Direct Response and Web Sites-Small Business Lead Generation

One of the most important elements to small business success is lead generation because without leads you can’t increase sales. So where do you concentrate your lead generation efforts?

Get Qualified Leads One at a Time with Direct Response

I’m going to make a bold statement: Direct response is the most effective and affordable ways to generate leads on a one-on-one basis. Let me qualify that statement. Direct response is the most effective and affordable way to reach clients one-to-one if you:

  • know your target market
  • attach benefits to your features
  • understand your competition
  • identify your competitive advantage
  • can write your direct response package in a clear and convincing way

Understanding all that means you can have an effective direct response campaign. No doubt, knowing a few tips about direct response copywriting will help by boosting your response rate. For instance, your heading makes or breaks your campaign. It’s the biggest predictor on whether your prospect ill read it or toss it in the garbage.

Forget about where you’re located or how many year’s you’ve been in business, or describing every detail about your product. Yes, your potential consumer clients want to know a little about the features, but for every feature your product or service has, they want to know far more about the benefit. They consistently and continuously ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?”

A specific call to action, and creating a sense of urgency helps too. It seems most of us are basic procrastinators. If you don’t tell us what to do, and you don’t make us believe we need to do it today (with specials, limited-time or quantity discounts, etc.) we probably won’t do anything at all.

And by the way, a P.S. increases response rates too. It’s the second most-read line in your direct response copy. It should restate your main benefits, call to action and special offer.

Generate Masses of Leads with a Small Business Web Site

But direct response isn’t the only effective way to reach clients affordably. It may be the best way to reach potential clients on a one-on-one basis, but did you know a small business web site is one of the best ways to reach masses of potential clients?

Affordable? That depends. Some small business owners I know personally have paid lots of $$ for their web site. It may be a mistake to pay big bucks for a small business web site when a simple 5 page static site will do. After all, it’s not the design that produces results but rather the copywriting.

Copy for your web site follows the same basic rules as direct response copywriting, but with a few important differences:

  • web site copy is shorter because internet readers are generally impatient
  • include lots of free information because readers are searching for information
  • avoid the hard sell–it doesn’t work online
  • write with your readers in mind, but take search engines into account as well
  • include a way to capture email addresses as lead generation

Effective? That depends too. A web site is only effective if it can be found. And to make sure it’s found you need to know a little about search engine marketing (SEM). A good discussion about SEM is beyond the scope of this short article. But, here’s a few tips:

  • write web site copy around keywords, including headings and titles
  • promote your web site online by publishing articles, joining forums, and listing in business directories
  • try Google AdWords
  • promote your web site offline
  • content, content and even more content
  • update content often

Increase Their Interest Level with Direct Response Pointing to Your Web Site

So, direct response generates leads one-to-one, and a web site reaches the masses. What if you combine them?

Direct response and web sites work very well together to generate leads and close sales. You could create your direct response with a call to action to visit your web site rather than asking directly for a purchase. Your web site includes copy that is different from, but related to your direct response package.

Your web site call to action could be any of a number of things. You could use it simply to generate more leads through capturing email addresses. Or you could be the “information guru” on some subject your direct mail recipients would be interested in. Or your web site call to action could be directly asking for sales.

The point is that the purpose of both is to generate leads and to have some way to convert those leads to sales. There are many different ways to close sales. Follow up brochures can be very effective for instance. But possibly using both direct response and your web site solely to generate leads is less effective than using one to supplement the other as a sales tool.

Small Business Lead Generation – Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Small business lead generation using pay-per-click ads can be very challenging. In fact, paying for leads can either make you really rich or drive you out of business. Google makes a ton of money every year from pay-per-click ads. Most of the money that they make from these ads did not generate a single bit of additional revenue to the companies or entrepreneurs who purchased them. However, there are a few people out in the business world who pay a little bit of money to Google and generate millions of dollars in return. They don’t generate this type of income by accident. These entrepreneurs just have a better strategy than the ones who end up losing money on pay-per-click ads.

How to Lose Money in Pay-Per-Click Ads

The Uninformed Entrepreneur says, “I am not making money from my website because no one is coming to my website, so I will invest in pay-per-click ads and that will make me money.” No, that will cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars every week with very little, if any, return on your investment. Effective advertising leverages or magnifies the return that you are already getting from your current sales channels. If your website is not generating leads or business for you before you invest in advertising, then you will be magnifying a zero return. 300% of zero is still zero.

Most people use pay-per-click ads as the starting point, and when they do, they will almost always lose money. They are betting their business capital on an untested experiment. It would be like buying a thoroughbred and running down to the racetrack and betting a bunch of money on your horse’s first race. Yes, you would know your horse, but your horse is untested against other horses. However, if your horse wins his first three races, you might want to invest a little in his fourth one.

Your website is the same way. Develop your website to where you are generating leads and sales from those leads. Then, one you have a track record of success, invest in pay-per-click ads. Then you are betting on a sure thing.

How to Generate Lots of Revenue from Pay-Per-Click Advertising

The Informed Entrepreneur says, “I have finally got my business generating new leads from the internet, and now I want to leverage the success that I am currently getting.” Now you can make an informed budget for your pay-per-click advertising.

Here is a highly simplified example. If you are generating 10 leads per week from your website, and you are averaging closing one of those leads for $100 in revenue and $25 in profit, then you could only afford to pay $2.50 per lead to break even. Remember that just because someone clicks your pay-per-click link, does not mean that they will contact you and become a lead. If you have a fantastic website, you might be able to turn one out of every ten clicks into leads, so you could pay no more than $.25 per click to just break even. So pay-per-click won’t yet work for you yet. You would need to increase the revenue per customer, or the profit margin, or the closing ratio (or all three) to make pay-per-click more cost effective for you.

