Lead generation is a simple concept —it refers to the strategies and techniques carried out by small businesses to build interest revolving around their product or service among prospects, turning them into customers. Quite similar to how we pique someone’s interests when we give them gift-wrapped presents…they just have to open it.
In other words, it’s the act of identifying potential customers based on their actions such as an intent to purchase your services, and gently guiding them along the engagement funnel until they become customers. Maybe these prospects took an important action such as filling out a form or they clicked on a link which indicated their potential as customers.
Lead generation for small businesses is important for a variety of reasons: to engage with potential customers in personalized ways, to increase your client base, and lastly, to build revenue for your business.
In today’s ultra-connected and technologically adept world, there are tons of lead generation ideas for small businesses. Luckily in this article, we’ve boiled them down to the bare essentials for convenience’s sake. Read on!
- Identify Your Audience
- Create Relevant and Engaging Material
- Segment your Leads
- Have an Optimized Website
- Paid Ads on Google
- Email Marketing
- Text Message Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Hosting Events
- Co-Marketing and Working with Influencers
Identify Your Audience
Before starting any marketing related endeavor, identifying your target audience is the first important step you must take. Ask yourself some important questions like:
- What type of customers does my product/service serve?
- What are their demographics and interests?
- How much do they earn?
By focusing on questions like these, you will get a firm idea of whom to target. An important strategy here is to create buyer personas which are basically representations of your ideal customer based on real data from your existing customers along with market research. These personas are extremely powerful in gleaning your customers’ motivations and give you an insight into your audience’s mindset so you can target them better.
Create Relevant and Engaging Material
Whatever content you create, whether it’s a blog post, an infographic, or a newsletter, make sure that it’s meaningful to your target audience and offers genuine value to them. Focus on customer needs and requirements and sincerely weave your content around that pain point. If you’re just pushing out material that’s stuffed with keywords or is clickbaity, you may see a traffic surge initially but this strategy is hardly sustainable in generating leads who are loyal.
However, when you’re offering content that offers genuine value or is informational in nature, your content will invariably resonate with prospects while addressing their intent, i.e to buy or purchase. There are 2 key points to note here:
- Steer clear from the salesy or marketing tone: buyers today aren’t stupid and can clearly differentiate between an open product pitch and content that is designed to educate and inform.
- Be catchy and creative with your content: it’s of no use to anyone if that social media post you published was in-depth and highly relevant if it’s marketed in a way that’s bland or mediocre. Use eye-catching designs and compelling visuals to get prospects to perform the desired action.
If you’re confused about the type of material to create, using tools like Google Ads helps you find related keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing) to give you an idea of what people are searching for.
Segment your Leads
Whether you generate leads through inbound marketing channels such as signup forms or newsletter subscriptions or outbound techniques such as cold calling, it is necessary that you segment your leads according to the engagement or interaction you’ve had. The reason this is so important is that it helps you nurture your relationship with the prospect right from the start and engage with the relevantly; you wouldn’t show a form with a lot of fill in details to someone who’s visited your site for the first time, right?—you’d take it slow and increase the barrier of the ask once they’ve engaged more with you.
For lead segmentation, CRM’s are extremely useful and help you in detailed targeting while automatically updating customer information. You can have segment leads based on how they’ve interacted with your content and then target them appropriately. For instance, if you want to send a batch of promotional text messages to new prospects, you just have to choose the right segment in your CRM and then contact them. It’s as simple as that!
Have an Optimised Website
While channels like emails or social media help you get prospects to sign up, your website is your best bet to generate leads. Ensure that your entire website is optimized to deliver an optimal experience to users. Some of the parameters you should typically look out for are:
- Speed: If your site isn’t fast, viewers are likely to leave
- Mobile Optimization: A large number of people use their smartphones to access websites
- SEO: For your landing pages and blog posts to rank on Google, you need to optimize your content for ranking on search engines.
- Navigability: Once people enter your site, they should be able to get from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’ easily so that they don’t have to waste time searching for what they want. They should be able to have a smooth and simple user experience on your website
To increase the chances of someone staying longer on your site, make your site interesting to look at with content that stands out. Since your ultimate aim is to convert prospects, ensure that you have CTA’s that are visible and clear with their intents and include it on your website especially your landing pages. Also, make it a point to include customer testimonials or reviews to build trust in your product or service.
Paid Ads on Google
Promoting your organization on search engines like Google is a great lead generation idea for small businesses. By using pay-per-click (PPC) ads, you can make sure you rank right at the top for searches based on the keywords related to your products and services—with this assured visibility, you guarantee that people, at the very least, come to your site and are aware of your existence.
Using Google Ads you can reach out to potential customers wherever they happen to be spending the most time online. Some of the ways you can use Ads are:
- Getting people to call your business by embedding a click to call button within your ad
- Driving people to your business by getting your ads to display your company’s location
You can decide where you want these ads to appear and create banner ads with beautiful images to tempt prospects. A quick tip here is to decide on a small budget if you’re using this tool for the first time, and gradually increasing the amount you spend once you’re sure of what works for you and what doesn’t.
Email is a good method of engaging with your contacts and helps you in building a reliable contact list. The best part is you’re sure that these contacts are interested in you since they explicitly gave you their email address through a form or signup page (unless you bought your email list which is always a bad idea).
