, and to be inspired enough to invite you to contact them – then they need to believe in what you’re saying.
They need not only to like your products and see your branding as a mark of quality that they can trust – but they also need to agree with what you’re trying to achieve and want to identify themselves as supporters of your brand.
More people will eat at Pret who believe that there are too many additives in food.
More people will sign up for Ikea’s newsletter because they believe that furnishings can help make life better for everyone.
People will be more likely to get involved with Warby Parker if they can relate to that “rebellious spirit.”
People will like Microsoft if they want to personally reach their “full potential.”
This is the difference between creating a business with the aim to sell in the short term and creating a business that has an ethos and that will create real fans and lifetime leads.
Your mission statement is also what will inform the creation of the rest of your brand, it is what will ensure you have a consistent message across all of your marketing and sales, and it is what will help you to come up with a “value proposition” that is just too good for your customers to ignore.
If you have a genuine mission statement behind what you’re trying to accomplish and if you really know what your business stands for, then this is something that can help you to create your logo and your web design.
Are you trying to promote a natural and healthy way of living? Then perhaps you might choose a green logo that evokes a feeling of natural products and healthy, green living.
Are you trying to help build the future and create a more technologically enabled world? Then perhaps your web design will have a very modern and high-tech feeling, and maybe your jingle will be electronic in nature.
Trying to help people be stronger and more empowered? Then perhaps your branding and marketing will revolve around strength and power with big bold fonts and daring quotations!
The biggest mistake you can make in this regard? Trying to appeal to everyone! When you try and appeal to everyone, it means that you’re not going to have a strong enough message or a strong enough identity.
While you might have a better chance of selling to the widest possible audience by not alienating anyone, you’re also not going to appeal to anyone enough to create those “true fans” who are 100% behind your brand and who can make all the difference for your sales, visibility, and success.
This is why you need to come up with your buyer persona, and this will then inform your lead generation.
If you recall, we discussed the importance of categorizing leads by their age, location, sex, income, interests, and more.
This is because you want to target a specific type of person with your branding and marketing who is already more likely to become a warm lead.
If you sell wedding dresses, then you’re going to want to target women who are engaged.
Moreover, you’re going to want to target women who have roughly your budget to spend and who like the style of dress you’re creating – whether that’s very traditional, whether it’s “princess” like or whether it’s shabby chic.
You’re going to have a very hard time if you insist on trying to turn make a married man who hates spending money into your warm lead for a wedding dress!
Likewise, you’ll find it’s much easier to embrace your “shabby chic” style and be the number one wedding dress maker for that design, rather than watering down your message and appealing to everyone.
By committing to your vision, you’ll have more passionate followers, and you’ll have a more specific niche that you can market to (meaning you’ll have more specific places to market yourself as well!).
Once you know exactly who your audience is, then you need to profile them and create a “buyer persona.”
This is a fictional biography informed by your mission statement as well as by market research and that will give you an exact market and also help you know precisely where and how to market to those people.
You can then think about how to reach those people, how to inspire those people, and how to show them that your brand is for them.
Pret A Manger is the company we looked at earlier that sells sandwiches and coffee and that believes in using natural, healthy ingredients.
Their buyer persona is going to be people who are young, interested in their health, perhaps busy and in a rush, and probably something of a “hipster.”
They are probably interested in sustainable living, and they probably love good food. They are likely located in the city and have a modern lifestyle.
Conversely, Nike’s buyer persona is going to be people who are interested in bettering themselves. Perhaps not athletes but those who see themselves as amateur athletes.
They are likely to be urbanites, and they probably like running, cycling, or football. They’re likely young, healthy, and fit.
The next important concept here is your value proposition which will be born straight out of your mission statement.
Now that you’ve determined how you want to impact the world and what the “mission” of your business is, the next thing to think about is how you’re going to impact each of your customers and how you’re going to change their lives.
This is important because it not only informs your mission statement, but will also be what you use in all your marketing and sales talk.
