For most business professionals the business climate has changed dramatically. In an e-commerce environment the focus or goal of a Web site is encouraging the site visitor to buy something. The second most critical objective is to capture the contact information from a visitor so that a pipeline of prospects can be developed. This leads arising from the Web will still need to be worked effectively to get to our primary focus of getting our customer to buy something.
Building a pipeline begins with attaining both a phone number and an e-mail address from someone. If you have a traditional direct mail program in place, then a street address is vital as well. While direct mail can still be of value, e-mails can be powerful, better targeted and less expensive. For example, by grouping your prospect base into categories. For example if you are in real estate this categories would be single family vs. condo buyers or buyers vs. sellers. You can send out e-mails that are tightly aligned with someone’s interests. You will experience a much better response rate by segmenting in this manner.

Here are a few more ideas to boost the effectiveness of your Web site/online lead generation efforts.

1. Take advantage of the two main opportunities on search engines: search engine optimization or (SEO) and search engine marketing. SEO, also known as organic or natural search is the process by which a web site is designed to be aligned with the algorithms of the search engines. Key ingredients include quality content, search engine friendly architecture and effective linking strategies. Each major search engine has a paid component to its search results as well. This involves paying for site visitors on a “per click” basis. There are a series of variables that need to be considered when starting a campaign. These include keyword selection, geography (where in the world do you want your listing to show up) and bid strategy (how aggressive do you want to be? What is your budget? etc.).

2. Keep the content on your site fresh and accurate. For example, it’s a big turn-off to arrive at a site with inaccurate information or links that don’t work. Create a compelling reason for someone to come back to your site and search for your products and services.

3. Honor channel preference – By that I mean make it as easy for someone to contact you via e-mail as by telephone. Prompt follow-up is also critical. Make sure you get back to them before they have a chance to reach out to a competitor. And as already mentioned, get complete information from each person so that you can maintain multiple contact points with them.

4. Utilize a contact management program. There are a number of these programs on the market today that will allow you to keep in close contact with those who warrant it, schedule others for contact later on, and also parse the database for mailings (as described above).

5. Study competitor sites. Although most sites have similar attributes, especially ones that are template driven, others are unique with varying degrees of professionalism. While a template site is okay, it has limitations from both a design standpoint and from a search engine optimization perspective. Many businesses have sites through the companies that they are representing (Prudential, Century 21, etc.) and also have another site that allows greater flexibility and opportunity for differentiation.

6. IMPORTANT – If you send an e-mail to your database and you do it in one bulk e-mail, make sure that you blind copy (Blind CC) all of the recipients. I have received e-mails where the e-mail is sent to 200 + individuals who had requested to be on the mailing list. The person who sent it out didn’t Blind CC everyone, and the entire list saw each other’s names.
You may be out of controw as far as what happens to your industry and business levels but what remains in your control is the lead generation and follow-up process. Hard work, strong organizational skills and a willingness to embrace e-mail/the Internet, are important ingredients to attaining impressive results.