21st century lead generation strategy

One of the things that neophyte businesses struggle with is the creation and proper execution of a lead generation strategy. You can have the best product, the best service, and the best team — but if people don’t know about you or your business, than all of the above is naught. Here is how you can generate leads in the 21st century.

Decide on your ideal customer

If you go out to eat with five of your friends- there is a guarantee that each of you will order a different dish. Restaurants often have long and diversified menus to promote preferential expression. But, what if the restaurant that you and your friends went to, only served one thing. Would the experience be as novel and personalized? Most likely not!

When generating leads for your business — you must avoid the common practice of casting a “wide net”. While a generalized approach to customer acquisition will significantly increase the number of prospects that you will be able to sell- the consequence will be a diluted and non-targeted message.

It is important that you have a targeted demographic; ideally one that is hyper-targeted. The benefit of this will be profound, giving you the ability to stand out and become an authority-like brand that people love, respect, and ultimately like to do business with.

Being hyper-targeted can have profound effects on your business.

But, you might be thinking how you can hyper-target the right demographic. It is not as complicated as you are thinking. You can do it easily with the four step process that will be outlined below.

Step One: Craft your identity

To understand this step we need to define a Customer Persona. A Customer Persona is a fictional individual- fabricated based on research and representative of the needs and interests of your audience.

After defining our Customer Persona we need to create a backstory- with the aid of four thought-provoking questions.

What is their name?

What generation are they from?

What is their home life like?

What is their level of education?

These questions will help you to discern buyer motivation. For example, Joe the single twenty-something will have different buyer motivations than Mary the 40-something divorcee with two kids.

Step Two: A Day-in-the-life-of

In this step, you put yourself in the shoes of your previously defined Customer Persona and decipher what their thoughts and actions are. Some probing questions that you can ask are:

Where do they go everyday?

How do they communicate?

What is their role?

How do they work?

What is the best way to reach them?

What personality characteristics do they possess?

What is their environment like?

For example, if we had a Customer Persona named Greg, we would aim to be as detailed as possible — demonstrated in the proceeding ‘A-day-in-the-life-of’ snippet:”As owner, Greg wears many hats each day from running the operations of his business to business development. He is on the go a lot, and can be found out on the field or on the golf course just as often as he is in the office.”

Step 3: Uncover pain points

The pain points are the things that make your Customer Persona tick. They are the pressing challenges that they face — sometimes on a daily basis. To properly uncover pain points, you need to think about and incorporate their daily achievements, struggles, and processes. It is also helpful to ponder over these three questions:

What problems does your persona have?

Where do their obstacles intersect with your expertise?

What specific challenges can you help them overcome?

It is important to see yourself as a problem solver. This will put you in the right frame of mind to decipher the unique pain points of your Customer Persona.

On another note, finding the pain points will also help you to determine what motivates your Customer Persona. Knowing what motivates them will help you to craft a highly specific and appealing offering. Here is an example of discovering the challenges and motivations of the Customer Persona of Greg:

Greg’s Biggest Challenges:

Balancing operations with business development

Keeping up with the latest technology

Finding talented tradesmen

Greg’s Motivation:

Wants bigger contracts

Hopes to grow his business

Dreams of passing his business down to his kids

Wishes he could spend more time with his family

Being as detailed as possible with the challenges and motivation of your Customer Persona will make it easier for you when you begin crafting your message and advertising slogans.

Step Four: Validate with research

When we earlier defined the term ‘Customer persona’ — it was mentioned that creation was possible with research.

Research is necessary in order to determine what will appeal to your real audience. After all — a Customer Persona isn’t a real person, but a fictional character. It would be a waste of time to create a Customer Persona that was based off of assumptions. But, what are some things you can do to research the needs of your real audience?

Meet with them in person

Create places for feedback at your brick and mortar location

Send out quarterly surveys with tools like Surveygizmo or Survey Monkey

Face-to-Face or telephone interviews

Create online or offline questionnaires

Creating Focus Groups with a sampling of potential clients or customers and receiving their immediate feedback

If you are really creative, you can come up with more ways to research the needs of your customers — and even mix n’ match the ones mentioned above. As long as you are diligent and thorough; because the worst thing that you can do is perform rushed research.

