Making Online Lead Generation Work for You
Online lead generation – How to make it work for you
There are many reasons why more and more companies are turning to the Internet to conduct business. It’s because that’s where their target audiences are most likely to be. It’s where marketers have the ability to finely target audience segments and test multiple offers. And it’s the bottom line, where they can realize a successful return on investment.
For associations, the online world represents a gathering place for members and prospects alike, where they can engage one another, share work, and exchange personal information.
At MGI, we commonly hear two reasons why associations are interested in online lead generation programs: diminishing returns from traditional mail prospect lists and online marketing campaigns that fail to meet expectations.
How do you find your target audience online?
Audience research seeks to discover where audiences congregate, what is important to them, and what they want. For marketers, online research has a huge advantage over traditional channels because of the wealth of information that websites collect about their users. This makes online audience research far easier and faster, so that a project that used to take weeks can be reduced to days and sometimes even hours.
Online audience research uses three tools: Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Industry Publications. Focus on these three when you compile your data and you should begin to see patterns in audience consumption of online content. Keyword search analysis and noting what online newsletters are writing about for your profession or industry should reveal a lot about current topics and interests and how to develop your offer.
The nature and content of the offer is important because online lead generation uses appealing content in exchange for contact information from your prospects. The stronger the offer the better a lead generation campaign is likely to perform. It is important to establish an association’s value quickly and position it as the thought leader of choice for the profession or industry.
What data should you capture and how should you report it?
It is important to request and capture just enough information from prospects to have usable data to follow up but not ask for so much information that prospects shy away from the exchange of content for contact. Collect sufficient information to make informed marketing decisions without over-asking and turning prospects away.
MGI uses a standard data capture: First Name, Last Name, Job Title, Full Postal Address, and Email Address. Be certain to establish a level of engagement in the content for contact copy so that prospects will be motivated to surrender their contact information and accept the free content.
Tracking through media or source codes is critical for effective online lead generation. Keeping tabs on prospect activities enables marketers to know which prospects are staying with the campaign and which are abandoning it. At the end of the day, marketers should be able to report where leads are coming from and what happens to them after they first enter the prospect file. For example, Facebook may be a great source of traffic but if those prospects are rarely converted to membership it makes no sense to continue to run lead generation ads there.
How do you turn online prospects into members?
How marketers follow up their leads and convert them to membership is critical to a successful online lead generation program. At MGI we have found the best results come from a multi-channel marketing campaign consisting of five to seven email touches offering additional free content coupled with direct mail and, if applicable, telemarketing as well.
What doesn’t work? It’s asking someone to join your association on the first email sent to prospects who have requested free content, and then asking them to join again and again. Effective lead generation requires patience and tact.
Why request the mailing address?
We mentioned earlier that it’s best to ask prospects to share their full mailing address. Here is an example why. One MGI client is now running lead generation offers online as well as a direct-join acquisition campaign using traditional direct mail. In the most recent direct mail campaign, the best performing rented mail file earned a .67% response rate. However, the online lead generation files that MGI developed and that captured mailing addresses resulted in a direct mail response rate of 2.21%, a threefold increase.
What have we learned?
Today’s membership marketing professionals have to use all marketing weapons at their disposal to stay competitive in the marketplace. As more and more target audiences congregate online, it’s important to have a plan in place that markets where the target audience is, presents prospects with an appropriate offer, captures their information, tracks it, follows up, and converts them to membership.
Want to learn more? Can we help? Contact Todd Michaels at 703.706.0398 or email him at tmichaels@MarketingGeneral.com.