A few weeks ago we discussed attracting traffic to your store, website, business and events. You have gained traffic by giving value first. Your search engine optimization, personal interaction, social media and direct response pieces are working. But all that traffic, in the form of visitors or non-transactional prospects and suspects, are usually anonymous. And quite frankly they want to stay that way.
In an article on our blog we talked about the cost of acquiring a new customer and tracking Lifetime Customer Value. If you’ve determined every lead is worth $100 to your organization, and I personally gave you a Benjamin for every lead you properly captured and documented everything you knew about their pains, problems, needs and wants – I bet you would take this issue seriously! Unfortunately most small businesses would go broke in a hurry if you had to give me $100 for every lead you didn’t capture.
Capturing leads is a process of turning desired anonymity into data, facts, information, knowledge and reality. When traffic is electronic and anonymous you need to capture information. When traffic was at your event you need to capture information. When traffic met with your sales representative out in the field – you need to capture information. When you were out for dinner and were tapped on the shoulder – you need to capture information. When you were the customer at an establishment, and you noticed how the merchant could benefit from your services – you need to capture information.
Please allow us to get ahead of ourselves here a little and mention something about nurturing those visitors or non-transactional prospects and suspects who you have branded as leads. This is important because it focuses on how important it is, to your long-term credibility, to do more than gather what’s on a business card or in a typical web form.
“If it takes three contacts to establish a rapport in person, it probably takes at least seven contacts online — it really takes as many as 21 before the typical online relationship turns transactional.” – Melinda Emerson of ‘The New York Times’
The traditional “Subscribe to My Newsletter” lead-capture form is NOT going to cut it these days, because it offers very little value, in and by itself. Your offer must be compelling and directly apply to their needs. Giving value in exchange for information, which directly appeals to the needs of your prospective customer, in a utopian environment would be personal and directly impact their goals and objectives. Here are a few ways you generate leads and maintain a process for capturing date while giving value.
- Online lead magnets are one way to offer value for information. Make sure your follow-up processes are automated so you never lose track of this lead. Online lead generation magnets can be as varied as an E-mail Educational Series, Free Report, Free White Paper, Free Trial, Free DVD, Free Membership, Free “Live” Webinar, Free Live Event, Coupons & Samples, Free Chapter of a Book, Free 30 Minute Consultation, On-Demand Recordings, Free E-Book, Affiliate or Referral Reward Program and as many more as your mind to generate.
- Even when prospects begin research online, they frequently still need to talk to you. Research shows nearly 80 percent of online shoppers are interested in help from a real person. Quite simply, people still want to talk. Make sure your processes are capturing the information from this inquiry. Make sure your processes are automated so you never lose track of this lead.
- Smart phones and tablets are in use by the tens of millions. If you use direct mail postcards, hand out brochures or business cards and display public print media banners to promote your value proposition, use QR codes (or equivalent technology) or material with a built-in memory device, to point to the web page where you have a web-based lead-capturing system in place. Make sure your follow-up processes are automated so you never lose track of this lead.
- If you have a remote sales force, create an online form that they can enter their findings, which connects to your automated marketing system, so you look like a hero when their sales funnel never leaks. Provide them with scanners for the business cards they collect. Make sure there is a permission granted to proceed.
- Group discussions and top-level connections within social media sites are most likely to desire an offline dialogue. Social media is a great prospecting tool and seeking to advance your relationship means capturing information from those who desire it.
Remember, nobody cares about YOU! Most websites and social media pages are ineffective at capturing leads because they are little more than a corporate brochure divided into web pages. Most websites talk about themselves, while the visitor desires an answer in 2.7 seconds to the question; “What can you do to solve my problem and why should I allow you to solve it?”
People love to buy, but they hate to be sold! People will buy when they’re ready to buy and not when you are ready to sell them. Nurturing your prospects will be our topic in two weeks. We will discuss the process of maintaining contact with a prospect after the typical sales cycle expires – which is when as many as 80% of your competitors close your prospects.
Thomas von Ahn | Chief Elephant Slayer | Viral Solutions LLC