Top 7 Lead Generation Ideas for Small Business

Want to get more leads?

In this article, I'll discuss 7 of the best ways to generate valuable leads in 2018.

Taking advantage of some of these strategies can get you more traffic to your site and social media, which will result in more business. So, let's get started!

First, What Is Lead Generation?

If you're new to marketing, lead generation is the art of creating and capturing interest in your product or service. This is done in a variety of ways that are constantly evolving  with new digital and social technologies. There are some incredible lead generation experts that can help you get new leads, but you can also drive leads yourself.

In 2018, social media and web positioning are two of the most effective lead generation methods.

Ultimately, cold-calling is out in most industries, and organic lead generation is in!

For example, rather than inconveniencing consumers with hard-sell tactics, many small businesses are letting carefully placed ads, images and material capture their interest. Some of my personal favorite ways to generate leads like this are with Google AdWords, Facebook Ads and thoughtful email campaigns.

Top 7 Lead Generation Strategies in 2018

Next, I'll discuss the top 7 ways to generate leads in 2018. These work great for both b2c (business to consumer) and b2b (business to business) lead generation.

Google AdWords is an impressive tool to get your products and advertisements seen on the web. The premise of AdWords is to have your ads appear where your potential customers are already browsing online. This includes a variety of websites and platforms.

There are four options for Google AdWords, depending on your needs and who you’re targeting. They are:

  • 1
    Search Ads: Your advertisement pops up next to the list of relevant search results anytime someone searches for specific keywords.
  • 2.
    Display Ads: Using either text or banners, your ads will pop up in Gmail and within a network of almost two million sites.
  • 3.
    Video Ads: Your short video ad will air during the “commercial break” on Youtube videos. Talk about a captive audience!
  • 4.
    App Ads: You can now advertise within Google Play apps.

Google AdWords offers an impressive reach, and one of the best parts is you decide how little or how much you want to invest! It's the best way to generate leads on a budget.

You can set and cap your budget anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to tens of thousands. Then, you only pay when your ad was effective (someone clicked, called or watched your video.)

The level of customization makes Google AdWords one of my top preferred methods in my b2c lead generation strategy. Plus, it’s free to sign up, templates are provided and you can choose where your ads appear. The quality for the actual cost cannot be beat.

For a very effective lead generation strategy, it’s also important to appear where advertisements like Google AdWords won’t appear. Facebook Ads are also a fantastic way to gain visibility where your target customers already are.

Facebook not only places ads in the timeline where potential clients are scrolling, Facebook also owns Instagram!

Stunning visual posts appear in Instagram feeds, formatted like a regular post.

Advertising through Facebook Ads is a the best lead generation strategy for small businesses that offer visually appealing merchandise or products. 

Those products that would show up well as curated content on Facebook and Instagram feeds as well as partner sites will benefit a lot from this marketing strategy.

In addition, Facebook Audience Network offers video advertising followed by content, which acts as a two-pronged approach to your lead generation strategy.

Finally, Facebook Ads supports its users by offering analytics, updated data and even e-learning webinars and courses to help you tailor your approach to using the platform.

3. Email Lead Generation

One must-do for sales marketing and lead generation within small businesses is email lead generation.

Email marketing is still a favorite of most lead generation experts, particularly for b2b lead generation. The number of users of email continues to grow year over year, and the number of emails sent and received reflects this.

There's lots of software tools out there that can help you automate and track your email marketing campaigns (check out our recommended list for marketing automation software here).

For example, email marketing services like MailChimp and ActiveCampaign allow you to track your open rates, read rates and click-through rates. Since email is the preferred method for business communication, special attention to these rates are required for small business lead generation. In addition, these platforms have some great training for b2b lead generation best practices.

These rates are important to help you assess how successful your message has been, and if it requires any tweaking in order to gain a b2b sales lead. As a quick refresher or for those who aren’t familiar, this is what each of the rates mean:

  • 1
    Open Rates: How often your email was actually opened by the recipient
  • 2.
    Read Rates: How often your email was actually read in full by the recipient
  • 3.
    Click-Through Rates: How often links to your website or promotion embedded in the email were actually followed

These metrics are important to keep track of in your email campaigns. They are the first indicator that your email campaign strategy is a success, or whether it requires fine-tuning to produce results. No one has a crystal ball, so split testing is the key to success. Good data makes rapid and successful split testing possible.

Pro Tips for Email Lead Generation

For example, using dollar signs, or using certain keywords like "cash now", "quick success" or "no money down" are just a few examples of what triggers the spam filter.

In addition, the second most important factor is perfecting your subject line (see our guide on what subject line strategies will get your emails opened).

For example, while the "copy" of the email is important to engage your audience, keep them reading, and make them want to find out more, no portion of your email is as important as the subject line.

The subject line is the first thing the potential client sees. If it sucks, isn't interesting, or looks sapmmy, it will never be opened.

Instead, pique their curiosity in an unexpected or interesting way. This will make them want to open the email to find out more.