After you determine your ideal customer and go through the steps to create a detailed Customer Persona — it is than time to publish content on your website and attract the hyper-targeted people that you worked so hard to identify.

Attract hyper-targeted people to your website

Looking for a place to eat? Need to book a hotel stay? Looking for a local plumber?

Most people use Google to search for products and services

The primary way we look for information in the modern world is with a Google search. It seems like everyone these days does their homework before making a major decision or purchase — and it’s your job to be in front of them when they are looking, and aid them through each part of the buying cycle.

Many novice business owners and entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that having a website is a form of marketing in of itself. But, a website is no good if nobody is able to find it. This is why it is vital to drive high quality traffic to it — allowing others the opportunity to learn about your business.

Although there are many ways to get people to your website — the main methods are SEO, PPC, and social media.

SEO

Search Engine Optimization is one of the best ways to drive high quality and hyper-targeted traffic to your website. It relies on being indexed for the search queries that people type into Search Engines such as Google. It is cheap and effective — making it arguably one of the most competitive marketing mediums out of the three methods.

SEO is one of the most competitive mediums of marketing compared with PPC and social media

Below are 16 DIY SEO tips that you can implement to get ranked in popular search engines such as Google.

  1. Make sure you have a Customer Persona

You can’t drive targeted visitors without first knowing who your target audience is and what makes them tick. Why is this? Because search engines are made for humans, not for robots. Identify their challenges, understand why they buy, and shell out a Customer Persona as outlined in the previous section. By doing this, you will align your SEO and website strategy in a way that will allow you to be discovered by your ideal customer.

2. Carefully plan your keyword research

It can be tempting to just push out a bunch of content in a random fashion — but you can improve your chances of getting hyper-targeted traffic from search engines by planning out a keyword strategy. Keywords are the words and phrases that your target audience types into search engines like Google to solve problems. After a search query is submitted, the Search engine brings up a list of related content such as videos, images, and website links.

There are quite a number of tools that you can use to glean valuable insight into keywords that you should be focusing on — including, wordstream, Ubersuggest, and Google’s Keyword Planner. If you need a bit of help with your keyword research than you can read this great article written by Jason Demers at AudienceBloom that breaks it down step by step.

3. Focus on Long-Tail keywords

In many cases, ranking for highly-trafficked keywords is the most effective. But, trying to rank for these competitive terms can be very costly and time-consuming. On the flip side, trying to rank for long-tail keywords is much cheaper and quicker. This is why your strategy should be focused on targeted long-tail keywords.

But, what is a long-tail keyword? A long-tail keyword is a longer and more specific phrase that users type into the search engines to find highly-personalized information. Long-tail keywords make up 70% of all search engine traffic.

Long-tail keywords make up 70% of all search engine traffic.

This is why a healthy keyword planning strategy should focus on long-tail keywords, rather than high-profile ones. It is much easier to be indexed for several long-tail keywords than one high-profile one.

4. Observe your competitors

Once you have formulated your keyword strategy — identify the top competitors for each of your chosen keyword terms and figure out what they are doing to rank so highly for those terms. One tool you can use for this purpose is SpyFu- which is a simple and cost-effective tool for gaining insight into your competitors and their various paid and organic strategies for dominating the search terms that you want to rank for. But, while competitor insights should influence your strategy they should not be your only strategy. Remember, you want to attract hyper-targeted people to your business — you must differentiate yourself on some level or another.

5. Consistently Blog

The pages on your website do not change everyday — so because Google is always looking for fresh and original content, blogging is a way to supply just that. When blogging, write with the user in mind, and not with the purpose of trying to game the Search Engines into ranking your website. Think about your ideal buyer and the challenges that they face everyday. Avoid stuffing your blog posts with keywords, and remember to select a primary keyword for your post using research from Google Trends. This will boost your chances of being discovered. Ensure that your keywords also appear in your title, body copy, url, and meta-description to maximize your optimization for your particular post.

