Lead Generation

UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS OF LEAD GENERATION

To understand Lead Generation, and how to work it to perfection, you first need to visualise and understand the basic 'Sales Funnel".


As you can see from the diagrams, what the funnel does throughout the buyer's journey, is narrow down a wide audience, over stages, to the most qualified customers. These customers then make a decision to purchase from your company.

The top of the sales funnel is the widest, representing the largest possible number of prospective buyers. The number of potential customers decreases at each step in the sales process, and this is represented by a progressively narrower funnel.

A sales funnel chart is a good way to visualize the steps in a sales process.  It shows what actions a prospect takes and what actions are directed at the prospect that ultimately lead to a decision to buy and become a customer.

Sales funnels can also be useful for diagnosing conversion problems in your sales process. Combine the steps in the funnel with data from your analytics tools and plot at what steps leads are lost.

Four Main Steps To The Online Sales Funnel

There are basically 4 main steps of an online Sales Funnel, from creating the initial awareness of your product or service, through to making the actual sale.   These 4 steps are as follows:

1. Creating Awareness
This is where your potential customers are made aware of your company and of your products or services.  This may have happened through social media, paid advertising, word of mouth, television or radio, billboards, newspapers, or any other means of advertising.   

The main thing here though, is that they have actually been made aware of your product, by whatever means, as it is not easy to get noticed online amongst millions of others!!

2. Maintaining Their Interest
Once you do have their attention though, you NEED TO KEEP IT!!   There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other online retailers out there all vying for the same customers, so just because they have become aware of your company or product or service, that doesn't necessarily mean they will buy it.

As potential customers are researching their desired product, usually via Google, they will be able to quickly evaluate your product or service against everyone else's.   So you need to be on your game, you need to have a well-presented website that is easy to navigate around, and you obviously need to be ranked as high as possible on Google search results.

Many customers will also look online for product reviews, so it is extremely important to rate well in these.   Any adverse experiences customers have online these days are very quickly relayed into forums and product review sites, a bad review will always lose you a potential customer.

3. Decision Time                                                                                                                                                     Once the customer has completed their research, it is time for them to make their decision.   Now this certainly isn't easy, getting them to purchase YOUR product or service.  In fact, many potential customers may not buy anything at all, from you or from your competition!!   Really a bit like window shopping in a normal brick and mortar store, just looking!!

As hard as it is to get potential customers to act in your favour, there are certain online sales principles that will assist in you getting the sale over your competitors:
#   Deliver the exact product or service as offered, don't make promises you can't keep either.  Your                  customer has probably spent a lot of time researching your product, so if they don't get exactly what            you advertised, you are heading for trouble                                                                                                      #   Get your potential customer to make a commitment, whether it be to sign up for a free trial, a free                e-book, or their email address in return for more information on your product.  This will keep you at the        forefront of their minds when it comes the time to make the final decision, putting you in a favourable            position to close out the sale                                                                                                                             #   Develop a relationship built on friendliness and trust with your customer.    Trust is the key word here      #   Develop a solid, reliable and trusting reputation on social media, especially forums and review sites.             Favourable reviews will be one of your best selling tools, but bad or unsavoury reviews will be your             worst nightmare!!                                                                                                                                              #   Create an air of authority about your product or service.  Giving customers that sense that you can solve       their problem will ultimately drive a sale your way                                                                                         #   Convey a sense of urgency, customers hate the thought of missing out on an opportunity or something         of value, especially if they 'think' they need it.   Advertising saying "only 5 copies left", "price goes up           tomorrow", "this is the last time you will see this offer", etc., all play on peoples minds, and can certainly         push them towards a sale

4. Action Time                                                                                                                                                     Your customer has finally made their decision and is ready to act, ready to make a purchase.   Make sure your          payment page is perfectly set up and fully functionable, and so that they can complete their transaction in just          a few clicks.

The 2 Biggest Mistakes Made by Online Retailers After Closing Out The Sale

Once a sale has been made, technically speaking the sales funnel has ended.   But the 2 biggest mistakes that the majority of online marketers make are that :

1.  They think "yippee I have made a sale, that is all I need to do", and

2. They don't follow up with maybe an even bigger sales offer - this is called upselling

After the initial sale is complete, there is still plenty of work to be done.   Customers who have already made a purchase from you are far more easier to sell to again than a raw customer who doesn't know you yet.   A returning customer doesn't need to go through the entire sales funnel process again, they already know you, they probably already trust you, and are far more likely to re-purchase from you.

