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Beginner's Guide to Online Business Lead Generation : How to Generate Leads Online

Updated on November 21, 2016

With more opportunities rising and financial aids and different schemes being regularly introduced by the various governments, new businesses are booming up every day at a rapid pace like never before.With more than plenty alternatives available for one's needs, the customers also feel delighted.The problem here for newer businesses is that it consumes a lot of time and effort and money to become stable and get noticed among the stronger and the more customer loyal competitors.Every startup is initially faced with that big question : How to attract, convince and bring in customers to our business when there are many alternatives, both well established and other startups (just like your's) out there that they can opt for?

Well, strategic marketing is the answer.Too obvious, isn't it? But then again, it seems to be a tug of war because every business is doing just that.Then what makes the difference? It's the way you approach your audience that counts.And it's not just any audience but your target audience whom you should focus your strategies at.Now this is the point where most conventional marketing strategies flunk.

Without just concentrating their resources and time on prospective customers, traditional marketing mostly focuses ( or do they? ) on a wider yet unfruitful subset.And what makes the situation worse is the cost of traditional advertising which draws us back.You all have been there (me too!) if you have ever soaked your feet in the oceans of business anytime.Let it be print media, television media, or hoarding display advertising, the costs are appalling.

This is one of the main reasons why we see a paradigm shift to the digital side of things when it comes to marketing no matter what sector it belongs to.And conventional marketers are fast switching to the latest trend called Digital Marketing to yield more results cost effectively.

Enter the Era of Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing simply refers to the process of marketing your products or services through the internet and other digital channels. Digital Marketing offers a whole lot of advantages that enables even the small medium businesses to make a mark among their stronger rivals within the ease of their affordability. Unlike in traditional marketing, the majority of the digital marketing methods are inbound, meaning that rather than reaching out to a large group of audience in expectation that some might turn up to your call, the prospective customers reach out to you, saving it from a bad reputation of being unsolicited. No wonder why Digital Marketing is deemed to be the next generation of marketing.That said, it is important to know that there are certain primary criteria that you need to ensure to build a strong foundation before starting to promote your business :

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Unique Selling Proposition or Unique Value Proposition is that one factor which makes your business stand out from that of your competitors.In other terms, it is one specialty which your business and only your business can offer and no other competitors can claim no matter in any way, as of present. I have noticed when asked, "how do you stand out from your competitors?", some business owners respond "it's our quality". Please avoid this mistake.Quality can never be your unique specialty as even other businesses can claim they provide better quality.It should be something "palpable" or measurable.Suppose you say your product - say, a pen - uses sunlight to refill the ink automatically (weird though).This would be a USP a no other pens in the market have this ability presently.

Lead Funnel (AIDA Funnel)

If you are a graduate in the field of marketing, then you would already know what it is.Let me try to explain it in layman's terms.An AIDA Funnel or the Lead Funnel is a representation of a series of events that ultimately leads to sales by customers who were complete strangers in the beginning of the customer journey.

AIDA Funnel
AIDA Funnel

Suppose that you are introducing a new sports bike among your target audience who might mostly be young men.For them, your brand and your bike are completely unknown.They too are strangers to you since you don't have any of their personal details to follow up with.At this point, they are said to be in the awareness phase of the customer journey.Suppose your USP is that your bike is the first of its kind with an auto-stabilize feature which balances your bike automatically according to the degrees of motion and hence prevents your bike from toppling.After knowing this, some might be interested and some might leave out.Those who remain and are eager to know more, would perhaps contact you and in return, you collect their contact details and they are said to have entered the interest phase.Now say you announced that you have slashed the gross on-road price by 25% for the first 50 customers.Some who have already exhibited their interest would show an impulse to be ones among the early birds and own the motorcycle at the discounted price and may inquire about the down payments and terms. This group of people is said to be in the desire phase. And ultimately among them, some may purchase your product, and they have taken the desired action which is, buying your product and they are then said to be in the action phase.At the end of every stage, you can see that the numbers get reduced (narrows down) and hence represented as a funnel.

Summarizing, the AIDA Funnel stands for :

  1. Awareness (or Attention) Phase
  2. Interest Phase
  3. Desire (or Decision) Phase
  4. Action Phase

Make sure you have one.It will definitely help you track your progress.And most big companies have this powerful feature incorporated into their routine marketing strategies.

Buyer Persona

Marketers resort to different channels to gain insights about the right audience for their business and the process of this market study is time-consuming.You can't afford to reinvent the wheel each time to find out whether some modification, addition, or deletion to/from your product or service would indeed make the customers happy and make the product/service more convenient for them. So you need a buyer persona.A buyer persona is a semi-fictional character representation marketers create out of the average of the common characteristics they find in their target customers.You may use surveys, discuss with the sales team and interview your marketing team to gain relevant data about your target audience. A little confused? Let us see how this is developed with an example :


Say, you conduct a survey among 100 prospects.The questionnaire contains some questions about their demographics, psychographics, other interests, career and so on.The purpose of doing this is market segmentation.After collecting the data from them, you analyze the data and pick up the most commonly found characteristics from among them.That is, out of the 100 prospects, assume that 68 people marked their age as between 25 and 35 which is a clear majority.So you may take the average of 25 and 35 which is 30.Next, you consider the question about their gender and most marked it as male so you picked that out. Likewise, for every question, you pick the answer with a clear majority and keep that aside.Finally, you create a virtual biodata by designating these commonly found characteristics as his/her features.In our example, the biodata would look something like this :

Name : John Demo (any name )

Age : 30 years

Sex : Male

(and every common characteristic attributed this way)

You may even include a random photo of a person in the sample bio-data as in the image above, to make it look more appealing.That is completely optional.The use having a buyer persona is, now if you need to make any changes, you just have to refer to this single biodata and examine whether that particular change would suit a person with such characteristics as in the buyer persona, which in fact represents the almost whole of your target audience.Wonderful right!