Another great blogging idea is known as Guest-Blogging. Guest-blogging is done by identifying leaders in your niche who are well-known and partnering with them to publish high quality content that links back to your website. This is a great way to significantly boost your traffic, social shares, and the overall equity of your brand.

6. Get rid of duplicate content

One of the fastest ways to get penalized by search engines like Google is to lazily copy-and-paste content that doesn’t belong to you and subsequently use it on your website. When Google sees multiple websites with the same content it indexes one and ignores the others.

The goal of Search engines is to display the most relevant content for user queries and suppress duplicate and spam content. If you wish to incorporate content from another website on yours, link to it and include the original source. You can also make use of 301 redirects to redirect duplicate pages to the original ones.

7. Syndicate and share your content

Publishing a new blog post is an achievement — but distributing it through multiple distribution channels will increase the chance that it will be discovered and favorably indexed by Google Search Engines. The content distribution platform, Outbrain, outlines three different content distribution types:

Earned content distribution: This is when your content is shared via third-party websites- and includes mediums like, social media, product reviews, and media coverage

Owned content distribution: This is when you publish your content to other digital entities which you own — such as a blog, and e-mail newsletter, and various social media platforms.

Paid content distribution: This is when you distribute content using paid advertising such as pay-per-click.

8. Make use of internal links

There is a modern focus on content creation in the digital world — and internal linking can further increase your chances of your content getting discovered by search engines for the keywords of your liking. An internal link is one that connects two pages together that are located on the same domain. Aside from making it easier for Google and other search engines to crawl your website it also improves readability for the people who end up reading your content. Since we write for humans and not for robots this is an ideal consequence. Internal linking is best done deeply — meaning that you don’t link to generic pages like your ‘home’ page or ‘about us’ page. You want to link to relevant content-rich pages like other blog posts to maximize the SEO effect.

9. Increase your inbound links

Aside from internal link building — inbound links remain one of the staples of effective SEO. The main objective of developing inbound links is to get external links from other sites, directories, and forums that have a high domain authority. An example would be if you got featured in huffington post, which is an authoritative website that has a very high pagerank. The feature would result in a boost in your own pagerank in the eyes of search engines like Google. Your search engine rankings for your chosen keywords will also increase.

10. Make sure that your URLs are SEO-friendly

Your URL is what directs people to various places on your website. Having a clean URL is also a good SEO strategy for boosting your rankings in the search engines. Keep these three points in mind when structuring your URL:

  1. They must be user-friendly
  2. They must be easy to read
  3. They must include relevant keywords

Let’s give an example. Let’s say that someone is searching for a pair of red men’s socks in Google. If you structure your URL with the three points mentioned above you can improve your chances of converting search engine users who stumble upon your website into buyers.

Notice here that nordstrom is in the number one spot with the user-friendly URL, ‘http://shop.nordstrom.com/c/men-socks/red’.

Contrast this with these findings for the belk result:

The URL for the belk site is structured in a sloppy way, as noted here:’http://www.belk.com/products/mens-red-underwear-socks-Cf7v33065c2534374302215368.jsp’.

There are two things that you can take away from this comparison. One is that the clear and user-friendly URL of the nordstrom website helped it to outrank the belk website by 10 pages. Also, as I look on the belk search results — I see that the page does not feature men’s red socks at all, but shows a ‘page not found’ error. On the other hand, the nordstrom website returns the exact items that were searched for. As time goes on, Google is placing higher amounts of emphasis on relevance. Be sure that the content of your website matches the words used in your URL. Synchronicity between the two will ensure that you achieve high rankings for the keywords that you want. It will also increase the percentage of people who make a purchase — as it will fit in with what people are looking for.

Extra URL structuring tips:

Here are ten extra tips for structuring URLs in a friendly and readable way.

These tips will help you create search engine and user-friendly URLs

11. Make sure that your website loads fast

Although it may sound surprising — Google and other search engines take into consideration speed when determining how to rank a website. Fast sites get favorable treatment while slow sites are looked upon less favorably. Having a fast website will also increase the number of visitors who actually stay on your page. With all of the options on the web people won’t stick around to wait for a slow website to load. Here is a great article from the website Moz that goes into greater detail on optimizing websites for speed.

12. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile

Many more people are using their mobile devices to retrieve information from search engines. In fact, over 70% of the searches done by consumers on a mobile device results in some sort of action within one hour. Also, Google released an update that improves the rankings of websites that are optimized for mobile. If you are unsure if your website is mobile-friendly, than you can utilize this Google tool to check.

13. Make use of landing pages

A landing page is a single page which serves two purposes; to present a form and capture a visitors information through that form. It is great from increasing your conversions from people who stumble upon your website through search engines. A good tool to use for landing page is Instapage. Remember to include keywords along with relevant content, along with a compelling CTA(Call-to-action).

14. Write for the user not the search engines

Many websites are built with the primary purpose of achieving high rankings. They utilize nefarious practices such as keyword stuffing, and are normally unreadable for humans. But, popular search engines have algorithms in place that reward websites for good user experiences. Things that you can do to improve user experience is to make sure that your website is easy to navigate, and that your sitemaps are properly configured. This will make it easier for search engine spiders to crawl your website and correctly rank it.

Keep in mind that the quality of visitors to your website is more important than quantity. Writing content that appeals to the needs of the people reading your content will increase your conversion rate — allowing you to grow your business with less.

15. Keep up with the latest trends in SEO

Keeping up with the changes and developments in SEO will allow you to continuously keep your website up to date with optimization standards. Some SEO blogs that you can sign up for to keep up to date are Search engine watch, Search Engine Land, other authority SEO sites. Other places you can look for SEO updates are Moz’s Whiteboard Friday and Google Webmasters Youtube Channel.

16. Make use of analytics

It is helpful to measure things when you are making changes to your SEO. A free tool that many webmasters use is Google Analytics — which allows you to monitor your traffic, identify where your traffic is coming from, and see how well your landing pages are doing at converting your visitors into customers.

17. Seek out an SEO agency

The above mentioned tips are good if you are comfortable handling your own SEO, or if you are just a DIY type of individual. But some cases may warrant outside help; like if you are trying to rank for a highly competitive keyword or group of keywords. You also may not feel confident enough to do the SEO on your own. When reaching out to a SEO consultant or SEO firm — be sure to do in depth research and thoroughly check references.

PPC

PPC(Pay-Per-Click) is another way for you to attract hyper-targeted people to your website. It puts your ad in the search results of search engines, giving you hot exposure to people who are ready to become customers right now. Here are some tips you can use to get the most out of PPC:

  1. Try to strike a balance between cost and traffic volume for the search terms you will be paying for exposure on.
  2. Try to create synchronicity by ensuring that the ad-copy is relevant to the keyword, and the landing page is relevant to the ad-copy
  3. If you don’t have the time or skills to utilize PPC, than outsource it to an agency or consulting firm.

How does an ad auction work?

Just because you pay for advertising on Google search engines doesn’t mean that your ad is going to show all of the time. Google uses something called an auction to determine when and where your ads are going to show.

Every-time a keyword and phrase is searched, Google checks to see if any advertisers bid for exposure. If so, the most relevant ads are displayed — based on an algorithm that factors in these three things:

  1. Quality score
  2. Your bid
  3. Expected impact from ad extensions and ad formats

How is your quality score determined?

For each keyword you bid on, you are assigned a quality score. This shows how relevant your ads and landing pages are to each one. If you have a high quality score, than you ultimately pay less to achieve a better ad rank. But, quality score is just one factor in determining it.

What do you pay?

Each time someone clicks on your ads, you are charged. You are only charged for clicks, and not for impressions(times your ad is displayed to search engine visitors). In order to hold your ad rank you are charged one penny more than the lowest competitor, but you will never pay more than what you bid. Your ad rank is determined based on the three factors mentioned above: Quality Score, Bid, and expected impact from Ad extensions and Ad formats.

Why does your competitor’s ads show above yours?

Ad relevancy is only one of the factors that Google and other search engines take into consideration when determining which ads to show. Even with the most relevant ad, a competitor may still be surpassing you in visibility. The reason for this is that they bid higher than you did. If a competitor is willing to pay more than others bidding on the same keyword, than they will receive better exposure.