With email, you can personalize them by including the contact’s name to include a sense of familiarity. By emailing useful and relevant content, over time, you can convert your leads into customers. An example of this flow would be:
A prospect opts into receiving your emails on your website
As a welcome gesture, you can send them an initial email with free downloadable such as an informative ebook
You then send them periodic emails such as newsletters or links to useful posts on your blog
You can even send them event invites or company updates
Once you see regular engagement, i.e. prospects are opening your emails and clicking on links, you can send them promotional offers
Over time, you’ll see that some of your prospects have turned into customers
Make sure your lists are well segmented beforehand so that the right emails are sent to the right contacts; you don’t want to send an invitation for a product demo to new prospect right? To make email marketing simpler, you should use tools like Constant Contact and MailChimp which let you schedule email campaigns in advance and track important metrics like open rate and click-through rate.
Of course, it’s always important to continuously test your emails for the best engagement; email marketing tools let you experiment with different subject lines as well. Also remember to add CTA’s and social buttons to your email newsletters which encourages them to follow you on social media, and share your content online which helps you be seen by newer audiences.
Text Message Marketing
With an open rate of 98%, text messages are a valuable and quick tool for lead generation for small businesses. Text message marketing provides a simple and convenient way of conversing with thousands of contacts while keeping a sense of personalization intact since you refer to them by their name. For lead generation and engagement, texts have several use cases such as:
- You can get prospects to sign up for contests and other promotional activities
- You can send updates regarding events you’re hosting
- You can engage in one-on-one conversations with prospects and answer any queries they might have about your product or service
- You can remind them about a meeting or phone call that you have scheduled with them
- You can get them to take part in surveys
- You can thank prospects when they make a purchase
- You can wish them on their birthdays
And these are just some of the ways of using texts. Currently, with tools like CallHub, prospects are allowed to opt into your messages ensuring that you only reach out to interested people. Since your business is likely to be busy, sending texts to all prospects seems like a tall order right? Well, with these tools you can ensure that replies are automated and can schedule your texts in advance so that you can concentrate on every aspect of your business without this taking too much of your time!
Social Media Marketing
Everyone’s on social media including your prospects, so you definitely must use these platforms for your benefit. First, create an account for your business on site like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram (if your target audience is millennials, you can also consider Snapchat). After this is done, create content relevant for these sites: you can post videos, behind-the-scenes footage of your company, and relevant infographics and images, hold online contests with special giveaways and keep your followers updated about your small business.
The keyword when it comes to social media is engagement so be sure to actively reply to your followers’ comments and reactions. These platforms are a great way of expanding your audience base so create great content which motivates existing followers to share and interact with it.
Paid advertising is an option as well; you can post audience specific ads based on their interests or demographics and be seen by the people whom you want to convert. You can build interest among them and direct them to your site where they can explore and decide for themselves. With sites like Facebook, you can be even more specific and target the contacts and prospects who are already in your existing lists through custom audiences and lead ads.
By regularly posting good content and interacting with your audience, you’re establishing yourself as a trustworthy business which cares about its customers.
Pro Tip: You need to design your content specifically for each site. While visuals are great for Instagram, it wouldn’t work for LinkedIn where posting an informative article would make more sense.
An offline and fun way of generating leads and increasing revenue for your small business is hosting an event. You could organize a workshop or seminar which is a direct way of interacting with people, talking about your product, and obtaining their contact details for future targeting. Promote your event using different tools and channels to build interest among your target audience. Think about how this event could be important to them and emphasize this in your promotions.
After this, get them to register through a simple form on your social media channels or website so you’ll have a ready estimate of the number of people attending. Make a list of the goals and objectives you want to meet as well: setting up business meetings with 15 prospects is an example, so you’ll know how successful your event was.
After the event’s over, ensure you follow up with each of the attendees to try and convert them into customers and to obtain feedback. Depending on the scope of the event, you can use tools like Eventbrite to help you organize it.
Co-Marketing and Working with Influencers
By partnering up with another small business in a similar space and creating informative content you’re effectively increasing your outreach. You get double the visibility you’d ordinarily get than if you were promoting your content alone, which leads to more leads! The best aspect of co-marketing is the effort you put in building content is less since you’re collaborating with another company (or companies), while the results are more.
The content that you create can be anything— a white paper or an ebook—or it could even be a webinar or an offline event. Even periodically cross-blogging on each other’s sites counts as co-marketing. Whatever it is you co-create, ensure that both businesses are on the same page when it comes to goals, which in this case, is to generate leads.
Another strategy when it comes to collaborations, is working with popular social media celebrities, known as “influencers” for promoting your service or product. These influencers have plenty of followers on their accounts, so by getting them to endorse you, you gain access to a whole new bunch of untapped prospects just waiting to be converted to customers!
Try targeting influencers on social media sites where you have fewer followers to build visibility in that sphere. The endorsement from the celebrity could be something as simple as a caption on a photo where the influencer is trying out your product, or a status update where they’re promoting your upcoming contest or event.
Additional Lead Generation Ideas for Small Businesses
- With the rise in data misuse and privacy concerns, you as a small business should make it absolutely clear on your website that you protect customers’ information and you don’t share it without their consent. This would go a long way in building trust with new leads.
- Prepare proper documentation when it comes to defining the parameters which decide when a prospect becomes a sales qualified lead so that you can track your progress on a weekly or monthly basis. This lets you know if your strategies are actually leading to conversions or if they need to modify to meet your goals.
While the above are some great lead generation tips and strategies for small businesses, it’s absolutely necessary to keep testing and retesting a combination of different techniques to see what works best for you. If you have any comment or suggestions, feel free to pen them down below!