There are many organizations who see a website as a necessity, because nowadays it is expected of an organization to have an online presence. Often people see it as an online business card, which is fine, but it could be so much more. It could also be an important part in a predictable lead generating process.
In this guide we will try to show you how you can lift your website to a higher level so it becomes an important asset in your organization to generate leads.
Very often your target group discusses potential suppliers during informal events such as trade fairs or other networking events. When your company gets recommended by someone, in many cases the first thing your potential costumer does, is visiting your website to look for more information and to look for confirmation that your organization might be a good match for his or her needs. At this point it is very important that your website confirms what has been told about your organization in order to make him or her continue the process and to get in touch with you. When it is not clear what services or products your organization offers, your potential costumer will probably leave the website and won’t contact you.
The best type of leads is the above mentioned references because they are recommended to work with your organization. So the main goal for the website for this type of lead is to be confirmative and professional. This is important in order to make sure your potential client continues his path and reaches out to you.
Potential customer leaves the website and doesn’t contact your organization.
The visitor ‘converts’ and contacts your organization
When the customer decides to contact your organization, the customer ‘converts’. Converting in the context of websites means that the visitor is acting as we expect and reaches our ‘goal’.
This goal can be very different for each organization, below a few examples:
It is very important to clearly define the goal of your website before the development of the website is started.
“Research by the NNGroup shows that the majority of website visitors leaves the page in 10 to 20 seconds.”
The time spent on a website is short, so it is important that the visitor immediately finds what he or she is looking for. Research by the NNGroup shows that the majority of the visitors leaves a page in the first 10 to 20 seconds they are on a website1. On the other hand, when a visitor stays over 30 seconds, it is very likely that he will stay for a longer time period.
This graph clearly shows the importance of convincing the visitor as quickly as possible that they have found a website that provides them with the information they are looking for. Therefore, it is important to clearly define your goal and target audience so you can match their expectation.
Once you convinced a visitor to stay on your website in the first 10 to 20 seconds, the next step is to let them reach your goal. Also this should happen as quickly as possible because as you can see in the graph, if it takes more than two minutes for example, even the most motivated visitors will have left your website.
“It is important to lead your website visitor as quick and easy as possible to their goal, because time spent on your website is very limited”
An unclear message or information hidden behind a lot of clicks will inevitable leads to a lot of leaving visitors, and thus low conversion rates. That is why it is very important to lead the visitor of your website as quickly and simple as possible to your goal.
The main takeaway from this chapter is that the story you tell about your organization on fairs and events should be in line with the story you tell on your website. This seems obvious, but often this is not the case.
After you convince a potential customer to contact you on an event or a fair, it is likely that he or she will look for more information or at least confirmation on your website. If your website is unprofessional or tells another story, it might happen that you still lose your potential customer.
Research shows that 30% of the Google visitors click on the first result on the search page. About 67% of the visits come from the top-five results. This means that two thirds traffic goes to the first five results2. This clearly illustrates that a high ranking on the Google search results page is very important.
“Google’s mission is to organize all world’s information and make it universally accessible and useable. ”
It is Google’s goal to organize all world’s information and make it universally accessible and useable. They try to create an answer to every possible question a Google visitor may have. So if you want to rank high, you should always keep this in mind. It has no point to try and ‘trick’ Google because it will always alter it algorithm so it provides the visitors with the best possible answer.
Some important factors that influence the rank on the search result page:
The list above can only be executed efficiently when you know something about the search behavior of your potential customers. How do you know what your potential customers are searching for and what kind of keywords (search terms) do they use?
There are several ways to find these keywords. We will describe one of the easiest ways to search and find these keywords. Nevertheless, there are also other methods you can use when you learn more about the world of SEO.
Step 1: Insert some words related to your company in Google. For example: “webdesign Antwerpen”. The results given are your competitors for Google. You don’t have to take the Google adds into account.
Step 2: You can now start analyzing those competitors and learn how people reach certain websites. A first step is to insert the URL on www.semrush.com. This website provides a lot of information about the website and the visitors.
Here you can see an example of the first result from Google on the words “webdesign Antwerpen”. In this case 2900 visitors had used the words “webdesign” and another 720 visit the website through the words “web design”.
Step 3: We can conclude that the fastest way to get more traffic from Google is to focus on “webdesign” and “web design”. In practice it is best to enlarge your search for useable keywords. It could also be that there is a lot of competition on these keywords and therefore it is smarter to focus on lower volume less competitive keywords.
