You already know?it takes significant effort to drive traffic to your website. Problem is, most small business owners go to all the hard work of generating traffic via organic Google results (SEO), paid advertising (such as AdWords), social media campaigns or?offline marketing… but then fail to capitalise on that traffic. It’s a bit like?ignoring?everyone who walks into your local shop… not even making eye contact!
It’s actually quite simple – it’s?a means by which you obtain a prospect’s contact details, with their permission.
Normally, prospects will share their contact details with you only in exchange for something of value. This “value item” is sometimes referred to as a “bait piece”, using a fishing analogy, because it’s free (or at least very cheap – like $1 cheap), tempting & easily obtained. And just like the fish, the idea is that your prospect will then be “hooked” on you & your information so badly, they’ll want more of it!
Lead Capture allows you to start using permission-based marketing to?email,?call or even mail your prospects with your marketing.
The truth is, not everyone who visits your store is going to be in a “buy now” frame of mind. Lead Capture allows you to stay in touch with those folks and build trust, keeping yourself front of mind until their need is such that you’re the obvious choice for them.
Lead Capture Tools
You have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a system for managing your online lead capture. Some of these start at $0, which is nice – like MailChimp:
The reasons why MailChimp is a popular choice (over 7 million users) is due to the fact it’s free, it’s easy to use, and has some fairly powerful features even on the “free” plan. It is however a bit limited unless you spend some money. The free version doesn’t allow you to send email autoresponder messages (automatic email replies and scheduled messages).
My personal preference is Aweber (affiliate link):
With Aweber, you can easily create beautiful lead capture forms, and stay in touch with your subscribers through scheduled email autoresponder series. It also includes heaps of email newsletter templates and signup forms, which you increase your productivity and allow to provide consistency in your communications.
What is an Email Autoresponder Series?
Great question 🙂
I’m sure you’ve already been on the receiving end of an email autoresponder series. You provided your contact details in exchange for something (bait piece). Within seconds, you received an email piece confirming your subscription. That is a very basic use of the autoresponder.
But then you may have received an email?one, two or three days later asking how you went with your bait piece (did you like the free report, have you used your coupon yet,?do you have any questions, etc). That was also part of the email autoresponder series.
The beauty of autoresponders is that it provides you with an efficient way of staying in touch with your prospects on autopilot. You can send them follow-up emails, request feedback, offer additional testimonials, share links to training videos, address any Frequently Asked Questions… the options are virtually limitless.
When used properly, your email autoresponder can work as a virtual sales person who never sleeps!
Setting Up Your Email Sequence
The intent of this post is to provide you with the overall strategy of Lead Capture, rather than the technical steps involved in any particular tool. A simple YouTube search will get you started, and any of the top tools include awesome support if you get stuck.
Lead Capturing is a Planned Process
Capturing leads on your website is not a one step process. If it was that simple, I’m sure a lot more folks would be implementing it!
Good news is, it’s not rocket surgery. You may find it easier to follow if we break it down into bite size chunks.
While the following diagram is far from complete, it should give you an idea of what’s involved from start to finish. Note it doesn’t include the more advanced strategies, such as sending direct mail or making phone calls as part of the follow-up sequence – we’ve stuck with email for now.
Study any kind of copywriting research, and you’ll see consistently that the headlines of any marketing material are responsible for around 80% of the results. If your reader doesn’t “resonate” with your headline, it’s all over – no matter how good your offer is!
Put simply: make your offer’s headline bold, clear and simple. This is not the place for cute play-on-words (resulting in confusion) or boring jargon or cliches (resulting in yawns).
Step 2: Offer Something of Value
Here’s where we cover your “bait piece”!
Your bait piece?needs to be compelling enough for someone to willingly give you their email address (at least).
“Join our newsletter” is probably the weakest bait piece known to man, and I challenge anyone to tell me they’ve built a massive list with this offer in 2014 🙂
Ebooks (often labelled as “free reports”) are an excellent – and therefore common -bait piece, because they are relatively quick & easy to create, essentially free to deliver one or one thousand at any time of the day or night, and they’re able to be shared easily with your prospects’ like-minded friends.
