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The Only 29 Free SEO Tools You Need

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The Only 29 Free SEO Tools You Need

Looking for a list of free, useful SEO tools? Then look no further.

You don’t need every free SEO tool under the sun. You just need enough of them to cover your use cases.

After a few years in SEO and content marketing, I’ve found these free SEO tools are all you need.

Monitor your website’s SEO health, see who’s linking to your website, and learn what your website is ranking for on Google 

Except of AWT's page

Before you hire an interior designer to beautify your house, the foundation of your house needs to be rock-solid. The same goes for your website. Before you go about optimizing your website, you need to make sure its technical health is strong.

Run a comprehensive crawl of your website with Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT) to check for over 100 common SEO issues.

You’ll also be able to see who’s linking to your website and learn what keywords you’re currently ranking for.

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This tool doesn’t just tell you what problems your site has. It’ll also tell you why a particular thing is a problem and how you can fix it.

Page showing the issue and how to fix itPage showing the issue and how to fix it

See the top 100 keyword ideas for any seed keyword, as well as related search data

Ahrefs' free keyword generator toolAhrefs' free keyword generator tool

Our free keyword research tool shows you the top 100 keyword ideas for any keyword or phrase, plus the top 50 related questions. It also shows you important keyword data, such as search volume and keyword difficulty.

List of keyword ideas for "coffee"List of keyword ideas for "coffee"

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Besides Google, you can see keywords for other important search engines like YouTube, Bing, and Amazon. Just select the search engine you want data for:

Ahrefs' free keyword generator toolAhrefs' free keyword generator tool

Google’s keyword research tool

Google's GKP: table showing list of keywords with corresponding dataGoogle's GKP: table showing list of keywords with corresponding data

Designed for keyword research for Google Ads, Google Keyword Planner (GKP) is an invaluable tool in an SEO’s toolbox. This is mainly because the tool is from Google itself, and many SEOs believe its data is the most accurate.

But in our experiment, we found that GKP almost always overestimates “true” search volume and is only roughly accurate 45.22% of the time.

Another limitation is that GKP doesn’t show absolute search volumes—only a range (as you can see in the screenshot above). Nevertheless, it’s still a useful tool if you want to cover all your bases when it comes to keyword research.

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Most keyword research tools show you ideas based on the seed keyword you entered. For example, if you search for “coffee,” you’ll get ideas like “coffee bean,” “coffee near me,” “coffee shops,” “keurig coffee maker,” etc.

GKP, on the other hand, can show you relevant keywords based on semantics. For example, you can see that GKP suggests keywords like “cappuccino,” “espresso,” “barista,” and “french press” even though they don’t contain the word “coffee.”

List of keywords and corresponding average monthly searchesList of keywords and corresponding average monthly searches

Recommended reading: How to Use Google Keyword Planner (Actionable Guide)

Find People Also Ask questions

AlsoAsked toolAlsoAsked tool

For almost every query you search for on Google, you’ll see a SERP feature known as People Also Ask (PAA).

PPA box with list of questionsPPA box with list of questions

AlsoAsked scrapes them and shows you the PAA questions related to the topic you’ve entered. Use these to find subtopics and questions that may be worth answering in your article.

For example, if you are writing an article about “how to clean a coffee maker using vinegar,” you may want to answer these questions:

Hierarchy of questions connected by flowlinesHierarchy of questions connected by flowlines

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When you click on a PAA question in Google, more PAA questions pop up:

More questions in PAA boxMore questions in PAA box

AlsoAsked allows you to go deeper into this research (but you’ll have to sign up for a paid plan):

Drop-down showing options "Standard search depth" and "Deep search"Drop-down showing options "Standard search depth" and "Deep search"

Recommended reading: How to Rank in ‘People Also Ask’ Boxes and If You Should

Do keyword research on Reddit

Keyworddit research tool Keyworddit research tool

Keyword research is about finding the topics your audience is looking for. So what better way than to find the topics people are discussing on one of the internet’s largest “forums,” aka Reddit?

Enter the name of a subreddit your audience is participating in. Keyworddit will then extract keywords from that community.

For example, here’s a list of keywords it grabbed from the r/bodyweightfitness subreddit:

List of keywords with corresponding dataList of keywords with corresponding data

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Keyworddit also shows you the context where the keyword appeared:

Gif showing that clicking on "Context" shows where the keyword appeared Gif showing that clicking on "Context" shows where the keyword appeared

See search trends from all around the world

Google Trends tool Google Trends tool

Google Trends shows the popularity of a topic over time.

Use it to catch and capitalize on trending topics, as well as avoid creating content about those with waning interest.

Line graph showing interest trend for "one piece"Line graph showing interest trend for "one piece"

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Google Trends also shows you related topics and queries that are rising in popularity:

List of related topics and corresponding data on percentage change in interest trends; on its right, the same format for list of related queriesList of related topics and corresponding data on percentage change in interest trends; on its right, the same format for list of related queries

Cover these topics before other sites do.

Recommended reading: How to Use Google Trends for Keyword Research: 7 Effective Ways

WordPress SEO plugin for on-page and technical SEO

Excerpt of RankMath's pageExcerpt of RankMath's page

Imagine if you had to add your title tags, meta descriptions, OG tags, and other meta tags by yourself using code for every post you publish. You’d flip out, wouldn’t you?

But if you’re using WordPress, you don’t have to do that. RankMath helps you add all of those easily:

RankMath showing added title, permalink, etcRankMath showing added title, permalink, etc

Besides that, RankMath also helps with:

And more.

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RankMath has a comprehensive schema markup library that you can add to your posts:

List of schema typesList of schema types

See how your page will look like on the SERPs

Google's SERP snippet optimization toolGoogle's SERP snippet optimization tool

Enter your proposed title, meta description, and URL. This tool will then show you what your webpage will potentially look like in the search results.

Preview of how webpage looks like on the SERPPreview of how webpage looks like on the SERP

You can already do this if you’re using a WordPress plugin like RankMath. But it’s useful if you’re not using WordPress.

