A Beginner’s Guide to Lead Generation For Your Online Business
The survival of any business or website can be gauged by the owners ability to generate a steady stream of targeted leads. No leads = No sales and without sales your business doesn’t exist.
If you have an online business, you’re selling something. It might be a product of your own, a service you provide, an affiliate product (or most likely multiple affiliate products), etc.
Whatever it is you’re selling, you need leads!
In fact, in most major industries the average cost of a single lead is $20 or more! They’re THAT valuable. But you won’t have to pay that kind of money, because you’re about to learn exactly how to position yourself so you can easily connect with an unlimited amount of high-quality leads without breaking the bank!
So, what exactly is a lead?
A lead is a potential buyer. And more importantly, a qualified prospect that has been proven to be interested in your products or services is a potential customer or client. A lead isn’t guaranteed to buy, but they are far more likely to because they’ve shown interest in your niche market.
How does one go about generating qualified leads?
You need to entice them to offer their contact information in exchange for something of value. It might be a free report, a training video, a discount or coupon, or something else – but it should be something they would be interested in only if they would also likely be interested in whatever you’re selling.
In other words, offering a discount coupon for a coffee shop is NOT going to get you qualified leads if you’re selling model cars. A post on how to lose weight is NOT going to get you qualified leads if you’re offering a graphics design service. Sure, a few of those people might be interested in what you’re selling, but you want people who have clearly demonstrated some level of interest in the types of products or services you are offering.
Here is a simple example:
If you’re offering dog walking services, you might offer a free report on training your dog, or how to get bargains on pet supplies, or even a coupon for 50% off the customer’s first walking session.
To begin, there are four main elements to generating leads:
The lead magnet (offer)
The squeeze page/entry funnel
We are going to devote a chapter to each of these four elements, so you will learn more about how to start generating leads as you move through this post. By the end of this special report, you’ll be ready to start connecting with red-hot prospects in your niche market so you can instantly maximize your income and expand your outreach.
So, let’s get started!
Step One: The System
The first thing you absolutely must do if you want to generate leads is to sign up for a service that will allow you to build a database of leads through a web form.
Most people simply use an autoresponder service such as MailChimp, MailerLite, aWeber, or GetResponse, but there are also services that will let you collect, store, manage, and search many different types of information if you need more details from your leads.
If all you need to collect is name and email, which is fine for most online marketing purposes, you can just use a simple autoresponder system.
Here is a list of some of the most popular autoresponder services. Each of these services is widely respected and most have similar features and pricing.
If you’re just getting started, MailChimp and MailerLite have free versions you can use for a while.
If you’re looking to collect more in-depth information, you might want to go with a CRM, or customer relationship management, software. This type of software has in-depth information collection and management, allowing you to build a database of customer information that you can use for marketing purposes.
Agile CRM is one of the most popular and powerful CRM systems out there, and you can start with a FREE account to give it a try. You can have up to 10 users with the trial, and you don’t have to enter any credit card information to get started.
Agile will let you set up autoresponder campaigns, perform A/B split testing, segment your lists, and even predict customer behavior in the future!
Best of all, Agile CRM has some of the best pricing in the industry, with plans starting at just $8.99 per month after the trial.
Infusionsoft is one of the most well-known CRM systems out there. They have a hugely powerful suite of features, including syncing with over 200 other services from Gmail to BigCommerce, Shopify to Woocommerce.
Infusionsoft has extremely powerful analytics, a full-fledged sales pipeline built in, and much more.
The biggest drawback to Infusionsoft is pricing, which starts as $199 and scales upward. It’s a very powerful software, but the price may be a bit high if you’re just getting started.
Salesforce is another very well-known CRM. They have a huge arsenal of tools available, including
They have plans starting at just $25 per month for lead generation alone, so they are affordable for smaller companies who won’t have a lot of users accessing the software. If you don’t need the advanced features, you can make do with the cheapest plan just for generating leads.
Their lead management system lets you keep track of all the stages of customer interaction and transactions.
FreeAgent is a very affordable CRM system that has a wealth of features, including email tracking, outbound call tracking, sales activity tracking, real-time alerts and updates, mass email send, calendar syncing, and more.
Plans start at just $29 per month, making it a great option for new companies and those who aren’t doing enough business to support the price of one of the more expensive options.
Once you’ve decided which system you’re going to use and you’ve signed up for an account and familiarized yourself with how it works, it’s time to move on to the next step—the offer.
Step Two: The Offer
Once you have chosen your system and set up your initial campaign, it’s time to think about creating your offer, which many people refer to as your “lead magnet”. It’s kind of like fishing, where your leads are the fish, and your lead magnet is the bait that lures them in.
