What exactly is a lead-generation tool used for? | Megan Mallicoat

What exactly is a lead-generation tool used for?

In the online marketing world, there are several essential tools. You need a website, for example, and social media is essential too. An unsung hero of the things you’ll use to market your business online — something you might not anticipate needing — is a tool for lead generation.

To understand what this kind of tool is used for, let’s first back up and look at online marketing strategy. As a business, there are two basic kinds of connections to make online: sales and leads. In other words, you can encourage customers to buy your product right then, on the spot, or you can ask them to ask for more information, then follow up with them later. Both are valuable, and which one your business depends on will depend on your business. Many businesses simply can’t sell online — but every business can connect with customers and build relationships online. So, every business can benefit from stepping up its lead-generation game. 

Your website is a great place to find people who are likely to be interested in your business, need your service, buy your product — just like you might find people through more traditional methods. But, if they visit your website and have no way of connecting with you, you’ve missed an opportunity. Even on social media, where you might think you’ve made a good connection because visitors are able to “like” your profile, you’re still dependent on an algorithm to serve your content (or the person to seek it out intentionally), and you don’t have a good way of making direct contact. Getting their email address gives you that pathway to direct contact.

And that’s where lead-generation tools come in. 

You’ve probably seen them in action already. If you’ve visited a website and been greeted with a pop-up box encouraging you to sign up for a newsletter, you’ve seen a lead-generation tool. If you’ve noticed the banners that sometimes run at the bottom or top of websites, inviting visitors to enter their email addresses to receive updates, you’ve seen a lead generation-tool. If you’ve clicked a link to download some useful piece of information or a coupon, then been asked to enter your email address…yes. You’ve seen a lead-generation tool. 

Technically, lead-generation tools use forms placed on your site. Usually, these forms ask for a name and email address, though you’re free to configure them to ask for whatever information you want. (Caution: The more information you ask for, the less likely a person is to provide it…) The forms integrate with your email service provider so that when someone submits their information, it’s automatically added to your records. Ideally, you also have your email service provider configured to automatically send an email welcoming people to your email list when they join. And once they’re on your list, you can regularly communicate with them, build a relationship — and eventually, hopefully, sell them your product or service. It’s a seamless, effective marketing system.

You may wonder why it’s worth the trouble to use a dedicated lead-generation tool (for example, my personal favorite, Thrive Leads). On the surface, it seems like standard HTML forms would work fine. There are two main reasons I use a dedicated tool: First, it significantly simplifies the process of adding banners and boxes with forms to my site. Yes, I could code those by hand to add them, but it would take a lot of time to do that. With Thrive Leads, it literally takes a couple of minutes from start to finish. The second reason is that tools like Thrive Leads make it simple to compare results. You can test different forms, different designs, anything and everything. Eventually, these A/B comparisons will help you increase the rate at which people subscribe to your list.

What about you? Is your website helping you build relationships with future customers?

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