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Check the Rich Snippet and Date radio buttons to see what they look like on the SERPs:

Preview of how webpage looks like on the SERPs with ratingsPreview of how webpage looks like on the SERPs with ratings

Create structured data markup in the JSON-LD format

Schema markup generator for JSON-LD formatSchema markup generator for JSON-LD format

Schema markup helps search engines better understand your content. It also powers rich snippets, which often have higher click-through rates than “regular” search results.

Merkle’s Schema Markup Generator helps you create the right schema code. Select the type of schema markup you want to generate, e.g., local business, FAQ, product, etc., fill in the form, then copy and paste the generated markup onto your site.

You can do this if you’re already using a WordPress plugin like RankMath. But if you aren’t, this is a good tool to use.

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This is not a specific feature of the tool. But once you’ve generated your schema markup, you can check its validity using Schema.org’s Markup Validator.

Recommended reading: What Is Structured Data? And Why Should You Implement It?

Multi-feature browser extension that provides SEO data about the pages and websites you visit

Ahrefs' SEO Toolbar showing meta info, dates published, etc., for a webpageAhrefs' SEO Toolbar showing meta info, dates published, etc., for a webpage

With Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar, you can see the valuable SEO data of any webpage you visit. These include the following:

  • Page’s title
  • Meta description
  • Dates when page was published and modified
  • Word count
  • Headings
  • Hreflang tags
  • Canonicals
  • OG tags

And more.

Besides that, the tool also:

  • Checks for broken links.
  • Traces redirect chains (full path).
  • Highlights nofollow links.

And much more.

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If you have an Ahrefs subscription, you can see our metrics within the SERPs themselves:

Toolbar showing metrics on a Google SERPToolbar showing metrics on a Google SERP

See the top 100 backlinks to any website or webpage

Ahrefs' free backlink checker toolAhrefs' free backlink checker tool

One of the most common activities in link building is to pursue your competitors’ links. By that, we mean looking at your competitors’ links and figuring out how they’ve been acquiring theirs. Then you can potentially mirror their tactics.

To do that, you’ll need to see who’s linking to them in the first place. What you can do is enter the URL of the page you’re competing with into our free backlink checker.

You’ll see the top 100 backlinks pointing to that page:

List of backlinks and corresponding dataList of backlinks and corresponding data

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This tool also shows you the five most linked pages, most common anchor texts, the total number of backlinks and referring domains, and our proprietary Domain Rating (DR) and URL Rating (UR) scores.

These are all important information that can help you formulate your link building strategy.

Recommended reading: 7 Actionable Ways to Loot Your Competitors’ Backlinks 

Find email addresses

Hunter.io toolHunter.io tool

Most link building tactics involve reaching out and persuading someone to link to your page. For that to happen, you’ll need their email address.

Hunter.io allows you to find anyone’s professional email address. Just enter the domain of the email address you’re looking for, and the tool will show you the list of email addresses it’s found:

Search term "ahrefs.com" entered; below, list of email addresses Search term "ahrefs.com" entered; below, list of email addresses

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If you’re doing link building at scale, you can use Hunter.io’s bulk email finder to find and verify email addresses in one shot.

Learn how to do this in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ovu2ZYWgOJQ

Recommended reading: 6 Ways To Find Anyone’s Email Address (Tried & Tested) 

Free service that connects news sources with journalists looking for expertise

Excerpt of Haro's pageExcerpt of Haro's page

Here’s how this works:

  1. Journalists have questions and need experts to answer them.
  2. HARO sends emails with those questions to their subscribers.
  3. Anyone can respond and potentially become a source for the journalists’ publications.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting out or have an established site; this is a great way to build authoritative links.

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This is not a HARO feature. But signing up for HARO means you’ll begin receiving many emails from HARO a day. You’ll want to narrow down all the emails you receive from HARO to only those that are relevant to your work.

To do this, you’ll need to create a Gmail filter. Here’s how:

  1. Hit the caret on the right side of the search bar
  2. Paste [email protected] (or another feed) into the “from” field
  3. Add your keywords (using the OR separator) to the “Includes the words” field and use quotation marks to consider multiple words as one keyword
Options to customize Gmail filterOptions to customize Gmail filter

Recommended reading: 9 Great Public Relations Tactics With Campaign Examples

Free tool from Google that helps you monitor and troubleshoot your website’s appearance on the SERPs

GSC overview page for Ahrefs' blogGSC overview page for Ahrefs' blog

Use Google Search Console to find and fix technical errors on your website, submit sitemaps, see structured data issues, check your Core Web Vitals, and more.

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The URL Inspection tool provides information about Google’s indexed version of a specific page. Enter any URL and see if there are issues with it:

URL Inspection tool showing all's OK for a specific page on Ahrefs' blogURL Inspection tool showing all's OK for a specific page on Ahrefs' blog

If you’re advanced enough, you can even use the URL Inspection API to bulk-check your data.

Recommended reading: How to Use Google Search Console to Improve SEO (Beginner’s Guide) 

Free global CDN

Except of Cloudflare's pageExcept of Cloudflare's page

A content delivery network (CDN) is a globally distributed server network that makes it quicker for users to access your website. It caches static content across its servers so that it can get content to load faster by serving it from a location near the visitor.

Use Cloudflare to speed up your website and protect it from malicious attacks.

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Cloudflare automatically provides a free SSL certificate for your website. This is important because HTTPS protects your site and is a Google ranking factor.

Analyze the loading speed of your webpages

Excerpt of GTmetrix's pageExcerpt of GTmetrix's page

Page speed has been a Google ranking factor since 2010. So if your site is extremely slow, this may be a reason why it’s not ranking as well as it can be.

