Following on from my recent post about the importance of email list, I want to talk a bit about the concept of leads, The terms leads is used widely in marketing circles, especially online marketing, but do you really understand what we mean by it?
We often think about a lead as simply being an enquiry from a potential customer about products or services which we can then follow up to make a sale. But in reality, this only covers a small part of the lead spectrum.
The definition of a lead, as written in Wikipedia is
“In marketing, lead generation is the initiation of consumer interest or inquiry into products or services of a business. Leads can be created for purposes such as list building, e-newsletter list acquisition or for sales leads.”
In other words, the type of lead I described above is only a part of the spectrum. The type of lead I described above is a sales lead. It’s the hottest form of lead that you are likely to get. But how many times are you likely to receive this type of lead directly from your website? I can tell you from experience, not very often.
Instead. it makes more sense to focus a large proportion of your marketing on list building. People who opt in to your email list are leads; call them interest leads. These are people that have expressed an interest in your business by opting in. These interest leads are not as hot as sales leads because you’re going to have to do more work to eventually convert them to sales.
But you are far more likely to get someone to show interest and opt in to your lists than you are to get them to make a direct enquiry. So it makes sense to focus you efforts, and your website, on building you email lists rather than simply trying to get sales leads. Once you’ve built up a sizable email list, you can then work on these people with newsletter and focused direct emails, to eventually convert them to sales.
This process of attracting people who show interest is known as a marketing funnel in marketing circles.
- Firstly, you attract people into the mouth of the funnel. In other words, persuade them to opt-in to your email list.
- Then you draw them down into the funnel with constant contact through newsletters, blog posts and direct email.
- And ultimately, you take them to the stem of the funnel, or in other word, you to convert them into hot sales leads and into actual sales.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to directly steer visitors to your website towards the Contact Us page. Instead steer them to places where they can opt-in to your email list. Provide inducements for them to do that, such as free ebooks or reports. Many people offer loss leader products in order to do that. In the software field, you will come across many examples where people offer free version of there software. The free version comes with restrictions that you can only get round if you then buy the “Profession” edition.
Building up email lists and getting leads is not easy. It requires effort, persistence, and focus. But if you do persist, maintain your focus on building up your email lists, and don’t be tempted into taking shortcuts by people offering instant solutions, then you will have the basis of a resilient, long term business.