This will be the “hook” that turns your cold leads into warm and qualified leads. It is what shows your buyer persona that your business is practically made for them!
It is also what’s going to define your marketing approach and help you to write your sales pages, your squeeze pages, your product descriptions, and more.
The best way to understand value proposition is to consider an old saying: “You don’t sell hats, you sell warm heads.”
So what does this mean? Simple: it means that you’re selling more than just the materials and design of your products; you’re selling what your products actually do for people.
You’re selling a lifestyle, a dream or an end result.
Let’s say that you sell dumbbells. You might think that you sell a piece of metal – and that’s possibly the approach that the buyer-centric company would take.
But in fact, what you’re selling is ripped bodies, an action-packed lifestyle, confidence, and health. That’s what your product does and that’s what people get by using your product.
Likewise, if you sell clothes, then think about how you want your customers to feel in those clothes and who those customers are.
Do you want them to feel modern, sexy, and on trend? Do you want them to feel professional, powerful, and important?
This is your value proposition and it’s what you’re going to use to sell and to create leads.
One great example of how this might work is on social media.
Let’s imagine for a moment that you have a fitness company that’s all about the passion and drive of training and that’s all about the feeling you get from being at the very top of your game.
Moving away from the sales-centric approach to social media, we now know that writing posts saying: “Our training t-shirts are 50% off this summer!” or “Our training shirts are made with the best materials!”
We are not trying to sell. We are trying to inspire and trying to get people to want to see more of what we do.
And the best way to do this is by selling the value proposition and by selling the dream.
So, in this case, that might mean having an Instagram account and filling it with photos of people curling weights in the pouring rain, people wearing cool wraps around their fists, people hitting punch bags, people running on the gym looking healthy and confident, or people looking exhausted after a particularly tiring workout.
This is how you sell the dream and the idea and if the images are cool, people will want to buy your products so that they can make that vision their reality.
By inspiring people with your mission statement and your image, you will create fans and people who want the same things your company is offering.
This is a far more effective way to build revenue in the long term than just trying to sell, sell, sell!
Building leads is more important now than ever, especially with there being more competition and more “noise” for you to try and cut through.
By having a clear mission and a clear audience and then selling them that dream, you can help to reach the right people, inspire them, and turn them into warm leads.
But if you want someone to buy from you, then it isn’t quite enough just to show that you dream the same dream, and you know what they want.
What you also need to be able to do is to demonstrate that you have the capability to help them get what they want.
You need the vision, and you need the trust and influence, so that people see you as a good resource for information and a trusted brand.
This is the reason that content marketing has become the single most important tool for internet marketers and has managed to unify all the other approaches to marketing online.
If you build a website and want to market it so that you generate as much traffic and as many leads as possible, then you have a number of different options.
One option is to use advertising – by using PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns, for instance, and aimed at your precise buyer personas through targeted ads on Facebook and Google.
This will bring the right kind of person to your site.
Another option is to use “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO), basically the process of “optimizing” your site in such a way that it will show up high in the search results on Google.
You do this partly by creating content for Google to “index” and partly by building inbound links which will demonstrate that your site is trusted by others and help Google to find it more easily.
SEO is a good strategy, too, because it helps you to find leads that are already qualified. That’s because you can try to “rank” for keywords (search terms) that directly relate to your products.
For instance, if you can rank for the term, “buy hats online,” then you’ll be attracting qualified leads from people who want to buy hats.
Finally, you have the option to create a social media page which you can use to reach out to a big audience and hopefully to have your content shared.
Chances are that the people who share your content will share it with people who are similar to them and therefore more likely to pass your leads to others who fit within your buyer persona.
But none of these methods are particularly effective at taking your cold leads and turning them into warm leads.
SEO targets people who are already qualified leads, PPC markets to people who are cold leads, and social media is mainly useful for keeping your leads engaged once they’ve already become warm leads and demonstrated an interest in your brand.
We’ve seen how you can sell a dream on social media, but we haven’t yet seen how you can bring people there in the first place.
