One of the top objectives for your Web site is to capture qualified
leads for your sales team. But simply having a Web site won’t help you
generate leads; you need to follow a disciplined approach to driving
qualified prospects to your Web site and motivating them to contact you.
Think not in terms of driving traffic, but in getting qualified prospects to your Web site. Think not about counting clicks, but earning customers. When you take this point of view, your first task is to invest in appropriate marketing programs that will bring motivated prospects to your Web site, rather than drive anonymous traffic.
Many companies use search engine optimization and keyword ads on general search engines (Google, Yahoo!, etc.) to drive traffic to their Web site. While this may be an important part of your online marketing strategy, you don’t know who might click on your ads. You can end up paying for a lot of unqualified traffic to your Web site.
An alternative is to display your ads only to your target audience. You may not be able to do this on general search engines, but you can on sites like GlobalSpec, where an audience of engineering, technical and industrial professionals is already aggregated for you. There’s no need to weed out consumers and other people who are not your target audience.
Other online strategies that can help you drive qualified prospects and not just traffic to your Web site include:
- Maintaining a presence in relevant online directories that offer branding and messaging options
- Advertising in appropriate e-newsletters your customers and prospects read
- Showcasing your capabilities with banner ads on targeted Web sites or on banner ad networks in the industrial sector
Whenever you choose marketing vehicles geared specifically to reach your customers and prospects, you’ve eliminated the first set of challenges when trying to earn customers rather than clicks.
Capturing Qualified Leads
Once you drive prospects to your Web site you must turn them into qualified leads. The way to do this is to present a strong, relevant offer that your prospects are eager to accept in exchange for their contact information.
For an industrial audience, the most effective offers tend to be educational in nature and useful to helping your customers and prospects better meet the demands of their jobs. For example, develop white papers that demonstrate approaches to solving common problems your customers face, or provide guidelines on evaluating products or technologies, or discuss new industry trends.
While educational and useful in nature, these papers help establish your company as experts in the industry and give you an opportunity to gently promote your services and products. Another strong offer could be a Webinar that carries a similar theme to one of your white papers. Or you could offer CAD drawings or application ideas if those are relevant.
The first place to promote your offer is in your ad creative, whether it’s a keyword ad, e-newsletter sponsorship, banner ad or other promotion. Your ad, in turn, should send people to a specific landing page on your Web site related to the offer. One mistake some marketers make is sending prospects to the home page of a Web site, but for generating leads, your home page is too much of a generalist page, really just a doorway to the rest of your Web site. If you are promoting a product, you want to drive prospects to a product-specific page on your site.
Your landing page should share creative visual and copy elements with your advertisement, repeat the offer, and provide a form for prospects to fill out in order to take advantage of your offer. The form at a minimum should require enough information so that you can contact this prospect: at least a name, company name, e-mail address or phone number.
You can ask other questions as well, which might help further qualify the prospect. Questions such as a person’s title, product/service interest area, purchasing intent or timeframe can provide valuable information, but you may want to make these questions optional. The more information you require on a form, the more drop-off you will experience from prospects abandoning the page. If the value equation isn’t right, meaning if what you offer (white paper, etc.) isn’t perceived as valuable as what you’re asking (a lot of questions and the time to fill them out), then your number of leads will go down.
In addition to a form, you should also clearly have an e-mail address and phone number on the landing page. Some people prefer those contact methods. Offering live chat on your landing page is an example of an advanced tactic for getting prospects to contact you.
A final note on gaining customers, not clicks, from your Web site: make sure your sales force is a participant in your marketing programs and that the leads you generate are responded to quickly and tracked through the sales cycle. Only with marketing and sales working together will you gain qualified prospects, and ultimately, customers.