Leads are the lifeblood of any business and generating them is the ultimate goal of any marketing. I’ve been in companies where we rented leads in bulk (total waste of money) and others where we acquired them by networking at events (good but labor-intensive). You can fish for them with SEO and PPC (better because you’ve defined intent on the part of the prospect) but you’re dependent on the search engines and the quality of your site. Finally, you can generate leads through freemium versions of your service or product. This works well if you’re marketing a professional service and you’re providing enough value for a user to trade you contact info in exchange for their freebie. This freemium model is a piece of our lead generation strategy for SM2. However you still have to get to your site to sign up. That’s where social media fits into lead generation
Adding in Return On Investment (ROI) for Social Media Lead Generation
With a tool like SM2 you could find everyone talking about the keywords associated with your product, extract their addresses and/or URLs and try blasting them with some kind of offer. This may sound good if you’re used to the old media broadcast model- but it is a really terrible idea in social media because there can easily be a backlash from participants who don’t like being spammed (which is what you’d be doing- they never asked for your offer). So how do you generate leads in social media?
Try a variation on this process:
- Use SM2 to monitor conversations that contain your keywords, then refine those keyword to more closely target sources. This helps qualify your leads.
- Look at the Author Tags cloud in SM2 to find ways social media results authors are organizing their conversations. You can find clues to additional keywords.
- Build an offering that focuses on those keywords. We offer a free version of our service, others offer discounts, white papers, webinars, etc.
- Create a landing page that focuses on your keywords and the specific interests of your prospects. This is not your home page, it is a page dedicated to gathering information in exchange for your offering. Keep it simple, don’t ask for too much, etc. We only require an email address but we ask for Name, Company, Title and Where They Heard of Us. About 50% offer this info which is high but we don’t make them do a demo or talk to a salesperson, the free version is fully functional and we have an additional goal of building an active user-community.
- Start delving into the conversations you find with SM2 and become a participant. Don’t pitch, participate: respond to relevant Tweets, comment on blogs, join networks. Be transparent about who you are (I often define my user-name as Martin Edic (Techrigy), making it clear that I’m from a company). You’re not selling here, you’re building a reputation.
- Have the link you provide in your Profile or Comments be a direct link to the landing page you built. Many will click to find out who you represent if they find you’ve added value to the conversation.
- Offer up your offer if it adds value to the conversation with a URL in your response.
- Don’t use canned responses.
I realize this sounds kind of labor intensive because it is. Many companies are hiring Community Managers to do this.
So where does the ROI come in? First, social media is exponential. Your comments and tweets may be found and read by hundreds or even thousands of readers, readers who are qualified leads, otherwise they would not be there. Second, people in social media like to spread the word so your efforts go even further. And your conversations usually don’t go away- they have a shelf life and keep on giving.
Many people in marketing are not used to valuing leads. This is incredibly important to determining ROI. A qualified lead is one for which you a minimum required amount of information. Another qualification is the source of the lead. The rented lead has a suspect source, the lead that followed a process to get to you is very well qualified. One might cost $.15, the other $150.00. You determine how much a lead is worth by working backwards. First you know how profitable an average sale is, then you determine how much of that profit you’ll expend to get that sale. You need to know how many leads turn into a sale. It might be one out of ten, in which case you need to generate ten leads to make one sale. Do the math and you can determine how much a lead is worth. Run that against the required investment to generate that lead and you’re much closer to an ROI calculation.