Keep in mind that the number of competitors can differ per sector. For example, it is very hard to reach a top-5 position for insurances and online shops. In this case it is recommended to contact a company that is specialized in Google Ranking (an online marketing company).
Google Adwords is an efficient way to attract visitors to your website. The basic principle of Google Adwords is that you pick a few search terms (keywords) you want to advertise for and pay to put your advertisement next or above the results. As discussed in the previous chapter (SEO) there are some popular words for every sector.
“The highest bidder gets the best spot”
Because there are only a few available places for advertisements, Google uses a bidding system. The highest bidder gets the highest place in the rank. The lowest bidder gets a low ranked place or is not even displayed. You have to pay for every click on your website. Prices range between a few cents per clicks to €50 per click. In practice we see that advertisers usually pay between 50 cents and 3 euros per click.
Google prefers to show relevant advertisements so advertisements that link to a page with high quality content have to pay less.
In practice, an optimized website gets a 3% to 5% conversion rate from an Adwords advertisement. This means that when 100 people click on your advertisement, 3 to 5 visitors will reach your goal, for example, contacting you or leaving their e-mail address.
Your advertisement is shown 3.500 times a month, approximately 2% will click on this advertisement (if you created a high quality advertisement). This means around 70 people will click and visit your website. If you have a high quality website, about 4% will convert and contact you, in this case, 3 visitors. This means that when an advertisement click costs you €2.50, you spent €175(2,5 * 70) on 3 leads. If your sales team is able to put 3 leads into 1 effective sale, your prospection cost is €175 per new customer. Note: this is calculated without taking into account the cost of time spent on the advertisement.
Once a campaign is set-up, it is important to keep track of the conversion rates and to analyze your figures. If you are not able to do this, you risk paying to much for your leads.
Benefits of content marketing:
When you manage to publish news updates on a regular basis, Google will know that your website is regularly updated. This is a positive variable in the Google algorithm.
“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them” -Doug Kessler
By far the most popular way of content marketing is ‘blogging’. That means writing short but relevant news articles about your sector. It is very important to think this strategy through. It is not a good idea to have a news feed filled with months old articles. If that is the case, it is better to remove it from you website and not have a news feed at all.
A good alternative for this blogging is to launch quality content in the form of guides or e-boos every few weeks or months. To be successful in content marketing you need to have a well-defined plan and make time and recourses available to produce useful content. There is no ‘right way’ in Content Marketing, but the following steps will help you to do it effectively.
Step 1: Analyze your customer portfolio
It is important to analyze your current customers and to find out what they read and where they obtain their information. One way of doing this is to enroll in LinkedIn groups active in your sector, here you can find what kind of messages are liked and shared.
An alternative way to analyze your sector is to see which articles are popular on other Social Media channels. Buzzsumo is a leading website in doing this for you. It enables you to look up any term linked to your sector and allows you to find out what is working for your competitors. Keep in mind that you are also able to track similar organizations in other countries, just to see what is working for them. Additionally, it can be useful to follow a few other organizations on Twitter to see what subjects are mostly retweeted.
Finally, it can be beneficial to create an Excel-file and keep track of news websites and blogger who are active in your sector. Keep track of the amount of likes and shares per article and you can see what kind of subjects are hot topic among your potential customers.
Step 2: distribution
When you want to publish content, the quality of the content is important, but it is equally important to think about the distribution of it. When you manage to write a high quality article, but no one reads it, it will be a waste of time and resources and it won’t generate any new leads.
There are many possible forms of distribution: newsletters, forums, LinkedIn groups, Twitter, news websites etc. When you are looking for useful LinkedIn groups, try these search terms in Google: site:linkedin.com/groups OR site:linkedin.com/grp “sales”. You just simply replace “sales” by any subject you want. Look for groups that have a high number of members and become a member yourself so you can post your content there.
Twitter is also a very powerful way to share content. When you Tweet a link to your content and an influential twitter user retweets that, your range will expand dramatically. To do so, you have to make an analysis of interesting twitter accounts and follow these people. You can send them a message and refer to their interesting content you have read. Later you can ask what they think of your content and hopefully they will retweet your content.
I read your article about…, I think it is really to the point and interesting. I also wrote an article myself that is linked to your subject and I mentioned your organization in it.
Let me know what you think. If you like it, you can definitely help spreading the word.
