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Here's a popular way to generate online leads: Buy a keyword ad on a search engine site. In your ad, offer free content, such as a whitepaper, to respondents who complete a short form.

In theory, this type of campaign works well: The people who respond get something of value. You get leads. Everyone's happy.

Not so fast. Too often the sales department follows up on those leads and tells marketing they're no good.

Why? What went wrong?

The campaign described above is a wide-net campaign. When you post a search engine ad—no matter how targeted it is—you will attract people with diverse motivations and different pain points. Some of them are sales-ready. Others are simply interested.

But this doesn't have to be a problem. In fact, it can be a golden opportunity to learn who is interested in your offerings and to tailor your sales and marketing to their desires.

A wide-net campaign can yield terrific results if you know how to craft it. These six steps will help you get the most from yours.

1. See the big picture

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image of Anna Talerico

Anna Talerico is executive vice-president of Ion Interactive, a company that pioneered in post-click marketing. Anna and her colleagues provided professional guidance and assistance in the development of SmartTools: High-Performance Landing Pages specifically for MarketingProfs PRO members.

LinkedIn: Anna Talerico