When it comes to marketing your business, Internet technologies are now understood as a key lead generation engine for any organisation. The main reason everyone is migrating marketing efforts online is to do with the simplicity of directing and tracking leads. It’s much easier to click through to and complete a short form, than it is to pick up a phone, dial a number, listen to a recorded voice option list and then… you get the picture.
Some of our previous Bang articles for ARN have looked at the basics of using the Web for lead generation activities; including rich-media banner advertising, electronic direct mail (email) campaigns, adwords, text links, video blogs and so on. We’d now like to take a look at recent developments in social networking, online events and Twitter – as they relate to generating sales leads.
Of the 30 entrepreneurs profiled for the 2008 Inc Top 30 Under 30, 18 had personal or business Twitter accounts and 19 hosted personal or corporate blogs. With these trends in mind, we’re expecting a much stronger emphasis on social media as it starts to permeate business environments.
According to a 2009 Nielsen report, Global Faces and Networked Places, two-thirds of the global Internet population visit social media networks. In fact, visiting social media sites is now the fourth most popular online activity – ahead of personal email, the same report said.
Additionally, 93 per cent of social media users believe a company should have a presence in social media, according to a September 2008 Business in Social Media study by consultants, Cone.
Social networking groups, like Linked-In, are run by custodians or facilitators who will often open their groups to content rich or genuinely valuable offers from vendors or service providers.
You can also start your own Linked-In group, and this is certainly becoming popular with technology and business leaders. The beauty of these social networking opportunities is that you gain access to a niche group, with very specific interests, in a protected environment. Because of this, you should only consider offering highly relevant and genuinely valuable packages in this setting, such as a training course.
It’s worth mentioning that, in general, social networking for leads should always be a “soft sell”. Time and resources should be allocated for actively taking part in discussions in forums and social networking sites. Outcomes will be much better after you become a respected and trusted member of an online community, as participants will listen to what you’re saying or promoting rather than shunning what might be perceived as an obvious sell.
Other recent developments in online events have carried on where ideas like virtual world, Second Life, left off. For example, IBM and The Economist have both recently run online industry events, in which you buy space and provide content about your business, products and services.
Lastly, you should definitely have a good look at Twitter, because it does allow brands to communicate with their customers in a wide variety of ways. For example, you may wish to post information about an update to a popular product, or respond to service queries or sales questions. It’s also a way to gauge how your “followers” feel about a particular topic. One of the best examples we’ve seen recently is Dell: It recently generated $3 million in sales through Twitter promotions.