Use GTmetrix to check your page speed and see how the page is performing:

Results of page speed test showing GTmetrix grade and CWV dataResults of page speed test showing GTmetrix grade and CWV data

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GTmetrix also shows you the top issues affecting your site, plus recommendations on how to improve them:

Top issue and recommendation to solve said issueTop issue and recommendation to solve said issue

Recommended reading: How to Improve Page Speed From Start to Finish (Advanced Guide)

Optimize your images

Except of ShortPixel's page; on right, "before compression" and "after compression" versions of a picture of a bird Except of ShortPixel's page; on right, "before compression" and "after compression" versions of a picture of a bird

Large images (in terms of file sizes) can take a longer time to load and, therefore, impact your page speed. Google even has extensive documentation on how to optimize your images for the web:

For best results, experiment with various quality settings for your images, and don’t be afraid to dial down the quality—the visual results are often very good and the filesize savings can be quite large.

You can use ShortPixel to compress, optimize, and resize your images.

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ShortPixel automatically optimizes your media library:

Message stating all pictures have been optimizedMessage stating all pictures have been optimized

Recommended reading: Image SEO: 12 Actionable Tips (For More Organic Traffic) 

Create a properly formatted robots.txt file

Excerpt of Robots.txt Generator's pageExcerpt of Robots.txt Generator's page

A robots.txt file tells search engines where they can and can’t go on your site. Primarily, it lists all the content you want to lock away from search engines like Google.

If you don’t yet have a robots.txt file on your website, use this tool to quickly create one.

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If you’re an advanced user, choose “Customize” to create individual rules for various bots, subdirectories, etc.:

Page to create individual rules Page to create individual rules

Recommended reading: Robots.txt and SEO: Everything You Need to Know 

Generate hreflang tags to specify the language and geographical targeting of a webpage

Page showing hreflang tag generatorPage showing hreflang tag generator

Hreflang is an HTML attribute used to specify the language and geographical targeting of a webpage.

If you have multiple versions of the same page in different languages, you can use the hreflang tag to tell search engines like Google about these variations. This helps them to serve the correct version to their users.

Use this tool to generate the correct hreflang tags for your website. Just add your desired URLs, select your target country and language, then click “Generate.”

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You can bulk-upload URLs (max: 50) onto the tool. Just click “Choose file” and upload your CSV file.

Recommended reading: Hreflang: The Easy Guide for Beginners 

See how the browser renders a page

Page showing three columns: raw HTML, rendered HTML, and what the differences arePage showing three columns: raw HTML, rendered HTML, and what the differences are

This shows how the browser has rendered a page’s original HTML into the DOM, including modifications made by JavaScript.

It’s a great tool for those who need to audit or troubleshoot JavaScript issues.

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View Rendered Source shows the differences between the raw version of your code and what is rendered.

Page showing three columns: raw HTML, rendered HTML, and what the differences arePage showing three columns: raw HTML, rendered HTML, and what the differences are

Recommended reading: JavaScript SEO: What You Need to Know 

See the top 10 ranking pages for any keyword

Ahrefs' free SERP checkerAhrefs' free SERP checker

Google personalizes search results based on factors such as your location, language, and search history. As such, search results may differ widely, depending on the location you search from.

Use our free SERP checker to see real-time search results so that you can get the most accurate SERPs in the location you want to rank for.

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For the first three search results, you’ll also see important SEO metrics like the number of referring domains, number of backlinks, estimated search traffic, etc.

This is helpful for assessing the top-ranking pages and understanding why these pages are ranking where they are.

SERP overview for "french press"SERP overview for "french press"

See search results from any location

BrightLocal's local SERP checker toolBrightLocal's local SERP checker tool

If you’re doing local SEO, you’ll want to see even more granular search results—right down to the city, town, or even ZIP level. You can use BrightLocal’s Local SERP Checker for that.

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Depending on the country, you can even specify the language:

Drop-down to choose language Drop-down to choose language

Google’s analytics tool

"Home" page of Google's analytics tool"Home" page of Google's analytics tool

Google Analytics is quite likely the most used analytics tool out there. It’s no wonder—not only is it free, but it’s also powerful. It gives you a whole range of data for your website, which you can parse and dissect to improve almost every aspect of your marketing.

So rather than pinpoint a particular feature I like (which seems almost impossible), read the article recommended below to see how you can use Google Analytics to improve your SEO performance.

Recommended reading: How to Use Google Analytics to Improve SEO Performance 

Create interactive dashboards and reports

Interactive dashboards: on left, a line graph; on right, a mapInteractive dashboards: on left, a line graph; on right, a map

Whether you’re an in-house SEO or an SEO agency, you’re probably creating SEO reports for your clients, managers, and bosses. Google Data Studio helps make such reporting easier.

Since it integrates with Google’s suite of tools, it is relatively easy to merge data from places like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, etc.

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You can even add data from SEO tools like Ahrefs.

Recommended reading: Steal Our SEO Report Template (Inspired by SEO Experts) 

Run a content audit of your website

Page showing results of content audit. On left, performance score with explanation below; on right, pie chart showing no. of pages that are performing well, not performing well, etcPage showing results of content audit. On left, performance score with explanation below; on right, pie chart showing no. of pages that are performing well, not performing well, etc

Not every piece of content you publish will be successful. That’s OK. You can always revisit it, figure out what went wrong, and take action to improve its performance.

But to do that, you’ll need to find the underperforming pages. That’s when you do a content audit.

Our SEO WordPress plugin automates the content audit process and kicks back recommendations to you.

List of pages and corresponding data that shows who the author is, categories, recommendations, etcList of pages and corresponding data that shows who the author is, categories, recommendations, etc

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Click the suggestions, and we’ll give you a recommendation on what to do next:

List of recommended actions with explanation below each actionList of recommended actions with explanation below each action

Recommended reading: How to Do a Content Audit in 2022 

Manage how your local business appears on Google Search and Maps

Except of GBP's pageExcept of GBP's page

According to BrightLocal’s survey, 36% of SEOs think a Google Business Profile is the most important ranking factor for the map pack. And 6% believe that it’s important for the “regular” organic results.

