November 14, 2018

Generating Leads in the Internet Age: How Changing Media Have Changed Sales

Written by
Terri Williams

Generating leads is crucial to your company’s success. In the past, the focus was on finding customers, usually through mass advertising and targeting demographics. Sending specific messages through a handful of channels (such as TV, radio, newspapers) was the primary means of reaching potential customers. Companies measured their success through data obtained from other third-party companies that specialized in identifying the demographics: how many people watch TV or listen to the radio at a given time, and who they are. Based on this information, companies would decide if their campaigns were working or not.

How Has Media Changed?

Now business goals have switched from finding customers to being found by them. There is much less reliance on mass marketing tactics to deliver a one-time message, and more emphasis on using specific means to target potential customers based on consumer behaviors – and then cultivating these relationships. Also, the reliance on data from aggregation platforms and organizations like Nielsen have been replaced with in-house business intelligence software and customer behavior analytics data that results in decisions based on facts.

Which Business Intelligence Software
is right for your business?

One reason for all of these changes is that the traditional methods of advertising are less effective. For example, there are so many TV stations to choose from, including premium channels that don’t allow commercials. Also, many consumers record their favorite shows, so they can skip past commercials. According to a Marketing Charts report, adults who are 65 years of age and older watch 48 hours of TV each week, while those between the ages of 50 and 64 watch 39 hours of TV each week. However, this is not the coveted consumer group among most companies.

Among 18 to 24-year-old adults, weekly viewership dropped from 76 hours to 64 hours per week. Older millennials (between the ages of 25 and 45) only watch 18 hours of TV per week, while Gen Xers (ages 35-49) watch 26 hours of TV a week. However, the downward trend in every age indicate that viewership is down across the board.

The trend can be spotted across most types of media. Newspaper subscriptions have declined sharply because consumers now get their news from online sources and ad blockers can prevent readers from seeing online ads. In addition, telemarketing has become so unwanted that hundreds of millions of people have signed up for the National Do Not Call Registry, and the Federal Trade Commission receives 150,000 telemarketing complaints a month, according to a CBS report.

While these changes have caused alarm, they also present new, unlimited opportunities to generate sales leads as companies discover more ways to find consumers who may be interested in their products or services.

Lead Generation Still Works

Although your company can’t fully rely on a magazine and TV campaign to bring in all the customers it once did, lead generation still works really well, and for less money than you would spend on a TV spot.

Company website

For both B2B and B2C lead generation, your website is likely to be the first point of contact. Don’t skimp on the design and maintenance of your site, because this is your company’s brand. Make sure that your web pages load quickly and your links are all active. Offering reports and other valuable information in exchange for contact info, such as an email address, is a great way to generate leads.

Content

Content is king. When you’re sharing information that consumers and other businesses want – typically through your company’s blog, your content naturally becomes filled with keywords that answer searchers’ queries on search engines like Google. This brings organic (free!) traffic to your website to read the content. Great content can also be shared through social media.

Social Media

Social media use has skyrocketed within the past few years. In fact, data from the Pew Research Center reveals that 70% of Americans use social media. Facebook is by far the most popular platform, but Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are also popular among social media users.

Social media creates another form of lead generation because people who might otherwise not find your website organically can see your social media posts when they are shared by one of their connections. Once they click on the article link to your website on the social media post, you can track their progress through your app, and even follow up with remarketing tools.

Conferences and Trade Shows

These events are a good way to attract new customers, so use these opportunities to share in-person information about your company. Send potential connections an email before the conference and ask for a one-on-one dinner or propose you grab a coffee. Being a presenter or teaching a seminar is another way to connect. Whether you distribute handouts or use PowerPoint presentations, always be sure to include the company’s website address so attendees can follow-up.

Email

Using the right CRM platform, you can capture, track, and build sales leads. Once you have contact information, such as an email address, your company can easily send mass emails or more customized, targeted messages. You can also see who is opening your emails or clicking on the links provided in your messages. And based on these prompts, your CRM can be set up to automatically send more information to recipients who express an interest in learning more.
While a successful campaign is always the goal, how do you know if your campaign is working? The CRM has a management system that can analyze results, so you can make the necessary tweaks.

While lead generation methods are changing, understanding how to use new, more efficient lead generation tools can allow you to reach more B2B and B2C customers.

Terri Williams is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She has covered business and tech topics for a variety of clients, including The Economist Careers Network, Intuit Small Business Blog, Investopedia, The Houston Chronicle, Daily News Energy, and Homeland Preparedness News. Follow her on Twitter @Territoryone.