How do you attract and handle leads? It's a simple question, but few of the companies we talk to have a definitive answer. More often than not, there is no process in place for generating and managing leads from first conversion through sales closing. If a process exists, it's commonly a mix of manual sorting and inefficient communications that risk losing leads and the all-important timing between a bottom-funnel request and a sales response. Here are 10 steps you should take to improve your lead generation and management process.

Some wildly successful businesses employ only one major method of marketing: they display and sell their wares at trade shows, exhibitions, and fairs. They realise that many serious prospects will attend these gatherings. But there is an art to successful exhibiting which, if mastered, generates immense rewards. There are few other sales forums where prospects and clients come to you and where you can meet so many of them in a single day. You can also conduct valuable research, get first hand opinions on your products and services and even collect valuable testimonials. Besides attracting new business, exhibitions can be used to introduce existing customers to additional products and services they were previously unaware of.
Build an email list. There is a system for working with leads. The first step is getting them to be aware of and take an interest in what you have—by visiting your website, for example. The next best step is to ask your leads to sign up for your email list. You can get them to sign up by offering something for free, such as a report or something useful, from your website. For instance, if you're selling wellness products, then you might offer a guide to good-for-you ingredients or recipes. This will allow you to communicate with your prospects and provide valuable information related to your business and the general field that it's in, such as special sales, events, news, and research—and stay top-of-mind to your past, current, and possible future customers. Just be sure that you're following the laws and regulations regarding email marketing.
Social Networking sites are a great way to reach out to people all over the world. You can very easily track which social networking site your customers favor and use those sites to advertise your company. Some Social Networking sites go a step ahead and offer you Ad campaigns that fit your goals. You can use these Ad campaigns to gather followers, increase the number of clicks on your website or gather emails.
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Social media is intended for conversations, not monologues. So rather than making it all about you and trying to get attention, make it about them: see where you can be useful and offer up advice where it is needed, without asking for anything in return. That is how you build real relationships with your leads, and your efforts will be rewarded with their loyalty.
Lead scoring is a way to qualify leads quantitatively. Using this technique, leads are assigned a numerical value (or score) to determine where they fall on the scale from “interested” to “ready for a sale”. The criteria for these actions is completely up to you, but it must be uniform across your marketing and sales department so that everyone is working on the same scale.
To increase your website customers, you should be prepared to evaluate your pages frequently. Identify pages with poor conversion rates, and set up A/B or multivariate tests to compare and contrast elements that you think may be affecting your conversions. Through continued CRO tests, you’ll be able to identify weak points and get more qualified leads quickly.
Your lead generation strategy needs to be as dynamic as the people you’re targeting. Trends change, behaviors shift, opinions morph … so should your lead gen marketing. Use A/B split testing to see what CTAs perform best, which landing pages convert better, and which copy captures your target audience. Experiment with layout changes, design, UX, content, and advertising channels until you find what works.
Email may not be a hugely important part of increasing website leads, but it is fantastic for growing them into customers. When someone signs up for your list, it means they’re interested in you – and that’s half the battle! From there, consider creating an email schedule or marketing automation program that will send targeted messages to users at important stages of the buying process.
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ROI is probably the most important metric in lead generation. The calculation is fairly simple: it’s the profit or loss you make from investing in a lead, compared against your initial investment. Let’s say you spent $15 capturing each lead, and a lead is worth $20 to you. Your profit from a lead ($5) against your initial investment ($15) gives you an ROI of 33%.
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Cost per acquisition advertising (e.g. TalkLocal, Thumbtack) addresses the risk of CPM and CPC advertising by charging only by the lead. Like CPC, the price per lead can be bid up by demand. Also, like CPC, there are ways in which providers can commit fraud by manufacturing leads or blending one source of lead with another (example: search-driven leads with co-registration leads) to generate higher profits. For such marketers looking to pay only for specific actions/acquisition, there are two options: CPL advertising (or online lead generation) and CPA advertising (also referred to as affiliate marketing). In CPL campaigns, advertisers pay for an interested lead — i.e. the contact information of a person interested in the advertiser's product or service. CPL campaigns are suitable for brand marketers and direct response marketers looking to engage consumers at multiple touchpoints — by building a newsletter list, community site, reward program or member acquisition program. In CPA campaigns, the advertiser typically pays for a completed sale involving a credit card transaction.
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