The increasing popularity of social channels has directly attributed to information abundance. Through social networks, buyers have been able to research and learn about products and services through influencers and peers.  Additionally, a profound shift has taken place within social media channels. Although social is still important for branding and generating buzz, lead generation is becoming more and more important. By tapping into all the social media channels, from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and Google+, you can be where your customers are and create that trust.

Clearly, there has been a huge change in the traditional buying process.  In fact, according to Forrester, buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their buying journey before they even reach the vendor. The reason this is happening more and more is because buyers have so much access to information that they can delay talking to sales until they are experts themselves.

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Identifying consumers that would have an interest in what you offer is important. They have the potential to become customers for your business or service. As you find people that would find value in your product, or service is one thing, obtaining their contact information is the next. It helps to accomplish this when you offer something in exchange for it, something that would benefit them. It might involve coupons, free trials, job applications, online content, or blogs.

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Cost per click advertising (e.g. AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing) overcomes this problem by charging advertisers only when the consumer clicks on the advertisement. However, due to increased competition, search keywords have become very expensive. A 2007 Doubleclick Performics Search trends report shows that there were nearly six times as many keywords with a cost per click (CPC) of more than $1 in January 2007 than the prior year. The cost per keyword increased by 33% and the cost per click rose by as much as 55%.

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We discuss the use of gym sign spinners in another blog post, but it’s a great way to generate leads. If there’s one thing that’s great about sign spinners, it’s that they get a LOT of eye traffic. Just think about the last time you saw a sign spinner. You probably remember EXACTLY where you were at when you said to the kids in the car, “Kids, look at him spinning that sign over by the stoplight.” You also probably remember the business he/she was promoting. Put your gym logo on the sign and get that spinner out there! Better yet, put your FitnessTexter texting code on your sign. That way, if people are stuck at a light, they can text your code for your free week pass and you’ll get an email lead notification. If you’re not a fan of using a sign spinner, sit down with your marketing team and try to think of creative ways to get the word out about your business. You could be the best gym in your entire city, but if no one knows about you, it doesn’t do anyone any good. Time to brainstorm!

Because prospective buyers won’t always end up at your website as they start their purchase journey, it’s important that you establish a presence where they may show up. A great way to deliver high-value content to the correct prospects is through content syndication – a content sharing strategy that can be used to promote your whitepapers, articles, news releases, etc. on other websites for greater reach and engagement. Through content syndication, your content appears on third-party sites and newsletters. And because most content syndicators deliver leads directly to your inbox, it’s a great way to keep leads coming in the door.
Cost per acquisition advertising (e.g. TalkLocal, Thumbtack) addresses the risk of CPM and CPC advertising by charging only by the lead. Like CPC, the price per lead can be bid up by demand. Also, like CPC, there are ways in which providers can commit fraud by manufacturing leads or blending one source of lead with another (example: search-driven leads with co-registration leads) to generate higher profits. For such marketers looking to pay only for specific actions/acquisition, there are two options: CPL advertising (or online lead generation) and CPA advertising (also referred to as affiliate marketing). In CPL campaigns, advertisers pay for an interested lead — i.e. the contact information of a person interested in the advertiser's product or service. CPL campaigns are suitable for brand marketers and direct response marketers looking to engage consumers at multiple touchpoints — by building a newsletter list, community site, reward program or member acquisition program. In CPA campaigns, the advertiser typically pays for a completed sale involving a credit card transaction.

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