How to generate sales leads online

Sales leads are when potential clients express interest in the products or services offered by a business. While a lead does not guarantee a sale, it boosts the possibility an interested party will make a purchase. Wondering how to generate sales leads? Well, there are two main ways to obtain leads: existing customer referrals and marketing tactics, which receive direct responses.

For any company to improve and expand, it is imperative for them to continually generate sales leads. These leads are the lifeblood of the sales funnel. The more leads an outlet is able to produce, the better the position they can take up to thrive and secure new customers.

Are you struggling to obtain leads for your business? That is where this guide can help. Below is a collection of key lessons that will teach you how to generate sales leads online.

Understanding your target market.

To generate sales leads, you first need a secure foundation in place. That starts with a full understanding of your target audience.

How to identify your target audience.

First, it is vital you identify the right target audience for your business. Without doing so, your marketing efforts will fail to connect and ultimately fall flat, and that is no good when attempting to acquire sales leads.

The target audience is made up of consumers that will be most interested in your products and services. This is defined based on their behavior, interests, and specific demographics. Regarding the latter, demographics include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Location
  • Employment

To find your target audience successfully, you need to analyze the available data. Google Analytics and social media insights are a solid starting point, as you will be able to see which demographics are most in-tune with your brand. Another savvy tip is to simply engage with your audience directly.

Understand the needs and pain points of your target audience.

You have identified your target audience. Now it is time to dig a little deeper and gain valuable information for your campaign to generate sales leads.

By learning about the needs and pain points of your audience, you know what to focus on with your products, services, and marketing materials.

For example, a bakery may discover a pain point of their audience is a lack of gluten-free cakes. They could then decide to produce and sell gluten-free cakes and make these products a focal point of their marketing campaign.

How do you discover needs and pain points? One method is to pay close attention to comments left in reviews and social media posts, and that is where GapScout can assist.

Customers will often use these platforms to vent and share their criticisms, whether constructive or vindictive. With GapScout, and the cutting-edge AI analysis it is built around, you can unlock valuable market insights, spot key themes, and know which opportunities to base your future output around.

Also Read: 4-Step Voice of Customer Strategy

Research the competition.

Along with your own content, you are also able to find out more about your target audience through the competition. Think about it: they are generally concentrating on the same type of buyer persona as your business.

Again, GapScout can be a major help when researching the competition. Simply provide this tool with the data source of your competitors, and it will go through all the reviews/social content, pulling out the valuable data for your convenience.

This is a smart way to further learn about pain points and opportunities, especially if you have a limited number of direct sources to pluck information from currently. Unearth issues that customers have with your rivals and remedy these with your own offerings, and suddenly you have some key selling points to entice people to select your business rather than the competition.

Developing a strong online presence.

Google Homepage screen.

To generate sales leads online, you must have a robust online presence. It is that simple. However, what is not as simple is actually building up your brand’s visibility across the internet.

Here are the building blocks for a strong online presence:

Create a professional website.

This might seem like a difficult task on the outside, but it has never been easier for a design novice to craft a professional, modern website.

The reason is due to the various platforms available that have simplified the site-building process. In that regard, no other platform is as popular as WordPress.

With WordPress, you have everything necessary to put together a slick and attractive site – no technical know-how is required. Simply pick a theme (tip: you can purchase more premium themes with added features), create your pages, and you can have a nice site up for your business in next to no time.

Of course, there is more to creating a site than the platform that is used. Aside from high-quality content, careful consideration is necessary for your web host. You must select a host that is reliable and delivers proven load speeds. An erratic, slow site will not only harm performance across the board, but it will also reflect badly on your brand.  

Utilize social media platforms.

Social media is another obvious route to take when establishing an online presence. Who is not on social media these days? People also expect to see and follow their favorite brands on these platforms – yours included.

Popular social media channels to think about include:

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • TikTok
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • Reddit

Just remember: only pick a small selection of social media platforms. There is no point in having an account on, say, Twitter and not publishing Tweets on a regular basis. An abandoned social media channel is not going to acquire any followers or build potential leads, and it will reflect badly on your business.

Build an email list.

An email list is a necessity for any company trying to build up their sales leads numbers. Emails remain highly effective when staying in contact with leads, sending them marketing materials, finding new contacts, and more. The issue is actually building up your email list.

There are various benefits gained from using a dedicated email marketing tool. Perhaps the most notable advantage is the reports you can produce. You can accurately analyze your campaigns, gaining valuable insights into how effective your sales leads efforts are – and what changes you need to make to maximize performance with your emails.

Convertkit, SendInBlue and Email Octopus are great email marketing platforms.

