Sometimes in life, you kick over a rock and find a thriving colony of activity. So, too, in business. With so many tools, niches, sites, apps and platforms to look for and nurture customers, it's easy to overlook less obvious opportunities. Here are some to try.
SlideShare.net offers the ability to upload and share presentations, e-books, PDFs and webinars. It isn't exactly a backwater, but it's a bit of an undervalued spot. With 60 million visitors per month and 130 million page views, it's the world's largest professional content-sharing community and one of the top 200 sites on the web.
SlideShare is also one of the only high-traffic platforms that integrates organic and near-seamless lead generation. The network's LeadShare service requires viewers to fill out a contact form in exchange for downloading a presentation or PDF, and it encourages viewers to contact the business for additional information at various points throughout a presentation. Of course, this feature comes at a price: To enable lead-capture, you'll have to spring for a Pro SlideShare membership, which can cost $19 to $249 per month.
2. Product videos
Well-produced product videos are a slam-dunk for increasing sales. Visitors to housewares retailer StacksAndStacks.com were 144 percent more likelyto make a purchase after seeing a product video, according to analytics technology company Kissmetrics.
Keep product videos brief--less than 30 seconds is optimal--and consider embedding calls to action in a way that's helpful and not irritating. Online catalog aggregator FlipSeek does this effectively; for example, it can make the cute shoes a model is wearing clickable, providing a direct link to the corresponding product page.
3. E-mail signatures
Including a brief, text-based call to action in your e-mail signature may not be the sexiest idea, but considering the volume of e-mail you are likely sending, it's a tactic worth trying. Consider integrating your blog's URL, a new e-book or some other relevant download into your e-mail signature as a way to nurture relationships with prospects. Technology like WiseStamp allows you to add dynamic content like your latest blog post to any outgoing message.
4. LinkedIn Answers
Browse the questions asked on LinkedIn and use your expertise to solve problems for others, looking for opportunities to link to your relevant product or service. But, as with most things in life, moderation is key: Don't shill your own stuff unless it truly offers a relevant solution.
5. Error pages
Turn the most boring pages of your site (even a 404 error page!) into lead-gen opportunities. Mint.com's playful error page shows a nerdy-looking developer saying, "Page not available. But Justin is." It goes on: "Justin is a Mint developer who likes slow cars, sharp crayons, reheated pizza and awkward silence." The page gives links to other Mint.com pages "if you're more interested in personal finance."
This new kid on the social media block is worth checking out as a traffic-generating lead-gen referral tool. Visits to the invitation-only online bulletin board skyrocketed in the second half of 2011 to 11 million. Brands with compelling boards drive traffic to their own sites.
What's "pinnable" for a business looking to generate leads? Consider moving beyond product shots to include other images, infographics, videos or articles. My company's page, features vintage marketing ads as well as marketing fails, charts and stats and a board reserved for business "inspiration."