Remember, this offer should appeal directly to your chosen demographic. You can’t expect to catch a catfish with a flashy lure meant for bass. While it’s possible, it’s not likely, and you’d stand a much better chance of catching a catfish with something that is known to appeal to them—such as chicken livers, or earthworms, or stink bait.
Try to think about what might appeal to your target audience. What would they be interested in learning that they don’t already know? What would they be interested in getting a discount on?
Most people create a special report as their lead magnet. It’s usually 10-20 pages, but may be up to 50 or so, depending on how much you want to say. Longer reports are more appropriate when you have a complex subject and aren’t selling information on the topic.
For example, if you’re in real estate and selling houses, you can give away a 50-page post on how to find the perfect house, including information about stuff like zoning regulations, homeowners’ associations, utilities, road frontage, home inspections, etc.
But if you’re selling a course on SEO, a shorter report, say 20 pages, on a small segment of the topic would be much more appropriate, because you don’t want to give away all your information for free.
You can always outsource the creation of your lead magnet, or purchase a high-quality PLR product that you can use. This will save you a lot of time.
If you are in the Internet marketing or B2B (business-to-business) fields, you might be interested in signing up for the Automated List Profits monthly program, which delivers two fully-automated lead generation packages per month and includes a report, squeeze page, and thank you page. All you have to do is paste your opt-in code and upload everything!
You might also consider just offering a hefty discount coupon to leads, especially if you have a product that is in demand in your niche. This is especially useful if you have a recurring business model or a sales funnel with upsells that will allow you to use the initial sale as a loss leader and make more money on the back end later.
Once you have your lead magnet ready, be sure to add a link to it to your autoresponder service as a follow-up after people opt-in. You don’t want to have to send all those freebies out manually!
Check your autoresponder’s help files to find out how to set up a follow-up email that contains a link to your lead magnet. The process will be slightly different for each service, but it’s not difficult. It’s about as easy as sending an email.
Then it’s time to create the squeeze page to promote it!
Step Three: The Squeeze Page
Your squeeze page is your lead generation page. This is a web page created specifically to collect information from people and once they do, your autoresponder will direct them to the page where they can download their freebie.
This page should be relatively short. It’s not like a long sales letter. People don’t need that much convincing when something is free, but they do need some. After all, they don’t want to give up their personal contact details unless they really think your lead magnet will benefit them.
For this reason, squeeze pages should have just enough information to entice the reader into taking action. If it’s too long, people will get bored and leave before they opt in!
Generally speaking, a squeeze page should consist of:
Headline – This needs to immediately capture their attention and persuade them to continue reading.
Sub-headline – This provides a little more information and works as your headline’s supporting agent.
Bullet points – Quick, digestible highlights about how your prospect benefits by subscribing to your newsletter, or entering your funnel.
A call-to-action – A direct prompt that instructs your prospect how to complete the process of signing up for your free offer.
Your lead generation form – usually generated by your autoresponder service or lead generation service with various form fields and a button to submit the information.
Quick Tip: ELIMINATE YOUR WORKLOAD
You can sign up to a service that provides monthly lead generation packages that include squeeze pages, high quality content that you can send out to your list, and everything else you need to start collecting leads and building your backend system.
This service is called Automated List Profits and it was designed to eliminate the workload involved in building a lead-generation system by providing you with everything you need to get started.
Check it out:
Information to Collect
Most people collect only the name and email address of their leads, but you might need more information than that, depending on your niche market, and whether you wish to further segment your lists and identify potential customers through demographic based data.
The name and address of potential customers is probably enough information for general marketing purposes, but what if you’re selling a higher-end product or service like real estate or legal services, or something that requires one-on-one contact like coaching, you’ll want to begin collecting as much information as possible to help you better connect with potential customers.
In cases like this, it’s probably a better idea to ask for name, address, telephone number, and email. You might even need additional information, such as date of birth (if you’re selling something for adults only, for example) or even more detailed information, such as the breed of dog they own, or their income.
You don’t want to ask for too much information—which will just cause people to get frustrated and leave without filling out your form—but you want to get just enough information to make sure they’re qualified.
In other words, what information do you really need to know upfront, and what can you gather later in the selling process?
Once your squeeze page is set up, and you’ve added the lead magnet to your autoresponder service, it’s time to start sending traffic to your squeeze page!
Step Four: Traffic
The three previous steps were pretty easy. Even if you create your own lead magnet from scratch, and you need time to learn how to use your autoresponder or CRM, you can complete the other three steps in a few days at most.
You might think traffic is the hardest part, but it’s actually a lot simpler than you think to get traffic! We’re going to take a look at a few of the best strategies for getting traffic, both free and paid.
