Leads generation (LG) is recognised part of the ‘marketing funnel’ in any school of digital/online marketing. Digital products (such as eBooks, special reports, audio MP3s, etc) that are offered at no monetary cost are often called a ‘leads generators’ because they generate ‘leads’, i.e. potential customers. Whenever someone is required to give their email address to you in exchange for your ‘free’ offer, they become your ‘lead’.
Good LG products are downloadable, and are delivered in formats compatible with most computer systems. The most commonly used formats for LG products are PDF (for written products such as eBooks, reports, tip sheets, slide presentation, etc.) and MP3 (for spoken word, audio classes, interviews, webinars, guided meditations, visualisations, music, etc.). Videos can also be good leads generators, but not typically as downloadable items; instead, your leads would be given access to a members-only viewing area on your website.
How a Leads Generator Can Help Your Business
A good LG product has many benefits. It can help you:
- Grow your mailing list
- Establish professional credibility and expertise
- Reinforce brand identity
- Test the waters to see how your audience responds to new ideas
- Be a preview of something you will bring out at a later date
- Express your generosity and personality
- Lead people to other products or services you offer
Marketing Your LG Product
Like any other product or service you may offer, you’ll need to have some solid marketing strategies for your LG product to reap these benefits. Marketing your product doesn’t have to be aggressive or painful. In The 7 Graces of Marketing, I define ‘marketing’ simply as ‘the act of communicating that we have something of value to share.’ If you shift your focus away from the ‘hard sell’ and towards an open attitude of sharing, you’ll find it a delight to market your leads generating product.
Getting the message out about your product need not be expensive. You will need some basics, such as a website, a means of setting up your landing page and download page, and an autoresponder system. These tools are not free, but they are vital ingredients of your online business anyway, so you should acquire them if you don’t have them already. But apart from that, there’s no need to pay a penny for marketing your leads generating product.
To demonstrate my point, here are 13 no-cost marketing strategies you can use to promote your leads generating product, which can help you enjoy a steady increase in your mailing list and (hopefully) a steady flow of sales on your entry level products.
STRATEGY 1: Use it as a ‘bonus’ to encourage people to sign up to your newsletter.
Newsletters (also called ezines) used to be thought of as good ‘leads generators’ in their own right. But ezines have become a dime-a-dozen and people are tired of having their inboxes flooded with email. These days, people need a pretty compelling reason to sign up to receive your newsletter. Thus, offering a ‘free bonus’ as an ‘ethical bribe’ (as some call it) has become common practice, and is one the most common uses for an LG product.
The good news is that people WILL sign up to your list to get a free offer if they perceive it to be of value to them. But the bad news is that they will unsubscribe to your newsletter just as quickly if you do not give them content of equal or better value after they have signed up.
Remember the golden rule of leads generation: ‘People come for the perks but stay for the content’. Be sure not to disappoint your leads after they sign up or your will lose them. This key is true for all of the strategies to follow below.
STRATEGY 2: Link to your LG landing page in the navigation menu of your blog or website.
If you have a special landing page for your free offer, it is super-simple to put a link to that page in the navigation bar of your website or blog. Be sure the link has the word ‘free’ in it, so people know it’s a free offer.
TIP: Be sure you have this link configured to open in a new window, so it doesn’t navigate away from your website. That way, if people decide to close the window showing your free offer, they will still see your website.
STRATEGY 3: Make a sidebar widget to your landing page
This is the same idea as Strategy 2, except you can be a bit more artistic. If you have blog with sidebar widgets, you can use a text widget to link out to your landing page. Using simple html, you can insert an image and hyperlink it to the LG page (again, make sure it opens in a new window).
TIP: Put the widget about half-way down the sidebar of the page. That way, even if the navigation bar is no longer in view, people will see the link to your free offer. If you look to the right of this page, you should see an example of a widget I made for my free Twitter marketing class.
STRATEGY 4: Include a link to your landing page at the bottom of blog posts.
