Someone becomes a potential customer the moment they step inside your storefront or visit your website and show interest in your products or services. They may not purchase that day, but they may come back and buy later. In the same way, a lead is anyone in the online space who shows interest — whether a lot or a little — in whatever you’re selling. They don’t have to buy something to be a lead. They just have to stop at your website for a visit, because that website is your online storefront.
Those leads are known as Lead Generation and are the bread and butter of your business, both online and off. You must generate them to succeed. So how can you get more leads for your business?
Enter our lead generation guide!
Small-Business Lead Generation Strategy
The world’s best lead generation for small businesses will always depend on that particular business’s characteristics. No two businesses are the same which means one set of lead generation tools that works for one business won’t necessarily work for yours. It’s all about trial and error. You need to size up the tools and resources your business has on hand and think about how to get leads and make each one grow. In practical terms, we’re talking about:
- Social media sites
- Websites and online shops
- Online networking
- Email marketing
- Local community events
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Each of these is a different opportunity for increasing your business. Your job is to water and watch them grow. Sounds like a lot of work? Not if you look at it this way. Don’t focus sharpening every tool in your Lead Generation shed. Just focus one or two at one time. The important thing is to not feel overwhelmed and risk quitting altogether.
Basic Principles and Strategy
Your journey toward finding more customers begins with a sea of nameless, faceless internet users online. None of them have the slightest idea who you are, what your business is, and how your products or services could make their lives better.
Here we will breakdown the importance of pinpointing why customers should care about what your business offers, the why behind market research, different types of lead generation tools you can utilize and how your efforts can help maintain your existing customer base.
Why Should Customers Care?
You have a product or service that solves problems. If you provide legal counsel, you help clients with a variety of services If you work in HVAC, you solve the problem of those whose air conditioning just broke. Regardless of what you’re doing, the first step in lead generation is to understand clearly what you do and what kind of people would care about that.
Then, you have to find those people and tell them. Where do people who could be interested in your product spend their time online? If they’re like most people, the answer is social media and search engines. The people who might be interested in your product are your market. Finding out where they hang out is your research.
The Importance of Performing Market research
What kind of person would be interested in your business?
- What’s their age bracket?
- What do they do for a living?
- What do they do for fun?
- What kind of social media platforms do they use?
- What keywords would they search for on Google to find your business?
Don’t look at your customers as people. People never buy anything. Consider your customer that one particular person who would be interested in what you’re selling to them. If you try to appeal to everyone, you will appeal to no one.
Market research narrows down the particular people your services or goods will appeal to. It takes away the needle in a haystack feeling and provides pinpoint action you can take to draw them to your site. If all goes well, the customer will end up on your page getting familiar with what you can provide. If all goes great, you’ll get a lead or even better, make a sale.
Different Channels for Lead Generation
Where you spend your time generating leads will depend entirely on what kind of business you have. Here’s what you need to think about:
Social media provides an unprecedented platform for you to reach people and build your lead generation
Social Media for Lead Generation
4.48 billion people are using social media. That number is way too big to comprehend, so forget about it. Consider this instead: If a tenth of a percent of them would buy from you, that’s hundreds of thousands of customers out there on sites like Facebook waiting to get eyes on your product.
Have you made your social media page yet? It’s not hard to do. All the major platforms come with easy-to-use tools to build out your business page. Marketing your business on social media doesn’t cost very much and is effective. There are two basic kinds of marketing you can do:
- Organic posts: That means posting content relevant to your business with the goal of being interesting and educational to your current followers while also attracting more followers. You can and should pepper these posts with links back to your site or products, but they’re not directly sales-oriented.
- Paid advertising: Sites like Facebook or Instagram collect invaluable data about their users’ likes and interests. You can use these to create customizable ads that are directed toward the kinds of people who’d be interested in you based on their age, follows, likes, etc.
In both cases, you’ll want to take advantage of the included metrics ( measuring tools) to see how much and how well people are engaging with your content and ads. It’s not enough for your content to be seen, it has to also direct people where you want them to go, or it isn’t working.
Search Engines Optimization for Lead Generation
Your website is the central hub for your business online. It is the virtual extension of your brick-and-mortar store if you have one, or it might even be the entirety of your business. That means if your leads can’t find you when they look for you on any of the most popular search engines, you’ve got a problem. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the solution.
Search engines work via invisible, algorithm-driven robots that crawl the entire Internet looking for relevant results to someone’s keyword search. For example, if you sell medical devices to hospitals in Minnesota, a hospital administrator in that area should find your landing page at the top of their Google search results.
How does that happen? Your website needs to be relevant:
- It has to contain keywords in the title, headers, and meta tags that match your lead’s search entries.
- It should contain a lot of content — like blog posts and free PDFs — that match your lead’s search entries.