If you invest in an email follow up system and generate the same 10 leads per week, this time you might turn three of those leads into customers. Since you are now able to build a longer term relationship with your leads, you might be able to bundle a few of your products together and generate a higher revenue per sale and increase your average sale to $300. By doing all of this, your cost per lead goes down dramatically. Now for every sale you are generating $100 in profit. With three sales out of ten leads, you generate a total of $300 in profit. You can now afford to pay $30 per lead, so with the same ten clicks turning into one lead, you could afford to pay up to $3 for each click. If you can get quality clicks for just $1 each, you will triple your pay-per-click investment.

So forget the cold calls and spam, use your website to get more leads to call you, and then use pay-per-click to leverage your success, and you will generate great success through small business lead generation.

Writing Pay-Per-Click Ads that Lead to Sales

Once you have a great site and follow up system set up, now you can in some ads. Remember that the goal is NOT to get people to click your ad. The goal is to get people who will buy something from you to click your ad. For instance, if I put “One out of every 100 who click this link will get $1000,” I’d get a LOT of clicks. However, none of them would buy anything from me, so I’d just lose a lot of money. Or, if I am a local dentist in Frisco, Texas, and I place an ad that says, “Free Teeth Whitening Tips,” I’ll also get a lot of clicks, but very few sales. Most of the people who click will just want the free tips, and very few of them will be in my local neighborhood. A better ad would say something like, “Frisco, TX Dentist – Free teeth cleaning with your first whitening treatment.” If you don’t want to go to a dentist in Frisco, TX, you are less likely to click that link. People who do click the link are probably pretty good prospects for you.

You will always have numb-skulls who click your links even though they don’t need or want anything that you are promoting, but you’ll have fewer people click your paid-for links who are looking for something different than what you are offering.

So if you want to generate small business leads using pay-per-click, make your website and follow up system solid first, then use effective ads to target the specific market who will buy your services.

Website Design Tips – A Small Business Road-Map to More Online Leads

Designing a website when you’re a small business is different than what a Fortune 500 company would do. While large companies may have the nationwide brand recognition and many people linking to their site, you probably do not. This poses a challenge in ensuring that visitors to your site are well informed, they are directed to what they need to see on your site, they can easily subscribe to your site, and they leave with the impression of a very professional company As a small business owner myself and a website designer, I’ve compiled the following critical tips on designing your website.

Overall Design

– Clean
– Uncluttered
– Light-weight

The overall design of your site should be clean, uncluttered, and light-weight. By clean I mean that it should be a more simple design as opposed to lots of shapes, contrasting colors, and unreadable fonts. You can still have a very unique design but your customers will thank you for keeping it clean. This also leads into keeping it uncluttered. Have only the essential links, pictures, and widgets on your web page. The days of providing a real service by having the local weather or a dancing baby on your home page are over. Keeping your page uncluttered will let visitors focus on what is really important. If you have too much for one page, split it into two pages and use a call to action in the original page to direct the visitor. You also must keep your design light-weight as in smaller pictures, no crazy flash/animation, and use of background colors as opposed to images. This will ensure your web page loads quickly on a visitors browser and will make it much more accessible.

Content – Content Formatting

– Quality, Original Content
– Direct and to the point
– Small paragraphs for easy reading
– Easy reading font
– Font to background color contrast

Content is critical for a small business. Your web design must account for showcasing your content and providing good content for search engines like Google. This will definitely help with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ensure that your content is original quality content that doesn’t have too much fluff and gets to the point. I have been to websites before where after a couple of minutes of reading, I still don’t know what they do. Be direct and your visitors will thank you!

For formatting your content, you need to ensure that you have at least a 12 point font, which isn’t a crazy unreadable font. Stick with the basic fonts for your main content. Color is important so make sure that the contrast between your text and the background doesn’t make it unreadable. You don’t want too similar of colors so it’s hard to read and you don’t want a contrast that hurts your eyes to read (i.e. neon green on a black background).

Call to Action

– Include on every page
– Ask for what you want
– Explain the benefits

If someone is coming to your website, make sure they do what you want them to do. Many small business websites forget about asking the customer to buy a product, sign up for their list or whatever else you want them to do on your site. Be specific and include a call to action on all of your pages. If I want you to sign up for my newsletter so I can provide you with information and market my products to you, I need to sell you the benefits of being on my list. My call to action might be “Sign-up Today!” after explaining the benefits. If you don’t ask them or get them to take action, many times they won’t.

Capture Leads

– Capture an email address
– Entice with free products
– Low barrier to entry

If someone is visiting your website, you need to capture their information. They are obviously on your website for a reason and you need to give them the opportunity to learn more by capturing their information. Good website design for your small business should account for how you will capture their lead information. I like to make it a low barrier for entry for my visitors. You sign-up for my newsletter by providing me with just your email address in the side bar or the hover page that I display after you’ve been on my site for 7 seconds. I sell the benefits of getting free information and I make it easy. I will also offer a free product like a free report but I make the barrier to entry a little higher. If you want my free report, in addition to your email address you will also have to provide me with your name and phone number. Guess what makes great leads to call on?

There are many aspects to great website design for small businesses and I’ve really only scratched the surface. I suggest doing a lot of research on the subject so you can end up with an online presence that sets you apart from other businesses in your industry. There are many professionals that do a great job with the design and professionals that do a great job with the optimization and lead capture. Not many do both so make sure you do your homework.

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