October 29/November 5, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 10
By Jim Augustus Armstrong
(Second of three parts)
In my previous column I detailed the many problems dealers face when buying leads from certain lead generation companies as well as why you are better off generating your own leads. I also discussed how any time you generate leads you should begin with the ones you already have: your past customers. Assuming you’re already marketing to your customer list, let’s look at some online lead generation strategies.
Build a strong online reputation. Billy Berber owns Big Billy’s Berber Boutique in Billings, Mont., and has been in business for 20 years. He’s noticed that lately he’s been losing a lot of business to his competitors, Lance’s Luxury Laminates and Wendy’s Wood World. This is puzzling to him because Big Billy’s has a good reputation built on honesty, integrity, great service and quality products. What he doesn’t realize is that it’s possible to have a great offline reputation and simultaneously have a weak online reputation.
When Cathy Consumer Googles flooring in Billings, Mont., and looks at the reviews, Big Billy’s has only a handful, and an average rating of 2.7 stars. On the other hand, Lance and Wendy have dozens of reviews with 4.5 and 4.9 average star ratings, respectively. Billy is losing a steady stream of leads to Lance and Wendy because his online reputation stinks. It doesn’t matter how great of an online lead-generation strategy he puts in place, this problem will hurt results. By having dozens of positive online reviews you’ll not only directly generate leads to your store, but you’ll get better results from all your other lead-generation efforts.
Lead capture on your website. Have you ever visited a cooking website and got a nice-looking pop-up ad that says, “Sign up for free weekly mouth-watering recipes”? Of course, we’ve all seen these kinds of ads. You then enter your name and email to get the free recipes. This offer gets website visitors to raise their hand and say, “Yes, I’m interested in cooking.” The company is building a list of hot leads whom they can market to indefinitely with cooking-related products. This kind of lead generation is used everywhere and in virtually every industry. Why? Because, regardless of what you and I think about these ads, they work.
My company has implemented this strategy for many floor dealers we work with, and you should implement it for your business. You could have an offer on your website that says, “Free guide reveals the five important things to consider when buying new floors.” Cathy Consumer enters her name and email and gets the guide. We test different ads to see which generate the most opt-ins and you should do the same.
Lead follow up. It’s important to follow up with the leads who opt in for your offer. Research has shown the path-to-purchase for big ticket items averages 79 days. So, after Cathy Consumer opts in, subscribe her to an email follow up campaign so you can stay in front of her throughout that time frame. Every few days send her an email with information that educates her on how to choose a flooring store. Don’t spam her every day with 10%-off coupons, because she’ll opt out of your emails. Send information that helps her in her quest for new floors. This will position you as a trusted advisor.
In the next installment I’ll cover a strategy to get other businesses to send you an ongoing stream of leads for free.