There are literally dozens if not hundreds of ways of generating leads for your ecommerce business. As long as you’re upholding your company’s reputation and ethics, you needn't worry about "right" and "wrong" ways of generating leads. But it is safe to say that some methods will have further-reaching long-term impact than others.
Some will produce big results; others are just little tweaks that will move the needle by a few mere percentage points.
However, as has often been said in priority management,take care of the “big rocks” first, so you’ll be able to fit in the “little rocks” later. With that said, here are five big-picture lead generation strategies to help grow your ecommerce business.
1. Search-engine optimize.
SEO is among the most popular and effective lead-generation strategies for online business. While there are many different aspects to SEO -- from schema markup to backlinks -- search needs to be your primary focus. This means investing heavily in content marketing.
Great content boosts your visibility, in search. This, in turn, generates more traffic to your website. Once you have visitors on your site, you can encourage them to contact you through a 1-800 number, or incentivize them to join your email list to receive regular news and updates.
Content marketing is a powerful tool for attracting quality leads, and that’s important, because lead generation shouldn’t merely be a numbers game. You want to build trust with the customers who offer the highest lifetime value.
If your website isn’t yet mobile-friendly, that’s another area you need to tackle immediately. Implement responsive design and make your site easy to scan and navigate.
2. Build your email list.
Ecommerce businesses need to be proactive about collecting email addresses from website visitors. This doesn’t mean just putting up a subscription form in the sidebar and waiting for people to sign up. It means incentivizing visitors and giving them a reason to join.
If your target customers are looking for information related to the product you’re selling, you can entice users with ebooks or webinars and explain the benefits and recommended usage of your product. You can offer free shipping or discounts on their first order.
Giving away something of value gives visitors a reason to join, and discounts and free shipping give them a reason to order. If some subscribers don’t take advantage, you can send them gentle reminders letting them know that they haven’t confirmed their order yet.
It’s also worth experimenting with more aggressive methods, such as pop-ups, to collect emails. Used responsibly, they can be quite effective.
Related: 10 Ways to Quickly Generate Leads
3. Optimize your home page.
Your home page is among the most visited, and most important pages, on your website. If you want to make a great first impression, it needs to be optimized. You will leave a lot of business on the table if you don’t take the time to organize, clean the clutter and place important elements above the fold.
Here are several items to address:
- Navigation: It should be easy for your visitors to find what they’re looking for on your website. Make your navigation customer-friendly.
- Signup forms: Create opportunities for your visitors to sign up for your email newsletter.
- Content: Make it clear where visitors can go to find how-to guides and tutorials, and learn more about your offers.
- Calls to action: Include several powerful calls-to-action to get visitors to act. Get them to contact you, subscribe to your email list, download a lead magnet or buy a product now.
- Products: Organize your products and make them easily scannable. Also, optimize your checkout process, as your cart-abandonment rate will go through the roof if you don’t make it easy to buy -- whether on a desktop computer, smartphone or other device.
4. Leverage word-of-mouth.
It's often said that word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective form of marketing. As one customer refers your business to another, word begins to spread that you offer a great product or experience.
There are some basic things you can do to create a great customer experience. You can deliver products quickly, you can send customers flattering emails after purchases, you can follow up with them by phone to confirm shipment and so on.
But these items are a mere starting point, since customers today practically expect this level of service. To really harness the power of word-of-mouth, you’ll need to do something more. For example, you could offer discounts to customers that refer friends to your website. Incentivizing referral is a great way to spread the word about your business.
5. Maximize results with pay-per-click advertising and social media.
With a robust homepage, content marketing plan, high-converting landing pages and an email list in place, you’re ready to start amplifying your results with pay-per-click advertising and social media.
In the highly competitive world of search engine optimization, ranking for keywords is a long-term strategy. PPC ads give you the ability to show up higher in search results without having to drive your website up to the number-one or number-two spot. This is a very effective way of generating traffic to a landing page. Social media ads also offer the opportunity to boost posts and help promotions gain visibility. PPC ads make it easy to target the right audience; and with enough data, you can create look-alike audiences to attract your target customer.
Social media itself is also a powerful tool for generating leads, with Facebook and Twitter leading the pack. Social media isn’t just a great place to highlight discounts and promotions, it’s also the go-to distribution and syndication platform for your content. Your content marketing will be all the more effective when it’s tied to a strong social marketing strategy.
In summary, the strategies presented here will help you generate more leads. But it is important to keep in mind that these “big-rock” strategies take time. You won’t necessarily see results immediately, and you have to be consistent and persistent in your efforts to drive results.
The hard work you put in, however, will be worth the effort. With enough relevant data, lead generation can be effectively systematized. This means you can create repeatable results in a sustainable way.