Lead generation should be an essential element of your marketing plan to help keep new business coming your way. Once captured, turning those leads into customers is your next challenge. Developing a focused email list representing your target market requires some work, but it can pay dividends that make it well worth the effort.

1. Social Media

Most successful businesses have an established social media presence. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are three of the more common sites. Participating in the conversation is important, but continually posting new content is essential. Be sure you are providing useful messages or links to articles that may interest your potential clients. Post regularly, and make it worthwhile.

2. Email Marketing

Copywriters can earn big money for developing sales letters that catch people’s attention. Whether business to business (B2B) or business to customer (B2C), these email messages must contain information that will resonate with potential customers. One way to develop an email list is to offer visitors to your website a special offer in exchange for their email address, for example, a new customer discount or a free e-book.

3. Digital Newsletter

A monthly or quarterly newsletter is an excellent way to keep your company name fresh in your current and potential customers’ minds. Keep the format clean-looking with lots of white space. For example, show the first paragraph or two of each article with links to the remaining text. Establish a format, and keep it similar in each edition. For example, if the president’s message is on the left column of the first page in the first issue, place it there every time, so it’s easy to find. Include articles about both the industry and your company, and make sure the content is relevant to your target customer.

4. Blog

Creating and maintaining a blog is another way to generate leads. Your blog should be one of the pages on your website so visitors can easily find and subscribe to it. Content must be relevant, engaging and regularly updated.

5. Networking

The most traditional method of lead generation is good old-fashioned networking. Attend industry-related conferences and collect new contacts—volunteer to speak at local association meetings. Follow up quickly with any leads you generate while you are fresh in the person’s mind.

The examples above are some of the more common ways of generating leads today, but there are many more opportunities, too. Be creative and remain focused on your target customer. When you find qualified leads, keep track of their details and follow up quickly so they will remember you.