If you are in the business of selling online, then you are in the business of building an opt-in list and remarketing. Many website owners find that collecting opt-in subscribers is extremely expensive and involves running advertising or renting e-mail lists.
These methods can be effective – especially if you happen to sell high-end products with a very limited market size. But regardless of your organization’s size or the cost of your products, finding more cost-effective ways of generating leads is extremely important. For many website owners, providing free information products is an excellent way of improving opt-in subscription ROI.
Teach Them And They Will Come
The single most popular commodity on the Internet is information. People are starving for it. In fact, information is so important to many people that they spend an enormous amount of time educating themselves online so they can stay informed. Many view this form of continuous education as a competitive advantage they have over their peers, and feel that without it, their careers would suffer.
Here’s an example: A CEO schedules a meeting with his technical staff to talk about installing a Voice over IP (VoIP) system in the office. Because he likes to do his homework, the CEO spends an hour or so preparing for the meeting by doing some quick research on the Internet. He searches for “VoIP” on Google, and finds a ton of information about the different types of technologies. With this information he can develop a game plan for his meeting.
The company (and website) that does the best job of educating him about VoIP stands a very good chance of getting an opportunity to bid on the project when it gets approved.
In this case, the website doesn’t just create a lead for the VoIP company. It actually does something more important – it teaches the prospect to value the unique selling points of the company that provided the educational material. And in the case above, it actually influenced how the project was going to be presented to the prospect’s management team.
Later that week, when a competing company calls on the prospect to try to get an appointment, the CEO will be prejudiced against their solution because it does not possess the qualities he has learned to value from the first company.
Understanding this dynamic is crucial to building your opt-in list, and it should go a long way in determining your overall online strategy.
Effective Methods to Teach Online
Depending on your industry, there are a number of ways you can effectively teach online. Following are a few rapid-fire methods we have used in the past that brought great results.
White Papers – Inexpensive to produce and with an established distribution system on the Internet, white papers are a great way to get the word out about your organization’s products. These types of publications are primarily used in more technical industries such as software, hardware, medical, and engineering. A couple of distribution channels are: www.bitpipe.com and www.knowledgestorm.com, but you can also distribute them on your website.
Video Tutorials – An emerging method of teaching, video streaming allows organizations to not only teach a prospect about the industry, but also to demonstrate their products. Currently, video tutorials are a favorite among computer software and hardware manufacturers, but their use is rapidly spreading to other areas such as marketing and healthcare. Video tutorials can be marketed through Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns on search engines as well as a number of new online video search services (Google has recently released a service here: http://video.google.com/).
EBooks – Because they are relatively inexpensive to produce, eBooks are a favorite form of lead generation for those website owners who have the talent or resources to write long-form text. Ebooks are generally viewed as more educational than white papers, and so may be viewed as a more valuable resource to some people. Ebooks do not need to be hundreds of pages long. In fact, most eBooks are between 50 and 100 pages, and can be promoted through dozens of online directories and distribution portals.
Web-based Tutorials – The most flexible method of delivering online content is on your website itself. Using this method, you create password-protected areas that require surfers to register in order to access your information product. The primary benefit of web-based content delivery is that the content can be easily updated at any time. Web-based tutorials are ideal for industries and topics that change often, or where the product itself is delivered via the website. Web-based tutorials can be promoted on your website, through PPC ads, and via your corporate newsletter.
If you are in the business of selling products or services online, then it could actually be said that you are also in the business of educating your market. When it comes to your industry, you are the expert. Your prospects are the students, and they have a vested interest in understanding as much as they can about how they can use your products and services to improve their businesses.
The companies that build their opt-in lists fastest are usually the ones that do the best job of educating their prospects about their industry. By following this method, you gain a valuable database of leads, and the prospect base learns everything they need to know to be able to purchase your products confidently.