Are you curious about how to generate leads for small business? Or about how to generate leads for business development. Regardless of your particular scenario, there is something that can help you enhance your ability to generate leads. The information in the following article will give you a few helpful suggestions and tips on creating a plan that helps your business increase its sales lead generation.
One of the most important elements for small business owners is generating leads for their business that are fresh, real, and convert. Generating these leads requires a three-pronged approach: lead generation, lead qualification, and lead nurturing. Here’s how small businesses can use each of these techniques to generate more leads.
Other companies — typically younger players with smaller income streams — are more risk adverse. They go forth with tight purse strings and strive to create leads with low-cost or no-cost tactics. They aim to outsmart, rather than outspend, the competition. Marketers across the small business spectrum succeed this way all day, every day —especially on the digital battlefield.
Steps to generate leads for small business and business development are similar to those for creating sales leads. However, the techniques of generating these leads are always unique and you need to try various techniques till you find the best ones suitable to your business.
In any case, with a big budget, a low budget, or even no budget, every small business must abide by a universal, simple and vital formula. The quicker you wrap your head around this, the faster you will make it work:
Traffic x Conversion Rate = Leads
Reread that. Say it out loud. Commit it to memory.
Now, let’s revisit some grade-school math terms. The numbers on the left-hand side of a multiplication equation are factors. Traffic and conversion rate are the factors in this case. The number that follows the equals sign on the right-hand side is the product.
Now, let’s remind ourselves of a fundamental reality of mathematics: the multiplication property of zero. It states:
The product of any number and zero is zero.
Apply it like so: ANY traffic number times ZERO conversion rate produces ZERO leads. A ZERO traffic number times ANY conversion rate produces ZERO leads.
So, while I encourage you to read our recent posts, including the guide about how to generate leads and the list of 21 Winning Lead Generation Strategies, stay tuned now for a helpful breakdown of ideas to help you drive traffic and conversions to improve online-lead generation for your small business.
What is Small Business Lead Generation?
Small business lead generation is when a small business deploys various strategies to build interest in their product or service and attract those who are interested in the hopes that they will eventually become customers.
Here, we’ll dive into some of these strategies and tactics, and how they specifically apply to small businesses.
Lead Generation Ideas for Small Business
Small business lead generation begins by creating a presence in the path of would-be leads and giving them a reason to visit your website. Here’s a robust list of ideas to help you accomplish this.
1. Do basic local SEO
- Claim your free Google My Business directory listing and optimize it.
- Perform basic search engine optimization (SEO) across your website’s pages with descriptive title tags.
- Optimize each page with a compelling meta description to inspire click-throughs from search engine results.
- Claim local business listings on online business directories, such as Yelp, Merchant Circle, Citysearch, and other local directories.
- Encourage customers to post reviews about your business. When asked, the majority of satisfied customers do oblige.
For example, when I did a search for ‘event catering,’ as shown above, a number of local companies that have claimed pages in the Google My Business directory appeared prominently in the results.
2. Publish a blog
- A blog can feature articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, galleries, or any combination. The point is to create content that provides the answers to the questions customers search for.
- Learn and apply the SEO techniques that will improve your search rankings.
Here’s a strong example of how a small business becomes the go-to resource for answers and insights in its niche.
3. Guest post on relevant websites
- Offer your expertise, for free, to online publishers in the form of guest posts.
- Where possible, include links in your articles to useful resources on your website.
- Also apply this strategy to local print publications, remembering to include a mention of your website.
4. Get active on social media
- Identify the social media channels your customers prefer.
- Share content — be it homemade or curated — as often as possible on your profiles.
- Promote your social media channels everywhere possible.
- Interact with prospects in an informative and helpful manner.
- Follow influential people in your industry and try to build mutually beneficial relationships.
Pura Vida Bracelets consistently populates the social media networks its customers prefer with a combination of beaches, beauty and bracelets, but it also tosses in the occasional special offer, as shown here.
