At first glance, lead generation can seem to be an overwhelming task, mainly because the reason that no cookie-cutter method for creating and cultivating leads exists. Look at Amazon.com for example. Use the search tool to find books on the subject, and a simple query such as “generate leads” reveals more than 6,300 pieces of literature. Finding material on a specific type of lead generation is even more revealing, for instance, type in “email marketing,” and the search yields nearly 9,100 books currently available on the subject! The reason so much literature exists about lead generation is the importance it holds for businesses. Three in five business owners identified finding high-quality leads as the top challenge in identifying potential new consumers. Why is finding high-quality leads so important. Again, the reason is simple, to make the sales and profits. Cultivating information to contact someone is easy enough, but that information alone does not translate into sales. Research suggests that a company needs 351 unqualified leads (or inquiries) to convert just one of them into a consumer. That’s right, less than 0.3% of leads results in any revenue for a company. So what should business owners do to generate leads that generate income? The following is a list of 10 effective and proven ways to generate leads for a business that will help companies convert leads into consumers. #1. Using Lead Generation Companies When starting a business from scratch, this is the quickest way to go. Mining for leads takes time, and it takes even longer to develop marketing opportunities – both online and real-world – for a service or product. Purchasing leads from proven generators is a great first step to tackling both of these concerns. Several affordable options exist for business owners, including these companies: Bant.io: This company produces leads through email marketing, delivering hundreds of leads directly to a business owner’s inbox for as little as $1 per lead. Salesforce: This company offers a full range of customer response marketing, allowing access to their lead generating software for $125/monthly. Hoovers: This company boasts having contact information on 85 million companies and 100 million contacts across 1,000 industry segments, and access starts for as little as $50 per month for each user. #2. Blogging For Leads Undeniably, one of the most popular channels for lead generation is blogging. Writing blog posts have a ripple effect on traffic, it helps marketers draw attention to their service or product line. Writing blogs has now become a phenomena and expert bloggers are making great use of it to brand their websites and earn decent revenues. Writing blogs with the intention to add value and make an impact on people’s lives helps websites increase the likelihood of getting bookmarked and shared on social media. Expert bloggers understand the importance of blogging to generate leads. They know people are searching for solutions to their problems, so in order to draw their attention bloggers write compelling content. The first step of generating leads through blogging is to win users trust by implementing AIDA’s marketing model Awareness: Well researched content is written to give readers a better understanding of the problem at hand. Interest: Once a reader understands the problem, content sparks interest in resolving the problem. Desire: In the third stage, content motivates people to identify and name their problem, it then ignites a desire to find a solution. Action: This is the last stage where content provides the solution with company’s services or products. There needs to be effective call to action forms in place where people can sign up. In blogging, lead generation is highly dependent on call to action or CTA’s, thus it is extremely important to put a good amount of effort into designing CTA’s. Following are some of the CTA’s that you need to be aware of. In text CTA’s: These are links within the text that lead to other blog posts or pages that contain more information. Side Bar CTA’s: These are beautifully designed widgets placed on the left or right-hand side of the page. Sliding CTA’s: This is a relatively new trend where call to action buttons or widgets slide downwards or upwards as you scroll. Social Media CTA’s: These are widgets that come in different designs and contain social media icons. They are often placed at the left side or towards the end of article with a purpose to get shared on social media pages. #3. An Online Presence Websites should be more than a place where business owners showcase a product or service. A specific goal of capturing as many leads as possible will help companies generate leads that would otherwise render the viewer as an anonymous page view stat. But how can a website generate leads? The primary way requires the website to have multiple locations requesting customers to input their contact information. Whether it’s a comment on a blog post or a place to request a quote for a company’s services, providing areas where customers can input their relevant information allows a company to qualify the leads and convert them into sales. #4. A Social Presence, Too Nearly one in four individuals are registered for some form of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), meaning over 2 billion individuals worldwide are socially-connected. Having no presence on the major forms of social media is unacceptable in this day and age for all types of businesses. The opportunity exists to reach beyond a “friend” list to generate leads. On Facebook alone, more than 4.75 billion pieces of information are shared daily. To put that in perspective, that’s roughly 55,000 pieces of information being shared each second. When an article or post is shared, the business is reaching the individual’s contacts, which is tantamount to a consumer referral. #5. Customer Referrals Consumers rely heavily on their network of friends when purchasing a product or service. A New York Times article suggested that 65% of all new business is from referrals. Peer influence is often an untapped lead generator as individuals are four times as likely to purchase from a company that has been recommended to them by someone they know. To take advantage of this opportunity, business owners can offer current customers incentives for each referral that generates new business. From non-cash incentives to discounts off future purchases, creating an atmosphere of positive word-of-mouth between consumers can only boost the company’s profile and lead to more sales. #6. Newsletter While the newsletter itself may generate a few leads, asking customers to join a company’s newsletter distribution list is an excellent way to generate leads. To gain access to newsletters, customers can be asked questions beyond their content information, helping businesses to qualify their leads in the process. Clickable links asking customers to sign up for the newsletter should be prominently displayed on the page in as many positions as logically possible to increase lead generation. Like blogs and other content marketing, newsletters should be more informational than advertising. A golden rule for this is to provide 90% of the content as educational information and 10% as advertising content. #7. “Freemiums” Free premiums (called “freemiums”) are an increasingly popular way to get customers to provide their contact information and give businesses lead information. Freemiums only need to have value to the customers and do not necessarily come as an expense to the business. Giving away free quotes or estimates for potential services the company provides is a great freemium that actually places a business’ employees in front of a prospective client. Yet anything can serve as a premium as long as a perceived value exists, such as an e-book, tutorial video or entry into a contest. #8. Viral Videos This may well be the trickiest lead generation channel to master for businesses. The very essence of a viral video is that the digital media attracts enough interest to be shared by the viewer with another person within their networks. To generate leads, the video needs a call to action. The call to action can be built into the video or added as an advertisement overlay. Finding a niche that will turn a video produced by the business into an oft-shared production requires a little luck. Understanding the psychological factors behind what makes an individual share a video is important to creating a viral video. Incorporating babies, animals, plot twists or current events usually helps, too. #9. Share Databases Generating leads is not a challenge that only a select few companies face; it’s a challenge all companies face. Businesses can share their database of consumers with other businesses – both competing and non-competing companies – to gain new leads. The major advantage sharing existing client information with another business is each company receives leads that are already paying customers, making the leads a higher-quality than simply inquiries. The only caveat is to ensure the businesses swapping information are in some way complementary to each other. Individuals who purchase grave plots could reasonably expect for a burial marker company to contact them. That same individual who purchased a grave plot is not necessarily in the market for a new kitchen appliance, however. #10. Participate In Trade Shows This is the tried-and-true method that requires no online expertise whatsoever. The only thing required is a display of a company’s product or service line and someone to answer questions from passers-by at the trade show or industry event. A great way to obtain information from customers and businesses is to provide a grand-prize draw for attendees. Most individuals will trade their lead information for a chance to score a significant prize. Having someone standing by the entry form location dispersing information about the company’s product line is a great way to add value to the proceedings. 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