Online marketing changes all the time. To get the latest scoop on lead generation trends, I talked to an expert: Nikki Jackson. As Web.com’s Director of Marketing, Jackson oversees all of Web.com’s inbound acquisition efforts.
“Inbound sales means someone is actively reaching out to [your business], whether in the form of a call to [your] sales team or requesting info via an online form,” she explains. In contrast to outbound sales, in which your sales team seeks prospects and calls them cold, “inbound sales [leads are] a little warmer. They’ve seen [your business] and expressed some interest.”
Ten years ago, Jackson notes, a small business’s advertising toolkit typically included print, cable television and maybe some online marketing. “Now almost every business is advertising online in some fashion, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon,” she says.
“There are many more opportunities for online advertising compared to five or 10 years ago,” Jackson adds. “For example, you can advertise on Instagram or even Snapchat.”
Social media continues to grow at a rapid pace, and Jackson recommends using it to help your exposure. “Any time small business owners have the opportunity to put their business in front of their core consumer audience, they should take advantage,” explains Jackson, who suggests small businesses use Facebook and Instagram to connect with prospects. “In order to start a social media presence for your business, choose someone in your company who is already savvy with social media and have them start to post fun and engaging things about your business. You want to keep your content fresh so your business stays top of mind.”
“Before you start advertising, do some research and understand who your customer is,” advises Jackson. “A B2B business is not going to have the same audience as a B2C business. A local brick and mortar store is not going to have the same audience as a service based company. You want to find out what gender, age range and consumer behavior your typical customer fits in.”
Understanding your target customer will help you narrow down your advertising tactics and customize your messaging. “You might not have the same text in your ads for one audience as for another,” says Jackson. “If you have a product that skews younger and one that skews older, you could have two diff ads catering to each profile.”
To get attention for your ads, Jackson advises, “Focus on what makes your business unique. Come up with three or four things that make you stand out, and highlight that in your ad.”
Online reviews and testimonials from customers are important to lead generation, too. “Getting reviews is really helpful. These are proof points that show you’re a credible, trustworthy business,” says Jackson.
To set your website up for success, Jackson recommends these 3 steps.
1. Make sure your website is mobile friendly. “Most people are searching on their phones nowadays,” she explains. “If your site is hard to read and navigate, they’re not going to stay. Make sure your site is responsive, which means it works on any device, and that it loads [quickly].”
2. Make sure you have the right content. Organize your site so it’s very easy for users to find the information they’re looking for. “If somebody is searching for a specific type of flooring, such as carpet, and clicks on an ad for carpet, make sure they land on a page about carpet,” she explains. “Relevancy is key. Each ad should go to a landing page that’s as relevant as possible.”
3. Make sure your contact info is easy to find. The type of contact info you provide may vary depending on your industry and how customers typically contact you. For example, an ecommerce site doesn’t necessarily need a click-to-call feature. “But a flooring contractor or other service business wants that phone number to be big, bold and clickable on a mobile device,” Jackson says. “Make sure they can call or request an estimate very easily. You might want a contact form as well—as long as you have someone to monitor it.”
Before you launch any type of online lead generation program, make sure your business can handle those leads. Whether you ask customers to contact you via phone, contact form or email, all of those contact points must be monitored.
“Make sure your customer support team is ready to go,” says Jackson. “If they get a call, they need to be ready to close the sale.”