“I don’t understand. We’ve spent so much time on SEO. Why aren’t we getting more leads?”
If this sounds familiar — maybe you (or your boss) has asked this or a similar question — you aren’t alone. Many marketers misunderstand the role that search engine optimization (SEO), plays in a broader marketing program. More specifically, they expect that nailing their SEO will result in a flood of leads — and eventually, sales — and are disappointed when the SEO doesn’t accomplish anything more than an increase in web traffic.
Not understanding the relationship between SEO and lead generation will lead to disappointment, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. In fact, there are some techniques you can use to get more leads from your SEO-generated traffic.
Sales Cycle Determines Need for Leads
Not all businesses need to rely on SEO to generate leads. Companies with short sales cycles, usually low-priced consumer goods, can usually survive on direct sales. Thanks to excellent SEO management, customers are able to locate the site, find the product they need and make a purchase. There is no need for lead generation, although the smart site owner will capture the customer’s information to use for future outreach and promotions.
Other companies, though, have longer sales cycles and must generate leads. SEO can play a role, but it’s not the only factor in generating leads.
SEO Marketing Is the First Step
The best way to think about SEO is that it is a map: SEO provides the directions that guide visitors to your site. But much like a map or GPS will only get you to your destination, it also won’t help you get your errands done once you arrive, SEO won’t generate leads for you. Expecting your SEO campaign to supply you with workable leads is a lot like expecting your GPS device to handle your grocery shopping for you,
Before you embark on an SEO campaign, it’s important to understand what it will and will not do and to develop a strategy for lead generation once traffic arrives at your site. Once visitors arrive, SEO is done, and if you expect that the website traffic alone will build your business, you will be disappointed.
Ideally, you should employ multiple lead generation techniques to convert visitors into sales on your site, as long as they do not interfere with the usability of your site. And of course, lead generation is only the beginning. How you follow through on the lead, and how well you can meet your customer’s needs will determine the final value of that lead — and the success of your SEO campaign.
Get More Leads From Your Site
As we said, when you’re managing a Web-based sales cycle, SEO is only the beginning. SEO will bring people to your site, but it’s up to you to decide what to do with them when they get there. You can encourage people to reach out to you once they arrive with some of these proven lead-generation strategies.
- Forms. If you have a website, chances are it contains some forms. Web forms are the workhorse of website marketing, but use your imagination and look beyond the standard “contact us” forms that generate your leads. For example, place a form at the top of each blog post or article on your site. Label the form as a call to action, such as “Ask a question about this topic” or “Learn more about our company.”
- Freebies. Who doesn’t want to get something for free? Everyone loves to feel like they’ve gotten a deal, and professional marketers have tapped into that desire for decades. When you’re trying to generate leads online, perhaps nothing works as well as a freebie. Offer a strong incentive — a free report, ebook, webinar, white paper or podcast, for example — and you can generate a steady stream of leads through your website. The trick is to offer something of value, so that when you follow up with them later on using the contact information you’ve captured (and you will follow up!) they are eager and happy to hear from you.
- Online chat. Have you ever been researching a product or service and wished you could ask a question or get more information on a specific issue right away? Your users have the same issue. Add an online chat feature to your site, a popup that gives visitors an opportunity to chat in real time with a customer service rep who can address inquiries immediately. Connecting is completely optional, but when you do receive an inquiry, you’re catching visitors when they are actively researching your products or services. Instead of clicking away to another site when they can’t find the answers they need, they get an immediate answer and you get a hot lead.
- Blog comments. Your blog is a great way to generate interest in your company and build authority, but it also serves as a means to capture leads. In addition to placing a lead form at the top of a post, use the built-in commenting feature of your blog platform to capture leads from the bottom of each post. As long as you keep the site clean, accessible and user-friendly, there’s no reason that you can’t place more than one lead form on a page.
Looking at SEO marketing as a step in the process of generating sales will help prevent the disappointment that can come from misunderstanding the process and the role that SEO plays. Instead, viewing SEO as the first step in a longer series will help you create a more effective program — and reap the benefits of a fully integrated lead generation program.
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