A website itself is merely an opportunity. For marketers and small business owners, it's the chance to create a lead-generating asset. With three main components, you can build a framework of online growth that is based on creating value for potential customers.
B2B businesses are always looking for leads. If we aren't working on lead generation, then there aren't any customers coming through the funnel. And that's certainly not good for business.
I'm a big proponent of the inbound philosophy. This entails creating a system that drives potential customers to you. In theory, this sounds nice. In reality, it's extremely difficult without the knowledge and resources available.
Nonetheless, there are three major components of turning your website into a lead-collecting asset:
Generating as much relevant traffic as possible. There are a lot of strategies for driving traffic, I won't bother covering them in depth for this article. (Blogging, social media, advertising, SEO, etc.)
Building assets that attract leads. These aren't simply just stellar pieces of content (although they can be). What is most important is that they have a high perceived value to your target audience.
Creating systems that collect information and automate the process. This means anything from website pop-ups to CRMs. You have to sleep eight hours a day, your website doesn't. Why not take advantage of the technology?
Creating high-quality lead assets
I've read a lot of ebooks, downloadable PDFs and case studies. As a result, I've given my email to a lot of companies. Now they can market to me whenever they like (unless I unsubscribe).
Even though I have opted in to receive so many free assets, I’ve passed up on even more. In fact, my rough estimate would be that for every 100 asset opportunities I stumble upon (when looking for information) I take advantage of just one. And that's a conservative estimate.
This means that the only chance for this strategy to work is for you and your team to create lead-generation content that is above and beyond what is already out there. Don't get me wrong, ebooks and case studies still work, and I encourage you to have an ample amount on your website.
Regardless, my point is that there is always an opportunity to one-up competitors. For example, many online-driven businesses offer both free tools and extended trial periods. This is a step up from market research reports and product case studies.
It becomes a game of giving all away that you can in order to prove how much you know and how effective your offering is. Value is the common denominator. Otherwise, HubSpot wouldn't bother creating assets such as its Website Grader. HubSpot is leveraging this tool, in conjunction with its blog, to drive thousands of top-of-the-funnel leads every month. The beauty of this strategy (for the customer) is that it's completely free. The business-minded mentality, on the part of HubSpot, is that the tool aligns well with their target audience and provides a lot of value.
This may sound intimidating for small business owners and marketers. You may be thinking to yourself, "HubSpot is a giant. I don't have the money to do that." It's a matter of getting creative with the resources at your disposal. If you want to create a simple tool, you could outsource it to Upwork. Or, you could focus on creating awesome resources that drive shares, links, traffic and opt-ins. Curata has an impressive list of content marketing tools.
And that leads into the next point.
Collect information and automate
If you decide to create a lot of high-quality lead assets, you'll (hopefully) end up with a lot of leads.
This is both good and bad. It means a lot of people are interested in your content, tools, resources, etc., but it also means you have a lot of unqualified leads. Now it's time to collect information and nurture those leads into customers, which is always easier said than done.
There are a lot of opportunities here. You can have pop-up forms on your website, floating bars, chatbots, inline forms, dedicated landing pages, etc. There are a lot of ways to collect emails, and it also depends on the type of customer you want to attract. For example, if you serve a high-profile, enterprise client, you don't want pop-ups all over the screen.
Regardless of how you collect information, the process of collecting must be automated and integrated with your other service providers.
This means your opt-in boxes, pop-ups and forms must be connected with your email service provider (ESP) and customer relationship management software (CRM). With your tools in place, you can automate the process of sending leads timely emails, such as autoresponders for the assets on your website. Further, you'll be able to collect information based on their actions on your website, which is a good way to grade their potential as a customer.
What's important about these efforts is that the system is helping you to collect and qualify the leads activated by your website's assets.
You, on the other hand, can focus on creating those assets, along with nurturing leads and tending to customers.
What's your move?
This all sounds really easy in theory, as do many supposed plans.
What I am presenting are the ground rules. That’s it. It's merely a starting point to say, "Okay, now what works for 'our' audience?" Because if you successfully serve your audience a lot of value using this framework, you'll be in a good position to generate leads.
Your website is just the foundation. It's useless if you don’t start building the assets and setting up a system that facilitates the overall efforts.
Get started today.