Add a content marketing strategy.

WordPress blog post on a desktop computer.

The next step in generating sales leads is to improve your online visibility. One of the best ways to do that is with a well-planned content marketing strategy.

High-quality content is the priority.

Yes, this point should be obvious. However, many people try and focus on creating content for the search engines, not the user. They center on keywords and subjects they think will best gain favor with Google, losing sight of what should be the main goal: content that is engaging, original, easy to consume, and share-worthy.

High-quality content should be both valuable and informative. Hit these targets, and it helps build instant trust with those digesting your content. That can be the first – and most vital – step to turn viewers into leads.

Pick your content marketing channels.

It is easy to believe online content production is just articles and blog posts. That is not the case. There are various avenues you can explore when crafting content for marketing purposes.

The most popular alternative is video content. Videos are known for being more effective as an eye-catching, engaging form of content compared to their text-based counterparts. These can be posted on everything from TikTok to YouTube, and videos on platforms like these are great for expanding your reach and organic traffic.

Another available path is podcasts. The popularity of podcasts has exploded recently – and it shows no sign of slowing down. If you have not done so already, it could be savvy to jump on the podcast bandwagon to reach an entirely new audience.

Optimize content visibility and reach.

Yes, high-quality content should be the priority. Yet you still have to optimize your content to maximize its visibility and reach.

The first priority: search engine optimization (SEO). This is done to ensure your content is set up correctly for the search engines – and by search engines, we generally mean Google. SEO includes elements such as:

  • Keywords
  • Backlinks
  • Internal links
  • Page structure (the right headers, use of media, etc.)
  • Title tag and meta description
  • Images with alt text

That is just the start. Google has over 200 ranking factors in total. In general, however, the main concern is in producing high-quality content that keeps viewers engaged.

Another way to boost visibility is with guest posting. This is where you find a place to share your content on a separate website from your own. Ideally, it will be a prominent, authoritative outlet within your industry, one that will promote your business successfully to its audience. If a backlink to your website is also included in this guest post, it will also enhance your SEO efforts – win-win.

Backlinks are not the only thing to focus on. It would be foolish not to mention influencer marketing. As influencers become more and more prominent, it is only natural this tactic has grown at the same rate. They know how to generate sales leads.

If an influencer promotes your product or service, this supplies instant visibility for your brand to their audience. Now, if they have an audience that stretches into the tens or hundreds of thousands (or more), that is a lot of new eyeballs – aka potential leads – on your business.

Use lead generation forms and calls-to-action (CTA).

Woman on her computer on her lap learning how to generate sales leads online

It is something you should gather from the name, but lead generation forms are an integral component when building sales leads. These forms are a simple yet shrewd method to capture that all-important contact information – along with other data – from potential leads.

Lead generation forms can take different shapes. They can be everything from a contact form to a simple newsletter form where you only request an email. Either way, getting that initial contact information is highly valuable when building leads.

How to create effective CTAs.

To entice people to supply their information for your lead generation forms, you need effective calls to action. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:

Stand out from other website elements: It is important you avoid your CTAs from blending into the background. They need to stand out from all other elements on your website. Think of using bright, eye-catching colors and increasing the font size.

Incorporate action-oriented text: You want website visitors to take action, so action-oriented text makes sense. Forget about boring words such as “click here” and “submit” for your CTA. Go with actionable, striking text that draws the attention of your site visitors.

Keep it short: A CTA should never be abundant with words. It has to be short and snappy. Two-to-three words typically work best, but you could double that amount if you feel it is necessary to get your point across.

Create urgency: To increase the number of site visitors to click-through on your CTA, think about creating a sense of urgency. Even something like “shop now” can build up that urgency, although examples such as “Today only: 40% off” and “Sign up now – 5 spots left” take it to the next level.

Have an offer too good to refuse: Give people a reason to click on your CTA and provide their details. This could be everything from an exclusive discount code to a free gift like an eBook.

While effective for lead generation forms, do not hesitate to implement these CTA tips into other areas of your business.

Also Read: What is Conversion Marketing?

Try paid advertising.

Man with Google Search Console data on laptop. When you know how to generate sales leads, tracking your overall traffic and conversions becomes a key to success.

Paid advertising is a different form of marketing compared to the above examples. Instead of putting in the work directly, like with content marketing and building your online presence, this leans on the platform built by advertisers. It is effectively a shortcut to success, a way to get your brand in front of potential leads without putting in the leg work.

Of course, you have to pay to take that shortcut. Yet that initial outlay can be more than worth it – if you get it right with your ad campaign.

Different paid advertising options: picking the right one for your business.