Bar graph showing percentage of SEOs who think GBP is most important ranking factor for "map pack" and "regular" results, respectivelyBar graph showing percentage of SEOs who think GBP is most important ranking factor for "map pack" and "regular" results, respectively

So if you’re running a local business, make sure you have your Google Business Profile set up.

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BrightLocal’s 2021 study shows that 17% of SEOs deem reviews the most important ranking factor for “map pack” rankings.

Use your Google Business Profile to create and share review links so that you can get more reviews for your local business.

Recommended reading: How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing in 30 Minutes 

See how pages looked like in the past

Except of Wayback Machine's pageExcept of Wayback Machine's page

The Wayback Machine takes historical screenshots of pages and stores them in its database. You can then enter any URL to see those webpages’ previous versions (even currently broken ones).

This is useful for a variety of tasks. For example, if you’re doing broken link building, it is helpful to see what was originally on the dead page so that you can replicate it.

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If your competitors are constantly making changes or updating their pages (and, in the process, outranking you), you can also enter their URL into the Wayback Machine to see what sections or subtopics they’ve added.

Recommended reading: 5 Ways to Use the Wayback Machine for SEO

Monitor mentions of your name or business online

Text field to enter term to create an alert aboutText field to enter term to create an alert about

Use this tool to set up mentions of your name or business. Depending on the frequency you choose, Google Alerts will then send you an email with all the pages that have mentioned the term you’re tracking.

Page to set up alertsPage to set up alerts

You can also use it to monitor your competitors.

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Use Google Alerts to monitor unlinked mentions. Unlinked mentions are mentions of your brand, products, or services that don’t link to you. Those are wasted opportunities.

Set up multiple Google Alerts for all your brand-related terms. For example, we can track:

Sidenote.

You can consider setting up Google Alerts for common misspellings too! One of our examples is “aherfs.”

When you receive the email from Google Alerts, check out the pages, view the source code (right-click > view page source), and search for yourdomain.com using CTRL/CMD+F. If there are no results, that means there are no links back to you.

Consider reaching out to the writer or webmaster and see if they can add a link back to your site.

Recommended reading: How to Set Up Google Alerts (And Use It to Grow Your Business) 

World’s most used search engine

Google's page to key in search termGoogle's page to key in search term

Even with so many free SEO tools available, you can’t forget about Google—arguably the most powerful SEO tool.

You can use Google to do a variety of SEO tasks. For example, you can use Google to figure out what the search intent is so that you can align your page with it.

Let’s say you want to rank for the keyword “best french press.” If we search for the term on Google, we’ll see that searchers want to learn, not buy. Specifically, they want to see comparisons of all the best and most up-to-date French presses:

Google SERP for "best French press"Google SERP for "best French press"

If you run a coffee blog and want to rank for this keyword, it’s likely you’ll have to follow suit.

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You can use Google search operators to find guest post opportunities, internal linking opportunities, link prospects, and more.

Learn about some powerful ways to use Google for SEO in our extensive guide to Google search operators.

Learn more

Still looking for more SEO tools? Check out some of these articles:

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SEO

Lead Generation: How To Get Started

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Lead Generation: How To Get Started

Today’s consumers have an almost limitless amount of information at their fingertips. Podcasts, videos, blog posts, and social media – are just a few of the sources that can drive them toward one brand over another.

If it’s your job to attract these potential customers, you know the struggles of generating high-quality leads.

In this piece, we’ll take a closer look at lead generation, discussing the different types of leads you could attract and providing some strategies and examples for lead gen that you can put to use right away.

What Is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is a marketing process of capturing potential consumers who show interest in your product or service.

The goal is to connect with people early in the buying process, earn their trust and build a relationship so that, when they’re ready to make a purchase, they buy from you.

But lead generation also serves secondary objectives, including building brand awareness, collecting customer data, and fostering brand loyalty.

With this in mind, it’s important to remember that not everyone who visits your store or website is a lead.

That’s why successful lead gen goes after specific targets, using a variety of platforms and strategies including:

  • Landing pages – Using a tracking pixel, landing pages collect information about visitors you can later use to target them for sales.
  • Email – Email is a great lead generation tool because the recipients will have opted in, which means they’re already familiar with your brand.
  • Social media – With unmatched opportunities for engagement, your social media accounts are a great way to encourage your targets to take action.
  • Blogs – A great way to establish authority and provide value, blogs are also a great place to promote specific offers.
  • Live events – When it comes to qualifying leads, live events are a great way to meet your target audience and quickly identify the ones more likely to make a purchase.
  • Coupons and other promotions – Offering a discount or free item is a great way to encourage targets to provide their contact information.

What will ultimately work best for you will depend on your niche and your audience.

As you experiment with different lead generation strategies, you may find one more successful than the others. This means you should probably make that channel your priority, whereas others may not be of any use at all.

But we’ll get to all that later.

First, let’s talk about leads.

The Different Types Of Leads

Sales is the engine that drives any business. Without sales, there’s no revenue. Without revenue, there’s no business. So, it’s kind of important.

But it’s a massive field. The approach a medical monitoring sensor salesperson takes is going to be very different from a used car salesman.

But both of them – and every other sales professional for that matter – have one thing in common: they need to spend most of their time pursuing the people who are most likely to buy.

