Small business success often hinges on the ability to continuously generate leads.
(More specifically, the ability to generate large quantities of high-quality leads.)
It’s no surprise, then, that 53% of marketers spend over half their entire budget on their lead generation efforts.
Still, more than 60% of marketers admit that generating high-value leads is their biggest challenge, overall.
In other words, lead generation isn’t easy.
But it’s not impossible, either — as long as you approach it strategically.
Which is exactly what we’ll show you how to do in this article.
Before You Start Generating Leads…
Before you start putting putting our small business lead generation strategies into action, there are two key things you’ll need to do.
- Understand exactly who you’re targeting
- Know how to engage with these target audiences
The idea, as mentioned above, is to collect high-value leads — that is, those who have a high probability of becoming valuable paying customers.
Let’s take a closer look at what this entails.
Know and Understand Your Target Audience
The products or services your company offers aren’t for everyone.
Rather, they’re meant for a specific audience — comprised of individuals with specific personalities, and specific goals.
If your small business lead generation efforts aren’t approached with this specific audience in mind, your campaigns aren’t going to be very effective.– Darren Clay, Co-Owner, Lifted Edibles
That said, your first order of business is to flesh out your persona profiles to get a more holistic idea of who you’re looking to attract to your brand.
Your persona profiles should include the following information:
- Demographic Data, such as their age, gender, location, education level, and profession
- Psychographic Data, or information about their personal interests, opinions, and attitudes
- Behavioral Data that describes their attitudes and actions as consumers
With this info in hand, you can create powerful lead-gen campaigns that attract the right audience — and convince them to engage further with your brand.
Audience Segmentation is Key
It’s likely that you’ll have more than one customer persona, too.
And it’s vital that you tailor your lead-gen efforts to each of them in some way.
(A generic, one-size-fits-all approach may generate a high volume of leads, but most of them aren’t likely to become high-value customers.)
Consumers have come to expect personalized experiences across channels, and brands, regardless of size, must continue to implement data-driven personalization into their communications strategy at every level.
You need to be able to personalize your messaging to your various target personas while making use of automation. This requires finding innovative ways to merge personalization with segmentation both on a granular level and at scale while addressing a growing concern for consumer privacy.– Darren Litt, Co-Founder, Hiya Health
So, you’ll want to create multiple campaigns focusing on specific audience segments using the small business lead generation strategies we’ll be discussing. As your small business lead generation efforts become more advanced, you’ll be better able to target specific audiences with specific offers.
For now, just be sure to have your various audience segments in mind when creating your lead generation campaigns.
9 Effective Lead-Generation Strategies for Small Businesses
There are many, many ways for small businesses to generate new leads — and they can all be effective in their own right.
Here, we’ll discuss nine of the best ways to get new, high-value prospects knocking at your door.
Direct Mail Postcards
Believe it or not, direct mail is still one of the most effective ways to generate brand awareness and attract new customers.
- 90% of physical mail gets opened by the recipient
- Nearly 60% of US consumers enjoy getting mail announcing new products
- 60% of catalog recipients end up visiting a company’s website
There are two overarching best practices to follow when sending out direct mail.
First, the content, copy, and offer needs to engage your target audience.
You might ask deliver an important announcement or message:
Or, you might ask a question of your new prospect:
Social proof — such as a quote from your current customer — can showcase your brand’s value.
Or, you can jump right to making a too-good-to-miss offer.
You should also add some interactivity to your direct mail to prompt your prospects to further action.
For example, you might include a quiz or a checklist on your postcard:
You can also get them to make the jump to your online site by adding a QR or referral code to your direct mail piece:
Overall, the idea is to get them to do something that gets them more involved with your brand — and moves them closer to becoming a paying customer.
With one exception, email marketing is the king of lead-gen tactics.
- 78% of marketers saw an increase in engagement with email in 2020
- 59% of B2C marketers say email is the biggest source of ROI
- 59% of B2C consumers say marketing emails influence their purchasing decisions
Now, email marketing is typically used to nurture leads you’ve already collected.
