This is an overview of online lead generation and will serve as the introduction to a seven-part series about online lead generation. The information used in this series is the result of many conversations with a mentor of mine, Andrew Pawlak, who is an industry authority and CEO of leadPops, a cutting edge landing page solution.

I’m a firm believer that everyone should do sales, including cold calling, at some point of their career. Before the days of the Internet, cold calling and going door-to-door was a common practice for lead generation. Nowadays, not so much. The paradigm has shifted completely. Sure, many companies still pound the pavement in the traditional sense and it works out very well for them. Others strictly hang in the clouds of the internet while relying on their website and other forms of advertising to generate online leads for them. There is no right or wrong (debatable) way to go about lead generation. It really depends on your product offering, customer, etc.

When discussing lead generation, there are four parts to consider as a general overview: the purpose, the medium, the message, and the gathering. Below is a further explanation of each part:

Start with a purpose

When you are sitting around with colleagues and decide to launch an online lead generation campaign, there must be a purpose or you wouldn’t be in this situation. What are you looking to accomplish? Are you simply looking to build brand awareness which will hopefully funnel leads into your company’s pipeline? Let’s call these marketing leads. Or, are you looking to gather contact information on the spot so you have a prospect to call/email shortly after? I’ll refer to these as sales leads. Once you define the purpose, it’s time to think about the next step.

Determine the best medium

When delivering your message, it is essential to define the best medium to use to tap your potential customer on the head. With online lead generation, you have a plethora of options at your disposal. You can choose to use banner advertisements on another website, paid advertisements on Google (the ads highlighted in yellow on the top and right hand side of search results), social media (Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc.), or another medium you find fitting. The key is to select a medium that is relevant to where your potential customers reside, gather, and spend a significant amount of time. This becomes a hotbed to reach your potential customers and serves as the outermost part of your online lead generation funnel (also known as a sales funnel). If you aren’t sure what I mean by an online lead generation funnel, check out the article 5 Steps to Create your Sales Funnel by Scott Taback to help explain this concept further.

Perfect your message

Given the short period of time you have the attention of your potential customer, your message is mission critical. The language of your message depends entirely on the individuals you are prospecting. Put yourself in their shoes: do they wear construction boots, dress shoes or high heels? Are they single mothers, working-class white males, etc? Dig deep into the details of your potential customers so you can gain a better understanding of who they are. Then you are more capable of crafting a message that hits closer to home and taps into their emotion. If you weren’t aware, consumers make decisions based on emotion rather than logic. Numerous studies show it is programmed in the cingulate cortex which is the part of the brain that handles analytical and emotional responses. If the message is spot on, the emotion is triggered If they trust in the validity of your offering, they should be ready for the next part.

Gather the data

This is it. The moment of truth. Where all of the hard work, convincing and effort you put into funneling a prospective customer is put to the test. At this point, they have made it to your landing page so you are halfway to the victory. Will you win or will you lose? It’s a delicate process when deciding on how much information to gather. As a rule of thumb remember this: always ask for the minimum amount of information to properly qualify that individual as a lead. If that doesn’t make sense, think about this, studies show that by eliminating one unnecessary field from your lead capture form, you increase conversions by 50%. That is a huge increase! Although each industry will require different information to qualify a prospect, you should always remember that statistic in the back of your mind. Once you commit to the number of questions you are going to use and the types of questions you are going to ask, see how the how your efforts perform. At this point, you can analyze the results and make adjustments moving forward to help you increase the number of qualified leads you obtain through your efforts.

These four-parts serve as a broad overview and are a great starting point when approaching online lead generation for your business. As with all business decisions, you need to act with the end goal in mind as was discussed in part one. Then put the pieces in place to help you achieve that goal. To help you with this and to reach optimal results with your online efforts, I am going to be discussing seven flaws that exist in online lead generation. Each flaw will be discussed in its own weekly post and I’ll highlight both good and bad examples, ways to improve, and some case studies to help paint a clearer picture so you get the most out of your online lead generation efforts. Below you will find the seven flaws that will be discussed:

  1. A Weak Call-to-Action
  2. Going for the Jugular (Aka, asking for personal details too early)
  3. Fill in the Blanks
  4. Wrong number of Questions
  5. Scrolling
  6. Hidden Forms
  7. Too Much Information

I hope you enjoyed and tune in next week for the first flaw, a weak call-to-action. Special thanks to again to Andrew Pawlak. Please leave your comments and thoughts below. I love interaction!

AvatarMichael George Keating

Michael is an entrepreneur and Internet marketing mentor who specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), social media, web development, paid advertising and other areas of Internet marketing. He's had the pleasure of working with everything from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies in Southern California. Check out his tweets at @michaelgkeating and Internet marketing tips.