This is where content marketing comes in – which can be used alongside all of those other methods of promoting your site and attracting leads while additionally allowing you to build trust and authority, thereby encouraging more sales, and helping to develop your leads further through the lead cycle.
The idea then is that each of these posts will provide some kind of value, thereby demonstrating to your audience all of the things that you’re capable of delivering, indicating that you have the kind of expertise they’re looking for and can be trusted to provide more value through your products.
People who initially stumble upon your content will not instantly buy from you, but they will notice that you’re offering good value and will hopefully think to bookmark the page so that they can come back in the future to read more.
If you continually offer great value, then they might subscribe.
And then when they have a specific question or they want to buy something specific, you will be the person they think of because they know that you’re capable of offering the value and the knowledge that they need.
Once again, you’re focusing on slowly developing leads and establishing trust and value rather than going straight in for the kill and putting people off.
The reason this works so well is that you’re also going to be building inbound links. If your content is really high value, then people will link to you of their own accord!
You’re going to be creating lots of content for Google to index.
And Google’s ranking algorithms have gotten smarter.
Google can now tell what content provides real value and useful information as opposed to being a spammy attempt to try and get as many people as possible to buy right away.
Google’s aim is to help people find the information they’re looking for. So if you are providing useful information to a particular audience, then your aims are aligned with Google.
Once again, the shift to a more lead-centric business has helped to improve other aspects of your marketing and your branding.
In this case, it has helped you to come up with a cohesive internet marketing strategy that is based on gaining trust and building authority!
On top of your blogging and your social media, something else you’ll need is a squeeze page where you can build your list.
This is a highly important tool because it is what you’re going to use to convert your cold leads into warm leads.
Email subscribers are the best types of warm leads because they are giving you a direct line of communication that isn’t reliant on a third party like Facebook.
Some more reasons to strongly consider email marketing over other methods:
Moreover, giving their email address and inviting you to contact them is a much bigger step and suggests a particularly engaged reader.
This is someone who is very likely to read what you have to say and to be persuaded by the content that you subsequently send them.
Your squeeze page is a single page that you are going to dedicate purely to generating subscribers.
This is like a sales page in that it has a singular purpose and will use persuasive text and design to encourage people to fulfill that purpose.
The only difference is that you’re trying to get people to part with their personal email rather than with their cash – which theoretically should make it easier!
The first thing to think about here is the design, and in that regard, things are kept pretty simple.
The only design guideline for a squeeze page is to try and keep things simple in order to minimize the number of distractions on the page.
Your aim is to try and avoid people clicking away from the page and to keep them reading your copy – which means you want to minimize advertisements for other things, as well as menu items that will make them click away.
Otherwise, though, you can treat this like any other static page on your blog.
Make sure that you place your “subscribe now” button somewhere prominent and easy-to-read.
That button is also known as the “terminal point” for that page – this is the last point the visitors will see – so normally it is found at the bottom right-hand corner of the page.
For your “sign up” button, you need to use an autoresponder, which will help you to create the form and design it to match the color scheme of your website.
Make sure that your buttons stand out by using contrasting colors, but also that they match the scheme of the site and don’t look out of place.
Your autoresponder is also going to be what will help you to manage your leads. We’ll look at this in more detail in the chapter on lead management.
Another tip when trying to get people to sign up for your mailing list is to use incentives.
These are generally freebies that people will hopefully want badly enough in order to agree to part with their details.
Very often, this will mean that you give away some kind of “free report” that provides information about your niche and that the visitors can only get by signing up.
They’ll then hopefully join your mailing list in exchange for getting that free PDF and should feel as though they’ve gotten a good deal.
When doing this, though, you also need to be careful.
The problem with giving away free incentives is that you can end up with people signing up for your mailing list just to get the report and who aren’t really interested in your messages.
This is a mistake because you now have a list that is much less targeted and much less “warm” that you initially thought.
A lot of people will give away ebooks as their incentives, but this is making a big mistake.