In general, leads fall into seven categories:

  • Hot Leads – These leads are ready to convert. They are qualified and interested in your offering, and are the most likely to convert to a sale. For example, this might be the purchasing director who has had several conversations with you and received a product demo. They have purchasing authority and a timeline.
  • Cold Leads – These are potential customers who may be unfamiliar with your brand or offering. As of yet, they have shown no interest in what you’re selling. Generally speaking, these are the hardest leads to convert to sales.
  • Warm Leads – A middle ground between the two previous types of leads, these are people who are familiar with who you are and what you offer. They’re the type who watch your videos or read your blogs, but haven’t contacted you directly. Your goal is to warm them up into hot leads.
  • Information Qualified Leads (IQLs) – This is the kind of lead who has already shown some interest in your company and has followed a call to action. Maybe they signed up for your email newsletter or filled out a lead generation form. They are often looking for more information and will react positively to a nurturing campaign.
  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) – MQLs are one step further down the pipeline from IQLs. They are actively searching for a solution that fits their needs, and are trying to discover if yours is the right fit. These are the types of leads who will download your whitepapers, watch your videos, and attend your corporate seminars.
  • Sales Ready Leads (SRLs) – Sometimes called “accepted leads,” these are the bottom-of-the-funnel leads who are almost ready to pull the trigger on a purchase. It’s important to understand their budgets, purchasing authority, needs, and timeframe.
  • Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) – These leads are ready to buy and should be in communication with your sales team. They are considered very hot, however, you should be aware that they are likely still considering some of your competitors.

The Lead Generation Process

As you have probably gathered by this point, lead generation is a multiple-step process.

Yours will vary, depending on whether you’re focusing on inbound or outbound generation – but both should follow a similar pathway.

Step 1: Do Your Research

Before you start trying to collect leads, you need to gather as much information as possible about your target audience. You want to know not just who they are, but where they live, what’s important to them, and most importantly, what their pain points are, particularly those that are the most pressing.

It’s often a good idea to create customer personas, in which you define the demographics, budget, and needs of typical customers. You may want to consider social habits, professional experience, and even psychological traits.

Once you know who you’re going after, it’s time to identify where they are. Are they active on Facebook, or more likely to respond to an email? Again, this will vary depending on your specific circumstances.

This is also the stage where you should check out the competition. What are they doing? What differentiates your offering from theirs? And most importantly, why is it better?

Step 2: Create Great Content

By now, you should know what needs your offering fills for your potential customers. Use this information to create content that solves it.

Your choice of medium will affect your content format. For example, videos work great on social media, but you can’t embed them in an email.

Likewise, if you’re going after your target audience on Twitter, your lengthy blogs are going to need to be linked to, or at the very least truncated.

Never forget your focus is on adding value. Each piece of content you create should serve a specific purpose, whether that’s educating your audience about your offering, building brand awareness or promoting a sale.

Step 3: Develop A Lead Generation Database

You can have the hottest leads on the planet, but they won’t do you a bit of good if you don’t handle them the right way.

You should create and use a lead database where you can record, study, filter, and segment your potential customers.

Ideally, you’ll want to get an automated CRM system to dramatically reduce the labor involved with this.

Most of these will allow you to tag leads based on the type and how hot they are. This allows your sales team to work through their lists in a more efficient manner, dedicating the most attention to those with the biggest chance of converting.

Step 4: Qualify And Score Leads

Not all leads are going to be in the same place in the sales funnel. Some will be ready to buy today, while others may just be getting an idea of what’s out there.

You need to adjust your approach based on this.

Most companies use a lead scoring system of 1-100, which indicates approximately where the lead is in the customer journey. They are assigned points based on their actions, with more serious actions resulting in more points.

For example, following your Facebook page could be worth 10 points, filling out a “Request a demo” form might be worth 20, and opening and reading an email could be 5. If a lead does all three of these, their lead score would be 35.

These numbers will give you a general idea of where they are from the following stages:

  • New leads, who have just made initial contact.
  • Working leads, with whom you have had contact and initiated a conversation.
  • Nurturing leads, who are not interested in buying right now, but might in the future.
  • Unqualified leads, who are not interested in your offering. These are sometimes called “dead leads.”
  • Qualified leads, or those who want to do business with you.

Obviously, you should focus more time and energy on the leads that have a higher probability of converting.

Lead Generation Strategies And Examples

The ways you can generate leads are practically endless, but in this section, we’ll discuss some of the more common strategies you can employ, plus give you examples of them at work.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the practice of creating engaging and informative content that provides value for leads and customers, thereby generating interest in a business.

This can span both traditional and digital marketing, and is an important part of any successful marketing strategy. It can include things like newsletters, podcasts, videos, and social media.

You can use content marketing for any stage of the sales funnel, from growing brand awareness with timely blogs, creating demand or demonstrating thought leadership with white papers, driving organic traffic via SEO, building trust, and earning customer loyalty.

To make the most of yours, offer many opt-in opportunities and make them more enticing by adding discounts, guides, or something of value in exchange.

Email Marketing

Email remains a popular choice for lead generation for a good reason: it works.

A study by Mailchimp found 22.71% of marketing emails were opened, with some industries seeing even higher rates.

Whether you’re sending out a monthly newsletter or a cold outreach email to a potential prospect, email remains one of your best bets for generating new leads.

One of the more cost-effective means of generating leads, email marketing also allows you to segment your targets with customized content that promotes maximum engagement.

Another reason email marketing is a favorite for so many organizations is that it provides incredible opportunities for tracking. A quality CRM will give you a lot of useful data, including open rate, engagement time, and subscriber retention, allowing you to fine-tune your campaigns.

Social Media Marketing

Almost everyone is on social media these days, which makes it the ideal place to hunt down leads.

Social media platforms not only allow you to directly interact with your followers, but they also let you create advertising targeted at highly specific audiences.

Interaction is simplified thanks to multiple user-friendly CTAs like Instagram Stories’ skip option and truncated URLs on Twitter.

Screenshot from Facebook, January 2023

Social media is also a great place to run contests or share gated content.

You can use paid ads like the one above to target new leads,  share content that will generate them organically, or ideally, a mix of both.

Coupons, Discounts, And Free Trials

If you’re like many people, you may be reluctant to provide your email address to businesses in case they start spamming your inbox.

As a business, however, this can be a problem.

The way to overcome this trepidation is to offer people something of value in return for their contact information.

A risk-free trial or discount code is a powerful tool for overcoming sales barriers. And once a target has tried your offering, you can retarget them with additional offers to encourage a sale.

