Next-Generation Lead Generation: Make 2014 Your Best Sales Year Yet

Published April 3rd, 2014 by Michael Farin

You have a website? You’re trying to sell stuff? You should read this.

In order to make sales, you need leads. And in order to turn engagement into conversion and get more leads, you need a strategy. Here are 9 tips to maximize your conversion rates in 2014. Read them. Follow them. And thank us later.

1: Get some face-time. Your business may be online. The majority of your customers and sales may be online. But you and your customers still live in a physical, non-digital world – and if you get the opportunity to interact with them at trade shows, executive events or conferences, jump for the chance. It’s a vital way to put a “face” on your business and establish yourself as an engaging, real presence apart from screens, clicks and pixels.

2: Update your web presence. A streamlined, attractive website may be your single most important tool for attracting new prospects and generating leads. Make sure your site is easy to navigate – preferably optimized for mobile sites as well as desktop – and has clear contact information and great content and images. For best results, have a professional design your site. Clunky, home-grown online storefronts are a great way NOT to get leads.

3: Don’t forget email marketing. What’s one problem with blogs, websites and social media? They’re all competing for customers’ attention online. What’s one great thing about emails? They’re delivered right to a prospect’s inbox, distraction-free. Build your email list carefully, and craft attention-grabbing messages that offer real value to your subscribers.

4: Hold webinars. Hey, here’s a way to rack up some “face-time” online – while delivering thought leadership and solidifying your position as a brand authority. Live webinars allow you to hold concentrated, personalized Q&A sessions that help you and your customers learn more about each other. Plus, if you hold regular sessions, you can archive them on your site to create a great library of resources.

5: Sponsor industry publications. Jump on the bandwagon and help fund consumer and industry magazines that offer trusted content in your field. Guess what? It automatically makes you look good by association. You get to piggyback on their authority – and connect your brand name with well-researched, established authors in your field. It’s so worth the money.

6: Blog, blog, blog. It takes a while to build up a dedicated following and a great body of content. But once you’ve mastered the technique, your blog can be an almost invaluable resource. Don’t make every post a plug for your business. Write about topics your target market is searching for and interested in, and offer them valuable content and solutions. They’ll come back for more – and more site traffic always leads to more leads.

7: Be social, but be smart. To be honest, a lot of social channels just aren’t built for business. You’ve seen companies invest lots of time and energy on a Facebook or Twitter page that eventually flopped because no one was interested in engaging with them. Sure, it works for some businesses, but that’s the exception. Rather than throw all your eggs in the Facebook basket, focus on building connections and participation in groups on LinkedIn. It’s a social network that was actually designed for business, so take advantage of it.

8: Lights, camera, action. Video is the new content of choice – it’s fast, it’s engaging and it’s easy for customers to consume quickly. (Plus, all our attention spans are really short nowadays.) Go nuts with video – but make sure you’re producing a wide array of content that viewers will enjoy. Fun distractions, how-tos, innovative experiments, creative’re the director.

9: Know your audience. Take advantage of today’s sophisticated data collection programs in order to keep track of who’s interested in you. Location services are great for collecting user data through event check-ins, app engagement and web activity. Once you know who’s visiting your site, you can target them with personalized content and offers. Just one caveat: Respect user privacy, and always get permission.

Why not set a goal to generate a certain number of leads this year, and see how far you get? The sky’s the limit!

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