I always encourage my clients to put some kind of ‘call to action’ (CTA) at the end of their blog posts. Sometimes, this CTA is simply an invitation to leave comments. But if the topic of the blog post is related to the topic of the LG product, it makes sense to mention your LG and share the link to the landing page where people can get it.
STRATEGY 5: Include an ‘advert’ for it in your newsletter.
Don’t just focus on ‘capturing’ new people onto your list; it’s also important to be generous with the people who are already your subscribers. Having people on your newsletter list does NOT mean you’ve ‘got’ them. This relationship needs nurturing. Don’t just exploit them by constantly trying to sell to them. If you’ve got more freebies available, let them know about it by sharing the link to the opt-in page in your newsletter.
It makes sense to share your new freebies with your current subscribers. The more they consume your products (even for free), the more they get to know about you and your business. As their confidence in you grows, some of these people will become your customers or clients. Furthermore, if your loyal subscribers like your content, they are likely to share the links to your freebies with people in their network, which drives new people to your offer. Also, when your subscribers opt in to more than one list, it helps you see which kinds of products your followers prefer, which is great market research for you.
STRATEGY 6: Include it in the description of your YouTube videos
If you’ve got a video on YouTube on a topic similar to you LG product, you should definitely put the link to your LG landing page in the YouTube video description (not just in the video itself). The best practice is to put this link FIRST in your description before any other text. Be sure to mention that this link leads to a freebie. If people found your YouTube video because they were looking for a solution to a specific problem your video addresses, there’s a good chance they’ll check out your freebie.
TIP: Don’t put any punctuation (such as a period/full-stop) immediately after your URL, as it will break the link. Leave a space after your link and then put in your punctuation. This is a weird YouTube quirk I discovered that many people don’t know about.
STRATEGY 7: Include the link in your author ‘resource box’ on article sites
Most reputable article marketing sites (like EzineArticles, GoArticles, etc.) do NOT allow you to put self-serving links in the body of your article. However, you are usually allowed 2 or 3 self-serving links in the ‘resource box’ (author bio) at the end of your article. Putting the link to your main website is not necessarily enough of an incentive for people to click. But if you put a link to your free offer, people are more likely to check it out.
TIP: Be sure the subject of the article is related to the subject of the LG product, or the site administrators might not approve your article submission.
STRATEGY 8: Promote your LG product inside a book or eBook.
If you are a writer and have books or eBooks for sale, don’t neglect to put the link to your LG offer somewhere easily findable inside the body of your book. I always encourage my author clients to create something special for their readers. They might offer audio downloads, accompanying worksheets, resource packs or even a printable poster that complements the subject matter of the book.
Remember, when someone buys your book from on online site (like Amazon) or book shop, they are not your customers, but theirs. The only way you can know who is reading your book is to invite them to opt into your mailing list. Giving your readers a freebie that extends the value of the content of your book is the easiest and most attractive way I know of doing this.
STRATEGY 9: Use it as a ‘thank you’ gift to your new Twitter followers
If you use Twitter, it’s a good idea to send an automated ‘thank you’ message to your new followers. Two programmes that enable you to do this easily are Social Oomph and Tweet Adder. Make your Tweet simple, friendly and direct. Here’s one Tweet I use for this purpose:
Thx for following! If you use Twitter to market your ethical business, enjoy this free 90min Twitter tips class http://bit.ly/RDhD0t
While fewer and fewer people are reading their ‘direct messages’ on Twitter these days, I still get dozens of opt-ins every week from this marketing strategy alone.
TIP: It’s a good idea to rotate different thank you Tweets so people don’t all get the exact same one.
STRATEGY 10: Promote it directly on social media
It might seem obvious, but don’t overlook the simplicity of posting updates to your social media accounts mentioning your free offer. Present it naturally and organically every now and then. Try not to say the same thing about it every time. And for heaven’s sake, DON’T turn it into a sales pitch. If people feel like you talking to them (rather than talking ‘at’ them) they’ll respond.
STRATEGY 11: Share it as a resource to relevant online groups
If you have a freebie that would be of interest to people in specific groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, don’t be afraid to share it with them. If it’s a useful resource, why wouldn’t they want to know about it? For example, I share free resources about writing of book marketing in groups for writers and authors. I share social media resources in e-marketing groups.