As far as free traffic goes, there’s only one method that’s quick enough to generate traffic starting today, doesn’t have a hefty learning curve, and provides quality traffic that can convert: social media.
Keep in mind that certain markets are more inclined to use certain social networks than others, so it’s important to locate your market and be certain you’re focusing most of your time and energy on those locations. While you can still use other social networks, most of your effort should be focused on those sites that have a higher concentration of your target demographic.
We’re going to look at a few of the most popular social networks, and how you can locate your target demographic on each one in order to find out which one(s) you should concentrate on.
Locating your target demographic on Facebook is relatively simple. Begin by searching for a topic related to your niche and find pages and groups that fit your niche.
For example, if you are offering a dog walking service, you’d want to search for things like groups for pet owners in your city or state. Find out how many people are in those groups, and how many groups there are. This will give you a rough idea of how many people you can reach on Facebook.
Join these groups and participate in them, making sure you follow their rules. If they don’t allow promotions, you’ll need to contact the group administrators and ask for permission to advertise your service. Otherwise, you should be able to pipe in if people happen to ask about dog walking services.
You can also start your own group, which is your best option. This will give you a source of traffic you can turn into leads anytime.
You should also start a Facebook page for your business, and you can even include a link to your squeeze page on your Facebook page.
Pinterest is like an online corkboard. You can have multiple “boards”, and then pin images with links, sort of like bookmarking a page.
You can find out how popular your niche is on Pinterest by performing a search, and then clicking “Boards” to find out how many people have boards related to your niche AND how many followers those boards have.
You can also search pins for the niche and see how many repins each one has. This will let you know how interested people are.
Pinterest has a huge amount of traffic, and it’s relatively easy to access just by following accounts that have some connection to your niche and pinning content related to your niche and using keywords in your board names and descriptions.
You’ll need to have some interesting content to pin, so it’s a good idea to have a blog or website that you use to post content related to your field. For example, you could have a dog care blog for your dog walking service and post useful information for pet owners.
One important thing to note is that Pinterest is heavily imaged-based, so you’ll need good images to pin that relate to your article.
For example, if you’ve posted an article called “5 Tips for Housebreaking Your Puppy”, you’d want to include a photo of a dog being trained, or something related to housebreaking a puppy, and have the title of your article on the image.
If you take a look at Pinterest, you’ll see that most images are taller than they are wide.
That’s because they take up the most screen real estate since images are constrained by width, but have much more space to expand lengthwise. Thus, try to make sure your images follow the same format.
Instagram is a great platform for visual content, and you can get a lot of traffic from it, especially if your business is related to fashion, beauty, art, lifestyle, food and cooking, crafts, or other topics that are popular.
You can get a good indication of what’s popular on Instagram by opening the app and clicking the search icon, searching for a term related to your niche, and then clicking “Tags”.
This will show you how many posts are currently on the site using that phrase, as well as lots of related phrases.
For example, when I search for “dogs”, I see millions of posts with such hashtags as #dogsofinstagram, #dogs, #dogstagram, and #dogsitting.
You can also click the “People” tab and click some of the top profiles to see how many followers they have. This is another good indicator of interest in your topic.
There are three important steps to getting traffic from Instagram:
1. Fill out your profile and include a link to your website or squeeze page there. Make sure to choose an interesting photo of either yourself or something related to your niche for your profile picture. And include that link because you can’t include links in the descriptions of your individual posts! (Just tell people to check your profile for a link.)
2. Post often. Instagram posts scroll by and are gone quickly if someone is following a lot of profiles, so the best way to get seen is to post as often as possible. Don’t spam! Just a few posts a day is fine, but spread them out every few hours. And don’t forget to add at least 5 relevant hashtags to every post!
3. Follow people who are related to your niche. Many will follow you back, and others will find and follow you from those people’s profiles. It’s a good idea to follow at least 20 new accounts each day, which you can find easily through the search function and referrals from other people. Stick mostly to following accounts related to your niche, because you want qualified leads, not just a high follower count!
Other Social Networks
There are other social networks that can be effective, too, depending on your market. I suggest giving each of these a try to see how they do for your particular market, but you might want to concentrate your efforts on the other sites we’ve talked about earlier in this chapter.
I don’t recommend using paid ads until you’ve thrown a good amount of free traffic at your squeeze page for a while and tested conversion rates. If you aren’t getting many leads, you may want to make some tweaks to your squeeze page and/or lead magnet to increase those conversions.
Once you’re happy with how your page is converting, you can start sending some paid traffic to it.