Not only does an ebook incentive encourage too many people who are just hunting for freebies, but it is also something that a lot of people won’t actually read or use.
That, in turn, means that a lot of your visitors will end up owning copies of ebooks that they have never gotten around to reading.
This is now going to make them less likely to spend money on another ebook from you for obvious reasons!
What’s more is that giving away an ebook for free communicates that your ebooks aren’t worth paying for – this is especially destructive if your business model is going to at any point involve selling ebooks!
For these reasons, giving away a free report is actually a better strategy than giving away an ebook – especially if you can provide real value in a short number of words!
But what is even better than that?
Making your emails/newsletter into the incentive themselves.
This means that you should make sure that your emails are going to provide value by offering extra information, extra content, and more entertainment.
Likewise, you should talk about your subscribers as VIPs and make them feel like they are exclusive members of your brand and have privileged access to things that other people don’t.
You should also refer to them throughout the rest of your content, so that people are continuously reminded that your mailing list exists and that it’s the best way to get your very best content.
And finally, perhaps surprisingly in light of everything we’ve said thus far, you can also turn special offers and discounts into your incentive.
If you tell your visitors that they can get access to the very best deals and money off by subscribing to your list, then you are essentially attracting qualified leads.
In other words, if they’re signing up because they want to get money off your products, that suggests they must be interested in said products.
There are lots of ways you can do this but one of the best examples can be found on Tim Ferriss’ 4 HourWorkweek blog.
He has created a very simple squeeze page titled “7 Reasons to Subscribe”: https://tim.blog/7-reasons-to-subscribe/
He hits all the points we just touched upon perfectly and also throws in a little humor for good measure:
7 Reasons to Subscribe
In the next chapter we’ll look at some tips regarding persuasive copy, and this will help you see in even more detail why this strategy works so well.
When building leads, you’ll find that persuasive copy is a very useful tool.
In traditional marketing and sales, you would use sales patter in order to convince people on the other end of the phone to become warm leads, or to make a purchase.
If you’re working online, then of course you don’t have this luxury. That means instead you’re going to have to rely on the written word.
Thus your sales copy becomes your sales patter.
It is now up to your writing to persuade people who are seeing your site for the first time to sign up and to convince people who read your site regularly to put down their hard-earned cash and become paying customers.
So how do you do this and what is the secret to good persuasive copy?
The first tip is something that we’ve already seen in play during the course of this guide: focus on the value proposition.
What’s key to recognize here is that people don’t buy products because they need them. In general, people don’t buy products using their logic or reasoning.
Instead, people buy products based on an emotional impulse. This is almost always the case.
That means your job is to get them to feel emotional about your product and get that gut feeling that makes them really want it.
You do this by describing what life will be like with your product and by making sure that they really want to make that happen.
You speak to their wants and needs. You make your product or service sound hopeful.
Are you tired of being tired? Imagine what it would be like to wake up each morning with boundless energy, ready to take on the world!
Do you struggle to meet people? This book will show you everything you need to know to feel 100% confident in approaching members of the opposite sex. Whether you just want a bit of fun or you’re looking for the one…
This book can help you get those abs that you have ALWAYS wanted but have never quite been able to achieve…
This is what creates that feeling of desire and makes them want the product right away.
At the same time, you’re also trying to build confidence and trust just as you have been doing with your blog posts and content marketing.
If you’ve already been doing all that and putting in the ground work, then you’ll find that this is much easier.
To build more trust, you can try alluding to statistics and figures by showing how they back what you’re saying and support your product or your idea.
Likewise, you can also demonstrate your trustworthiness by sharing reviews from other customers and by giving “social proof.”
This also has an additional positive knock-on effect, because people always feel more inclined to put money down when they see that other people have done likewise: we are naturally social creatures, and we are very influenced by what other people do.
On top of all that, you can also appeal to authorities – if you can get a recommendation from a doctor, a researcher, or someone recognized in your field, then that will be worth a lot to you.
