What it takes to attract customers online and generate solid leads

Greg Turner.
Greg Turner.

Here, Graphic Arts Magazine online marketing specialist Greg Turner, entrepreneur and author of Supersize Your Business, a digital marketing guide to transform leads into profits, reveals the four key strategies printers need to utilize to generate leads and turn them into actual sales.

What does it take to successfully generate leads online and convert those leads to sales?

In over 5 years working in the field of online marketing, I’ve found that many successful businesses have figured how to sell their products through traditional means of marketing – such as tradeshows, face-to face-interactions, sales teams, direct mail and so on. But they’ve struggled with leveraging the most accessible form of marketing there is – the Internet. Some have even declared that marketing on the Internet simply doesn’t work! I understand their frustration, and I know why it doesn’t. Most businesses don’t understand the mentality of users while they’re online – and for this reason they’ll approach this form of marketing as they have with all other forms. This is the mistake they make!

The psychology of an online user

While a user is online, he or she receives literally thousands of marketing messages every day. They have grown accustomed to this and have conditioned themselves to ignore these messages. There are four stages we all go through before we buy a new product. They are awareness, interest, decision, then action. Online, we should cater to all four of these important stages.

getcustomersonline1-inAwareness, interest, decision, action

When we use the Internet, we’re looking for information or entertainment. To market and successfully sell to an online user, we must first understand what our ideal customer is looking for, and position ourselves as the source of that specific information. We do that by producing compelling content – content that they want to read, that they see as helpful. For example, if I’m selling toner, I’ll share content on how to choose the right toner, how to have it last longer, and how to save money using my toner. By sharing this content, I have now made you aware of my business, and have also sparked your interest. It’s important to not be too ‘salesy’ in this article but still promote and talk about the benefits of my product.

At the end of the message, I may invite you to look at my catalogue of toners. This is a more direct approach to get you to consider buying and takes you to the decision stage – but it’s possible that you may not make the positive decision to buy from me at this particular time. I may then suggest something more subtle, such as you leaving your email address in order to learn more about how you can save money on stationery and printing. This is a big deal, because now I can reach you directly by email, and continue to nurture your decision to choose my product, which hopefully will result in action in the form of a final purchase.

getcustomersonline2-inThis is also a great way to pull in cold prospects, because this prospect is first looking to solve a problem and will look to find solutions that will do just that. While searching, they will find your content and become introduced to your business. Unfortunately, companies do not use this approach often enough for various reasons. Instead, they’ll create an ad directly promoting their product to cold prospects who have never heard of them. These are the ads that usually get ignored, because the prospect has no compelling reason to pay attention to them.

Companies often do this because the alternative of building a base for content and having it be found online can be very challenging. There’s a lot of competition for content – and having their corporate site rank high enough so people will randomly find this content, may take years. They also know that if this content is being promoted from their business’ website, most online users are savvy enough to identify this content as self-promotion and therefore they will ignore it.

So please remember that the mindset of the online shopper explained above differs greatly from that of most consumers who respond to traditional forms of advertising and promotion. If you can do that, you’re half way there in generating solid leads for your business and its products and services.

 

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.