Let’s look at some of the most effective paid ad platforms. These are generally the most profitable, but they may not work for all niches equally, so be sure to track your conversions carefully, tweak ads as needed, and kill any ads that aren’t performing.
Facebook is generally considered one of the best advertising platforms, because ads are typically affordable and convert well. This is mainly because of how well they are able to target ads to the appropriate parties.
Remember when we talked about how important it is to get qualified leads?
Facebook is brilliant for that, because they have incredibly advanced targeting options. You can target people based on age, gender, location, marital status… just about anything you can think of… PLUS, you can target by interests, shopping habits, and so much more.
Sticking with our example of using a local dog walking business, you can target people in your city, or surrounding cities, AND who are dog owners. You can seriously get THAT specific!
When you create your ad, pay attention to the type of ad you’re creating. The regular newsfeed and mobile newsfeed formats are considered the most profitable.
Keep in mind that the price you pay for your ads on Facebook is heavily based on your CTR (click-thru rate), so it’s important to design the most effective ad possible. If you notice an ad has a low CTR, pause the ad and make changes. Keep tweaking until you find the right combination to bring in qualified leads at a low cost.
Facebook has a great post to help you get started:
Bing’s ad platform isn’t nearly as competitive as many others, because they have much less traffic than Google, Facebook, and some other platforms. However, you can still get a lot of traffic at a very low price, because the lower competition means you can actually get more traffic than you could at the more competitive sites because in many instances you could be the only advertiser in a genre.
Bing is a PPC platform just like Google AdWords, so if you’re already familiar with AdWords, you shouldn’t have too much trouble.
Bing has a lot of training if you’re not familiar with the platform:
Other Ad Platforms
There are platforms you can explore as well, such as YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Google AdWords, and many others. But these can be a little trickier to master than the other three platforms we discussed, as they are either more expensive, more competitive, or harder to master.
For this reason, I suggest exploring other platforms once you’ve mastered the other three we discussed and are getting consistent results.
There are a few things you can do to take your lead generation to the next level. In this section, we’re going to look at a few of those.
Big Welcome Splash
The Big Welcome Splash is a fantastic way to really grab visitor attention the moment they arrive at your website and get them to opt in.
See, visitors have become immune to pop ups, and they get really annoyed with all those sneaky tactics like x buttons that are tiny and colored almost like the background, and requiring opt-in before they can even read your content. They don’t respond to these as well as they used to. They just leave.
But Big Welcome is a plugin for WordPress that will eliminate a lot of these visitor frustrations while still letting you attract attention and grab those leads!
You can create as many welcome messages as you need to, including a different splash screen for each page on your site if you like.
Side Stripe is another powerful WordPress plugin that will let you create cool slide-in ads that can include a lead generation form. These are much more interesting and attention-grabbing than pop ups or standard on-page forms.
Side Stripe is great when used in conjunction with Big Welcome, because you have two chances to capture the lead, and people can respond differently to different offers.
Retargeting is an extremely powerful advertising method that can be used at many different ad platforms, such as Facebook. This is an advanced technique, but it isn’t particularly difficult to set up.
Retargeting allows you to specifically target people you have already reached, in order to pull them back in and get a second chance at converting them. It’s also useful because it will allow you to target your existing leads into sales!
You’ll need to set up a retargeting pixel on your squeeze page. Whichever platform you’re using will give you the code you need to add to your page. This will track your visitors’ behavior and target them again later.
You can learn more about retargeting on Facebook here:
In this post, you’ve learned how to set up your own powerful lead generation system from start to finish. Whether you’re just looking to collect email addresses to build your list so you can market affiliate offers or your own products, or you need more detailed information for big ticket items, you are now armed with exactly what you need to start collecting those leads.
Remember, it’s vital to collect qualified leads. You can have a list of a million leads, but it won’t do you any good unless those people are interested in what you have to offer. It’s much better to have a thousand qualified leads than it is to have a million unqualified leads, unless of course you’re selling something that has an extremely wide area of interest.
Start by choosing the right lead generation service for you. Most of them have trials, so you can test them out to see which one works best for your needs, and which one you find easiest to you.
Next, create your lead magnet. This offer should be something related to your niche, and something that your target market would likely be interested in.
Once your lead magnet is ready, create your squeeze page. Remember to keep this page simple, and focus on letting people know exactly what they will get, and why it will benefit them, when they sign up.
Finally, send some traffic to your squeeze page. Start with free traffic, refine your page to get a good conversion rate, and send paid traffic once you know your squeeze page is converting well.
It’s that simple! Now get out there and start generating all the leads you need for your business!
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For your convenience, here is a list of links to the various resources mentioned in this post.
Automated List Profits
Big Welcome Splash Plugin
Side Stripe Plugin