Inbound Marketing Funnel - AIDA of Online Marketers

Now you all know what an AIDA Funnel is and how it helps track your customers' journey.But when it comes to online marketing, the terminologies used differ slightly and hence was developed a new funnel known as the inbound marketing funnel, developed by Hubspot. Analogous to the 4 stages in AIDA Funnel (Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action), here too we have 4 stages which are :

  1. Attract - Attract prospects to your website
  2. Convert - Facilitate for collecting contact details (like placing a registration form)
  3. Close - Follow up and make them your customers
  4. Delight - Give them further services, offers etc. to maintain them in your chain

In the world of online marketing, your primary communication interface would be your website.And thus, to attract the interested audience to your website, you may use blog articles, social media paid promotions, online CRM, Search Engine Optimization so on and so forth.

Once they visit your website, your next step would be to collect their contact information because or else, they would leave your website as mere strangers and you are not getting any benefit from it rather than accruing some unknown traffic.You would have noticed that when you click on some ads you see at the beginning of some search engine pages like google, you are guided to a specific page where you would be given an offer and in order to get it, you will have to fill in a short form, haven't you? These forms are known as lead generation forms and these forms help you gain more information about the person visiting your website if he/she opts to fill in the form and get the offer you provide.And the page where the form is present or where you land when you click an ad is called as the landing page.And usually, we marketers create separate landing pages for each campaign (the process of promoting your product/service at a time using paid/unpaid methods).

It is recommended you place no menus on the landing page as the user may be tempted to click other menus and navigate away.The landing page should always act like a spiderweb, meaning that once a user lands on that page, he is "trapped" in that page and it should be attractive enough to persuade the user to fill the form before exiting the trap.You may do so by placing specific information about that product/service alone, for which you are building that page for and place relevant images and videos (if possible) and an offer of real life value.You may seek the help of a web designer to get the job done if you are not familiar with web designing.Those who fill your form, are said to be converted.

After you successfully gather their contact information, if you are able to follow them up via calls/emails/SMS and make them purchase/subscribe your product or to your service, then the sales for those prospects are said to be closed as they are now your customers.But never think your job is over there and that now you can move to your next customers without attending these old customers anymore.It is a blunder.Because statistics say that repeat customers will be ready to spend 33% more than new customers.Also, it is found that the costs involved in selling a product to a new customer are 6 times more than to a repeat customer.So you have to delight your customers by giving them occasional offers, newsletters, referral commissions etc.

Tips and Tricks for Convertion Optimization on your Landing Page

Following are some points you may add in the landing page you create to make the most visitors convert on your page :

  • The form shouldn't be too lengthy - Make sure you add only those form fields which are necessary for you to know about them like their name, email, phone, location etc.Lengthy forms dissuade the visitors.
  • Never use low-quality images - Images play a crucial role in attracting your visitors and hence need to be of high quality and keep it relevant.
  • Keep your offer Above The Fold - Always keep the offer you are providing, on the upper half of the landing page as a majority of users don't scroll down.
  • Create a sense of urgency - you may mention that the offer you are providing might expire soon which makes the visitors fill up the form and claim the offer before it ends.
  • Place Client Testimonials - What more proof users need than the opinions of your previous buyers.Make sure you place testimonials (and ensure they are positive!).
  • Optimize the loading speed of the page - Make sure your page loads fast without making your valuable customers abandon the page and exit.Ideal loading time would be within 3 seconds.

I highly recommend keeping yourself updated about the latest happenings in the world of online marketing as it is fast paced and ever evolving.I also suggest you read some great books on marketing no matter you are an entrepreneur or expert as they can give you some great tips.I never had the habit of referring books for tips on marketing until one day I got to read this particular book "The Art of Digital Marketing" by Ian Dodson. I must say that this covers all the fundamentals to guide you to marketing success.Almost every step is explained with relevant screenshots which make our work a whole lot easier.Give it a try and I am sure you will never have to regret buying it.

If you also need to understand the bare basics of marketing and attain the same level of knowledge as any graduate in marketing has, then the answer would without any doubt be "Principles of Marketing - A South Asian Perspective" by Philip Kotler, the Father of Marketing.You may feel free to go through the testimonials before making a decision.

Techniques and tools available for online lead generation are countless and hence requires practice to figure out which ones work the best for your business. In the next article, I would be explaining some techniques and general tools, both free and paid, that you may use to optimize lead generation and even some of the easiest techniques that demand no technical knowledge, which you may start using right then,to incur sales.The points mentioned above are just the basics and it was explained in such a way as to make even a newbie understand the concepts thoroughly.If any questions or suggestions, please let me know and I shall be happy to learn from you too.All the best!

Have you made up your mind to create a landing page for your campaign yet?

See results

© 2016 Arun Sivaraj


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