5. Run paid search ads
- Explore the many advertising options offered by Google Ads.
- Refine your tactics to reduce pay-per-click costs and improve ROI.
- Consider Microsoft advertising, which runs on Bing and Yahoo! Search.
6. Run social media ads
- Facebook advertising is easy, often effective and offers a very low cost for entry. You can get started for $5 per day.
- Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube all offer online advertising programs you can experiment with to generate leads.
7. Run native advertising
- Your online advertising options expand beyond the top search and social channels with native advertising and include millions of publishers.
- Learn how to run programmatic ads on discovery networks such as Taboola.
Check out how Flare Audio launched their revolutionary headphones with traffic from premium publisher sites.
- Examine the potential of collaborating with publishers to create sponsored ads and content.
8. Build a referral network
- Identify practical marketing projects (like co-hosted events, co-created content or social media partnerships) that justify reaching out to experts to make connections, build relationships and create content.
- Consider projects based on interviews, case studies and various types of collaboration.
- Invite respected authorities to guest blog on your website.
- Rather than ask for reciprocation, simply support your supporters.
9. Run events
- Host webinars.
- Speak at conferences and local events.
- Participate in expos and give attendees a reason to engage.
- Use social media to create live streams and other types of events.
Here is some smart small business marketing by Visor: free tax webinars for prospects and customers.
10. Use email marketing
- Traffic you generate with email marketing comes with a caveat: it’s bound for people that have already been there and opted-into your list (unless you built an email list offline). You can capitalize on email and generate traffic to your website by giving subscribers strong reasons to return.
- Send newsletters and meaningful emails that inform recipients of helpful content you’ve published on your site.
AllTrails fills its funnel by offering a free version of its app and then, atop its newsletter, it sends special offers to encourage upgrading to the paid pro version.
11. Do more of what’s working
- Setup a Google Analytics account and gather data from it regularly. Your goal is to identify who visits, where they came from, what pages they consume and how they behave.
- Use this information to inform your promotional and content strategies.
- Do more of what’s driving traffic and less of what isn’t. Of course, you’ll also want to factor-in what drives conversion… And so, we move on to part two.
Ideas that transform visitors to leads
A ton of traffic to your website means nothing if it doesn’t foster conversion. Your first challenge is to define what conversion means — subscribe, attend, try, buy or any other objective. Next, your challenge is to make it happen with compelling offers.
1. Offer deals
When a first-time visitor arrives at a landing page to shop for a product or a service, promoting a coupon or discount program is often the way to make a sale.
Here, Candyclub offers ‘sweet savings’ when you arrive on its e-commerce website.
2. Offer samples
In many cases, prospects arrive because they’re interested in trying or sampling your product or service.
- A free trial is often the go-to approach for the Software as a Service (SaaS) business and other software-driven categories, such as games and apps.
- Though you’ll need to give to get, you may want to ship samples of physical products to interested shoppers. The law of reciprocity suggests many will reward you with a purchase.
This home try-on program offered by Warby Parker plays a significant role in the success of this eyewear brand.
3. Offer advice
A proven tactic to build email lists — and industry authority — is to create and offer an educational lead magnet in exchange for an opt-in. Popular offers of this type include:
- White papers
- Research reports
- Buying guides
Here, Brian Dean of Backlinko uses the lead magnet strategy to offer website visitors valuable how-to resources.
4. Offer personalized advice
While the standard content-based approaches listed above are strong general purpose offers, there are a variety of ways you can earn a higher conversion rate by personalizing the advice you’ll give via:
- Free consultation
- Online chat
- Interactive tools, such as assessments and calculators
5. Offer fun
Increase engagement on your website and excitement about your products with fun offers such as:
6. Offer proof
Prospects want confirmation first and foremost. Increase the credibility of your company with:
- Trust badges
- Media mentions
- Use cases
- Customer stories
- Customer showcases
- Portfolios and galleries
7. Offer one last thing
However hard you try to win a conversion on a page or via a form, your offer will often be ignored. Attempt to boost conversions with ‘one last try’ in the form of an exit intent pop-up.
