You’ve spent time, money and energy creating a valuable product. You know your target audience, ideal buyer persona and have a strong market fit.
But now you need leads.
A lead is a prospect that you can convert into a paying customer. They may have expressed interest in your brand, or you’ve sought them out based on certain criteria, and now need to show them that your service will solve their problems.
As simple as it sounds, without leads, you don’t have customers, which means you don’t have a viable business. At least not for long.
An effective lead gen strategy is the bedrock of any successful enterprise. In this article, we’ll delve into two most popular methods: email marketing (using web forms) and chatbots, analyse why they work, and how to make them work for you.
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An off-shoot of digital marketing, email marketing relies on sending targeted newsletters and other valuable content to a list of subscribers who have opted into receiving messages from you.
This permission of “here is my email, please send me content” means you’re only reaching out to those who want to hear from you.
This leads to a strong ROI as the brand awareness has already been established, and your audience wants to know about your services. If you’ve created a lead magnet worthy of gaining a subscriber, you now have a great avenue to prospect new leads as there is already an element of trust.
You can continue to build on this by providing valuable, engaging and informative content on a scheduled basis.
To do so, you first need to collect email addresses. The most common way to go about it are web forms.
Contact or webforms are a series of fields that website visitors can fill in to pass over data or personal information to a company. Traditional fields include name, email address, contact number, etc. but can include anything that is relevant to the niche, depending on the industry and customer.
Forms like this are used for a wide variety of reasons, whether it’s collating lead information, general business enquiries, online purchasing, customer comments or in exchange for goods and services.
One of the biggest upsides to using web forms is that they are so commonplace we often fill them out without a second thought. Think signing up for a new social media platform or checking out your basket on an ecommerce store.
Despite being so standardised, web form abandonment is one of the biggest problems plaguing businesses; In fact, 81% of people have abandoned a form after starting to fill it out.
One field too many can be the difference between a new lead and no lead.
There’s a fine line between making your contact-form appealing enough to be used, easy enough to understand, but with enough mandatory fields for you to properly qualify your leads.
Aside from this, it’s fairly difficult to know what makes web forms work - or not - as the only indication of their effectiveness is measurable only by the delivery rate and success of the email campaign. They provide little insight into what happens before the visitor clicks “submit”.
Low completion rate and limit on the number of questions you need to to ask to personalize your email strategy, can worsen your chances and diminish the quality of your email campaign.
Although fruitful, email marketing is saturated by senders that are doing it for the wrong reasons and without the appropriate tools. Unsolicited cold emails often fall on deaf ears, and the ever-tightening rules around GDPR mean you risk the dreaded spam folder with every piece of outreach.
And with an estimated 306 billion emails sent last year, you’ll need to ensure you have your systems aligned to reach your leads in the right way.
Web Form Best Practices for Lead Generation
- Keep it simple and only ask what you absolutely need to; You can always collect more information later, but too many fields run the risk of not collecting any at all
- Give a clear timescale of when you’re likely to reply to manage expectations
- Stay conversational and always focus on the user-experience
Best Ways To Use Email Marketing
- Automate your bulk outreach with a strong email system to free up time, personalize en masse and communicate a clearer message
- Consistently grow your brand’s identity with valuable content
- Leverage free downloads (e-books, webinars, statistics, etc.) to grow your user-base
- Increase your open rates and click-through rates with strong subject lines and a clear call-to-action
Lead generation chatbots are a conversational tool, either preprogrammed or AI-based, made to support users in real-time whilst also collecting key data. A proactive approach to customer experience, chatbots initiate conversation when a website visitor hits a certain trigger point.
They can also be reached by the user themselves, through help or speech bubbles that often populate in the bottom corner of the screen.
They can be utilised to respond to questions, upsell services, troubleshoot errors, verify customer identities, and more, whilst gathering and storing new lead information.
An increasingly popular web tool, chatbots differentiate themselves from traditional forms of marketing through a conversational-first approach. Rather than static form fields, they create a tailored experience, leading users down a conversation funnel which changes based on the context of the discussion.
Retaining user attention in a world of information overload is a mammoth task, made even more taxing by generic websites, forms or funnels. Slight tweaks in the way your target audience engage with your brand are often enough to stand out amongst your competitors.
In saying that, bots aren’t without their drawbacks. Dependency on a platform-specific service can mean that you are limited by the features that are available.
Although you’ll have plenty of capability to create an effective lead generation tool, you’ll still be at the whim of the chatbot providers updates and product development roadmap.
Top Ways To Use Chatbots
- Program them to work in conjunction with your employees, by asking qualification questions which feedback to your staff
- Invest the money and time saved into other systems or resources, which will help you convert more leads further down the line - better onboarding, more outbound calls, smarter emails
- Minimize website distractions and focus on the areas that guarantee a higher conversion rate at minimal cost.
What About a Combined Strategy?
The most efficient way to generate and convert more leads is to have your email marketing using web forms, and chatbots lead generation working in tandem with one another. A two-pronged attack is always the most effective.
Start by evaluating where the gaps are in your current marketing or sales efforts, and map out which of the three can bolster up those missing areas.
One of the major benefits of chatbots vs forms is that website visitors receive answers to their questions in real-time.
Say you have a web form that has seen some results but needs optimising. You could replace it with a chatbot, which has been set up with a series of qualifying questions, based on the fields of your web form. Now instead of waiting three business days for a response, your site can respond live, whilst recommending additional services and collecting user data.
On the front end, the user is having a seemingly innocuous chat with a support agent / bot. In the background, the system is sorting their information based on preferences, requests and needs.
You can then have this data managed by a member of staff who can follow up with an in-depth phone call. Just as they would have done from a form response, except now they have more information, which means a better conversation.
If you want to be heard in such a largely populated advertising space, you need to be personal with your approach.
A combination of the methods mentioned above allows you to collect huge amounts of information about your potential customers, which you can then use to inform your strategy moving forward.
You may have a user-focused web form on a ‘contact us’ page, with a chatbot running elsewhere answering visitor questions and steering them down the funnel. With the data collected, you can then use these to create segmented lists, which allow for an extra layer of personalized content - guaranteed to increase conversion rates.
Stand out from your competitors by adopting a set of lead-gen strategies that are engaging, effective and data-driven.
1. What are chatbots and how do they work?
Short for Chatter Bot, Chatbots are computer programs designed to simulate human conversation. They interpret the words given to them by a person and provide a pre-set answer.
2. How can I get the chatbot to act at the right time?
In this case, the use of triggers is really helpful. A trigger is a specific circumstance that gets the bot to work. For example, it can be the first time someone lands on your page or the first time they click on a certain button.
3. How can I grow an email list with a chatbot?
When it comes to growing an email list with a chatbot, you will have more chances of getting the visitors to share their email with you if you offer something in return. For example, you could set up a proactive chat that greets visitors looking for information about a certain topic. At that moment, your chatbot could make an appearance and ask your visitors if they’d be interested in receiving a free ebook.
4. How can I establish a relationship with my customers with the help of a chatbot?
A chatbot should be able to humanize the interaction and make it effortless. That’s a key aspect when it comes to having people share their email address with you. For example, a helpful chatbot should have a very conversational style, and ask for an email address in exchange for help creating an account.