"Lead generation" is the process of creating awareness with your target audience members through content, and enticing them with an offer they'll want to sign up for.
Related: 10 Ways to Quickly Generate Leads
The way it works is: Users come to your website, read a blog post, click on a call to action and enter their information into a form on a landing page. Since they've already expressed interest in the topic they came to your site to learn about, it's just a matter of engaging them, providing them with additional information and making them aware of the solutions you have available.
It all sounds simple enough, but there are certain nuances you'll need to be aware of depending on who your target customer is. Here are several steps you can take to optimize your site for lead generation.
1. Optimize your content.
Content is what typically creates the first point of contact with your target audience. It could be a blog or social media post, an email, podcast episode or YouTube video.
First and foremost, you'll need to create content that's relevant and valuable to your visitors. Without that, you will not turn many visitors into leads.
Second, you'll want to optimize on-site content so that users can easily find you in search-engine results. Keep in mind that ranking for a highly competitive term is extremely difficult. Do your homework and find long-tail keywords that you can realistically rank for.
Lead generation begins with attracting target customers to your website. When your content serves your visitors, they are more likely to take the relationship to the next level by opting-in for your offers.
2. Optimize your calls to action.
Assuming your visitors find your content educational and useful, the next step is to create calls to action that persuade them to provide you with their contact information.
The first thing to think about is what copy to use. Words and phrases like "free," "trial," "try," "exclusive," "download," "limited-time offer" and "access" are commonly used on popular sites to attract the eye of the visitor.
Be sure, too, to create offers that are relevant. For example, "limited time offer" is not good copy if you're offering a download that people can access at any time. Also note: Negative calls to action (ones that reference pain points) can be quite effective.
The next thing to pay attention to is color and imagery. A plain text link can sometimes work, but you should see to it that your visitors don't miss out on offers they would like to have. Buttons and banners should be used strategically to draw attention. You can also A/B split-test to determine the efficacy of different colors and images.
One more thing to consider is position. In other words, where will you place your calls to action? At the bottom of blog posts? In the sidebar? In the header or the navigation menu? Experiment and find out what works best.
3. Optimize your offers.
Your content and calls to action might be well-defined, but if they aren't connected to an offer your visitors actually want, they won't sign up.
You'll also want to think about what your visitors are getting at every stage of the journey. What did they learn from the blog post? What would they logically want to learn about next? What content could you provide to nurture leads that sign up but don't immediately buy? And, ultimately, how will you convert your leads?
Arguably, the most important offer is the one visitors get when they first sign up. Let's say, for example, that you're in the guitar niche. A generic offer, like "How to Get Better at Guitar in 10 Easy Steps," might be marginally effective, but if the visitor just read an article about hammer-ons and pull-offs, a more enticing and relevant offer would be, "Practice These 10 Exercises Daily to Master Hammer-ons & Pull-offs Fast.”
Applicable content-upgrades can boost signups. Ensure that your offers are well-matched to your visitors and the information they want.
4. Optimize your landing pages.
Whether to have landing pages or not is an important decision in and of itself. For instance, you could have visitors click on a "call to action" button and instantly have a form pop up so they will be able to enter their information and claim the offer without ever viewing another page.
Inbound methodology typically involves the use of landing pages. And if you're looking to collect more information from your visitors than just their first name and email address, then landing pages are assets worth creating.
Your landing pages should include a brief summary of the offer your visitors will be getting when they sign up. The copy needs to be optimized to ensure good performance. The page should also have a signup form. The exact information to collect at this point depends on your strategy, and is another item to optimize.
Collecting too much information could be a deterrent to potential leads. On the other hand, those that provide you with more information might turn out to be better quality leads. You will need to test and experiment to figure out what information your target customers are comfortable giving.
One more piece that's worth your attention is the "Thank you" page, the one visitors see when they sign up for your offer. You can use this page to thank visitors and provide a download link to an ebook, template, report or white paper. You can also serve links to relevant pages on your site for additional reading.
If you'd like to learn more about optimizing your site for lead generation, take a listen to this podcast on lead generation.
Keep in mind that the exact steps you take to generate leads should be informed by your target audience and niche, as different audiences exhibit different behaviors. By tailoring the items discussed above for your specific audience, you'll be able to boost performance significantly.
Another worthwhile option is to buy a lead-generation website, particularly if you can find one that already serves your niche. Sellers of these sites have already done the hard work of figuring out how to cater to the sensibilities of particular niche audiences.