How to Generate New Membership Leads Using Modern Lead Generation Methods
Last week we talked about the importance of using a variety of tactics to generate a constant stream of high quality, qualified membership leads. We discussed specifically the traditional lead generation methods membership organisations and charities can use to create this stream.
These traditional methods included:
- Direct Mail
This week I wanted to go through some of the more modern marketing methods and platforms available to membership organisations, and how you can take advantage of them to reach more potential members.
These ‘modern’ techniques all revolve around your website. We’ve not included a website in the list below, as it’s not really an optional extra anymore. Any organisation wishing to remain competitive in 2014 must have a website that is not only full of rich, unique, interesting content, it must be dynamic, responsive (mobile friendly), and integrated into your back office systems (such as your CRM, membership solution, ERP or finance solution).
You’d be hard pushed to find a lead who had contacted your organisation without first visiting your website. Even those from personal referrals will no doubt visit your site before making contact with you. Therefore it’s vital that it portrays the image and messaging that you want new and existing members to see.
So, what tools can you use to help promote your online message?
Social media has exploded into our lives like no other medium has before (not including the Internet overall obviously!). Most people got to grips with social media through the early channels like MySpace and Facebook. Then along came LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Bebo, Tumblr and more.
It can be confusing to know what platforms you should focus on and which ones you should leave alone. There’s no hard and fast answer, but generally Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are good platforms to consider, as well as LinkedIn for your more corporate messages.
- Facebook is great for nurturing a community, and providing a place to host photos, alerts and news.
- Twitter is good for sharing information that relates to your organisation, but also to the wider industry. It’s fantastic for promoting content generated by your network of champions (see this whitepaper on converting members into champions).
- Google+ is an important platform to consider using. Similar to Facebook in terms of building an online community, it’s also important as it holds a lot of weight in with Google (funny that!) and since 80% of people use Google as their primary search engine, it makes sense to start using the social network that Google own.
- LinkedIn is probably the tool that will generate the most leads. Where the others are great for communication and brand development, LinkedIn has the potential to drive new enquiries to your association.
- Mike Volpe, CMO of HubSpot said: "Our customer research showed that traffic from LinkedIn generated the highest visitor to lead conversion rate (2.7%), almost three times higher than Twitter (0.69%) and Facebook (0.77%). First and foremost, LinkedIn has a high percentage of professionals, so the likelihood, especially for B2B marketers, that you're dealing with people in your target audience is higher than some other channels," he says. "Moreover, LinkedIn Groups are organized around the concerns and challenges faced by many buyers and/or their geographic location and profession, so LinkedIn makes it easy to view and contextualize what your potential buyers are talking about and tailor content on your LinkedIn Company pages accordingly."
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is a two sided coin – on one side you have your website (on-page SEO), and the other side is your website’s presence in the search engines (off-page SEO).
So you must make sure that your website is as search engine friendly as possible. This means building it with best practice codes and principles, and making sure it’s user friendly, without error or bugs, loads quickly and provides your visitors with what they’re looking for.
On the flip side of the coin is the off-page SEO. This relates to the number and quality of links pointing to your site, the mentions and overall activity you have in the social platforms. This is a very broad summary of SEO – it’s a hugely in-depth subject, which changes all the time. But there’s lots of help out there for people who want to learn. We suggest reading this fantastic article from MOZ: http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo.
The important thing to remember about SEO is that it largely related to content. You must have a a wide range of content on your website – content that visitors will benefit from. So think about blog posts, infographics, ebooks, whitepapers, videos, case studies, brochures and more.
Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)
This relates to any online advertising that you may carry out. Be it Google AdWords, LinkedIn ads, Facebook ads, Bing Ads or banner ads on another website itself. PPC generally means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, although you there are sometimes options where you pay per set number of impressions, i.e. you pay once your ad has been displayed 1000 times.
Not all PPC ads are as effective as others. It may be worth testing a variety out to see which generate the highest quality results.
The one great thing about PPC is the amount of statistics you can get relating to your advert performance. You can generally see quite quickly what’s working and what’s not, and tailor your targeting and spend accordingly.
Adverts on the search engines, like Google ads and Bing ads are generally most effective, because they target users as and when they’re searching for you directly. Your ad only shows when someone types a keyword in that you’re bidding on. For more information on how membership organisations can make the most of Google AdWords, read this blog post: Take Advantage of Google AdWords to Boost Membership Acquisition.
Email marketing is a fantastic way of getting your message directly to the people you’re targeting. However it’s important that it’s carried out in a way that isn’t intrusive or spammy.
You should have an email marketing tool that integrates directly with your CRM or membership solution. That way you can filter all your prospects into targeted lists and create email marketing campaigns that are specifically targeted towards them, with content that they’ll find interesting and useful.
By using a proper email marketing tool (as opposed to Outlook), you’ll be able to track and measure your results and use this data to identify prospects that are on the verge of applying. You can then help nurture these leads to ensure they convert into a sale.
The key message from this post is that it’s unlikely you can do all of this unless you’re organised and have systems in place to support you. From there it’s a case of testing different methods and different messages to see what works with your target audience. Not everything will resonate with your target members, but by trying a wide range of lead generation methods, you’re ensuring you target as many potential members as possible.