Give them a free gift, offer a coupon, or allow them to take your product for a test drive, and you’ll find many more people willing to give you their info.

Free pizza couponScreenshot from author, January 2023

Online Ads

Display advertisements are videos and images that pop up as you’re browsing websites, apps, and social media.

They, along with paid search and PPC, are a great way to reach your intended customers where they are.

Display ads are particularly useful for targeting leads across the buyers’ journey, as well as promoting awareness and sales, promotions, or new products.

google search ads result for chairsScreenshot from Google, January 2023

Remarketing ads are a great way to reengage leads who have stopped short of a purchase, while non-intrusive native ads are perfect for extending your content marketing efforts.

Referral Marketing

A great way to find new leads is to let your existing customers find them for you. Encourage them to write reviews or recommend friends in return for a discount or something else of value.

AAA insurance referral adImage from AAA Insurance, January 2023

This is an excellent way to fill your funnel of leads – and make more sales. Referrals and online reviews give you an authenticity and trust level that no in-house marketing campaign can ever duplicate.

Did you know that when shopping online, more than 99.9% of people read reviews? Or that 94% of consumers acknowledged positive reviews made them more likely to support a business? And that’s not even including the power of personal recommendations from friends and family.

Referral marketing is a great tool for lead generation because it presents your brand in a positive light to more people.

Best Practices For Lead Generation

To ensure you’re getting the most out of your lead generation efforts, keep these tips in mind:

Use Your Data

You likely have a lot of information about leads and the types of strategies that work for them already at your fingertips.

Gather yours by looking at previous pieces that have worked well, whether it’s blogs that get a lot of reads, emails that have a high open-rate, or display ads that bring in a lot of traffic.

Look for general themes or things you did differently on high-performers. This will give you insight into the kind of things that resonate with your audience.

Be Consistent With Messaging

Make sure it’s very obvious to any web visitor or email recipient what action they should take next. Offer them a reason to click your links and keep your messaging clear and consistent.

You should maintain the same tone of voice across channels as you move prospects through the sales funnel. Remember, you’re not just interested in capturing data – you’re trying to create a customer.

A/B Testing

Every marketer knows the importance of testing different versions of collateral. This is because, no matter how well something is performing, it could always do better.

You should experiment with different headlines, images, body copy, etc.

Just remember to only test one aspect at once, lest you miss which change made a difference.

And again, don’t forget the opt-ins.

Use The Power Of CRM Technology

To ensure your sales and marketing teams are operating as efficiently as possible, but a lead generation platform to work for you.

The right tool can help you gather information about your targets, monitor their behavior on your website and identify what’s driving them to you.

Armed with this data, you can then optimize your pages and campaigns to better target your audience.

Create Enticing Offers At Every Stage

People at different stages of the purchasing journey want different things.

Someone who is just curious about seeing what’s out there isn’t likely to respond to a free demo offer, but someone who is further along the funnel might.

Make sure you’re offering something for every buying stage and that you have clear CTAs throughout your materials.

Integrate Social Media

Social media is the ideal platform for initiating conversations and interactions with leads at all stages.

While many marketers typically think of it as primarily for top-of-funnel targeting, by strategically using proven offers and other things of value, you can also go after those leads who are closer to making a purchase.

Clean Up Your Landing Pages

Users want information presented to them in a clean, easy-to-understand manner. No one is trying to read “War and Peace” to find a new vending machine supplier.

Put your important information at the top, and make it clear where visitors can input their information to contact you or get content.

Use Your Partners

Co-marketing is a great way to generate new leads because it allows you to piggyback on the efforts of partner companies.

Create mutually beneficial offers and you’ll spend the word about your brand to a larger audience, which will attract new leads.

Bring Your Sales Team In

Marketers prime the pump, but sales drives the action. Make sure to loop your sales team into the lead generation process early and often.

They will likely have personal insight into what works best to move targets along the purchasing path.

This will also ensure you remain on the same page as far as what terms mean.

Remarket, Remarket, Remarket

Almost no one makes a purchase on first contact, particularly in B2B sales. That makes remarketing an important arrow for your quiver.

It helps turn bouncers into leads and abandoners into customers – and it amplifies all your other marketing activities.

Make Lead Generation A Priority

No one ever said it was easy to find, score, and qualify leads, but it’s an important part of ensuring the growth and financial health of your business.

Nurturing customers and potential customers is hard work. But without it, you’ll struggle to make new sales.

This piece only covered lead generation from a high level, but hopefully, it has equipped you with some strategies you can employ to attract new leads and nurture existing ones.

If you only take a single thing away from this make it this: Put most of your efforts into higher-quality leads, because they’re the ones who are most likely to make a purchase.

And remember – lead generation is an ongoing process. You’re not going to see results overnight, but if you put in the work, you’ll start to generate the results you want.

Happy hunting.

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Response to ChatGPT $20 Plan: Take My Money!

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Response to ChatGPT $20 Plan: Take My Money!

OpenAI announced a new subscription service to ChatGPT called ChatGPT Plus that offers several benefits over the free version. Fans of OpenAI were wildly enthusiastic about the prospect for a more reliable service.

Many users around the world were pleased to know that the free version will continue to be offered.

OpenAI ChatGPT

ChatGPT is a useful AI tool for writing-related tasks, as well as for obtaining general information.

The free version is used by millions of users. Although it is hosted on Microsoft data centers the service falters during periods of peak usage and becomes unavailable.

OpenAI benefits from the usage because the feedback is useful for training the machine to become better.

The new subscription model is intended to subsidize the free users.

OpenAI Subscription Model

The new subscription version, called ChatGPT Plus, will cost $20/month.

Initially, ChatGPT will be available to users in the United States and will expand to other countries and regions “soon.”

There is no estimate or indication of how soon the service will be available outside of the United States.

But the fact that there’s a waitlist for United States users to subscribe might be an indication.

The Public Is Enthusiastic

To say that potential customers are enthusiastic about ChatGPT Plus is an understatement.