Before you leave the Leesa Mattress site, for example, an attractive pop-up makes it worth your while to enter your email address.
However, once you identify the channels that deliver the best results for your business, you can continue reinvesting in them and eventually see more return over time.
Now, let’s dive into the strategies that you can rely on to generate leads for your business.
1. Implement an SEO Strategy
Consumers today are starting their product research through search engines. More than half of all shoppers have used Google to discover or find a new brand.
Search engines are the most important channel for generating leads. If your site isn’t ranking for target keywords, your audience will land on competing pages instead.
So, how do you increase your visibility in the search results?
Start by implementing an SEO strategy.
Identify keywords that your audience would search for to find your products or services. Use free tools like Keyword Planner, a free keyword research tool from Google, to help you uncover even more keywords to target.
Be sure to include your keywords in the following areas of your site:
- Title tags
- Header tags
- Meta descriptions
- Image ALT tags
Optimize the content itself to improve your visibility for certain keywords. But don’t go overboard here — the last thing you want to do is spam your pages with keywords or create content that sounds robotic. Work your keywords in naturally.
Be sure also to claim your Google My Business listing to improve your local rankings. This allows you to manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps.
Increasing your rankings isn’t something that happens overnight. In fact, it can easily take weeks or even months to rank for your keywords, depending on how competitive they are. You can use tools like Semrush to help you make a better analysis of your keywords.
But once you improve your visibility in the search results, you’ll be able to attract more quality leads for your small business.
2. Join Social Media Groups and Communities
When you find a social media group and community that aligns with your industry, you’re able to directly tap into potential customers. For example, a CRM group on Facebook is probably made up of people who use CRM software, like sales professionals, marketing teams, and customer support representatives. If you’re in the business of creating CRMs, or if your company targets these individuals, it makes sense to join this group.
All you have to do is dive in and establish real connections with these people. Share the content you create that you think will be helpful. Even try sharing some special promos or offers you have, as well as a link to join your email list. But remember, these communities and groups have unique rules of engagement, so make sure you respect them.
As you engage in these groups, if you don’t adhere to the stipulated guidelines the moderators will flag you, delete your content or kick you out of the group altogether. Hrishikesh Pardeshi recommends a contribute first, market later rule, where you ask and answer questions 90 percent of the time and share links to your products ten percent of the time.
3. Build Your Community
Online communities are a good source of high-potential leads. A study by The University of Michigan found that customers spend 19% more when they become a member of a brand’s online community.
If you create a branded community or a public social network, the principal aim is to pull together a group of staunch followers who care about your brand and want to engage further with it. It doesn’t necessarily mean it has to consist of people who use your product or services, but those who trust you and look up to you as an authority in your niche.
This way, when you post an offer in the channel, you’ll have some people taking it up while others will act as supporters, sharing it with friends and associates who may not be part of the community.
4. Optimize Your Website
Picture this: you’re driving through the streets and notice a newly opened grocery store with this uniquely-branded facade. If you were in town for grocery shopping, would you be interested to see “what’s inside”? Most probably, yes.
Similarly, an optimized website grabs the visitor’s attention and can quickly turn them into customers. While there are many factors to consider when optimizing your website, here are the most critical:
- Page load time. The probability of potential customers leaving your website increases 32% as page load times increase from one to three seconds.
- Web design. Leads nowadays won’t leave contact information on a website that looks like it’s straight out of the ’90s.
- Mobile-optimized. More than 60% of your leads do their web searches through a mobile device.
5. Incorporate Backlinks
The number of high-quality websites that link back to your website is a significant factor in how your website ranks. If you want your website to rank high on Google SERPs, this is one of the things you have to consider. The higher your website ranks, the higher the number of web visitors (hence leads) your brand gets.