This is how you make your copy persuasive, but what you also need to do is to make sure that people are actually reading it. Because of that, it also needs to be well-written and fit for purpose.
To that end, you need to ensure that your writing style suits your purpose and that you are capable of writing large passages of text with few errors.
The aim of any good writing is always going to be to convey as much information as possible in as few words as possible.
This becomes especially important with persuasive copy where your main challenge is going to be keeping people on the page and dissuading them from leaving to go elsewhere.
Get to the point quickly then, and use efficient language that quickly conveys what you’re trying to say.
Another way to engage readers and to grab their attention is to use a narrative structure.
This means creating your sales pitch or squeeze page in a manner similar to a story – perhaps telling how you were once “like them” before you discovered your method for working out/getting into shape.
Remember not to push this too hard and to stay true to your mission statement – but do try to sell your story in an engaging way that will make people want to read.
We are naturally inclined to want to listen to stories, and we find it very hard to turn away from a story if it is unfinished.
Using this structure is a very good way then to reel people in and keep them there. You can even use “cliff hangers” at the end of your paragraphs.
One more tip: keep in mind that people tend not to read things in depth.
Again, time is of the essence for most of us these days, and we don’t have time to sit down and read a huge diatribe convincing us to buy something.
This is why a lot of online SALES PITCHES will use things like underlined words and italics in order to let people SKIM READ the information more quickly.
You should also try to use lots of headings which can help to break up large blocks of text. Use longer and more descriptive headings, and this way you should be able to tell your whole story through the headings.
That way, if someone skim reads through all your text and all they actually read are the headings, it will be enough for them to understand everything they need to know about your pitch and potentially to buy something.
For a great resource on copywriting, head to www.copyblogger.com
Everything we’ve looked at so far involves generating leads online and taking those cold leads from people who have stumbled upon your website or seen your ads and turning them into subscribers and later buyers.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t also build leads in person – and, in fact, there is a lot to be gained from this.
The great thing about building leads in person is that you have the opportunity to persuade them then and there to take an interest in your brand.
You don’t have to sell it to them, but if you talk passionately about your business, then you will often find people take an interest naturally.
For instance, one successful business person does most of his work in coffee shops around London, which is a very metropolitan city.
When people see him typing away on his laptop, they will often approach him and ask what he does.
He’s found several jobs and made important connections this way. He finds it really helps to carry business cards on him so that he can hand them over when someone asks about his work.
Consider doing the same, and that way you’ll never miss out on the opportunity to turn someone you’ve just met into a potential lead!
Likewise, you can build leads in person by going to trade shows and networking events. This is actually a very good idea if you work online as it can help you to mingle with important people within your industry.
Networking is something that a lot of people who work online tend to avoid – often they chose to work online in order to avoid having to talk to people!
In fact, though, this is one of the most important things you can do for your business and can lead to all kinds of opportunities.
If there are networking events in your city… go to them! Marketing in the real world can also be a useful way to build more leads.
One of the best things that any business can do is to have its website address on the side of its van, along with something that will get people to look at it.
This can create some qualified leads without that company having to do anything!
The same goes for fliers and leaflets – the recipients will start off as cold leads, but when they get in touch knowing what it is you’re selling, they will be qualified leads.
The same goes for t-shirts with your address printed on them (corporate gifts). These will work even better if you hand them out to your visitors.
This also helps to make those visitors feel even more like they are a part of your movement, and simply by wearing your t-shirts, they will be increasing their engagement and their “score” as leads.
Finally, consider any contacts you already have that you can potentially use to build more visitors and leads. This is something that a lot of people forget to do or even feel too shy about their business to try.
We don’t like the idea of marketing to our friends and family and especially if we aren’t confident in our businesses.
But think about it like this: if you don’t have the confidence to market to people you already know and who will support you, how can you market to people who you don’t know?
If you don’t take your business seriously enough and aren’t proud enough of it, how can you expect anyone else to take it seriously?
Your friends are also the people most likely to forward on your emails, to like your social media posts, and generally to help you grow your audience.
