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The best internet marketers and businesses know that the single most important activity they can engage in is building leads. This is the difference between success and failure and it’s truer in today’s world of online business than it perhaps ever has been.
So just what exactly is a lead? Why does it matter so much? And how do you go about building one?
Put simply, a lead is someone who might become a customer. A lead is someone who has had some kind of contact with your business and some sort of interest in your brand. They are interested, they are tempted and it only takes a little effort on your part to then push them over the edge so that they will become buyers.
But wait a moment: if a lead is just someone who might one day become a buyer, then how can a lead possibly be more important than a buyer? And what does this have to do with the state of business today? Surely a lead today is the same as it always has been?
Essentially, what makes a lead so important is that a lead is someone who might go on to make many more purchases in future. A lead is someone who has unlimited potential for you as far as your business is concerned. Now, a buyer is a type of lead in some cases, but not every buyer is always going to become a lead in future. If you have a lead before you have a buyer though, this suggests they are engaged with your brand and thus potentially likely to come back and buy from you more in future.
Instead of thinking ‘how can I make a quick sale?’ the question should be ‘how can I increase my customer lifetime value?’.
There’s another reason that leads are so important when compared with customers, which is that a lead is much easier to make than a customer. If you emphasize trying to make as many customers as you possibly can and if you try and force the issue, then your site is essentially just going to become a horrible exercise in sales talk. This might generate some revenue for you but it’s also going to turn a lot of people away from your site and away from your brand, never to return!
Creating a lead on the other hand simply means encouraging someone to place down their contact details and crucially to give you permission to contact them again in future. That is much easier to convince someone to do, meaning that you don’t need to use heavy handed sales techniques and meaning that you’re not going to drive anyone away from your site.
This creates a subtle shift in your approach to business too. Suddenly, you’re no longer trying to do everything that you possibly can do to convince people to buy from you. Instead, you’re just trying to build a relationship with them and establish trust so that they’ll hand over their details.
And then, once you have those details, you can be much smarter about the way you try and sell to them. You can time your attempt better so that you are selling to them at a point when they’re likely to want to buy and you can build up their interest more and more in whatever products you have.
So simply switching your focus from sales to lead acquisition is going to transform the way you approach business and give you a much more value-centric approach. In turn, this will ensure that you build an army of loyal customers that you can sell to again and again.
What’s more is that this will also change the way you approach marketing your site. This means a shift from overt SEO and sales talk and a switch to better social media marketing and content marketing. It means providing value at every possible opportunity and ultimately, this will all lead to happier customers and more revenue.
What You Will Learn
Changing from a sales-oriented approach to a leads-driven approach then is one of the very best decisions you can make for your business and it will affect much more than just your immediate revenue. With that in mind, this book is going to teach you everything you could need to know about building and using your leads. You will learn:
All the different types of leads and how they vary How to build a mailing list
How to increase trust and authority in your niche
How to use lead management software
How to make sales from leads – turn leads into customers!
How to write an effective squeeze page
How to make leads excited for a product
How to build leads in person
How to create a large following on social media by selling your ‘dream’
Why having a brand and a mission statement is so important And much more!
Chapter 1: The Types of Leads and What They Mean
In internet marketing, the term lead can be used fairly broadly to encompass a number of different things.
In fact though, the term ‘lead’ actually comes from sales and sales teams around the world have done a lot of work to define the term, categorize it and break it down. This is useful for reading for anyone interested in making more leads for their business, as it will help you better understand what you’re trying to do and how you can measure your success.
The Life Cycle of a Lead
In sales, we talk about leads as having a ‘life cycle’. That is to say that a lead will develop from one ‘type’ of lead to another as they become more engaged with your brand and as they become more likely to buy from you.
Generally, the lifecycle is as follows:
Sales qualified leads
So what does this mean?
First we have the cold lead. The cold lead is the lead that you have only just acquired that knows nothing about your business and that, as yet, has no interest in your product or service. They are a lead though because you have their details/contact with them and because they fit into your target demographic and your buyer persona.
You know all those calls that you get from companies trying to sell you insurance, PPI and other services you don’t want? They are calling you because you are a cold lead. In other words, they bought your details (most likely) from another company because they know you fit their demographic.
Now they know who you are, they have the means to contact you and you are someone who is likely to want to buy from them.
Their mistake is trying to go straight in for the sale – cold leads haven’t given permission or shown any interest and so they’re not likely to buy right away. If you try and make a sale from a cold lead, it will likely lead to a backlash.
If you are an internet marketer, then hopefully you aren’t buying mailing lists or followers – these are marketing methods that are generally doomed to failure. Our equivalent of this then is a visitor to our website – someone who we now have access to but who may well have just landed their by accident.
However you got your cold lead, your next step is to convert them into a warm lead. Better yet, there are ways of ensuring that your leads are warm when they first reach you, which can save you a lot of trouble and effort.
The warm lead has everything that the cold lead does – they fit your target demographic, you have the means to market to them and they are statistically likely to buy from you. Their big difference is that they have shown some actual interest in your brand (if not your product) and hopefully even given you permission to contact them.
This might mean they have followed you on social media, it might mean they’ve joined your mailing list, or it might mean that they have sent you an email praising your site and all your hard work. These people haven’t necessarily indicated that they want to buy from you but they have demonstrated some kind of liking for your brand and your ethos. These people are thereby much more likely to buy in future when compared to people that you’ve never had any contact with.
A qualified lead is then a lead that has taken the next step and gone from being interested in your brand to being interested in your product. That means they have somehow shown interest in buying from you – perhaps they have asked for more information about a specific product for example, or perhaps they have added your product to their cart or to some kind of wish list. Maybe they backed your product on Kickstarter even. They might have asked for a quote, or they might literally have told you they want your product.
Either way, the qualified lead is now someone who wants to buy and who just needs that tiny push in order to actually take the plunge.
You can also categorize leads as sales qualified leads (SQL) and marketing qualified leads (MQL). This is a term that is generally used in businesses with separate sales and marketing departments. It depends on which team qualified the lead and very often an MQL will be passed immediately onto the sales team to become an SQL. Sometimes you will also see the term ‘IQL’ or internet qualified leads. This is what this book will largely be dealing with.
Lead Scoring and Categorization
There are more ways to think about your leads and to categorize them. Some companies for instance will actually ‘score’ their leads and use this as a measure of how likely they are to buy from you. Only once the lead has reached a certain level do you then go on to actually try and sell to them by sending a special offer by email, or by getting a member of the sales team to give them a call.
How do you score leads as an internet marketer? That’s up to you – but ultimately the more data you can collect the better. You might for instance score your customer in terms of engagement with your brand (How often do they visit the site? How many of your emails do they open? Do they comment on your posts?) and in terms of the interest they’ve shown in buying from you. So for example, a lead with a good score will be someone who has done Google searches for your specific product, who has spent time looking at the item on your ecommerce store and perhaps who has actually made a purchase in the past.