That is, you shouldn’t be emailing anyone without their express consent. Purchasing email lists, for example, is a huge no-no — and can potentially be illegal.
However, you can use Gmail ads to engage new leads within their inboxes.
As for those who may have otherwise engaged with your brand (e.g., via social media, etc.), you can certainly use email to move them closer toward conversion.
Like with direct mail, your email marketing campaigns should include engaging copy, content, and offers:
You’ll also want to be more contextual when reaching out via email. For your brand new leads, you should deliver Welcome drip campaigns that set the stage for their future experiences with your brand.
Again, these welcome campaigns will be similar to your direct mail efforts, using quizzes, surveys, and other interactive content to learn more about the prospect’s needs. In turn, you’ll know exactly what to offer them moving forward.
Search Engine Optimization
Your company’s website is where much of the lead-gen magic happens.
…but, this magic can only happen if your prospects actually end up on your site in the first place.
This is where search engine optimization comes in.
The idea behind basic SEO is to optimize your website in order to improve its visibility in search engines and thereby attract visitors. While there’s a lot that goes into improving where your site ranks in a search engine, one of the first steps you can take is creating content such as:
- Product and service pages that are optimized for searchers ready to make a purchase
- Blog posts that are optimized for both informational and commercial research intent
- FAQs and knowledge base material optimized for informational research to prospects who are interested in diving deeper into a given topic
That said, you need to think of all this from your audience’s perspective as you’re not only trying to improve the amount of traffic you get from search engines, but also the quality of searchers coming in.
Overall, you need to understand:
- Who they are (as mentioned earlier when discussing personas)
- The goals they’re trying to accomplish, or problems they want to overcome
- The words and phrases they use when searching for content related to their goals
For example, the screenshot above shows pages that rank for the term “domain consolidation” specifically by creating content around that exact topic.
(Note: There’s much more to advanced SEO than just creating keyword-based content. Check out Webname.ca’s post for more in-depth strategies to improve organic traffic.)
For local SEO purposes, your site should also include directory information, such as your store or stores’ address, contact data, and hours of operation.
You can also improve your local search engine visibility by increasing and optimizing your local citations which are online mentions of your business/company profile in directory sites such as Yelp or Angie’s List (depending on the nature of your business).
Listing your company’s info on Google My Business is also crucial for local SEO purposes. (Check out the following post from Webnames.ca for more info on local SEO).
A killer content marketing strategy can generate a massive amount of traffic to your website and other digital channels — leading to a ton of qualified leads for your business.
Some key types of content marketing include:
- Blog posts and articles
- Explainer videos that show how to use your product
- Podcasts and audio interviews
- Interactive content
When you’re able to get visitors to actively participate in content consumption, it creates micro conversions. Create things like calculators (loan calculators, website development cost calculators, etc.) or interactive quizzes.
After going through the process, you’ll ask them to submit their contact information. Average conversion rates are around 20%+ if you choose the right topic.– Daniel Ndukwu, CoFounder, UsefulPDF
The goal of content marketing is not to promote your brand, but to deliver valuable information to your audience. This will help attract the right audience to your brand — and weed out those who aren’t exactly interested in what you have to offer.
Structure your content in such a way that you are able to explain to the audience the usage and functionality of your product and/or service. When we made such changes to our top-ranking blog posts increased, signups increased from 2.1% to 3.8%.– Brad Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Wordable
Once you’ve engaged your target audience with your content, you’ll need a well-placed call-to-action to convert them into “official” leads.
Without a clear CTA, you’re basically giving away information for free — and you won’t collect near as many leads, either.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing goes hand-in-hand with content marketing.
Here, the goal is to deliver helpful, engaging content via your social media channels — and to use these channels as a springboard for the “next step” with your brand.
In many cases, you’ll be creating content specifically for the channel in question.
In others, you might use your social media platforms to point your audience toward your website.