To get high-quality backlinks, reach out to sites that have high domain ranks and authority scores (use tools like SEMRush or Moz to tap into these numbers). Share with them your pillar content and identify areas that they could potentially link to it. It’s best to stick with blog posts that cover similar topics and include keywords that pertain to your pillar posts. Make sure the content makes sense and that you aren’t asking them to link back to anything too promotional, like landing pages, pricing pages, or homepages.
6. Add Paid Ads
You can also use outbound strategies like paid ads to generate leads. Paid ads can take many forms, including:
- Search ads
- Retargeting ads
- Social media ads
- Display ads
Just make sure that your ads have some sort of promo or offer that leads visitors to a landing page where they can sign up for that offer as well as your email list.
7. Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts
Many small businesses rely on paid channels like Google Ads to generate leads.
While outbound strategies are still effective, they tend to be more invasive. You’re “pushing” a message to your audience. In contrast, inbound marketing “pulls” customers to your business by helping to solve their problems.
that’s relevant to your audience.
Types of content you can create to generate more leads include:
Just how effective is content marketing?
Data from the Content Marketing Institute found that 75% of B2B marketers successfully used content marketing in the past year to generate leads.
Publishing content doesn’t just help you generate leads. By providing quality content, your audience is more likely to see you as an industry expert and trust your recommendations.
Another added benefit is that each piece of content you publish boosts your search engine optimization efforts. That means more traffic and more leads.
To get started, identify questions or problems that your audience is experiencing. Use forums and other platforms to help you with this process.
Create and publish in-depth pieces of content to your site pertaining to those issues you’ve looked up. Always focus on providing value, and be sure to optimize your content to improve its rankings.
You can also use this strategy to create lead magnets — anything you give away in exchange for contact information. You can gate your lead magnets with a website form that requests people’s information in exchange for the piece of content.
Here’s an example of how Nlyte offers a free ebook on DCIM software to generate leads:
Visitors can download the free ebook by simply filling out a form. Using lead magnets is a great way to grow your email list, which you can nurture through an email drip campaign. It’s a win-win situation.
8. Create Guest Content
Guest posting can be part of your link-building strategy, but it too is a great way to generate leads for your business.
Let’s say you run an SEO consultancy business, for example. You could reach out to SEO blogs with a huge readership, such as Search Engine Journal, to see if they accept content from guest contributors. As you create your guest post, be sure to demonstrate your expertise and add a link back to your brand’s website. This way, the guest post will allow you to tap into Search Engine Journal’s highly-engaged audience (that aligns with your customer base) and send them to your website.
9. Offer Free Trials
Companies like Apple and Amazon have spent decades building their reputations. As a result, consumers don’t hesitate to spend billions of dollars each year with them. They know exactly what to expect.
But as a small business, you don’t have that same luxury. New visitors to your site likely have reservations, and for a good reason — they’ve never shopped from you before. One way to overcome hesitation and generate more leads is to offer a free trial.
According to one SaaS report, 16% of SaaS companies generated more than half of new business from free trials and freemium offerings.
Free trials are clearly effective. They give potential customers an opportunity to experience your products or services. It’s like those test drives that car dealerships frequently offer to turn shoppers into proud car owners.
If you aren’t already, consider offering a free trial for your product or service. Be sure to make that offer clearly visible on your website.
For example, PandaDoc offers a 14-day free trial of its document signing software and makes that clear on its homepage.
Anyone who signs up for a free trial also enters your marketing funnel. That means you can continue to nurture those leads until they become a customer.
Of course, free trials don’t necessarily work for every business. That’s why it’s a good idea to experiment with different offers and decide for yourself whether to keep them.
10. Get Customer Reviews on Review Sites
Think about the last purchase you made. If it’s a new purchase (something you never bought before), chances are you didn’t purchase right away. You likely conducted extensive research before finally making a decision.
Reviews increasingly have a growing impact on purchasing decisions.
Sites like G2 and Trustpilot allow users to submit reviews on software products. Others can read those reviews to evaluate a product and determine whether it fits their needs.
