Wondering how to shift from offline to online lead generation in your business?

Pull together your list of contacts, update your information and create an online marketing plan that walks your leads through a new online sales process and to being a customer.

Why moving your lead generation online isn’t as easy as it sounds

Moving an offline business online is difficult if you have incomplete contact information and if you don’t have a well thought-out marketing plan to reach those prospects.

I have several clients who count on offline lead generation strategies to get new customers.

Sure, you can say “just do webinars” or switch to email marketing or video marketing, but making a shift from offline direct lead generation strategies to more online lead gen strategies is fraught with obstacles once you decide to shift from offline to online marketing.

Online lead generation requires incorporating technology

Your website has to be updated and focused on generating leads online. You can start by adding a lead magnet such as a webinar, ebook or checklist that potential leads can sign-up for and land on your prospect list.

Also, your website needs to be mobile friendly — or responsive.  This is so that potential leads can see your information easily and sign up for any of your lead generating offers from any device

example of responsive website design for lead generation

You have to adjust your presentations from offline to online

How is presenting online different from live speaking? You have a captive audience.

If you’ve been generating leads via seminars, trade shows or conferences, your audience has been captive while they were in front if you.  This is NOT the case during an online presentation.

Use content, search engine optimization and social engagement to drive lead generation

It’s one thing to build the know-like-and-trust factor when you are face-to-face with someone. And it’s a completely different game when you have to do it online.

When you aren’t able to reach out and physically touch potential leads, your online content and your social media presence will have to do it for you.

If you like to write, then write.  If not, consider doing videos answering typical questions.

What you’ll need before moving your lead generation online

Update your databases with missing contact information

If you’ve been running an offline business, then your leads and customer records probably have missing information.

You’ll have leads with phone numbers but no email or email but no phone number. If you played with some element of online marketing you may have leads with just a first name and an email.

leads with incomplete information

How to get missing contact information from your leads:

Get all of your leads into one database.

Start by putting them into a single spreadsheet and create a “master list”. Make sure you remove any duplicates and also make sure that each name is formatted correctly.

You’re likely to find some records with names in all caps and other records in standard formatting.  Use standard formatting for all the names, addresses and phone numbers.

Segment your leads by where they came from

The next thing you’ll want to know is where these leads came from.  A lot of systems will call this a “Lead Source”.

This is important because if you haven’t been in touch with them in a while, you’ll want to make sure you tell them how they got on your list.  Here are some typical lead sources:

  • Annual Industry Trade Show (you’ll want to use the name of the show and the year)
  • Attended seminar
  • Attended dinner
Implied vs Expressed Consent

Just because you have someone’s contact information in your business, doesn’t mean that you can use it anyway you like.   You must have permission or consent.  There are two types of consent; implied and expressed.   Implied consent means that if they are already a customer, you have implied consent to send them information they would want as a customer. You can use emails with “implied consent” meaning that they did business with you or they gave you their email for one purpose, and you’re using it to contact them for a different reason.

Expressed consent means that they have given you their information for marketing purposes.  They’ve filled out a form to receive a download or to register for a webinar.   But if they say they don’t want to receive anything from you, you must take them off your list.

Fill in missing contact information

Even though we’ve been living with email for decades now, many offline businesses don’t have emails from their customers.

Go through your spreadsheet and collect the information that you need from your customers.

This is where knowing where they came from comes in REALLY handy.

You’ll want to call them, remind them how you have their name and then tell them you are updating your database and ask them for any missing information.  If they say they don’t want anything — take them off your list.

The conversation you are having is NOT a sales conversation.  It’s a catching up conversation.  Here’s how we met, what’s happened in your life or your business since then? What are you interested in that we can help you with?

Do you want to stay in touch?  Yes or no.  That’s it.

Create an online lead generation communication plan that moves leads through a buyer’s journey

At this stage, you should have a nice clean list that is grouped by how you heard of them and what they might be interested in.

Your goal at this point is to recreate the live experience and move your customers through the buying process.  Only this time, they won’t have to leave their house until it’s time to seal the deal.

Everything you’ve told them in person, will now be communicated online; either with email or video.

Here’s how to do this.

  1. List your clients’ top 3-5 frustrations, concerns, fears.
  2. Match their concerns with the specific way your product or services transforms their concern into a successful outcome.
  3. What is an irresistible offer you can create that transforms their concern.
  4. In what ways can you reach these prospects, answer their questions and move them toward a sale? What communication channel or combination of channels should you use and when?

Here’s an example of what your online lead generation communication plan might look like:

  1. Send informational email containing an article from a credible source that speaks about their frustration, concern and fear and mentions our solution as a great option.
  2. Invite them to a webinar where they can get more details about this specific solution and why it might be right for them.
  3. Email a feedback form after the webinar to see if their questions were answered and if there are any outstanding questions.
  4. Send a personal email inviting them to schedule a phone call to answer any of their questions and concerns. If yes – schedule meeting, answer questions and get a yes/no decision. If no – give them a call to get to a yes/no decision.
  5. Create additional webinar content to address other client concerns that you’ve collected from the interviews.

How to Generate Leads Online

Now that you’ve got your older leads safely onboarded and lead lists cleaned up. You’re ready to generate new leads online and get them moving through your online sales process.

Here’s how;

Create opportunities for leads to get into your online funnel

The best way to create new opportunities to get leads into your funnel is to create valuable content based on the concern or problem your ideal customers have and your solution to that problem.

Let’s say you’re a financial planner and your leads have two main reasons for working with you; planning for retirement, planning for college — or maybe both. Here is an online marketing plan you might use to generate leads online:

Share great content and gather emails

  • Create a downloadable ebook on a problem that online prospects are trying to solve.
  • Advertise the books or guides using social media
  • Answer the most popular questions on video – find out what your audience wants to know and see what questions aren’t answered very well. 
  • Do facebook live sessions that answer viewers questions

Run a webinar series or course that educates your audience on little known information not shared elsewhere. 

  • Be sure to ask for first name, last name, email and mobile number
  • Send them email and SMS reminders
  • Get feedback after each webinar. Ask what other questions they had that weren’t answered
  • Answer those questions, create a new webinar.

Stay in communication with these new leads by sending them information specifically based on what their concerns were or where they wanted more information

  • Don’t be afraid to call and ask to schedule an appointment – 
  • Before their appointment – make sure you give them tasks to do or questions to answer so that they are prepared.  This will increase their likelihood of attending and not cancelling
  • Have a pruning process in place.  Ask if they would like to stay in touch or not.  If not, remove them from the list.

Every Touch is a Potential New Online Prospect

While it’s easy to say that a lot of this is a numbers game, and some of it is.  That doesn’t mean that you should treat these interactions lightly.

Each contact you have with an old customer or client is a potential opportunity for new business; either with them or with a referral.

If you just go through this for the sake of following some checklist – that isn’t enough.

Put yourself in the mindset that every conversation is with a dear friend whom you are eager to help.

That will make creating these emails, webinars and phone conversations infinitely easier and drive new online prospects.

In the end, if you want to generate leads online, it’s going to take a plan. Use the templates here to get started today.