For newcomers to the world of paid advertising, one of the trickiest aspects is deciding on the right option. The main ad types available are:

  • Pay-per-click (PPC)
  • Display ads
  • Social media ads
  • Video ads
  • Native ads
  • Remarketing ads
  • Influencer marketing

As for which is the best fit for your business and which paid advertising channel will bring the best results, that is dependent on your goals, budget, and current situation.

For instance, you may not be able to afford to produce a video ad, so you decide to opt for a display ad with an image instead. Your audience may not use Google, preferring Bing over it, so your PPC efforts would be better directed this way. Likewise, do not pour all your energies into Facebook ads if you find that your leads can only be found on Instagram.

Another scenario could be that you are receiving interest from website visitors, but you are not quite sealing the deal in terms of converting them into a lead. That is where remarketing ads can come in handy.

Market research is crucial to uncover what you need to focus on, so you can make the most of your time and money and, most importantly, bring back good quality leads.

How to budget and set goals for your paid advertising campaign.

A limitless budget makes paid advertising campaigns easy. Sadly, no business has an endless stream of money to spend on ads, which means that budgeting is a vital part of running any campaign.

Ultimately, you do not want to spend more on advertising than what a customer will bring in for your business. Yes, you want to build up your list of sales leads, but you also have to factor in how many of these will hand over cash for your products and services.

To determine a budget for your paid ads, consider both the average profit margin and lifetime value (LTV) from customers. With these in mind, you have a general idea about how much you can spend on ads without going into the red.

As for goals, this can be how many leads you want to generate over a set period of time. You may want to get 100 leads on a month-by-month basis. With this goal in mind, you can track progress, see if this goal will be achieved based on your current ad setup and budget, and understand what adjustments – if applicable – are required.

Implement lead nurturing and follow-up.

Lead follow-up plan on a whiteboard.

Lead nurturing, as the name suggests, is a process where you continue to maintain and develop relationships with the leads you have collected.

A lead is great, but you ultimately want to turn them into a customer, and that is where nurturing comes into the equation. With marketing-based messaging that reacts to the details and behaviors of leads, it further enhances relationships and pushes them closer to that ‘Buy now’ button.

Developing an effective follow-up strategy.

Okay, so you have learned how to generate sales leads online, and it is working, but now what? The first step is to ensure your follow-up strategy is an effective one.

To develop a follow-up strategy that leads to results, follow these steps below:

Be punctual in responding: Do not delay in sending a message. That initial email or phone call should be done within 24 hours of receiving a lead.

Personalize the communication: You do not want your follow-up to look like a generic, by-the-numbers message. Personalized communication includes using the recipient’s name and including information based on which sections of your website they have visited.

Get creative: A creative, original message can go a long way to capturing the interest and imagination of leads.

Provide value with useful content: A follow-up message should never be light or full of fluff. Aim to offer value by supplying useful content like downloadable guides, links to blog posts, helpful stats, infographics, success stories, and so on.

Mix up communication: If you only have an email address, this can be difficult. However, if possible, try and mix up communication through phone calls, text messages, social media posts, etc.

Go with a follow-up schedule and track performance: A follow-up to your follow-up is often necessary. It is said that it takes seven-to-ten touches before a lead converts. As a result, create a follow-up schedule – say an email once a week, a monthly Skype call, etc. – and track the performance of these additional messages.

Also Read: Small business systems: The Secret to Steady Growth

Measuring and improving your results.

Close up of Google Search Console data, a necessary tool when learning how to generate sales leads online.

To improve your sales leads, you must track and measure your results. You need actionable data to know what is working and what is not reaching the required level. With this information, you can improve the performance of your lead generation efforts.

To do this effectively, you can utilize analytics such as Google Analytics, email analytics, and social media statistics. For example, you may see that many people are visiting a specific web page on your site, but they are not clicking the CTA. You can then use this information to further refine the structure of this page, whether it is the written content, the CTA itself, or other elements.

By continuously measuring and improving your results, you can maximize the performance of your lead generation strategy.

Also Read: The 7-Step CRO Marketing Strategy

Wrapping it all up…

Now you know how to generate sales leads online, it is time to put this information into action.

It is true: the task is a daunting one. You have to build your online presence, use marketing channels like content creation, lead generation forms, paid adverts, and more. Yet the reward – more leads for your business – is more than worth the effort.

The faster you implement the strategies discussed above, the faster you can start to grow your sales leads – and, ultimately, your sales numbers!

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Justin Ferriman
Justin Ferriman
Justin is the founder of GapScout, the easiest way for solopreneurs and small businesses to find profitable gaps in their market. Follow Justin on Twitter→

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