With Examples From Financial Lead Generation
The fortunes that can be made online are alluring. Many, many people have tried and sadly failed to make money online. Many of these were simply unprepared - an online business is just as likely to fail as an offline one in the first couple of years. It’s important to go into your first online venture with a good understanding of the challenges. Once these challenges have been met you are one step on the road to success online.
1. Naming Your Business
This might seem the most trivial step involved. Perhaps you already have a ‘pretty neat’ name that you, your family and all your friends absolutely love. In the offline world this might be fine - go get your sign ordered and get cracking.
Online you’ll have to think about what domain names go well with that brand as well as whether those will be optimal for search engines. At the moment most search engines give a significant boost to domains that have your main keywords as part of the domain name. So a brand such as ‘Avertio’ would initially be harder by some amount to get near the top of the results than ‘financeadvice.com’ would be for the phrase ‘finance advice.’
This becomes a bit of a game of long versus short term. In the short term it might be easier to rank one of the two domains but in the long run ‘Avertio’ might become a household name or the search engines might start to see your site as an authority site in the niche you are targeting which negates this disadvantage.
2. Developing & Hosting Your Site
This is the most important and perhaps the most challenging step. If your business requires lots of tools, calculators (for example mortgage repayment calculators) and interactive graphics then there will be no alternative but to hire a competent developer. Luckily if you know exactly what you need there are many suitable contractors overseas (particularly India) who can complete the work for a reasonable cost. Unless you have significant backing outsourcing parts of your site development like this will be important.
The look and feel of your site is crucial and is often best conducted with a small, local design firm if you are looking to control costs and have face to face or at least regular discussions in your local language about your design and the brand you are trying to convey. Make sure you avoid anyone who seems to host a huge number of extremely homogeneous sites that clearly are the result of excessive template use. Look for someone who can do something for you that really stands out from the crowd - but is offering a service at a price you can afford. This step is important enough to spend a lot of time researching before you accept a bid for the work.
Make sure the hosting package you select is scalable as your business grows. A VPS deal from Hostgator for example allows you to simply increase the power of your package as your business requires it whilst keeping your costs extremely low to start with.
3. Developing Content Your Customers Love
This heading can stand alone as singly the most important part of your strategy as you launch an online business. Particularly if you operate in a less exciting niche such as finance, providing content that users share instead of just consume and forget will give you that extra little bit of exposure that is so important for new sites. Your first e-mail newsletter should be something people might share like “10 Predictions For House Prices In 2013” is much more likely to get forwarded to other landlords than “Yields Move From 6.74% to 6.87% In London This Year”.
Having a large number of regularly posted articles which contain a huge amount of useful information to your readers not only keeps them coming back and recommending your site to others but starts to make your site an authority in the niche. More and more long tail search terms will find their answer on your site.
4. Attracting Traffic To Your Site
In many areas this is difficult to do right off the bat. If you could only make a business out of cute cat videos (maybe you can? - have a think) then getting shares and social excitement about your site would be easy. Unfortunately you might be an expert in finance or accountancy and looking to generate leads in those areas to sell to advisers or accountants. Since there isn’t much interest online for cute accountant videos you will have to be a lot more creative.
I’d say first that by developing compelling content you will gain a lot of exposure on the search engines as time goes by. As a new business you will want to make things move a little more quickly and may look at hiring some search engine optimization firms. SEO is seen by many who are new to selling online as a bit of a dark art. Someone in India promises you ten thousand links and before you know it your site isn’t even listed on Google anymore because the spam was caught. Find a reputable digital marketing and SEO firm that talks to you about your customers, outreach to other interested sites with high quality content to obtain links, viral marketing (if your sector is appropriate) and avoid any firms that talk about guarantees, magic and number one listings in a week.
There are a lot of steps you can take yourself to increase traffic to your site. Offer to guest post on other sites in your niche - particularly if you are a known offline expert. An eye doctor might find some medical blogs are delighted to link to his surgery in exchange for some great, unique content. Becoming involved in communities is a great step. Forums, discussion boards, groups, and social networks all allow you the opportunity to communicate with people who are interested in similar products and services to the ones you are offering. Establishing yourself (without doing any aggressive promotion early on which will put people off) in these communities will have huge long term benefits as readers appreciate your input to their discussions and want to find out more about you from your site.
5. Don’t Get Ripped Off Along The Way
The Internet is a great shield of anonymity behind which many fraudsters lie. Treat every new contract, every new offer with the same skepticism as you would treat it from a stranger on the high street.
Think carefully before you believe those ‘too good to be true’ stories of easy number ones on search engines without the need for good content or any effort on your part. Don’t pick a cheap designer just because you would like to spend less money only to find your site looks pretty boring and doesn’t work very well on mobile devices.
If you’re going to be getting commission or selling leads for a share of the profit make sure you compare programs. A low converting program or partner who pays 50% might be worth way less than a high converting program that only pays 20% share to you. Make sure you keep a close eye on exactly what business you are sending and where it’s going - if something doesn’t look right to you, find out what’s going on. Never be afraid to ask questions of anyone you’re working with. You would do it in the offline world, and with nothing to hide they will have no problems putting your mind at ease.