"Online lead generation requires you to erect just the right-sized barrier," writes Ian Lurie at Conversation Marketing. "Something [just] big enough to keep unqualified, unpromising leads out, while letting interested potential customers, voters or clients in." He offers a 10-point primer on building a solid lead-generation program, and here are a few highlights:

Don't ask for too much too soon. You'll scare people off if registration for your whitepaper requires contact information like phone numbers. So ease into the relationship by keeping it casual. Most people, for instance, will gladly exchange their name and email address for valuable content. "This builds your prospect list," explains Lurie. "They aren't leads, yet, but they will be."

Make contact on a weekly basis. This might seem like alarming frequency to some, but if you offer something—even a tidbit—that adds value to a prospect's professional life, your email will be welcome. "If you're afraid of driving away prospects who feel they're being spammed, watch the prospect list," he advises. "Is it shrinking? No? Then you're just fine. Keep going."

Share your expertise gratis. After years of thinking it was a bad idea, Lurie let his leads know he would answer their quick questions—free of charge. "I figured everyone out there is as cynical and bitter as me, so they'd assume it was a come-on," he says. "Not so." He found he enjoyed responding to the questions he received—and that leads who received his answers often became clients.

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