So there are 3 main follow-up processes to an online sale (or even a bricks and mortar store sale for that matter), and that is to re-evaluate, both the process your customer went through leading up to their purchase, and how smoothly your sales funnel worked, communicate to them regularly, and then getting them to actually purchase from you again (re-purchasing).

Re-Evaluating

The Re-Evaluating process would involve assessing the sales funnel used, did it go smoothly?  Or did you have to work extremely hard for the sale?  If it went smoothly, then leave it as it is, no sense in fixing something that isn't broken!  If it was difficult, maybe you should look at either the sale price or offering an incentive (ie a FREE e-book, or something similar), do this earlier in the sales funnel process so you don't have to work harder at the end of the process.

Continually delivering a good product or service to your customers is by far the best advertisement your business will ever receive, they will be far more likely to recommend you to their family and friends (via the social media), this is known as Social Proof, and is extremely powerful!!   This affinitive relationship will also benefit you as you promote new or upgraded products to your customers,  they now have an element of trust about you.

Also, the customer will actually be re-evaluating you, how the sale process worked, did they get exactly what they thought they were getting, was the product or service of good quality?     This also applies to online subscriptions, if maybe that is what you are selling, they will be re-evaluating what you offered during the term of the subscription, was it worth the money they paid (value for money),  and was the content good enough to make them want to re-subscribe for a further term.

Finally, did your product or service satisfy them, or solve their problem maybe, because if you provided a solution to their problem then they are far more likely to trust you, they will buy from you again and not have to go through the entire sales funnel again.

Communication

With any type of online marketing, whether it be for a blog, selling products from Amazon/eBay/ClickBank etc., or your own e-commerce store, communication is the key to success.   Forgetting about your customer once you have made the initial sale is basically 'leaving money on the table'.

For newbies just starting out in internet marketing, although this can apply to seasoned campaigners also, there is so much to learn, and so many valuable online tools required to be a successful marketer.   I have been involved with internet marketing for several years now, and every week I am finding new products and resources that are so helpful to my online business.   Technology is evolving at such a rapid speed, and as such there are new online tools being developed almost on a daily basis, and we need to pass on these tools (upsell) to our customers.

And how do I find these new products and resources?   They are communicated to me, via social media, traffic exchanges, autoresponder emails, Google ads, etc.

So keeping in touch with your customers once 'they leave your store' is vital to your online success.  This is not only important for customers that have made a purchase from you, but also for those that haven't.  The majority of purchases made online are not made during the first look, in fact it can take 5-6 looks before a customer makes up their mind, so it is imperative that YOU remain in their mindset, YOU are constantly communicating to them, and ultimately YOU will have a far greater chance of making another sale (or first sale).

The easiest method, by far, of communicating online with your customers or potential customers, is by using an Autoresponder.   This type of program captures a potential customers email address, via a Sign Up Form, then automatically sends pre-written follow-up messages to them, even while you sleep!!

There are many Autoresponder programs out there, but some are far better than others.   I use and recommend Aweber, it is affordable, widely respected as one of the best, and has all the features required to set up a perfect funnel system.

Autoresponders are set up in a manner that keeps you constantly in touch with your customers, whether they have purchased from you or not, and is such a powerful (and time saving) tool that it is essential for all online marketers if they truly want to be successful.

Study the flow chart below, you can easily see how an effective system can work.   This is basically a Sales Funnel, you are enticing potential customers in at the start, offering discounts or freebies to get a sale, and then finally making the actual sale.

And as you can see, even the customers who didn't make a purchase are still followed up.   This is extremely powerful stuff, it shows commitment to your potential customer, and getting in front of them every day with a follow-up email will certainly keep them thinking about your product.

Re-Purchasing

So if you come through the customers evaluation favourably, you have provided them the exact product or service they were looking for, AND they found it to be good value for money,  AND you are communicating with them, then the chances that they will make further purchases from you are greatly enhanced.

It is a little known fact that the professional online marketers don't actually make much profit from the initial sale, if anything at all!!   The real money is in the upsells that are communicated to their customers once they have made an initial sale.  

Think 'McDonalds', their cheap burgers probably make them no money at all, but when they upsell you the fries, soft drinks, or upgrade to a larger meal, then they make their real money!!

Re-purchasing has other benefits for your business, in that the customer doesn't need to go through the entire sales funnel process again, you will have a far easier road to another sale, and that is why communication is key here.

Now take a look at the colour-coded flow chart below, and see where all the parts of the process fit in.   Obviously some of the stages overlap a little, but I am sure you get the idea.

OK now that you have a solid understanding of how Lead Generation actually works, it is time to learn how to start building a list.   

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