You’re online and see an advertisement or get an email about something that you have some sort of interest in, so you click through and come to a landing page or something similar. You go ahead and buy whatever they’re selling, right? Not likely. In fact, more than 90% (and some estimates say 99%) of first-time visitors to a website aren’t ready to make a purchase yet. They just had enough interest to take a look.

lead funnel

So if more than 9 out of 10 of the people who are finding you online for the first time aren’t ready to buy, what are you doing to guide them down the path to a conversion? That question might best be answered by defining what a conversion is.

A Conversion Isn’t Always a Sale

There will undoubtedly be many who disagree with me here, but to me a sale is a sale and a conversion is anything that keeps a potential customer interested and moves them closer to a sale. Using this definition helps ease the pain of all the non-buyers and understand that a sales conversion in the digital marketing world is more often than not the result of a journey – a journey of smaller conversions.

A sales conversion in the digital marketing world is a journey of smaller conversions.

The secret to keeping your leads and eventually turning them into conversions is to get that first small conversion when they first visit, and then keep leading down the path to a sale through a series of small conversions. Once the first conversion is successful I consider them a solid lead, but the journey towards the sale is (usually) just beginning. So how do you make that first small conversion happen and keep them as leads on the journey towards a sale?

3 Basic and Proven Lead-Nurturing Techniques

1) Know your target audience

You can’t hold someone’s attention or get them more interested if you don’t know anything about them. Make sure that before you launch a marketing campaign you’ve done your research and created personas that define who your ideal customers are. Then target them specifically with whatever marketing platform you’re using. Facebook, for instance, lets you get very specific in who sees your ads. Looking for women of a certain ethnic background, between 25 and 40, that live within a 100 mile radius of a location, do a lot of reading, and shop online for dresses regularly? You can find them.

2) Have something to offer them

Here’s your first small conversion. Have a giveaway item for them like an ebook, article, or webinar. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it shouldn’t be thrown together in a few hours either. Consumers are getting more savvy all the time, so make sure your freebie has worth to them and either informs them or entertains them.

The better your offer the closer they are to converting.

We have one client giving away a free sample for his eCommerce store who’s generating a steady 15 leads each week as a result, and another offering a free DVD about his international motorcycle tours generating about 30 leads each week. Other clients invite people to networking events or webinars and generate about 10 quality leads each week. The better your offer and the more targeted it is, the better your results will be.

3) Make it easy for people to become a lead

If you have a webinar, ebook, offer, or whatever, share it everywhere you can – via email, social media, your website, etc. The more places you can share it the better. Also make sure that every offer you give away has a strong, solid call to action that will lead them to the next small conversion. A free webinar where you have no call to action at the end or don’t follow up with anyone that attended, for instance, is a waste of your time and effort.

Take people on the journey. Educate them, give them value, and eventually they will become paying customers.