Don’t overlook them, because this can end up leading to exponential growth!
And in many cases, you might well know someone who can help you to build a lot of links – you may someone who can offer you a great route to market.
In fact, the savviest business strategy of all is to look at your existing contacts and opportunities, and then create a business or product based around that opportunity.
If you happen to know the editor of a top magazine and he or she owes you a favor, then creating a blog aimed at that very same audience may just be the best thing you can do!
So now you’ve built your leads and you’re growing your regular readers, your subscribers, your Facebook likes, and more.
You’re starting to see more engagement with your blog and your brand, and you have a strong product that you can target to a specific person.
The strategy that most marketers use is something called AIDA. This stands for: Awareness – Interest – Desire – Action.
So assuming that you have an engaged audience of warm leads, you now need to make them aware of your product.
This is the first step in your marketing, and it’s something you might want to do gently at first rather than trying to sell right away.
You can do this, for example, by including a small advertisement in one of your blog posts or emails.
Likewise, you might try mentioning early on that you’re working on something that in the future your audience will be interested in.
This makes them aware of your product without trying to force it down their throats.
The fact that they can’t have it yet can actually work in your favor – we are naturally inclined to want what we can’t have and the more they wait, the more excited they’ll become!
The next step is to get them interested in your product. That means explaining what it can do, how it’s different, and why they should be excited.
From there, you then need to make them desire the product. This is where a lot of what we’ve been talking about comes into play: you’re going to be emphasizing that value proposition.
You’re going to be talking about the emotional impact your product or service will make – how it will make life better for people.
Use the persuasive writing tips we used earlier and build on the trust that we’ve already established.
Finally, you need them to take action. This is the hardest part, but the key is to get them to act quickly before they think about it.
We buy things based on emotion, and this is almost always an impulse. Get them to commit at that point where they most want your product.
One part of this is minimizing risk.
Even with the help of authorities, social proof and facts and figures, people will still worry that:
People are naturally risk averse, so if there is any chance of things going awry, it will likely make people avoid buying your product or subscribing to your list.
To get around this, you need to do everything you can to minimize and mitigate any risk.
One example is to include a free sample, a free trial, or a money-back guarantee.
In his squeeze page, for example, Tim Ferriss points out that there is no risk because visitors can simply unsubscribe again if they don’t like the emails they’re receiving.
Likewise, you should assure your readers that you’ll never pass along their details and that the product will arrive quickly and in good condition.
A strategy for businesses making money by selling products through an ecommerce store, for instance, is to sell multiple products and include some very cheap ones.
If you do this, then you can prove to them that you deliver on time, and that you provide good value for money while the stakes are relatively low.
This then makes it much easier for you to convince them to buy later when you’re trying to sell those “big ticket items.”
So now your audience should want your product, and they trust you. They should see that there’s no risk.
The final step is to make them take the plunge and buy from you rather than going away to think about it.
Remembering that most purchases are emotional in nature. This is the best way to sell.
If they go away, you will inevitably lose a lot of those buyers.
This is why you need to create “urgency” and “scarcity.”
Create the impression that your items are limited in number and/or that the offer isn’t going to be around forever.
This is something you should often use when you have leads with a high score or who have shown an interest in your products and are already aware of them.
Sometimes they just need that last push. You need to email them and tell them that you are offering 20% off for 1 week only, or that your product is just about to run out.
This then can get them to take that plunge rather than to wait and think about it before eventually deciding against it.
This can also help you to avoid buyers’ remorse. Essentially, you’re trying to remove the “guilt” that comes from someone buying something.
By letting them know that they are saving money by acting quickly, or by pointing out how your item could represent an investment in the long run, you can remove that little voice telling them not to go ahead and buy.
Finally, think about using sales funnels and spreading out your AIDA process through each of these steps.
A sales funnel is basically a series of interactions you will make with your visitors that will take them from cold leads, to warm leads, to highly engaged fans, to buyers, to lifetime customers.