4. SEO: Search Engine Optimization 

Search engine optimization (SEO) as a lead generation source is the crème de la crème strategy (the best of the best). 

If you're new to SEO, a simple explanation is that it's about creating online content that ranks high in search engines, leading to "organic" search traffic, or customers, that come straight to your website to buy your products or services. In essence, search engines refer folks to your website. Perfect, right?

So, why is it #4 on my list then, you ask? Because it's a ton of work to do right, and it takes a significant amount of expertise. Not to mention that it takes 6 months (minimum) to 1 year or more for white hat SEO to start bearing real fruit, especially if your website is brand new or has low authority.

Unless of course, if you use black hat tactics to get "quick results", which will ultimately get your website de-indexed (banned) from search engines completely.

In essence, SEO is a long term strategic play that takes a lot of time, hard work, and expertise to materialize.

However, the rewards are significant if you do it right. Therefore, SEO should definitely be in your overall lead generation strategy. 

However, you have to use other marketing channels to bridge the gap. For example, you can use Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, and email marketing in the short term to generate leads, all while building up your website's authority and executing a white hat (healthy) SEO strategy. 

Then when SEO starts bearing fruit, you can dial back on the AdWords and Facebook ads, and let SEO naturally start generating your leads. That's how the pros do it.

This is the strategy that I've used, and it's worked very well. In addition, I've used Empowered Owl for SEO expertise for over 2 years, and they've done an amazing job. They've taken care of the SEO for me, allowing me to focus my attention on more pressing concerns.

5. Networking and Client Referrals

Crafting a smart small business lead generation strategy doesn’t have to rely on the digital world.

For example, in-person networking is still extremely effective. Your goal is to go to where your ideal customer works or hangs out. Then you want to create value-added relationships. It's just like putting your product in the right place at the right time, except you are the product!

If nothing else, networking may give you contacts that can make valuable referrals down the line. They may know someone who can benefit from your services, even if they themselves are not interested.

This is also true of previous clients or customers who were satisfied with your product or service. You can always ask previous clients if they know anyone who could use your services as well. From this point, you would follow up with the recommendation independently or ask for an introduction!

6. Old School Small Business Lead Generation

While a little less prevalent today, older methods of small business lead generation are still effective depending on the niche or industry you're in. These include mail, television ads and billboards.

In particular, these may be effective ways to market products or services to older consumers.

Older consumers may not have newer TV services or providers that allow them to skip commercials.

This means television commercials can still reach the right demographic.

Moreover, the same can be said for sending advertisements through snail mail. Most younger individuals aren’t accustomed to shopping for goods and services through the mail. However, an older demographic are comfortable with (and might even prefer) receiving flyers in the mail and buying goods and services that way.

You may be thinking that billboard advertisements are a thing of the past, but I can assure you that is not the case. Billboards tap into one demographic that is truly a captive audience. With driving distracted being a punishable offense, commuters will naturally look at your billboard advertisement for distraction or entertainment.

In addition, this is also true of bus stop and subway advertisements. In fact, any area where people will have to sit or stand for long periods of time could be a prime and unexpected real estate for clever advertising!

7. Hire a Lead Generation Expert

If you don't have time to learn the ropes or execute a lead generation strategy, hire an expert! There are plenty of lead generation experts out there that can do everything for you.

In essence, a sales lead experts can be a game changer for your business and allow you to focus your time where it's needed.

What's the Best Strategy for Lead Generation?

The truth is, lead generation is not one-size-fits-all, especially in this day and age. Different spending trends and patterns, interests and forms of entertainment mean your approach must be custom-fit to your target market.

So how do you create the best strategy for your situation? The best way to determine an effective mix of lead generations tactics is to answer three questions:

  • 1
    Who is your ideal customer?
  • 2.
    Where does your ideal customer spend their time and hangout?
  • 3.
    Why do they need or want your product?

The demographics of your ideal customer should greatly influence your strategy, as well as your line of business and industry. In addition,  b2c lead generation (business to consumer) will differ greatly from your b2b lead generation (business to business).

For example, If you’re a retailer specializing in hip, modern home decor, you probably wouldn’t waste your time sending mailers. Instead, you’d target your core audience of hip, modern millennials by posting breathtaking staged rooms on Instagram, or ads when individuals search for such decor. Or you might create an exciting contest on social media (check out our guide here).

If you’re offering consulting services to other businesses, you probably wouldn’t find them searching for help on Instagram. Instead, using targeted ads on business sites like LinkedIn or within Google Searches for similar services would be your best bet.

Conclusion

Because lead generation is not the same combinations for every business, you may have to engage in quite a bit of trial and error to find what works for you.

In essence, experimentation, split testing, and using data to inform your decisions are absolutely critical.

By tracking analytics, going to meet your ideal consumers where they already are and providing the perfect product in the perfect place at the perfect time, you’ll be well on your way to lead generation success and taking your business to the next level.

Best of luck!


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