A strong presence on popular review sites for your industry can work wonders for lead generation. This credit repair companies’ review aims to promote multiple companies and generate leads by being featured on Simple Money Lyfe. Anyone searching for reviews about credit repair companies can read through this review to learn more.
Of course, this strategy works even better when you can get favorable reviews. Too many negative reviews can have prospects second-guessing their decision. Don’t hesitate to seek out reviews from your customers. Most will be more than happy to provide a review, especially those that have been with you for a while.
11. Create Targeted Landing Pages
If your site isn’t generating leads, the culprit is likely your landing pages — pages that visitors “land on” after clicking an ad.
If your landing pages are poorly designed or fail to communicate your products’ value, your conversions will be abysmal.
Too many companies make the mistake of sending traffic to a homepage. This is generally a bad idea because homepages aren’t optimized for conversions. They act as hubs that direct visitors to other parts of a site.
Even if you have little design or technical experience, you can use a landing page builder to create optimized landing pages for your products or services. These pages will allow you to capture more leads that your sales team can work on nurturing.
One last — and important — idea
In the interest of improving conversion — with whatever offer you make — and whether you do so with landing pages and/or forms, I leave you with one last tip:
Here’s another mini math lesson to help make my point:
Desire – friction = Conversion rate
Look at your offer and the processes you put in place to enable a prospect to respond. Can you make it easier somehow? Maybe one less step? If there’s risk involved, can you reduce it? If there are fees involved, can you waive them? If objections could arise, can you overcome them?
Low-cost options for advertising online
As you’ve read above, there are many ways you can advertise your company and its products without paying a dime.
While these strategies work, paying to run ads is still effective because it helps you reach people who might not otherwise see your content.
That’s why we’ve included this section. It covers four low-cost options for paid online advertising. You can advertise on these sites without breaking your budget.
If you sell a physical product, Amazon ads are perhaps the most cost-effective way to get it in front of more people. The cost per click for these rarely goes above $0.35 – one of the best rates of any platform.
On top of that, people go to Amazon because they already want to make a purchase. The same isn’t true on many other platforms you might pay to advertise on.
That means with Amazon ads you’re accessing a group of highly motivated buyers at a highly affordable price point. PSA: This strategy might not work if you sell a digital good like software.
Facebook ads can also be affordable to run. The average cost per click on the platform is $1.76. But that cost varies based on the industry you’re in and the specific audience you’re targeting.
For example, the average cost per click on Facebook for an education company is just $1.06. That means you may be able to run ads on Facebook at a competitive price point.
Plus, Facebook has the largest active user base of any social media network. That doesn’t just mean you have a bigger potential pool to target with your ads; it means you can get more specific about defining your ideal ad audience.
Google Banner Ads
Google Banner ads are another cost-effective way to expand your marketing reach. These banners are run on ad-enabled websites, including most sites you visit. A Google banner ad’s average cost per click is under $0.58.
Google Shopping Ads
Google Shopping ads are great for selling physical products like clothes, pet supplies, and outdoor gear.
These advertisements pop up when you perform a Google search and click on the “shopping” tab on the results page. When you pay for a Google Shopping ad, your product goes up to the top of that page.
This strategy lets you reach a motivated group of buyers at an affordable price. The average cost per click for Google Shopping ads is just $0.66 – but your exact CPC will depend on your industry and your keyword bidding strategy.
Many businesses and entrepreneurs struggle with how to generate leads. Many turn to content marketing or email lists because it can feel like the easiest option and ends up being more time consuming than anything. If you’re a business owner without much money, generating leads via ads, cold calling or other means isn’t a practical solution for you.
Generating leads is crucial to any business’ success. Small business owners will often resort to DIY ways in order to run their marketing department as cheaply as possible. This mainly applies to small businesses with a small budget and limited staff where the owner does everything from answering calls, paperwork, and buying toilet paper at the local superstore.