Of course, be sure your freebie is relevant to the focus of the group and be SURE to ask the group’s admin if it’s OK before posting. Never, ever post for-sale items unless the group has an open policy for promotions.
STRATEGY 12: Use it as a bonus gift on joint venture partner campaigns.
Frequently, when someone organises a big online event or product/book launch, they will organise a ‘joint venture partner’ (JVP) campaign. Sometimes JVPs will earn a commission if someone buys a product through one of their affiliate links. But in other cases, JVPs have the opportunity to grow their lists by offering a free bonus gift. Typically, this gift is available to those who buy the launch product. In such cases, a good LG product comes in handy, especially if it is on a stand-alone page rather than something readily available on your website.
A nice LG bonus gift for such campaigns can often bring you many hundreds of subscribers within a very short period of time. Of course, for this to happen, the campaign needs to have been well promoted and aimed at your ideal audience. For example, a few months ago, I was a JVP for three major online events. Within two weeks, these collaborations brought me over 500 new subscribers via my LG offer.
STRATEGY 13: Use it as a bonus gift when someone buys something else you have for sale.
Sometimes a good freebie can provide an incentive for someone to buy something from you. Again, this is a very common practice amongst Internet marketers, and it’s really common in book launches.
The practice of offering bonus gifts from a variety of partners during a special product/book launch can often bring an air of celebration to the campaign. That can be a good thing, and people who sign up during the launch can feel like a kid at Christmas, eagerly opening up all the goodies.
But using bonus gifts can also backfire on you. For example, if I see a $67 product on a loud, ‘noisy’, hyped-up sales page containing lots of ‘free bonuses’ with purchase, it can actually lower my perceived value of the product on offer. Besides, in my experience, many of these so-called bonuses are just cleverly disguised promotional products for something else yet again. I tend not to purchase products presented in this way, no matter how many freebies are on offer.
If you offer free bonuses as an incentive for someone to purchase something, make sure it complements the product being sold. Don’t use the ‘kitchen sink’ approach and throw everything in just for the sake of it. The purpose of giving things away is not to sell still more products, but to give people something they can actually use, so they will come to know and trust your products and services. If the bonuses you give are of poor quality or are simply promotional items, you will diminish—not increase—the value of your brand.
Keeping it Fresh
Good leads generating products are highly valuable marketing assets to your online business. But they don’t last forever. Over time, things will change: you, your business, your audience, the marketplace and the world. Keep your products CURRENT. Try to create one new product every 6-12 months to keep things relevant for you, your business and your customers.
Also, without new offers, your relationship with people already on your list will start to go ‘stale’. If your subscribers are not responding to you, it means you have not given them ample motivation to take the next step. Regularly offer your followers something new to keep your relationship fresh and interesting. This can often be the catalyst for long-term subscribers to reach out and become customers or clients.
And finally, don’t take the old-school marketing approach to leads generation, and bombard your subscribers with daily emails. That’s what I call ‘the Deadly Sin of Invasion’ in marketing. If you ‘invade’ your leads, they will quickly unsubscribe from your list.
The new-paradigm marketer does not view leads generation as a means to gate-crashing our way into someone’s inbox. Rather, it is an expression of the Grace of Invitation. An ethical, grace-full marketer uses leads generating products to invite their audience to connect, communicate and share. If you treat your leads with respect, and continue to deliver them valuable content, they are likely to stay with you a long time. And as their trust and confidence in you deepen, many will move from being ‘leads’ to being your customers and clients.
Taking it Further
I hope you found these LG marketing strategies useful, and that you’ll give some of them a shot. Please do share your success stories, comments or questions in the comments threads below.
And also, if you’re an independent business owner and you’d like some guidance in how to create and market a great leads generating product that can bring you all the benefits mentioned in this article, drop me line to request a free 30min consultation via the contact form on this website. That way we can discuss your needs and see how our 7 Graces services might be able to help you.
10 August. 2013
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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
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