Stap 3: Promote your content
Once you have published your content, it is important to promote your content.
Do you want to learn more about the possibilities of content marketing? Here you can find an interesting guide: http://www.quicksprout.com/the-advanced-guide-to-content-marketing/
When 2000 people see your advertisement, 40 of them click on your advertisement. When approximately 3%of those people contacts you, you will have generated one lead. This person will enter the sales process so no sale is guaranteed.
As you probably concluded from the example above, it is important that your advertisement is visible for many people. When you place your ad on a small platform or a website with only a few visitors, your advertisement has a small reach and will generate only a few leads. That is the reason why we will focus on a large platform in this e-book, a platform that is very alike to the other social media platforms: LinkedIn.
Step 1: define the target group
As a start you need to determine to what type of audience you want to show your ad to. This target group can be defined in a few ways. For example, on the basis of the following criteria:
Step 2: write the advertisement
Make sure the style of the advertisement matches your target group. LinkedIn selects the most relevant advertisement and will show them more frequently. The best way generate a good LinkedIn advertisement is to do enough A/B testing. You can test multiple variants of an ad and analyze which variation creates the highest conversion.
Advertisements with a picture generate more engagements than advertisements without pictures and only text. But remember, every target group and sector is different, so try to launch sufficient tests to find you best converting ad.
Step 3: determine your budget
Determine how much money you want to spend per ‘click’. Usually, the price for a click in LinkedIn is rather expensive, but it generates high quality leads because you can clearly define your target audience.
Step 4: evaluate and adjust
Once a campaign is set up, it is important to analyze the results. Certain advertisements will have a higher conversion rate and will generate more leads then others.
You can stop the less profitable ads and replace them with ones who do generate a lot of leads.
Experience shows that successful ads also lose effect after a while, so try to change your ad regularly and try new varieties.
This tactic is often used by webshops. For example when you visit the Zalando webshop and look for blue shoes, it is possible that you see an advertisement for blue shoes when you visit other websites. In a way the ad is following you on the internet.
This seems to be a very invasive form of advertisement and in a way that is true. Some people don’t like the feeling of being followed. This tactic is often used by e-commerce companies. The conversion are high, but keep in mind the possibility of scaring people away. In case your target group is large enough, it is possible to experiment with this.
For more information about targeting, visit the following website: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2453998?hl=en
Cold calling was put back on the map thanks to the book Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross. In this book he describes how he helped salesforce.com grow to $100 million in revenue. The central thought in this book is that you, by using a consistent approach, can generate a certain amount of leads in a predictable way. We use this technique ourselves and have a lot of success with it.
The most important takeaway of the book is that you need to split the different parts of the sales process. In most organizations the Sales Manager is responsible for generating leads and closing deals. For most people it is very hard to combine those two responsibilities. If you are reviewed on the revenue you generate, you want to focus your effort on closing deals and not on generating leads.
That is why the book recommends organizations to allocate someone solely to generating leads and someone else to closing deals. The person dedicated to generating leads will, with the right education and experience, become very good at it and will be satisfied when being successful in this part of the sales process.
To follow the predictable revenue model and be successful in cold calling you can follow the steps bellow. These steps will make sure your structure is correctly setup. Afterwards we will explain how to actually start cold calling.
Make sure you find someone in the company, or hire someone, who is willing to specialize in finding new prospects. This could be someone of the sales team.
Make sure you purchase a good and reliable CRM-system, this system keeps track of all interactions with prospects and potential customers. Some recommended systems are: Salesforce, Close.io and Pipedrive. Make sure you pick a system that matches the needs of your organization and try some systems before you fully implement it.
“Making the field salespeople do cold calls means having you highest-cost (per hour) sales resource perform the lowest-value (per hour) activity”- Aaron Ross” -Aaron Ross
Provide a good and clear division of tasks between the different team members in your organization. It is important that every member has his own specialization. The structure recommended by Predictable Revenue goes as follows:
Prospection – sales – project management – support
In our experience we noticed that especially prospection and sales need to be clearly separated. Combining sales and project management is not so problematic compared to combining sales and prospecting. Sales and Project Management are the most valuable tasks, make sure you can use your best people’s time as much as possible for these valuable tasks.
Arrange a clear communication system between the different team members in the sales process. It can be a big issue when your prospector passes on low-quality leads to your sales person. When the sales person goes to a meeting and finds out that the lead is not interested, you waste time and money. Therefore, it is important that the prospector not only finds new leads, but he or she needs to qualify the leads. When the prospector finds an interesting lead, he or she needs to ask the necessary questions to determine the quality of the lead.
