How to Generate Leads – Best and Worst Practices
Do a Google search for “How do I acquire leads?” and you will undoubtedly find thousands of articles of how to generate leads. Let’s be real here, lead generation is a CHALLENGE, if we were all good at it then nobody would write about it. I am of the new school of thought that lead nurturing and relationship building is the most direct path to success, as opposed to prospecting and cold calling. What exactly does that mean? Well, it means that in 2016 and beyond, you broadcast messages through a medium (social media, organic search marketing or SEO, direct mail, live events, etc.) to a target audience of your ideal consumers, build a relationship with them, gain their trust and then when those consumers are faced with a purchasing decision you already have one leg up on the competition. For a change of pace, I wanted to share some lead generation worst practices and what NOT to do! So here are the seven deadly sins of lead generation and digital marketing, pay special attention to #7!
Lead Generation Worst Practices #1: Concealing Contact Information
Want to increase your bounce rate? Want to turn away customers at the door? It’s very simple, do not put contact information on your website in an easy to find area. Adding contact information may seem like an obvious choice for the first thing to consider when compiling your small business website. While it is obvious to include contact information, many times (more often than not) contact information will get buried below the fold, in the footer section of a website or on a page that is nearly impossible to find or navigate to.
If a consumer is TRULY interested in what you have to offer, try to make the user experience as simple as possible to take action. Put your contact information right in their face and make it completely obvious what number to call if they are ready to pursue interest in your business or service. Below is a nice example of common-sense obviousness (is that even a word?)!
Lead Generation Worst Practices #2: Avoid Opt-in or Contact Forms
Do you have an appetite to lose out on 80% of the potential business your website or digital presence can acquire? It’s VERY simple, do not have an opt-in or subscribe form! Every digital marketer in the world in 2016 is talking about lead nurturing, or at least they should be. Does your digital marketing team have their eye on or a strategy for lead nurturing? If not, do not worry, that is the purpose of this article is to describe everything marketing should NOT be doing! Lead nurturing consists of many components however the core principle behind nurturing a lead is that your brand is responsible for taking the consumer, or prospective buyer, through a purchasing experience which includes trust building. Trust building begins with soft CTA’s (soft Call-to-Action) with gentle lead magnets to entice consumers to opt-in or contact you. Many small business marketers believe in “straight for jugular” sales tactics. Do not get caught in this mindset, leave your audience with a subtle means of building a relationship with your brand, gain their trust and nurture the lead.
Lead Generation Worst Practices #3: The Contact Form Black Hole
How about an opportunity to miss out on 100% of all leads that your social media or website can provide? Here is the key to missing out on 100% of those leads, have a contact form on your website that either does NOT send you a notification or sends a notification to an email that nobody checks. This is an absolute great way to drive your online revenue to zero! If I have do not say I have seen this hundreds of times, I would be lying! The Contact Form Black Hole is when a website owner does not know where requests or referrals go after they have been submitted. This one absolute kills me, how any professional person can put a web form on a website and have no process in place to track, organize and manage inbound leads. The ideal scenario is an email auto-responder (response) to the requestor with a notification and/or email to the website owner.
Lead Generation Worst Practices #4: No Testimonials or Social Proof
How about completely destroying your reputation? Well if that is your objective, then I highly recommend putting no testimonials, or better yet, FAKE testimonials on your website. If you really want to increase your bounce rate, not grow your business or spin your wheels with no results in perpetuity, than avoid testimonials all together. Testimonials can be a powerful marketing tool, but adding photos or even rich media such as video or audio can take them a step further. While the rich media versions may be too bandwidth-heavy for lead generation websites, solid testimonials can have a powerful impact and lend support to your offer. Here is an example from the accounting software Free Agent that utilizes black-and-white photos, and large turnouts quotes for testimonials.
Lead Generation Worst Practices #5: Less than Stellar Landing Pages
Here is one my favorite ways to waste every single spend on PPC, are you ready? Make the landing irrelevant to the ad! Yep, it’s very simple, an example of this is a divorce attorney advertising divorce law and a landing page that addresses DUI. One of my favorite ways to prospect and troll for new potential business is to do Google searches in specific niches and click PPC ads. I would venture to say that 75% of the pages that I land on are 1) not relevant, 2) present a 404 (page not found) or 3) directly land on the homepage of a website. All of these scenarios are in direct violation of PPC best practices. So, if you really want to waste a LOT of money and waste it quickly, publish some PPC ads with less than stellar landing pages. Conversely, if you want to optimize and maximize your chances of success then create ad specific landing pages that address the actual ad, content, topic or offer that was originally presented in the ad. AdWords measures this factor using Quality Score and Facebook measures this using Ad Relevance Score. Aim high, shoot for an AdWords Quality Score of 10/10 and a Facebook Ad Relevance Score of 5/5.
Lead Generation Worst Practices #6: TMI or TLI, Too Much or Too Little Information
Do you like to go straight for the jugular? Try this one, how about a landing page with no information and just a contact form? Better yet, try a landing page with SO much information it is impossible to find the CTA (call-to-action). Other landing page factors include Too Much Information or Too Little Information. Granted there is a fine line between TMI, TLI and just enough. Do not guild the lilly here, publish enough content to address WHY, HOW or WHAT you are promoting but do not publish too much such that the Call-to-Action gets buried.
Have you ever clicked a link and scrolled through a never ending squeeze page? (A squeeze page is a landing page designed to capture opt-in email addresses from potential subscribers. The goal of a squeeze page is to convince, cajole, or otherwise ”squeeze” a visitor into providing one of their most sought-after and coveted pieces of personal data.) Whenever I land on a never ending squeeze page, which I do frequently, I think to myself SNAKE OIL.
Lead Generation Worst Practices #7: Bait n’ Switch
The mother lode (yes, it’s mother lode, I attended the remote Michigan Tech University that specializes in mining engineering, mother lode was a term used daily for four years) of absolute drilling your reputation! Do you REALLY want to destroy some relationships? Do you REALLY want to acquire a bad reputation on the street? Listen closely for some great advice on how to be a horrible lead generation professional. Acquire leads, promise consumers privacy and SELL YOUR LISTS TO OTHERS! If I had one dollar for every person that mentioned to me the following, I would be a WEALTHY dude!
Mike, I purchased a cheap list of leads once and it did not work out. I did not want to spend a lot of money so I found someone offering a list of leads on the cheap.
Why do I call this Bait n’ Switch? Many lead generation people (too many) will have an opt-in process for one specific vertical or industry (say, Insurance), then will sell that information to 3rd parties that are unrelated to the original industry.