In order to limit the amount of competitors that rank higher than you, it is important to not only have a good quality score, but a competitive bid as well.

If you need more information on on how the ad Auction works you can watch this video presented by Google.

Social Media

One of the most useful ways to engage and interact with customers in the modern world is with social media. Social media is not something that should be overlooked if you are a business owner looking to expand operations. It is a powerful way to both keep in touch with and create new customers.

But, which social platforms are your customers on? Let’s find out.

  1. Facebook

Facebook is one of the most used sites in the U.S. according to these statistics. 45.6 or close to half of all social media visits are on Facebook. There is a high probability that your current and prospective customers are using it — and spending a large amount of time on it. In it’s early days it was a site mainly used by college students, but over time it turned into a popular social media site that is used worldwide by people ages 16 to 65. They engage in activities such as, spending time in groups, interacting with friends, and posting snippets of their day to day activities. Interestingly 10% of Facebook’s user base is made up of internet users aged 65 and older.

2. Youtube

Youtube is the second largest social media platform with a staggering 21.2 of all social media visits. It also is the second largest search engine in the world — rivaling the likes of Google, the first largest. What’s more, Google owns Youtube. If you are not utilizing Youtube than you are missing out on a golden opportunity to connect with your current customers and acquire new ones. You have the ability to embed videos on your website, and the videos you publish on the Youtube platform will be visible both on Youtube’s and Google’s search results. As mobile technology becomes more mainstream — video is becoming more popular, boasting usage by 72% of millenials residing in the U.S.

3. Twitter

Although twitter accounts for only 4.58 percent of social media usage — it is the third largest social medium nonetheless. It is used primarily to post short messages no greater than 140 characters. These message can also include images and GIFs. Twitter is great for promoting deals and flash sales on products and services that your company may be offering at any given time.

4. LinkedIn

This platform has a monthly visitor count of 187 million — and is centered around all things business. It is used by professionals, sales reps, and job-hunters to achieve all goals business. It is also a content powerhouse, with it’s pulse platform allowing anyone to become a respected authority in their field.

5. Reddit

Although it is much smaller than other social media websites — with a modest 3.92 percent of all social media visits — It is still a platform that can be used for lead generation. There are thousands of ‘sub-reddits’, which are basically small communities of individuals who are passionate about a particular subject matter. By becoming an active member in a sub-reddit that falls in your particular target-market — than you can eventually gain enough trust for people to check out your website. But, it is wise to be cautious as Reddit users are cynical and distrustful of self-promotion. Show that your aim is to provide value and you should be able to use this platform to grow your business.

6. Pinterest

Pinterest is an unique social media platform that allows users to ‘pin’ videos and images to ‘boards’. These ‘boards’ can be owned by the poster or belong to another user. Users can also view what others have pinned- creating a culture that thrives on the sharing of visual content. This platform is good for showcasing your products and services in an enticing and appealing way. A good post can go viral and generate a good amount of referral traffic back to your website. Pinterest makes up around 1.50 percent of all social media traffic. While this is not a large figure — the user-base is made up of an influential demographic; consisting of 85% females mostly located in the US

How to create a loyal following on social media

After you get set-up on all of the social media platforms, you may ask — ‘How do I get these people to visit my website?’ The answer — although trite, is both true and tried and tested. What is it? Be interesting. This is what will motivate people to interact with your brand and subsequently your products and services. But, this is one of the many things in life that are much easier said than done.

Many companies have great difficulty publishing interesting content on social media and effectively engaging followers and fans. But, it is a necessary evil in the modern world of social media; You must be interesting in order to be successful. And, while there is no magic formula that you can implement to churn out super interesting content at all times, there are things you can do to improve your success ratio. The great thing about doing social media correctly — is that there is always the possibility for exponential growth. Your followers will share and tell their friends about your content, and their friends will do the same, creating a cycle of powerful growth.