Once a project is sold, the project management takes over and finally it goes to customer support when the project is delivered.
After you have set up a good structure in your organization, you can start generating leads, in a predictable pace.
“Of course you want more revenue, but what good is it if it isn’t predictable?” -Aaron Ross
Step 1: Ideal customer profile
The first step is analyzing your ideal customer profile. For example, your most profitable customers are companies with 25 to 150 employees active in IT. Your ideal contact person is an HR manager because you sell an IT product aimed to reduce turnover.
Step 2: Contact list
The next step is to create a list of all the people you want to contact. Often it is not a good idea to purchase such a list, because usually they contain outdated data. For Belgium you can use websites such as trendstop.be, Gouden Gids and others to find companies that match your Ideal Customer Profile. LinkedIn is also a very valuable resource to find qualitative contacts.
We noticed, from own experience, that you don’t need a very long list. You need a list of high-quality leads. It is much more effective to contact 150 interesting profiles then have a list of 1500 low-quality profiles who demand a lot of time to contact. Quality above quantity!
Step 3: Formalize the message
Before you start calling people, it is important to think about what you are going to say. Experience shows that it is useful to create a script that contains the most important questions you would like to ask. Don’t take a script too literally, just use it as a guideline.
It is important to keep in mind that you don’t want to sell your company but you want to obtain customers information. In return for that information you can provide them with specific information that can be useful for your contact person.
Finally, you need to set up a goal for your prospector(s). First he or she needs to know whether there is interest. Secondly, your prospector needs to find out whether they are in contact with a high or low-quality lead. Only when it is a high quality lead, your prospector should set a meeting. Otherwise your sales team will lose a lot of valuable time going to useless meetings.
Below an example of a script:
This is Stijn de Witte from Flux speaking.
Am I calling at a bad time?
* Wait for feedback, this is a very important question, this gives you some time to ask your questions*
The reason why I call you is because we are a company specialized in building recruiting websites. At the moment you are not using any recruiting tool, is that correct?
Are you working with some other tool or you only use e-mail to process incoming new vacancies?
* Wait for feedback*
The reason I ask you this is because we noticed in other projects, where we implemented the recruiting tool, the number of applications increased by 20%.
Do you receive a lot of applications from your own website or do you receive most via recruitment agencies? (This is a qualification question)
* Wait for feedback*
How many employees do you recruit approximately each year? (This is a qualification question)
We have worked out a few case studies that illustrate that having an in house recruiting tool results in 20 to 30% more applicants and the applicants are usually of higher quality. Is it possible to set up a meeting so we can give you more information and show you how our tool works?
* Sometimes prospects immediately set up a meeting, that’s great. But also quite often they ask you to send more information first. Then it is important that you have a high quality website that converts. Don’t forget to follow up and call again to fix the meeting. *
This script should be used as a guideline. In reality each conversation will be different, but it gives you something to hold to in moments of doubt.
Step 4: Telephone conversation
When your prospector calls a potential customer, it is very important to make sure that you are not calling on the wrong time and that they give you time to speak. That is why your first question need to be ‘Am I calling at a bad time?’. If the answer is yes, you should ask when you can call back. Often the lead will then say ‘No it is alright, I don’t have that much time, but go ahead’. This is a way of being polite to win some time to speak.
Once you start calling, you will notice that a considerable amount of time will go to reaching the correct person. Sometimes you need to call back a few times to get hold to the right person. In this phase a good CRM-system is important to keep track of your leads and to set up reminders for returning calls.
When you are having a telephone conversation, the conclusion will often be that you should talk with someone else in the organization. This is a good thing, because you can refer to the person that you talked to earlier. You often don’t have the direct telephone number, so you can call the general number and ask for the person you are looking for. Never ask for a function, like ‘can I talk to the Marketing Manager?’. Make sure you did your homework and ask for the person you need to talk to. Once you have reached the right person, ask the questions you need to ask and use the script as a guideline.
Step 5: Follow-up email
Once you have found a company that shows interest, make sure that you send a follow-up email with the most important information. At this moment the lead will visit your website, so make sure you have a professional website that converts. Otherwise you did all this effort for nothing. That would be a shame.
