This mainly happens through digital channels, using inbound marketing techniques and a little bit of old-school outbound marketing (more on that in a minute). Buyers today do so much online information gathering on their own, they’re not so keen on listening to traditional sales pitches. Instead, companies have to meet prospective buyers on their own turf: the internet.
Developing a strong internet presence is a key part of lead generation. This is often accomplished using inbound marketing techniques like content marketing, website forms, and search engine optimization. These are topics unto themselves, but they boil down to using content that you publish to drive prospective customers back to your website. The digital age has made it easier for companies to research and understand their prospective leads. When you get a bead on what buyers want and need, you can tailor your online presence to better draw them in. From there, it’s important to develop and nurture relationships with them, which we’ll talk more about in a later section of this article.
How to Get It: Customer service is the biggest work-at-home field, with companies including Spiegel, Hilton, Best Western, HSN, 1-800-FLOWERS and many others using at-home reps. Fill out an application with staffing companies such as Arise, Alpine Access, VIPdesk, LiveOps, and Convergys, all of which vet the companies who are hiring through them. If you need benefits, search through a staffing company that will hire you as an employee (Alpine Access, VIPdesk and Convergys do this) rather than an independent contractor. If you're a contractor, you may be asked to pay a small fee (between $15 and $35) for a background check. While a fee can be a sign of a scam, independent contractors are responsible for their own expenses.
Do you constantly come up with witty one-liners? Do you dream of the days of Mad Men-style advertising? If you’ve got some branding chops or just come up with imaginative copy, there are lots of opportunities to make money online through company naming and slogan contests. If you think you have a knack for names check out the Squadhelp platform where you can earn a little extra money online by naming brands, services, products, company slogans and even help out on the logo design front if you’ve got the chops.
Social networks are a hot spot for work-at-home danger. One company called Easy Tweet Profits claims you can make up to $873/day online. They even claim one person earned $400,000/year using their method of tweeting your way to success. The catch? By signing up for their program you agree to be charged just under $50 per month! There are a whole host of other companies with similar names (usually involving “make money” or “make profits”) that suggest social networking can be a cash cow. But their game is all the same: Whether you’re talking about something you see on Craigslist, eBay, Facebook, Twitter or whatever’s the next hot thing, you’ve got to be wary.
How do you do that? You need to create interest by offering a relevant mix of informative and entertaining content that builds a meaningful relationship with your audience. And you have to make sure that you are distributing your content through all the right channels – where your buyer spends time. This section goes into a bit more detail on some of the common tactics for inbound lead generation.
Salespeople and marketers like to talk about the funnel. The funnel is a way of describing all of your business’ potential customers, and how some of them will evolve into actual customers. The top of the funnel (TOFU) is full of leads — potential customers, most of whom are just trying to find solutions to the problems they’re experiencing but who may not be ready to purchase right away. The goal is to help guide as many of those leads as possible through the middle of the funnel (MOFU), where there is more interest in your product or business, to the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), where fewer people remain, but they’re the ones who are ready to do business.
Have you heard of drop-shipping? It’s a method of retail where the seller doesn’t actually have a physical inventory. Instead, when a customer makes an order, you purchase the item from a third party, and they ship it directly to the customer. “This means you’ll never have to fork over a single dime to store your products or maintain your inventory,” advises International Living. “And you’ll never have to buy products in bulk, hoping to sell enough to recoup your investment.” This method can be done with online selling platforms like eBay or Amazon. You can find out more about drop-shipping in this helpful article from Shopify.
Your lead generation strategy needs to be as dynamic as the people you’re targeting. Trends change, behaviors shift, opinions morph … so should your lead gen marketing. Use A/B split testing to see what CTAs perform best, which landing pages convert better, and which copy captures your target audience. Experiment with layout changes, design, UX, content, and advertising channels until you find what works.
Double check yourself, before you double wreck yourself. Make sure everything you send to a company, whether a résumé, an email or a portfolio, is good to go. Double check your grammar and wording, and for God’s sake use spell check! This is especially important when it comes to the company’s name. Don’t spell their name wrong and be sure to type it how they type it (e.g. Problogger, not Pro Blogger).
No matter what method you choose to make money online, understand that you might be able to make some money fast, but for the sizable returns, you'll need significant sweat equity. However, a year from now, you'll be happy you started today. Remember, time is far more valuable than money. Focus on creating passive income streams that will free up your time so that you can quit the rat race and focus on the things that matter.
“Podcasting doesn’t have to be complicated,” says International Living. With a microphone, laptop and free recording software, you’ll be up and running. Plus, podcasts don’t need to run every day (once a week is best) and are better when they’re short. There are a number of ways to make money from a podcast. The most obvious is commercial sponsorship, but you can also use it as a platform to advertise your own products or services. NPR has a great guide to launching a podcast here.
You may think direct mail is a thing of the past. But it’s still effective for targeted communications. Consider a content asset developed for high-level executives. Executives don’t usually browse the web for information. And it can be hard to get through to them via email. That means they may not come across the content you’ve developed with them in mind. This is where direct mail can prove powerful. You could send a direct mail piece to this audience to make them aware of your new, targeted content asset. Direct mail also gives you a chance to grab the attention of a hot prospect by being creative and interesting with your message and presentation.