The response on Twitter could be boiled down to one phrase: Shut up and take my money.

 

One person applauded OpenAI for keeping a free version available:

Multiple people asked about plans for non-profits and for students.

This tweet is representative of the requests for student plans:

Future of ChatGPT

ChatGPT will be launching a ChatGPT API waitlist soon, which will open up the service to new ways of interacting with it.

OpenAI also plans to learn more about user needs and how to best serve users during the course of the new subscription service.

Once they have more experience with it, OpenAI plans to offer additional plans, including lower cost versions.

They shared:

“…we are actively exploring options for lower-cost plans, business plans, and data packs for more availability.”

This could have been Google’s win.But OpenAI and Microsoft beat them with a useful product and have captured the fascination and admiration of users worldwide.

2023 is going to be an exciting year of AI driven innovation.

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Email Marketing: An In-Depth Guide

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Email Marketing: An In-Depth Guide

Email has revolutionized the way people communicate. From facilitating remote work to monitoring bank balances, it has become an integral part of everyday life.

It has also become a powerful tool for marketers. It has changed the way brands and customers interact with each other, providing incredible opportunities to target audiences at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

In other words, when it comes to getting the most bang for your marketing buck, nothing matches the power of email.

Providing an average return on investment of $36 for every $1 spent, email marketing is one of the most profitable and effective ways of reaching your targets.

Globally used by more than 4 billion people, it has unparalleled reach and is perfect for every step of the buyer’s journey, from generating awareness to encouraging brand loyalty.

If you’re not currently using email marketing to promote your business, you should be.

But to reap the biggest benefits, you need to do more than just dash off a message and sending it out to your contacts. You need a strategy that will help you nurture relationships and initiate conversations.

In this piece, we’ll take an in-depth look at the world of marketing via email and give you a step-by-step guide you can use to launch your own campaigns.

What Is Email Marketing?

If you have an email address of your own – and it’s probably safe to assume that you do – you’re likely already at least somewhat familiar with the concept of email marketing.

But just to avoid any potential confusion, let’s start with a definition: Email marketing is a type of direct marketing that uses customized emails to inform customers and potential customers about your product or services.

Why Should You Use Email Marketing?

If the eye-popping $36:1 ROI stat wasn’t enough to convince you to take the plunge, here are some other key reasons you should use email marketing to promote your business:

  • Email marketing drives traffic to your website, blog, social media account, or anywhere else you direct it.
  • It allows you to build a stronger relationship with your targets via personalization and auto-triggered campaigns.
  • You can segment your audience to target highly specific demographics, so you’re sending messages to the people they will resonate with most.
  • Email marketing is one of the easiest platforms to version test on, so you can determine exactly what subject lines and calls-to-action (CTAs) work best.

Even better, you own your email campaigns entirely.

With email, you own your marketing list and you can target your leads however you like (so long as you stay compliant with CAN-SPAM laws).

There is no question that you should be using email marketing as part of your overall marketing outreach strategy.

Now let’s look at some of the different ways you can do that.

What Are The Types Of Email Marketing?

For every stage of the sales funnel, there’s a corresponding type of email marketing. Here are some of the different types you can use to engage your audience and generate results.

Promotional Emails

When you think about email marketing, these types of messages are probably what you think of.

Used to promote sales, special offers, product releases, events, and more, these are usually one of the least personalized types of emails and tend to go out to a large list.

Usually, promotional campaigns consist of anywhere from 3 to 10 emails sent over a specified time frame. They have a clear CTA that encourages the recipient to take the next step of visiting your site, booking an appointment, or making a purchase.

Informational Emails

This type of email includes company announcements as well as weekly/monthly/quarterly newsletters.

They may include information about new products, company achievements, customer reviews, or blog posts.

The CTA is usually to visit your website or blog to learn more about what’s happening.

Welcome Emails

Sent to new customers or people who have filled out a form on your website, welcome emails encourage recipients to learn more about your company or offering.

These commonly include trial offers, requests to book a demo, or other offerings a new customer will find valuable.

Nurturing Emails

Any salesperson will tell you the importance of creating multiple touchpoints with potential customers.

Lead nurturing emails focus on building interest in people who are drawn to a particular offering.

The goal of these messages is to push them to the consideration stage of the buying journey.

Re-engagement Emails

Nurturing emails’ slightly more aggressive brother, re-engagement emails are used to warm up customers who haven’t been active lately.

These tend to be more personalized, as you’ll want to show the subscriber that you know and understand the challenges they’re facing.

Survey/Review Emails

User generated content (UGC) lends your brand an authenticity you simply can’t achieve on your own.

One of the best ways to generate this is via emails soliciting feedback from your customers.

This type of email also gives you insights into your brand’s relative strengths and weaknesses, so you can improve your offerings.

There are a number of other types of emails you can use as part of your marketing efforts, including seasonal emails designed to capitalize on holidays or events, confirmation emails to reassure recipients their purchase was completed or their information received, and co-marketing emails that are sent with a partner company.

In fact, it’s email marketing’s sheer versatility that makes it the cornerstone of any successful marketing strategy. You merely need to decide what you hope to accomplish, then create your campaign around it.

Now, let’s take a closer look at creating and managing your own email marketing.

How Do You Perform Email Marketing?

Step 1: Establish Your Goals

The section above should have made it clear that the type of email campaign you’ll run will depend on what you’re hoping to accomplish. Trying to do everything with one email will lead to confused recipients and a watered-down CTA.

Set one goal for your campaign, and make sure every email in the series works toward it.

Step 2: Build Your List

Now it’s time to determine who will be on the receiving end of your campaign. You do this by building your email marketing list – a process you can approach from several directions.

The most basic way to build an email list is by simply importing a list of your contacts into your chosen email marketing platform (more on that later).

One caveat: Before you add anyone to your list, make sure they have opted into receiving emails from you – otherwise you’ll run afoul of the CAN-SPAM Act guidelines mentioned above.