Here are some practical things you can do to be more interesting to your social media followers:

Provide actionable and informative content

In the information age, you want to provide information that will educate and inform. Provide content that positively impacts people’s lives. For example, if you are trying to sell paint, create a video on how different paintbrushes effect the paint-job. Make sure to use your paint in the video, but don’t directly sell it. If you are trying to sell a time management app, create an article about time management tips that can boost productivity tenfold. Whatever product you are trying to sell reference it in the piece of content you create — but don’t make overt suggestions to use them. People will naturally follow the links and buy from you because you provided them with value and it is easy to do so.

Interact with your followers

Remember, your followers are human beings just like you. They have their dreams, challenges, and concerns. Don’t be afraid to get into conversations with people who follow you. The best way to do this is to ask a question, wait for answers, and let the conversation go from their. Let it happen naturally, like you would a friend or relative. When you interact with your followers, they will feel connected to brand, especially when they interact with the other customers on the page. They will also continually come back, absorb your content, and buy from you out of loyalty and gratitude.

You must give to receive

It’s true, you must give to receive. After you have built a healthy following, consider giving back. Perhaps you can create an informative e-book that solves a specific problem in your industry, or you can hold a free contest where you give away a product to a person who correctly answers a trivia question. Keep it light, and don’t require payment; you will find that your follower interactions will increase, and you will build a loyal social media base that will keep your company healthy with revenue.

8 Tips to publish engaging content

Publishing content on social media is different than on other platforms — and this difference can be candidly summed up into one word, interaction. People visit social media sites to interact with people. You must be social in order to win at the game of social media publishing. Here are the tips that you can implement today to increase the conversion rates you receive on social media platforms

  1. Switch things ups

Being predictable is a sure-fire way to get people to un-follow you. People on social media platforms crave things that entertain and educate them. If you fail to provide that — they will leave. This is why you should mix up your content. For example, for every marketing-related piece you post, you should post something unrelated. It can be a funny cat video from youtube, a motivational quote you were inspired by, or some interesting view on a current event. Whatever it is, it should be different from the posts you normally make. This will keep your followers coming back for more.

2. Make frequent use of visuals

Images are an important thing on many social media sites — including snapchat, instagram, and Pinterest. If you frequently post images, you will begin to stand out from the competition. You should ensure that your images are the recommended size, to avoid any inconvenient mishaps. If you need a good image editing tool, PicMonkey and Canva are good choices.

3. Add a call-to-action

Ask your followers to take some sort of action at the end of each post you make. Most popular social media sites accommodate this addition. Here is a post that shows documented evidence that call-to-actions can and often do have a tremendous effect on business revenue.

4. Always have a goal in mind

You should always post strategically. Most social media promotional pieces have one of the three goals:

Motivate followers to visit your website

Motivate followers to share the piece with their friends

Motivate followers to take a positive platform specific action(eg. like or comment on Facebook)

Use this as a basic guideline for determining the goal you have for posting. This will allow you to measure what works with your particular audience and what doesn’t.

5. Use videos to stand out

With Youtube being the second largest search-engine in the world, it is obvious that videos are becoming a more popular form of marketing. But, you may be thinking that your videos have to be long and drawn out for them to be effective marketing pieces. They don’t, in fact — many successful marketing videos are under a minute. Most social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest will allow you to post videos. Do not worry about perfection — if you continually post videos you will eventually develop your voice and naturally improve.

6. Ask for those shares

Social media is all about sharing. The best social media influencers encourage people to share their content with their friends — creating a viral growth effect that can have a big impact on business revenue. After all, if your followers like what you post than their friends will like it to.

7. Make sure to shorten your links

Let’s face it — long links are annoying. If you are not making use of a link shortener, you should start using one ASAP! This will ensure that you annoy less people — and you will be able to track your clicks. Tracking will give you hard evidence as to what works and what doesn’t.

8. Be selective

Not all social media sites are worth your time. If you were to account for the amount of people who use Facebook and Google alone, the figure would come out to over 60%. Don’t jump on any new platform that comes out. Sticking to two or three platforms should be just enough if you do proper research

This is how you generate leads in the 21st century. There are more channels than before, and competition is stiffer than ever — but applying the information in this article will equip you with the tools to succeed.

Do you need capital for your business? Call or email Jason James at 347–844–1255/JasonJames346@gmail.com