There’s one thing every website must do in order to be successful: generate leads. Lead generation is the key to turning site visitors (who may otherwise leave and never come back) into engaged users, readers, viewers, and ultimately, customers for your own agency services or for the websites you build for others (or both!).
If you’re curious about building WordPress sites that attract more visitors, keep them engaged longer, and help you grow your business, we’ve got the answer. Throughout this two-part guide, we’ll explain exactly what a lead is, how you can generate a steady flow of them for yourself and/or your agency clients, as well as the tools you’ll need to do so.
In part one, we’ll cover:
- What are leads and how do you generate them?
- Ways of generating leads
- Preparing your lead generation strategy
What are leads and how do you generate them?
A lead is any person or company that has indicated an interest in your product. That “product” may be the services you provide, or, physical items you or your clients are selling. Either way, the person has expressed that they want to see more, and you can use that interest to not only earn a purchase but to get them to return again later.
In the digital world, leads are generated from visitors to a website, usually attracted by a search result, a link on social media, or other sources of traffic. If a site visitor likes what they see, and they decide to provide you with their contact information through a popup or other type of lead capture (more on this below), congratulations—you’ve generated a lead!
More specifically, you’ve successfully engaged in organic lead generation, which focuses on leads gathered through efforts other than direct advertising. For organic efforts to succeed, you need a website optimized for lead generation, ready to direct users to a form or a landing page at just the right moment to earn that conversion.
On that note, let’s take a look at the process of generating leads.
The lead generation process
Making leads out of visitors to your sites involves a process very similar to a sales funnel. Everyone starts out as a stranger to the company or brand. Through content marketing and other advertising tactics, you can increase awareness and gain traffic.
That helps generate visitors, but then what? Once they’ve gotten to your site and they’re done exploring (this can take less than six seconds), many site users will simply leave. It’s up to you to engage these prospects by creating opportunities for them to interact with your site and ideally, provide their contact information.
From popups that meet site visitors on a page to simple forms that lead to premium content (ebooks, video courses, etc.) the sky’s the limit when it comes to lead capture methods and the different options at your disposal.
Once you’ve captured that lead, you’re one step closer to fulfilling the overall conversion process, but getting there often requires nurturing your leads to maintain their interest.
Emails, newsletters, and other forms of inbound/outbound marketing are all broad-ranging ways of nurturing your leads. Many agencies will reach out to leads directly, promptly responding to inquiries or following up soon after the lead comes in. B2B companies, for example, may also nurture leads indirectly, offering sales and products tailored specifically to them, ultimately guiding leads towards a new project or purchase.
The last step: keeping their loyalty. For agencies nurturing their own leads, this can be as straightforward as regular client follow-up to discover new opportunities. For clients, building sites that assist with customer retention, including functionality for customer rewards or personalization, is a great way to ensure end-users are able to maximize their lead generation efforts after you’ve handed a site back to them.
Ways of generating leads
There are many methods for creating leads, but the majority of them have the same basic premise: offer something users want in return for their contact information, even if it’s just their email address.
For instance, you could have a popup appear after someone finishes reading an article you wrote, or place a form on your site that offers a free downloadable asset upon signing up.
Here are a few ways of acquiring new leads. Implement these, and your website, as well as the sites you build for others, will be set up for lead generation success.
Popups, opt-ins, and forms
Forms are one of the most tried-and-true lead generation methods out there, and you can use them in a variety of ways, from static forms that sit on your homepage to forms that serve as a gate for ebooks or other pieces of premium content a prospective lead might encounter.
Check out this article for more on the wide choice WordPress offers when it comes to the form plugins you can use for effective lead generation.
While forms are a good way to potentially get signups, popup opt-ins are a very effective alternative. Set a trigger for the popup with a form to appear — such as when visitors go to close the tab, click on something, or scroll a certain way down the page — and you’re much more likely to earn a conversion than by placing a form on your site and hoping someone notices.
A landing page is an isolated area on a website dedicated to promoting a product or service, generally free from the usual distractions of navigation and outbound links.
Landing pages are an integral part of lead acquisition since a visit to a landing page can often mean an interested potential customer who is more likely to engage.
Landing pages are usually part of a larger social media or email marketing campaign. By distributing the landing page link to the right target audience, you can generate clicks and therefore leads.
The landing page is meant to show off everything you or your client wants to promote, while convincing users to interact with some type of lead capture. From there, effective email marketing tactics can help turn them into paying customers.
While you may or may not create ads for your clients, they are undoubtedly another great way to pull in leads and increase awareness—for both your brand and theirs.
While traditional online advertising can help increase awareness and “get the word out,” other channels, such as social media and referrals, can all amount to advertising strategies you can and should use.
Combine these with a well-built landing page, and you have yourself a working lead generation funnel, sure to win you over more customers.
Content marketing and SEO
Generating awareness is the very first step in the sales funnel and a key part of lead generation. You need to get eyes on your website before anything else, and content marketing is an organic way of directing traffic to your website.
Content marketing is the process of putting out useful content on your website — articles, tools/software, and guides — for free.
What you get in exchange is a healthy stream of visitors looking for information, advice, and thought leadership. Prove you know what you’re talking about, while sprinkling in some opt-ins, and you have a good chance of securing valuable leads.
SEO is highly intertwined with content marketing as well. The better your SEO, the more likely your site is to appear higher up in search results. Do keyword research and write articles based on high-potential keywords, and your traffic will start to grow.
This last method of capturing leads ties back to the lead nurture tactics mentioned above, and unfortunately, it’s often one of the most overlooked: customer engagement.
Businesses often have too many leads to be able to contact each and every one individually, so they rely on automated tools to get the job done.
But there are many opportunities to reach out directly to potential leads, and it’s certainly worth the time to do so! The most obvious case is when someone contacts your site with an inquiry; a timely response is a near-guaranteed sale.
But there are other methods that are used less often, and which may be attractive when building sites for clients. Live chat features, for example, allow users to easily make contact and move towards a purchase.
Direct contact on social media can also be a great way for you or your clients to generate and nurture leads, as can responding to comments left on blog posts, or starting up a forum.
There are many ways you can foster a conversation—nurture your leads, and earn their loyalty.
Preparing your lead generation strategy
Now that you have a good idea of what lead generation is and some of the methods out there for generating leads, it’s time to get tactical. How do you start putting lead generation to use on your site, and the sites you’re building for your clients?
Once you’ve built out a process, you’ll be able to convert the leads you’re generating for your own agency or freelancer business, and provide lead generation as an added service for your clients.
From specific plugins and themes that optimize the lead generation process, to the larger digital marketing strategies that are integral to successful lead generation efforts, there’s a lot to consider when adopting lead generation strategies for your business.
While this article is a great primer to help you get started, make sure and check out part two of this guide, which dives into specific recommendations for building an effective lead generation funnel. Use it as a blueprint on your own site, as well as those you build for others!