Other options for building a list from scratch via a lead generation campaign: provide potential customers with discounts, compelling content, or something else of value and make it easy for them to subscribe and you’ll generate high-quality leads.

Some marketers buy or rent email lists, but in general, this isn’t an effective way to perform email marketing.

The primary reason you don’t want to do this is because of lead quality. You’re not going after people who are interested in your brand but instead are blindly targeting leads of questionable quality with emails they haven’t opted in to.

In addition to violating consent laws, which could potentially hurt your IP reputation and email deliverability, you risk annoying your targets instead of encouraging them to try your offering.

Step 3: Create Your Email Campaign

Now that you know who you’re targeting and what you’re hoping to achieve, it’s time to build your campaign.

Email marketing tools like HubSpot, Constant Contact, and Mailchimp include drag-and-drop templates you can employ to create well-designed and effective email campaigns.

We’ll dive deeper into these platforms a bit later, but now, let’s talk about some fundamentals and best practices to help you get the best results:

  • Make your emails easy to read – No one wants to read a long wall of text. Structure your emails using strategically placed headers and bulleted lists for easy scanning.
  • Use images – Ideally, you want your emails to capture the reader’s eye and attention. Visuals are a great way to do this.
  • Write a compelling subject line – The best-written email in the world is useless if no one opens it. That makes a compelling, intriguing subject line paramount. Don’t be afraid to try different iterations, just be sure to keep it short.
  • Add personalization – Emails that are targeted to a specific person, including addressing them by name, are more likely to generate responses. Your email marketing platform should allow you to do this with relative ease.
  • Make conversion easy – If you want click-throughs, you need to make it easy for readers. Make sure your CTA is prominent and clear.
  • Consider your timing – As with most types of marketing, email campaigns tend to perform better when they’re properly timed. This could mean a specific time of day that generates more opens, a time of the week when purchases are more likely, or even a time of year when your content is most relevant. This will probably require some experimentation.

Step 4: Measure Your Results

You’re not going to get your email campaigns right the first time. Or the second. Or the fifth. In fact, there’s really no endpoint; even the best campaigns can be optimized to generate better results.

To track how yours are performing, you’ll want to use the reports section of your email marketing platform. This will help you understand how people are interacting with your campaigns.

Use A/B testing to drill down into what’s working best.

Generally, you’ll want to look at key metrics like:

  • Open rate and unique opens.
  • Click-through rate.
  • Shares.
  • Unsubscribe rate.
  • Spam complaints.
  • Bounces (the number of addresses your email couldn’t be delivered to).

Choosing An Email Marketing Platform

Manually sending out emails is fine if you’re only targeting three or four people. But if you’re trying to communicate with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of targets, you’re going to need some help.

But there are currently hundreds of email marketing platform on the market. How do you choose the right one for your unique needs?

Should you just go with one of the big names like HubSpot,  Klaviyo, or Mailjet? How do you know which one is right for you?

While it may initially feel overwhelming, by answering a few questions you can narrow down your options considerably.

The very first thing you need to determine is your budget. If you’re running a small business, the amount you’re willing to spend on an email service platform is probably considerably less than an enterprise-level company.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll probably find that a lower-priced version of a platform like Sendinblue or Constant Contact provides you with all the functionality you need.

Larger companies with bigger marketing budgets may wish to go with an email marketing platform that provides higher levels of automation, more in-depth data analysis and is easier to use. In this case, you may prefer to go with a platform like Mailchimp or Salesforce’s Pardot.

The good thing is that most of these email service providers offered tiered pricing, so smaller businesses can opt for more inexpensive (or even free) versions that offer less functionality at a lower price.

The next thing to consider is the type of email you want to send.

If your primary send will be newsletters, a platform like SubStack is a great choice. If you’re planning on sending transactional emails, you may want to check out Netcore Email API or GetResponse.

For those of you planning on sending a variety of marketing emails, your best choice may be an option that covers multiple email types like ConvertKit or an omnichannel marketing tool like Iterable.

You can narrow down your options by determining your must-have features and internal capabilities.

Some things you’ll want to consider include:

  • The size of your lists.
  • Your technical skill level.
  • Your HTML editing requirements.
  • Template variety.
  • Your need for responses/workflows.
  • A/B testing needs.
  • Industry-specific features.

While there is significant overlap in functionality between email marketing platforms, each has some variation in capabilities.

Ideally, you want something that will integrate with your other marketing tools to help take the guesswork out of the equation.

You should request demos and trials of your finalists to find which is best for your needs. If you’re working with a team, be sure to loop them in and get their feedback.

Tips For Maximizing Your Results

Email marketing is a powerful tool for any business. But there’s both science and art to it.

Here are some additional tips to help you get the most from your campaigns:

  • Avoid being marked as spam – According to HubSpot, there are 394 words and phrases that can identify your email as junk mail. These include “free,” “lowest price,” “no catch” and “all new.” You should avoid these whenever possible. To be doubly safe, have your recipients add you to their safe senders list.
  • Run integrated campaigns – Email marketing serves to amplify the power of other marketing channels. If you’re running sales or promotions, you should include an email aspect.
  • Clean up your list regularly – Keep your email database up to date to ensure deliverability and higher engagement. If a subscriber hasn’t responded to your re-engagement efforts after six months, it’s probably safe to scrub them from your list.
  • Harness the power of automation – Autoresponders are a great way to follow up with customers and subscribers, or strategically target someone after a certain event or action. Learn how to set this up on your email marketing platform and it will save you lots of time while boosting returns.

Email Marketing Is A Powerful Tool

There’s a reason why email marketing is prevalent in the modern world – it works.

And that means you should be using it to promote your brand and drive sales.

Hopefully, by this point, you have a good idea of not only what email marketing can do for you, but how it works, and how to create and optimize your own campaigns.

There’s really no better way to connect with our audience and convey the value of your brand.

Now get to work – you have customers to attract.

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