Here are some other bait piece ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Mini-course delivered via email (like our own mini-course)
- Exclusive video / video training
- Coupon for $x off first order
- Coupon for x% off first order
- Coupon for $x store credit
- Coupon for free shipping
- Complimentary consultation (like our own here)
- Free product sample (if your product / service prices justify the cost of product + manual effort)*
- Free information pack (DVDs, case study portfolios and the like)*
*Both require more “heavy lifting” in your qualification / web copy, to encourage your readers to share their full name & postal address details in exchange for your bait piece
Step 3: …in Exchange for Contact Info
The AMOUNT of information you should obtain depends on many factors, including:
How strong your existing relationship is
- Generally speaking, if they don’t know you from a tin of paint, you’re best to start just with your email address
- The value of the bait piece
- If you’re offering a free digital report / ebook, or a $5 coupon, you probably don’t need to know the prospect’s date of birth… their email address will suffice. On the other hand, if you’re offering a complimentary consultation, then it probably makes sense to ask for their first name as well
- The medium of the bait piece
- May sound obvious, but you can’t post a DVD or catalogue to an email address. As mentioned previously though, you may find benefit in offering a digital product first (such as a .PDF or movie clip sample) where you can ask for just the first name, before moving on to?the physical product offer only to qualified prospects
Don’t let your lead capture become an interrogation!
Yes, the more information you can find out about a prospect, the better informed you are as to how you should talk to that prospect. BUT – if you ask for?too much information up front, it’s like being at a party & being given the Spanish Inquisition by an over-eager stranger.
And your prospects will exit stage left.
So keep it as easy as possible for them to take that first step – don’t rush them.
Instead, allow your initial bait piece to educate your prospect about your business, your services or products, and why you’re different. As you build trust with your?new prospect, you can introduce additional fields to your collection, including:
- Last Name
- Business Name (if selling B2B)
- Income, using income ranges (if you’re selling financial / investment / opportunity products)
- Date of Birth (allows you send them gifts, or validates their ability to view age-restricted materials or participate in age-restricted events)
- Postal Address (ideal for posting sales letters, product samples, physical portfolios, DVDs, books, gifts and the like)
Some astute marketers will start with just the email address, which they’ll use as the “first qualifier” before then making an upsell / additional offer which requires the prospect’s First Name. Then they’ll introduce another rung in the ladder – requiring their Last Name and Phone Number. Finally, they’ll make another offer and move up to request the Postal Address – something of great value to the smart marketer.
Stage 4: Record the Contact Info
Any online autoresponder software will capture lead info automatically.
Thanks to modern software, this step is more of an observation than an actionable item. Any of the online email marketing software solutions will take care of the capturing process, populating your desired “target list” with your new contact’s details.
Where you will need to invest some time & effort, is in the design of your lead capture form(s). Will it be simple or fancy? Will you include a product or coupon image? A testimonial? Will you use a pop-up / pop-under form, an inline (embedded) form… or both?
All online email autoresponder systems will give you step by step guides on creating your forms. Like most things in life, it may be daunting at first – but after two or three, you’ll get comfortable with the whole process!
Just a note: Where you’re asking for more info than just an email address however, you will want to validate your list data on a regular basis – especially if you’re posting information to people as part of your campaign. The last thing you need is to post a package which costs you (say) $20, to “Bugs Bunny, 123 Carrot Street, Disney, NSW, 2000”!
So we can then comfortably move on to…
Step 5: Deliver the Something
If your bait piece is in digital format (a free report, a private video, a discount coupon or so on), your email autoresonder software can be pre-configured to deliver this automatically to the recipient’s inbox.
On the other hand, if your bait piece is a physical product, you’ll need to ensure the package is sent the same or next business day for maximum effectiveness. The reason being, you want to get the information into the hands of the requester ASAP, while they’re still “hot” and primed to review it. The danger with waiting a few days is that this initial interest can wane, resulting in your prospect seeking the services of a competitor… or just deciding to do nothing at all.
In fact, some smart?marketers?who send physical products will also send a digital sample – putting something of value immediately into the hands of their new lead, keeping them primed until the physical product arrives.
Step 5: Deliver Auto Email Updates
Not only can your autoresponder software send an automatic reply when a lead capture form is completed, it can also send ongoing scheduled updates. This feature allows you to create “pre-canned” email marketing sequences, which are sent to your subscribers at predefined intervals.
This subject is the topic of my next post, where I’ll go into more detail about how you can use the email autoresponder series to your advantage.
This post took a few days longer to write than previous – but I hope the delay was worth it for you!
As always, if you have any specific questions not covered here, feel free to reach out to us & we’ll answer your questions the best we can.
In the next week or so I’ll create the next post in this series: #4 – Email Autoresponders.