A Blueprint for Highly Effective Online Lead Generation

Wed Feb 1, 2017

Brad Shorr

When sales departments work for companies with highly effective lead-generation websites and marketing campaigns, life gets a lot bradshorreasier and revenues go a lot higher. If the website is producing a steady (and steadily increasing) number of strong leads, sales personnel can spend more time closing deals.

Unfortunately, many lead-generation websites and lead-generation marketing campaigns under perform, which is not surprising. Web design and marketing activities like SEO and PPC are quite complex, and the standards are always changing. Straight North, a web design/internet marketing firm headquartered in Chicago, created the infographic below to help marketers see the whole picture. It’s called the Lead Generation Ecosystem.

Infographic created by Straight North

Traffic and Marketing: Options, Options, Options

The top two rows of the infographic show the various online traffic sources and marketing campaigns a company can tap into for lead generation. The key to success here: Don’t go too broad, and don’t go too narrow.

  • When companies go too broad, they dabble in too many types of marketing, try to reach too many audiences, and end up running out of money and/or energy before accomplishing much of anything. Common examples of this are the email campaign that sputters out after two months, or the PPC campaign that goes on autopilot six months in.
  • When companies go too narrow, they lock in on one “magic bullet” marketing approach, commonly SEO or PPC. Not only do they overlook other, potentially more effective approaches, but they also tend to get lazy in evaluating and improving the existing SEO or PPC campaign. Lead generation goes sideways or down.

The solution to this problem, the way to strike the right balance, is systematic testing. Smart companies always allocate a portion of their marketing budgets to research and development of new marketing channels. Testing can’t be done on the cheap either. Unless a company gives a trial campaign adequate funding and enough time (six months is a good target), the results of the test will be next to meaningless. However, the payoff for a successful test is huge: The company uncovers a new marketing campaign that takes lead generation to a whole new level of quality and quantity.

Command Central: The Company Website

At the center of the infographic is the largest individual item, the company website. Online traffic comes into the website, and visitors either leave or convert by submitting a form or placing a phone call. Effective lead-generation websites are superb at turning indifferent or mildly interested visitors into eager prospects. How does your website stack up?

Consider whether your site content has enough visual components. Website visitors are attracted to visual content because they are exposed to it 24/7 on TV, tablets and mobile phones. Visual content further serves lead generation by making complicated products and services easy to understand. Few visitors will take the time to read a 10-page document about a complex product, but many will watch a 5-minute video that conveys the essence of the message. Result: more conversions.

Campaign Infrastructure: Where the Magic Happens

The bottom and bottom-right portions of the infographic lay out the various components of marketing-campaign execution. Two aspects of campaign execution frequently get botched:

  • Phone tracking. A company should be able to track phone inquiries back to their marketing source; otherwise, they have no way of knowing how well their marketing campaigns are working. Problem is, granular phone tracking requires special expertise to set up, and a lot of companies don’t have it, or even know phone tracking is possible.
  • Lead validation. Not all form submissions and phone inquiries are sales leads. Any sales rep who has been handed a bogus non-lead from the website knows this. But what you may not know is, about half of all website conversions are not sales leads. That’s a big number. Smart companies validate leads (i.e., manually separate true leads from non-leads) to improve lead generation rather than conversion generation — a subtle but all-important distinction.
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About Brad Shorr

Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, a SEO, PPC and website design agency in Chicago. With more than 25 years of experience in sales and marketing, he has been featured on top online publications including Forbes, Moz and Entrepreneur.

View all posts by Brad Shorr
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