Either way, it’s all about getting the viewer to engage and interact with your content in some way.
One way to maximize social media marketing is through storytelling. By telling a story about your brand, you have an opportunity to create an authentic connection with your audience.
For example, our company Bobbie shares testimonials from real moms and dads to provide them the opportunity to tell their personal stories about their feeding journey with their baby. We also create videos about the making of our product and videos of our team members hard at work. In turn, we’ve found that these types of storytelling posts help to increase engagement with customers and lead to conversions.– Kathryn Schwab, Head of Content, Bobbie
Social media also allows you to build a community around your brand in a number of ways. Whether simply engaging with your readers in the comments section, creating branded hashtags, or creating interactive contests for your audience to partake in, social media provides numerous options to get potential customers to take action — and become actual leads.
If you have the budget, and you need to start generating leads immediately, PPC ads might be your best option.
Typically, you’ll want to place ads on Google, social media channels, and, as mentioned earlier, via Gmail ads.
Your PPC ads should follow the same best practices as your direct mail and email campaigns:
- Dedicated landing page that’s focused on one campaign goal
- Include engaging copy and content
- A killer offer
- A clear, easy-to-follow call-to-action
For Google PPC ads, it’s important to nail down the specific keywords your target audience uses when searching for products or services such as yours. This will ensure your ads are presented to those who have a high probability of becoming leads (and eventually, paying customers).
(As a side note, you can see which PPC keywords are converting at an above average rate and use that data to optimize your SEO + content marketing strategy.)– Alon Popilskis, Owner, Smart SEO Designs
On social media, you’ll want to focus on Lookalike audiences — those whose profiles and on-channel actions match that of your current customers. That way, even though you don’t know these individuals, per se, you’ll still have a decent chance of getting them onboard.
Another key way to generate qualified leads is to offer gated content.
Gated content is only accessible once an individual provides their contact information, typically through a form or popup on your site. This, as opposed to the aforementioned content that you’ll provide freely on your website.
Typically, gated content is more in-depth, and much more valuable to the reader. Some examples of gated content include:
With this method, you can immediately reach out to your new leads with laser-focused offers based on their interests — paving a clear path for them to become paying customers.
Creating Conversational Landing Pages With Chatbots
We’ve already shown many examples of ways to generate leads directly on your website.
Traditional mailing list forms are certainly still effective — but they’re not the only option, anymore.
Chatbot tools allow you to engage with potential leads in a more authentic, conversational manner — both to deliver value and collect information from them.
Conversational landing pages take chatbot technology to a new level, while also making the process of filling out forms…well, less formal.
Making use of conversational landing pages for lead-collection is not only more interactive and engaging, but it also allows you to collect more information from your potential customers. Like with gated content, making use of a chatbot on a landing page enables you to start delivering highly-relevant value right from the get-go.– Rachel Esco, Marketing, CustomerICare
As Webnames.ca has discussed before, referral marketing generates more leads than any other method — and costs much less, to boot.
If taking a more off-the-cuff approach to generating referrals, you still want to be strategic. This means asking at the right time, using the right channel. For example, you might ask a long-time customer to refer a friend via email directly after they make their next purchase.
Or, you might take a broader approach, soliciting user-generated content and the like to spread the good word about your brand.
Eventually, though, you’ll want to create a referral program as a way to systematically bring new, high-value leads to your doorstep.
What’s more, a referral program will also allow you to deliver additional value to your most-engaged, loyal customers.
Lead-Generation: A Must for Small Businesses
If you’re not generating leads for your small business then you aren’t generating new revenue.
To keep your business growing, you absolutely must have new leads coming in on a regular basis. More importantly, you need to ensure these new leads are highly qualified, and have a high chance of becoming long-time, loyal, and valuable customers.
To that end, it’s crucial to employ a variety of lead-generation strategies (as opposed to sticking with only those you’re familiar with). Broaden your horizons — and broaden your reach.
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