Everybody wants to get new clients using the internet. It’s easy to feel like there’s a vast pool of customers out there who would jump on the chance to call you if only they knew you existed. Here are four ways you can leverage the internet to get new clients.
A few weeks back I wrote about online leads for law firms, and was probably a little harsh. There are certainly legitimate clients that can come from internet leads and this shouldn’t be discounted. Back in my days as an insurance agent I knew several agencies which used leads exclusively. Similarly, there are certainly law firms and other professionals who make great use of internet leads. The question is – how to do it effectively.
The key to leads is finding your competitive niche. Remember that the people who become “leads” are getting calls from multiple firms, all looking to “close the sale.” They will hear about the different options and you need to stand out. As an example, the most successful insurance agent I knew bought leads for only the product that he was most competitive with. He knew that his quote would beat everybody else’s quotes and he could talk the client into doing the rest with him.
If you want to use leads, figure out what will set you apart, and have a good quick response time.
The benefit to using internet leads is that you gain potential clients very quickly. The downside is that you have to reach out to them in a competitive sales call.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process of making your website more relevant, so that as people search for topics related to your business your site shows up more often and higher up on the results. There may be stiff competition to gain the best rankings on Google for the search terms you prefer. For example, I spoke with a Google representative who told me that if you want to compete online in insurance you had better be prepared to spend a lot of money, since it’s the most competitive industry and keyword in Google right now.
One way that the major search engines have changed to help small and medium sized firms is to allow for “Local SEO.” You’ve probably noticed before that when you search for a certain type of business or professional you often get a map with place markers indicating nearby businesses. Ranking locally for your profession can be much easier than trying to rank nationally.
SEO requires ongoing effort for ongoing results. The benefit to using SEO to promote your company is that the clients come to you. The only sales you have to do is on your website – making yourself look professional and appealing. Other benefits are that you can get results on a limited budget, plus you can compete with large companies by using local SEO. The downside of SEO is that it can take many months to see results.
Placing advertisements online allows your company to be seen immediately as people make relevant searches. Many inexperienced internet users will click the first link that shows up when they make a search. So if, for example, your ad is the first thing they see when they search for “personal injury attorney” then they’ll click it, which brings them to your website.
Most search engines place ads at the very top of the search results. This makes sense since advertising is their main source of income. Buying that space can seem cheap – perhaps only a dollar or two per “click” or a few cents per “view.” Use caution, however, since a poorly organized ad campaign can drain your bank account in a matter of hours.
The benefit of online ads is quick results and an ability to set a budget. The downside is that as soon as you stop paying, you get zero results – and it will cost you a lot to compete with the big firms.
Finally, social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ can be a positive resource for clients. An effective social media campaign will place your brand frequently in front of your potential customers. While results aren’t often quick or abundant, you can see new clients coming in years after your initial marketing effort. If you have a large pool of “fans” or “followers” you can expect a steady trickle of clients who will think of you first when they find themselves in need.
Some social media outlets allow for advertising, but in general this is more costly than it’s worth. Recent news articles have revealed how many large companies using Facebook have lost money by advertising there. Perhaps the problem is the average Facebook user is simply too used to tuning out the ads.
The biggest benefit to using social media is that it may be cheap or free to manage. A savvy member of your staff can be responsible for regular updates and managing simple contests and interactions to attract users. As always, companies should be aware of the ethical and legal implications of using social media.
Summing it up
In general, quick but expensive results come from online ads, and internet leads. SEO takes longer, but can provide a lot of customers for potentially less money. Social Media can provide a long lasting trickle of clients when managed properly.