Technology continues to evolve. Consumer attitudes change. If you and your marketing don’t keep up with the times, what may have worked for your business in the past will slowly lose effectiveness.
For every business and every solo-preneur, lead generation is an esesential part of growing and sustaining your business. If you rely on getting leads online, there are some changes that you should know about — both technology advancements and consumer behavior changes.
What is a Lead?
A lead is simply a person who is interested in what you are talking about, writing about, and otherwise sharing online and who is a potential target client for your business. A lead could also be someone who is searching online for a solution to a problem and your business offers a solution for that problem.
A lead is the first stage in your sales and marketing process and can begin in many different ways, some of them online and some offline. Part of your overall business process planning needs to include: 1) The methods/systems that you will use to find leads for your products or services, and 2) Your sales and marketing system for inviting or persuading a lead to become a paying customer, client, or patient.
It is often said that a lead will often require 7 or more “touches” or interactions with you or your business or the content that represents your ideas before they are ready to make a decision about committing to a purchase of your product or service.
One of the best and most effective ways to continue communicating with leads (and with existing clients) is through email marketing. Your lead generation plan and your sales and marketing plan will most likely include the use of email marketing as well as content marketing.
But before you can email them, you need to persuade them to give you their email address and their permission to send them emails. And that’s where opt in forms or email sign up forms come into play.
The Email Sign Up Process Can Be Confusing
The complexity and confusion are compounded by the fact that there are many ways to do each step of the process. It’s all dependent on which tools and systems you want to use and whether you have a tech person on staff, you prefer to do the work yourself, or you would rather outsource most of it.
For many people, it’s a process they don’t do often enough to remember what they did the last time. Plus, as I’ll discuss below, new tech tools are being developed all the time. It can be difficult to keep up with all the new possibilities! Since a growing majority of internet users now access the web on their mobile devices, mobile responsiveness is a critical component that adds another layer of complexity.
Unfortunately, it has never been easy to find good instructions for all those steps in setting up an online lead generation system. Some teachers or gurus seem more interested in withholding the details so their students or followers will need to hire them to do the setup work. But it can also be a challenge to explain this highly abstract, multi-step process in a concrete way that newbies can grasp.
I’ve been working on a simple, interactive blueprint to help people understand the basic overview of the process, including different options to consider at each step. I’ve applied my background and skill as a technical trainer, instructional designer, and procedure writer, using proven techniques to make the knowledge easy to access and to apply to your specific situation. At the end of this blog post, I’ll tell you how you can access that blueprint.
Meanwhile, let’s look at some of the recent changes in the arena of opt in forms or squeeze pages.
Newsletters and Free Reports Are Boring
10 years ago, many people were happy to give away their email address in order to receive a weekly or monthly email newsletter from an entrepreneur, coach, or marketer whose materials they enjoyed reading. Free reports, often called “special reports” or “white papers,” were another popular giveaway for several years. Not anymore!
Most people are bombarded with way too much email in their inbox and the last thing they want is another weekly email newsletter!
Even great quality reports are less appealing now because so many people prefer to watch videos rather than read pages of written content. Plus our attention span for reading seems to be diminishing and many people find it difficult to read a report of perhaps 30-50 pages – let alone actually implement any of the recommendations in that report.
These days, the most popular giveaways – or lead magnets or ethical bribes –seem to be checklists, templates, tool lists, and short guides that solve one specific problem in a few easy-to-follow steps. There is much more emphasis and demand for something practical and immediately usable.
“Taking” versus “Giving” Pages
There have also been huge changes in the way that marketers ask for an email address in exchange for that valuable free content. Some of those changes have been driven by increased internet bandwidth and advances in web page technology.
Others are more related to changing styles in the online graphical user interface – for example, the increased demand for video content and the new focus on full-screen photographs, often referred to as “hero images.” Eye Candy abounds as web visitors delight in the newest visual “wow” techniques, from parallax effects to full screen video backgrounds.
The simpler styles of optin boxes now seem out-of-date and boring compared to large optin pages, slide-down “welcome mats” and a variety of other new ways to entice people to give up their email addresses in exchange for one of the free gifts described above.
Click on the 3D book image above for the Visual Content Marketing report. You’ll see an older style of squeeze page with a simple opt in box.
The larger optin pages now are typically designed as “2-step optins.” Some experts claim that viewers see this as a “giving” page that is offering free content, rather than a “taking” page that asks for their email address.
Click the image on the left to see a 2-step page with video background. The 1st step looks like a simple offer for something free – in this case, a checklist.
When you click the button on the 1st page, you are taken to the 2nd page where you’re asked for your email address. But there is another subtle, psychological factor in play here that make it likely people will enter their information.
When someone clicks on the 1st page button, they’ve already made a small commitment that says they want whatever free content is being promised. And when they are faced with the sign-up form on the 2nd page, their subconscious brain will encourage them to complete the information because behavioral consistency is critical to one’s internal self image – even though that all operates at a largely unconscious or subconscious level.
2-Step Optins are reported to convert at a much higher rate than the old style of showing the optin form on the first page. Higher conversion rates, of course, translate to more people opting in with their email address and getting added to your email list. LeadPages, for example, says that switching to a 2-step optin increased their newsletter subscriptions by 60%.
Squeeze Page Process Blueprint
On my next hangout for Creative Marketing TV, I’ll be reviewing all the steps in the email sign up process. Plus I’ll have a draft available for you to download for free of my interactive blueprint that will give you different options for each step of the whole process.
If you can join me live on August 6, 2016, you’ll be able to ask your questions about any part of setting up your squeeze page system. Just go to the Google+ Event Page here or click on the image at right. Once you see the question “Are You Going?,” just answer yes or maybe so that you’ll get a reminder about the live hangout-on-air and about the replay as well.
Your Comments and Questions
Let me know what challenges you have with the email sign up process. If you leave a specific question in the Comments, I’ll address it in the training hangout and in the process blueprint.