Small businesses thrive on fresh leads. If you’re not constantly working to grow your customer base, your business will start to decline. Savvy entrepreneurs use a variety of lead-generating ideas to keep new prospects coming in. One of those tools should be Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards.

This online advertising tools can generate a list of new contacts to keep your business growing. Lead generation cards are fairly new, so we’ve created a start-to-finish guide that covers everything you should know to create your first card.

What is a Twitter Lead Generation Card?

A lead generation card is a form of advertising that’s specific to Twitter. It’s a promotional tweet that encourages the Twittersphere to share their contact information with you. And users never have to leave Twitter to do it.

Here’s what it looks like in a Twitter feed:

An example of a Lead Generation Card on Twitter.

An example of a Lead Generation Card on Twitter.

It looks a lot like a normal tweet, but it includes a promotional offer, an image, and a call to action. When a user clicks on the “Join the Club!” button, a small, pre-populated form appears. The form has the customer’s Twitter handle and email address listed. All the user has to do is submit the information. You get the contact information of every person who takes advantage of the deal.

What kind of business should use these cards?

Twitter Lead Generation Cards are one of many online advertising tools, so how do you know if it’s a good fit for your business? Take a look at the checklist below. Lead generation cards can:

  • Generate qualified leads. If you’re looking to grow your pool of customers, clients, or members, lead generation cards can help. In business, it’s tough to find prospective customers, let alone interested ones. By using lead generation cards, you’re collecting a list of people that are actively asking for more information about your business. A list like that is worth your time.
  • Build an email list. You can use that list of contacts to build an email marketing strategy. If you’re not already emailing your customers, you should give it a try. Email marketing is affordable and can boost sales with a minimal investment.
  • Optimize your promotions and discounts. Lead generation cards have a discount, promotion, or some sort of an incentive to get people to offer up their information. You’ll be able to see what kinds of offers are popular with your audience and track their usage.
  • Reach a bigger audience. If you want to reach an audience that goes beyond your already established followers, lead generation cards can help here too. As you create your campaign, you’ll decide whom to target.
  • Provide an affordable advertising option. Lead generation cards are a budget-friendly advertising option, which is appealing to many small businesses.

How do I set up a Twitter Lead Generation Card?

Here’s how to set up your lead generation card:

1. Set up a collection point

Where do you want the list of contacts that you collect to go? You have to set up a collection spot. The low-tech option is to download a spreadsheet from Twitter. Or, you can use one of about a dozen online tools that Twitter works with to access the data.

2. Set up an account

You’ll need a Twitter Ads account. You can do that here. After signing in, you can select from a list of objectives. You’ll select Leads on Twitter.

3. Create a card

Next, you’ll set up the Twitter card that your audience will see. Here’s what you’ll fill in:

  • Campaign name. This is for your use only. Think of it as a file name. Your customers won’t see it.
  • Timeframe. You’ll decide when you want the ad to run. You’ll set start and end dates. Tip: You might want to set your start time between 1-3pm on a weekday. Statistics show that’s the busiest time on Twitter.
  • Tweet. As usual, you have 140 characters to get your message out there. Make them count. With an ad like this, you’ll want to include a promotion, discount, or downloadable content in exchange for information. Tip: Try asking a question. Your tweet could read, “Want to save 10% off your next purchase? Sign up now and we’ll email you a coupon.” Or, “Ready for summer? Sign up for a free eBook to learn how to protect your skin.”
  • Image. You don’t have to upload an image, but you should. Tweets with images are more captivating. Tip: If you don’t have an image handy, visit a stock site like Shutterstock and pay a few bucks for one. Minimum size is 600 pixels wide.
  • Call to action. You decide what your call to action button says. Make it short and use active language.
  • Link to privacy policy. You’ll need to supply a link that explains your privacy policy.

4. Decide who sees your card

Now it’s time to select the audience that you want to see your card. You can fill in a series of boxes to target specific groups. Twitter allows you to segment groups by country, city, and zip code. You can target groups based on gender, language, keywords, interests, even by phone carrier if you want.

5. Set your budget

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all budget. You’ll need to decide what kind of money you’re willing to spend. Set your budget on the low side, watch your metrics, and see how many views it gets. Make small adjustments to increase your audience size as needed.

6. Watch and learn

Your first lead generation card will be a learning experience. Twitter gives you access to some great metrics on your dashboard, so you’ll want to check them out. See how your card is performing and make changes if needed.

You don’t want to change everything at once, otherwise you won’t know what works and what doesn’t. However, you can change the promotion, beef up the text, or change your budget. Make the best decision you can based on the analytics you have.

Remember—you might not gain a large number of contacts, but rather highly qualified contacts.

How should I follow up with my new leads?

Now that you have a whole list of new leads, it’s time to reach out to them. Don’t leave them hanging. Your first communication should be to email the deal or incentive that you offered in your ad.

After that, you should follow up again within a day or so. You want to strike while your business or product is still fresh in their mind.

Send emails

You’ve just collected a bunch of new contacts that are interested in your business, so you don’t want to stop with one email offer. You should consider sending several emails from this list:

  • Welcome email. Create a special email that welcomes the contact to your email list. In a few words, explain what they can look forward to in future emails.
  • “Did you know” email. With a new contact, you should create an email that gives the recipient information that they may not know about your business. Frame the email in a “Did You Know?” format so it doesn’t seem like you’re bragging.
  • Newsletter. Sending a newsletter that’s specifically designed for new contacts is another great way to build a relationship. In this newsletter you can thank them for signing up via Twitter and then offer three to four different pieces of information about your business or product. Content could include a brief history lesson, an events calendar, or links to blog posts about your business.
  • Promotional email. Once you have established a relationship with your new contacts, you can start sending promotional emails too.

Follow contacts on Twitter

Use your new list of Twitter handles to grow your social audience. Pop each name into the search bar on Twitter and follow each of your new leads. You can take this one step further. Once the contact follows you back, you can send a private message to start building a relationship.

Lead generation cards are another marketing tool that you can add to your toolbox. They’re simple to set up, affordable, and provide useful leads. Plus, they’re a good starter tool for entrepreneurs looking to advertise online.

Once you set up a lead generation card, we’d love to hear about your experience. Please stop back and share your thoughts with other entrepreneurs in the comment section below.

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Lisa Furgison
Lisa Furgison

Lisa Furgison is a journalist with a decade of experience in all facets of media.