Much like the brick and mortar world, selling successfully on the Web involves a delicate brew of instinct and knowledge. While it takes an amazing product/service and a creative, compelling strategy to win potential customers, we all need a little help from time to time. PPC advertising and SEO are great ways to ensure that prospects find whatever it is that you provide, but lead lists can significantly shorten the distance to a full client or user roster. Using lists for lead generation on the Web requires steady oversight, however, to ensure that you get the right sales leads from the start.
Making certain that sales leads are qualified for your product (or service) is the greatest key to success with lead generation. In the age of the Web, qualifying leads is exponentially easier than in days past, thanks to advanced data mining and the sheer numbers of potential sources to purchase lists. But to qualify a prospect as a lead requires two very important questions to be answered - 1) are you ready to buy now or 2) are you planning on it in the future?
These are two very different questions and the leads that result from each will be different. For example, if you sell an e-commerce shopping cart, you'd better be generating leads (in this case those that are Internet merchants) that are either thinking about switching to another platform or those who are just getting started with their e-commerce aspirations and have not yet made an investment, right? Working with a lead generation provider or customizing a list to ensure you get the right leads - not just the most leads - is what will dramatically shorten this virtual road to success. Using our example, if our campaign is to convert existing merchants to our platform, it would be a good idea to search for communities of Web retailers and inquire directly to see if lead generation is an option. On the other hand, if our aim to acquire those that have not yet purchased an e-commerce platform, perhaps we should direct our queries to domain registrars or web hosts.
Often when businesses turn to individual networks to generate leads on their behalf or large-scale providers to purchase business leads they end up not being categorized well enough to guarantee that leads are interested in the specialized products and services being offered. But whose fault is that? Even working with major companies such as Hoovers or InfoUSA does not guarantee you will get the appropriate list - unless of course you get very involved in the process by seeking out specific attributes (years in business, job title, geography, etc.) If you do it right, sales will increase. If you do it wrong not only are you wasting valuable dollars but you also risk alienating users. Understanding your customers and how they view themselves and their positions within individual companies will be an excellent start. Using our e-commerce software example again, we need to ask, who we are trying to reach? Are we looking to acquire a lead that is responsible for signing purchase orders or one that will actually be installing or working directly with the software. Again, a deep understanding of your audience will ensure that the messages you create are appropriate for and in alignment with your business objectives.
The world of lead lists, especially on the Web, is turning into a multi-channel proposition. No longer are your messages just relegated to the inbox. Now, anywhere your leads put their eyes and ears, you'll have to be there, too. For example, say you purchased a list and didn't get the best response from a cold email you sent. Should you scrap the list entirely? Not today. How about leveraging those email addresses to invite these cold-prospects into social networks like Twitter or Digg - they may already be there waiting for you and would potentially be more open to your messaging there than they would be from their inbox. Developing rich user-profiles from lead lists lets you not only track results but leverage additional opportunities you might come across in the future.
If you are considering purchasing a list, you must:
1) Ask the right questions to generate high quality leads.
2) Acquire leads from the right sources, not the most leads from the most sources.
3) Use the data provided for a multi-pronged, multi-channel approach.