Keep in mind that cold calling is a ‘numbers game’. So when you call ten companies, probably two or three will show interest. Don’t get discouraged when 7 or 8 people don’t show any interest. You can only be good at cold calling when you can handle rejection. In practice we notice that people are almost never rude when you give them useful information and respect their time.
The approach is similar to cold calling, but the difference is that you can reach out to more organizations in a short period of time. The costs per organization approached is lower for cold e-mailing, but the downside is that it is harder to convince someone via e-mail. This approach can be very effective when your market is large enough.
They most important aspects of cold e-mailing are determination and useful content. When you contact an organization your main focus should be your recipient, not your own company. The following steps describe how you could set up a successful cold e-mailing campaign.
Step 1: analyze your customer portfolio
It is important to know what type of customer brings you the highest revenue. When you analyze your current customer portfolio, try to find out what your best customers have in commons. This analysis is the foundation for your prospection list.
Step 2: generate a prospection list
Your prospection list is best generated per niche. It is best to focus your campaign on certain sectors with a certain amount of revenue and with a certain amount of employees. For example, you can focus your first e-mail campaign on IT-companies in Antwerp with 50 to 200 employees.
The main challenge will be finding the correct contact information. Here is it important to keep in mind: it is better to have a limited high-quality list than to have an extensive list loaded with errors.
“It is better to have a limited high-quality list then an extensive list full with errors”
Step 3: Craft a suitable message
When you send an e-mail, you have to make sure, similar to cold calling, that your main focus is on your recipient and not on yourself. When you send useful information, your prospect will be more willing to reply to you.
You can do some research about the company and give feedback on that (we suggest try to automate this process). For example, when you want to sell HR software, you can tell them that HR atomization can be interesting because they are active in a certain sector and there may be some changes coming for them, so HR atomization will be useful. You can auto calculate for example the benefit they will get by multiplying their amount employees with the gain they will get from your software.
Step 4: Use mailing software
The e-mail you send to your prospects, needs to feel like a direct message, not like an automated advertisement email. You can accomplish that by using mailing software that generates separate emails and sends them to the list you created. The most-used mailing software programs are MailChimp and ActiveCampaign. Those will let you create a campaign in a very simple, cheap and quick way.
There are many possibilities to do tracking, automatic follow up, set some unique parameters etc. This would lead us too far from the focus of this E-book, but if you want more information on that, feel free to contact us anytime.
It is essential to calculate the revenue of each campaign. This doesn’t need to be rocket science, just set up a spreadsheet and keep track of the time and costs you spend on each acquisition channel. Afterwards you can easily analyze the costs of each lead.
“Quality differs per lead, inbound leads, such as Google Adwords, tend to be of lower quality than outbound leads, such as cold calling”
Not every lead is the same. We have seen that the quality of leads generated by Google Advertisement is lower than other channels. That is why it is useful to keep track of the amount of revenue every lead generates.
Once you did your analysis, it seems obvious to focus on the most profitable method. Well actually, that is not the way it should be done, because you will find out that every method can only reach a certain amount of customers. If you want to use Google Adwords you will see that you can only reach the people who are searching for the keywords you are advertising for. If, for example, 1000 people are searching for your keyword every month, only 20 people will visit the website and maybe that will lead to one new customer. In this case, Google Advertisement will on average generate one client a month.
A second reason why you should not focus on one method is because we have noticed that some methods will decrease in profitability over time. This is due to the fact that more and more organizations will find out about your profitable method to acquire customers.
At last, there is the mantra of fast growing companies: experiment a lot and new interesting channels will pop up. These new methods can replace older methods over time.
“Experiment a lot and new interesting channels will pop up. These new methods can replace older methods over time.”
The most known tool, is Google Analytics, which is free. It tells you a lot about your visitors but is has a few downsides. First of all, there are so many options, that most beginners get lost in all the options. Second, it only allows you to track page opens, you can’t see on which button your visitor clicks for example (we must note, that via rather advanced changes, you can track specific clicks).
We recommend that you start with Google Analytics to get first insights, but if you really want to improve your website using analytic tools, you should get help from experts or use other software that is more user friendly and allows you to track clicks easily as well. Such programs are Kissmetrics and Mixpanel for example.
Keep in mind that a website is not a project on its own, because otherwise your website will be nothing more than an online business card and you miss out on some important potential customers.
This guide provides you with multiple methods to grow your business, later more guides will follow with a more in depth description of some methods. Subscribe here if you would like to be notified when we launch a new e-book or other relevant information.