Marketing and lead generation have changed dramatically since the pre-internet days, now taking place primarily online rather than in person or by phone. And while generating leads online may seem like a daunting task, marketing automation and other platforms can help make it easy.

Nearly half the world’s population uses the internet, which means there’s an immense sea of potential customers out there just waiting for you to find them. Below are some must-have tools and strategies to help you make that happen.

1. A (Good) Website

These days, a homepage kind of plays the role formerly held by in-store greeters: If the greeter is surly and unhelpful, then customers will walk away; if the greeter is friendly and helpful, customers will stick around to see what you have to offer. Your homepage is often a customer’s first point of contact with your business, and it’s the page on your site that will get the most visits, so it should:

  • Provide a clear explanation of what you offer
  • Be eye-catching yet easy to navigate
  • Represent your company values and culture

Don’t have a well-designed website? Try WordPress. It’s an easy-to-use platform that allows you to design your own personalized site using plugins and widgets.

2. Landing Pages

Landing pages are a hugely important marketing tool, especially when they contain quality content and videos. In fact, a landing page with video content is 80 percent more likely to convert visitors. The main point of a landing page is to engage visitors with some sort of offer, and this often involves filling out a catalog request form, creating an account, or signing up for more content of the same nature. If a customer is willing to spend the time and provide personal information, you know you’re dealing with an interested party.

3. An Email Marketing Plan

Newsletters and promotional mailers might feel like a thing of the past, but that’s only because they’ve changed in format. Today, email marketing plays the role that paper communications used to, but with marketing automation and other tools, you can create hyper-personalized emails to target leads and customers on an individual level. Email marketing can be an entire job in and of itself, but with the correct tools, you can be sure you’re delivering the right content to the right people at the right time—helping you bring in new customers and build loyal, long-term relationships with them.

4. Social Media Presence

Social media is an extremely important piece of the puzzle when you want to generate leads. For one, Google’s algorithm now takes social signals into consideration, meaning the more likes and follows you get, the better your associated websites will rank. And of course, more traffic means more leads and more potential sales.

Here’s a tip: Cultivating and maintaining a social media presence takes time and effort, but social media management tools like Hootsuite can save you time and headaches by allowing you to manage many accounts from one central location.

5. Compelling & Relevant Blog Content

A blog is a great platform for wowing customers with interesting and relevant content and establishing yourself as an authority in your industry. Customers who trust you will buy from you now and remember you in the future. Blogging also gives you an easy avenue to acquire new leads. By putting all of your SEO best practices to use, you can create highly relevant blog content that is bound to reach and attract potential customers.

6. Customer Insight

Despite all of the modern tools that are available, don’t forget that you’re still the most important link between your business and your customers. You have to know what your customers want and need, how your business can best fulfill their needs, and whether you’re ultimately doing a good job. While some platforms can help you more efficiently acquire and organize consumer feedback, staying in tune with the customer journey often requires that you put the tools aside and just listen—whether that means reading their social media comments or simply calling them on the phone.

Generating Leads Online Is the Way to Go

Generating leads online takes time and dedication, but it’s by far the most effective strategy for bringing in more sales and long-term customers. Luckily, platforms like SharpSpring are available to help you easily and efficiently manage your online marketing tools, including your website, blog, landing pages, email marketing campaigns, and social media accounts.

Brenda S. Stoltz
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Lindsey Sherman