- Other websites should link to your site.
Notice, one of the best tips for lead generation here is to put out relevant content for your would-be customers.
Content Marketing for Lead Generation
Content marketing has become a buzzword in itself. You may have heard the expression, “Content is king.” Once again, the basic idea is simple:
- Your potential leads currently have no idea who you are. Content marketing will raise their awareness.
- Once those leads are aware of who you are, content marketing will nurture their interest.
- Once those leads are interested in you and are positioned correctly, content marketing will lead them to the sale.
Various content includes landing pages, blogs, eBooks, social media posts, newsletters, or case studies. But no matter which format you choose, what matters is that you research keywords for your business — using a tool like Google Ads Keyword Planner — and create content around those keywords.
Finally, remember to keep your content natural and organic. If it sounds like a definition being read off by Siri rather than like something written by a human, it may turn away potential customers. People like reading information that's personable and sincere.
Email marketing is one of the best lead generation strategies, if you know how to gather addresses to create leads. When people using social media or search engines to land on your website, they do it because they’re curious. That means a post caught their attention and brought them to you. Nice job, but they still haven’t bought anything. What if you had content available to further nurture their interest? Such as an informative PDF or a case study highlighting valuable insight? If so, you can prompt them to enter their email address in exchange for the content they’re interested in.
Now you have their email. You send them what you promised (this is important), and start further nurturing that lead with additional, educational, insightful, informative emails, that take the potential customer to your landing page and eventually a sale.
That’s called a sales funnel. Nurturing your leads through the funnel is what turns them into paying customers.
You need to know that Google, Bing/Yahoo, and other search engines sift through results based on relevance. Content from 10 years ago probably isn’t relevant. On the other hand, content being updated regularly is extremely relevant. Blogging is an excellent Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tool to help you rank higher and one of the best ways for small businesses to generate leads.
Think about your own interests. Do you like reading insightful blogs written by smart people about that interest? So do your customers. When you write smart and effective blogs, you line yourself up not only to rank high on Google, but you build trust with your customers—both new and current.
Understand that people like doing business with those they like and trust. The internet has a lot of advantages, but being personable isn’t always one of them. Take the time to get out there in the real world and meet the members of your local business community.
- Participate in conventions, fairs or community events
- Be active in your town’s chamber of commerce
- Arrange your own community meet-n-greet
For any event, be ready with a sales pitch, a business card, and a sample or portfolio of your product. Conversing with real people who are interested in what you offer is one of the unrivaled best tips for generating leads. These events can be productive, useful, and a lot of fun all at the same time. You will undoubtedly grow in confidence through the sheer practice of explaining what you do and inviting others to call you or visit your website.
Your Existing Customers
Businesses need to both seek new customers and keep the ones they have in order to survive. However, keeping the ones you have — the one-time leads who have converted into buyers — is a lot easier and less expensive than trying to generate new leads entirely.
Serving your customers well gives them a good customer experience. When people have a good customer experience, they’re very likely to talk about it with others and want to refer people to you. Whenever they meet someone else who has a similar problem as they once had, the name of the business that helped them will not be far from their lips. That’s word-of-mouth marketing, and it’s worth its weight in gold for you.
But you can’t rely on that exclusively. Everywhere your business is present online, whether on your website, Google, or any of the platform sites, there should be reviews and testimonials singing your praises. In fact, on websites like Yelp and Google, there’ll be review pages for your business whether you like it or not, so you may as well turn it to your advantage.
- Populate your website with testimonials — headshot and text are ideal — from past customers who think you did a great job.
- Be responsive to online comments. When you receive criticism, take the time to reply and offer to remedy the situation.
- Directly ask people to leave a good review for you after purchasing — this is important!
It should go without saying, but never try to fake reviews. It’s probably not even really worth it to try to have a bad review taken down unless it’s just completely fraudulent or damaging. Two reasons why you shouldn’t bother:
- Your leads will get suspicious if you have nothing but glowing 5-star reviews everywhere. It looks fake, even when it isn’t.
- The best way to counter the occasional bad review is to provide consistently good service, ask for reviews, and bury the bad reviews in an avalanche of good reviews.
This part of lead generation is called reputation management.
Ready to Get Started with Lead Generation?
If all of that seems a little overwhelming, remember, it’s all about getting customers in the online space and using the tools the internet has to offer. It’s a wide-open playing field out there. How you proceed depends on the nature of your business and where your market lies.
That said, there are only so many hours in the day, and you only have two hands. It’s not possible for one person, or even a small team, to be as efficient as they can in their pursuit of generating leads. Scorpion provides lead generation services to small businesses, and we have the tools to help cover all your marketing bases. If that sounds right for you, call us today to learn more about our services.