A sales funnel should involve progressive steps that increasingly require more commitment and engagement from your visitors.
So for instance:
It is often said that you require “five touches” to take someone from a cold lead into a buyer who is willing to spend a lot of money.
This aligns very neatly with everything we’ve discussed so far and allows you to use various different strategies to build your leads and develop them over time.
Something that can help with all this is good lead management software.
Lead management software is essentially contact management software (CMS or C) or an autoresponder but with added features that let you see the demographic information about your contacts and even things like lead scores.
Some of the best lead management solutions will integrate with your ecommerce platforms and even with your website, allowing you to see which of your visitors have opened the most emails and what they’re interested in buying.
You can then automatically send out emails that offer special offers or follow up messages to your most engaged and qualified leads.
Another great method you can use here is to use remarketing which is a simple process that will allow you to market to the same people who have already looked at your items in the past.
Google actually provides this service through its AdWords advertising platform – allowing you to show ads for specific products to users who have previously viewed those items in your store.
If you’re looking for the best CRM software, then you might consider something like Online Sales Pro (onlinesalespro.com), which will allow you to combine your lead capture pages, email marketing (via integrations), and mobile sales application.
You’ll also be able to keep track of engagement by seeing which users open the most messages or click on links.
When it comes to choosing an autoresponder, AWeber (www.aweber.com) or GetResponse (www.getresponse.com) are best for those new to lead management, with AWeber the easier of the two to learn on.
Neither of these is free, but each provides all of the different tools not only for managing your mailing list but also for using basic contact management.
AWeber, for example, will let you see who opens the most messages. It will let you add notes to your contacts, and it also will let you see things like how long they have been members of your list.
Deciding on which one to use might come down to looking at price differences for many people. Here is a breakdown of the price structures for each of the big three autoresponders:
At this point, you now should have a solid understanding of how lead generation works.
More than that, though, you should recognize how it actually plays a much more important role when it comes to designing your business model.
Lead generation is about making people want to subscribe to your brand and making them passionate about your mission.
It’s about setting out to do something worthwhile and reaping the benefits – rather than setting out to make a quick buck.
But just to recap on the basics, let’s look at some of the most important strategies you can use to generate cold leads, to turn them into warm leads, to build qualified leads, and then to sell to your customers…
First, make sure that you have a clear mission statement and a well-defined buyer persona.
Then use the following methods…
You can warm your leads up by making sure you are promoting the lifestyle and your value proposition through social media and by providing value in your posts.
Using all these different methods, you can then find new cold leads and take them from that point to being qualified leads who are willing to buy your products.
From there, make sure that you look after your customers – provide a very good product or service that will reflect well on your brand, offer them money off, and let them know about your future products.
Perhaps the best qualified lead is an ex-customer.
Remember, you’re thinking about your customers in terms of their lifetime value so make sure you’re doing everything in your power to make sure your customers want to keep coming back.
Make them feel like they’re a part of something bigger, have a mission that people can get behind, and keep putting yourself out there!
If you have understood everything in this guide, then hopefully you now realize why a lead is more important to go after than a customer.
A lead is someone who likes your brand and who has given you permission to market to them in future.
Not only is this someone who you can now market to in future in order to make more profit from in the long term, but it is also someone who trusts you and believes in your mission statement.
Likewise, you hopefully recognize that it’s not appropriate or effective to try and sell to people who have never had any interaction with your brand in the past.
Your aim is to build interest, warm them up, and develop that relationship so that you are someone they trust and respect before you start trying to make money.
This will be much easier than trying to sell cold. It will also provide your customers with more value and better service.
This is the strategy recommended by Google that will work best with a solid content marketing campaign.
This might mean rethinking your brand and your mission statement, but if you can create a clear mission aimed at a clear persona and then introduce that audience gradually to your products, you’ll find that your brand can grow and thrive like never before.
Understanding what leads are, how to categorize them, and how to approach them is only a small part of making this work.
The key is to really know the people behind your leads, what they want from you, and how you can best offer that and share your vision with them.
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